Monday, July 30, 2007

Warmongers

Maia discusses Iraq and asks who do you want to win?

How about nobody? Yes, that works for me; I want nobody to win in Iraq. Unlike some of my fellow leftists, I do not think of the men who plant the bombs as the resistance. I do not believe these men are courageously fighting foreign occupation, engaged in a war against American Imperialism.

I think the bakers might agree.

Truth, beauty, etc.



Friday was National Poetry Day. In celebration of same, Apathy Jack has performance, while Harvest Bird has fragments. Meanwhile, everything is digital at the NZ Electronic Poetry Centre.

Update: Zen Tiger has Tyger and Tangerine Dream, while PC has more poems.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

News 29/7

Da Vinci code theories crash Last Supper websites
Jesuits take word of God to Second Life
Pope Benedict admits evidence for evolution
Religion joins US election debate
Red-faced church sorry for blue dean
Rising violence in schools blamed on discipline changes
MySpace Finds 29,000 Sex Offenders
'Gay' rally in Georgia cancelled

With thanks to Craig

Friday, July 27, 2007

Arts and letters

Other places on Internet may offer you rather distasteful video clips, such as tramps fighting and skateboarders suffering unpleasant injuries. The Fundy Post, however, has the noblest intentions of civility and culture. So when this blog brings you a fight, it is between a writer and an actor. It also has French subtitles.

The following bohemian death-match is from Norman Mailer's 1971 film, Maidstone. It features Mr Rip Torn attacking Mr Mailer with a hammer, quite unexpectedly, and Mr Mailer biting a chunk out of Mr Torn's ear. The film is being shown in a retrospective in New York at present. You can read more about it in the NYT, The New York Sun and Time.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Youth against Fascism

3 Quarks Daily discusses Vladimir Putin's teenage fanclub:
The word [Nashi] means ‘ours’, and it is in the nominative plural.  That is to say, there is more than one thing that is ‘ours’, but nowhere in the literature is a precise inventory offered.  The clean teens of Nashi are, as we learn from the ‘Ideologiia’ section of their website, strong defenders of tradition, of respect for parental and political authority, strong opponents of corrupt morality (sex, drugs, laziness), and wary watchers of the non-Russian peoples within Russia’s boundaries.  In view of all this, one might be surprised to learn that they are also the staunch opponents of something they call ‘fascism’.
Here's Sonic Youth:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vers une architecture

He first teleports me to his studio, where he is sitting at a glass table outside his showroom smoking a giant cigarette, with what appears to be a female slave in a trance kneeling at his feet. "Greetings Vitruvius," he says, and shakes my hand. Actually, he puts his hand through my back because I'm facing the wrong way.


The Guardian reports on the practice of architecture in Second Life.

Monday, July 23, 2007

In Brigadoon again

Oh dear. My former employers still persist in trying to make everyone believe that Dr Bill Cooke really, really, was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Buffalo (2003-2006). So determined are they to prove white is the new black that they have now amended Dr Cooke's bio to include a link to a jpg of his letter of acceptance and his staff card. They really are trying very hard.

It won't work. As I observed in a previous post, there is no University of Buffalo and the Department Chair of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo has said that Dr Cooke was never a member of the Faculty.

In particular, the NZARH have not addressed the explanation given by the Department Chair, in a letter to me:
As I observed in my previous communication about this matter, the Philosophy Department has often offered courtesy appointments to resident fellows at the Center for Inquiry to permit them to get a parking tag and to use the library at the University at Buffalo. In the past we were required to submit paperwork that appointed people as visiting professors in order to establish this relationship, although in our “in-house” language the relationship was called “research fellow”. (I suspect that Dean Sukhatme, who was new to the university at the time, may not have been aware of the terminological disparity.) At any rate, these appointments were not true appointments to the faculty, for the fellows did not teach for us or receive salaries.  In order to remove misunderstanding that this situation sometimes generated (more than once I should add), we now use different titles and do not submit paperwork that appoints people as visiting faculty.
I find it pitiful that the governing body of an organisation which is supposedly based on Reason is prepared to put its reputation at stake for the sake of someone who is on record as having lied to them and of having used his position for personal gain. But that is their problem. Here's Nick Lowe:

Rock logic, water logic

In search of ley lines on the island of Lundy:
On the rugged east side of the island we found a lovely rounded stone behind some sheep fields. Shaun reckoned it was 'female' with 'strong energy', so he and Lawrence decided to bless it. Lawrence whispered tenderly: 'Thank you, stone, for being here,' and poured water on it. As it ran down the side, I pointed out that it made the stone look like the yin-and-yang symbol. They jumped on this, declaring the stone male and female, even more special. We held hands around it, shut our eyes and chanted 'Ommmmm'.

Mad about Harry

Over at NZ Conspiratorial, Fletch has been watching too much television:
Anyway, back to GOD TV. I was watching this the other day and it had a segment with a man and a woman who turned out to be Wendy and Rory who started the station. Wendy was praying especially for Britain on this segment as she felt that it was under attack, and that the weather was somehow connected to the occult and Harry Potter. Yes, you can scoff, but I wondered....
Of course, this weekend is the launch of the new Harry book and it has seen some of the worst weather Britain has seen in YEARS. Coincidence? Maybe....
Maybe, but the Rt Rev Graham Dow, Anglican Bishop of Carlisle, has another theory about the floods. He blames the gays. Yes, it's God's judgement on society, once again. And once again it is a flood, which is a rather crude way of telling off the people: Daffyd may be the only gay in the village but everybody gets wet. You think He would have at least warned the righteous to build boats or take out insurance.

Of course, the real blame lies with the Government, which "has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want." Hang on; I am no theologian but doesn't God say we are free to act as we want, or does the doctrine of Free Will mean something else? And, whilst we are at it, didn't God tell Noah that he wouldn't send any more floods?

Meanwhile, the Government is also being blamed for Harry Potter:
Blair's 10 years as Prime Minster coincided exactly with the 10 years over which the Harry Potter series was published, 1997-2007. What does this tell us? Professor Bloom argues that Rowling's work appeals to 'millions of "reader non-readers" because they sense her wistful sincerity, and want to join her world, imaginary or not, in their desire to feed a vast hunger for unreality.' It's not a bad summary of the Blair years, is it? The Harry Potter books are pure escapism; clearly the Blair generation of readers craved escape.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Men without hats

I was today reading about Chapeaugraphy, a form of street entertainment in 17th Century Paris invented by Tabarin, the most famous of the Charlatans. It involved taking a ring of heavy felt and forming it into the shapes of various hats. Perhaps it does not seem much like fun, but you must remember they did not have Facebook back then.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI should consider discovering this lost art. Such an ability to perform tricks might come in handy for distracting critics from the huge problem of child abuse in his Church. At present the Roman Catholic Church is adopting a tactic of smearing other institutions that have care of children, by suggesting that the Church has dealt with the problem and that the others should jolly-well get on with it themselves.

Clearly this ruse will not work, since everyone knows (or should know) how Rome has dealt with the problem until now. Consider, for example, Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign as Archbishop of Boston after his to conceal abuse almost brought the Archdiocese to destruction. When he found himself in need of a new job and somewhere to run, the Church took him to its heart by awarding him the position of Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome. This, of course, was the action of John-Paul II; the present Pope is said to take a harder line on the issue - taking any kind of line is considered to be quite staunch, given the Church's reluctance to discuss the matter. But Benedict XVI has done his bit; in May 2001, when he was plain old Cardinal Ratzinger and head of the Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, he sent a letter to all the Bishops reminding them that claims of child sex abuse were subject to the Pontifical Secret, and so should not be reported to the lawful authorities until they had been investigated within the Church.

It is not as if it were a new problem, either: the matter of child sexual abuse by Priests was first addressed a couple of Benedicts ago, in 1741.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The patient's dilemma

Over at Pink Batts, Welly Girl has the solution to health funding issues:
I personally would like to see some privatisation of the hospitals and see people taking out medical insurance, I would happily take out insurance if it means I am going to get better care and treatment in the hospital. Currently I would happily pay to stay in a private hospital when I am sick, but I do not have the funds and they do not have the facilities to look after me when I am at that point.
Anna, it is not facilities which private hospitals are lacking. Indeed, as I am sure your new-found friends in the National Party will tell you, private hospitals are marvellously well-endowed. However, they are unwilling to use their facilities for your benefit, unless you are paying. This is called Capitalism. It is really good way to run a dairy and a really bad way to run a health system. You might like to take a look at the marvellously private American system. You might like to consider how scared ordinary American people are of ill-health and ageing.

Pamziewamzie, your blog needs you.

You know what to do

Trade Aid has a campaign to ban the import of goods produced with slave labour and has started an online petition.

If you need any further information, Idiot/Savant has links about Slavery.

Family values

...the prince, who has emerged as among the more entrepreneurial of the Windsors, has converted his Range Rover and Jaguar to run on used cooking oil. "He works tirelessly to make a difference for the better and do what he can to ensure that the country is a harmonious and civilized place in which to live."
What the Monarchy has and how they hang on to it, from the International Herald Tribune.

If you're so clever, why aren't you rich?

Conrad Black has been found guilty of criminal fraud, as my kinsman reports in one of Black's former papers.

Black could go to jail for fifteen years for crimes in which he received 1.7 million Pounds. Is it just me or is Lord Black incredibly stupid? He already had millions, lots of them, but he squandered his businesses and his liberty for less than two million quid.

By all accounts, from those who know him, Lord Black is something of a Count, but he was always thought of as a smart bloke. Not only was he good at running newspapers but he was a capable historian. Now he will have the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the library.

One privilege Lord Black will not be losing is his peerage. However bad a Lord behaves and however badly he behaved to get his peerage, they can't take that away from him.

Elsewhere, PC has his own delightfully eccentric take on the story, castigating Black for his biography of FDR.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Grand Link clear-out

I have been going through my bookmarks. Here are some links you might want to follow.

Colin Bower on the The Epistemology of wine.

Gay Talese on some Americans in Paris.

Jon Zobenica on men's magazines.

Sarah Vine on How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read.

Lynsey Hanley on How to be Right.

Barbara Ehrenreich on the history of Depression.

Michael Bywater on Evil.

Joan Acocella on typing.

Wayne Koestenbaum on Mallarmé.

Jonathan Jones on Richard Serra.

Hermione Lee on the novel.

Christopher Hart on a flat Earth.

Peter Buchanan on the tower.

Robert R Harris on drink.

Here are the Junior Boys:

Almost famous

Modest and self-effacing though I am, I think you should know that the previous post is today's Herald on Sunday Blog of the Week. Yay me.

Here's The Tubes:

Friday, July 13, 2007

Teenage riot (postponed)

Mr Farrar has been collecting anecdotes from the Youth Parliament, including this one:
There was a bit of controversy among Youth MPs because of the way the Powhiri was conducted. Youth MPs were lined up according to race and then gender and seated as per Powhiri guidelines but members of the public who came along were free to sit wherever they liked, rather than having women directed to the back.
Can someone explain to be why this is tolerated? I would be interested to know what was the exact order of preference, given the composition of the Parliament. The seventeen Maori have a ceremonially superior status to those of other races, as do the minority of men to the majority of women. Were the Asian women at the back?

The people who go to Youth Parliament are some of our brightest and best, yet this discrimination is so institutionalised that nobody does anything about it. The youth parliamentarians seem to have been unconcerned about the practice in itself, just a little annoyed that members of the public were not categorised in the same way. Shouldn't they be shouting about this? Are we not simply letting another bunch of old men continue with their age-old practice of putting themselves and their sons ahead of everyone else?

Immigrants to this country should be warned that, while New Zealand is a progressive Social Democracy with equal rights for all and a Human Rights Act, in some circumstances they will be subject to discrimination on the grounds of race and gender. Whilst such discrimination may appear to be insulting, immigrants should understand that it is a traditional Maori cultural practice and is, therefore, acceptable.

Here's Sonic Youth:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blank generation

In Melbourne, a boy with the rather cool name of Max Hell has been denied entry to a Catholic school because his father won't change his name.

Here's Richard Hell:



With thanks to Craig

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Take the skinheads shopping

Fascists: not just a threat to liberal democracy but so difficult to find the perfect gift for. But now there's an answer for those difficult-to-please white supremacist friends and family: Aryan Wear.

Run by White Nationalists for White Nationalists, Aryan Wear has everything for the stylish and fashion-conscious racialist. How about a fetching pair of Afrikakorps Shorts, which goes so well with the Volk und Vaterland Polo shirt and the SS Loyalty Zip Up Hoodie? Suits you, sir. And to keep the rain off your fascist threads, nothing beats the Iron Cross Umbrella.

For the ladies, the Camo Blazer combines fashion and military camo for an aggressive style, yet the Pink Pleated Plaid Mini Skirt seems out of place; the  Very Happy Hitler Cotton Thong Bikini defies description.

In case you are worried about who is making your purchases, Aryan Wear has an ethics policy.

If you are still looking for your fascist baby, try Aryan dating.

Here's Camper van Beethoven:

Monday, July 09, 2007

More from the truthiness blog

Confronted with evidence that gays and lesbians differ physiologically, I M Fletcher argues "maybe their are physiological differences between gays and straights but the question is whether these differences are the cause of homosexuality or because of the lifestyle that is led."

Two thoughts:

1. Does this mean that, if you listen to too much Sophie Ellis-Bextor, one morning you could wake up left-handed?

2. If gay sex changes your fingerprints, it is no wonder the police cannot find those lesbian gangs.

Spiders

Just ignore this post. It is something I have to do for Technorati to pick up this blog and tell the world about it. The following link is for the benefit of Technorati's spiders:

Technorati Profile

Thank you.

Here's The New York Dolls, on the Old Grey Whistle Test:

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sunday supplement

Writers under fire: In the NYT, Rachel Donadio lists those who condemned Salman Rushdie, while John Irving defends G√ľnter Grass.

Elsewhere, Christopher Hitchens meets Rage Boy, Lyndon Hood writes an open letter to a closed Parliament, Ben Myers considers Wikiresearch, Paul Lukas tells the story of Scotch tape and David France shows you how to tell if your best friend is gay.

Meanwhile, The Strategist has a poem by Edmund Blunden, while Frank Stupid has collected even more reading matter.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Valiant-for-truthiness



Over at a previous story, Sam is concerned about becoming a case study of an "overly soft liberal."

Be not of faint heart, Sam. It is not softness or liberalism which is your failing, it is a commitment to argument and facts. You think with your head, while your opponents know with their hearts. You see, they understand (in the sense of that word which means "feel") that it is not truth that matters; it is Truthiness.

Here is an example: you can find out about our country here. Soft-hearted liberals might think there is more to say about New Zealand, more truthful things at that; but they think, they do not feel.

So Jake, you and I concern ourselves with what we can know; while Mr Tips knows that lesbian gangs are violating schoolgirls (with sex toys bought on Internet) and Ian Wishart knows that Intelligent Design is a scientific theory that disproves Evolution.

This is the sound of the suburbs.

Friday, July 06, 2007

O'RLY?

I am not one to shoot fish in a barrel, because it is (a) cruel and (b) unusual; besides, the fish would have enough problems of their own simply by being in the barrel. However, like so many things (including the Creation) it is a metaphor. All of which is a roundabout way of getting to the latest posting by Mr Tips.

Mr Tips has learned that lesbian gangs are bashing and raping young girls. Now, I like to think of Mr Tips as Newman to my Seinfeld but here he is simply helping me: "at first I thought this was some kind of crank scenario, dreamed up by a bored new reporter, but apparently not." No, apparently not; Mr Tips read this story on Lifesite News, which picked it up from Fox News, specifically, The O'Reilly Factor.

You can see where I am headed here, can't you? Lifesite-Fox-O'Reilly: this is not a story that one could take at face value, unless one were of the same mind as Mr Tips. And a little searching reveals that the Southern Poverty Law Center already has done the necessary background checks.

For the benefit of those conservatives with limited attention spans, I will summarise: the story is a load of tosh. There is no national network of lesbian gangs; in the only specific case cited in the O'Reilly story, two of the three lesbians were men; there are no pink glocks (I mean, really, how would you paint a gun pink? I thought these conservatives were supposed to know about guns) and the television report from Memphis which figured strongly in the story was a fantasy.

See, that wasn't difficult, was it? All I had to do was Google. But the best fact of the SPL Center story, I have saved until last: the O'Reilly reporter goes to church in Landover.

Here's Le Tigre:

A jihad against women

Apropos our robust discussion about Islam, the left and women, I post this piece by Christopher Hitchens with the risk of offending almost everybody.

Libby Purves in the Times has a collection of Muslim reactions to the events in London and Glasgow.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Crime story

Nick Bromell teaches English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is a widely published writer. He also went to school with Scooter Libby. In both The American Scholar and in Salon, he has written about his school friend.

Meanwhile, back in NZ, Zen Tiger rejoices that Libby's sentence has been commuted and Andrei of the The Briefing Room hopes for a pardon. Strange, I thought that both would favour criminals serving their full sentences.

Why Atheism is a religious belief (redux)

Thanks to Sam, The Greatest Thread Ever Told is returned from the grave.

Louder than bombs

Over the last few years, and especially since the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, there have been indications across the world of a growing convergence between the forces of Islamist militancy, on the one hand, and the “anti-imperialist” left on the other. Leaving aside widespread, if usually unarticulated, sympathy for the attacks of September 11, 2001, justified on the grounds that “the Americans deserved it,” we have seen since 2003 an overt coincidence of policies, with considerable support for the Iraqi “resistance,” which includes strong Islamist elements, and, more recently and even more explicitly, support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the Middle East itself, and on parts of the European far left, an overt alliance with Islamists has been established, going back at least to the mass demonstrations in early 2003 that preceded the Iraq War, but also including a convergence of slogans on Palestine—supporting suicide bombings and denying the legitimacy of the Israeli state.

Fred Halliday on The Jihadism of Fools, of which a local example can be found here.

Anybody with any lingering delusions about Hamas might like to read its charter, although that might take some time. For a flavour, have a look at Article Seventeen, The Role of Muslim Women, which is to manufacture men, a task in which they are opposed by Zionist organisations like Rotary Clubs and Freemasons.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Luring disco dollies to a life of vice

This could be the great rallying call of the age: no marginalisation without hedonism. It seems the gays, the lesbians and the bisexuals (who want it all and want it now) are taking more than their fair share of the drugs, the alcohol and, of course, the fags.

Naughty boys, girls and ladyboys. It seems the fundies don't want any of it but they don't want you to have it either.

Elsewhere on The Briefing Room, Ian seems to suggest that Science is being contaminated by Atheists, with their naturalistic worldviews.

Gutted

Tonight, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth on the streets of Dubai, now the brave attempt by the plucky little United Arab Emirates to win the America's Cup has been cruelly dashed. In Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah and Sharja as well, the people will be commiserating one another. The simple yet brilliant race strategy of buying a New Zealand team to mount the challenge has failed. The plan was faultless in its planning and execution but, sadly for the proud folk of the UAE, it was not enough. The Swiss billionaire who held the cup was able to buy a better team, by abolishing the rule that team members had to come from the country they purported to represent. So he was able to compile a team that included only three Swiss. This seemed apt, since he was not really Swiss at all, but Italian.

Abolishing the nationality rules allowed the Swiss businessmen who is really Italian to avoid having to rely on Swiss sailors. This was a crucial part of his strategy. As of today, Switzerland still does not have a coastline, so its prowess in yachting is similar to the standing of the Netherlands in mountaineering. Instead, the businessman (who in fact inherited his business from his father) bought lots of New Zealanders, who were regarded as traitors in their own country for opposing the team of New Zealanders belonging to the UAE, or one of its airlines, or one of the airlines belonging to one of the Emirates, or something like that.

According to a respected information source, the America's Cup was once known as the Royal Yacht Squadron Cup or the RYS Cup for One Hundred Sovereigns. Later it was known as the One Hundred Guinea(s) Cup, the Queen’s Cup, the America Cup and the America’s Cup.

So tonight the America's cup, named after a boat that once won it by sailing around the Isle of Wight, is proudly back in the hands of the Swiss, who must be surprised: they only excel in one sport, skiing, which for them is really just a form of transport.

Meanwhile New Zealander and hireling Grant Dalton, who was in charge of the UAE team, has described losing as like having your heart dug out with a spoon, a statement which experts have described as "creepy and weird."

Funny old game, innit?

And here is today's news

Gays are fleeing Poland as leaders Doug and Dinsdale Kaczynski make life more difficult for them. Also in Poland: nuns get uppity. In Australia, Hillsong becomes humanitarian. The religious right in the Liberal party have trouble taking criticism. Muslim terrorists are incompetent, but at least they are keen. The Machete market in Nigeria collapses after elections.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Catholic porn

PC illustrates Bernini's Ecstasy of St Teresa, a work which can be best described as ravishing.

Roman Catholicism was so much more fun during the counter-reformation. Then it was opulent and sensuous; now it is priggish and earnest. St Teresa's own description of her vision can be found here; dirty, dirty, dirty.

The hive mind

In the same year that computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee had the notion of the worldwide web, 1988, cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky, the pioneer of Artificial Intelligence, published his book The Society of Mind. This persuasively viewed human intelligence as the result of a vast number of individually basic cognitive processes, a neurological collective with no central organising principle. 'What magical trick makes us intelligent?' Minsky asked. 'The trick is that there is no trick. The power of intelligence stems from our vast diversity, not from any single, perfect principle... Minds are what brains do.' The idea of the worldwide web was similar in kind. Its 'intelligence' would not be centrally generated, it would live in the simple links between its evolving pages, little neurological pathways; it was a 'hive mind'. Wikipedia is, so far, the best demonstration of that possibility.
The Observer on Wikipedia.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A short post about cheese

At dinner on Sunday night, I learned that GK Chesterton had lamented that poets did not write about cheese. Thanks to the wonders of Internet, I can bring you Chesterton's essay: it has been re-published on the Wensleydale Blog, which I am sure you all read.

Now, I loathe Chesterton with a passion and not just because he is a favourite of mine enemy, Mr Tips (whose present concern is with the the dissidents in the Sisters of Mercy). So it gave me great pleasure to discover that Chesterton obviously knew nothing of James McIntyre, the Cheese Poet of Oxford County, Ontario.

On an unrelated note, my favourite Wikipedia article at present is that on the Oxford comma, which was the subject of a poem by Elizabeth Smither.