Ruminations, Ramblings and Rants

I don't want to build character. I want it pre-fabricated.

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Copyright © 2002 Roy M. Jacobsen

Friday, March 15, 2002
Ah, St. Patrick's Day! Cheap green beer in the bars, and talentless radio hacks doing bad Irish accents in the commercials touting "the saving fo the green" at the local StuffMart. Give me a break. Julia Vitullo-Martin gets it right over at the Opinion Journal. Of St. Patrick, she writes:
His Ireland was still dangerous, one of the few areas of Europe never civilized by Rome. Despite living in "daily expectation of murder, treachery, or captivity," Patrick established Ireland as the center of Christian civilization whose monasteries would later save the great manuscripts of the West during the Dark Ages.

This is the man honored every March 17 on the anniversary of his death (ca 461) by American youths vomiting on the streets of New York, Boston, Chicago and other major cities. How did we get here?

Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Geocities has announced that it's discontinuing FTP support for freebie sites, so I'm moving. From now on, you can find my blog at Dispatches from Outland. I'll maintain this site as is for a while.

I've often said that the complaints about American Indian team names and mascots were overblown. I'm of Scandinavian descent, and I have no problem with the Vikings. (Well, not with the team name, at any rate. Maybe now that Denny is out of the picture...) I don't know of any Irish people who are in a tizzy about Notre Dame's team name. Well, someone is trying to let me know what it feels like to be a mascot, with the team name "Fighting Whities". And how does it feel? Cool! Don't mess with the "Fighting Whities"!

Thursday, March 07, 2002
I'm full of quotes today. Teddy Roosevelt said
Do not get into a fight if you can possibly avoid it. If you get in, see it through. Don't hit if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting, but never hit soft. Don't hit at all if you can help it; don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep.

Andrew Jackson felt the same. Steven C. Den Beste comments on this over at USS Clueless.

"All wisdom is rooted in learning to call things by the right name." -- Kung-fu Tze

When President Bush identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea an "axis of evil", he showed that he understands the importance of calling things by the right name. I'm beginning to wonder if former President Jimmy Carter understands. Memo to Mr. Carter: Evil Exists

Wednesday, March 06, 2002
One of the latest scares to make the rounds (I guess scares are kind of like the various strains of influenza, or whatever other creeping skrunge people pass around this time of year) is the reported nuclear threat to New York City. (Here's a summary from MSNBC, in case you missed it.)

James Lileks says he wouldn't be surprised if it did happen, and that you can bet that, if it does,

There are European columnists in respectable newspapers who would write about the event, and no matter how much sympathy they evinced towards the start, you’d be waiting for the fulcrum of the BUT, and you’d find it. There are reasonable, rational people writing for newspapers grounded in the Western empirical tradition who would feel it was their duty to explain the nuking of New York, and place it in context. They remember Hiroshima, but not Pearl Harbor. (It would be a hallmark of their intellect that New York could suffer both - a sneak attack and a nuke - and they would remain America’s fault.) They would bring up the camp at Gitmo; they would recycle all the false numbers about Iraqi sanction deaths and Afghan casualties, and if they shed a tear it would be for the Motherwells in the museums and the immigrants who, being new to the poisonous shores of America and being guilty of nothing but misguided hope, were blameless.

I have to think that, if it were to happen that someone were to manage to set of a nuke -- even a simple "dirty" bomb (a conventional bomb with a radioactive dust payload) -- anywhere on US soil, that event would ignite something deep inside the American people. The reaction to 9/11 was surprising to many, but it shouldn't have been. We are still, in all the ways that matter, the same people who were galvanized into fierce, determined action following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the attacks of September 11 achieved much the same.

A nuclear attack on one of our major cities would bring our country to a rage; whether it would be hot or cold, I'm not sure. I'm not sure we would answer nukes with nukes; in fact, I doubt it. I have a feeling we would be very calculating, very deliberate. But I have no doubt that we would pull out all the stops in terms of conventional warfare. The action taking place right now in the Pactia province of Afganistan is just a taste of this. The phrase that comes to mind is "No quarter given."

Friday, March 01, 2002
Here's an op-ed piece from someone who's been to North Korea, and he doesn't call it "evil." He says it's "hell and madness."

OK so this first appeared last April. It's still worth a look.

Friday, February 15, 2002
PBS is going to be broadcasting a special on the infamous Scopes "Monkey Trial" this Sunday. But it appears that, like their series on evolution, what they're leaving out is as significant as, or even more significant than what they're leaving in. See Benjamin Wiker's article on PBS's Monkey Trial on NRO Weekend.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002
I've commented before about the idiots who clog our inboxes with spam. I just got another one that's a gem of tortured prose. First off, the subject line really grabs you:
Wanna Cop A Buzzzzzz? 7275

I just love that. Sounds like a reject from a Grateful Dead concert. But can someone explain to me why these doofuses can't spell? And what's with the numbers at the end of the Subject line? 9 out of 10 spammers have that; is it some function of the spam software they're using?

Then we get into the body of the message. Right off, it veers far into some arcane dialect of Obfuscation:

Temple 3 Shemhamphorashii (TM) Pipe-Smoking Substantiality indeed the consummate evolution..of personal choice; botanical, responsive/sensitive pipe-smoking substance commodities.

I haven't done a trademark search, but I find it hard to believe that someone actually went to the effort to secure a trademark for "Temple 3 Shemhamphorashii." What cretin dreamt that one up? Why, the same cretin who calls this crap "Pipe-Smoking Substantiality Product." Well, I never buy my "Pipe-Smoking Substantiality Product" over the internet. I always go to the corner "Pipe-Smoking Substantiality Product" store when I'm out of "Pipe-Smoking Substantiality Product." It's so much fresher that way. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's stale "Pipe-Smoking Substantiality Product."

But wait, this is no ordinary "Pipe-Smoking Substantiality Product:" this stuff "is indeed the consummate evolution..of personal choice; botanical, responsive/sensitive pipe-smoking substance commodities." Nevermind the creative punctuation. (Two consecutuve periods in the middle of phrases?) Nevermind the nonsensical clauses. That last phrase is a crecendo of gobbledegook. Long words scare some people; they apparently give this guy a head rush, even if he has no idea what he's saying. (Nobody else does either.) Later in the message, he says this . . . whatever it is . . . is "based upon years of ethnobotanical research & development and centuries of botanical innuendo." Oh, yeah, I want something that's based on years of botanical innuendo.

He also calls it a "unique botanical/herba extraordinariness." And it goes on and on.

I have three words for these guys: Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Monday, January 28, 2002
We keep hearing wails of outrage from Europeans (government and press) over our allegedly "inhumane" treatment of the Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees at Gitmo Bay, Cuba. So, where's the outrage over the U.N.'s apparent participation in the sex slave trade in Bosnia? Check this out: Is the U.N. running brothels in Bosnia?

Friday, January 25, 2002
ACLU Goes to Bat for Satan Against Florida Town's Edict Banning Evil One

Don't they have anything better to do?

Monday, January 21, 2002
Remember the "Horowitz Affair"? David Horowitz has written a book about his effort to run an advertisement listing 10 reasons why reparations for slavery are a bad -- and racist -- idea, and the froofraw that ensued, and David Orland has written a review over at the Boundless website. Check it out.

Friday, January 18, 2002
What is America all about? There are probably endless books that could be written on that question, but according to Michael Long, what's happening in Guantanamo Bay is one example.

Think about it: What sort of fate would an American soldier captured by al Qaeda suffer? Contrast that with the treatment we're giving the Taliban detainees.

Long says:

...down in Guantanamo Bay, our actions put on display our core beliefs: Individuals possess certain inalienable rights, period. They can do nothing to forfeit those rights. Dignity comes with birth.

Thursday, January 03, 2002
Is a belief in Absolute Truth at odds with the notion of Freedom? Some voices (including former president Clinton's) assert that the current war against terrorism is a war between the ideologies of Freedom and Absolute Truth. Kevin J. Hasson holds a completely different view: that Freedom is absolutely grounded in an Absolute Truth, to wit, "Truth is knowable [...], but it can only be embraced authentically when it is embraced freely."