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Cleaning the attic

Sometimes I read something interesting on the Web, bookmark the site, and then write about it here on the blog.

Sometimes, though, I read something interesting, bookmark the site, and then never get around to writing about it. Weeks and months pass by and the bookmarks folder gets filled to overflowing. I usually label this folder "current" — a label that quickly becomes inaccurate. My current "current" folder is actually labeled "MLK," because I started it back around Jan. 15 when I was bookmarking a bunch of stuff for a post on Martin Luther King Jr.

Now there's nine months of stuff stuffed in there and it's about time to concede, once again, that I'll never get around to writing anything of significant length or insight about all of this. But it'd be a shame to waste all those lovely bookmarks (even though, reading some of these now, I don't even remember why I bookmarked them in the first place) so here they are.

(Note: Many of these links will appear familiar to Making Light readers. I have a habit of bookmarking everything from Particles and Sidelights.)

29 down. 21 to go.

Bad theology makes bad policy I. "Christian-right views are swaying politicians and threatening the environment."

Bad theology makes bad policy II. "Bush, the End Times and you."

Neville_3Birth pangs of the Apocalypse. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 7/21/06, "What we're seeing here, in a sense, is the growing — the birth pangs of a new Middle East." Matthew 24:6-8, "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains."

Blogging the Bible. David Plotz's Bible-blogging in Slate is occasionally amusing and/or insightful, but ultimately disappointing because he skips over or flies through so much of what he's reading. (I may be expecting too much — I grew up hearing Reformed preachers deliver a five-month sermon series on Ephesians 2:8a, followed by another five months on Ephesians 2:8b. Somehow they never got around to verse 10. Ever.)

Bush, George W., and conservatives. "The main cause of conservatives' anger with Bush is this: He talked like a conservative to win our votes but never governed like a conservative." He hasn't governed like a liberal either. He has governed, instead, like an inept and petulant would-be king. (That may be, say many of my evangelical brethren, but he is a "pro-life" inept and petulant would-be king, so they'll continue to offer him their blind, unexamined support. Forever.)

Dogs. With cameras.

St_chamberlain_1Drinking the sand. Athenae dissects the narcissism of so much of our national "remembrance of 9/11":

An awful lot of people, good people, nice people, people living what you'd call normal lives, are just sort of ambling around trying to figure out what the fuck they're doing here. They have jobs they hate and families that drive them nuts and leisure time that feels more like work than work does, what with travel indignities and the rush and bustle of theme parks. They're miserable in a low-level kind of way, quiet desperation and all, and church isn't doing it for them, and drugs are too destructive, and most of them aren't living the lives they wanted to live. Not at all. … They feel, and rightly, a need to be called to something greater, but there is no unifying voice issuing that kind of call anymore, no Kennedy, no King. They wait for that kind of leadership, and even when they seem to have found it they say, maybe next time, when the time is right, when I'm ready, when the world is ready, when something so horrific I can't ignore it any more jolts me out of this Barcalounger and onto my feet, then I'll follow. Then I'll act.

The attacks of Sept. 11 were just such a horrific something, which explains why they produced not just sorrow and fear, but also an unspoken but barely concealed national excitement. See also "The Most Critical Time in the History of the World."

Fox News viewers, really that stupid. Fox watcher, as footage of bomb-damaged houses in Lebanon plays on the split screen: "I don't think Israel is really bombing Lebanon. I think it's faulty construction that's causing these buildings to fall."

God's mercy, There's a wideness in. "For the love of God is broader / than the measure of man's mind …"

Hearts and minds. Asymmetric warfare by insurgents is nothing new. What is relatively new is the use of war as a means of "liberation." When liberation is the stated aim of an occupying army, the ancient method of counterinsurgency — "exterminate all the brutes" — is no longer an option. In other words, America cannot "pacify" Iraq the same way we once pacified the Philippines.

Hearts and minds II. The above is also why Shelby Steele is not only an immoral monster, but also an idiot laying out a blueprint for military defeat.

How to protest. Maha offers 6 Rules for Effective Protest Marches. TBogg adds to the list.

Jacobs, Jane. "In a way, she's a genius version of the little old lady in tennis shoes — the cranky broad in the visor cap who hangs out at the library, and who shows up at every town meeting to let her views be known."

John Kerry was right. Bush is wrong. So says George Will.

Just in case. "How to Survive a Long Fall."

I am Churchill. You are Neville Chamberlain. Glenn Greenwald is just as tired as I am of this childish name-calling masquerading as "learning from history." Look closely at almost anyone invoking Chamberlain's ghost and you'll find they can't grasp any distinction between "appeasement" and "containment." They don't understand either word, but they seem to think the former is an all-purpose magical epithet and debate-ending trump card. Feh.

Illiteralism. Every metaphor — including obviously metaphoric passages in which even the author seems to sense that he's close to beating his analogy to death — must be read "literally," rejecting any metaphoric interpretation, even when the resulting reading renders something patently ridiculous.

Inhuman. "A chaplain's view of torture."

Invisible hand made visible. Consumer demand influences the pricing and inventory of retailers, but nothing says this influence has to be entirely subtle and implicit. That's why I love things like this.

Journalism. I got into journalism in part because of all that Frank Capra business about championing truth in support of freedom and the rights of the little guy. Jamison Foser explains why contemporary "journalism" is nothing like this Capraesque ideal. I should've opened a building & loan instead.

Manufacturing an incident. I've often argued that it would have been better to have concocted some staged incident, a la the Gulf of Tonkin, as a pretense for the American-led invasion of Iraq. This is an ancient form of hypocrisy but, like all hypocrisy, it at least would have acknowledged the legitimacy of the principle it violates, which would have been better than destroying the principle by introducing the idea of "preventive war." Part of the reason no such Tonkin-like incident was manufactured, it turns out, is that the Bush team's plans for such a pretense were as incompetent as everything else they've ever done.

May 3. "This is what lasts of war — the pain and the grief, the aftermath in which we all say, 'What a waste.'"

Men without balls. Glenn Greenwald dissects the reprehensible David Warren. I have little to add except to say that Warren misreads, misquotes and misappropriates C.S. Lewis.

Painting schoolrooms. "Looking for good news stories in a war zone … is like looking for virgins at the Playboy mansion — you might find a few, but they're certainly not the majority."

Podcasts, Insane Religious. "Harry Potter, The Mark of the Beast & The Luciferic Initiation."

"Practice hospitality." "Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Go to jail."

Twocities_2Prior priorities. "President wants Senate to hurry with new anti-terrorism laws" — CNN, 7/30/96: "But while the president pushed for quick legislation, Republican lawmakers hardened their stance against some of the proposed anti-terrorism measures. …"

Projection. The imperial presidency and the rule of law.

Rees, David. Very sorry I missed this when it was in Philly. Meanwhile, "Get Your War On" celebrates the fifth birthday of the War on Terrorism.

Sci-Fi Love Poetry. "The Day the Saucers Came," by Neil Gaiman.

Tom and Daisy. "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." (Julia had much more to say about this.)

Total Recall. "NASA is preparing to launch an oxygen generation system to the International Space Station. The system uses water to generate breathable oxygen for crew members. Life support systems like this are necessary to support future long-duration missions to the moon, Mars and beyond."

Uneasy listening. 365 more musical oddities for Steve S. in Harrisburg — the man responsible for my owning William Shatner's "Rocketman."

Unlikely Cowboy. Happily stumbled across this fine Philly band at one of those big multi-band benefit events (I was actually there to see Skeletor, but that's another story). You can hear/download some of Unlikely Cowboy's tunes at their myspace site and still others at UnlikelyCowboy.com.

Why we won last time. The final paragraph of George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram": "Finally we must have courage and self-confidence to cling to our own methods and conceptions of human society. After all, the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of Soviet communism is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping."

Wish I'd thought of this. The Post-Rapture Post.

  • David

    i Like your pictures of Neville Chamberlain.

  • daniel

    I’m listening to that insane podcast right now. That woman is bat-shit crazy. So Voldemort is the Hebrew/Christian God, but Harry is a type of Christ, and the Merovingian gnostics did the thing with the Egyptian mystery cults and…uh, wtf?
    My head is spinning.

  • PepperjackCandy

    My sound card is spoken for at the moment, so I can’t listen to that podcast. Based on Daniel’s comment above, I think it may be a parody piece that got out of hand.
    I’m asking around and hopefully I’ll know more later.

  • Beth

    If you’re using Firefox, consider getting the ‘Scrapbook’ extension. It’s sort of like bookmarks, but it saves the stuff to your hard drive, which means you don’t have to worry about disappearing links. It also means you can save whole pages, or just selected sections, add notes, highlight certain passages, etc, cutting down on “why did I bookmark that?” moments. It also makes it easy to save to specific scrapbook folders and create new ones on the fly.
    contemporary “journalism” is nothing like this Capraesque ideal. I should’ve opened a building & loan instead.
    Yes, it’s wonderful how the banking industry has somehow managed to resist consolidation and retain its friendly, small town character.
    And finally, L’shana Tovah (Happy New Year), to one and all.

  • bulbul

    L’shanah tovah to you too, Beth, and everyone else.

  • pharoute

    Next year in Lhasa?! (sorry couldn’t resist…)

  • bulbul

    Beth, thank you very much for the suggestion, this ScrapBook thing is really oberküül. Have you found a way to convert FF Bookmarks (including folders)?

  • bulbul

    Next year in Lhasa?! (sorry couldn’t resist…)
    Next year in Nuuk, right Jeff?

  • Jeff

    bulbul:
    Next year in Nuuk, right Jeff?
    Once we kick out the Hittites, absolutely! Oh, wait, you’re a Hittite, aren’t you? But didn’t we set up Compton as your Homeland.
    I’m sooooooo confused! Who’s where again?
    [/snark]
    (You know that those who only read the current thread are going to be SO lost!)

  • Jeff

    re David Plotz, I love this passage from Chapter 3 of Genesis:
    The Lord—not so good at follow-through. In Chapter 2, He is clear as He can be: He commands man not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and bad: “for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.” No wiggle room there. You shall die. But then when Eve and Adam eat the fruit of the tree a few verses later, do they die? Nope. God punishes Eve with “most severe … pangs in childbearing” and curses Adam by making the soil barren. Any parent knows you have to follow through on your threats, or your children will take advantage of you. God makes a vow He can’t keep—or if He did, He would undo all his good work. So, He settles instead for a half-hearted punishment that just encourages His children to misbehave again. Is it any surprise that we sin again? And again? And again? All the way down to the present day. You can call this “original sin,” but maybe it’s just lax parenting.
    I’m intrigued as to what comments this will generate.

  • John Owens

    Mostly OT, but you did end with a Rapture thing, and this is kind of out of the attic: Are you (Fred) still doing the Left Behind series? It’s getting near two months now since the last one. If there’s been an official announcement that you can’t take any more of it (which would be understandable), it’d be nice if that would be posted on the LB category, so we know not to expect any more.

  • pharoute

    John Owens: Actually by delaying the next LB post Fred is try to create in us the confusion and longing and anxiety that the characters in LB are feeling. He’s pulling forth in us the “Where is everyone?” solitary fear that is pervasive throughout the book; the “who do I turn too” exisentialist abyss that Jenkins and LaHaye so convincingly weave with the almost Pynchonesque turn of the phrase…or not.

  • Duane

    27/23 counting layovers.

  • chimera

    re Shatners “Rocket Man”: Fred, have you ever seen his video for this? It is SO hilarious. And seems to be a self-parody.

  • Andrew R.

    Let me at least make a half-hearted defense of Evangelical anti-environmentalism. While a great many Evangelical Protestants oppose environmental protection because they believe the parousia is right around the corner, there’s another factor the linked article doesn’t mention. A great many people see concern for the environment as a backdoor attempt to introduce a nature-worshipping pantheism.
    It’s the same reason why at least some honest conservatives see concern for environmental protection as a means of introducing communism (or at best, socialism) through the back door. After all, goes the reasoning, environmentalism’s solution is greater power for the State. It follows then that maybe people are pushing for environmental protection as an excuse to give the government more power and scope in our everyday lives.
    Likewise for some Christians, a respect and reverence for creation in the place of the Creator eventually results in idolatry when the Creator is worshipped in the place of His creation. It follows then that people pushing for environmental protection are using it as an excuse to make pantheism and paganism more acceptable.
    It’s not necessarily *good* reasoning, but it should at least be addressed.

  • Beth

    bulbul,
    Beth, thank you very much for the suggestion, this ScrapBook thing is really oberküül.
    Glad to help. It’s one one of my favorite extensions.
    Have you found a way to convert FF Bookmarks (including folders)?
    No. You can import all the bookmarks by clicking on “Tools”, then “Capture Multiple URLs” and choosing “Bookmarks” under “URL Detector”, but that won’t give you the folders.
    Jeff,
    Sorry, I don’t buy it. Imagine your dad tells you, “If you mess with my stuff again I’ll kill you,” then when he sees you messing with his stuff, he just cuts off your arm. I don’t think you’d conclude that it’s safe to disobey him.
    Andrew R.,
    After all, goes the reasoning, environmentalism’s solution is greater power for the State.
    I’d find it easier to see that as an honest objection if those people were equally opposed to domestic spying, torture, etc, as well as any sort of national armed forces or criminal laws.
    Likewise for some Christians, a respect and reverence for creation in the place of the Creator eventually results in idolatry….
    Frankly, that position seems as stupid as an atheist who advocates legalizing murder on the grounds that keeping it illegal enshrines biblical law.

  • none

    Please keep up the Left Behind posts, at least as far as Carpathia’s speech to the UN. It’s the funniest thing in the entire book! I nearly died laughing when everyone started going off about how ‘moving’ and ‘powerful’ it was that he could name every country in the world in alphabetical order.

  • Jeff

    Beth:
    My bigger problem is the one Plotz addresses in Chapter 2. God creates this tree, shows Adam how nice and bright and shiny it is. Makes the tree Very Special. Then he says, “Don’t think about the tree.”
    I’m not omniscient, but even I know this is a dumb idea.

  • PurpleGirl

    I should not eat or drink when I’m reading blogs… The Post-Rapture Post… lol

  • Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Re: Plotz – That God said “you will die,” and then they didn’t die, is the basis for a common neo-Pagan argument that “God lied; the snake didn’t.”
    (I would point out, on a related tangent, that a father who follows up on his threats by cutting his child’s arm off is not a good Father.)
    Re: Left Behind and Carpathia’s speech: Wait wait wait. Are you saying that Yakko Warner is the antiChrist?

  • Steve

    RE: Uneasy Listening…Fred, of course, I already have all 365 of these tracks on my computer…I followed this during 2003.
    Earlier you implied I love this stuff. Actually, I just find it fascinating…kind of like Christopher Guest’s look at quirky characters and what makes them tick. Listening to “bad” that someone thought was “good” intrigues me.
    The best bad music, I’ve found, is good enough to listen to repeatedly. Not so annoying you have to turn it off. Example: Leonard Nimoy singing Proud Mary…a good song, just an unemotional and flat rendition that leaves you wondering, “who thought this guy would make a good pop singer?”

  • Kevin Hayden

    Do you do Windows? (As in, my bookmarked and email-to-self links, as well as all my half-completed posts)?
    Great job wading through ‘em all, Fred. You’re a brave and stubborn man!

  • Steve

    William Shatner “interprets” Rocketman – The Video

  • Duane

    I highly recommend “Has Been” from William Shatner, released in 2004.

  • none

    And the apocalypse can be staved off by ensuring that Animaniacs never airs in Romania, yes.

  • the opoponax

    yes, but Yakko didn’t do it alphabetically! therein lies Carpathia’s genius…

  • wintermute

    Wait. Alphabetical in English or Romanian? Or maybe Tibetan?
    And did all the diplomats who didn’t speak whichever language he used, and had to listen to a translated version realise he was listing them alpahbetically?
    Enquiring minds want to know…

  • wintermute

    Whoops. Wrong thread.

  • wintermute

    Or not. Damn the combinations of not being awake yet, and needing to rush for work.

  • Beth

    That God said “you will die,” and then they didn’t die, is the basis for a common neo-Pagan argument that “God lied; the snake didn’t.”
    Yes, but God lied out of kindness. He wanted to scare Adam and Eve out of doing something that would screw up their idyllic existence. The serpent told the truth out of malice, in order to tempt them to make that mistake. It is ironic, though, that a book which we know to be absolutely true because it’s the Word of God opens with a story in which God lies to us.
    Jeff,
    I think Plotz (what a name!), is making the same mistake as the creationists, trying to turn Genesis into something its not. Genesis is not a psychological study of God, and it’s certainly not a parenting guide. God made the beautiful Tree of Knowledge (and the subtle serpent) because they needed to be there for the sake of the story. You may as well ask why George Washington chopped down that stupid cherry tree in the first place.

  • PK

    That God said “you will die,” and then they didn’t die, is the basis for a common neo-Pagan argument that “God lied; the snake didn’t.”
    They did die. God didn’t say “immediately.”

  • PK

    Oh yeah, pre-emptive “yawm doesn’t necessarily mean a 24-hour period” retort.

  • Duane

    Could there be a difference between God saying “I will kill you where you stand!” and “You will die.” ? Probably, but this assumes the creation myth actually happened as recorded thousands of years later by folks who neither witnessed it nor had rigid journalistic methods in place to ensure it was properly documented.

  • Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    PK, in my version, he says, “On the day that you eat of it, you shall die.” Nothing “eventually” about it.
    At the very least, it ought to make a bit of a conundrum for the Creationist literalists.

  • Duane

    it ought to make a bit of a conundrum for the Creationist literalists
    Haha. Do you know any Creationist literalists? Are they generally swayed by rational arguments?

  • Steve

    “On the day that you eat of it, you shall die.”
    Uh, anyone ever hear of metaphor? Perhaps they were dying in terms of giving up paradise, losing their innocence, losing their closeness to God.

  • Duane

    “On the day that you eat of it, you shall die.”
    Instead of threats not carried out, how about promises not honored:
    John 3:16:
    For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

  • wintermute

    Metaphor? In Genesis? Surely not!

  • Jesurgislac

    Do you know any Creationist literalists? Are they generally swayed by rational arguments?
    I used to know one. He got roundly challenged when he asserted in a history class that he believed the story of Genesis was literally true. He was also in my biology class, and I remember one dialogue particularly:
    Me: “I can’t see how you can believe that the story of creation in Genesis is literally true.”
    Creationist: “Well, I do believe it.”
    Me: “But the whole idea that fish came before land vegetation is just wrong – the fossil record shows it. And the timescale! I can see believing it as a metaphorical account, but literally?”
    Cr: “Well, I just do believe it. God created the Earth in seven days.”
    Me: “Six.”

  • Jeff

    Beth (sorry this is s late):
    God lied out of kindness. The serpent told the truth out of malice.
    a) How do you know? I would presume a liar to be more malicious, without further information, than a sooth-sayer.
    b) Let’s assume that God lied out of “kindness”. How can we believe anything He says? Anything and everything in the Bible could be a lie, put there out of “kindness”.

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