29 April 2010

Without Comment

via Andrew Sullivan.

26 April 2010

Spendid use of language

I do like a bit of intelligent vitriol on occasion. Vitriol all by itself is as common as dirt these days, but with a bit of word choice can be fun:
Their whole approach to politics assumes that the other side shares a broadly consistent view of reality. But in John Cole’s acid metaphor, dealing with the agnotological right is like going on a dinner date where you suggest Italian and your date prefers a meal of tire rims and anthrax.

Well, I am off to the dictionary to look up agnotological.

But H.L Mencken and that other guy whose name I forgot would love it.


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Telling stories

As an historian I just tell little stories. Or, as Carmen puts it, "You just make crap up!" Actually, I don't have to make stuff up. The story of real people is so improbable that I don't need to.

Here is a Canadian-born French author talking about stories, and explaining a lot about French intellectual history in the late 20th century:
“After the war French writers rejected the idea of narrative because Hitler and Stalin were storytellers, and it seemed naïve to believe in stories. So instead they turned more and more to theory, to the absurd. The French declined even to tell stories about their own history, including the war in Algeria, which like all history can’t really be digested until it is turned into great literature. Francophone literature doesn’t come out of that background. It still tells stories.”

You can find the whole article, which is about the French language and how it has burst the narrow bounds of France and true 'Frenchiness.'

suddenly I have the strangest desire to get back to reading "La Reine Margot."

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25 April 2010

Norway, Home of giants!

Such was the title of a fake, and achingly hilarious, spoof on travelogues and Norwegian society by John Cleese of Monty Python fame. At the time, though living in Minnesota and thoroughly familiar with the Norwegian mindset, I wondered what caused him to berate the Norwegians as humorless, homicidal maniacs on skis. Now I know.

Norway banned Monty Python's "Life of Brian" as being too offensive.

This led the more liberal Sweden to run ads for the movie trumpeting "So Funny It Was Banned In Norway!"

Odd. I always thought you had to have a sense of humor to serve lutefisk to guests.

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12 April 2010

How many of us ARE there?

Or rather, WERE there? Someone actually tries to figure out how many people have ever lived. I link to it so that I can later show it to my class on migrations in world history.

The answer is: 106,456,367,669.

and counting.

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Premature report of a death

I think the wish was father to the thought, as so often in politics.

Now comes the fun part.


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08 April 2010

Same old thing, struggling to rise again

The old Confederacy. And Gail Collins, here.

Pushed the wrong button. This post is under Construction.


04 April 2010

But you knew this already ...

... the elites of all sectors are busy trying to continue to squeeze the system so that they can become even more elite. And this most certainly includes the presidents of our leading universities (see, that last phrase let's me off the hook with my own employers).

From The Washington Monthly:
* Given universities' financial troubles, it's not at all encouraging to see so many college presidents give themselves raises.

The sense of entitlement by our leaders in finance, politics, business and academia is out of control. And it is not as if they were actually doing anything other than leading the institutions they lead anywhere upwards.

Or am I too cynical?

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"I'm a professional, damn it!"

Yes, the man who is paid big bucks for acting stupid brilliantly may actually be ... well, you know. Here is his claim to fame from that little article about wrecking ridiculously expensive cars.
. McLaren F1: $960,000

Rowan Atkinson, the actor, in October 1999 crashed his 240 mph machine, one of the fastest production cars in the world at the time.The former star of Blackadder and Mr Bean collided with the rear of a Metro driven by Margaret Greenhalgh, 62, as he was driving north on the A6 near Lancaster, UK.

You might remember the Metro: slow, tiny, awkward, and about as expensive brand new as a new set of tires for Roland's car.

kids, don't try this at home.

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Stupid is as Stupid does

And here is a nice story of what stupid can do from AOL.com

Bugatti Veyron: $1.25 million

[some dolt], 39, was driving his millionaire older brother's brand new rare car at 100 mph in the pouring rain along a 40 mph stretch of the B375 near Chertsey, Surrey, UK in March 2007 when he collided with a Vauxhall Astra.

This wins the unnamed dolt the second place prize in World Class Stupidity.

First place, or course, goes to his older brother for lending him the keys to a $1.23 million car.

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The neferious Amazon One Star Brigade

Once or twice I may have voiced a sour opinion here and there about the embarrassments that post most of the one star reviews on Amazon dot com. Yet reading them is oddly compelling if you can tolerate the depression that sets in afterward. I thought I was the only one who felt this way.

But no, there is another poor soul out there who has said in print exactly what I am thinking (and believe me, I have pulled my punches writing about it). Anyway, Jeanette Demain, on Salon.com reaches what she hopes is the nadir when she finds someone who hated The Diary of Ann Frank. She assumes that this book above all others should be immune from the One Star Brigade's attacks.

But, oh, how wrong I was.

I didn't like this book because it was boring. That's all that needs to be said. It was very very very very very very very very very very very boring. If you have to read this book shoot yourself first.

Can you imagine being this person? It seems like a life completely devoid of any subtlety, introspection, caring or empathy. Or am I reading too much into these few sentences? I hope I am. Maybe this "reviewer" was just having a bad day. But, just the same, I hope I never actually meet him or her. It might get very uncomfortable.

Boy. I wish I had written this article.

on the other hand, if you think you might agree with this particular One Star recruit, you should immediatley follow their final advice.

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