Saturday, June 21, 2003

Discordia U. 

Of course, the real political action in Montreal can be found at the University of Concordia, famous for rioting when Bibi came to visit. Whoever planned Netanyahu's visit must have been on crack, by the by. They must have thought: "What public institution in Canda is most opposed to Israel? Let's send the most hawkish politician in Israel there!" My cousin's conspiracy theory, which she apparently published in Montreal's 'Senior Times', is that the admin knew that there would be a riot, and planned the event so they would have an excuse to ban the militants running the student union. How come nothing like this ever happens at my school?
Why would the administration want to ban the union? Well, I got a copy of the student agenda for 2001-2002, named 'uprising.' In Arabic, 'uprising' is the thing that has destroyed Palestinian statehood. The agenda is filled with a hodgepodge of radical causes and leftie ranting. Articles include advice about the STD dangers resulting from rimming and how and why to squat. One would assume that if you can afford tuition, you don't need to squat. Also, how would you get your student loan cheque?
Most of it was just amusing, though I was offended by a nasty cartoon showing a plane with a star of david on it, saying to a little guy representing intifada: "Don't worry, the administration is on our side." Plane had a long nose, too. Sometimes I think I take the joys of UBC's poltical apathy for granted.
Notice this agenda was created before 9/11 (it has many prescient articles about anti-arab prejudice). I didn't know things were so polarized even back then.

Helping the seperatists 

K has joined the dark side, finding a job handing out fliers at showings of 'Quebecois Idol' for some French musical event called "Remembering the histoire of nous chanson" or somesuch, which is undoubtedly a subversive meeting planning to blow up the gov't. The funny part is that she knows no French, so she is standing at a Quebecois event handing out flyers for a Quebecois event, but unable to respond to anything anyone says to her with any word except for 'Bonjour'
At least the Quebecois are famous for being accepting of foreigners difficulties with the language. Or somesuch.

Ignorant generalization about the French 

They are great. Our country needs them. Without them, our country would be the most boringly rational place on earth. Don't let anyone tell you different. Oh, and drinking is legal here. It's a pleasant change.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I must go 

But I will return. I am leaving for Montreal, in about half an hour. What ignorant generalizations will I make about the French? Stay tuned.

The longest children's book ever 

900 pages. Lots of pages. So many pages.
I remember joking about how 'Goblet of Fire' was one of the five longest books I ever read; longer than 'Of Human Bondage' but shorter than 'The Fountainhead' or 'The Bros. K.' I believe the new one is longer than Rand's longwinded arguments about architecture. Harry Potter 6 should be longer than 'Atlas Shrugged.' Number 7 will be so large that its gravity field will put the moon off its course.
My KidLit prof passed on rumors that she has logorreah, the opposite of writer's block, and the book is far behind schedule. Guess he knew of what he spoke. Time's article is about a cute little cancer victim that Rowling befriends. It's very sweet. But a book this size will put many, many kids into the hospital with hernias. The book is a weapon of mass destruction.
Harold Bloom, described by the famously objective magazine as a 'stuffy Yale professor', is not a fan, believing that Harry Potter will soon fall into the dustbin of literary history. He should realize this is the first book that many of the profs of 2030 will have read. I feel pretty kindly about that 'Cat in the Hat' (or Chatul Ta'alul, as the translation I read had it.) But Bloom's position should be no surprise. He is the Gilderoy Lockhart of LitCrit; filled with puffy self-reagrd, determined to make himself the subject of any lesson he attempts to teach. But he is usually wrong about everything.

Israeli mathematics 

In the interest of fairmindedness, let's take on a lunatic from the left side of the internet. Lileks makes fun of him, but does not really do justice to his little essay about Israel. It begins with what may be the greatest caveat ever committed to pixel:
Editor's Note: The author, a professor of philosophy at UMD, has found it increasingly painful to watch television, read the papers, or listen on the radio to reports of Israeli military assaults upon civilian populations.
When you have a strongly formed worldview, why take in information about the subject that you are writing about? It might make the world appear more complex than you previously thought! Your position about issues might change! You may experience cognitive dissonance! That's not what being a professor of philosophy is about. But perhaps I am being harsh. Maybe Fetzer has the abilty to divine a clear understanding of the facts and issues involved, simply by using his gigantic brain to send rays to Hebron, where they pick up any relevant sociological data and send it back to him. And apparently his sensibilities are not offended by reports of buses being blown up by terrorists, so maybe only hearing about the Israeli victims makes him more fairminded.
Or not: the disproportionate response by the Israelis, which may be causing as many as 100 Palestinian deaths for each Israeli, speaks volumes about the desire to subjugate an entire population.
I like the word 'may.' Why stop at a 100? Why not say Sharon's actions may cause the death of a million arabs per each dead Israeli? Or why not flip the script, and say Hamas' actions may cause 500 Israeli deaths for each Palestinian? If maybes were babies, we could start a family. But the facts are that since the beginning of the Intifadah, approx. 2300 Palestinians and 800 Israelis have died. If Prof. Feltzer wants to find out about 'facts', a good way to start is reading papers. Ha'aretz, Israel's own left-wing paper, is a veritable treasure house of the things. The ratio is still 3 to 1 in the Israelis' favor, if that is the correct term. But its inequality is a mathematical illusion. If Israel killed 11, 500 more Palestinians, and Arabs killed another 10,000, the Israelis would have killed another 1,500 more, but the ratio would become an undramatic 1.3:1 or so. Personally, I prefer that ratio right where it is.
The ascension of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister has brought in its wake new atrocities that invite comparison with those of Nazis of the past.
There are two stupid things in this sentence. The obvious one is the Hitler comparison. At the current rate of 1,000 dead Palestinians a year, it would take Israel 6,000 years to match the death toll of the holocaust. The Middle Eastern situation may be in a quagmire, but it can't be that quagmired. The difference between six million and two thousand is six million, give or take a couple thousand.
The other problem is that while Ariel Sharon has a good fifty year history of minor atrocities, he has actually been fairly reasonable since he ascended to power, considering what he has been up against. The guy who really slaughtered innocent Palestinians was Arik's predecessor, Ehud "peacenik" Barak. Under Barak, soldiers were firing into crowds of stone-throwing demonstrators. Sharon's M.O. is mostly assassinating terrorists. This does end up killing the terrorist's innocent neighbors, and therefore cannot really be morally sanctioned. But under Barak appr. 1000 palestians died, and only 100 or so Israelis did. Under Sharon, the numbers have been close to even. Barak faced rocks and did respond disproportionately, while Sharon faced suicide bombs and responded with bombs. A good lefty Israeli (an endangered species) should still vote for Barak over Arik, since Barak was always willing to negotiate for peace and has never fetishized the lunacy of the settlements. But don't let the caricature of 'the Butcher of Beirut', even if Sharon did earn his image, blind you to what actually has been happening.
A paranoid coda: The times are such that speaking out may add my name to a Israeli wanted list as the author of an anti-Israel attack.
Yes, I'm sure Ariel and the gang can take time out from their busy schedules of baby-killing, speech-suppressing, and pregant woman-beating to notice every stupid thing written about Israel. On the internet. By a professor from Duluth, Minn. The Jew has many tentacles.
But I'm Israeli. And first item on my wanted list is for you to start doing some research.
As an antidote to this madness, here is some good sensible liberal opinion on the matter, by Thomas Friedman. And for an astonishingly sensible viewpoint, from a guy who apparently has about as much power over middle eastern events as Friedman, here is PM Abu Mazen.

The rap 

I was going to make fun of this site telling parents what ages various pop culture products are meant for. But then I read some, and the site actually lives up to its common sense extolling-title. This advice about what to do about the rap, is sensible, directed at discussions with your child rather than sensationalistic condemnation. And a review that decrys 50 Cent's album actually shows some appreciation of its aesthetics: "much of the album lives up to its pre-release buzz, thanks to 50 Cent's clever lyrics". These boomers actually don't use rap as an excuse to become too self-righteous and moralistic. Who'da thunk it?

Monday, June 16, 2003

I read the Georgia Straight so you don't have to 

More free Rag roundup. Let's begin with the A&E half of the paper.
Mark Harris (my old film prof) explains that his enjoyment of Dumb and Dumberer ("what may be the worst-reviewed movie of the year") is "a symptom of the most common occupational hazard of the film critic's life. When you've averaged better than a flick a day for years on end, it's quite common to lose all interest in the middle range of motion pictures. After a while, it becomes either Robert Bresson or the Three Stooges, and Out of Africa can go fuck itself. "
Yeah, Out of Africa sucked shit.
And more on the vertical spectrum of eyebrows, from a book about how pop became art:
[Lester] Bangs paved the way for hip highbrow critics who employ elitist terms in lauding the work of ostensibly lowbrow artists like, say, Jay-Z.
I like doing that. Watch for an upcoming post about why Prince Paul is the Flaubert of hip-hop. But in Hova's defense, he does come out with this line:
Rembrandt, Rilke/ I am art with the flow.
A comparison to Rilke, a German modernist poet, is arguably the most highbrow reference in the history of gangsta rap, and indeed one of the highest in all top 40 music. Gansta rap is intrinsically a lowbrow genre, but if Jigga reads translated poetry, that must put him in at least the lower middlebrow.

Humbert Humbert in Hollywood 

And blogging.
Here is the followup, from 2001, to Berube's state of the culture wars article. (Links via Eschaton.) There is a slight recanting of his defense of PC; there were not many speech codes in '91. Just because D'Souza or Mrs. Cheney are ill-intentioned and wrong does not mean that universities don't have problems. For example, I just registered for my fourth year. And my tuition went up frickin' 900 dollars. Damn you, Gordo. You too, Martha. Urrrg.
Berube's article discovers that the identity wars were always a red herring; the true action was on the economic sphere.

The crew of the Columbia Space Shuttle died for Mr. Rogers' sins 

According to the Rev. Fred Phelps. He picketed Mr. Rogers' funeral because:
You've got a guy (Mr. Rogers) who has got millions of children's ears and he says he's gonna shoot straight to them about the weighty matters of life, death, divorce -- and then he steps gingerly around the fact that if you mess with that fag lifestyle you gonna split hell wide open.
Barney, on the other hand, was leading the way in warning children:
"I love you, you love me, god hates fags who get HIV."
The good Rev. on 9/11:
"Thank God For Sept. 11" and the FDNY is a fag fire department.
At least he's a good bipartisan lunatic. He picketed Goldwater's funeral, and he has some strong words about that 'fag pimp' George W. Bush:
[The war] doesn't reduce the evil and the animus of that insane little monster, Bush. I mean you've got a creature walking around with the mentality of a gnat with his hands on all that party.
Read the whole thing. There is great moment when he forgets to use the word 'fag' and corrects himself.

More stupid rightie tricks 

From an angry letter about that goddamn liberal media, quoted here:
Liberals say Fox News and talk radio are conservatively biased. And CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS and various national newspapers aren't?

Why yes, all those media outlets are 'conservatively' biased. Especially those subversive 'various national newspapers'. Gotta keep your eye on those.

The gay agenda, and the barbarians who promote it 

Here is a great defense, from 1991, of contemporary literary criticism. It responds to books by Allan Bloom, Kimball, and D'Souza, and persuasively shows that they all have no idea what they're talking about. I may write how well this article accords with my own experience later, but I would just like to note one wonderful groaner, by a second-tier rightwing critic:
The goal is to eliminate prejudice, not just of the petty sort that shows up on sophomore dorm walls, but the grand prejudice that has ruled American universities since their founding: that the intellectual tradition of Western Europe occupies the central place in the history of civilization. In this context it would not be enough for a student to refrain from insulting homosexuals or other minorities. He or she would be expected to "affirm" their presence on campus and to study their literature and culture alongside that of Plato, Shakespeare and Locke.
Has this guy read Plato or Shakespeare? He does realize the Sonnets were addressed to a man, right? And that Twelfth Night and As You Like It contain more transvestitism and homoeroticism than The Birdcage ? As for Plato...let's just say his relationship with Socrates was not strictly academic. And that he screwed more young boys than a Catholic priest in Boston. If Plato and the Bard are Western culture's best philosopher and writer, then Western culture, to coin a phrase, is gay.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?