Thursday, November 30, 2006

No Depression Here

I bought a new phone last week. It doesn't have a flash.

Still, I didn't go to see Jeff Tweedy last night at Vicar Street with any intention of taking pictures. It just so happened that, when I met up with the very decent chaps who'd purchased my ticket for me, they'd managed to secure a table in the very front row, only feet from the microphone, so that I could rest my pint on the stage and hold my mobile relatively steadily.

Vicar Street was packed to the rafters, and although it's self-described as an "intimate venue," it requires some stage presence for any solo artist performing an acoustic set to retain the concentration and interest of a crowd of 700 or so punters. Fortunately, Tweedy was able to do it, helped to some degree, I suspect, by the fact that this was his only Irish gig, and fans of his have endured a dearth of appearances in these parts. They were rapt throughout and laughed even at the most inane comment.

Tweedy played a decent amount of Wilco material, from A Ghost Is Born and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but nothing, as I recall, from the Mermaid Avenue albums, even though there was a girl tables away from me repeatedly shouting for "California Stars," one of my favourite songs of all time. Apparently, Tweedy has around 200 songs in his repertoire and back catalog that he chooses from as the mood takes him on the night, and generally he didn't disappoint, although he could have puked up on stage last night and the audience would have paid to see it. Such an eventuality was discussed, since he used to puke before gigs on a regular basis, and one punter declared from the balcony that he wouldn't be happy unless there was puking.

For the second encore, he made the touching gesture of coming to the very edge of the stage, unplugging his microphone and the mike attached to his guitar, and singing an Uncle Tupelo song au naturel. You could have heard a mouse fart.

Sadly, I missed the support band, Groom (I'm told they used to be called Get a Room), friends of a couple of work colleagues, but I was forced to be polite to my companions, who insisted on going to the bar for several beers before the main event, and I wasn't in a position to refuse. Such are the sacrifices we make for the sake of seeing a touch of genius.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

With the emphasis on "By the People."

Rebecca Solnit makes the case for direct democracy and Argentinean horizontalidad in the latest issue of Orion magazine.

And Your Point Is?

The latest issue of Harper's magazine has an article by Tom Bissell on the work of Werner Herzog in which he recounts how Herzog went in search of the smallest horse in the world and the largest rooster in the world, his plan being to seat a midget on the back of the horse and have the rooster chase it round a sequoia tree. For a film, obviously, not for his own personal entertainment.

The owner of the horse refused, arguing that it would make the horse look stupid.

Monday, November 27, 2006

It Takes a Village, People

Spotted at

Manuel will have them shot.

Don't Let Him Near the Treasury

This I found very bizarre. Finanical advice magazine Money carries a regular feature, "One Family's Money," in which experts sort out a family's financial worries by offering advice on budgeting and investments. In the November issue, the family is that of Eric and Beverly Massa.

Eric is an antiwar Democrat running for Congress, and his political campaign is posing a serious threat to the family's finances. On analyzing the Massas' financial situation, Bill Burns, president of Burns Matteson Capital Management, concludes that although the Massas have been diligent savers, their portfolio is out of balance and burdened by high-fee investments. Burns suggests that Massa, a former Corning employee, should sell his Corning stock, sell some of his funds and replace them with longtime top performers, switch his savings for his children's college education from 529 plans based in South Dakota to a New York State 529 to secure in-state tax benefits, and ensure that he and his wife make some changes to their approach to retirement savings.

I guess as PR stunts go, it's one way of showing voters you're just a regular bloke with financial problems like everyone else, but it still seems odd to me that a politician would want to let the public know he doesn't know how best to look after his own money and needs the advice of others. But then, I suppose it's accepted that politicians do that anyway. At least he doesn't say anything daft, like, "Kuh, I'm a complete numbskull when it comes to money. Beverly doesn't let me anywhere near the bank statements. I have no idea what's going on."

Now, do we applaud this as an example of transparency in politics or is it yet another example of the decline in privateness?

Look at Me! Look at Me!

The November/December issue of The Futurist magazine carries an article by Patrick Tucker about the "Magic Moments" self-surveillance system that will be introduced at Alton Towers next April. Visitors to the park can choose to wear a radio frequency identification band to wear on their wrist, tagging them while they enjoy the rides so that they can be followed by the park-wide video-capture system. At the end of their day, they will then be able to buy a 30-minute DVD as a souvenir, showing their looks of horror, surprise, laughter, disgust, pain, and nose-picking. Says Tucker:

The notion of putting oneself under video surveillance may sound odd (if not demonstrably vain), but according to privacy experts such as Amitai Etzioni, author of The Limits of Privacy (Basic Books, 1999), there exists a growing trend in putting oneself on display.

"There is definitely a trend under way," says Etzioni. "I wouldn't call it a move away from privacy so much as away from privateness. Even privacy advocates would agree that if you want to give up your privacy for any specific purpose, that's certainly your privilege, and people do it all the time. Privateness is different. The voluntary loss of privateness is definitely on the rise. People have become very willing to disclose things for a number of reasons-for 15 minutes' fame on television, for convenience, for coupons and special marketing incentives, and so on. Keep in mind, in many instances, there are benefits to giving away information about yourself."

Benefits? Or inducements?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Suppose I Should Write Something Soon

It IS the weekend, mind. There are windows to be washed, carpets to be vacuumed, papers to be read, hair to be removed from the plughole.

Any excuse, eh?

Friday, November 24, 2006

YouTube Makes For Lazy Blogging

Fuck it. It's Friday. Why would you want to read my meanderings when you can have the magnificent Mano Negra singing "Sidi H'Bibi"?

Must Try Harder

The perennial problem facing artists in a consumer society: Do you compromise your vision for the sake of filthy luchre?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Our House/As Seen on the BBC

Well, nearly. If you're watching BBC2's series Coast, tonight's episode (Thursday), which will be repeated at the weekend, has a small segment on Laytown Races. Of course, I gave it a miss this year, which is why the cameras turned up. Fuckers.

Never Been Cool—And Proud of It

Darren was speculating last week as to the whereabouts of former NME journo Steven "Seething" Wells. Just to prove he's still around, here he is reviewing the Goldie Looking Chain album Safe as Fuck in his own inimitable way.

I did rather like this bit:

"So I'm on this train with an A&R man possessed of impeccably proletarian scouse credentials.

A&R: All middle-class people want to be working class, because being working class is cool.

ME: Nonsense.

A&R: I beg your pardon?

ME: I said nonsense. While the proletarian accents of London, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Manchester might possess a certain countercultural cachet, anybody unfortunate enough to be cursed with, say, a Birmingham, Lancashire, Norfolk, or west country accent is generally regarded to be a drooling, stinking, straw-sucking, sister-humping, pig-thick yokel animal fucker who eats raw turnips and stops to stare at passing aeroplanes. Has anybody ever faked, say, a Welsh accent in order to appear cool? Of course not.

And that, in a nutshell, is the core joke behind Goldie Looking Chain. They could be from Bradford. They could be from Swindon. They're actually from Newport. Which, as it happens, has produced legions of alt.pop comic geniuses. John Langford of Mekons and 3 Johns fame for one. And the legendary Carlton B. Morgan for another."

Great stuff.

And for the record, I don't have a sister. And my brother and I are just good friends.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Make Love, Not War

Norm has a post here concerning the Global Orgasm for Peace, encouraging everyone to have an orgasm on December 22 while thinking about peace.

Listen. If you want peace, find a bloke who's just HAD an orgasm. That's fifteen minutes of sunshine and blue skies right there.

Shallow, But Radical

Voting update: In the "What I Would Most Like for Christmas" poll, Oral Sex is just ahead of a Televised Royal Death.

No one could say you folks don't know what you like.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Small World

Conservative commentator Roger Scruton writing in the American Spectator proves that sometimes the enemy gets it right in spite of itself.

"Scholarship is its own purpose, and it consists in continually adding to the libraries from which it feeds. Much of the result is unreadable; most of it is unread. But the process goes on, since it is well funded by those awe-inspired students, some of whom will detach themselves in due course from the milling crowd of spectators and join the ranks of the scholarly elect. A modern university could be compared to an ant-heap, in which the library is queen, her swollen body constantly enlarged by the fertile scholars that cling to her, and surrounded and protected by the sterile bands of student soldiers.

Activities insulated from the surrounding world, with no purpose other than themselves, may seem to have no economic function. However, as Veblen saw, that is to take too narrow a view of human life. In its own way, the purposeless is functional. Middle-class parents, whose children provide the running costs of scholarship, are compelled by the high tuition fees to work harder, just at the moment when they might have retired. In this way scholarship ensures that the managers, consultants, advertisers, and media specialists, who are the primary source of the fictions on which the modern economy feeds, go on producing at full throttle.

Meanwhile their children, sustained in the amniotic fluid of academic life, are learning to delay the moment of engagement. By remaining distracted throughout those years in which energy, ambition, and creativity might otherwise search for a real target, they are preparing themselves for their forthcoming life among fictions. Nothing would be more damaging to the economy than the entry of young people with ideals and a desire to be useful. The young must therefore be provided at this most dangerous age with a spectacle, one in which they cannot join, but which awes them with its arcane and seemingly functionless perfection. After three or four years of this, they lose the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy, and go with a subdued but resigned awareness into the labyrinth where images trade for images, and dreams for dreams."

Sounds like someone's been reading the Situationists with his sherry.

Because Experience Matters

"Male chimps, unlike their human counterparts, show a distinct sexual preference for females on the riper side of life, an American anthropologist reported in a paper.

Contrary to his own expectations, Martin Muller of Boston University found after years of observation that male chimpanzees consistently sought out the oldest females within a troop for sexual intercourse.

The startling discovery — especially when contrasted with the sexual proclivities of humans, a close evolutionary cousin — suggests that socialization plays a larger role in male-female relations than is commonly assumed.

Given this common ancestry between chimps and Homo sapiens, "the masculine preference for young women is a derived human trait, probably due to the tendency to form long-term relationships between couples," Muller and his co-authors concluded.

The rest is here.

And in the blue corner, Prince Peter Kropotkin!

Darren over at Inveresk Street has a fab new design, courtesy of Will, and a quality video interview with UFC competitor Jeff "the Snowman" Monson that I just had to lift for its sheer surrealism.

I want to be in HIS commune.

The Snowman's Wiki page is here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Roman Mosaic Found in Midtown Manhattan

Discovery reveals how people lived nearly fifty years ago.

From American Heritage magazine.

In Praise of (the) Concrete

In the summer issue of The New Atlantis, a "journal of technology and society," Matthew B. Crawford celebrates the virtues of "manual competence."

" . . . perhaps the time is ripe for reconsideration of an ideal that has fallen out of favor: manual competence, and the stance it entails toward the built, material world. Neither as workers nor as consumers are we much called upon to exercise such competence, most of us anyway, and merely to recommend its cultivation is to risk the scorn of those who take themselves to be the most hard-headed: the hard-headed economist will point out the opportunity costs of making what can be bought, and the hard-headed educator will say that it is irresponsible to educate the young for the trades, which are somehow identified as the jobs of the past. But we might pause to consider just how hard-headed these presumptions are, and whether they don’t, on the contrary, issue from a peculiar sort of idealism, one that insistently steers young people toward the most ghostly kinds of work."

Crawford attributes the decline in manual work, and the loss of its intrinsic richness, cognitively, socially, and psychically, to Taylorism, the discipline that arose in the last century to boost the efficiency of factories. Which is a little ironic, because only last month in my review of Flaubert's Bouvard & Pecuchet here (scroll down) I reflected on the practical, hands-on skills my old man had acquired during five decades of his working life that enabled him to make marvelous sculptures in his retirement. Skills he acquired, yes, in a factory.

I've seen one or two comments in blogs over the past few weeks on manual incompetence. Crawford defends tradecraft for the sense of achievement it provides, but I think manual competence can be defended for another reason: because it consitutes a kind of knowledge acquisition in its own right and can generate an epistemology that is more comprehensive, more realistic, and less hubristic than one dependent on consumerism and paying someone else to do the "dirty work."

Didn't we used to call this praxis?

Thank God I'm an Atheist

An article by Profesor Phil Zuckerman in the August/September issue of Free Inquiry magazine finds that the most secular nations—those with the greatest proportion of atheists and agnostics—are among the most stable, peaceful, free, affluent, and healthy societies in the world, while the most religious nations-wherein worship of God is in abundance-are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute.

This is not meant to imply a causal relationship; instead, says Zuckerman, the conclusion to be drawn from the data is that high levels of irreligion do not automatically result in a breakdown of civilization, a rise in immoral behavior, or in "sick societies." Moreover, religion is clearly not the simple and single path to righteous societies that religious fundamentalists seem to think it is.

Name That Show

Reviewed in Entertainment Weekly:

"Any show that can accommodate decadent cruelty, tragic bravery, and political divisiveness is one you ought to be watching. . . " A-

Clue: It isn't The West Wing.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Vote Early, Vote Often

Your opinions required on all the vital issues of the day (scroll down, left-hand column). This is a genuine innovation for an anarchist blog that ostensibly couldn't give a fuck what you think.

Maybe the Television Personalities Will Show Up!

Jordi. Pep. You still there? Get yourselves down to the Primavera Club festival, December 1 & 2. The New Pornographers, Bobby Bare Jr., They Might Be Giants, Richard Hawley.

Shit, I'm checking the Aer Lingus Web site as we speak.

Is There Another Kind of Italian Terrorism?*

A review of Art Brut at Glasgow by David Pollock in today's Independent.

*That's a rhetorical question, Stef. No need to answer.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Aristophanes Redux

Spotted at the Trots.

Must-Boycott TV

VH1's Flavor of Love is reviewed in the November issue of Essence magazine:

"Perhaps not since 1915's racist epic The Birth of a Nation have we been depicted as offensively as we are on VH1's Flavor of Love. Journalist Debra Dickerson calls out the star of the show and the women who swear they love him.

Tough as the competition is, it seems no one disrespects Black women more than gold-tooth-flashing, Mad Hatter–dressing, alcohol-loving has-been rapper Flavor Flav. Each season on his Black-chelor knockoff reality series, Flavor of Love, he drags 20 empty-eyed hoochies through endless rounds of humiliation as they claw and scratch to get time alone with him and beg to be his plaything. Given the show's record-breaking ratings on VH1, there's no likely end in sight. I'm not defending the bling-blinded contestants who pimp themselves to become Flav's potential wife on national TV. In fact, it's hard not to despise these women for picking a random celebrity's coattails to ride with their bare bottoms. But I see no redeeming value in Flav, this former "hip-hop intellectual" who seems to think that "habitatural" and "romantical" are actual words, that the watercraft in Venice are "gonzoleers," that his face leering out from period costumes is great art, and that his on-air roses are red, violets are blue–level poetry is, you know, poetry."

You can see the show on MTV UK. At least on their site they are candid enough to ask, "Why are we making this show?" Not that their answer is particularly convincing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Selling Democracy

The 1948 Smith-Mundt Act prohibited domestic distribution of films made by the U.S. government for foreign audiences. This ban was limited to 12 years from a film's release in 1990, but it has meant that American audiences have not had a chance to see the films made to promote democracy under the Marshall Plan. This has now been rectified by the 25-film retrospective "Selling Democracy: Films of the Marshall Plan, 1948–1953," at the William G. McGowan Theater in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

Here are some selections:

"Postwar misery plagued all of Europe, and in Hunger (7’) Germany is blamed. German audiences rejected the film, so it was pulled from theaters by the U.S. military government. It’s Up to You (20’), another controversial film, focused on de-Nazification and re-orientation. Divided Berlin quickly became a locus for propaganda battles developing Between East and West (22’). The Bridge (15’) documents the dramatic rescue of West Berlin by the airlift. Me and Mr. Marshall (13’), the first Marshall Plan film, celebrates the rebuilding of Germany. Italy, like Germany, had succumbed to the lure of fascism, and had to be re-integrated into Europe. In Life and Death of a Cave City (11’), one of the rare color films, Italian families live in underground warrens until Marshall aid builds them new houses above ground. Rotterdam had been bombed to rubble by the Nazis. Houen Zo (21’), a symphony of sounds and music that shows the city coming back to life, won a special prize at the Cannes Film Festival. (approx 100 minutes)"

. . .

"By 1949 the Marshall Plan Motion Picture Section was in full swing, and its filmmakers were challenged to turn people’s despair into optimism. The films in program two embody the can-do spirit of the Marshall Planners before anti-Communist anxieties set in. From the American point of view, productivity was the key to prosperity, but it had to be tempered with a respect for traditional European craftmanship. These themes are amusingly tackled in The Extraordinary Adventures of a Quart of Milk (14’), The Home We Love (15’), and Rice and Bulls (15’), all set in France. Thrilling struggles to reclaim land and find water for irrigation are recounted in Island of Faith (20’) and Town Without Water (13’). Even hard-boiled students of propaganda technique may find themselves shedding a tear. When it seemed the elder generation would never change, the Marshall Planners aimed at the young. Hansl and the 200,000 Chicks is one of the most charming examples. The Marshall Plan operated in 17 countries, plus the city-state of Trieste. ERP in Action No. 5 (14’) takes you on a tour of aid projects in Portugal, Great Britain, Belgium, Greece — all set to the jaunty tunes typical of 50’s newsreels. (approx 100 minutes)"


Especially for the Folks at the Creationist Museum

How new discoveries are revealing the steps by which complex structures in nature evolve from humble beginnings: A Fin is a Limb is a Wing.

Some beautiful photos in the accompanying photo gallery, btw.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Teenage Rampage

If anyone else goes to see The Page Turner can they explain to me what Melanie's male friend is doing in the women's section of the department store. (Even if it's prearranged it still looks odd)

I Hope to Organize a Coach and Horses for Visitors

So we can drive it through all the holes in the arguments being advanced at the new Creationist "Museum" in Kentucky.

Fans of C&S will have first read about this museum here, by the way. Nearly a year and half ago.

Also in today's Guardian: Hindenburg Crashes, Shergar Kidnapped, Revolution in France.

It's Just As I Thought

Women are incapable of judging "who the ball came off last." And this was only Luton vs QPR; what would happen if she was given a big game like Preston vs. Stoke?

But seriously, respect to Amy Rayner, she has more balls than I do; I packed in reffing at 20 because of the abuse I was getting officiating under 12's matches. Fast tracked or not, Amy Rayner is a qualified ref and Mike Newell is not. If his argument is that officials should have played the game to a certain level, then I'd like to see Graham Poll's Footballer of the Year awards. Professional players are notoriously ignorant of the laws of the game. Only last week, James Mcfadden was aggrieved at being sent off for allegedly calling Poll "a cheat" when he admits to calling him "fucking shite." It's still "foul and abusive" language, James, and no matter how accurate, still a sending-off offence.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I've Never Much Cared for Martin O'Neill. I Cannot Stand Chris Sutton.

To paraphrase Dubya, what the fuck do I know?

Everton 0-1 Aston Villa
Sutton 42

Man Ure 12 10 1 1 27 5 31
Chelski 12 9 2 1 22 7 28
Aston Villa 12 5 1 6 15 9 21

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's a Miracle!!

Manuel is back!!

Downs Syndrome

From the October 2 issue of Maclean's:

Mark Downs, a Pennsylvania teacher, is on trial for, among other things, corrupting a minor. He allegedly offered Keith Reese, 9, $25 to nail an autistic team member with a ball so he'd be unable to play in a crucial T-ball game. Keith hit the boy in the groin. His mother didn't see the play and ordered her weeping son back on the field. Downs allegedly encouraged Keith to take another throw, purportedly telling him: "Try hitting him harder."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

IQ: The Debate Rages On

In an article in the August 2006 issue of the journal Political Psychology entitled "Presidential IQ, Openness, Intellectual Brilliance, and Leadership: Estimates and Correlations for 42 U.S. Chief Executives," Dean Keith Simonton, a psychologist at the University of California, Davis, estimated the IQs of the 42 presidents based on their writings, early developmental milestones, openness to ideas, and other traits generally linked to intelligence; he also drew on previous studies by other researchers. All the presidents scored at least 130, in the top 2.2 percent of the population. Simonton found that John Quincy Adams, who only lasted one term, was the smartest president, with an estimated IQ of 175, while the lowest, Ulysses Grant scored 130 yet won the Civil War; President George W. Bush scored 138.5.

Simonton argues that while George W. Bush's estimated IQ is below average when compared to those of other chief executives, he is "certainly smart enough to be president of the United States."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Proof of What, Exactly?

You decide:

Proof that God designed the universe for human consumption.

Proof that evolution designed bananas to fit monkeys' hands so they'd shit the seeds everywhere.


Proof that intelligent design only applies to bananas and not to Creationists themselves.

Which do YOU think?

What Would We Do Without Marks & Spencers?

Casu Marzu. Perfect for those good old-fashioned Cheese and Worm parties.

I Wish Work Was That Easy

It's been over a month since I posted at either Manuel or McManus, and the numbers are still holding up.

Worse. The numbers at McManus have actually increased since I stopped posting. Last Thursday alone, it received over 620 hits.

It only goes to show, obscenity never goes out of date.

Oscar for Fergie

Did anyone else see the splendid attempt last night by Alex Ferguson to have a dig at Wenger & Mourinho by appearing to lose gracefully. I bet he was fuming inside after a very strong United side got bullied and beaten by lowly Southend. Made me laugh (nearly as much as the commentary " a carbon copy, only this time it's Caleb Folan again!")

Smell My Large, Deformed Penis


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Remember When "Critical Intellectual" Was a Tautology

There's an interesting interview in the New York Times Magazine of October 15 with Wang Hui, an author and the co-editor of China's "leading intellectual journal," Dushu. Worth a look.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Who Knew?

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. government conducted a series of secret war games in 1999 that anticipated an invasion of Iraq would require 400,000 troops, and even then chaos might ensue.

In its "Desert Crossing" games, 70 military, diplomatic and intelligence officials assumed the high troop levels would be needed to keep order, seal borders and take care of other security needs.

The documents came to light Saturday through a Freedom of Information Act request by the George Washington University's National Security Archive, an independent research institute and library.

"The conventional wisdom is the U.S. mistake in Iraq was not enough troops," said Thomas Blanton, the archive's director. "But the Desert Crossing war game in 1999 suggests we would have ended up with a failed state even with 400,000 troops on the ground."

The rest is here.

Do You Get Chips With it?

Spotted in Oceanus, the magazine of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, news of the discovery of a new family of deep-sea crab, only the second since the mid-1800s, named Kiwaidae, after Kiwa, a Polynesian goddess of crustaceans.

Full story here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


The wonderful Neko Case is touring the U.K. and Ireland over the next couple of weeks, supported by the equally wonderful Kelly Hogan and Jon Rauhouse. Catch them if you can.

+* WED 11/1 - LONDON, UK @ KOKO

A Bit Much, I Thought

Did anyone see the Secret Policeman's Ball on TV the other night?

In order to demonstrate Amnesty International's argument that there's no justice in this world, they actually let Martha Wainwright sing in the Royal Albert Hall.

Jesus! There's no need to add to the world's woes.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fame at Last

Martin on e-Bay (scroll down).

What am I bid?

That's One Date I'll Never Forget

The Timberdoodle is one of the most unusual upland birds in New York because it has a bill that appears to be too long for its body, ears placed forward on the face, eyes set high on the back of its head, and an upside-down brain.

Read more about the Timberdoodle here.

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Last year alone in South Korea, seven or more people died from deep vein thrombosis, heart failure, or exhaustion while playing online games, and another killed himself after being denied admittance to a game because he had cheated.

More on Korea's online gaming addicts here.

Fear and Loathing

Ruth Franklin's review from the New Republic of Jan T. Gross's book Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz, is reproduced here. An excerpt:

Polish Jews who had the amazing fortune to survive the camps were "unwelcomed" upon their return home with brutal violence. In June 1945, several Jews traveling by train in eastern Poland were murdered by their fellow passengers. In August, a mob attacked the synagogue in Krakow and then pursued Jews throughout the city, killing several and wounding dozens. The writer Zofia Nalkowska, visiting a Jewish orphanage that fall, noted that the children were unable to enroll in public school because of "beatings and persecution." The following spring, the French Catholic intellectual Emmanuel Mounier reported that more than a thousand Jews had been killed in the Polish countryside over the past nine months. And on July 4, 1946, scores of Jews were killed and hundreds injured in a day-long citywide bloodbath in Kielce that has become notorious as the deadliest peacetime pogrom in modern Europe.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mmmm. Cognac.

If Only More People Would Follow His Example

Alternative health magazine Delicious Living features a brief article by John Francis, author of Planetwalker. In the article, he describes the experience of not talking for 17 years, during which time he founded a nonprofit organization, walked across the United States, and earned a master's and then a Ph.D. in environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin.

Inspiration for all of us in advance of national Shut the Fuck Up Day.

Oedipus Schmoedipus

Maintaining today's Undead theme:

His father once made a movie about a corpse brought back to life. Now it seems his book is to be made into a movie featuring (watched by?) millions. Beat that, dad!

You Couldn't PAY Me to Watch That Lot

Actually, you could.

The Friendly Atheist

is the name of a blog that reprints an essay from the July/August issue of The Humanist by Jeff Nall entitled "Overcoming Antagonistic Atheism to Recast the Image of Humanism." It's worth a read (IMHO) because it argues a case I've been trying to make for a less fundamentalist attitude on the part of atheists, which is a position I suspect one comes to adopt when one begins to mix with theists who are perfectly normal human beings (there are some, trust me). A couple of excerpts:

Many outsiders—both nonbelievers and believers—who might otherwise find a naturalistic, secular perspective or philosophy of life worth exploring, see the fanciful crusade of many atheists to "save" humanity from the "scourge" of religion in the same light they view religious fanatics who zealously seek converts. As scholar and atheist Dylan Evans writes: "There seems to be a widespread tendency among people of all creeds and none to think the world would be a better place if everyone agreed with them." Evans goes on to add that, just as religious fundamentalists do, secular fundamentalists "seem to want to convert the whole world to their own point of view."

. . .

We need to reproach the arrogant atheists for what "New Republic" writer Alan Wolfe describes as "the shrillness of their tone, their thinly disguised contempt for people they can barely understand, and their conviction (you might even call it religious) that they always have been and always will be on the right side of history." In short, we would do well to assail and distance ourselves from any form of fundamentalism, even if it's secular fundamentalism.

The sooner Humanists recognize that spiteful antics and attitudes of superiority sadly mirror the presumptive, all-knowing mentality of the religious right and undermine the efforts of organizations like the American Humanist Association, the sooner we can move to grow a vast, vibrant Humanist movement.


Evil Dead: The Musical.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Football Is Most Enjoyable

A sympathetic and enjoyable profile of Watford's Jay DeMerit in the October 16 Sports Illustrated can be found here, here, and here.

I was sympathetic too, until the last paragraph:

During his trip home over the summer, DeMerit spent a day in the recording studio with some old friends who own an indie music label in Minneapolis. The resulting track, a guitar-screeching ode to Watford called "Soccer Rocks," celebrates the fairy-tale story of an Everyman and his underdog team who somehow make it to the Premier League:

Let me bring your dream to you/Show you all what you could do/Soccer rocks!

Just what the world needs: A guitar-screeching ode to Watford.

To Elevate the Spirits

The Web site of the Promenade Plantée, a roughly three-mile promenade that runs along the top of an abandoned 19th-century railroad viaduct through urban neighborhoods in eastern Paris from the Place de la Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes.


A brief interview with the phenomenally talented Kathleen Judge at Gapers Block.

Anyone know what a gapers block is?

Filthy answers only, please.