Sunday, April 26, 2009

Calling All Human Rights Advocates

So-called human rights groups are angry at Israel . . . again.
Human-rights activists demanded an independent war-crimes probe after Israel's military cleared itself Wednesday of wrongdoing over civilian deaths in the Gaza war.
Human-rights groups said there is grave suspicion that both Israel and Hamas carelessly put civilians in harm's way -- Hamas by using them as cover and Israel by using disproportionate force in densely populated Gaza.

Since the war ended Jan. 18, calls have been mounting for a war-crimes probe of both sides.
Internal investigators in the IDF have cleared IDF members of wrongdoings. To some, that’s an intolerable stance, as Israel is always at fault. The Palestinian “narrative” is the truth to those in the “human rights” community. It doesn’t matter that there was no massacre in Jenin, the IDF did not kill Mohammed al-Dura, nor were they responsible for the ineptly staged Gaza Beach Tragedy. These self-deluded individuals pay no attention to the even wackier claims of AIDS infected prostitutes being infiltrated into Muslim areas by Israel, Jews creating diseases that discriminate against Muslims, and the old favorite of Jews needing blood for matzos and other Jewish holiday treats. The calls for Israel’s destruction by imams, the fact that Palestinians raise their children on a steady diet of Jew hatred is ignored or excused.

Of course the Israel bashers have gotten more clever in their tactics. Now there is a call for both sides to be investigated. With the insane anti-Israel bias among all of these groups and in the UN, is there any doubt on which side they would find fault? Israel is absolutely correct in ignoring these demands.

Israel will continue to face their wrath, but in return, we who side with Israel must ask why we haven't heard much chatter from these folks who claim that they are concerned with human rights when it comes to the civil war in Sri Lanka that's been going on for the past 26 years.
Hundreds who fled intense fighting in Sri Lanka's war zone were awaiting evacuation from this tiny coastal village Friday as the United Nations reported that nearly 6,500 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed in the last three months.

Civilians told journalists of Tamil Tiger rebels using them as human shields.
At least 6,432 civilians have been killed in the fighting since February and 13,946 wounded, according to a UN document circulated among diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka.
Over 6,000 civilians killed and no outcry?

Will we hear anything but muted denunciations over the murder of two people by the Taliban for the crime of adultery?
Their deaths were squalid, riddled with bullets in a field near their home by Taliban gunmen as the execution was captured on a mobile telephone.

In footage which is being watched with horror by Pakistanis, the couple try to flee when they realise what is about to happen. But a gunman casually shoots the man and then the woman in the back with a burst of gunfire, leaving them bleeding in the dirt.

Moments later, when others in the execution party shout out that they are still alive, he returns to coldly finish them with a few more rounds.

Their "crime" was an alleged affair in their remote mountain village controlled by militants in an area that was only recently under the government's sway. It was the kind of barbarity that has become increasingly familiar across Pakistan as the Taliban tide has spread.
Pakistanis had better be concerned. They could be looking at their future. But that's another post.

The point is that unless it involves Israelis defending themselves against Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, or any of the smaller splinter Islamic terrorist organizations, none of these self appointed champions of human rights can muster up enough outrage to condemn real abuses. When you compare the press coverage of the decades long civil war in Sri Lanka, with that of Israel, you have to conclude that nobody cares how many thousands innocent Tamils are killed or wounded. If The Press and the Palestinian supporting “human rights” groups can’t find a way to condemn Israel for the death of an innocent, that death doesn’t matter.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is it Still Earth Day?

Enjoy these Earth Day predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970. You'll howl with laughter. You'll cry out in derision at the fools of today who are old enough to remember these dire predictions, but who still believe the newest phony predictions. You'll wonder why these pious frauds, who have lost their critical thinking skills, pass these insane, paralyzing fears on to their offspring. I'm going to add this link to my sidebar. It's too good to forget. Thanks to American Digest for linking to it.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thoughts on Cuba and Other Stuff

Yes, I'm really too busy to blog, and this is not the post I was going to post. But when I'm too busy go toss off thoughts at an unsuspecting (and uncaring)Blogosphere, I use other people's thoughts. First, here are some thoughts on Cuba from Nat Hentoff, and them some that are more succinct from Michael Ramirez. I love the way he can portray such strong emotion in just two hands. The man can draw!
New Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, who has made 10 reporting trips to Cuba, writes (April 14) that the Congressional Black Caucus delegation was either naive or disingenuous "not to notice ... or acknowledge that Cuba is hardly the paradise of racial harmony and equality it pretends to be."

If these Black Caucus members — so lauded by Fidel for being accompanied by King's "aura" — had asked him and Raul for permission to look around Cuba on their own, they would have

heard considerable evidence from Afro-Cubans about their lower status in Michael Moore's paradise. However, adds Eugene Robinson, "maybe they were too busy looking into Fidel's eyes."

And I was going to comment on the fact that Earth Day is on Lenin's birthday. But that's been taken care of at People's Cube.

Meanwhile, at the Free Press, there are the usual calls for more government intervention to "help the poor".
Personal finances are not traditionally the purview of public officials. But in these tough times, government certainly has an interest in helping constituents protect their assets and create financially stable households. The life savings of many New Orleans residents were washed away during Hurricane Katrina. In some cities, a cash economy has become a public safety problem, with people becoming "walking ATMs" on days when pay or government checks are issued.

That's why the National League of Cities and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Coalition are working with many of their members, including Detroit, to ensure that consumers are financially literate and that banks offer deposit, payment, credit and electronic products that meet the needs of the unbanked. The league's "Bank on Cities" campaign includes education and outreach efforts that partner with local banks.
Thomas Sowell sees through the sloppy thinking of the Free Press and everyone else who wants more government intervention in order to force check cashing offices out of business while also forcing banks to give loans to people whether or not they can pay them back.
Words are not the only things that enable political rhetoric to magically transform reality. Numbers can be used just as creatively — and many voters are even more gullible about statistics than they are about words, apparently because statistics seem more objective.

The latest congressional crusade is to clamp down on small finance companies that provide “payday loans” and check-cashing services in many low-income neighborhoods, where there are few banks.

A common practice in making small loans of a few hundred dollars for a few weeks is to charge about $15 per hundred dollars lent. Politicians, the media, community activists, and miscellaneous other busybodies are able to transform these numbers into annual percentage charges of several hundred percent, thereby creating moral melodramas and demands that the government “do something” about such “abuses.”

Of course, these loans are seldom borrowed for a year. They are often loans for a couple of weeks or less, to meet some difficulty of the moment, suffered by people who live from payday to payday, whether they are being paid by a job or are receiving checks from Social Security, unemployment compensation, or welfare.

The alternative to getting a payday loan may be having the electricity cut off or not having money to buy some medication. It is worse to borrow from illegal loan sharks, who have their own methods of collecting.

While $15 per hundred dollars may sound like a high rate of interest, it is not all interest. The finance company incurs costs just to process a loan, and these costs are a higher proportion of the total cost for a small loan than for a large loan.

When Oregon imposed a limit of 36 percent annual interest on what a finance company could charge, that meant charging less than $1.50 for a $100 loan for a couple of weeks. A dollar and a half would probably not even cover the cost of processing the loan, much less the risks of default.

Not surprisingly, most of the small finance companies making payday loans in Oregon went out of business. But there are no statistics on how many low-income people turned to loan sharks, or had their electricity cut off, or had to do without their medicine.

This is just one of the many ways in which self-righteous busybodies leave havoc in their wake while going away feeling noble.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009


There is never enough time. With all of the world at our fingertips thanks to the Internet, there isn't even enough time to read all of the good stuff online. And then you still have to find time for real life and people you meet face to face. One writer who I keep forgetting about because I've never bookmarked him, is the man who calls himself Spengler. He's one of the more fascinating, thought provoking minds on the web. He covers a lot of ground in every piece. I keep meaning to go and read all of his posts from the beginning. Read his latest.
Youth culture, I argued, was an oxymoron, for culture itself was a bridge across generations, a means of cheating mortality. The old and angry cultures of the world, fighting for room to breath against the onset of globalization, would not go quietly into the homogenizer. Many of them would fight to survive, but fight in vain, for the tide of modernity could not be rolled back.

As in the great extinction of the tribes in late antiquity, individuals might save themselves from the incurable necrosis of their own ethnicity through adoption into the eternal people, that is, Israel. The great German-Jewish theologian and student of the existential angst of dying nations, Franz Rosenzweig, had commanded undivided attention during the 1990s, and I had a pair of essays about him for the Jewish-Christian Relations website. Rosenzweig's theology, it occurred to me, had broader applications.

The end of the old ethnicities, I believed, would dominate the cultural and strategic agenda of the next several decades. Great countries were failing of their will to live, and it was easy to imagine a world in which Japanese, German, Italian and Russian would turn into dying languages only a century hence. Modernity taxed the Muslim world even more severely, although the results sometimes were less obvious.
The intersection point in the Venn diagram of my background had shrunk to the point of vanishing. As a returning religious Jew, I had less and less to discuss with the secular Zionists who shared my passion and partisanship for Israel, but could not see a divine dimension in Jewish nationhood. So-called cultural Judaism repelled me; most of what passes for Jewish culture comes down to the mud that stuck to our boots as we fled one country after another. The Hebrew Bible and its commentaries over the centuries are the core of Jewish culture, with a handful of odd adjuncts, such as the novels of S Y Agnon or the last, devotional poems of Heine.
I've been on Spring Break this past week. I kind of took it easy this week. The weather has been beautiful and if I were a responsible home owner, I would have been out taking care of my yard, for it truly looks like Hell. I was out today for a few hours. This morning, I and a few friends, attended an anti-Israel hatefest . . . uh, I mean a program called, A Just Peace for Palestine and Israel. It was falsely billed as a debate, because, as with all of these conferences on "peace", only one side was invited. I hope to post an entry on it tomorrow . . . if I have time. After that, it will be back to the occasional post until Summer Vacation.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Still a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

How big an influence was MAD Magazine on me as a child? Probably way too big. MAD, back then, was not like MAD is today. MAD used to satirize bigger things back in the sixties and well into the seventies. Sure they did movies and TV, but they also lampooned politics, every day life, literature, and poetry. The MAD reader in those days had to have some degree of literacy in order to understand the articles. Being a youngster I didn't understand it all, but I learned a lot from reading MAD about poetry and politics. I may have said this before, but I learned more about poetry from MAD Magazine than I did from going to school. And I include my college years.

I also learned about politics. Had Barack Obama grown up on the influence of MAD rather than that of Reverend Wright, William Ayers, and the rest of his rogue's gallery, he might have a better understanding of international politics and foreign affairs. In MAD number 98, the October 1965 issue (which was my introduction to this subversive little 'zine, given to me by an aunt who I will not embarrass by naming), they ran a piece called, The MAD United States Foreign Policy Primer. It was written by Lawrence Harvey Siegel and illustrated by Robert James Clark.

Right there, on page 35 of that issue, lesson 2 of the primer clearly reads:
See the World
It is divided into three parts:
One part consists of Enemy Nations,
One part consists of Neutral Nations,
One part consists of Friendly Nations.
We have been pushing our style of Democracy at all of them.
Has this policy succeeded?
You bet it has.
Today, our Enemies hate us,
The Neutrals hate us,
And our Friends hate us.
Which proves an important Democratic Principle:
All men are equal.
I was nine years old when I first read that back in the olden days of 1965, and I understood it. I bet Obama could too. And there were other humorous lessons that, in their own silly way gave an accurate, if not cynical view of the world, and our country's place in it. Rereading it, one notices that things haven't changed. Our friends still hate us. The neutrals hate us, and our enemies are called enemies for a reason. The only difference is that back in 1965, nobody could blame Bush for the world's hatred.

I bring all of this up only because our president is still running around the world, trying to make friends by undercutting the reputation of his own country, the one where he was (probably) born, the one that allowed him to grow from humble beginnings to the most powerful man in the world, the one where, even if he weren't president, he would still be providing a life for his family way beyond anything he could have provided in Kenya, Indonesia, or any of the other Islamic dictatorships that we're not at war with.

If he had some kind of understanding of how the world works, he would understand that nobody (especially our enemies) is going to suddenly like us because he runs around apologizing of American exceptionalism and saying dumb stuff like,
Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas
and really dumb stuff like,
The U.S.-Cuba relationship is one example of a debate in the Americas that is too often dragged back to the 20th century. To confront our economic crisis, we don't need a debate about whether to have a rigid, state-run economy or unbridled and unregulated capitalism -- we need pragmatic and responsible action that advances our common prosperity.
I'd be willing to loan Obama my MADs that I have left. Then he too, could get an education and stop saying things that make him sound like Alfred E. Obama.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reminder to Self

You've probably already seen this video and been amazed, but in case you haven't, here it is again.

Britains Got Talent 2009 Susan Boyle 47 Year Old Singer
Uploaded by kj1983

Now read this article on Susan Boyle. I discovered it at American Digest.

Will I still judge people on superficial aspects? Probably. I've done it so many times in the past. But when I do it from now on, I'll have Susan Boyle's voice in my head reminding me that I could easily be judged the same way, and I'd better shape up and cut it out, you know, stop being an a**hole.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

President of the World

Victor Davis Hanson gives an interesting analysis of The Obama's recent European venture.
Given Obama’s performance on his recent trip, three developments were quite astounding.

First, despite this fresh climate of atonement, there was a complete absence of a single apology from any other foreign leader — odd for the new shared spirit of multi-polarity and reciprocity.

Not a word came from Britain about colonialism. Nothing from Germany on the Holocaust, or its trade with Iran. Not a peep from France about Algeria or Vietnam.

Turkey was mum on the Armenian killings and its own tough anti-Kurdish policies. Russia said nothing about the 30 million murdered by Stalin — or its present assassinations abroad, much less its leveling of Grozny or its destruction of Afghanistan. Nothing came from China about the 70 million who perished under Mao or its present role in subsidizing North Korean nukes — or its violation of global copyright laws. We won’t hear anything in the “New Asian Hemisphere” about Muslim Uighurs or Tibet.

Second, there was no other example of “He did it!” about supposedly inept predecessors. Mr. Medvedev said nothing about Putin’s brutish rule. Sarkozy and Merkel did not trash the shady Chirac or Gazprom’s bought lobbyist Schroeder, and their role in harming the Atlantic alliance. Gordon Brown was quiet about Tony Blair and Iraq. China did not mention a reset button. The new Berlusconi did not trash the old Berlusconi.

Third, we saw no concrete evidence of any help — or hope and change — from any foreign leader. Zilch. There were expectations of American concessions, but nothing new or helpful from anyone else.
I've got nothing to add to what Hanson says, so go read the article. I will say, though, that one of the books that helped me appreciate the uniqueness of Western culture was Hanson's book, Carnage and Culture. Sure, it's mostly about wars and battles between Western and non-Western armies, but Hanson also delves deeply into how the peculiarities of Western thought that have grown out of the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian strains of thought created a civilization that has, not just militarily, but in many ways, conquered the world.

But Obama and his true believers hope to change that . . . after he's done apologizing for it.

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Negotiate with Whom?

The news media are fond of calling the remote parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan "lawless regions". They're mistaken. There's law there. It's provided by the Taliban. It's twisted, perverse, tyrannical, vicious, and arbitrary, but it's law.
KABUL — A Taliban firing squad killed a young couple in southwestern Afghanistan for trying to elope, shooting them with AK-47s in front of a crowd in a lawless, militant-controlled region, officials said Tuesday.

The woman, 19-year-old Gul Pecha, and the man, 21-year-old Abdul Aziz, were accused by the militants of immoral acts, and a council of conservative clerics decided that the two should be killed, officials said.

The two had hoped to travel to Iran, which borders their home province of Nimroz, but their parents sent villagers to bring them home, said Sadiq Chakhansori, the chief of the provincial council. Once back home, the pair was either turned over to the Taliban by their parents or the militants took them by force, the officials said, providing slightly varying accounts.

Riflemen in the remote district of Khash Rod shot them Monday, said Chakhansori.
So by lawless, they mean that this part of the world isn't run by laws of government, rather by the law of the jungle.

But The Obama and his administration want to reach out and negotiate with the - ahem - moderate elements of the Taliban - who are The Law in this region. Am I dense because I think that there is no negotiating with these people? Do I just not understand the political genius of The Obama? Am I the one who's insane? In a way, I hope so. Otherwise, we're in for a rough for years if our president really thinks he can compromise with people like this.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Creative Teaching

As the education establishment continues to flail their arms and run in circles to find a way to improve the American school system, the question of creativity in the classroom comes up. We are told that in order to motivate students, to get them to "think outside the box", to give them the enthusiasm to learn, to not "stifle their individuality", we as teachers must find creative ways to deliver lessons. We must also encourage creativity in our students.

I used to look for and create creative lessons. It was fun. The one question it took me a while to ask though, was: are the students really learning? That is, are they learning the content I was trying to teach? No matter how much the education mavens deny it in their insistence that students must be taught "higher level thinking skills", content is important and has to come first. If you don't have the content, what is there to think about?

I remember teaching fractions with Hershey Bars. I told my class that they were Hershey Fraction Bars. I did this on my own, as I'm sure hundreds of other teachers did because - hey look! They're divided into fractional portions! At some point, someone who was more creative than me wrote a book on how to use Hershey Bars to teach math.

Did my students love these lessons? You bet they did. Their participation was terrific. They followed every direction. We played with fractions for the whole math period and got to enjoy our candy bars. The next day, was there the increased understanding I had hoped for? Was there any understanding? I wasn't so sure as I had to reexplain everything I thought I'd taught the previous day. The candy was good though.

For a couple years in a row, I had my students work in groups to make board games based on European explorers. (I found the idea in a teacher's magazine). Very few of them actually had any information about the explorer they were supposed to be based on. The students had fun though, and they were willingly engaged in creating their board games. And that is supposed to count. In fact, had I been a student teacher being observed during those lessons, the engagement would have been more of a point than whether or not the students were learning.

There was a role playing game that I was able to buy many years ago, where students pretended that they were creating colonies in the New World. We spent time forming groups, drawing maps. learning about the various problems they would face as colonists, but I stopped before we'd finished when I realized that they were learning nothing of the real history of the colonists. We could have spent fifteen minutes reading about the tribulations of the early colonists to the New World and figured out that it was a tough way to go.

Not every creative endeavor has been a flop. I've done writing projects with students involving synonyms, characters in stories, extending stories, and proper word usage in which I think students have learned what I was trying to teach. In order to do those projects well though, there was a certain amount of content knowledge that students needed. The students who had a firm grasp of that knowledge did better than the ones who didn't.

Science demands that students engage in "hands on" learning. We do activities and demonstrations in order to better understand science concepts, but again, these activities are grounded in content knowledge. I was able to purchase a large amount of K-Nex one year because I was able to show how I was going to use it to teach Science. That year I spent two class periods with my fourth graders building K-Nex models before I became frustrated at their inability to follow the K-Nex directions. We wasted so much time building the models that the next year, I had students who wanted to build, come after school. I still spent a lot of time rebuilding. Now I just build the models myself or call on students from the previous year who are bright enough to interpret the directions. While K-Nex is a good tool for teaching some Science concepts, it hasn't been as great as thought it would be. Maybe it's worked better for others.

I know teachers who don't want to follow the curriculum because it doesn't allow their own creativity to flourish. I used to agree. Now I think the only thing that counts is that the students learn what we are trying to teach. If a teacher is that intent on being creative, there are other options. Write a symphony - or a song - or a novel - or a poem. Paint a picture. Build a sculpture. Design a building. Dance. Nobody is interested on how creative a teacher is if the students aren't learning.

Students still need the basics. If they can be delivered and learned creatively, that's fine. But we all know that school isn't always fun and that as much as it does offend some people, learning is hard work. There's no creative way around it.


Monday, April 13, 2009

George Orwell on Anti-Semitism

George Orwell had this to say about British anti-Semitism sometime during World War Two. Among some of the more interesting points of his essay:
I could fill pages with similar remarks, but these will do to go on
with. Two facts emerge from them. One--which is very important and which
I must return to in a moment--is that above a certain intellectual level
people are ashamed of being antisemitic and are careful to draw a
distinction between "antisemitism" and "disliking Jews". The other is
that antisemitism is an irrational thing. The Jews are accused of
specific offences (for instance, bad behaviour in food queues) which the
person speaking feels strongly about, but it is obvious that these
accusations merely rationalise some deep-rooted prejudice.
Notice anything familiar? Today's Jew haters insist that they are only "anti-Zionists". They love Jews, that is Jews who will denounce Zionism and Israel.
It so happens that the war has encouraged the growth of antisemitism and
even, in the eyes of many ordinary people, given some justification for
it. To begin with, the Jews are one people of whom it can be said with
complete certainty that they will benefit by an Allied victory.
Consequently the theory that "this is a Jewish war" has a certain
plausibility, all the more so because the Jewish war effort seldom gets
its fair share of recognition.
So the only reason the allies fought against the Nazis during WWII was because of the Jews? Sure it sounds stupid, but it's no more idiotic (well, maybe it is) than the fools today who insist that anti-Zionism is not Jew-hatred and that 9/11 benefited Israel (how?), that the U.S. invasion of Iraq benefited Israel, even though Israelis would have been much happier to see the Iranian government being overthrown. Back in March, a Fatah official was killed by a car bomb in Lebanon. So, using the typically twisted logic of Jew-haters throughout history, there is at least one idiot insinuating that Israel must be the culprit, because - yep - Israel benefits from a dead Fatah official.

Apparently anything that has happened throughout history that has been good for Jews or for Israel is suspect, and was probably carried out by Jews or encouraged by the shadowy Israel lobby. The founding of the United States has certainly been good for both Jews and for Israel. Therefore the Mossad/Jews/Israel/AIPAC/Israel Lobby must have had their sinister hand in it. After all, except for benefitting the Jews, what good has the United States done in the world? I'm sure that Columbus would not have taken his voyage had it not been for the urging of Spanish Jews.
To publicise the exploits of Jewish soldiers, or even to admit the existence of a considerable Jewish army in the Middle East, rouses hostility in South Africa, the Arab countries and elsewhere: it is easier to ignore the whole subject and allow the man in the street to go on thinking that Jews are exceptionally
clever at dodging military service.
Today's mainstream media have certainly been complicit in desperately trying to avoid bruising the delicate feelings of our Islamic neighbors. Facts can be twisted into lies to avoid humiliating or insulting Muslims. In some countries, Canada and the Netherlands come to mind, one can be put on trial for insulting Islam. Not all freedoms are restricted though. It's still OK to attack Jews.

There are things that don't change, but only evolve. Anti-Semitism is one of them.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Striking Used Bookstore Gold

There are books that I want. Then there are books that I really want, books that I must have. Thanks to, I can readily find any book in the world. But I'm cheap. I don't always want to pay those prices for the books I want. There are too many books that I want. And I'm always finding new ones. Not that I'm alone in that respect.

Some of the books that I must have are by my favorite philosopher, Eric Hoffer. They're available, but due to my parsimoniousness, I search estate sales and used books stores for his books. On rare occasions I get lucky. Last week I found a hard cover copy of Working and Thinking on the Waterfront. It was $6.50. To me, that seemed kind of high. It's not in perfect shape. In fact, it's kind of rough around the edges. And somebody underlined some passages in pencil. I hate that. I have friends that take notes in the margins of their books, and one friend in particular who cares even less about the condition of his books, and will actually tear out sections of a book to read while traveling if the book is too thick to be easily carried. That's OK. Those aren't my books.

I'm kind of obsessive, and I like my books to be in perfect shape. My wife has learned to live with it. She claims that I yelled at her one time when she set a glass of wine on a paperback book of mine, but I didn't yell. I merely asked her to move the glass. I've gotten better, and while in the beginning, when my kids were young, I tried to get them to take better care of their books, I was forced to back off. Since then, I've lightened up a bit. I even let my kids read my books - well, most of them.

Because of the condition of the book and the fact that this is just Hoffer's diary for two years of his life, I debated as to the need of spending my hard earned $6.50 . . . plus tax. I knew though, that if I didn't buy it, I would spend all of my waking hours regretting it. So I bought it. And I'm glad I did. Hoffer did some of his thinking in his diary. On page 6 he writes,
The Greeks extracted geometry from surveying, and their philosophy probably received its first impetus from the invention of coinage about 700 B.C. It was but a step from seeing coins as the common denominator of all values to the speculations that the manifold appearance of things is due to different states and arrangements of a fundamental substance.
That was worth the $6.50 plus tax. Then on page 7,
I am often struck by the money-consciousness of many radicals and their skill in business, particularly in real estate. The radicals on the waterfront have left-wing principles and right-wing bank accounts.
And there is lots more.

I read the thing in a couple of days. Like his other books, its short and to the point. His diary entries quickly got to the heart of his day. Besides the random bits of wisdom, the reader learns that Hoffer, in a lot of ways was just a regular guy. He lived alone out of choice, but there was a family that he befriended to the point that their son was his godson. There are frequent references to his visits with them. He had stomach trouble. He was a longshoreman. We learn a little bit about the men he worked with. He felt no need to ramble on about his thoughts or emotions like a self-centered teenager.

This is a beautiful little book. I'm glad I found it. Last summer, I was lucky enough to find a paperback copy of Hoffer's, The Passionate State of Mind, at an estate sale. There was also a copy of The True Believer, which I bought for my sister. I don't think she's read it as she's never offered to argue about it with me.

One more from this book:
Was there ever a utopia which visualized a society free of planning, regulation, and supervision? Utopias are usually visualized by potential planners, organizers, directors, leaders. The envisioned new society is the ideal milieu for bureaucrats.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Eloquence and Depth of Knowledge - updated

For years I've heard about what a great speaker our commander-in-chief is. The Obama has been alleged to be a wizard with words, unlike our former president, you know, the guy who constantly mispronounced the word, nu-cu-lar. Well, it's come out that our current president relies heavily on a teleprompter for his legendary eloquence. When it comes to speaking off the cuff and in response to tough questions, not only does he make George Bush sound like the gifted orator that The Obama has been alleged to be, but he himself demonstrates that he hasn't done his homework (or maybe the homework is just too hard for him). Jay Leno's questions were a lot easier and more fun to answer.

Watching this video (which can't be embedded) that was linked to at The Return of Scipio, it's obvious that The Obama has no knowledge or understanding of current issues or how the world works. So watch, and be sickened as The Obama desperately tries to pretend that he's not the intellectual lightweight that teleprompters, slick packaging, and a criminally obsequious press was able to hide from the public long enough for him to be elected. You should also read Scipio's post. He's got a bit to say about our president, the leader of the most powerful country on Earth bowing low to the Saudi oil ticks.

As for me, when I read Scipio's post and watched The Obama's two abysmal performances, all I could come up with in response was a suggestion that the following piece by Mose Allison, be The Obama's theme song.

UPDATE, April 5: Here is the video of The Obama bowing to the Saudi despot.

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