Born in Babylonia, moved to Arizona, King Tut.
Archive for September, 2002
A Left to the Chin
We read Puss in Boots for Ngnat’s bedtime story tonight. Given my unfortunate chemical makeup (I’m a man), I’ve always felt that there was something vaguely porno about the title. Aside from the obvious, all it really needs is a consonant switch and you’ve got the title of a Terence and Phillip movie. For those of you now helplessly confused (Hi Mom), that would be “Bussin’ poots”, the simple, gentle story of a man and his gas fetish.
But to Ngnat it wasn’t “Bussin’ poots”, or even “Supping Toobs”. It was “Shoo kitty.” So we read that, instead. About halfway through, with no obvious catalyst that I could see, she suddenly sat up in the bed and turned to face me, her right hand balled up in a fist. She drew up close to mine, widened her eyes so that she was making a face, and, ever so gently, punched me in the nose with the side of her fist. Girl fist though, not a boy fist.
Aside: Having exhaustively searched the web for an illustration of boy first versus girl fist and finding only Shotokan and porn, I find I must explain this myself. It was common knowledge in my elementary school that boys made fists with their thumb across the front of the first, and girls made fists with the thumb at the side of the fists. Various other thumb positions were heavily debated, including thumb under pointer and thumb inside fist, but dismissed as dangerous to the digit. God help the boy who made girl fists.
Certainly it didn’t hurt. If anything, it was a caress. If so, it was the weirdest caress I can recall, and I spent a good part of my life dating repressed church girls yearning to break free. Thanks Dusty, I owe you. She popped up another couple of times as I read to her of the adventures of the canny Puss and his dimwit master, looked deep into my eyes, gave her impression of Susan Sarandon being goosed by Pat Buchanan, and tagged me with the world’s softest right cross.
It’s not the only thing she’s picked up. She saw a shark on television earlier tonight, immediately turned away and buried her head in my chest. When and where did she learn to be scared of sharks? How does she even recognize a shark? She’s not even three. Every color in the world to her is “wed”, “boo” or “lullah”, but she recognizes dangerous fish. She also knows the Lord’s Prayer, which makes me suspect that the nice ladies at the Baptist daycare she attends put on habits and lead the children in daylong catechism lessons as soon as the parents are all gone.
We spend all of our time worrying about exposing her to different experiences, but we’re stunned as soon as she gives us proof that she’s been exposed to them. I guess we still expect to be the primary filters through which she sees the world.
So much for that.
Chief inspector Hans Blix told reporters at the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency that the talks would operate under the assumption that nothing in Iraq — including Saddam’s palaces — will be off- limits to inspectors hunting for nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry.
Here’s a prediction. By this time next week, Hans Blix will announce that the Iraqis have agreed in principle to allow U.N. weapons inspectors open access to any and all sites within Iraq. He might even wave a piece of paper in the air. Russia, China and France, perhaps joined by other members of the Security Council, will argue that this abrogates the need for new resolutions on the matter. The NYT and the WaPo will run headlines like “Saddam outmaneuvers Bush; agrees to open inspections.” The Bush administration will act like it has taken a shot to the knees for a day or so, come out with a response on the order of “Liar, Liar, pants on fire,” and go back to beating the war drum. The Senate Democrats will accuse Bush of leading the U.S. into war at all costs, and some leftist celebrity will call Saddam a “Man of Peace”*. The blogosphere with thrash through another round of debate on the topic of “does Bush have a plan or is he making it up as he goes along.” before returning to pretty much the same divisions it has today.
The week after that, Iraq will object to the makeup of the inspections teams, arguing that they are providing cover for U.S. spies. Blix returns to the negotiating table for more talks, and Saddam is a week closer to his bomb.
If they do have a plan, then Bush & Co. have gamed out all the possible variations of delay that Saddam is going to use, and has figured that he’ll exhaust those avenues sometime in January. Coincidentally or not, that’s one of the times most bruited about for the attack. If they don’t have a plan, they maybe we will see an attack in October or November, before Saddam has finished with his delaying tactics. You can expect the howls of protest to drown out the sound of bombs, at least at the beginning.
If it’s Babs, it will be “Man of Piece”
Sign of Armageddon
Dammit, we have to put an end to the insanity that is television programming. The idea of reality programming is no longer interesting and tv executives are spending way too much time sitting around thinking this stuff up. I realize that Survivor has been very successful, and I admit that I did watch the last 15 minutes of the first run through of the program (?not help you?..you suck?.evil bitch?.bitter I didn?t win?.blah, blah, blah), but who is still watching this crap which is causing everyone to continue generating these shows?
Survivor, Big Brother, The Osbournes and the Anna Nicole Smith Show (which basically is an advertisement for Twinkies) were enough, now we have crossed the line. Coming soon is The Surreal Life which is going to place a number of celebrities??..I?m sorry, ex-celebrities in a house to live together for two weeks. The amazing line of has-beens put together for this extravaganza includes ex-Motley Crue singer, Vince Neil, M.C. Hammer, and the little guy who played Webster (I know, I thought he was dead too).
We should have stopped with COPS, where at least someone might get shot. We will just wish we could shoot someone if we watch this crap. I am going to put a bumper sticker on my car which read ?Don?t Blame Me, I Only Watch Sports.? The thing that really frightens me is that I do not see an end to this madness. We will continue to put any number of people in a house together and watch them live with or kill each other. WB, for the love of God, please don?t do this. Let?s keep Webster on Nickelodeon, M.C. Hammer on the religious channel, and Vince Neil in rehab. This idea makes Mama?s Family look like sheer genious.
The trio strode down the vaulted hall. Two men dressed as palace guards, Kalashnikovs on their shoulders, trailing behind another, a stocky mustachioed figure, wearing green fatigues and a black beret. The sound of their footsteps echoing off the marbled floor and ceiling would have given them a suitably purposeful “men striding to meet their destiny” air were it not for the contortions of the leader, as he alternated between yanking at the seat of his pants and his facial hair.
“This Allah be-damned mustache is slipping again!” Ahmed pressed at the mass of hair atop his upper lip. “Whatever you used to make it stick smells of sheep anus!” He gave the coarse hair another tug, then started picking irritably at the sides of the green uniform he had struggled into a half-hour before. “And the cursed uniform is too tight.”
The palace guard on his right smacked Ahmed’s hands away from the cloth they were tugging at, and smacked them a second time as they rose again towards his face. Shamir glared at him. “Quit that! It is sheep anus, boiled for two days in the open sun, and probably goat anus and camel anus and rat anus and a thousand and one other anuses. Omar made it. I do not care if it smells like the pustulent hole your mother shat you of. If you tug at it again, it will fall off in the middle of your speech. Whose anus do you think they will boil after that?”
Ahmed, rubbing the sting out of his hands, gave the other guard a dark look. “It might be preferable to wearing these pants.” He gave them another ineffectual yank. “My ass looks like a giant camel’s toe. I liked it better back in the armory.”
Omar gazed back, phlegmatic. “The error is your own. Were you not as vain as a Saudi princeling with his first boy, you would not be in such discomfort. You told me you measured 32 inches in the waist, so I made the pants 32 inches in the waist. It is not my fault that your waist hasn’t seen 32 inches since your madrassa days.” They turned a corner, heading towards a distant portico, through which the murmur of a distant crowd could be heard. “I will let them out tonight, if the Effendi Ji’ivsa approves of you, and you make it through your speech without stuttering like a mullah in a synagogue.”
The Effendi Ji’ivsa was a small man with a tonsure of brown hair around a truly stupendous bald spot; stationed at a desk in an alcove off the hallway a few tens of yards away from looming portico. Four Republican guards flanked him. Distaste oozed from their cold black eyes as the trio halted in front of the desk. It was piled high with papers, a copy of the Koran, and a dog-eared paperback novel, surprisingly not one of the ones written by HIM. There was a time when Iraqi bureaucrats had taken to leaving copies of Zabibah and the King on their desks, until a number had been executed for reading during work hours. Each man did go to his grave with a personally autographed copy, however.
Ji’ivsa looked up from his papers, running his fingers through thinning black hair. “This is the new one?”
Omar stepped forward. “Yes, if you please, dragoman.’
He looked at Ahmed. “Memorized the speech, have you?”
Ahmed swallowed nervously. “Yes effendi, as if it were the blessed Koran itself.”
Ji’ivsa slid back from the desk, the chair shuddering against the wood. “Well, let’s have look at you. Had some idiot bring me a blonde last week.” He walked in a tight circle around Ahmed, who had broken out in a sweat with the effort of keeping his recalcitrant belly sucked in.
“Nice attention to detail. Sweat is a good touch. HE always sweated like an ox in the oven before a speech. Mustache a bit off. Face not nearly broken out enough. Still, shouldn’t matter from the distance. The pants are perfect.”
Ahmed stifled a groan.
“Pardon, effendi. I had lentils for breakfast.”
“Method actor, I see.” Ji’ivsa completed his inspection and returned to his desk. “Let, me see–What’s the bit after “And hear the lamentations of their women?’”
Ahmed was silent for a moment. Omar paled, and the four guards shifted stance, every so slightly. Their eyes gleamed.
Shamir felt panic rise with the gorge in his throat. If I shoot him now, he thought, perhaps I can convince Allah that he was an enemy, and perhaps jew him out of one or two houris after those four bastards over there gut me like a lamb.
His thought was interrupted by Ahmed’s smooth baritone.
“These our brethren the faithful and the Arabs, are the calls made by your sons and brothers in Iraq, the land of faith, as they confront the enemy who wants to harm Iraq, with total disregard to God and man, despite all the resilience and resolve with which the Iraqi people have faced this enemy who has refused to listen to any Islamic or Arab voice, and indeed rejected all the initiatives and calls for peace, which we had proposed more than once, name of the people of Iraq.”
Ji’ivsa nodded. “Very good. You have acted before?”
Shamir thought frantically at the effendi. Don’t ask him for his credits.
Ahmed nodded. “Yes effendi, in my younger days.”
Don’t ask him for his credits!
Ji’ivsa glance at his watch. “We still have five minutes before the CNN feed is up. Anything I might have heard of?
Lie about your credits. In the name of all that is holy, lie you fool!
Omar made a frantic gesture in his direction, to no avail. Ahmed beamed. Perhaps there was a fan to be made here! “My first roles were in the Riyadh production of Oh! Calcutta! After that I played Kenickie in the Sanaa Players Company production of Grease, effendi. The South Yemen Examiner said that my performance was ‘luminous’. My last role before Allah called me to Jihad…
I wonder how many other calls Allah made were to wrong numbers, thought Shamir sourly. Omar was rapidly paling.
“was in the The Merchant of Venice, where my?.” Ahmed stumbled to a halt, realizing too late that he had followed the rascally rabbit over the edge of the cliff, and nothing but open space lay beneath him. “My…performance…was called “surprisingly tender and nuanced?’”
Ji’ivsa glanced at his watch again, picked up the paperback. “Which role did you play?”
Ahmed glanced at his friends. Their faces were as pasty white as he presumed his was. He swallowed. “Jessica, my lord.”
Ji’ivsa was once again engrossed in his reading. “Well, I’m sure it’s all to the good. Not much of a theatre man myself. See me after the speech, we’ll arrange to get you and your entourage some decent quarters. There’s a couple of chairs they can sit in just inside the balcony. I know my crew always cry like little girls after they’ve been on their feet a while.” The four around him slumped ever so slightly, and glanced at the trio guiltily.
Immensely relieved, Ahmed started down the hall, then turned back, a question in his eyes. “Will HE be watching, effendi?”
Ji’ivsa, glanced up from his book. “What, Saddam?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“I should think not. Been dead for years. Shot himself cleaning his pistol. The doubles have been running the country since then. You’ll make number six, and I should think you’ll be quite popular. New boy always gets the shit jobs, you know. ”
He lowered his book, glanced at the 3 pairs of eyes goggling at him. ” I know it’s a bit of a shock, but I’ve found that the initial speeches each double makes are lot less stilted when they aren’t worrying about HIM writing the reviews. No, he’s long gone. Pissed in his eye sockets myself. Now, how do they say? Go break a leg.” He waved them away, returned to his book, looked up once again. “All of this is on the hush-hush, of course. Otherwise it’ll be your eye sockets getting the irrigation. Run along now!”
Ahmed, Shamir and Omar walked slowly down the remaining fifty yards. Omar held the dog-end of a cigarette to his lips, which he lit and inhaled of deeply before passing it along. Shamir greedily accepted, but Ahmed waved it away.
“Cuts my wind, makes it harder to do the monologues.” His eyes were far away, calculating. “What was the book Ji’ivsa was reading?”
Omar shrugged. “Something by a ferengi named Heinlein. I didn’t see the title.”
“Double Star.” Shamir said. “I saw the title when he picked it up. I wonder what it is about.”
“Who knows?” Omar settled into a chair, just inside the balcony. “The Americans write millions of books. Perhaps it is a treatise on baldness.” He motioned Ahmed forward. “Don’t fuck it up, and tonight we can sleep in beds. With sheets.” His eyes shined. “And women.”
Ahmed strode forward into the light, his shoulders pulled back, becoming a bull of man.
“Saddam!” shouted the crowd. “Saddam!”
It’s not the bottom of the barrel, but you can see wood from here.
We’ve been chosen as the site of the day at the People’s Republic of Seabrook! Now truly we will be able to score with the chicks!
Zod: If you weren’t married
Let me enjoy the moment, damn you.
Zod: and pasty white.
Zod: and possessed of a hair trigger, if you know what I mean.
You’re one to talk, Mr. Queen of the Desert
Zod: I believe my work here is done.
Yeah, you better run.
I found an Easter Egg over at Silent Running today. Not a real one, of course, an Easter egg for the mind, after the term for the small surprises hidden in computer programs by their creators. Every now and then I’ll be banging a post out on the keyboard, when suddenly I realize that an obscure pop culture or science fiction reference will fit in with the flow of the post, yet have a secret, second meaning instantly recognizable to anyone with a frame of reference similar to my own. It’s a very, very geeky way of trolling for the same emotional connection that occurs when teenyboppers talk about music.
“Omigod, You like that song? I love that song! Justin is soooooooo hot!”
I embed these tiny references fairly often, enough to know that I do it, but not enough to remember the last one I did. I’m always inordinately proud of them, often making the sainted wife sit through a description of how clever they are.
In case you’re wondering, she’s of the opinion that very little is more boring than being forced to listen to a recitation of my obscure genius. This from a woman who can have conversations for upwards of an hour with her sister and cousins, conversations that consist entirely of shorthand references.
“With the Ice cream?”
“Yes. Married with Children!”
“No, Gypsy Rose Lee!”
“You’re kidding! What about the Pants?”
This happens most often at Thanksgiving, when her entire tribe of related women (In three generations of multi child families, the wife’s family has managed to produce exactly one boy, and he’s only 20 months old.) gathers together at one house or another and has a great big shorthand party. They never understand why the husbands are all looped on jug wine by the time dinner rolls around.
Not that anyone has noticed my Easter eggs, that I know of, and that’s ok. The more obscure they are the prouder I am of them, to the point where I’ve sometimes decided that the only person on the planet that would get the joke is me, and possibly not then.
I liked finding the one at Silent Running, though. It’s the next best thing to someone finding one of my own.
The French Veto
The radio wing of the BBC World News Service is reporting that France will use its Security Council veto to block any U.S. resolution on Iraq containing the threat of military force. I’m looking for a link on the Net that says the same thing, but haven’t found one yet.
Update: Here’s one that implies the same thing. I’ll keep looking.
What I hope is that something like this has been prepared for in advance by George. There’s an argument to be made that the Bush administration is a master of diplomatic jiu jitsu; Andrew Sullivan makes it everyday, practically. That particular argument not only flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but spits on said face and gives it a good slapping on the way in, but this doesn’t mean that it’s wrong, just that it’s out there on the fringe of current political thought. I hope, strangely enough, that it is correct, and that Condi and Dick and Colin have laid out a course steering for a goal that for years has been the fevered dream of the John Birch Society and its allies; the withdrawal of the U.S. from the U.N. Not because I happen to agree with the JBS’s worries about World Government. Hell, I’m a fan of World Government, as long as it’s run by America and those like us. Perhaps I’d better just say I’m a big fan of the coming Hegemony of the Anglosphere. I’m pulling for the dissolution of the United Nations because not only is it a money pit, it promotes the rights of nations over those of individuals.
Iraq, despite being run by a despot and his murderous clique of relations, is given the same rights as Costa Rica, Liechtenstein and New Zealand; countries whose governments would likely fall for the least of Saddam’s actions. Myanmar is no better, nor is the Sudan. If the United Nations truly wanted to promote a better world, it would have embraced the principle that “if you mistreat your people, we will do whatever necessary to bring you down.” The U.N. didn’t because it was formed at the onset of the Cold War, and Russia wasn’t going to accept that, which brings me to my final reason.
I only keep old things around if they work, or if I have an emotional attachment to them. I think most Americans are like this, it’s why we’re running out of space in the landfills. In point of fact, 99% of the things we have that are 60 years or older are still in our possession because of the emotional attachment thing, not because they still perform their function better than anything that has been developed since. How many people do you think watch Friends on their 1948 Admiral?
That’s why the JBS doesn’t have to worry about the U.N. and its black helicopters. It’s the functional equivalent of the Admiral.
Killing the U.N. will not take place without the requisite wailing and tearing of shirts on the Left. It’s odd really, that a movement so enamored of opposing globalization would be among the loudest of the voices condemning a U.S. withdrawal from a global organization. It’s not really the same to them, though. The anti-globo movement at its heart is about restricting U.S. power through the restraint of trade. The current* Left sees the United Nations as an avenue for the same kind of restriction on a political and diplomatic scale.
That’s too bad, because there is a perfectly good leftist argument to be made for dissolving the U.N. The problem in restricting the use of power, like the U.N. is currently attempting to do to the U.S., is that in cases where said power can be used as a force for improving the lot of the miserable and oppressed, it is slow and unwieldy. People die every day because the U.N. cannot act, and its continued existence acts as an automatic ass covering device for every nation on the planet. It gives them the implicit excuse not to act in the face of disease, poverty and oppression.
“We’d like to, but that’s the U.N.’s job.”
The eradication of the United Nations removes this rationalization. It also frees up the 2.5 billion dollars a year that the U.N. spends to little effect. Restricting the use of power was useful to the U.S. during the Cold War because it helped to control the Soviet Union. The current dinosaur Left wants the U.S. to accede to the wishes of the UN, now and in all things, because they see it as the best restraint on the power of the U.S. They decided long ago that the U.S. was the moral equivalent of the Soviet Union, and as such the exercise of its power can only be in the service of corruption. They had to embrace this equivalency in order to reconcile the romantic view of Communism that infected the Left in the 1930′s with the oppression that form of government engendered. The only way to do so was to make the rationalization that the U.S. was as bad, if not worse, than the Soviet Union. It’s bullshit, and the Soviet Union is gone, but the rationalization remains, as it will until the last of the die-hard Soviet romantics are dead.
I’m not going to pretend that parts of the Shining City on the Hill aren’t built on the bones of people who were mistreated or killed. America isn’t perfect, we don’t pretend to be. In fact, we worry more about what we should be than any other culture on the planet. We’re not perfect, but we damn sure would like to be. We want to be perfect, and we want to be loved. That more that anything else is what will prevent us from doing the evil that the current Left seems to fear from America so much. You can scream “Vietnam” all you want to, but the fact is that the U.S. ended its involvement there because its citizens forced it too, because they realized that what we were doing there was foreign to the American character.
The fact is that the U.N., due to its insistence on the sovereignty of the nation state, is doing a better job restricting the flow of American ideals than in restricting American power. That’s why the Left should hope that France not only vetoes the current U.S. resolution on Iraq, but that we give the Security Council the finger and proceed anyway. Hold your nose, close your ears, do whatever you need to, but support the war on Iraq for the possibility that one of the things it destabilizes is the United Nations, that it comes crashing down, and we can raise something better in its place.
*I say “current Left” because I think that the Left as it is configured now is in its death throes. In 10 years there’ll be a Left that few now would even recognize.
Talking to Trey
Fred First has posted part of Mark Twain’s war prayer over at Fragments.
It reminded me that surprisingly, I’ve had to develop a prayer philosophy. It wasn’t my choice; I was forced into it by the wife. Proper southern girl that she is, she decided that there are certain forms that must be followed, whether or not you agree with or even believe in them.
“I am not going to raise a child that doesn’t say grace at the dinner table,” she decreed.
So we say grace at the dinner table, usually more than once. Ngnat has learned “God is great” from her Baptist daycare, which she mumbles while she sneaks glances around the table, hands pressed together under her chin. I’d link to a copy of it, but all the sites I can find it on are distasteful to me.* After all, I’m a Darwin fish man.
Therein lies my conundrum. Grace before meals is nice, but it holds about as much religious significance for me as the 7th inning stretch. I figure that there is or there isn’t a God, and if there is then he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. If he does sweat the small stuff…….well, if there there is a God and he concerns himself with the things that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson say he concerns himself with, then the hell with him. I’ll spit in his face and give him the finger come Judgement Day. Better to burn in hell than serve in heaven, to misquote Milton, if he turns out to be the petty little god they worship. That goes for your god too, Timothy LaHaye.
Hmm, got a little sidetracked there. We do more than “God is Great.” There’s also the extemporary, everyone hold hands in a big circle that Dad the minister does so well. He’s had years of practice, at a rate of what appears to have been 4 or 5 meals a day, so it has a pitch and timbre that I cannot hope to approach, even if all the words have been mostly the same all my life. Ngnat likes to do at least a couple of those as well, if not at the beginning of dinner then scattered throughout it.
“Amen?” She says brightly, holding out her hands to her mother and I. “Amen?”
This despite the fact that she always refuses Amen when offered the possibility of it at the beginning of the meal. She determines the prayer time. I just have to pray it.
So, when this practice first started, I had to decide what to say. I’m a PK, I know the forms; Thanks for the food, God, thanks for the company and the privilege of another day with them, yadda yadda yadda. Guide and protect us in our path through life blah blah blah, bless the food and the people and in thy name, amen. I suppose I should write down one particular pray that covers all the bases and repeat it. Enough repetition, and it can provide a memory anchor for Ngnat when she is grown.
Aside: All three of us, Kehaar, Woundwort and I, are PK’s. Odd, when I come to think about it. Perhaps that’s why we mention religion so little and boobies so often.
Since I am a PK, I’ve heard millions of frigging prayers. One thing that struck me when I had to start doing this myself was how narrow the request for blessings normally is. It’s always something like “Bless us, and Bob, and Norma Jean who’s in hospital with the cancer.” Sometimes the President gets mentioned, and in church it normally expands to include the members of the congregation.
I mean, if it turns out that you actually do have the ear of God, is he going to be impressed with you restricting your desire for his blessings to only the people you know? Kinda selfish, don’t you think? So when I end up the family dinner chat with old Trey**, I make sure to cover as wide a range as possible.
“Please bless and protect…everybody. Amen.”
What else am I going to do? It’s not like I know everyone by name, even if I did have the time. It’s quick, it’s got a lot of coverage and if you’re going to bother praying, you might as well pray for everyone.
*So I’ll utilize the asterisks and type it here. I don’t know how ubiquitous it is, though I certainly don’t recall ever meeting a person who didn’t know it. The Internet is a big place, so presumably there are those out there to whom this will be somewhat foreign in flavor. Also, it would be nice to have a site that lists it without all the heavy-handed preaching about Jeebus and his 12 popsicles.
God is great.
God is good.
Let us thank him for our food.
By his hands we all are fed.
Give us Lord our daily bread.
**What else are you going to call the Triune God in informal conversation? You can’t call him Jesus, he’ll be distracted all night long every time someone curses.
Elohim sounds too much like a command to greet somebody. “Hey, you see the fat guy over at the bar? Wander over there and hello him for me.”
YHVH has no vowels, sounds like a dog clearing its throat. It’s completely unutterable. Probably a formal usage anyway.
El Shaddai. Also too prone to confusion. “What’s his name? El Shaddai know?”