Monday, October 31, 2005

Apple tribute to Rosa Parks

Pretty cool, huh? One question though: why is the racist whitey behind her, wearing an Ipod, too?

Clemente takes reins at Bilbao

Sid Lowe has this to say about this colorful character:

"And Clemente could be the ideal man. Like a woeful masseuse, he does have a habit of rubbing people up the wrong way, but he will bring organisation and pride back to an Athletic team who had begun to amble disinterestedly. He will certainly provoke a reaction.

And a few giggles. This, after all, is the wind-up merchant and quip-maestro who destroyed a trouble-seeking journalist who had claimed to know what he was talking about because he'd "seen a lot of football". Clemente promptly responded with the observation that "the cows at Lezama [Athletic's countryside training ground] watch football every day and they haven't got a fucking clue." And who, when he was Spain coach, gave an international debut to Atlético Madrid goalkeeper José Molina.

On the left wing.

I love colorful characters.

Dating for Farmers

Seems a bit exclusionary to me. As for their slogan "City Folk just don't get it": If by "get it", they mean Avian Flu then sure, I'll pass.

Check out the founder's succinct summation of the two groups of people who inhabit America, today:

"I'm Jerry Miller, founder of There are basically two groups in America. Group one, their life revolves around four dollar cups of coffee, taxis cabs, blue suits, high heels, conference rooms and getting ahead at all costs in the corporate world. If you fall into this group you're probably in the wrong place. Group two, enjoys blue skies, wide open spaces, raising animals, appreciating nature and truly understand the meaning of southern hospitality, even if you don't live in the south. This group makes up Americas Heartland. This is not a geographic area, this is a slice of America with good old fashioned traditional values, values that were never lost by the farmer".

Yup, blacks, latinos and them fellers that don't like football need not apply. Direct your city-spoilt sniggers here.

Vintage Posters

Not as amusing as "Curry and Rice Girl" but not bad all the same. Check it here.

A fatwa on football (Saudi Style)

I normally wouldn't believe tripe like this, but I actually lived in Saudi and know that there is no ceiling on lunacy.

Monday October 31, 2005
The Guardian

The legal opinions proclaimed by Islamic scholars, known as fatwas, have proliferated in the Muslim world since the 1980s. The growth in fatwas - some of them contradictory - has led to debate over who can legitimately issue them. As part of a government drive to eliminate frivolous fatwas, the Saudi newspaper Al Watan recently published one such edict setting out new rules for football. We publish an edited translation below.

In the name of God the merciful and benevolent:
1. International terminology that heretics use, such as "foul," "penalty", "corner," "goal", "out" and others, should be abandoned and not said. Whoever says them should be punished and ejected from the game.

2. Do not call "foul" and stop the game if someone falls and sprains a hand or foot or the ball touches his hand, and do not give a yellow or red card to whoever was responsible for the injury or tackle. Instead, it should be adjudicated according to Sharia rulings concerning broken bones and injuries.

3. Do not follow the heretics, the Jews, the Christians and especially evil America regarding the number of players. Do not play with 11 people. Add to this number or decrease it.

4. Play in your regular clothes or your pyjamas or something like that, but not coloured shorts and numbered T-shirts, because shorts and T-shirts are not Muslim clothing. Rather, they are heretical and western clothing, so beware of imitating their fashion.

5. If you have fulfilled these conditions and intend to play soccer, play to strengthen the body in order better to struggle in the way of God on high and to prepare the body for when it is called to jihad. Soccer is not for passing time or the thrill of so-called victory.

6. Do not play in two halves. Rather, play in one half or three halves in order to completely differentiate yourselves from the heretics, the corrupted and the disobedient.

7. If neither of you beats the other, or "wins", as it is called, and neither puts the leather between the posts, do not add extra time or penalties. Instead leave the field, because winning with extra time and penalty kicks is the pinnacle of imitating heretics and international rules.

8. Young crowds should not gather to watch when you play because if you are there for the sake of sports and strengthening your bodies as you claimed, why would people watch you? You should make them join your physical fitness and jihad preparation, or you should say: "Go proselytise and seek out morally reprehensible acts in the markets and the press and leave us to our physical fitness."

9. You should spit in the face of whoever puts the ball between the posts or uprights and then runs in order to get his friends to follow him and hug him like players in America or France do, and you should punish him, for what is the relationship between celebrating, hugging and kissing and the sports that you are practising?

10. You should use two posts instead of three pieces of wood or steel that you erect in order to put the ball between them, meaning that you should remove the crossbar in order not to imitate the heretics and in order to be entirely distinct from the soccer system's despotic international rules.

11. Do not do what is called "substitution," that is, taking the place of someone who has fallen, because this is a practice of the heretics in America and elsewhere.

UK Citizenship Test Question

Or D, leave the UK for a country where spilt pint protocol figures lower on the national consciousness...I'm not making this up, this is an actual question!

Life in the UK explains what to do if you spill someone's pint in the pub. What, according to the book, usually happens next?

A: You would offer to buy the person another pint

B: You would offer to dry their wet shirt with your own

C: You may need to prepare for a fight in the car park

St Peter role prompts death threat against Omar Sharif

Anyone else find it odd that the terrorists are keeping an eye on the Italian TV schedule?

John Hooper in Rome
Monday October 31, 2005
The Guardian

A message on a website linked to al-Qaida has threatened death to the veteran Egyptian actor Omar Sharif after he played St Peter in an Italian TV film.

In remarks widely reported in Italy earlier this month, the 73-year old actor, a convert to Islam, said he had "seemed to hear voices" during the filming of St Peter, a two-part mini-series shown last week. Sharif was quoted as saying: "Playing Peter was so important for me that even now I can only speak about it with difficulty. It will be difficult for me to play other roles from now on."

The Italian news agency Adnkronos International said that a message on a web forum used in the past by al-Qaida had a link to a site carrying the threat. "Omar Sharif has stated that he has embraced the crusader idolatry," it said. "He is a crusader who is offending Islam and Muslims and receiving applause from the Italian people. I give you this advice, brothers, you must kill him."

Adnkronos International, which has strong links with the Middle East, closely monitors Arabic language media. The agency said other messages posted to the site had protested at the appeal.

The actor, who was named Michael Chalhoub, was brought up a Christian. He converted to Islam in the 1950s after marrying the Egyptian film diva Faten Hamama. They divorced after two decades. Sharif shot to international stardom as Sherif Ali Ibn el-Kharish in David Lean's 1962 desert epic, Lawrence of Arabia. But he has repeatedly upset fans in the Muslim world. In 1968, with memories of the six-day war with Israel fresh in Arab minds, he caused a furore by kissing a Jewish woman, Barbra Streisand, in the movie Funny Girl. His films were banned in Egypt as a result.

In 2003 he stirred controversy playing a Muslim shopkeeper who befriends a Jewish teenager in the French film Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran. Interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier this year, Sharif said: "I believe in everything and in nothing ... the first thing I was taught ... at catechism was that God is justice and I don't see justice in the world."

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing.
He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."
"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"
As the President sits, head in hands, his staff quietly
watches this display of emotion.
Finally, the President looks up and asks,
"How many is a brazillion?"

Best line about oil prices

"Would you like regular, unleaded or bend-over?"

Women CANNOT rape boys over eleven!

I don't care what anyone says; 29-year old man with 13 year old girl=RAPE. 29-year old woman with 13 year old boy=NOT RAPE. I feel very strongly about this. They even make movies and TV shows celebrating older women who seduce younger boys ("Tadpole", "Jimmy Reardon" and "Six Feet Under"). How comes nobody is supporting this view in the media? The Post even went as far as labelling the affair "sordid" and "sick".

It's not "sordid" or "sick"'s fine. Mary Kay LeTourneau married Vinny Fulaau and they're both pretty happy.

I suspect that this kid (now 23) reported this affair because his life wasn't going well and he felt that he needed to blame it on something. I cannot stand victim mentalities. In this age of Oprah, Doctor Phil and cry-on-tv-and-thou-will-be-cleansed, there are very few VICTIMS but there are many VOLUNTEERS.

This article is ridiculous. I could rip it to shreds on so many different levels that I feel it's not even warranted. Susan are a tool. Bill O'Reilly showed you to be the laughing stock that you are.

Statutory Rape Double Standard
Susan Estrich
Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005

The date has been set. The bride has made her selections and registered at a downtown Seattle department store. The couple already has two children, so some people might say it's about time. In this case, it isn't.

This is a couple who never should have been together. It is a crime, not a cause for celebration.

Mary Kay Letourneau, 43, and her former sixth-grade student, Vili Fualaau, 22, are planning to marry in April. Letourneau was convicted in 1997 of statutory rape and served seven and a half years in prison for the crime.
"It's going to be fabulous seeing them get hitched finally," one of their friends told the Seattle paper. "It's long overdue."

Would he be saying that if a 33-year-old male sixth-grade teacher had raped and impregnated a 12-year-old girl?

Letourneau was not even imprisoned after her 1997 conviction until she refused to obey the judge's order to stay away from the then-14-year-old. Only when she made clear that she had no intention of ending the relationship did the judge order her incarcerated.

No man in a similar situation would have enjoyed such leniency. Men who commit statutory rape, particularly if it involves a student-teacher relationship and an age disparity as big as this one, are called rapists and punished severely. Their victims are rightly considered just that.

Women who do the same thing are called "Mrs. Robinson," and their victims, too often, are afraid even to report the crime lest they be mocked for not knowing how "lucky" they are.

Upward of 90 percent of all rapes are committed by men. But across the country, a recent spate of cases resembling the Letourneau case has cast attention on the other side of the gender divide. In Tennessee, 27-year-old Pamela Turner is awaiting trial on charges that she had sex with a 14-year-old physical education student of hers; in California, 28-year-old Sarah Salorio has pleaded not guilty to charges of having sex with two of her students and inappropriately touching a third boy, all of them under 14; in Florida, lawyers for 24-year-old teacher Debra Lafave are planning to offer an insanity defense against charges that she had sex with a then-14-year-old student in her home, classroom and car.

None of these women is "Mrs. Robinson" and none of these boys will escape the injury and stigma that rape victims too often suffer. In many respects, being a boy can make it even harder – harder to come forward in the first place, harder to testify, harder to deal later on with the complex of emotions and feelings that can so easily get in the way of a healthy sexual relationship.

It doesn't matter if the boys "went along" with their teachers – consent is no defense to statutory rape. What makes all of these cases particularly egregious is not only the gaping age differences between the women and the boys, but also the abuse of power inherent in the teacher-student relationship.

All of this is so clear when the man is the teacher and the girl is the student that it is striking to see how automatically most of us apply the double standard. Criminal defense attorney Bernie Grimm makes the point that in his experience, defending some 3,000 different criminals, good-looking women always get lower sentences when accused of the same crime.

The teachers here face sentences ranging from five years to 40; Letourneau's seven years was decidedly on the long side, especially for a good-looking woman. Yet there is no telling what price these boys, or their wives and girlfriends, will pay later in life, for the harm done by women whose job was to teach them, in classrooms where they were supposed to be safe.

Female teacher charged with statutory rape

A teacher at a Manhattan Montessori school has been charged with the statutory rape and sodomy of a male student, starting when the boy was 13 and continuing for several years, prosecutors said Friday.
Lina Sinha, 38, surrendered to police Thursday and was charged with second- and third-degree sodomy and third-degree rape. Each charge relates to an adult having sexual contact with a minor.

Sinha was arraigned Friday in Manhattan Criminal Court. Judge ShawnDya L. Simpson released her without bail on the condition that she give up her passport. A prosecutor said Sinha has family ties in India and could possibly flee.

Prosecutors said Sinha, a teacher at the Montessori school on East 55th Street, began a sexual relationship with the boy in June 1996, when he was 13 and she was 29. Their encounters continued until the boy was at least 17, according to a felony complaint.

The teacher and her underage student had sex in a school van, inside the school, and in a school-owned apartment, prosecutors said.

The affair continued after the youth transferred to another school, prosecutors said. They said Sinha could not be charged with improper sexual contact with the youth after he turned 17 because that is the age of consent in New York State.

The student, now 22, recently reported the relationship to authorities.

Sinha's lawyer did not return calls for comment.

The case is due back in court in January.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Big Apple smells of maple syrup

Apparently, the terrorists are planning to bake us pancakes

(1010 WINS) (NEW YORK) The calls and emails started coming into the 1010 WINS newsroom late last night and they all wanted to know the same thing - what is that odor hanging over the city?

Most described it as smelling like maple syrup, although at least one person thought it was more like peanuts.

So, what is it? The official answer at this hour is we don't know and neither apparently does anyone else. There's speculation that whatever it is drifted over from New Jersey.

The NYPD, the City Office of Emergency Management, the City Department of Environmental Protection, even the Coast Guard investigated. The air was tested, but nothing sinster was found and the search for the source continues.

One listener who emailed from Cliffside Park, NJ said he's been smelling the same aroma in his neighborhood for the past 14 years, but it seems more pervasive lately. He did not know the source.

Beat the bookie

Here's the key thing to remember about betting: you're not betting against the outcome of an unknown event. Nobody has that kind of knowledge. In order to be more profitable in the long term, you need to bet against the odds of an unknown event...and that requires some educated guesswork and knowledge of human nature. The golden rule is that nothing and nobody is as bad as they say he/ she is and nothing and nobody is as good-and yet, that's what the masses will believe. All "odds" are inflated and if you play the favorites, you never win big but you always lose big.

Play the long as it's not a total dog.

Why half-time is the moment when brave betters make most money on the markets

by Kevin Pullein
The Guardian

When Aston Villa played Bolton on the opening day of the Premiership season there were four goals in the first nine minutes - but none in the next 81. When Birmingham played Liverpool last month, there were no goals in the first 67 minutes - but four in the next 23.

It goes to show that when unusual things happen in one part of a football match they may not continue to do so during the rest of the match. It is surprising how many people become convinced that they will. And this can present wonderful opportunities for punters who have caught the bug of betting in-play on person-to-person exchanges like Betfair and Betdaq.

In financial markets, there is a well-documented tendency for people to overreact to events. It is present in betting markets, just as in all the others. And it is most pronounced when there is trading in-play, because then people have to make instant decisions.
The graphic below illustrates vividly how the number of goals scored in the first half of a football match has very little impact on the number of goals likely to be scored in the second.

Yet you can be sure that if there are a large number of goals in the first half of any of this weekend's televised Premiership games - Wigan v Fulham and Middlesbrough v Manchester United tomorrow, West Bromwich v Newcastle on Sunday - there will be lots of people wanting to bet that there will be even more in the second half. And vice-versa. As so often in football betting, there may be value-for-money prices available to those who are brave enough to do the opposite of what most people do.

Clearly a lack of first-half action should not stop punters from predicting goals. The precise number likely to be scored in the second half of a match varies according to who is playing, but in a typical Premiership fixture there is a 74% chance of one or more goals, a 39% chance of two or more, a 16% chance of three or more and a 5% chance of four or more.

2000 Dead in Iraq

I got an email from the John Kerry campaign, predicitibaly on the day that the 2,000th US casualty in the Iraqi conflict. The usual impotent Kerry mud-slings were hoisted: Bush is an asshole, we're heading in the wrong direction, why the hell didn't you vote for me in 2004 etc. All over the media, the two camps had obviously prepped themselves for this not insignificant number of American dead. The viciousness and the political grandstanding was, as usual, bleating loudly.

I knew it was all coming. From a marketing standpoint for both parties, it had to be done. And like most marketing efforts, it's crude, obnoxious and insensitive. I wished they could have shown some class, but that's not their way.

I'm a moderate and here's what I think they should have done: nothing. Paid the fallen the respect they deserve and declare this a non-political day. Make no smears, no accusations, no finger-pointing and no agenda-furthering. Just pay respects to the fallen and SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR ONE FRIGGIN' DAY, BOTH OF YOU!

Ward Churchill speaks

I don't agree with Ward Churchill's opinions but I agree with some of his views: he's right about the suffering that the world goes through which the United States doesn't know (or pretends not to know) anything about. He's wrong to call the traders in the WTC on 9/11 "mini-Eichmanns" or "desk murderers" because they contribute to the system.

I should point out that I'm also suspicious of Jon Cohen (the writer of this article); he's not willing to concede that Churchill, for all his objectionable behaviour and opinions, may have some points that make sense and should be considered. He also segues to a criticism of Finkelstein, which reveals his bias toward anything anti-zionist. In other words, this dude may not be as objective a review of Churchill as I would have liked to present...but hey, you have a brain too. Reach your own conclusion.

Ward Churchill, whose status as a Professor at the University of Colorado is now in doubt due to various charges of biographical and academic fraud, was invited by the DePaul University Cultural Center to give a lecture. DePaul is the largest Catholic university in America, and has been embroiled in controversy over academic freedeom.

The weeks preceding the talk had seen a dispute between DePaul administration and the College Republicans. The College Republicans questioned DePaul’s paying Churchill to lecture at DePaul, and for refusing to say how much he was paid. They were also upset that they were not allowed to put up posters critical of Churchill, and were excluded from a meeting for groups seeking funds from the Cultural Center. After a somewhat confrontational meeting between a representative of the College Republicans and the director of the Cultural Center over these issues, the Director walked out and banned the College Republicans from the Center.

Subsequently, the main Churchill talk that was originally to be open to the public was changed so that it was open only to DePaul students and faculty who registered in advance and could produce a valid ID at the entrance. A follow-up meeting with Churchill was now open only to those already funded by the Center.

An hour and a half before his talk, students for and against Churchill started gathering outside the Student Center where a lively and at times heated debate went on up until the start of the talk.

While the general public had been excluded, as a faculty member I was permitted to attend. I sat down between a student, who was receiving extra credit for attending and doing a write-up, and a faculty member from the School of Education, who was giving extra credit to students from his class who attended and did some kind of unspecified follow-up.

Before Churchill spoke, two women who were not introduced to the audience came to the front of the room and asked everyone to close their eyes. They proceeded to chant for several minutes, after which they said something about it being a ritual cleansing and left the stage. The director of the Cultural Center, Harvette Gray, made a few remarks referring to the stress that had preceded the talk, and criticized those who had opposed Churchill’s visit. She said she got through this period because the earthquake in Pakistan allowed her to put her own situation in perspective. She made some rambling remarks about now understanding McCarthyism and introduced the speaker, giving him a huge hug as he came up on stage.

Churchill began by talking about 9/11. As he watched the news that day, he said that he was struck by the commentators repeated reference to it as senseless violence. He cited a report that claimed over half a million children in Iraq had been killed by the sanctions. I never understood how people came up with these figures and I have always found them implausible. He also described Israeli soldiers murdering defenseless rock-throwing children and pointed to the presence of ten thousand American soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia. These were the reasons cited by al Qaeda for the attacks.

He next addressed the question of his ethnicity. This began as a tirade against the Colorado media. As he put it “no white reporter is going to define whether or not I am an Indian”. This of course ignores the fact that he has used this claim to get a position as head of an ethnic studies department, he uses his claim to legitimize his attacks on white people, and he sidesteps the fact that Indian groups disavow his credibility as an Indian. He rambled on about this topic for a long time, dwelling especially on the drop of blood rule that he claims is still used to define a person as black. He told a story about a woman from Louisiana going to court in 1983 to prove that she was white and the court finding that one ancestor from 1776 was black and she was declared black. This claim and story seemed very strange, and not credible given the date of the supposed court case (1983). In the context of the talk the point was that white people were using these definitions to control people of color.

He asked the audience who among them was pure white. This piece of demagoguery is the kind of thing that makes some white people at such talks uncomfortable, because after being condemned for half an hour for the problems of the world that befall people of color, they are singled out in the audience. As much of the audience was made up of white supporters of Churchill, it probably didn’t have a therapeutic effect with that part of the audience, at least.

But it was a stupid question in any case, because there is no way anyone could possibly know the purity of their skin color. In a talk that emphasized the foolishness of racial division, the question might have meant something. But at a talk in which the implicit assumption is the oppression of people of color at the hands of wealthy whites, what was the use of pointing out the lack of clarity in racial definitions?

The talk turned to his favorite bottom line for evil, Adolph Eichmann. He pointed out that even in Israel they were never able to convict him of personally killing anyone. The Israelis tried but they dropped that charge. Eichmann was someone who did the scheduling for the Holocaust. He was a desk murderer. For Churchill the people who were bond traders in the Twin Towers were not innocent because they participated in the corporate system that is responsible for the vast majority of slaughter in the world. Presumably they were desk killers too. Churchill stated that Hitler exterminated the wrong people. He should have exterminated the audience’s grandparents, not the Jews.

The moral calculus of equating the buying and selling of stocks with coordinating the extermination of six million Jews is at the heart of the controversy that surrounds Ward Churchill and marks him as a complete crackpot and a moral idiot. It is simply amazing that there are people on the left, some of them at DePaul, that want to claim Churchill as their own. The Churchill lecture shows that on a college campus, an applause line these days is that one’s grandparents should have been exterminated by Hitler.

There were some more remarks explicitly talking about white privilege, and then after conferring about the lateness of the hour the lecture came to an end. A lot of the people in the audience stood up and applauded very appreciatively. A few of us remained in our seats and did not.

A short question and answer period followed. The questions were selected by an organizer of the event from a collection of questions submitted on index cards that had been placed on people’s seats before the talk.

Most of the questions were pretty innocuous but there were two that Churchill didn’t like. In his responses, one got a true picture of what an intimidating presence he can be. He was asked whether he thought that exporting jobs to the third world resulted in bringing development through investment. As he answered the question, Churchill got increasingly angry about the suggestion that this investment did anything more than make a few capitalists rich at the expense of the people who got the jobs.

What was most interesting about his response was that by the end of it he was in such a rage, he was calling the anonymous questioner a Nazi. In a classroom situation the questioner might have wanted to follow up by asking him why the people in the third world choose to work at these jobs if their alternatives are so much better. But it was clear after hearing the anger in his answer that nobody would be comfortable asking him anything that would contradict his opinion.

The second question that got a hostile reaction was “what would he do about illegal immigration”. To this he answered, illegal immigration started in 1607, apparently implying that this land was stolen beginning with the first colony in Jamestown. Here’s where Churchill’s phony Indian persona legitimizes his demagoguery. He then said he would like to see all the wealthy people leave America and replaced by all who wanted to come in.

That was the end of Churchill’s talk and he left the room.

Then the Vice President for Student Affairs, Jim Doyle, got up and made a few comments. He made reference to the controversy in the three weeks prior to the visit. Doyle said he was glad people had shown interest and come to the meeting and thought the arguing outside the student center was a good thing. He said that debate was good as long as people respected everyone’s right to an opinion. Looking over the audience he recounted observing the body language of the audience and noted that it was obvious that some people approved of what Churchill was saying while others did not. Turning his attention to those of us who had not stood or applauded the talk, he admonished us in a scolding manner that we needed to consider seriously the things that Churchill was saying, especially about human rights. Somehow, equating anything Churchill said as advancing the cause of human rights seemed ridiculous, since Churchill had effectively justified the killings at the World Trade Center, and suggested a more suitable target for Hitler’s extermination machine: the audience’s grandparents.

After that the evening was thankfully over.

The entire evening was a frightening experience. Churchill’s talk was typical of the “shame the audience because they are white, male or middle class” genre, where the speaker attacks the audience for who they are rather than what they have done. If the speaker succeeds in intimidating the audience, by the end of the talk the humiliated audience is applauding vigorously, hoping their favorable response to the speech will bring some sign of exemption from the speaker. It happened a lot in the sixties and it is just as distasteful today, since those in the audience against whom the attacks are directed are not guilty of anything other than being white, male or middle class. While most of the audience was white, it was made up mostly of Churchill sympathizers. For the director of student affairs of the university to single out Churchill’s opponents after the speech amounted to an official DePaul endorsement of this type of harassment by a well known political demagogue.

DePaul officials are upset by the fact that they are being attacked by the blogsphere. But they should ask themselves how they got into this mess. Maybe the students have the right to some answers.

1. Why was Churchill invited?

2. Why was the Human Rights Workshop open only to Cultural Center-funded student groups?

3. Why shouldn’t the College Republicans be resentful of the fact that they have been effectively excluded from being funded by the Cultural Center?

4. Why was no media allowed to attend Churchill’s talk?

5. Why were no recording devices allowed in the room?

6. Who is funding this event?

7. How much was the speaker paid?

8. Why should the students at DePaul who are white have their tuition dollars used to pay to have a demagogue like Ward Churchill incite hostility towards them simply because they are white.

9. Why are students being given extra credit for attending?

This is not an isolated occurrence. So far this year the students have had a speech by Norman Finkelstein who stated unequivocally that the 1948 Arab/Israeli war was an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by the newly created Jewish state. The fact that the destruction of Israel and the eviction of the Jews was the publicly proclaimed goal of the surrounding Arab states that attacked it was never mentioned. Then Kathy Kelly, the human shield for Saddam and Yasser Arafat, gave a talk on Iraq. In the winter and spring there is to be a program entitled “Confronting Empire”, a series of lectures, conferences and other activities, aimed at “educating” the students. Does anyone seriously believe that with a name like “Confronting Empire” that the program will be objective?

Maybe the DePaul administration needs to take a look at itself and the college’s recent behavior, such as its handling of the Klocek affair instead of blaming the College Republicans or conservative blog sites for their sinking reputation.

Jon Cohen is a Professor of Mathematics at DePaul.

Hate-Mongering by Kamau Kambon

Duke takes O'Reilly to task here for not asking the tough questions (beautifully dubbing his show, The "no-depth" Zone). Anyways, this is a summary of Kambon's hate-mongering. Incidentally, Kamau is against the death penalty which is kind of ironic.

Exterminating White People
By Selwyn Duke

I’ve long believed that there’s only one difference between Adolf Hitler and some of the misbegotten souls who lurk among us: means. I don’t know that I subscribe to the notion that power corrupts, but I do know that it releases inhibitions, causing one’s true colors to shine through.

Inhibitions, however, don’t seem to bedevil one Dr. Kamau Kambon. The Raleigh activist, book store owner, and former instructor at North Carolina State University advocated the “extermination of white people” while speaking at a Pro-black Media Forum at Howard Law School, in an event that was covered in its entirety by C-SPAN.

This esteemed molder of young minds contended that whites have an “international plantation” for blacks, making “every white person on earth a plantation master.” He continued, “You’re either supporting white people in their process of death, or you’re for African liberation.”

Kambon expanded upon the transgressions of white devils and emphatically promulgated a solution, saying,

...(white people) have retina scans, they have what they call racial profiling, DNA banks, and they’re monitoring our people to try to prevent the one person from coming up with the one idea. And the one idea is, how we are going to exterminate white people because that in my estimation is the only conclusion I have come to. We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet to solve this problem.

Then, waxing particularly passionate he stated,

“White people want to kill us. I want you to understand that. They want to kill you. They want to kill you because that is part of their plan.”

The cherry on top of his demagoguery was when he entreated the audience to

“get very serious and not be diverted from coming up with a solution to the problem, and the problem on the planet is white people.”

Would this be the “Final Solution”?

I might add that while most in attendance did not applaud the recommendation of genocide, there was some noticeable clapping.

One ironic aspect of this story is that it arrives on the heels of a piece I just wrote that dealt partially with the West’s increasing inclination to criminalize “hate-speech.” Of course, you won’t find this scribe playing the hypocrite and calling for the muzzling of this sick puppy, for, the last mistake I want to make is to empower Uncle Scam to censor discourse. I would, though, like to see Kambon suffer the scorn and ostracism that should be a consequence of such hate-mongering. But, given my instinct for self-preservation, I won’t hold my breath waiting.

In my view, however, the real villains here aren’t the loathsome Kambon and his acolytes, but those university administrators and effluent-stream media talking heads who enable them through their mistakes of commission and omission. After all, there will always be nuts around, but the media is supposed to be a watchdog. Where is the outrage and copious coverage of remarks that, if uttered by a white man about black folks, would result in excoriation in the press and persona non grata status at future college events? The relative silence is deafening. For sure, if the effluent-stream media is a watchdog, it’s mighty well trained. It only sics those who have skin that’s light or views on the right.

For instance, contrast the treatment of this story with the recent tempest surrounding Bill Bennett’s much-derided comments. For those who don’t know, Bennett was in the midst of addressing the notion that legalized abortion reduces crime and endeavored to make the point that the end doesn’t justify the means. So he put forth a hypothetical: “if you wanted to reduce crime, you could – if that were your sole purpose – you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” Bennett immediately dismissed the idea as “an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do,” while reiterating, “your crime rate would go down.” For daring to get to the heart of an issue with intellectual honesty and incisive argument, Bennett was rewarded by being decried as a bigot by the most scurrilous of character assassins. Of course, Bennett is an infinitely more prominent man, but that has to be at least equalized by Kambon’s infinitely more egregious remarks.

So, using a hypothetical involving racial-genocide while expressing disgust for the idea makes one a pariah, but wholesale advocacy of racial-genocide while spewing venom is met with indifference? Why the grossly unfair treatment?

We know why: the watchdog’s training.

One person who did showcase this story was Bill O’Reilly, the irascible progenitor of the “No-Spin Zone.” Unfortunately, his treatment of the subject left me with the impression that a better moniker for his show would be the “No-Depth Zone.”

In O’Reilly’s October 26 segment about Kambon, the pundit interviewed the organizer of the Pro-black Media Forum, radio talk-show host Opio Sokoni. When asked to respond to Kambon’s acid-tongued rhetoric, the most Sokoni could muster was that he thought the comments “were unproductive.” To this, O’Reilly, who is seldom loath to express moral outrage, stated quite soberly, “I think you used the right word when you said ‘unproductive.’” Really, O’Reilly?

Now, call me old-fashioned, but in my book “unproductive” is when your child tries to do his homework between station breaks. But a man sounding a clarion call for the extermination of a race? Propriety must demand adjectives such as evil, wicked, genocidal, maniacal and psychopathic. C’mon, Bill, “unproductive” didn’t strike you as just, oh, let’s say, a tad lukewarm? I think it’s the understatement of the year.

I also have to ask, if a white man had encouraged the genocide of blacks, would O’Reilly be persuaded that “unproductive” was sufficient denunciation?

Truth be known, it was poor interviewing. I, for one, would like to know what Mr. Sokoni meant by “unproductive,” a word that could pertain to many different implications of an action. Is it that he doesn’t think it’s a bad idea, but it doesn’t serve his cause to voice such sentiments at the present time? Unfair question, say you? I beg to differ. Sokoni equivocated, using what sounded like a codeword and refusing to damn the damnable. Equally troubling was the flatline, dispassionate tone in which Sokoni made his remarks – it certainly didn’t bespeak of outrage. And remember, if you want to know what a person wants you to believe he believes, listen to what he says. If you want to know what a person believes, listen to how he says it.

Moreover, O’Reilly refused to pick up the ball when Sokoni started to demonize white people. While defending his extension of an invitation to Kambon, Sokoni shrugged off the matter by saying that Kambon has no history of genocidal violence, unlike white people. Sokoni mentioned, “…a history that white people have had of not talking, but doing.” He also said, “Black people are not that way.”

Well, well, have you, Mr. Sokoni, ever heard of the Hutus and the Tutsis? You know, that little 1994 event in Ruanda in which Hutu militias slaughtered almost 800,000 Tutsis, who, by the way, were called “roaches” by the Hutus. Maybe I have to brush up on my contemporary history, but I could have sworn the Hutus were black.

But from media double-standards to higher miseducation’s low ones, there is something positive here in that I learned that Kamau Kambon had actually been fired by North Carolina State University. So, I’m now more closely attuned to the pulse of academia, as I now have a closer bead on the point at which a radical left-wing professor can be ousted from his position. It lies somewhere between likening World Trade Center victims to Nazis and advocating the worldwide genocide of a whole race of people.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The final irony

'Isn't it ironic?' You hear it all the time - and, most of the time, actually no, it isn't. Hypocritical, cynical, lazy, coincidental, more likely. But what is irony and why did pundits think it would die four years ago, after September 11? Zoe Williams meticulously, sincerely, unironically, hunts it down

Taking its name from the Greek eironeia (dissimulation), irony consists of purporting a meaning of an utterance or a situation that is different, often opposite, to the literal one.
Maike Oergel, Encyclopaedia Of German Literature

Irony is a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.
The New Oxford English Dictionary

Pretty much everything is ironic these days. Irony is used as a synonym for cool, for cynicism, for detachment, for intelligence; it's cited as the end of civilisation, as well as its salvation. Pretty much every form of culture claims to be shot through with it, even (especially) the ones that conspicuously aren't. I read last week that Bruce Forsyth hosting Have I Got News For You was an "ironic statement", as if you could ascend into irony just by being old, as you used to with wisdom. I read, too, that it was ironic for Alan Millburn to leave his job to spend more time with his family, when the doctors and nurses under his care don't have that facility; well, it's not ironic, it's just standard-issue self-interest, with maybe a smattering of hypocrisy. I've read claims of an "ironic" interest in reality TV - nope. Lazy, maybe. Possibly postmodern. Not ironic.

We have a grave problem with this word (well, in fact, it's not really grave - but I'm not being ironic when I call it that, I'm being hyperbolic. Though often the two amount to the same thing. But not always). Just looking at the definitions, the confusion is understandable - in the first instance, rhetorical irony expands to cover any disjunction at all between language and meaning, with a couple of key exceptions (allegory also entails a disconnection between sign and meaning, but obviously isn't synonymous with irony; and lying, clearly, leaves that gap, but relies for its efficacy on an ignorant audience, where irony relies on a knowing one). Still, even with the riders, it's quite an umbrella, no?

In the second instance, situational irony (also known as cosmic irony) occurs when it seems that "God or fate is manipulating events so as to inspire false hopes, which are inevitably dashed"(1). While this looks like the more straightforward usage, it opens the door to confusion between irony, bad luck and inconvenience.

Most pressingly, though, there are a number of misconceptions about irony that are peculiar to recent times. The first is that September 11 spelled the end of irony. The second is that the end of irony would be the one good thing to come out of September 11. The third is that irony characterises our age to a greater degree than it has done any other. The fourth is that Americans can't do irony, and Brits can. The fifth is that the Germans can't do irony, either (and Brits still can). The sixth is that irony and cynicism are interchangeable. The seventh is that it's a mistake to attempt irony in emails and text messages, even while irony characterises our age, and so do emails. And the eighth is that "post-ironic" is an acceptable term - it is very modish to use this, as if to suggest one of three things: i) that irony has ended; ii) that postmodernism and irony are interchangeable, and can be conflated into one handy word; or iii) that we are more ironic than we used to be, and therefore need to add a prefix suggesting even greater ironic distance than irony on its own can supply. None of these things is true.

Now, after all that effort numbering and sub-numbering the points, I'm going to deal with them in the wrong order. That isn't ironic, it's just a bit sloppy. There are four important epochs of irony (unless you count Hegel, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, but to do that, I would need to have read them).

Phase one Socratic irony is simply part of a canon of rhetorical tools devised to distract people from the fact that they've been sitting still listening to hard talk for an awfully long time. The technique, demonstrated in the Platonic dialogues, was to pretend ignorance and, more sneakily, to feign credence in your opponent's power of thought, in order to tie him in knots. This is amazingly prevalent in contemporary social intercourse - every one of us, I'd guess, has a friend who engages in an argument, waits patiently until you've said something really trenchant and probably wrong, then cocks his (or her) head to one side and says, "Do you think that's true?" thereafter pursuing each one of your most ridiculous points and challenging them from a perspective of utter (pretended) ignorance. Weirdly, this is never called irony, even though every other bloody thing that anyone ever says is.

Phase two Romantic irony was framed by Schlegel(2) the German philosopher. Here, it became a much more complex philosophical tool, of which the nuts and bolts were that you simultaneously occupied two opposite positions (what you say versus what is real). There were problems with this as a direct path to truth later on, but I'd need a more Socratic grasp of how not to be boring before I could go into them. The point with Schlegel was that irony would give you a divided self, which in turn gives you a multiplicity of perspectives, which is the only way you will unlock the truth of the whole. This romantic (or "philosophical") irony had a great influence on the English Romantic poets - Coleridge's Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, with its commentary running alongside the narrative, divides the perspective (plus, he read Schlegel, so I'm not just making that up).

But irony as part of the British literary tradition doesn't, generally speaking, commence with Romantic irony, but rather with the device that has its roots in Socrates, viz, saying the opposite of what is true in order to underline the truth. So, from this you'd trace a line from Chaucer, through More, Sidney and Milton, arriving at Swift and Austen, where you can see a pleasing bifurcation of irony's literary use. Austen uses irony as a means of being understated. Swift, by contrast, uses irony for polemical purposes, conjuring grotesque images ironically (babies being eaten, mankind enslaved to the morally superior horse) in order to state his case (that the Irish were starving, that humanity was going to the dogs) ever more forcefully.

Phase three Irony as a tool of dissent, a grim but failsafe gag and mainstay of popular culture, took hold during the first world war(3). The gross disjunction between patriotic rhetoric and the reality of the war itself led to a widespread use of irony as a means of puncturing deceitful propaganda. Every convention of today's ironic, satirical news forms (from Private Eye, through Viz, to the Onion) has a germ in the Wipers Times, the first world war trench newspaper (established, independently of military authority, by Captain FJ Roberts of the Sherwood Foresters.) At this point, irony was still purporting to be an overview - to be wading through the mulch of accepted wisdom and exposing its fraudulence. So, for instance, the Wipers Times would print a list of Things That Were Definitely True, and it would contain a proportion of propaganda ("40,000 Huns have Surrendered"), a proportion of enemy propaganda ("The Germans Have Plentiful and Tasty Meats") and a proportion of nonsense ("Horatio Bottomley has accepted the Turkish Throne on condition they make a separate peace"), thus undermining any information coming from anywhere at all (it's interesting that the paper was caustically ironic on the subject of the war itself, but never deviated from the line that home leave was a blessed relief, when, in fact, most soldiers found it stressful and devastating to return to normality after the trenches - there is a limit to how far you can take irony before you have to shoot yourself).

Where irony springs up as a response to being lied to (by authority, or prevailing culture, or whatever), it is still adhering loosely to Chaucer's model - it states the lie in order to expose the lie, and is therefore a route to truth. It has some moral import. It may say "This belief is wrong", but it doesn't say "All belief is wrong". When people call ours the Age of Irony, that is not the kind of irony they are on about.

Phase four Our age has not so much redefined irony, as focused on just one of its aspects. Irony has been manipulated to echo postmodernism. The postmodern, in art, architecture, literature, film, all that, is exclusively self-referential - its core implication is that art is used up, so it constantly recycles and quotes itself. Its entirely self-conscious stance precludes sincerity, sentiment, emoting of any kind, and thus has to rule out the existence of ultimate truth or moral certainty. Irony, in this context, is not there to lance a boil of duplicity, but rather to undermine sincerity altogether, to beggar the mere possibility of a meaningful moral position. In this sense it is, indeed, indivisible from cynicism. This isn't to say that "truth-seeking" irony has evaporated - many creative forms still use irony to highlight the sheer, grinding horror of pursuits or points of view that are considered "normal" (like The Office, for instance; and much of American literature is masterfully good at employing irony with a purpose - to choose at random, Pastoralia, by George Saunders, Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace, anything by Philip Roth, The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen).

But other strands of media use irony to assert their right to have no position whatsoever. So, you take a cover of FHM, with tits on the front - and it's ironic because it appears to be saying "women are objects", yet of course it isn't saying that, because we're in a postfeminist age. But nor is it saying "women aren't objects", because that would be dated, over-sincere, mawkish even. So, it's effectively saying "women are neither objects, nor non-objects - and here are some tits!" Scary Movie 2, Dumb And Dumberer, posh women who go to pole-dancing classes, people who set the video for Big Brother Live, people who have Eurovision Song Contest evenings, Char lie's Angels (the film, not the TV series) and about a million other things besides, are all using this ludic trope - "I'm not saying what you think I'm saying, but I'm not saying its opposite, either. In fact, I'm not saying anything at all. But I get to keep the tits." As Paul de Man pointed out, some time before FHM, "This does not, however, make it into an authentic language, for to know inauthenticity is not the same as being authentic."(4). So, we're not the first age to use irony (as some insist), but we are the first to use it in this vacuous, agenda-free and often highly amusing way.

September 11 and the End of Irony

Politicians especially (but serious minds of all sorts) dislike this newish twist of irony, since political rhetoric relies on moral framework - they may be spinning, they may be sexing up their evidence, they may be lying straight to our faces as we beseech them not to kill innocent Iraqis for no good reason (as an example), but at least old-fashioned protest waits until it knows it has been lied to before it unleashes its irony. Modern irony ridicules politicians regardless, for their sheer unironic-ness in holding a position in the first place.

So, upon the giant disaster, many people were glad to declare irony's end. Gerry Howard, editorial director of Broadway Books, said, "I think somebody should do a marker that says irony died on 9-11-01." Roger Rosenblatt claimed, in an essay in Time magazine, that "one good thing could come from this horror: it could spell the end of the age of irony"(5).

This is striking as the kind of American self-importance that leads people to think they have no sense of irony in the first place. But there is legitimacy in the claim - for a very short time, the event seemed so earth-shattering that there did seem to be an absolute and clear dichotomy between good and evil. Once you've got one of those, then a) the act of seeking the truth through irony is pointless, because the truth is staring you in the face; and b) the postmodern ironic distance that eschews concepts like "good" and "evil" has been trounced. Naturally, irony was back within a few days, not least because of the myriad ironies contained within the attack itself (America having funded al-Qaida is ironic; America raining bombs and peanut butter on Afghanistan is ironic). But even without those ironic features, irony would have resurfaced pretty soon - only a very fresh tragedy can silence it.

The end of irony would be a disaster for the world - bad things will always occur, and those at fault will always attempt to cover them up with emotional and overblown language. If their opponents have to emote back at them, you're basically looking at a battle of wills, and the winner will be the person who can beat their breast the hardest without getting embarrassed. Irony allows you to launch a challenge without being dragged into this orbit of self-regarding sentiment that you get from Tony Blair, say, when he talks about "fighting for what's right". Irony can deflate a windbag in the way that very little else can.

What people usually mean when they yearn for an end to irony is an end to postmodernism. I'm not sure this will ever happen, since it places itself after originality and progress (what comes after the afters? Well, cheese, I guess).

Irony and America

There are a few reasons why we think the Americans have no sense of irony. First, theirs is rather an optimistic culture, full of love of country and dewy-eyed self-belief and all the things that Europe's lost going through the war spindryer for the thousandth time. This is all faith-based - faith in God, faith in the goodness of humanity, etc - and irony can never coexist with faith, since the mere act of questioning causes the faith fairy to disappear. Second, they have a very giving register that, with a sense of irony, would be unsustainable (how can you wish a stranger a nice day with a straight face?). Third, because we think Canadian Alanis Morissette is American, and she proved some time ago, with her song Ironic, that she didn't know what irony meant (this is so ironic - first, because we think we're the more sophisticated and yet don't know the difference between America and Canada, second because America sees Canada as such a tedious sleeping partner, and yet Canada is subversively sending idiots into the global marketplace with American accents. Of course, I'm being ironic. Canadian accents are not the same as American ones!)

In fact, this is absolute moonshine, since the consummate and well-documented superiority of US telly over British telly is largely due to their superior grasp of irony (as well as the fact that they have more cash). Take, for instance, the opening sequences of Six Feet Under versus the opening sequences of Casualty - they both start every episode with a vignette in which a stranger dies a horrible death or suffers a hideous accident. In Six Feet Under, this will never be straightforward - the porn star will never die because her silicon implants explode, she will die in some way that could happen to anyone; the wheezing, scared-looking sportsman will turn out to have been just a bit thirsty, while his amazingly strong team-mate will be dying in the background from heat stroke. There's always some cosmic irony, swiftly followed by ironic dialogue. In Casualty, on the other hand - man leaves pub in middle of day; commences dangerous-looking welding job; burns own eye out in drunk accident. Dur.

Germans and irony

Not speaking German, nor watching much German TV, nor having read any German literature apart from Bernard Schlink who, let me tell you, is about as ironic as a dog chasing a squirrel, it's difficult to tell whether or not there's any truth in the rumour that they have no sense of irony. However, since they invented it (well, they invented Schlegel), it's more than likely that they've got plenty. To anyone who thinks I'm insufficiently bigoted, I have serious doubts about the French.

Irony in emailing and texts

Texting is a truly tricky form for the ironist - very brief texts are difficult to make ironic simply because it's difficult to inject many layers into seven words. However, if you write a very long text, because it's such a bugger to do, your extra effort suggests a sincerity - an undudelike urge to be understood - that sits all wrong with the irony. To get round this, forms like "(!)" and "Not" and "have evolved", but they're pretty dumb and basic.

With emails, people with a lot of time on their hands can, obviously, give themselves room to develop an ironic theme, but for people with jobs, e-etiquette demands instant response, which brings you down to the very rudiments of irony - I Love My Boss; I'm Delighted That My Ex Is Going Out With That Attractive Woman; I Really Couldn't Be More Pleased That You've Lost a Stone. Once it's as bald as that, and you're without extra signifiers like eyebrows, there is a danger of misunderstanding. However, I think we're actually more alert to irony than we are to its opposite, sincerity. Take the case of Rena Salmon, who last year shot her husband's lover, and then texted him to that effect. Her words were, "I have shot Lorna. This is not a joke." A perfect demonstration of my point (I don't get many of those) - the first thing you think when you read a text is that it is a joke.

Situational irony

This article has almost exclusively been about rhetorical irony, which has much more fluidity and variety than situational irony. That does not mean that situational irony is entirely straightforward - often, the appearance that God or Fate was attempting to make you think one thing when another was going to happen is down to your own misreading or wilful blindness, and therefore isn't ironic at all. Furthermore, where rhetorical irony can be as simple as saying the opposite of what you mean, cosmic irony is not simply experiencing the opposite of what you thought was going to happen. For instance, if I was having a party, and I thought my dad was going to come, and he didn't, that wouldn't be ironic. If, on the other hand, I was having a party and I didn't want my dad to come, and I spent three weeks working on a brilliant cover story for why he couldn't come, and then my sister accidentally blew my cover, so I had to invite him anyway, and then, on the way here, he got run over and died - that's ironic.

I hope he realises that that example was, well, not ironic, but certainly meant with no ill will.

But, whatever (here, with ludic irony, I'm trying to get out of writing a conclusion by affecting the jargon of the slothful teenager. Obviously, I don't mean "whatever" - I don't share the disaffected carelessness of the standard "whatever" user. But I'm still getting out of writing a conclusion. To know inauthenticity isn't the same as being authentic. Or even, just because you ironically know you're wrong doesn't make you right).


1. Jack Lynch, Literary Terms. I would strongly urge you not to read any more footnotes, they are only here to make sure I don't get in trouble for plagiarising.

2. 'In it [irony] everything should be all jest and all serious-ness, everything guilelessly open and deeply hidden... It contains and arouses a sense of the indissoluble antagonism between the absolute and the relative, between the impossibility and the necessity of complete communication. It is the freest of all licences, because through it one transcends oneself, but at the same time it is the most prescribed, because [it is] absolutely necessary.'

3. This is obviously debatable, but Paul Fussell in The Great War And Modern Memory made the case compellingly. Truthfully, British irony's political usage has to be deemed to have started with Swift, alongside Addison and Steele. Oh, go on, disagree with me if you like, see if I care.

4. Paul de Man, The Rhetoric Of Temporality

5. Both these quotes are from Michiko Kakutani, Critic's Notebook: The Age Of Irony Isn't Over After All; Assertions Of Cynicism's Demise Belie History

Swoopes comes out (Part deux)

Here's the part I don't like: Sheryl Swoopes comes out Wednesday AND immediately signs a lucrative long-term contract with lesbian cruise line, Olivia. I REALLY really hate to judge anyone but it seems the only reasons anyone does ANYTHING is either attention or money. Swoopes' motives appear no better. That said, in that great American tradition, all it will take is a tearful appearance on Oprah, pictures of her son set to music and a million hugs across America to make everyone view her as some sort of hero. That appears to be the standard price of either redemption or excessive disclosure. Sad.

The woman she's with, (former Comets asst. coach) Alisa Scott is one fugly chick. Swoopes should date me. I mean, I'm a lesbian, too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Nancy knows what this means

Quotes about Fear

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.
-- Unknown.

Never fear shadows... they simply mean there's a light shining somewhere nearby.
-- Unknown.

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.
-- Thucydides.

Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death.
-- Betty Bender.

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
-- H. P. Lovecraft.

It is a fearful thing to love what death can touch.
-- Unknown.

The basis of optimism is sheer terror.
-- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

The fear of being wrong is the prime inhibitor of the creative process.
-- Jean Bryant.

To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.
-- Katherine Paterson.

Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety.
-- Frank Smith.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.
-- Ambrose Redmoon.

Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.
-- James Stephens.

It has been said that our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.
-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. This is no time... to keep silent.
-- Edward R. Murrow.

The conquest of fear lies in the moment of its acceptance.
-- Unknown.

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.
-- André Gide.

Try a thing you haven't done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.
-- Virgil Thomson.

Wicked men obey for fear, but the good for love.
-- Aristotle.

The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.
-- Gandhi.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
-- Abraham Lincoln.

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.
-- Bertrand Russell.

First they burn books then they burn people...
-- Unknown.

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
-- Bertrand Russell.

Fear of self is the greatest of all terrors, the deepest of all dread, the commonest of all mistakes. From it grows failure. Because of it, life is a mockery. Out of it comes despair.
-- David Seabury.

Fear death and you will always fear life.
--Mo Nassar
The site is called I want one of those and it has a bunch of cool shizzle. Check out this Skype Phone.

What can I say? I'm a TOTAL consumer. yeah, bitch, you know you love it..

This site has some really funny products, two of which are included here.

Great Movie Quotes

Advisor: Your majesty...the peasants are revolting!
King Louis: You're telling me...they're disgusting.

History of the World - 1981

Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation

Or, a remote control that can control you. CNN had an article about it yesterday which you can see here.

Not that any of this is new: the government has been sending controlling people through special frequencies hidden in common household appliances since the 1950s.

Here's the reviewer's account of this bizarre new technology:
"Apparently [this device] can alter people's sense of balance to cause them to walk in a certain path.

A special headset was placed on my cranium by my hosts during a recent demonstration at an NTT research center. It sent a very low voltage electric current from the back of my ears through my head -- either from left to right or right to left, depending on which way the joystick on a remote-control was moved.

I felt an irresistible urge to start walking to the right whenever the researcher turned the switch to the right. I was convinced-mistakenly-that this was the only way to maintain my balance.

The phenomenon is painless but dramatic. Your feet start to move before you know it."

I want it that way

The duo are called "Back Dorm Boys" (parody of BackstreetBoys) and they are students at Guangdong Arts Institute. After their spoof music video "Radio in my head" was released in China's web portal, Motorola China has asked them to endorse their new mobile phones. They're turning into quite the celebrities a la William Hung.

Here's the link to their "performance" of I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys. It's hilarious. R. Kelly's Ignition is covered also, right here.

Apparently, lip-syncing is pretty big in the Far East.

They call it Karaoke.


Here's my question: if two twins marry two it possible that they can have identical looking kids? Well, is it? Is it?

Camel-Jockey Sharif uses racial slurs

I didn't know that "Stupid Mexican" was a racial slur...I mean "Stupid" is an opinion and "Mexican" is a nationality. Maybe it's because the plaintiff is from Guatemala.

I think this guy has a strong case and he should settle for cash plus an apology that reads "Sorry for calling you a stupid Mexican, you stupid Guatemalan".

Los Angeles - Screen legend Omar Sharif was sued on Monday by a US parking attendant who claims the actor committed a hate crime by punching him and hurling racial slurs in an argument over payment, a lawyer said.

Sharif, 75, the star of classic films including 1965's Doctor Zhivago and 1962's Lawrence of Arabia, allegedly flew into a rage after the valet parker at a chic Los Angeles restaurant refused to accept payment in euros instead of in dollars, the attendant's lawyer told AFP.

"Today I filed a lawsuit against Omar Sharif, the actor, who violated the California hate crimes statute by assaulting and battering my client and calling him a 'stupid Mexican'," attorney John Carpenter said.

"He (Sharif) wanted to pay for his valet parking service in euros and my client does not feel he was able to accept a payment in euros," he said of the June 11 incident outside Mastro's restaurant in Beverly Hills.

Guatemalan-born Juan Anderson claims the Egyptian-born Sharif punched him in the side of the head, drawing blood, after the argument over currency and then repeatedly called him a "stupid Mexican."

Sharif, who according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court had been drinking heavily during his $500 dinner with a group of friends, allegedly tried to pay for the parking service with a €20 note.

When Anderson said he could not accept foreign currencies, Sharif allegedly became belligerent. After the valet helped Sharif into his Porsche Cayenne Sports Utility Vehicle, the valet said: "Good night. I'm sorry you talk too much about me," according to the lawsuit.

Sharif then allegedly got out of the car and punched Anderson with a closed fist while shouting "anti-Latino" racial epithets.

Anderson, 48, who ears $6.75 per hour as a valet parker, is seeking $50 000 in civil penalties as well as unspecified punitive damages and damages for Anderson's injuries.

Representatives for Sharif, a legendary gambler and bon viveur who also starred in the hit in the hit 2003 French film Monsieur Ibrahim, could not be reached for comment late on Monday.

Is this guy deliberately trying to offend women?

If he is, he picked the perfect metaphor to do it. Women have been known to kill if you mention the word 'fish' in the same conversation as the word 'vagina'. Chances are, though, this Kunst dude is gay, which means that women will celebrate his work as empowering.

Not that it's anyone's business, if he is.

Educated women less likely to have orgasms

I could have told you that in 1991. The one thing that bothers me about this study is that it conclusively proves that the college girls on "Girls Gone Wild" are faking it. And women wonder what men like about strippers: they're easy on the eye and even easier to please.

Umm...I could go on but this isn't amateur hour at the comedy cellar.

Education, weight seen to affect women's sex life
Wednesday, October 26, 2005 Page A10

Women who are educated, married or heavy are more likely to have low sex drives, according to a landmark Canadian study that explored links between sexual problems and social and personal factors.

The research, which is published in the current edition of The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, found that 55 per cent of respondents had one or more of three concerns about sexual function: low desire, pain during sex and infrequent orgasm during intercourse.

Contrary to the researchers' expectations, university-educated women are more apt to have low sex drives -- 48 per cent compared to 31 per cent among high-school graduates. They are also less likely to have orgasms during intercourse.

"It may well be that highly educated women are different from less-educated women in many respects. Maybe they have higher standards . . . higher expectations and legitimately lower evaluations. They may be living much busier, much more stressful lives," said William Fisher, a professor of psychology and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Western Ontario who is a co-author of the paper.

Married women were more than twice as likely as singles to report low sex drives -- a finding the researchers expected -- although the number of children a woman had was not associated with dysfunction. Respondents who were heavier had lower sex drives and were less likely to have orgasms during intercourse.

The paper is the first to correlate concerns about sexual function with lifestyle factors -- including method of contraception -- among an extensive sample of Canadian women of reproductive age, Prof. Fisher said. Women who relied on the birth-control pill or whose partners used condoms had higher levels of pain and infrequent orgasm during intercourse. And the study found that those who used no protection were more likely to report all three issues.

However, the researchers did not have enough data to determine whether the social and personal indicators actually caused women's sexual problems.

"Is it contraceptive use or is it something that varies along with contraceptive use?" Prof. Fisher said. "For example, people tend to use condoms . . . early in relationships so it may well be that it's not condom use, it's being in a new relationship where you're still working out the details with a partner."

The study also found that women whose male partners experienced problems sustaining erections or premature ejaculation were more likely to have concerns about their own sexual function. For example, 61 per cent of women whose partners had erectile dysfunction said their sex drive was lower than they would like. Just 46 per cent of respondents whose partners did not have problems reported low sexual desire.

(Prof. Fisher has since been involved in a study that found treating men's erectile dysfunction significantly improved their female partners' sexual problems.) The study is based on data from mail-in surveys completed by 1,582 women as part of the 2002 Canadian Contraception Study, a nationally representative study of women aged 15 to 44 that is funded by Janssen-Ortho, a pharmaceutical company that, among other things, makes birth-control pills. Respondents' answers to three questions about sexual desire, pain during intercourse and orgasm during intercourse during the previous year were correlated with marital and family status, method of contraception, age, weight and level of education.

Those who were more likely to report experiencing sexual desire that was "often much lower" than they would like included heavy women, older women, highly educated women, married women, women whose partners had erectile dysfunction and women who did not use any method of contraception. (Respondents were considered heavy if they weighed more than 150 pounds, or 68 kilograms. However, the survey did not ask participants for their heights, which is considered a limitation because researchers could not calculate body mass indexes.)

Women who were more likely to report "usually" not having an orgasm during intercourse were heavy, educated, on the birth-control pill and those who used the withdrawal method of birth control, had partners with erectile dysfunction and did not use contraception.

And participants who said they "often experience pain" during intercourse were more prone to be either on the birth-control pill or their partners used condoms or used the withdrawal method.

Stephen Lack

Stephen Lack is the shit. Very evocative paintings and the kind of stuff I'd hang in my living room. Except for the fact that I live in a studio apartment. And I can't afford his work.

Check out more of his work here.