Wed – June 22, 2005
Because it’s a Wednesday, and that’s just the way it is…
Would you like to start off with a link dump, gentle reader?
No. No, I know you probably wouldn’t. Link dumps you could get anywhere. But indulge me, I beg:
Do you know of David Gelernter? I read him last week while at sea, in the LA Times. He writes of the risks of failing to understand history. Of failing to understand that we’re still making history –
“Ignorance of history destroys our judgment. Consider Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), who just compared the Guantanamo Bay detention center to Stalin’s gulag and to the death camps of Hitler and Pol Pot — an astonishing, obscene piece of ignorance. Between 15 million and 30 million people died from 1918 through 1956 in the prisons and labor camps of the Soviet gulag. Historian Robert Conquest gives some facts. A prisoner at the Kholodnaya Gora prison had to stuff his ears with bread before sleeping on account of the shrieks of women being interrogated. At the Kolyma in Siberia, inmates labored through 12-hour days in cheap canvas shoes, on almost no food, in temperatures that could go to minus-58. At one camp, 1,300 of 3,000 inmates died in one year.
‘Gulag’ must not go the way of ‘Nazi’ and become virtually meaningless.”
To forget your own history is (literally) to forget your identity. By teaching ideology instead of facts, our schools are erasing the nation’s collective memory. As a result, some “expert” can go on TV and announce (20 minutes into the fighting) that Afghanistan, Iraq or wherever “is the new Vietnam” — and young people can’t tell he is talking drivel.
There is an ongoing culture war between Americans who are ashamed of this nation’s history and those who acknowledge with sorrow its many sins and are fiercely proud of it anyway. Proud of the 17th century settlers who threw their entire lives overboard and set sail for religious freedom in their rickety little ships. Proud of the new nation that taught democracy to the world. Proud of its ferocious fight to free the slaves, save the Union and drag (lug, shove, sweat, bleed) America a few inches closer to its own sublime ideals. Proud of its victories in two world wars and the Cold War, proud of the fight it is waging this very day for freedom in Iraq and the whole Middle East.
I figured that Gelernter was just another pundit, but knew I didn’t know enough about him and felt that I should, so I looked him up. I wasn’t prepared to be charmed, but I was – he’s a computer science professor * at Yale , of all things, in all places. Amazingly, he’s also one of the victims ** of the Unabomber, although how that has affected his world view is unclear, at least to me.
But it was a lovely Op-Ed, which you ought to read in its entirety. Sometimes you find treasures in the most unlikely places…
Chris Hitchens is a man I read carefully: There are areas where we would disagree most vehemently. But he’s a charming polemicist, especially considering that he chooses (for the most part) deeply appropriate oxen to gore ** . This week he takes on the Downing Street Memo, which so many folks have taken to parading with wild-eyed looks of “Aha! Gotcha!” desperation. The DSM (as it’s known by we cognoscenti) purports to show that in 2002, the Bush administration was intent on a process leading to an invasion in Iraq – this fact comes as a revelation, to some:
“But the main Downing Street document does not introduce us to any hidden or arcane or occult knowledge. As Fred Kaplan wrote in Slate last week, it explains no mystery… On a visit to Washington in the prelude to the Iraq war, some senior British officials formed the strong and correct impression that the Bush administration was bent upon an intervention. Their junior note-taker committed the literary and political solecism of saying that intelligence findings and “facts” were being “fixed” around this policy.
Well, if that doesn’t prove it, I don’t know what does. We apparently have an administration that can, on the word of a British clerk, “fix” not just findings but also “facts.” Never mind for now that the English employ the word “fix” in a slightly different way—a better term might have been “organized.”
We have been here before. In an interview with Sam Tanenhaus for Vanity Fair more than two years ago, Paul Wolfowitz allowed that, though there were many reasons to seek the removal of Saddam Hussein, the legal minimum basis for it was to be sought, inside the U.S. government bureaucracy and at the United Nations, in the unenforced resolutions concerning WMD. At the time, this mild observation was also hailed as a full confession of perfidy.
I am now forced to wonder: Who is there who does not know that the Bush administration decided after September 2001 to change the balance of power in the region and to enforce the Iraq Liberation Act, passed unanimously by the Senate in 1998, which made it overt American policy to change the government of Iraq? This was a fairly open conspiracy, and an open secret.”
Well. Yes, Chris – there were some who didn’t quite pick up on this. How, I am not quite sure.
Yes. Well – you’ve been patient, assiduous readers up to this point, and I thank you very much. I’ll just pass this particular link * from a couple of writers for the Economist (which by the way, has all the usual panties ** bunched up in all the usual places ) without even doing an excerpt. But while linking * to a rebuttal (and tipping the hat to the Prof *).
Because that’s how much I care for you.
If I tell you that I love this man *, does that some how negate my rebuttal to B2 in comments here ***?
“For any of my constant readers who are concerned that B2 is casting aspersions on my sexual preferences, the acronym “FAG” in naval aviation parlance means “Fighter Attack Guy.” It is a term reflective of deep respect for the winning personalities, physical courage and intellectual acumen of the FA-18 community, from those not graced to be members thereof. It has nothing to do with anything else. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…”
Ah, well. So it goes.
And now: Original thought. Consider yourself forewarned…
You should know that even as I write this, I am being driven nearly to distraction. A missing mouse cursor, is the proximate cause, but it all turns back around again on Bill Gates. Oh, yes – from the heart of hell I stab at him, for hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at him. The bastard.
And what has Mr. Gates done, gentle reader, to earn such rage and contempt? He has succeeded, with an inferior product. Oh, don’t let’s get started on this here. But suffice it to know that I have a Polar heart rate monitor that has Many Functions. Some of which can be downloaded to a PC for Careful Analysis. But only to a PC – not to a Mac.
Not to worry though! There is emulation software , designed to make your beautiful, harmonious, perfectly self-actualized Mac think that it is a demon-spawn Wintel machine. Oh, yes – I can boot to the green Elysian field of Windows XP, complete with it’s “My Computer” icon and “Recycling Bin.” But the problem is, that having dropped the non-trivial amount of folding money to make my wonderful machine pretend to be something it’s not (and would in fact, be ashamed to have any of its friends see it behaving as), I can’t make the software work. So the whole endeavor has been a waste of time and effort.
But wait. There’s more.
Not merely content to have me fling my hard earned pay in the dust, Mr. Gates has also wormed his way back onto my Mac desktop, where my mouse cursor goes AWOL for random, heart breaking moments. I am left circling the mouse for ten – sometimes fifteen! – seconds, waiting for some sign of a cursor. And as the Mac is truly a GUI machine, I am left cursing the bitter fates which ever led me towards allowing Gates and his minions the tiniest particle of traction upon the sacred soil of my machine.
Oh, the horror!
Been playing a game called “Doom 3 .” Some of you may know it. A first person shoot ’em up. Set in the future. But here’s the thing: The game is literally almost too terrifying to play. Oh, maybe if you’re a fifteen year old kid, used to playing a psychopathic crack dealer or car thief, it’s no great shakes. But as for me, I’m left to play only during daylight hours, and never too close to bed time.
Yeah – It’s that well done.
Have I mentioned how much the missing cursor thing is baking my noodle? I believe I have. But never mind.
Hail and Farewell at the Field *. An Irish pub right chear in Sandy Eggo. With your humble scribe as one of the farewell-ees. Pints o’ Guinness (for strength!) and fish and chips, kind words and parting shots. Everything was exactly as it should have been. We step up, speak shortly, move off the stage and are relieved of duties assigned to proceed on new tasking. Repeat, every couple three years. So it goes.
Next, we are solemnly required and desired to take the Kat and all her several friends down to Dave and Buster’s for… well. We are not told, exactly why. We do our duty nevertheless. Dave and Busters (snag-a-fraga-raga mouse cursor) is very like a grown-up’s Chuck E Cheese. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect that the whole thing is part of some heinous corporate plot. The Kat was exposed to the skee-ball-centroid-gains-the-tickets-which-can-in-turn-be-used-to-buy-kitcsh phenomenon when she was nobbut a little thing, and now I watch with grave concern as she swipes her D&B card to get tokens with which to shove other tokens over the edge of some mechanical precipice in order to get tickets to buy some piece of horrible kitcsh as an eleven year old. I can fast forward to a casino in Vegas, or maybe only a semi-annual sale at Macy’s and suddenly the whole plot swims alarmingly into view.
Course, could be that I need to chill the hell out, and it’s only a game. Maybe.
But! It’s demonstrably true that after having spent untold hundreds of dollars to gain untold thousands of tickets with which you can buy exactly two Dave & Buster’s shot glasses, I’m left to wonder if we’re not learning the wrong kind of lessons here. All of us, I mean.
Finally, the Biscuit desired to go to CompUSA, a destination to which I am only too happy to drive, a fact which everyone knows. Regardless of my attempts to heave sighs and wear a general put-upon mien, whenever I am asked to drive up there.
That was a twelve second cursor search, right there. Trying to correct one simple little spelling error! Die, Gates. Die…
So anyway, on the way home we had the chance to chat a bit in an informal way (which happens all too infrequently, alas!) and she mentioned the name of a few boys who had come back from parts east to spend the summer in San Diego. I somehow managed to twist that around into a general observation that boys could be hard to trust, some times. The Biscuit is pretty quick on the uptake (her father’s daughter, and then some) and replied that girls could be hard to trust too.
To which I had no reply. I’ll merely close by saying that, although I don’t personally remember the age that way, I think it would be wonderful to be 14 again. To know everything with such certainty.
* 07-09-18 Link Gone – no replacement found – Ed.
** 07-09-18 Link Gone; replacement found – Ed.
*** 07-09-18 Link Gone; referred to a Lex post we don’t have – Ed.