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Saturday, December 22, 2001

There's a good editorial in Opinion Journal called Keep Terror Trials Fair.

...All parties should be able to agree, however, that the ultimate justification for our having a powerful military and effective intelligence with world-wide reach is that they protect a nation that lives under what Bismarck once called the single most remarkable invention in world history: the Constitution, and its Bill of Rights. They should also be able to agree that whatever the wartime changes to our legal system, the only way that any defendant ("respondent" in immigration cases) will be able to avail himself of his rights is if he is represented by effective counsel. The right to counsel without the reality means virtually nothing.

...Lawyers who hold security clearances are used to seeing classified information in criminal and civil litigation that they may not share with uncleared clients, and immigration law should be no different. Frightened imprisoned people, often with little knowledge of English, should not have their counsel told, as I was, "You may have a security clearance, but you don't have a need to know the charges against your client."

...During this war, American lawyers should take as their guide an American lawyer of two and a quarter centuries ago. John Adams, although a central figure in the revolutionary cause, volunteered to represent (successfully, it turned out) the British troops who had fired on a Boston crowd in what came to be called the Boston Massacre.

I noticed in the paper that the crab fleet is setting out. It's that time of year. They will be trapping zillions of those succulent arachnids, spiders of the sea; and soon we will tease the tender morsels from out their hard, spiny shells, to be dipped in butter and eaten with crusty loaves and white wine. (Assuming the harvest is good and the price comes down; we can't afford them yet.)

Actually nowadays we get crab flown in from who-knows-where at odd times of the year, but I still love "crab season." Somehow it imposes an obligation, we are obliged to have several feasts. And, since they don't make good leftovers, one is obligated to keep eating 'tll the last tid-bit is sucked from the last claw, and duty-bound to mop up the last of the butter with the last crumbs of sourdough. And if we are going to be such pigs anyway, a certain seemliness demands we leave no wine in the bottle.

Afterwords we can feel the sense of moral superiority that comes with a job well-done.

Possibly I shouldn't be giving the French a hard time. I love France. Actually, that's the problem. I expect more from her. I look up to France. In my soul I'm living in the 17th Century, and I expect France to lead the world, vi et armis if need be. Seeing today's France is like discovering that a parent or respected elder has become weak and foolish.

My readers in France are all aflutter over the threat of Invasion. I've tried to tell them that Our Girl Ann sometimes writes with a touch of exaggeration, but they are rushing to sign up for English lessons; and searching the markets for American flags to hang out when the MEU's roll into Paris. They are much too credulous and naive about our politics. (Perhaps I shouldn't have told them that Ann is W's daughter.)

Jonah Goldberg had a great line a while back. I've lost track of when or where it was, just that he was writing about Hollywood, but I just have to quote it:

They're also complaining about a new era of "blacklists," without being able to explain sufficiently what was wrong with the old era of blacklists.
On another subject, My daughter Betsy says that she saw a sign in a house window that said: "Bring on Osama Bin Laden. The pig fat is boiling."

Friday, December 21, 2001

For months they have lain in wait, sodden with alcohol, their massive bodies bulging with strange green protuberances, attacking us in our homes, at our friends' homes, at our offices---there is no escape, it is the hour of the fruitcake,
--Deborah Papier

I'm too busy to post any profundities today, but I will mention that our spirits were lifted and refreshed by reading Ann Coulter's suggestion of France to be the next terrorist-supporting country on our list:'s time to consider another petri dish of ferocious anti-American hatred and terrorist activity. The Bush doctrine is: We are at war not only with the terrorists, but also with those who harbor them.

We've got to attack France.

Thursday, December 20, 2001

This is an excerpt from an old friend's Christmas note:

...right now I'm as busy as I've ever been, but the company I work for has had to let a lot of people go, both in the office and in production. ..Most of the people laid off were production workers--laborers, cement finishers, welders, equiptment operators, mostly Latinos, most earning less than ten dollars an hour. And they worked hard, too--in 100+ summer heat, outside on huge steel decks you could fry an egg on, doing fun stuff like form setups, grinding welds, muscling rebar cages around, cleaning and caulking and oiling the form faces. The production people get a half-hour lunch break and they hurry up to eat so they can get in a game of vollyball or two before going back to work! God bless 'em, the nuts.

...a year ago working alone on a weekend would have had me feeling put-out and postal; today's not so've got to admit it's a killer excuse for not getting anyone cards or fact, if I want to talk about how unfair it is to work so hard, how about the fact that I make 5-6 times as much money as those guys make, yet I complain that I can't make ends meet? I'm busy because I've got a job! My house needs work but I've got a house!...How fair was it, really, when a lot of good people busy at work early one September morning this year died?

...In a few minutes I'll get busy and get this work done...then, the drawings will go to Production, which may have to call back some of those laid-off workers to do all the new work Engineering's pumping out. So all this extra work isn't a hassle, but a privilege when viewed from the correct perspective (and I'm dead meat if this project isn't finished by Monday.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Glenn Reynolds discussed today the pleasures of sitting in Borders, and how rare really good independent bookstores are. He is right.

But speaking as one who owned a bookstore, back in the 80's, I would just like to add, without going into the gruesome details, that creating a good independent bookstore is far more difficult than it may appear from the outside. The deck is heavily stacked against the independents, and the few who make a go of it deserve our admiration.

Strange to see how a good dinner
and feasting reconciles everybody.
---Samuel Pepys

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

I mentioned below The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting. It had an effect on my young self similar to what kids today probably experience when discovering a certain mistreated lad who is sent to wizard's school. In this case there is a boy, one Tommy Stubbins, son of a poor cobbler in the noted English seacoast town of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, who comes to know and assist the world's greatest naturalist, Dr John Dolittle.

In fact, if you have finished Harry Potter, and are looking for a new fix, you might give the Voyages a try. (The other Dolittle books are good, but start with Voyages.)

"...How did he get to know so much about animals?" I asked.
The cat's-meat-man stopped and leant down to whisper in my ear.
"He talks their language." he said in a hoarse, mysterious voice.
"The animal's language?" I cried.
"Why certainly," said Matthew. "All animals have some kind of a language. Some sorts talk more than others . . . but the Doctor, he understands them all--birds as well as animals. We keep it a secret though, him and me, because folks only laugh at you when you speak of it . . . he's now busy learning the language of the shellfish. But he says it's hard work--and he has caught some terrible colds, holding his head under water so much. . ."
To counterbalance the condescension towards Africans I mentioned below, I would mention that the man John Dolittle himself considers to be the world's greatest naturalist is one Long Arrow, son of Golden Arrow, a South American Indian he knows only by reputation among the birds. It is the search for Long Arrow that starts the voyage.

Bill Clinton just announced that the West must share its wealth to end terrorism.

We've already tried that, ya' big booby. We've been giving a select group of feckless Third World countries hundreds of billions per year (in exchange for petroleum)

Are they happy? Are they prosperous? Are they law-abiding? I'll give you a hint: WELFARE.

It's one thing to ponder, in a comfortably theoretical way, the plight of poor souls in some distant totalitarian regime. It's very different if you know one of the poor souls.

I just read Dawson --he's a student you know, but not some youngster too young to know better. He's entangled in what Tom Wolfe so accurately called Roccoco Marxism. People like me tend to think of Lacan or Foucoult or Said as being already on the ash heap with Prince Kropotkin, Lenin, Clinton, Freud and Phrenology. Turns out, not so.

Today's Liberal Arts students are like "workers and peasants" in North Korea; still marching past statues of Comrade Stalin and hearing the glories of the Revolution.

Monday, December 17, 2001

Charlene just caught a bit of Rumsfeld on the radio:

Reporter: Mr Rumsfeld, where's Osama?
Rumsfeld: Y'know, every morning when we wake up, my wife turns to me and says, "Don! Where's Osama?"

Glenn Reynolds thinks that his speculation is coming true; that Bing Ladder has scooted, leaving behind tapes to be broadcast in his absence. I'm guessing that my plan (see December 13th) has been put into effect. Prediction: Soon, rumors will spread that the evil doer has been given sanctuary in Iraq (or wherever the next target is.)

From time to time I get ahead of the curve -- you will recall way back on November 26 I suggested that Pyra (the company that created Blogger and Blogspot) needed our support. Now everyone is jumping on.

Thought one: If you believe that some companies should get handouts, I'd say airlines should be low on the list. Pyra has done a lot to advance human communications, and could do more if they weren't probably going broke doing so. I sent them the $12 to remove the Blogspot ad, just to be doing something. Maybe all Blogspotters ought to do the same . . .[ Random Jottings, 11/26/01 ]

Sunday, December 16, 2001

The phenomenom of Bowdlerizing is a curious one. To bowdlerize is to "expurgate prudishly," and was named for Thomas Bowdler, who published a "family Shakespeare" around 1820. In Victorian times it was sex that was excised. There were also "family Bibles."

Today, people who would rather die than be considered Victorian, or prudish, are bowdlerizing books again, removing anything not PC.

TIM BLAIR just lamented a new version of the Golliwogs, with the black savages replaced by something vaguely grey and teddybearish.

Not surprisingly, Rosemary Johnston, of the University of Technology, Sydney, (see post below on UTS’s commie journalism classes) says the changes are for the better: "I think that anything that demeans somebody by the colour of their skin should be taken out."

You can take my golliwog, Rosemary, when you prise it from my cold, dead fingers.
I recently re-read a childhood favorite, The Pink Motel, by Carol Ryrie Brink. It was slightly changed, the little boy named Small, who I remembered as being black, was now, well, undefined. It was odd. Especially since Small was very likable, though much lower in socio-economic status than Bitsy and Kirby.

I've also seen a bowdlerized version of the Doctor Dolittle books. I'm not sure but what that might just be a good thing. I vaguely remember that some of his references to Africans seemed actually malicious and hurtfull, not just a reflection of the patronizing attitudes of his time. (But I have not compared the versions) Other than that, Hugh Lofting was a genius, both as author and illustrator, and THE VOYAGES OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE is one of the GREAT BOOKS OF ALL TIME, and one of the most charming things I have ever read.

One curious thing about bowdlerizing, now and in the past, is that it is never mentioned. There is never a little note in the back of the book indicating that some things were removed.

My reader in Vatican City sends this ecumenical scoop:

The Pope and the Queen of England are on the same stage in front of a huge crowd. Her Majesty and His Holiness, however, have seen it all before. So to make it a little more interesting, the Queen says to the Pope, "Did you know that with just one little wave of my hand I can make every English person in the crowd go wild?" He doubts it, so she shows him.

Sure enough, the royal-gloved wave elicits rapture and cheering from every English person in the crowd. Gradually, the cheering subsides. The Pope, not wanting to be outdone by someone wearing a frock and hat worse than his, considers what he could do. "Your Majesty, that was impressive. But did you know that with just one little wave of MY hand I can make every IRISH person in the crowd go crazy with joy? This joy will not be a momentary display like that of your subjects, but will go deep into their hearts, and they will forever speak of this day and rejoice."

The Queen seriously doubts this, and says so. "One little wave of your hand and all Irish people will rejoice forever? Show me." So, the Pope slapped her.