A Mind That Suits
What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.
Monday, August 07, 2006 :::
A Mind That Suits found himself this morning getting what any blogger wants, free publicity, in the form of a discussion of Mel Gibson’s latest embarrassment on Washington Post radio, which can be found here.
Following the Post on Mr. Gibson which caused the publicity, new readers will find an assortment--a chrestomathy, if you will--of postings from the last year. A Mind That Suits covers a lot of ground, from the war to ants crawling in three story windows. In addition to this chrestomathy, interesting posts from the last year have included comments on traveling in Italy (March, 2006), a response to a ill-conceived review of the Chronicles of Narnia (December 14, 2005), and one of many dissections of our ill-conceived war in Iraq October 14 and 15, 2005). A Mind That Suits is away from home, and working on his beloved iBook. Blogspot, for some reason, does not "support" formating on Mac, so he can only use caps where he would want to use bold for headlines.
For those who are interested in politics, they can look at the November 17, 2004 posting, a long statement on why a lifelong conservative would oppose the war . The statement is in the form of a satire, “The Litany on the GWOT.” A Mind That Suits is happy to report that it enjoyed a long ride on college e-mail, judging from the hits this humble blog got. And one can find another chrestomathy--actually, 3 chrestomathies--on August 10, 2003 which have lots of examples of writing just for fun.
A Mind That Suits was planning to come back full bore following his almost annual sojourn at a certain red-tile-roofed university on the West Coast, but, you know, carpe diem, so he will be back to regular blogging Tuesday morning.
MEL AND ALL THAT.
It appears that our Mel--that being Mel Gibson--has seriously blotted his copybook. This wasn't because he was caught driving drunk, apparently, but because of the hateful things he said to the police.
What is so sad about this is that it immediately reflects on his magnum opus, "The Passion of the Christ." Christian-baiter Christopher Hitchens demands that those of us who "defend" that movie speak now, or be forever ignored. This writer is used to being ignored, but let him speak up for a minute.
There is nothing anti-Semitic, in any way, about "The Passion of the Christ." It's easy to sort out if one remembers that EVERYONE IN THE MOVIE IS JEWISH, with the exception of Pontius Pilate and his functionaries. Modern sensibilities dictate that anyone who is shown anguishing over doing the wrong thing is exculpated by his agony, and so many reviewers said that Pilate was shown in a good light. Mel Gibson does not have a modern sensibility. Pontius Pilate is thus shown as the baby carried by Satan as Christ is being scourged. A brilliant, and theologically rich, image.
Oh, yes, and the hand that drives the nail into Jesus's hand belongs to Mel Gibson.
Those rich images aside, everyone in the movie is Jewish, including Jesus.
On which point, let us now allude to the hilarious final season of Garry Shandling's continuously hilarious take on the life and neuroses of a late night talk show host, the Larry Sanders Show. The head writer to the show was an angry s.o.b., given to anti-gay comments directed at some production assistant who was mercilessly gay, to the point that he might get sued for creating a hostile environment. Not the anti-gay guy; the gay guy. He pushes it right up to the limit, until he finally shows up in a tank top and hot pants, driving the straight guy over the edge.
Straight guy gets sued, and is informed by the producer, played by the ever-wonderful Rip Torn, that this is serious trouble, because the only group more powerful than the Jews in Hollywood is the gays, prompting said straight guy to get sloppily drunk and cry to the gay guy that his career was going to be ruined by the "gay Jews." (The gay guy ends up getting to “console” his former enemy, relevant here only to prove it is pretty common folk wisdom that, sufficiently tanked, a guy will do anything.)
And then there is the slightly less amusing spectacle of the unendurable Michael Ovitz complaining that his attempt at a comeback in Hollywood, as uber-producer, had been killed by the "gay mafia." Jay Leno did one of his "Jay walking" things on Hollywood Boulevard, and got one guy to say that the gay mafia probably made "killer flower arrangements."
All of which is to say that in a normal life in entertainment, one encounters a lot of different people.
And when one is really drunk, one will say anything.
One is reminded of the case of the young mother, Susan Smith, who drowned her children in a car om a small Southern town and then suggested that an African-American had done it. More than one liberal was heard to say--to the astonished befuddlement of any normal human being--that they would NEVER implicate Black people in anything that they did wrong.
Race-baiting is UP from killing your children. Dispicable in every way, but not as bad as killing your kids.
And Mr. Hitchens will not allow the alcohol level in Mr. Gibson's blood exculpate him, saying that one does not decide, between the first and second vodka, to become anti-Semitic. But between the first and fifteenth vodka, one does not decide anything except to get drunker.
But, really, the drunk excuse is not exculpatory. Mr. Gibson gets more money than any other actor in history, because he delivers. He has the widest range of any modern actor, and is a superlative director. It is hard for most of us to undertand why someone with that much money and spare time does not pay someone to lock him away until he dries out. Most of us, in fact, will conclude, rightly or wrongly, that he has not been serious.
Oddly enough, in this day and age, someone as popular as Mr. Gibson could take the low road and simply produce three more blockbusters and be done with it, pundits such as Mr. Hitchens being consigned to the sideroads.
One suspects that that is not the road Mr. Gibson will take. As evidenced by the Passion of the Christ, he is a serious Christian, and he will seek some way to atone for his sin, which in this case is considerable. It has brought dishonor to him, all his work, and all who support him. He knows that, and his fellow Catholics should remember him at Mass as he seeks to set things as right as they can be.
And they should remember never to get that---we’ll say drunk, just to be polite.
CHRESTOMATHY, or An Invitation to Enjoy A Mind That Suits
IN THE MATTER OF JOE WILSON and the famous "sixteen words" in the President's ill-considered State of the Union Address from 2003, A Mind That Suits found himself discussing the case with an elderly friend, an old-style liberal whose wife had served in the CIA.
As is true of so many, he had the impression that Amb. Wilson had proven the President was wrong. This would be news to the CIA operatives who debriefed him after returned from his "investigation" in Niger. As the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence discovered, those pros concluded that his investigation was inconclusive, but tended to support British Intelligence, the source of the report that Saddam had gone looking for "yellow cake" uranium there. Indeed, both the Senate Permament Select Committee on Intelligence and a committee of Her Majesty's Privy Council went out of their way to reveal what a blow-hard Amb. Wilson had become. The British still maintain that the "underlying intelligence" about Saddam's shopping trip "was sound."
Said elderly friend listened intently to the list of errors--we are being polite--committed by Ambassador Wilson in his famous New York Times op-ed and later book. Said list includes the fact that he never filed a report that went to Vice-President Dick Cheney, he did not "prove to the entire intelligence community" that the intelligence report was false, and he never saw documents he claims to have proved as forgeries.
The next day, said older friend asked the obvious question: why didn't Karl Rove and company simply go the press with the truth, instead of launching a full-bore, top secret attempt to smear the good Ambassador? A certain PBET formulated an answer, but it took a somewhat harsher form on reflection, which he has not shared with his friend. Yet.
So why is it that a certain Washington type--common in both major parties--goes for blood when simple ink will suffice?
If you are a f****r, the only thing you know how to do is f*** with people.
A Mind That Suits found himself in a friend's car listening to the news. A Distinguished Gentleman from the United States House of Representatives was saying that the solution to the crisis in Lebanon was clear: we have to eliminate the terrorists' infrastructure. At that, the friend spat out, "Terrorists don't have an infrastructure," which is true, and why the "Global War on Terror" is a name without a concept behind it.
Terrorist movements live and die by support. If they have a consituency, they will live on. If a constituency never develops, or deserts them, they die off. Suffice it to say that the Shi’ite “Party of God" has several constituencies, including Syria, Iran, and the Shi'ites of southern Lebanon. If their own people tire of them, then Syria and Iran might be forced to back off, but that does not appear likely.
The question for the Israelis is, then, what will lead to the least trouble? Heaven only knows.
As A Mind That Suits, a city dweller, doesn't catch rides with friends very often, it is annoying that for the second time in as many months, he left his cell phone in the car. It inspires the feeling that losing your cell phone feels like death, and then one thinks of the poor people of southern Lebanon, so you put it all back in perspective. But it does show how conveniences so quickly acquire the air of being indispensible.
ANOTHER VICTORY IN THE GWOT. (From 2005)
You may remember that not so long ago, the long-suffering people of Uzbekistan staged riots, during the course of which untold numbers of people were killed by their merciless leaders. Now, the Uzbeki government has been useful in the fight in Afghanistan, because it allowed us to use an airfield, so W. has been remarkably silent about its human rights abuses.
But the US could hardly ignore this. It therefore, through the UN, helped the Kirgistani government relocate several hundred refugees whose return for “trial” the Uzbecki government had demanded. It had somehow slipped this writer’s notice, but, in retaliation, the Uzbecki government gave the US 180 days to quit the airfield. It would make sense that they want to play Russia against the US, so there are no doubt frantic negotiations going on.
With our good friend, the Uzbecki government.
And did you hear the one about the Islamist Pakistani General????
IT'S THE NATURE, STUPID. (Following Katrina and Rita.)
As meteorologists have pointed out, over the recorded history of hurricane activity, there have been long periods when hurricanes hit Florida and then headed up the East Coast, and long periods when they have crossed Florida and hit the Gulf of Mexico, source of the Gulf Stream that warms the East Coast and Northern Europe. For much of the '80's and '90's, they headed north, wreaking havoc in such places as Wilmington, NC, where a certain pudgy, balding English teacher spends a fair amount of time, and Long Island, home to people who think that tragedies can never happen where people went to Harvard.
But in those times when hurricanes have crossed Florida, they have hit the warm waters of the Gulf, which are a lifeline to many in the Altantic, and a death sentence for others.
With the exception of one in the 1930's which devasted Long Island, where bad things are not supposed to happen because everyone went to Harvard, most of the really nasty ones have crossed Florida, hotted up in the Gulf, and then consumed some poor city or other along the Gulf Coast.
Now, the Gulf Coast is normally a lovely place to live. Just ask a certain pudgy, balding English teacher, who grew up in
Florida and often wiled away the time on lovely Sanibel Island. The Gulf Coast is also the source of much of the storied wealth of the United States, as ships that enter the mighty Misssissipi River at New Orleans can make their way to Ohio and Missouri and loads of other places.
Everything, however, comes with a price.
The price of living on the Gulf Coast is, perhaps, an early death.
This comes as news to many of our reporters who, fed on stories of Woodward and Bernstein, always think the "real story" is hidden, when it is often right out in front of their noses. It MAY be that "Global Warming" is hotting up the hurricanes, or it may be that, now that we have entered a period of Florida-crossing hurricanes, the hurricanes themselves get the chance to really hot up, and do so at will.
When you have been through a real hurricane, you have a hard time not assuming that they do things "at will."
Remember: Lovely Rita crossed the Florida Keys as a tropical storm and a Catgory One. It MAY be that Rita benefited from all those carbon-based fuels dragged up out of the Gulf floor, or it MAY--more likely--be that she just hotted up because any hurricane that makes it to the Gulf will do so. At will.
And it is no accident that the Director the National Hurricane Center has said, often, that he is worried that the population is building up on the Louisiana Coast and Long Island, and in Galveston TX, the Florida Panhandle, and the Keys.
That hurricanes may well take out two of those five just this season should turn him into a national hero.
Instead, people will be wondering whose fault it is, and where they can "take action" to ensure the Mother Nature will never again do that which, in the final analysis, man can do nothing to stop.
A-HA! (From earlier this year.)
It was the opinion of a certain, pudgy balding, English teacher--then a slender, already balding history grad student at a certain red-tile-roofed university on the West Coast--that a brand new radical computer company had copped its name from a once radical record company. Indeed, Steven Jobs has been silly enough to admit that Apple Computer got its name--"in part"-- from, well, the Apple Corps, Ltd., which elaborate pun serves as the name of the the corporate incarnation of the Beatles. By the time Apple Computers came along, the Apple Corps had retreated behind closed doors because of the innumerable law suits between four rather famous Liverpudlians, and the younger denizens of said red-tile-roofed campus expressed some perplexity on the issue when it was raised by the "older" grad student.
It turns out that said Apple Corps was not at all asleep at the wheel on the name copping, but had, with an eye to profits, agreed to let the matter sleep as long as "Apple Computers" only made Apple computers.
And then came the i-Pod and i-Tunes.
Those're about music.
Apple Corps has once again gone to court with Apple Computers over said agreement. Just enter the phrase "Apple sues Apple" in any search engine, and you will see that this has been going on for a while.
Now, the principle shareholders in Apple Corps do not need money. But neither does Mr. Jobs. Longstanding English common law precedent is clear: in trademark, the first shall be first. It is not hard to see that Mr. Jobs may well be forced to fork over yet more cash to two boys from Liverpool and to the heirs of two other boys from Liverpool. On the other hand, he can probably find some pretty sharp lawyers to prove that iTunes is not a music business, or at least not one that violates said agreement.
It's all rather funny, actually, and it illustrates what the old song says:
All You Need Is Lawyers.
(Of course, Apple later won this lawsuit, although the Apple Corps has appealed.)
FUN WITH LANGUAGE
DO I HAVE TO GO TO PRISON?
AOL Instant Messenger is telling A Mind That Suits that he can get a personal horoscope sent to his cell.
He is not tempted, in part because he figures that the matter was settled late in the 4th Century AD, when the father of the man who was to become St. Augustine and a neighboring farmer made a deal. They both had slave women who were pregnant and due at about the same time, so they arranged to have other slaves run and say when each child was born. The slaves met each other mid-flight, meaning the two children were born as close to the same time as makes no nevermind. And the two children turned out to be radically different.
But, even if he were concerned about his horoscope, a certain pudgy, balding English teacher could not accept the offer in good conscience. He is not in prison, you see, so he has no cell to which horoscopes could be sent.
This is an example of a practice that came to his attention some years ago: the use of adjectives as nouns. It is common in some tongues, notably any of Latin's modern descendants, but it is not natural to English. (Yes, language is a natural phenomenon, just as bird calls are.) But it is natural to what the French Protestant Marxist philosopher Jacques Ellul called the "technique society." (That was badly translated into English as The Technological Society.)
Now, A Mind That Suits has no trouble quoting Protestants or Frenchmen, but does everything he can to avoid quoting Marxists. It's that "defense of mass murder" thing that gets him down. But in this, M. Ellul was quite correct: we have figured out how to do things, and so people who know how to do things are elevated in esteem beyond their true worth to other human beings. The correct translation from the French, you see, would probably be "The Know-How Society." He means roughly the same thing that Oscar Wilde meant when he had a character in The Picture of Dorian Gray say that "people nowadays know the price of everything, and the value of nothing."
Some time ago, among technical folks--to be more specific, perhaps, among technical folks in the military--it became a sign of technical sophistication to use adjectives without their accompanying nouns. "Let me give you this hypothetical." This was a new usage. In any version of Latin, to give you an Italian hypothetical, if you have to choose between two ties, you might choose "il rosso," whereas in proper English that should be "the red one." (Actually, that wasn't a hypothetical. That was what the wife of an Italian friend said when a certain pudgy, balding English teacher presented her with two ties he could not decide between. And actually actually, "one" is not in this case a noun but a pronoun. Still, you get the point.)
It should be, "let me give you this hypothetical situation."
But no longer. A "cell phone" is now a "cell," an "e-mail adress" is now an "e-mail," and, horribly, Washington's magnificent Union Station is now routinely referred to as "Union." Perhaps the most radical truncation has transformed your Social Security Number into your "social," eliminating not only a noun but a noun-serving-as-an-adjective.
All by people who are pretending to know far more than they actually know.
English-wise, this is a negative.
SPEAK ENGLISH, PLEASE, NOT PRETENTIOUS
A waitress friend--oh, sorry, a femal server friend--was fuming. She is Brazilian, and was offering an hors d’oeuvre--if that is spelled correctly--on endive, the usefully shapped green that forms the basis of so many such foods. Following the rules of English pronunciation, she said, well, “endive.” And the pretentious guest corrected her, "on-deev."
Now, the first thing that makes this so offensive is that the waitress is in a subordinate position, and a person of more elevated status should not needlessly make her life more difficult.
The second thing that makes this so offensive is that the waitress--oh, sorry, female server--was speaking English, her second language. Why make her accountable for a third, in this case, French?
Except that "on-deev" is not French. True enough, the "i" in French sounds like the long "e" in English, though only a linguist could tell you if they are truly identical.
The correct French pronunciation involves a nasal sound. A Certain Pudgy, Balding English teacher some time ago heard himself recorded in French, and realized with horror that his nasal sounds were nowhere near correct. He was shocked because he has made an avocation of learning French pronunciation over the years, and has received many compliments from French people on his French pronunciation--which compliments he gladly reminds everyone are rarely handed out by French people. But he simply was not getting the “n” right.
Which makes him think the pretentious guest did not get the "n" right either. So, too, she probably did not get the "d" correct, nor the final "e," which is not silent, as in English. It is a ghostly presence, but it is a presence nonetheless.
'When in Rome, do like the Romans" said Shakespeare..
It's application here is, "When speaking English, use Engilsh rules of pronunciation."
That can be further honed as, "When using the English word 'endive,' use a long 'i', and don't inflict your pretentions on a poor waitress."
Urrr, female server. Person. Oh, you know.
::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 12:58 AM