God of the Machine – Page 48 – Culling my readers to a manageable elite since 2002.
Sep 212002

Sasha Castel mused on the difficulty of telling the characters apart when reading royal history, since all the players marry their cousins and have the same names in the first place. She also wrote “Sasha’s Ketchup” on the ketchup bottle in indelible magic marker. Jim of Objectionable Content explained why Francisco D’Anconia is his favorite character in Atlas Shrugged. Megan McArdle stood up in front of me and I said, “Oh my God, you really are six two!” She really is, too. This got a big laugh but maybe you had to be there. Clay Waters and I agreed that what counts is not just what your convictions are, but how you arrive at them. He claims to like Light in August but has forgotten the plot. Fortunately he has an extra month’s reprieve before he has to leave town, and I hope it’s enough. I argued to Orchid of the Daily Dose and Allan of Rough Days that alleviating envy is a profound psychological force behind religion in general and Christianity in particular. Orchid agreed; Allan didn’t. Allan tried to sell me on an E.M. Forster essay on anonymity, with some success, and fantasy fiction, with less success. Ken Goldstein claimed that a WTO protestor told him, seriously, that “property is theft,” and further, even less believably, that he didn’t answer him “Theft of what”? He made it sound convincing. Asparagirl got Pejman on the cell and passed him around the room but I didn’t talk to him. Many silly name tags were worn.

Sep 202002

“Cultural genocide” takes many forms, like drilling for oil or teaching English or adopting a child of a different race. It’s a lot more slippery than actual genocide, where you just kill people.

Actual imperialism involves sending the army in and taking over a foreign government. “Cultural imperialism” comes later, when we force-feed the natives Big Macs and broadcast Baywatch 24 hours a day on the telescreen.

You thought actual rape was bad? “Cultural rape” is playing Wagner in Israel, or advertising.

“Cultural studies,” apparently, “build on Antonio Gramsci’s (1891-1937) concept of hegemony to demonstrate how class or gender rule is supported not only by overt mechanisms of law and the exercise of power, but is pervasively dispersed throughout society in institutional structures and cultural beliefs and values.” Actual studies, on the other hand, often require subject matter.

Sep 182002

You sure can learn a lot of neat stuff from reading an atlas. According to Rand McNally’s 2000 World Atlas, for instance, there are no dictators anywhere on earth. It says so right in the “World Political Information Table.” Sure, there’s the occasional “socialist republic” — noted garden spots China, Cuba, Egypt, Laos, Libya, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Vietnam. The Golan Heights is “occupied by Israel,” and the West Bank and Gaza Strip are “Israeli territor[ies] with limited self-government.” Sounds way nicer to be an “autonomous region,” like Tibet.

The United States is a “federal republic,” a distinction we share with Austria, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and Russia. Which makes it difficult to understand why we’d be going to war with a fellow (albeit neither federal nor socialist) “republic” like Iraq.

Afghanistan is listed, uniquely, as “transitional.” Heh.

Sep 172002

Washington Post: Iraq agrees to weapons inspections!

New York Times (natch): Iraq agrees to weapons inspections!

Slate: Iraq agrees to weapons inspections!

BBC: Iraq agrees to weapons inspections!

Iraq: We’re ready to discuss it, anyway.

The letter is short. Is it that difficult to read beyond the first couple sentences?

(Update: Bush replies. Not very politely.)