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arcana imperii :: the book of j

8.2.14

Quotation of the Week

«Denken ist schwer, darum urteilen die meisten.»
~Carl Gustav Jung

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6.1.14

¡Feliz Día de Reyes!

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28.1.13

Quotation of the Week

«Truth exists; only lies are invented.»
~Georges Braque

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25.12.12

bon nadal i feliç any nou!
god jul och gott nytt år!
god jul og godt nytt år!
glædelig jul og godt nytår!
gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár!
hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta!
maligayang pasko at manigong bagong taon!
nollaig chridheil agus bliadhna mhath ùr!
nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda!
nollaig shona agus blian nua fe mhaise!
fröhliche weihnachten und ein gutes neues jahr!
joyeux noël et bonne nouvelle année!
¡feliz navidad y próspero año nuevo!
noeliniz ve yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun!
buon natale e felice anno nuovo!
prettige kerstdagen en een voorpoedig nieuwjaar!
kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket és boldog új évet!
feliz natal e bom ano novo!
mele kalikimaka me ka hauoli makahiki hou!
koa kirihimete a kia hari te tau hou!

«idah saidan wa sanah jadidah»
«de christmas akhtar de bakhtawar au newai kal de mubarak sha»
«meri kurisumasu soshite akemashite omedeto!»
«christmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad va sâle-no mobârak»
«chag molad sameach veshanah tovah»
«shub naya baras»

καλά χριστούγεννα και καλή χρoνιά πολλά!
C Pождеством Хpистовым и Лучший Новый Год!

natale hilare et annum faustum!

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13.12.12

Quotation of the Week


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20.9.12


It is not yet clear to me exactly how the evens unfolded on 16 August when thirty-four people were killed after police opened fire on striking miners at a South African mine. The demonstrators may have not only seemed menacing (I understand they were armed) but also on the verge of attack. The incident definitely brings back memories of a time when fatal shootings by government forces was a rather too common instrument of oppression in South Africa. So I post this insightful cartoon by the great Zapiro reserving judgement on whether this was a massacre or a necessity of sorts.

Nyabonga, SW

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18.9.12

Quotation of the Week

«Aut viam inveniam aut faciam.»
(I will either find a way or make one.)
~Hannibal

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Behold the Hand


Maurizio Cattelan, "L.O.V.E.," 2010

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8.9.12


This is just an example of the unbelievably stupid statements Republican politicians have made recently in the United States. The sad fact is that most get away with it. The media hardly ever takes them to task on these subjects as enormous segments of the American public are understood to be as ignorant as the people who govern.

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31.7.12

Quotation of the Week


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4.7.12

Happy Birthday America 2012

"
«I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the same coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilised society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.»

~Thomas Jefferson's to Samuel Kercheval, 12 July 1810

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3.7.12

Who Really Matters in Life


Do you matter to me?

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28.6.12

A Great Day for America

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23.6.12

Know Your Meme



© 2012 Roman M France

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10.6.12

Quotation of the Week

«Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.» ~Edmund Burke

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8.6.12

Keep Calm and...

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28.5.12

Stand Back

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23.4.12


My dearest and beloved Father has passed away. His body has been donated to medical science for research into neurodegenerative diseases. At the conclusion of these studies, His remains shall be interred in the Family Mausoleum. Thank you all for your sympathy, condolences and best wishes. My Father passed without discomfort nor pain. We are all at Peace. My best wishes and again, deepest gratitude to all.

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22.2.12

Ash Wednesday 2012


Ha!

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22.1.12

Quotation of the Week

«We do not see what we love, but we love in the hope of confirming the illusion that we are indeed seeing anthing at all.»
~Paul de Man

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18.1.12

BLACKOUT: OPPOSE SOPA and PIPA


Paint It Black: 7 Ways You Can Protest SOPA and PIPA

Right Now the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For at least twenty-four hours, TO RAISE AWARENESS, I will remain offline, and ask you you to do the same. Phone people; don't use email. Don't browse. Don't click on ads. Don't shop. TRY TO REMAIN OFFLINE.

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6.1.12

Quotation of the Week

«It may be that the old astrologers had the truth exactly reversed, when they believed that the stars controlled the destinies of men. The time may come when men control the destinies of stars.»
~Arthur C Clarke, First on the Moon, 1970

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¡Feliz Día de Reyes!

Happy Three Kings Day and a Happy Belated Birthday to HM King Juan Carlos I de Borbón who turned 74 yesterday!

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1.1.12

Here's to 2012 CE


Happy New Year!

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31.12.11

31 December 2011


And 2011 is finally coming to an end. Time again for renewal, adventure, more love, friendship, good health, prosperity, success, mystyery and peace in our lives. Leave your 2011 baggage behind said Greg M. to the world earlier today! Words of Wisdom indeed! Let's party!

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28.12.11

Quotation of the Week

«In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice.
Then he made school boards.»

~Mark Twain

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It's Time To Kill The "Robin Hood" Myth

The following essay appeared on the Forbes Magazine Website on either 06 May or 05 June and it hits the proverbial hammer on its head. It's spot on regarding the myth and horrific insanity known as Robin Hood, who represents not virtue, but crime and theft and looting. The essay by "The Objectivist" --members of the Ayn Rand Centre covering economics and liberty, with Yaron Brook and Don Watkins, Contributors.
If you were to judge by the rhetoric, you might think that Paul Ryan’s plan for reducing the federal deficit slashed the government’s budget by 90%, and funded the killing of kittens to boot. E.J. Dionne, for instance, calls it “radical,” “irresponsible,” and “extreme,” and asks, is this “the end of progressive government?” The truth is that Ryan actually proposes increasing government spending in the coming years–just at a lower rate than current projections. So why are Ryan’s critics so up in arms?

Because Ryan’s plan dares to touch (albeit, merely to scratch) the untouchable entitlement state. Ryan’s plan would, among other things, trim and reorganize Medicare and Medicaid and reduce federal support for education. To the plan’s critics, this amounts to “reverse-Robin Hood redistribution,” as former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Blinder put it. “[A]bout two-thirds of Mr. Ryan’s so-called courageous budget cuts would come from programs serving low- and moderate-income Americans, while the rich would gain from copious tax cuts.”

The “reverse-Robin Hood” line suggests that Ryan’s plan robs from “the poor” and gives to “the rich.” But cutting entitlements is not robbery–and cutting taxes isn’t a gift.

Entitlements are essentially government handouts: the government takes money from some people in order to finance other people’s retirements, doctor’s visits, and whatever else the government deems worthy. They are unearned benefits. It is shameful that in a civilized society we have to say this, but getting less loot is not the same thing as being robbed.

A tax cut, meanwhile, is not a government handout–it is a reduction of how much of your income the government takes. Whether you’re a millionaire, billionaire, or an ambitious stock boy, a tax cut means you get to keep more of what you earn.

In this context, consider president Obama’s recent budget speech, in which he criticized Ryan’s plan for implying that “even though we can’t afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy.” When Obama speaks of what “we” can afford, he is obviously smuggling in the premise that all wealth rightfully belongs to society and that the government–as society’s representative–will dole out that wealth as it sees fit.

We reject that premise. On our view, you earned your wealth and it belongs to you, and no politician has any business talking about how much of your money he can “afford” to let you keep. What is true is that government is running deficits. It is spending (and has promised to spend) much more than it is taking in through taxes. Much of that spending, Obama admitted, is going toward entitlements.

What, then, did Obama propose as his solution to this spending binge? According to the president, the solution can’t be to stop doling out entitlement checks. That would be “abandon[ing] the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.” Instead, we must raise taxes on productive American citizens. (What about the Founders’ view that America’s “fundamental commitment” was to protect every individual’s inalienable rights, including his right to the fruits of his own labor? Obama didn’t say.)

The message was plain: It is necessary and perhaps noble to deprive a person of what he has earned, but it would be morally monstrous to deprive a person of the unearned. You created wealth? Big deal. You have a need you can’t fulfill? You have a right that nothing on earth can supersede.

It is fitting that those pushing this doctrine should invoke Robin Hood. When people hail the man who “robbed from the rich and gave to the poor,” it is normally on the grounds that the need of Robin Hood’s beneficiaries justified the looting of his victims. Stealing is wrong–if you’re serving your own “greed.” But if you’re serving others’ need? Anything goes.

It is also fitting that at the same time the debate over entitlements was going on, Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged was jetting to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. In Rand’s novel, the mysterious Ragnar Danneskjöld declares, “I’m after a man whom I want to destroy. He died many centuries ago, but until the last trace of him is wiped out of men’s minds, we will not have a decent world to live in... Robin Hood.”

According to Danneskjöld, Robin Hood “is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own... He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does.”

This is why, contrary to the rhetoric, the “cuts” proposed by Republicans have been puny to non-existent: the Republicans share the Robin Hood morality. However much they decry taxes, however much they recognize that entitlements are leading us toward bankruptcy à la Greece, they agree that need does entitle people to others’ wealth. And so Paul Ryan and all the other Republicans hasten to assure the world that they would never be so cruel as to cut entitlement redistribution schemes: their only goal is to save them. Their message is: Obama’s goals are noble; only his means are open to criticism.

Instead of ducking charges of “reverse-Robin Hood,” defenders of limited government should follow Danneskjöld’s example–they should fight with full moral confidence against any scheme to take earnings from some in order to lavish others with the unearned.

Robin Hood, rest in peace.

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24.12.11

Holiday Laughter

Do take a moment and have a look at this phlog post and have a good laugh with the links back here to arcana imperii.

Cheers!

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Happy Holidays to all!

bon nadal i feliç any nou!
god jul och gott nytt år!
god jul og godt nytt år!
glædelig jul og godt nytår!
gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár!
hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta!
maligayang pasko at manigong bagong taon!
nollaig chridheil agus bliadhna mhath ùr!
nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda!
nollaig shona agus blian nua fe mhaise!
fröhliche weihnachten und ein gutes neues jahr!
joyeux noël et bonne nouvelle année!
¡feliz navidad y próspero año nuevo!
noeliniz ve yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun!
buon natale e felice anno nuovo!
prettige kerstdagen en een voorpoedig nieuwjaar!
kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket és boldog új évet!
feliz natal e bom ano novo!
mele kalikimaka me ka hauoli makahiki hou!
koa kirihimete a kia hari te tau hou!

«idah saidan wa sanah jadidah»
«de christmas akhtar de bakhtawar au newai kal de mubarak sha»
«meri kurisumasu soshite akemashite omedeto!»
«christmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad va sâle-no mobârak»
«chag molad sameach veshanah tovah»
«shub naya baras»

καλά χριστούγεννα και καλή χρoνιά πολλά!
C Pождеством Хpистовым и Лучший Новый Год!

natale hilare et annum faustum!

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21.12.11

Happy Winter Solstice 2011!


NOTE: Please have a look at THIS ENTRY.

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2.12.11

NANDO'S Advert pulled in South Africa

The arm of ANC's censorship in South Africa is reaching farther and farther into the daily life of South Africans. Nando has been forced to pull this brilliant advert, further decimating Freedom of Expression. Enough to send anyone into a thirty-day rage! Via SW.

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1.12.11

WORLD AIDS DAY 2011

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16.11.11

Renée Fleming Returns in «Rodelinda»

I can't wait to see this! 03 December 2011. Just a few days to go!
Renée Fleming Returns in ‘Rodelinda’ Opera - Review - NYTimes.com

via Blog this

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7.11.11

STOP THE WORLD: I'M OUT OF COFFEE!


This is one of the most delicious blends of coffee I've ever tasted and I'm happily in the habit of drinking it twice daily. The second time in the form of a Carajillo (with B&B, spiced rhum, or espresso vodka, among other options).
I've just run out!

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31.10.11

Happy Hallowe'en 2011!

«Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more."»

~From The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

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27.10.11

Quotation of the Week

«Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.»
~Abraham Lincoln

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26.10.11

Amy Winehouse death: Alcohol Poisoning

Amy Winehouse's death was the result of the singer drinking too much alcohol. Shame on the enablers around her and those close to her who failed to provide the required help.

BBC News - Amy Winehouse death: Coroner records misadventure verdict.

'via Blog this'

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17.10.11

Quotation of the Week

«Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.»
~Christopher Morley

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13.10.11

Quotation of the Week

«Show your sheep-biting face, and be hanged an hour!»
~Taken from: Measure for Measure

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12.10.11

12 October: Fiesta Nacional


¡Qué viva España!

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Op-Ed: Obama 'Devastating' For Civil Liberties

This is an incredible interview. Please have a listen or read the transcript at NPR. The link, further information and a brief excerpt follows.

Op-Ed: Obama 'Devastating' For Civil Liberties : NPR: «Jonathan Turley argues in a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that "the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties." He says President Obama has continued many of the most controversial Bush administration programs.»
«President Obama is a perfect nightmare when it comes to civil liberties. He not only adopted most of President Bush's policies in the civil liberties areas when it comes to terrorism, but he actually expanded on them. He outdid George Bush.

And they range. His position on torture and refusing to have people investigated or prosecuted for torture, on privacy lawsuits. He pushed aggressively for the dismissal of dozens of lawsuits brought by private interest organizations. He's for immunity for people who engaged in warrantless surveillance. He has fought standing for people even to be able to get courts to review his programs, much like George Bush. He kept military tribunals and the authority to make the discretionary choice of sending some people to a real court, some people to a military tribunal. He has asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens based solely on his own discretion, that he believes them to be a threat to the country.

His administration has, once again, as with the Bush administration, cited secret law, that - and including a case of assassinating citizens - a law that we're not allowed to see, but we have to trust them.»

'via Blog this'

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8.10.11

Obama has decimated the progressive cause. Would he do it again?

An insightful (and brutal) analysis indeed.

"But, as liberal leaders already know, the young movement must be careful to avoid Obama’s embrace: He decimated the progressive cause once, and he would do it again if given the chance."

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30.9.11

Quotation of the Week

«To understand nothing takes time.»
~Zen saying

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26.9.11

Mark Rutstein from DC: A BULLY


«You are a shallow cowardly hind, and you lie.»
~Taken from: Henry IV, part I


This is Mark Rutstein of Washington, DC. He is a bully and a coward who uses Facebook and comment sections on the internet to insult, bully, disparage and discredit others, including friends, and then hides behind his computer monitor by blocking critics.

For instance, after reading a Facebook Status Update on his Facebook Wall, in which Mark Rutstein wrote about throwing a fit at a 17th Street Steakhouse in DC called Annie's, stating that he had walked out after waiting ten minutes for service, I wrote in a comment that one encounters similar situations at 30 degrees/Cobalt, bars he manages less than a block away from Annie's. Mark's disrespectful, unwarranted and unacceptable reply was to tell me that at his bar they don't serve old bitter queens and that if I had to wait to be served a drink I must have fit that profile. Mark, who is 37 years old can go [to hell]. Unlike Mark, I'm far from old, not a queen and definitively not bitter. It's just that there's something ugly about people who live in glass houses and throw stones.

See, whenever Mark Rutstein perceives he's received poor service somewhere, he posts on Facebook the name of the establishment and the name of his servers along with his complaint. Fine. But apparently he can't bear to receive the same criticism. And hiding, like the coward he is, behind his computer monitor, he continues to rant, harass and insult, apparently believing that I won't find out or present the evidence to the DC Police.

Mark's behaviour should cause revulsion. It's definitely sociopathic, as Mark fails to compensate or make amends for his actions and seems unable to learn from his mistakes. He seems indifferent to having hurt and mistreated others and certainly even goes so far as to blame his victims for being foolish or helpless or as deserving their fate.

Mark Rutstein can be reached at + 1 202.498.1198 (mobile) and at mark@iknowdc.com (email). Please note that this contact information has been made publicly available on the internet by Mark Rutstein himself and is correct as of this writing.

NOTE: Philip Tickner has posted comments on Mark Rutstein's Facebook page saying that this is a "strike from an old queen". Who the hell is he and what does he know about anything to be expressing his insulting views. Note also that a Kerrie Ryan has threatened to send out "comment trolls" to my blogs and hack my twitter account. And suggests that Gawker would have a field day with me. Gawker would have a field day with Rutstein's hypocrisy. She is another cyber-criminal making threats and indeed someone who knows nothing about what Mark Rutstein has done. Another case of "blame the victim" for retaliating.

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11.9.11

In Memoriam ~ 11 September 2011


911 by DeviantARTist jburnstudios, ed. j.

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22.8.11

Obama's Failure

Have you had a chance to read Drew Westen's New York Times article entitled «What Happened to Obama?» --Here's an abstract. Please have a look and share it round. We all should hear and understand this message.
The president is fond of referring to “the arc of history,” paraphrasing the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s famous statement that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But with his deep-seated aversion to conflict and his profound failure to understand bully dynamics — in which conciliation is always the wrong course of action, because bullies perceive it as weakness and just punch harder the next time — he has broken that arc and has likely bent it backward for at least a generation.

In contrast, when faced with the greatest economic crisis, the greatest levels of economic inequality, and the greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression, Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it. He never explained that decision to the public — a failure in storytelling as extraordinary as the failure in judgment behind it. Had the president chosen to bend the arc of history, he would have told the public the story of the destruction wrought by the dismantling of the New Deal regulations that had protected them for more than half a century. He would have offered them a counternarrative of how to fix the problem other than the politics of appeasement, one that emphasized creating economic demand and consumer confidence by putting consumers back to work. He would have had to stare down those who had wrecked the economy, and he would have had to tolerate their hatred if not welcome it. But the arc of his temperament just didn’t bend that far.

[...] instead of indicting the economic policies and principles that had just eliminated eight million jobs, in the most damaging of the tic-like gestures of compromise that have become the hallmark of his presidency — and against the advice of multiple Nobel-Prize-winning economists — he backed away from his advisers who proposed a big stimulus, and then diluted it with tax cuts that had already been shown to be inert. The result, as predicted in advance, was a half-stimulus that half-stimulated the economy.

[...] All [Americans] know today, is that they’re still unemployed, they’re still worried about how they’re going to pay their bills at the end of the month and their kids still can’t get a job. And now the Republicans are chipping away at unemployment insurance, and the president is making his usual impotent verbal exhortations after bargaining it away.

This pattern of presenting inconsistent positions with no apparent recognition of their incoherence is another hallmark of this president’s storytelling. He announces in a speech on energy and climate change that we need to expand offshore oil drilling and coal production — two methods of obtaining fuels that contribute to the extreme weather Americans are now seeing. He supports a health care law that will use Medicaid to insure about 15 million more Americans and then endorses a budget plan that, through cuts to state budgets, will most likely decimate Medicaid and other essential programs for children, senior citizens and people who are vulnerable by virtue of disabilities or an economy that is getting weaker by the day. He gives a major speech on immigration reform after deporting more than 700,000 immigrants in two years, a pace faster than nearly any other period in American history.

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21.8.11

The Seven Dwarfs Revamped


This cartoon seems to be passing the test of time. It is now 2011 and «The Seven Dwarfs Revamped for the 1990s...» still rings true! Of course we may now use more Zoloft and Effexor XR and Xanax than Prozac but the result is still the same, ha ha!

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16.8.11

Quotation of the Week

«You can't have everything. Where would you put it?»
~Steven Wright

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11.8.11

Norway's A-ha to Sing Again

Norway's pop band «A-ha» will reunite to perform during an upcoming memorial ceremony in Oslo's Spectrum concert hall for the victims of the 22 July attacks. They had split last year. The three musicians said that they were to get together to «honour those who have been torn away».

The group said they wanted «to show appreciation to everyone who made an effort to help out on 22 July, and to express our sympathy to the survivors who now are left in sorrow» and that «On 22 July, we, like everyone else in Norway and the rest of the world, were shaken to the soul by these actions of cruelty and violent provocation against everything we stand for.»

You may read more on the Norway Attacks here at the Beeb.

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Quotation of the Week

«Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.»
~Eric Hoffer

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2.8.11

Quotation of the Week

«Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?»

~Epicurus

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26.7.11

Quotation of the Week

«Be great in act, as you have been in thought.»
~Jean Richter (and attrib. to the man known as "Shakespeare")

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23.7.11

In Memoriam: Amy Winehouse


Singer Amy Winehouse, 27, has been found dead at her north London home. Such an extraordinary talent. So troubled. Gone. Wasted. Somebody could have saved this girl.

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19.7.11

Quotation of the Week

I was asked the other day what it meant to be an atheist. In response I quoted John Buchan (1875 - 1940) and said that an atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.

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14.7.11

Fête Nationale (Bastille Day)

«Grand Dieu, sauve le Roi!
Long jours à notre Roi!
Vive le Roi
A lui la victoire
Bonheur et gloire
Qu’il ait un règne heureux
Et l'appui des cieux.»



«Grand Dieu, sauve le Roi!
Grand Dieu, venge le Roi!
Vive le Roi!
Que toujours glorieux
Louis victorieux
Venge ses ennemis
Toujours soumis.»

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Quotation of the Summer

«Though we travel the world to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.»
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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4.7.11

Independence Day 2011;


Happy Birthday, America!

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20.6.11

Quotation of the Week

«I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.»
~Thomas Jefferson

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19.6.11

Happy Father's Day


To the man who gave me life and has loved me unconditionally ever since my conception: THANK YOU and to all Fathers today: Grattis på farsdagen! Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji dnia ojca! Hyvää isänpäivää! Babalar günü kutlu olsun! Happy Father's Day! ¡Feliz día del padre!

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14.6.11

FLAG DAY 2011


The Corporate American Flag by deviantArtitst triplex1121

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13.6.11

Quotation of the Week

«Never explain --your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.»
~Elbert Hubbard

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10.6.11

Friday Dinner

So, turkey, chicken and mozzarella cheese meatballs (with fennel and other spices) simmering in chicken stock with tomatoes, garlic, fresh oregano and basil from the garden, black, white, pink and green ground pepper, red pepper flakes and a secret ingredient. To be served with quills. A fine, robust red. A salad with pinot gris. Cheese and fruit with port. That's Friday dinner. Que vagi de gust!

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9.6.11

Classic Google Search


Takk, Remi Kallset!

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Quotation of the Week

«A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.»
~Albert Einstein

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30.5.11

Quotation of the Week

«i'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.»
~e.e. cummings

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28.5.11

Germans are ruder

Are Germans ruder than the British and Americans? Are Britons and Americans more dishonest than Germans? Fortunately, we don't have to rely on blind prejudice for answers. BBC News reports that serious academic research has been performed.

There are Britons in Berlin who get taken aback by the directness of Germans. And there are Germans who get really annoyed when Britons and Americans, in an effort to be friendly, say things they might not really mean. Unsurprisingly, some Germans call this "lying".

So, what do the experts say on the matter?

Professor Juliane House, of the University of Hamburg, has studied groups of people interacting in controlled situations, watching with academic rigour how they behave as human guinea-pigs. She verified that Germans really don't do small talk, those little phrases so familiar to the British about the weather or a person's general well-being. To Germans this is "empty verbiage". In academic language, this is called "phatic" conversation - it's not meant to convey hard information but to perform a social function, such as making people feel good.

The German language doesn't even have an expression for "small talk". It is so alien that in the German translation of A Bear called Paddington - Paddington unser kleiner Baer - it was omitted. So this exchange of small talk occurs in the English original: "'Hallo Mrs Bird,' said Judy. 'It's nice to see you again. How's the rheumatism?' 'Worse than it's ever been' began Mrs. Bird." In the German edition, this passage is simply cut!

Might a German talk about the weather, then? "In a lift or a doctor's waiting room, talk about the weather in German? I don't think so," says Professor House.

So does that mean the British (and Americans) are more polite? Yes. It also means that they're different. So much so that Professor House, a German, describes this politeness as the "etiquette of simulation", asserting that the British feign an interest in someone. They pretend to want to meet again when they don't really. They simulate concern.Saying things like "It's nice to meet you" to her are statements rarely meant the way they are said. "It's just words. It's simulating interest in the other person." Can you believe it? so from a German perspective, this is uncomfortably close to deceit.Professor House adds that
"Some people say that the British and Americans lie when they say things like that.

We all know it's not a lie. It's lubricating social life. It's always nice to say things like that even if you don't mean them.

For Britons it's German directness that most often gives rise to bafflement or even fury. House, who married a Scouser - a native of Liverpool - gives an example from her own experience. She would tell her husband to bring something from another part of the house - without the British lardings of "would you mind...?" or "could you do me a favour...?" He would hear this as an abrupt - and rude - command. Wouldn't we all?

This gap between German directness and British indirectness is the source of much miscommunication, says Professor Derek Bousfield, the head of linguistics at the University of Central Lancashire, and one of the editors of the Journal of Politeness Research.

There are many documented cases where the British understate a very serious problem with phrases like "there seem to be one or two problems here" or "there seems to be a little bit of an issue with this", he says.

A British listener knows there is a gap between what is said and what is meant - and this can be a source of humour, as when the Grim Reaper's arrival at a dinner party in Monty Python's Meaning of Life "casts rather a gloom" over the evening.

Sometimes it's endearing, as when this announcement was made by British Airways pilot Eric Moody in 1982, after flying through a cloud of volcanic ash over Indonesia:
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress."
To the Germans this is all too confusing. When BMW bought the British car manufacturer, Rover, it took a while for the seriousness of some of the problems at Rover to sink in. All too often, British managers spoke in euphemisms that their German counterparts took at face value.

Both professors reject the idea that one nation's manners are better than the other's. I disagree. They say that each has its own rules of communication, or patterns of behaviour, and neither can be blamed when clashes occur. Absolute nonsense! I blame the Germans. I know, I lived and studied in Germany.

Lastly, What about those sun-loungers - the seats by the pool, which German holidaymakers always attempt to grab at the crack of dawn? Bousfield says that what we got here is a clash of prototypical German efficiency with the prototypical British sense of fair play". House reckons the British do get the sun-loungers in the end, by one means or another.

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27.5.11

Prediction: PP will win Spain's March 2012 elections

It seems that President of the Spanish Government José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has "anointed" Vice President Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba as PSOE's candidate for the March 2012 elections. He should have chosen Foreign Affairs Minister Trinidad Jiménez, held primaries or at least a Party Congress. Today's horrid move will insure that opposition leader and insufferable demagogue and wind-bag, Mariano Rajoy of the PP wins in March and in a landslide. I can hardly believe Spaniards are going to do this. They shall regret it and not recognise their own responsibility for the disaster. Bah!

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25.5.11

On this day...

1844 The first telegraphed news dispatch is published in the Baltimore Patriot
1878 Gilbert & Sullivan's opera «HMS Pinafore» premieres in London
1887 Gas lamp at Paris Opera catches fire; 200 die
1895 Oscar Wilde sentenced to 2 years hard labor for being a sodomite
1922 Babe Ruth suspended 1 day & fined $200 for throwing dirt on an umpire
1928 Amelia Earhart (as a passenger) is the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean
1941 5,000 drown in a storm at Ganges Delta region in India
1955 Series of 19 twisters destroy Udall, KS and most of Blackwell, OK
1962 US unions AFL-CIO starts campaign for 35-hour work week
1964 Supreme Court rules closing schools to avoid desegregation unconstitutional
1966 Peru & Argentina soccer fans fight in Lima; 248 die
1985 Cyclone ravages Bangladesh; 11,000 killed
1986 Ferry boat Shamia sinks on Maghna River, Bangladesh; 600 killed

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Quotation of the Week

This is quotation quite appropriate when one thinks of the continued erosion of civil liberties in America, even under the Presidency of Barack Obama. Remember, for instance, that the so-called Patriot Act remains in the books rather unchanged and unread.

«Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.»
~Benjamin Franklin in the Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

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17.5.11

Muammar Gaddafi and son are indicted by the ICJ


The International Court of Justice has indicted Muammar Gaddafi and his son for crimes including giving orders to kill opposition members. Now NATO doesn't have to pretend they're not really going after these two murdereres. Then of course, there are oil deals to protect.

Sadly, this is not the case with Syria where great atrocities are being committed against the rebelling population. I reckon the West fears the reaction of Iran if Syria were attacked and the rebelling citizens protected. I also reckon the West fears retaliation against Israel by Syria and Iran. And nobody wants to have Israel dropping bombs on more Arabs than it already does with the sanction of America.

It all makes me sick. The entire world should stand with citizens in the Arab world demanding the end of corruption and autocratic, undemocratic rule.

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Quotation of the Week

«I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.»
~Bertrand Russell

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13.5.11

Read somewhere

«American Idol» ousts autistic metal-singing idiot James Durbin and determines Top 3 finalists despite the pollack vote.
Wow. That's some strong feeling...

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9.5.11

Quotation of the Week

«We are the ones you should be fearing,
come in the night and take your teeth away.
Now sew up your mouth, and go to sleep, 'cause
we'll be there soon, to break your heart and spite your face.»

~Aesthetic Perfection, The Ones

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6.5.11

Osama bin Laden's whereabouts known to Islamabad since 2004

I always suspected that bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan and that said country's officials knew exactly where. I also suspected that they wouldn't give up the terrorist due to their religion and that while some in Pakistan's corrupt government support America, others support al-Qaeda. This became rather obvious to the US after intelligence led exactly to bin Laden's doorstep and eventually to a room in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was rightly shot and killed.

The Hindustani Times has reported today that according to a top spy, Afghan intelligence had told Islamabad nearly four years back that the most hunted al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, was hiding in an area near Abbottabad, and that nothing was done about it as the claim was rejected by then president Pervez Musharraf.

Afghanistan's former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh told The Guardian newspaper in Kabul that the National Directorate of Security (NDS) sleuths had come to the conclusion as early as in 2004 that the world's most wanted man must be inside Pakistan and not in semi-autonomous tribal areas.

The former spy master said they believed Osama must be within Pakistan due to thousands of interrogation reports and the logical assumption that Osama, who was a millionaire with "no background of toughness", would not be living in a tent.

Read more here.

4.5.11

Creationism Still Advocated in HS Biology Classes

A new study finds that the majority of high-school biology teachers don't take a solid stance on evolution with their students, mostly to avoid conflicts, and fewer than 30 percent of teachers take an adamant pro-evolutionary stance on the topic. And 13 percent of these teachers advocate creationism in their classrooms.

I find this abominable.

Read more here.

Enhanced interrogations and torture

Do "enhanced methods of questioning" = torture? I couldn't debate the issue without a clear and exact definition of both terms and knowing which methods were used to obtain what intelligence.

Deep down what I ask myself is whether torture is effective in extracting truth. A prosoner can always lie to try to end the pain, especially if they don't know the information being requested of him. If my daughter were buried alive and an uncooperative perpetrator were in custody I would want him tortured for the chance of learning her location and saving her. If he lied and my daughter died I'd like the kidnapper summarily executed. And those monsters that killed Matthew Shepard. And so many others. Yet my instinct is to oppose capital punishment and torture. HTe thought of an innocent person to be put to death is rather unbearable.

This is difficult.

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3.5.11

Let's see the dead terrorist's pictures

There seems to be a debate on whether the US government should release photographs of the dead monster Osama Bin Laden... I would actually like to see the operation video and watch him get shot in the head and chest. There's nothing morbid about this desire. My point is that every single time a victim has fallen to Muslim/Arab/Islamist terrorism the world has seen pictures of Muslims and Arabs and others DANCING in the streets. We may claim we hold a higher moral ground and the like, but showing these cultures what happens when they target our freedom, progress, modernity, civilisation, integrity and way of life and kill civilians and military alike is of utmost importance. People in these culture don't believe what you don't show them.

When I covered the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis as a journalist years ago in Lima, Perú, I learned first-hand what some nations expect when terrorists are eradicated. After Peruvian forces stormed the Embassy compund to free the hostages from the claws of MRTA terrorists, Peruvians DEMANDED they be shown the dead bodies of the terrorists. The media showed President Fujimori walking among the dead bodies right where they perished and nobody said it was wrong or in bad taste. The nation wanted to KNOW the terrorists had really died. And the peopley wanted them dead. Not captured. They didn't want trials. They wanted to END the terrorism which had held their nation hostage for decades claiming countless innocent victims.

Now we have accomplished a similar feat. The head of a snake has been cut off and as far as I'm concerned it should be seen by all interested. We should also continue to show earned and well-deserved celebrations. Yes, it's time for US to dance in the streets.

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2.5.11

Quotation of the Week

«If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.»
~Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

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OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD

US President Obama has reported to the world just a bit ago that Al-Qaeda founder and leader Osama Bin Laden has been killed by US forces in Pakistan.

«On nights like this one we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda's terror: Justice has been done,» President Obama said in a late-night televised address from the White House this evening

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21.4.11

Quotation of the Week

«The real meaning of enlightenment is to gaze with undimmed eyes on all darkness.»
~Nikos Kazantzakis

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13.4.11

Flashback to 2005

«[...]

And keep talking that mess, that's fine
But could you walk and talk at the same time?
[...]

You must not know 'bout me
You must not know 'bout me
I could have another you in a minute
Matter of fact he'll be here in a minute, baby

You must not know 'bout me
You must not know 'bout me
I can have another you by tomorrow
So don't you ever for a second get to thinking you're irreplaceable

So go ahead and get gone
And call up that [boy] and see if [he]'s home
Oops, I bet ya thought that I didn't know
What did you think I was putting you out for?

Because you was untrue
[...]

So since I'm not your everything
How about I'll be nothing, nothing at all to you
Baby I won't shed a tear for you, I won't lose a wink of sleep
'cause the truth of the matter is replacing you is so easy

[...]»

~Beyoncé, Irreplaceable

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11.4.11

Quotation of the Week

«Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.»
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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7.4.11

The US military's dirty, ugly and shameful secret

When men in the military rape other men in the ranks, no one wants to talk about it. Why the sexual assault of males in the service is finally being confronted.
«Less than two weeks after arriving on base, [Greg Jeloudov] was gang-raped in the barracks by men who said they were showing him who was in charge of the United States. When he reported the attack to unit commanders, he says they told him, “It must have been your fault. You must have provoked them.”

What happened to Jeloudov is a part of life in the armed forces that hardly anyone talks about: male-on-male sexual assault.»
Read more here.

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4.4.11

Quotations of the week

«By your inflection, I can tell that you think what you're saying is funny, but... no.»

«Oh, I am full. I cannot drink another bite.»

«No. It's all a lie. I'm not who you think I am. I'm not good or real. I'm evil and imaginary. And I'm rich. Filthy rich!»

«Oh honey, I would, but... I don't want to.»

«You say potato, I say vodka.»

~Karen Walker

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28.3.11

Quotation of the Week

«Either I've been missing something or nothing has been going on.»
~Karen Elizabeth Gordon

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23.3.11

A Sign at the Zoo

I just found a little note in an old travel journal about a sign at the San Diego Zoo. Upon entering, visitors are asked to please not «annoy, torment, pester, plague, molest, worry, badger, harry, harass, heckle, persecute, irk, bullyrag, vex, disquiet, grate, beset, bother, tease, nettle, tantalize, or ruffle the animals.»

I got the message. Indeed. But later I noticed that chimps, for instance, didn't have a similar warning against pulling the hair of tourists. Then again, I'd do worse things were I to be put on display in a cage...

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The shame!

Have you noticed some utterly strange, crazy and simply intolerable reactions to the recent disaster and crisis in Japan? Unfortunately, I just read the opinion of some "people" and I'm nothing short of sick.

Please have a look here.

15.3.11

Quotation of the Week

«A man's silence is wonderful to listen to.»
~Thomas Hardy

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¿Dónde?

«¿Dónde estabas cuando te escuchaba palabras que no creias ni tú?
Entre tanta mierda, dime, ¿dónde estabas tú?
¿Donde estabas cuando te llamaba?
Por eso me fui.»

~Bebe

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12.3.11

The 1895 US Eighth-grade Test



Noting the disastrous results of the test recently administered to American college and university students (see blog entry below), a high-school classmate sent me an article describing the test required to graduate the eighth grade in Salina, KS, back in 1895. The original document can be found at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salinas. The exam is divided into five sections. Five hours were allocated for the test. Do you think you could pass? Do you know anybody that could? Have a look!

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph.
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,' 'play,' and 'run'.
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 to 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs, what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs for tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7percent per annum.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft long at $20 per metre?
8. Find the bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

US History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which US History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco .
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the US. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

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11.3.11

Today's Japan earthquakes and tsunamis

Loss of life is almost always awful and tragic. Yet we must remain aware that our planet is here as a result of natural disasters and so is humanity. Natural disasters are part of life and it's our responsiblity as humans to listen to what science tells us and to prepare and protect ourselves the best way possible for no supreme being is ever going to come to our rescue. How much evidence do we need of this?!

It's also our responsibility to help one another after an event like today's and make certain that goverments remain also held responsible, requiring and enforcing appropriate building codes, establishing and protecting early warning systems, educating and preparing their citizens and managing emergencies as best possible.

To help:

The American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

The British Red Cross Disaster Fund.

New Zealan'd Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal.

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8.3.11

A majority of American university students flunk test

A groundbreaking multi-year survey of 28,000 students attending 85 US colleges and universities found that American institutions of higher learning are not providing students even basic instruction on American history, economics and government --probably not even enough for them to make informed decisions at the ballot box.

Even Ivy Leaguers could not pass a multiple-choice test on America’s foundational principles. Students at Harvard scored highest nationwide, but only managed an average score of 69 percent on the 60-question test –compared to 54 percent on average for seniors and 51 percent for college freshmen.

NOBODY GOT ABOVE A D+. Less than half knew about federalism, judicial review, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and NATO. And this was a multiple-choice test, with the answers staring them right in the face.

Ten percent thought that «...we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…» came from the Communist Manifesto. Only 49 percent - less than half of all college students – could correctly identify the three branches of the federal government. The dumbing-down of the American electorate from the days of the Founding Fathers has been precipitous. The Federalist Papers were originally newspaper articles trying to persuade the common man. The common man can’t read them today.

Read more at the Washington Examiner,

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7.3.11

Quotation of the Week: A message

«[You] speak an infinite deal of nothing.»
~From The Merchant of Venice

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28.2.11

Quotation of the week

«What does a fish know about the water in which it swims all its life?»
~Albert Einstein

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23.2.11

Quotation of the week

«Den som en sten är värdefull för måtte vara omgiven av rikedomar vart han gå.»
~Pär Lagerqvist

«One for whom the pebble has value must be surrounded by treasures wherever he goes.»
~Pär Lagerqvist

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18.2.11

Is the glass full or...?

The Glass is Always Full
via: @Rimmba.

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16.2.11

Quotation of the Week

«Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly»
~Franz Kafka

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14.2.11

Life Anniversary Poem

«Mitt i livet
händer det att döden kommer
och tar mått på människan.
Det besöket glöms
och livet fortsätter.
Men kostymen sys i det tysta.»

~Tomas Tranströmer, "Svarta Vykort"


«In the middle of life it
happens that death comes
and measures man.
The visit is forgotten
and life continues.
But the suit is made,
quietly. »

~Tomas Tranströmer, “Black Postcards”

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Valentine's Day 2011

Friendship and Love 2011

Love, Friendship and the Anniversary.

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13.2.11

Reflection

I was just trying to remember this day last year. I can't really recall it. I do recall part of tomorrow, but not 13 February 2010. I know I was sick. Very sick. I was actually, literally, dying, but I didn't know this. Two or three visits to hospital and additional ones to a doctor had failed to show I was dying while under their care.

On the 14th I would collapse and be resuscitated. Part of the story is described in this entry in my graphics blog.

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12.2.11

Saturday morning

I went to bed last night feeling a bit uneasy after having watched The Social Network. While representations of the real life protagonists may have been skewed, I believe the film to be factually accurate and I can see how Mark Zuckerberg may indeed be guilty of intellectual property theft and worse.

In any case, I had a good night sleep and now it's Saturday morning which means a breakfast of delicious buttermilk flapjacks, today with a dose of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 65 and his Symphonic Ballad, The Voyevoda, Op. 78 in a splendid 1990 recording by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado.

A Mimosa awaits me.

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11.2.11

Quotation of the Week

«Arguments are to be avoided;
they are always vulgar and often convincing.»

~Oscar Wilde

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5.2.11

Elizabeth Hay: «Small Change» ~Epigraph

«Her failure lay within herself, in her abrupt pride, and sudden sharp intolerance, and her inability, when in certain moods, to accept the small change of friendship, even from those who she knew loved her deeply.»
~Noel Coward, Present Indicative

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2.2.11

Mubarak: Leave Now

Protester Hits Mubarak Upside-down Photograph With a Shoe

Mubarak: Egyptians have spoken. You must leave. World: Pay attention and provide guidance, support and assistance to prevent a repetition of the Iranian Revolution when islamists returned from exile and the planet ended up with what is today an islamic republic which could soon have the bomb.

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20.1.11

The shame

Today, while America rightfully complains to China's visiting president regarding the terrible state of human rights in his country, we also face the news of a reactionary and shameful US House of Representatives which in its first major act voted yesterday to repeal the Democrats' health-care overhaul, fulfilling a pledge that GOP candidates made during the fall mid-term campaigns. Three spineless Democrats sided with the unified republicans in the 245 to 189 vote, considered by some as a rather symbolic step that has little chance of being considered by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

In turn, republicans have vowed to dismantle and defraud the health-care reform law by all means available to them. This is nothing less than shameful and it truly disgusts me.

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26.12.10

Boxing Day 2010

Happy Boxing Day 2010

Happy Boxing Day!

25.12.10

holiday laughter

do take a moment and have a look at this phlog post and have a good laugh with the links back here to arcana imperii.

cheers!

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happy holidays to all!

bon nadal i feliç any nou!
god jul och gott nytt år!
god jul og godt nytt år!
glædelig jul og godt nytår!
gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár!
hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta!
maligayang pasko at manigong bagong taon!
nollaig chridheil agus bliadhna mhath ùr!
nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda!
nollaig shona agus blian nua fe mhaise!
fröhliche weihnachten und ein gutes neues jahr!
joyeux noël et bonne nouvelle année!
¡feliz navidad y próspero año nuevo!
noeliniz ve yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun!
buon natale e felice anno nuovo!
prettige kerstdagen en een voorpoedig nieuwjaar!
kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket és boldog új évet!
feliz natal e bom ano novo!
mele kalikimaka me ka hauoli makahiki hou!
koa kirihimete a kia hari te tau hou!

«idah saidan wa sanah jadidah»
«de christmas akhtar de bakhtawar au newai kal de mubarak sha»
«meri kurisumasu soshite akemashite omedeto!»
«christmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad va sâle-no mobârak»
«chag molad sameach veshanah tovah»
«shub naya baras»

καλά χριστούγεννα και καλή χρoνιά πολλά!
C Pождеством Хpистовым и Лучший Новый Год!

natale hilare et annum faustum!

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11.9.10

in memoriam

Raising of the US flag at Ground Zero

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10.9.10

The evils of christianity

«I am often accused of fighting a battle that’s already been conceded with organised religion. In fact, this is the criticism levelled at many anti-religious thinkers: basically, that we’re beating a dead horse. Religion has moved on from its horrible past. In its current form, it’s something altogether more complex and intricate. So why spend time putting new bullets into an old corpse?

Unfortunately, the corpse is not really dead, is it? As recently as a month ago, there was a fanatical, right-wing Christian within spitting distance of running for the White House. There is still one in the White House. The Catholic Church continues to condemn countless thousands to the misery of life with parents who don’t want them. And that’s just off the top of my head.

So I present here a short and incomplete list of Christianity evils. Why them? Simply put, because the relative success of Mike Huckabee puts a chill in my bones. In 2008, this shouldn’t be possible. But it goes on. So it feels like it’s time to remind ourselves of all the madness this particular religion has brought into the world. Just so we can keep ourselves on course.»

Please read the rest at the Mail & Guardian online

Note: date unknown to me

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More soldiers committed suicide in January (2009) than were killed by Al Qaeda

«Shocking new figures show the number of soldiers who committed suicide in January could top the number of soldiers killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan last month.

In a rare move, the Army released monthly suicide data Thursday to highlight the growing problem. Last week, Army officials said its suicide rates were at their highest in nearly 30 years.

Last year, 128 soldiers committed suicide and another 15 suspected cases are pending. Last month, Army officials believe that 24 soldiers killed themselves - compared with just four in January 2008.»

Read more at the Daily News

Note: from 05 February 2009

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Newborns Cry With an Accent

A new study has found that babies cry with an accent within the first week of life.

«By recording cries of 60 babies born to French or German parents, researchers discovered that babies cry with the same "prosody" or melody used in their native language by the second day of life.

French newborns in the study ended their cries with a lilt at the end typically heard in French. German babies, however, started their cries intensely and dropped off at the end -- much like the emphasis their German parents put in a sentence, according to a study published Thursday in Current Biology

Read more at ABC News/Health

Note: from 05 November 2009

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Gay sex decriminalised in India

«A court in the Indian capital, Delhi, has ruled that homosexual intercourse between consenting adults is not a criminal act.

The ruling overturns a 148-year-old colonial law which describes a same-sex relationship as an "unnatural offence".

Homosexual acts were punishable by a 10-year prison sentence.»

Read more at the beeb

Note: from 02 July 2009

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22-Year-Old Sells Virginity Online

«A 22-year-old woman is selling her virginity online — offering her body to bidders nationwide in an auction that reportedly has netted a US$3,7 million offer — and the law isn't doing [fortunately can't do] a thing to stop her.»

Read more at Fox News

Note: from 15 January 2009

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14.1.10

a joke

A husband and wife were sitting watching a TV programme about psychology and the phenomenon of mixed emotions. The husband turned to his wife and said: «Honey, that’s a bunch of crap. I bet you can’t tell me anything that will make me happy and sad at the same time».

She said: «Out of all your friends, you have the biggest penis».

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25.12.09

holiday laughter

do take a moment and have a look at this phlog post and have a good laugh with the links back here to arcana imperii.

cheers!

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happy holidays to all

bon nadal i feliç any nou!
god jul och gott nytt år!
god jul og godt nytt år!
glædelig jul og godt nytår!
gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár!
hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta!
maligayang pasko at manigong bagong taon!
nollaig chridheil agus bliadhna mhath ùr!
nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda!
nollaig shona agus blian nua fe mhaise!
fröhliche weihnachten und ein gutes neues jahr!
joyeux noël et bonne nouvelle année!
¡feliz navidad y próspero año nuevo!
noeliniz ve yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun!
buon natale e felice anno nuovo!
prettige kerstdagen en een voorpoedig nieuwjaar!
kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket és boldog új évet!
feliz natal e bom ano novo!
mele kalikimaka me ka hauoli makahiki hou!
koa kirihimete a kia hari te tau hou!

«idah saidan wa sanah jadidah»
«de christmas akhtar de bakhtawar au newai kal de mubarak sha»
«meri kurisumasu soshite akemashite omedeto!»
«christmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad va sâle-no mobârak»
«chag molad sameach veshanah tovah»
«shub naya baras»

καλά χριστούγεννα και καλή χρoνιά πολλά!
C Pождеством Хpистовым и Лучший Новый Год!

natale hilare et annum faustum!

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15.12.09

quotation of the week

«Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.»
~Oscar Wilde

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Estaba Pepito escribiendo su carta al Niño Jesús

Querido Niño Jesús:

Me he portado muy bien este año y quiero que, por favor, me traigas una bicicleta.

Al poner la carta debajo del árbol en el pesebre, observa que la figura de María lo mira fijamente.

Arrepentido rompe la carta y escribe de nuevo:


Querido Niño Jesús:

No me he portado muy bien este año, pero si me traes una bicicleta, prometo portarme bien el que viene.

Va con la carta de nuevo y otra vez observa la mirada de María sobre él.

Rompe otra vez la carta y desesperado coge a María y la encierra en el armario más cercano.

Vuelve a escribir.


Niño Jesús, tengo a tu madre, si quieres volver a verla, deja una bicicleta debajo del maldito árbol.

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Eminem, Misogyny and the Sounds of Silence

By Jackson Katz / The Huffington Post / 05 June 2009

Eminem is back and once again looming large over the pop cultural landscape. On the occasion of the release of his new album, Relapse, his full-length, full-color image appears literally larger than life on billboards in major cities from New York to Los Angeles, not to mention cities all over the world. Although the album itself has received mixed reviews, the elite arbiters of cultural taste and artistic merit have given the rapper’s return the red carpet treatment.

The New York Times ran a giant photo and story on the front of its Sunday Arts and Leisure section on May 24. Entertainment Weekly featured the 36-year-old on the cover of its summer music preview issue; Time magazine devoted two pages of its June 1 issue to a review of his album and discussion about the state of his life and career. Of course the online universe is also abuzz; at the time of this writing, a Google search with the words Eminem and relapse returned 2.7 million hits.

Despite a five-year hiatus, there is no doubt that Eminem remains a popular artist. Relapse debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 608,000 units in its first week of release.

For those of us who had hoped that his cultural moment had passed, the return of Eminem forces us to confront the disturbing reality that our society remains in deep denial about misogyny and its myriad manifestations in the art and commerce of everyday life. Misogyny (the hatred of women) in rap preceded Eminem and has thrived in his absence. And in fairness, the fact that he is white makes it easier for this writer and other whites to criticize him than it is to call out Black artists whose work is similarly sexist and oppressive. These racial dynamics are important issues to examine in another time and place.

Nonetheless, the evidence of our culture’s unwillingness to address the reality and ubiquity of men’s violence against women is not merely contained in the lyrics on Eminem’s new album, which when they’re not exploring the depths to which the artist’s drug addiction had taken him, characteristically communicate a deep contempt for women and a violent rage at them. This unwillingness is most clearly seen in the music reviews and overall media coverage of the rapper’s comeback.

It is not what they say that is cause for concern, but what they studiously avoid. With a few notable exceptions, such as Alan Ranta on the web site Pop Matters calling Relapse “chauvinistic hate-speech,” the high priests of cultural criticism in the journalistic mainstream seem to have decided that Eminem’s virulent misogyny is no longer even worthy of a mention, much less an appropriate subject of extended commentary and critique. Is it truly possible that women’s lives have been so thoroughly devalued that a multi-platinum musical artist with nine Grammy awards to his name can sing multiple songs about raping and mutilating women and hip sophisticates can’t even bring themselves to utter the words “woman-hating?”

It is as if critics have decided that 1) there is (still) nothing wrong with one of the most celebrated musical artists in the world devoting multiple songs to verbal attacks on women and girls, as long as there’s a catchy beat and the content is rationalized as “dark comedy,” or 2) homicidal misogyny has become so commonplace in entertainment media that there is no further need to discuss it.

A survey of recent articles about Eminem in several major media outlets yields plenty of lines like “a stunning return to form from the man who is arguably rap’s most talented lyricist,” (Entertainment Weekly), but a near-absence of criticism directed at Eminem or Interscope/Universal Music Group for releasing an album with lyrics like the following from the song Stay Wide Awake:

«Fe Fi Fo Fum
I think I smell the scent of a placenta
I enter central park, it's dark, it's winter in December
I see my target with my car, and park and approach her tender
Young girl by the name of Brenda and I pretend to befriend her
Sit down beside her like a spider, hi there girl you mighta
Heard of me before, see whore you're the kinda girl that I'da
Assault and rape and figure why not try to make your pussy wider
Fuck you with an umbrella then open it up while that shits inside ya»


No thoughtful person would argue that music lyrics themselves cause men to be violent; that is the sort of simplistic argument which defenders of Eminem and other misogynous rappers and rockers raise and then ridicule whenever anyone mentions the possible “real world” effects of artistic portrayals. But just as it is reductive and problematic to draw a causal link between lyrics and actual behavior, it is similarly nonsensical to deny that the production and reception of art always has a social dimension. Popular art succeeds, at least commercially, precisely because it resonates with a certain audience – for whatever reason – in a given cultural and historical context.

In discussions of Eminem’s choice to feature on his comeback album a number of songs that explore the sadism of his misogynous serial killer alter ego, Slim Shady, is it not relevant to mention the ongoing pandemic of men’s violence against women, including the outrage of serial murder? Is it not relevant to ask why some men are so angry at women that they would derive a twisted sort of pleasure from singing along with a first-person narrator (Slim Shady) who delights in terrifying, degrading, raping and murdering them?

In addition to his predilection for writing “comic” lyrics in the voice of a serial murderer, Eminem continues to find lyrically inventive ways to joke about raping women by shoving objects into their bodies, like in the lyrics above, or in the song “3 a.m.,” where he casually raps about inserting “…a flashlight up Kim Kardashian’s ass.” This is in a country – ours – where one out of six women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. And while the reality of rape is not funny anywhere, the global reach of the US entertainment industry means that boys and men can listen and laugh along to Eminem’s songs in countries where the rape and mutilation of women and girls are even more common and less socially stigmatized than they are here.

Consider the tragic case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the rape and murder of women are beyond pandemic and are closer in scope to genocide. For years Dr Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist, has operated daily on dozens of women and girls as young as two and three-years-old whose insides have been ripped apart by men who brutally gang rape them, shove sticks and bottles into their vaginas, and sadistically mutilate their sexual organs in unimaginable ways, causing the ones who survive a lifetime of excruciating pain, incontinence, disease and loneliness. In a New York Times article in 2007 Dr Mukwege said “We don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear. They are done to destroy women.”

Is it going too far to suggest that when wealthy nations such as ours export music by the likes of Eminem to countries with that level of misogynous violence that we are practicing what might be considered a particularly insidious form of cultural imperialism?

Defenders of world-famous artists like Eminem would surely rush in to say: Eminem is not responsible for these unspeakable outrages! He is an artist! Of course. But is it unreasonable to suggest that when Eminem jokes about sticking umbrellas up women’s vaginas that one effect might be that it helps to desensitize his male (and even female) fans across the globe to the humanity and suffering of women? Desensitization is one of the key effects of exposure to violence, both in media and real life. An Alternet article entitled “Torture Chic: Why Is the Media Glorifying Inhumane, Sadistic Behavior?,” suggests that the increasing presence of torture in entertainment media, such as on the hit TV series 24, has helped to desensitize Americans to real torture done in our name, such as in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

The silence of mainstream music critics on such matters has been deafening. If an artist’s job is sometimes to be provocative and push boundaries, isn’t it a critic’s job at the very least to ask questions like: What does it say about our culture that Eminem’s lyrics resonate with millions of American men, and even many women? How can we discern the difference between artistic revelation and crass exploitation in Marshall Mathers’ art? Does his vaunted lyrical virtuosity provide us with any insight into the larger belief systems – along with individual motivations --- that lie behind men’s sexualized brutality toward women? Is he a brilliant artist exploring important artistic terrain, or is he merely going for cheap voyeuristic thrills at the expense of women, knowing full well that no one will hold him – or his record company -- accountable?

One piece of circumstantial evidence for the latter view is provided by Jon Pareles in The New York Times, who explains the process Eminem and his collaborators went through in deciding how to position his comeback:

Both Eminem and Dr Dre thought hard about how Eminem should re-emerge. And both concluded the world wanted more Slim Shady. “I talked to my son about it,” said Dr Dre, “and he was like: ‘The kids want to hear him act the fool. We want to hear him be crazy, we want to hear him be Slim Shady and nothing else.”

The tone of at least some of the coverage this time suggests there are a few authoritative voices in music criticism and commentary who have moved beyond the adulatory groupthink that characterized much writing about Eminem back in his heyday earlier this decade. In those headier days, when Eminem was both lionized and criticized for being the “Hip-Hop Elvis,” many in the cognoscenti actively sought to rationalize Eminem’s murderous lyrical misogyny and homophobia by claiming that the “Slim Shady” character Marshall Mathers hid behind was a creative fictional construct through which the artist sought to explore taboo topics with lyrical dexterity over an infectious beat produced by Dr Dre. If you didn’t get the joke or appreciate the humor, it was because you were too dense or politically correct to appreciate the brilliant artistry at play.

But at least some writers seem to have grown tired of parroting the debatable (and profitable) premise that Eminem is a major artist with important things to say. In one of the most dismissive pieces I reviewed, Josh Tyrangiel in Time magazine ridicules Eminem’s attempt to regain the title of America’s Most Outrageous:

Half of Relapse – the aggressively dull and stupid half – is devoted to re-establishing Eminem as a man so unhinged, he’s capable of anything or at least fantasizing about anything…. By the middle of the first song, ‘3 a.m.,’ Eminem, or one of his multiple alter egos, has masturbated to Hannah Montana and left a pile of bodies behind the counter of a McDonald’s….On ‘Medicine Ball’ he promises to rape the Pussycat Dolls and spits out a couplet of abuse for Madonna and Rihanna, while ‘Same Song and Dance’ has him raping Lindsay Lohan in one verse and Britney Spears in the next. Suffice it to say that many more rapes occur and I stopped taking notes.

The corporate media have played a crucial role in Eminem’s highly lucrative career in part by defining the parameters of how he can be criticized. As Jon Pareles writes in The New York Times, Eminem “quickly became an offensive scourge to those who took Shady’s fantasies literally, or worried that others might.” Note the narrow range of possibilities the writer offers to describe those who might be “offended” by Eminem’s art. Conveniently left out are Eminem’s detractors who possess a more complex understanding of the effects of violent, misogynous lyrics than whether or not people (men) take them literally.

Another distortion about Eminem and his detractors that many music critics have turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy is the idea that resistance is futile, because Marshall Mathers is just too clever. Pareles writes that when combined with Eminem’s murderous lyrics, the “bouncy beat and singsong choruses of kiddie music” that characterize Dr. Dre’s production constituted a “smiley-faced nastiness (that) was enough to make Eminem a target for the censorious, which in turn gave him a new bunch of antagonists to provoke.

So people who are concerned about the ongoing pandemic of men’s violence against women -- including thousands of domestic violence and sexual assault advocates and educators – are “censorious” if they have a problem with lyrics that normalize and find humor in (fictional) rapists’ misogynist fantasies of brutality and degradation? Pareles quotes Eminem’s response to (unspecified) criticisms of his work with yet another non sequitir: “I didn’t get in this game to be a role model.” As if criticism of his artistic contributions necessarily implies such an unsophisticated understanding of the social functions of art.

Many of the same people who defend Eminem and dismiss his feminist and gay rights critics are white people – including good liberals and progressives -- who long ago accepted the idea that racist depictions in media play an important ideological role in perpetuating racism, not because whites will go out and imitate the behavior of fictional racist characters, but because the institutional structures of racism require ideological and cultural apparati to sustain them.

It takes no great leap of logic to see that sexism works in the same way. One need not argue that boys and men who listen to Eminem will become rapist-murderers in order to maintain that misogynous music and lyrics play an important role in legitimating men’s mistreatment of women by making it culturally acceptable and even “cool” for men to express sexist rage against women and then hide behind the pretense that “it’s only a joke” if anyone takes it too seriously. That argument has long been discredited when it comes to racism. What’s the difference when the oppression in question is sexism, or heterosexism?

For women and men who work in the trenches of the sexual and domestic violence fields, and see daily the brutal results of male socialization played out on the bodies of girls and women (and other men), bearing witness to the continued success of Eminem, Inc. can be an emotionally excruciating experience. I know plenty of people who would prefer to crawl under the covers and pretend that none of this is really happening.

But those of us who take seriously the feminist idea that rapists teach us something about the society that produced them have no choice but to pay attention to Eminem -- both the content and context of his art, and how critics and others describe and make sense of it. With rare exceptions, men who rape are not anomalous monsters. They are products of their socialization and the deeply misogynist norms that prevail in their societies. In the long term, the only way to reduce dramatically the incidence of men’s violence against women is to change the social norms that help to produce abusive men – which includes critically examining what sort of art we choose to celebrate, and why.

In domestic violence advocacy, there is a term used to describe a situation where people contribute to an abusive man’s behavior by their conscious actions, by their minimization of his crimes, or by their silence. It is called “colluding with the batterer.” It is hard to avoid the conclusion that a society where radio stations continue to play Eminem’s records, people continue to buy them, and critics continue to write about them while leaving out any condemnation of their vicious sexism, is a society that is in profound collusion with the batterer.


Jackson Katz
Director, MVP Strategies
3860 Brayton Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90807
Ph: 562.997.3953
Fax: 562.997.3952
www.jacksonkatz.com

Jackson Katz's book The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help, is available at major bookstores and at Amazon.com.

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