Friday, August 18, 2006

Look Guys, Cut this Racism Out

Well, I think they should; they ran the `mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood," the paper quoted Young as saying. "But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores.

This is from a speech by Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta, which hit the news August 17 as he was defending Walmart!

Look, America, there is a major war going on. This kind of ethnic taunting, from all sides, is the last thing we need.

I have previously complained about two Republican politicians spouting off, but this is in some respects worse - Young is one of the major actors of the Civil Rights Movement. Does he really thing it's easy to be an Arab-American right now?


The eleven-year old who won America's Got Talent truly can sing.

20 arrested at Saudi gay wedding

Riyadh - Saudi authorities arrested 20 young men after raiding a suspected gay wedding in the southern town of Jizan, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The detainees, who were among some 400 men attending "the wedding party of two men" on Tuesday, had been "emulating women," the Al-Watan paper said.

In all, some 250 people were detained in the police raid on the party but the rest were later released.

IOL South Africa, 8/16/2006

Andrew Sullivan comments on this and sees it as noteworthy not because of anti-gay activity by the Saudi state, but because it shows how western ideas have penetrated Saudi Arabia. I think more information is needed: homosexual sex had always been widely practiced and celebrated in Arabic society and literature, and in Yemen in particular (this event took place near the border) there has been a social tradition of same-sex pairings. Four Hundred people just do not show up to a wedding because of watching Will and Grace on satellite.

It is more possible that a more traditional event has gained some additional meaning because of knowledge of what is happening in western culture.

The Cult of the Sound of Music

The Cult of the Sound of Music - that's the title of a BBC News website on the film. The BBC does not quite get it though-
The Sound of Music is the epitome of chirpy optimism and innocence. Even though the central element of the plot is a middle-aged man trying to pull a young nun, it's regarded as the height of wholesomeness.

I confess that I have probably seen the film more than any other, including two sing-a-long versions, and the stage show twice! What can I do? It was the second movie my mother ever took me to see. The first was Batman and Robin.

Such films made me who I am today.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Blacks cannot Swim"

From a Republican blog
Tramm Hudson Destroys Himself
Tramm Hudson is the current front runner in the GOP primary in FL-13, the Congressional District being vacated by Katherine Harris.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Against the Gates Foundation

The Onion has the story.

Andrew Sullivan shrivels Cheney

Bottom line: Mr Cheney, you're an incompetent wimp who didn't have the will to win in Iraq, or the integrity to uphold American values while fighting a deadly foe. You have thereby made us all less safe, and stained the reputation of America for decades. Your incompetence and brutality have made us both less feared and more despised in the world. Why is that not the rallying cry for the opposition this fall?

In Cheney, Incompetent Wimp

He's right. All British Gay Catholics are right. All the time.

Did Israel Loose?

It may be that this is just a pause in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. From the reactions on both sides (see the Israeli and Lebanese press), Israelis are seeing this as a war they lost, and Hezbollah is boasting of victory.

Israel did not get its two soldiers back, but has succeeded in controlling some border areas. It would truly have succeeded only if it had made Hezbollah's position in Lebanon weaker.

But right now that does seem to be the outcome. Israel's military now has lost some of its aura of invincibility both within Israel, and more dangerously among surrounding hostile forces.

Of course it did not unleash its full power - there were no carpet bombings of Lebanese cities in which hundreds of thousands could have been killed. But all out war is much less acceptable these days. (The US could bomb Teheran, but would find worldwide hostility if it did). War is fought within moral constraints created by the media and with an eye on outside observers.

Israel could survive an all out war, but in the skirmishing that goes on nowadays, it has revealed a major weakness. That itself is a disaster.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Assumption of the Virgin

Today is the day no saint died.

My academic specialty is the study of sainthood in the Byzantine Empire. [Useless, huh?] Saints' days, and the readings that go with them are listed a a huge number of parchment documents called, among other things, menologia. Each saint is listed according to the day of his or her "birthday in heaven" (i.e. the day of his or her death). For some days there are tens of listed names. But for this day there are no names given but one.

This is among the oldest of all Christian festivals. It celebrates the arrival in heaven of she who is the "boundary of the created and the uncreated," the ever-virgin and all-immaculate Theotokos, the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Nothing could be further from everyday life. But the world over this day is celebrated. Why?

For Christians it is because She is the first of the redeemed, the first since Adam to give self completely over to God, the first to know that God is not some distant Creator, but a Person who takes responsibility for the chaos of the world, and is involved in it.

Today, no saint died because today is a day that celebrates in advance, and in shadows, the Christian belief that the world is a Comedy where good triumphs, and that the tragedy that surrounds us will all make sense one day.

Mrs. Thatcher's State Funeral

There has been a recent hullabaloo in the UK press about a statement (made in Tony Blair's absence) that Mrs. Thatcher would NOT be accorded a state funeral.

Let's be clear here: there is no clear definition of a state funeral. Since World War II, of non-royalty, only Winston Churchill had an official state funeral. Diana's funeral was not officially a state funeral.

Let's be clear again. Many of us have cause to detest Margaret Thatcher. Whatever renown she has acquired since her forced resignation, many Britons cannot and will not forgive her class war against the British Trade Union movement. Millions suffered: some of us left the country.

But, in historical terms, Thatcher is of indubitable importance in British history.

She should get a state funeral. But people should be allowed to spit at the hearse.

A Senator calls a Native American Person a "Macaca"

See comments on the Washington Post story at American Prospect.


War Tourism

Travel agents recently asked the operators of Gonen Holiday Village to arrange a "Katyusha trail" tour of the area and sightseeing at damaged locations throughout the Galilee.

Ori Alon, marketing director of the kibbutz resort, located near Kiryat Shmona, said that "people want to come and express solidarity, and see what took place in the North over the past month." She said the site is planning a package that will include visits to Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, which suffered both casualties and property damage, visits to homes in Kiryat Shmona that were hit by rockets, and meetings with people who spent time in bomb shelters.

The package will also include visits to regional historic sites and an evening sing-along.

Haaretz 8/15/2006

This England...

Lord Kilbracken
At Eton he distinguished himself by rowing in the first VIII, taking flying lessons and setting himself up as the school bookie, thus inaugurating a life-long love of gambling of all kinds. The position earned him a certain amount of kudos with his peers, but was not appreciated by the beaks - or by his parents, who cut off funds for his flying lessons as a punishment.

He decided that the only way out of ignominy and poverty was to win the school's Hervey verse prize, which came with a handsome cheque for £16. He duly did so with a poem about a storm which he described as "a masterpiece of 116 lines and a high moral tone". The prize was presented to him by the same master who had given him a thrashing for his bookmaking activities, though John Godley knew from "a certain look in his eye" that the crime had not been forgotten.

The Daily Telegraph, 8/15/2006

The Telegraph obituary page is especially good today. Not only did Lord Kilbracken live a splendid life, but the obituary of Sir Michael Weir is well worth a read.

Monday, August 14, 2006

On John Betjeman

He was funny, and he was that very distinctive thing, an Englishman who said serious things in a funny way.

A.N. Wilson on John Betjeman, Daily Telegraph, 8/14/2006

Using the word Fascist

The word "fascism" means an extreme totalitarian system that suppresses human rights and democratic freedoms.

Islamic fundamentalism is fascistic in the precise, technical sense of the word.

Janet Daley, "'Fascistic' is the right word for Islamic fundamentalism," Daily Telegraph 10/14/2006