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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Formula 

"The Formula" is probably the best track the DOC ever did. I can't decide if it's in the Top Ten Best Rap Tracks of All Time or not, but it's certainly one of the best things Dre ever put his hands on (much better than anything Mr. Mathers has ever spit out).

I wish I could feel a convincing formula for winning at Go. It is by its very nature touch-and-go, but I feel like there's some larger structure that eludes me. (Ha, touch and GO, get it!? Har!)

Formula for a weary me: five parts overenthusiastic presentation of gerunds and Greek mythology + two parts patient Go lesson + three parts meetings, paperwork, and quiz grading + seventeen parts essay reading / evaluation. Mix and serve chilled.

For those who haven't figured out yet, the above is my entry for this week's Tachygraphy. Join us!


Rich -- Yeah, I LOVE State of Emergency. But the story mode sucks, and I would like something more cumulative than what the Kaos mode offers. (And I've been told this is the true appeal of GTA.) DRIV3R is driving me nuts right now -- I spent two hours last night on a particularly aggravating mission. (Aggravating because I keep coming SO close.) Hopefully I can get that freaking car tonight.

On a different topic -- I took it upon myself to introduce those students who'd never seen them to Trogdor and the Intro Movie at HomestarRunner. They were both a hit.


The Zizzo Challenge is neither challenging nor very zizzo. Don't ask me what zizzo means, because I have no idea. I expect it's some new promotional thing from Papa John's. Speaking of which, have you all seen the latest travesty involving Devo? Woe!

Today I'm listening to: Shine!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Hey Look at Me! 

I was going to title this post "Running on Empty," but then I remembered that I'm in the Christian Science Monitor! Woo. Yay, me. (I'm only in it for a bit, but it's right at the start -- whee.)

Oh lord, it's only Monday! How am I going to make it through this week? I feel like I've been grading papers for 30 hours straight! Wait, that's not too far from the truth.

Stayed after for Go club today. Much tiredness.

A while back we passed the 10K mark -- I'd like to thank you all for making me feel good when I look at that counter. I know probably half of the hits are me checking the site, but still -- it's cool that we've had so many. Here's to many more.

I'm so sick of hearing about this election. I feel like I'm back in 2000. All the leftists are chastising Kerry for not being more spineful -- and the polls keep showing that droves of idiots are believing the hype about how well Bush is protecting us from the Evil Bad People™.

Virtual Violence

I got DRIV3R this weekend -- and despite the fact that the TomatoMeter is at a miserable 5% (I can't remember seeing anything so low), I really like it. It's not GTA, but it's not necessarily trying to be. I got it for the speed and the mayhem -- and it delivers both.

Speaking of GTA, I've been reading up on the latest offering, San Andreas. And while I see lots of cool new features that promise an intriguing mix of Sims and open-ended action, I can't find any news on whether or not they still offer the sick system of sleeping with prostitutes as a way to regenerate the male main character's health.

This is the reason I haven't bought GTA3 or Vice City, despite the fact that all I hear is that they're the best games ever invented -- I won't pay for a game that presents such a twisted perspective on gender relations. I don't really have a problem with the killing in these games, so long as it's not targeted at specific people or groups of them.

So here's the quandry. (Well, two of them, actually.)
  1. If a free copy of Vice City were to fall into my lap, would it be ethical to play it?

  2. Whereas RockStar is trying to present a full-fledged representation of the criminal underworld, it makes sense that prostitutes would make an appearance. (They certainly do in True Crime: Streets of LA.) But of course the problem lies in how the player interacts with them -- buying women's bodies as a way to gain health is sick and pathetic. So, let's say that this new game still offers that possibility BUT, because of the new food aspects (you eat to get healthy -- eat too much and you get out of shape; eat healthily and you're stronger and better-prepared for drive-by shootings -- the sex-for-health is just a twisted remnant of older games. Is it still unethical for me to buy it?
Obviously, the answers I'm looking for are: Yes and No. (I want loopholes so I can finally play these games I keep hearing about.)

Of course, if RockStar weren't a bunch of pathetic Typical Males, I wouldn't be having this problem. Or, I could also just turn off my conscience. Lousy moral compass! Why don't I kill you with FoxNews and booze the way so many Americans do?


Jon Stewart was recently on Bill O'Reilly's show. Read the transcript at Wonkette.

Christie and Garrett should get a chuckle out of this map showing what the hurricanes mean.

I need a new CD player in my car. If I put in one more disc and see that flashing ERROR message, I'm going to stab it with something metal.


You want annoying? Try reverse. Like that game I posted not long ago with the hidden cursor, but more annoying. Thanks, MoFi!

Today I'm listening to: Paris!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

George Shadroui is Not Cool Enough To Be in the Christian Science Monitor (But I Am) 

Today I got a call during class from a reporter named Randy who works for the Christian Science Monitor -- which, despite being run by Christian scientists (a group with whom I have little in common), does a good job of reporting the facts in a relatively independent way. (As their site puts it: " . . . the unblemished truth is freeing (as a fundamental human right); with it, citizens can make informed decisions and take intelligent action, for themselves and for society." Makes sense to me.

Anyway, this Randy guy is doing an article about Rate My Teachers.com and he came across either my MoFi entry or some other place online. Anyway, he interviewed me for a bit after school, and so next Tuesday I'll be in the Monitor. Woo!

Meantime, I emailed GS to ask for that apology he owes the people of East Timor. He sent me this dorky reply:
an apology....not quite. More enlightenment? One hopes
Yeah, okay. Thanks dude.

George Carlin once asked why people who hear voices in their head telling them to kill their whole family actually do so. "And is this the only thing a voice in the head ever tells people -- to kill others? Why doesn't the voice in their head ever say "Go take a s*** on the salad bar at Wendy's!"? I hope you're happy, George.

Thanks to Diane for Japander, your one-stop collection of American actors in Japanese ads. You know, like Bill Murray's character in "Lost in A Bad Movie".. Make sure you watch Anthony Hopkins.


Thanks to MoFi for Kaboom and the other excellent films of EatPES. Ordinary things filmed in extraordinary ways. Fun stuff!

Today I'm listening to: Babbletron!

Monday, September 20, 2004

George Shadroui is Not Going to Hog the Spotlight of Any More Deviant Synapse Posts 

That dork! He said he was going to write a response -- and that was over a week ago! Lemem guess: he's busier than I am. Yeah, that's it. Maybe he's so overcome with emotion and uncertainty following my blinding criticism that he's unable to find the words. Well, whatever it is, it's time to move on. I've wasted enough of my life trying to reason with that DORK.

Isn't this picture trippy? No, it's not actually moving. It comes from this page of groovy illusions. Thanks, MoFi!

Boy oh boy, this school year is kicking my backside. Work work work all day! And I've only just started getting into the essays. Bleah! But it's all worth it when I see those glowing smiles and enraptured looks in class.

Hey, did you hear about that new vodka from the guy who invented the AK-47? I swear this quote is real:
"I've always wanted to improve and expand on the good name of my weapon by doing good things," he told Reuters Television.
Yes, when I think of the AK-47, I think "good name" and "good things". Definitely.


Have a laff with Posting and You. I don't know what Steam is, but this applies to most forums on the web. via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Underworld!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Are Too. 

Soon after I posted my cursory and dismissive response to an article about Noam Chomsky by George Shadroui (entitled "George Shadroui is a Dork"), I received the following email:
From: shadroui george
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 08:24:00
To: eric@etan.org
Subject: George Shadroui is a dork

Am not......
Skeptical about the likelihood that this person would actually have read my blog, I replied to ask if he were that George Shadroui, or merely someone with the same name. He sent back this reply:
It is I. very funny. several of my friends got a kick out of it. Do I agree with you or the person who wrote the gloss on my article -- of course not. For example, your argument about Central America and early u.s. policy is with Lefeber, whose book I have read carefully. I don''t think he is an american apologist. If you read through the piece, it addresses some of the issues you raise. Nor do I exaggerate when I argue that Chomsky considered the Soviets and the communists illusory enemies. He downplays the Soviet threat to the point of erasing it.......that is context, which Chomsky ignores. I give examples.......

But thanks for the headline. It is a great addition to the scrap book, however unflattering the picture.........
Presumably, he found my post through a trackback or an ego search (probably the former) -- either way, I know he's watching.

Thus -- whereas I had previously written off Mr. Shadroui as a dork unworthy of my time, I have decided to respond at length to his article, for a number of reasons:
  1. He's willing to dialogue. By sending me a note, Mr. Shadroui has indicated at least the image of someone willing to listen. My better judgment is telling me to just ignore him and his dorky arguments, but I won't do it. This may be a waste of my time, but there's a tiny chance it will do some good (More on this in #4).

  2. Others are watching. I've recently received two unsolicited notes of praise about this blog, so -- as a bigheaded egoist artiste -- I feel I have an obligation to spread as much truth as I can, especially when someone hates on a hero of mine so extremely.

  3. Mr. Shadroui has some valid points. He's wrong, but he's not completely wrong. I believe that everyone has something valid to say, even if it is often surrounded by error and oversimplification and distortion and idiocy. (Even Adolf Hitler said "Words build bridges into unexplored regions," which is of course absolutely true.) Nobody is every completely wrong. (Except Ann Coulter. See this.)

  4. I will not give up on people even if I disagree severely with them. That's what people on the right do to those of us on the left, and it's wrong & destructive. I'm a firm believer in dialctical analysis, partially because I've had people tell me "Gee, I never thought of it that way," and "I didn't know about [subject]." Sometimes we have to ignore critics who make complete asses of themselves, in order to preserve our own sanity (and to avoid dignifying the irredeemably ludicrous, as with John Dolan). But the current climate of politics in this country is one of dismissive invective and simple-minded pettiness; it's unacceptable for democratic progress, and I won't be a part of it.
Before proceeding, let me make a few things clear:
  • Chomsky isn't perfect. (Man, it almost hurts to write those words.) While I am (as Garrett says) "at the altar of Chomsky", he is just a human and -- like all humans -- he's liable to make mistakes. I disagree with him on certain points, even as I find myself in agreement with almost everything of his I read. I read Chomsky critically, as I do every writer; and I acknowledge valid problems where they exist (as noted last time).

  • My use of the phrase "George Shadroui is a Dork" should be understood as shorthand for "George Shadroui, in his 'dissection' of Chomsky's work, oversimplifies and misrepresents important points, thereby creating a warped and erroneous view of Dr. Chomsky's vital critique of US foreign policy and corporate power." I call names in good fun, but I don't want to send the message that this is enough.

  • This is a rush job. I am a high school English teacher with almost ZERO free time. In addition to my insane school workload, I'm starting a job as editor of my union's newsletter; I serve on the executive committee for ETAN/US; I work constantly with the local ETAN chapter; I volunteer with Senator Feingold's campaign; and I've got six billion projects going at all times. I did the preliminary work for this today at school in my free time, and I'm scribbling out the rest of it before and after our weekly Go club meeting. If there are typos or silly mistakes, I apologize.
Okay, let's get to it. (Note #1: I've included Mr. Shadroui's email address only because he has it listed on his own article.) (Note #2: Image swiped from here. That looks like a funny play.)


We can see from the very title of his article ("Dissecting Chomsky and Anti-Americanism") that a simplistic (and ludicrous) charge has been imposed over the proceedings; but insofar as I addressed the question of anti-Americanism last time, let us proceed apace.

Once we get past the name-calling (not done in good fun, from what I can tell -- "He is, in short, a crank who would not be taken seriously but for his position at MIT . . ."), Shadroui's main points center on Chomsky's lack of attention to atrocities committed by enemies of the US, especially the USSR, Cuba, and associated Communists. He labels Chomsky as one of "the blame America crowd," which others have called the "blame America first crowd." Indeed, I'm so incredibly sick of this phrase that my ladyfriend and I have joked about making a breakfast cereal called "Blame America First Cereal". It's a moron label, and one which hopefully doesn't need further analysis (although I'll probably indulge in some later on anyway).

But even more than this, Shadroui is outraged -- even, it would seem, offended -- by the fact that Chomsky rarely if ever applauds the US government for the good things it does. ("Not only do we deserve no credit for rebuilding Europe or Japan," he writes, "we were likewise wrong in Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, and now in Iraq.") Taking this a step further, Shadroui makes this bold statement at the end of his tirade:
. . . the only real hope victims facing catastrophic repression or genocide have is the United States.
Since apparently Mr. Shadroui is not familiar with the important story of East Timor (there is, unsurprisingly, no mention of it in the article -- despite its central prominence in Chomsky's analysis and its obvious urgency to the discussion at hand), I will now provide a brief overview.

Until 1975, East Timor had been a Portuguese colony. (East Timor is half of the island -- the other half had been under Dutch control and became part of Indonesia with the rest of the archipelago in the 1940s.) When Portugal's empire collapsed in '75, a brief civil war erupted in East Timor, and a Catholic-populist group called Fretilin claimed victory. Their plans were a far cry from Communism, and they weren't around long enough to be pressured by the USSR or China.

Indonesia, seeking to conquer this tiny region (and believing it would take less than one day), started planning an invasion. In early December, US President Geral Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met with Suharto (Indonesia's murderous dictator, who came to power with US assistance in 1965) and -- according to the aforelinked National Security Archives -- Ford and Kissinger "gave the green light" to the invasion. ("the Secretary of State fully understood," says the author, "that the invasion of East Timor involved the 'illegal' use of U.S.-supplied military equipment because it was not used in self-defense as required by law.")

To make a long story short, the occupation was a horrendous, grisly bloodbath -- whereas there were an estimated 600,000 East Timorese before the invasion, over 200,000 were killed over the next 24 years, through enforced starvation and army massacres. That's a third of the population -- a figure approaching genocide by any civilized standard.

The United States government provided overwhelming political, military, economic, and diplomatic assistance to the Indonesian government throughout the occupation. When the invasion first took place on December 7, 1975, the UN did what it always does -- it passed a resolution calling on Indonesia "to withdraw without delay all its forces from the Territory".

But the US stood in the way. The US ambassador to the UN at the time was Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who wrote later:
The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook [with regard to East Timor]. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with not inconsiderable success.
In 1991, the world community -- which had heard rumors of hideous atrocities in East Timor but had seen no proof aside from the testimony of survivors lucky enough to escape -- was shocked to see footage of the Santa Cruz massacre, in which over 200 East Timorese men, women and children were slaughtered by Indonesian troops using US-made M-16s. (You can see pictures here and survivor testimony here. It should go without saying that these contain disturbing content.)

But while the outrage of this massacre (and the fact that it was far from an isolated incident) shocked many people into action, it did not stop the US government from continuing its support of the Indonesian military. Congress tried to end military training assistance, but the Pentagon and State Department lobbied against it and -- when they lost -- found loopholes. Meanwhile, weapons sales continued unabated (by both Republican and Democratic administrations), and while the Congress and UN pushed for a referendum (the only thing ever requested by the people of East Timor), the Executive branch refused to make it a priority.

In 1999, the Indonesian government -- wracked by economic crises and jolted by the ouster of Suharto by internal pressure -- announced that East Timor would finally be allowed to vote on its future. The UN came in and began to prepare for the September vote. Unfortunately, Indonesia had insisted on controlling security, and it began setting in motion teams of murderous paramilitary groups, who began committing more atrocities in an attempt to scare the people into voting for integration with Indonesia. The people chose indpenendence anyway, and the militia groups made good on their threats of more violence. After burning and looting and killing their way through the territory for several days, the Indonesian military and its militia groups left East Timor and a UN peacekeeping mission was finally brought in.

While all of this unbelievable horror was going on (causing nearly every reporter and most UN personnel to flee the island, scared for their lives), the US refused to pressure Indonesia to call off its dogs of war. While Indonesia wouldn't exactly take orders from the US, our government held (and continues to hold) incredible influence in the region.

And yet, when asked if we would take any kind of action to protect the innocent in East Timor (in accordance with our stated reasons for the Kosovo intervention), National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said:
[My daughter] has a very messy apartment up in college. Maybe I shouldn't intervene to have that cleaned up.
All of this should prove the insulting absurdity of Shadroui's comment that "the only real hope victims facing catastrophic repression or genocide have is the United States." If nothing else, Mr. Shadroui, I would appreciate an apology to the people of East Timor for this comment of yours.

Viet Nam

Enough about what Shadroui leaves out -- let's talk about what he says. Unfortunately, I must confess a pathetic ignorance about the Viet Nam war. I own American Power and the New Mandarins, but I haven't yet read it. I fear that there are many individuals more qualified than I to defend statements from Chomsky quoted by Shadroui such as: "Three times in a generation American technology has laid waste a helpless Asian country." Whether Viet Nam was helpless or not -- whether Communist pressure/aggression in the north merited US actions in the South -- I don't feel qualified to say.

As I see it, Chomsky was pointing out that the US was committing an act of aggression motivated by interests that had nothing to do with protecting the people of the United States (which is, as I understand it, the only type of military action allowed by the UN charter). Whether it was "an attempt to save Vietnam from the horrors of communist rule" (as Shadroui claims) or "American intervention in a civil war . . . [which] converted [it] into a colonial war of the classic type" (as Chomsky puts it) I will leave to others to decide.

But I will make some points. First, Chomsky has long made it clear that he focuses on the actions of the US government because it is supposedly our government, and we must be involved in its decisions (and, when wrong, criticize them). "It's a simple philosophical point," he says in the film Manufacturing Consent. "You are responsible for the predictable consequences of your actions. You're not responsible for the consequences of other peoples' actions."

Besides, as he goes on to say, there's no need to inform anyone (especially in the US) about Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan, for instance. Those seeking to wage war with the USSR have already made sure we know everything that happened in that grisly episode. But the atrocities of our own government -- in Viet Nam; in El Salvador; in East Timor -- don't meet with the same kind of outrage and honest inquisition, as they should.

So the question becomes one of large-scale balance. Yes, if he were writing a history book, Chomsky should definitely provide both accounts (provided they are of similar scope and brutality -- which, again, I'm not qualified to judge). But Chomsky has never claimed to be an historian; he is a critic. And as such, he is focused on US policy.

The question then becomes: Why did we take action in Viet Nam? Most Americans believe -- as Shadroui says -- that we were trying to hold off an aggressive Communist threat. But Chomsky points (rightly, in my opinion) to a history of imperialist interventions that cast a grim shadow of doubt on the official reasons given.

So who do we trust? Shadroui puts it this way:
if the sum of human suffering is reduced by an exercise in military action, can a case not be made for intervention, even if there is a human cost associated with it?
This assumes that (a) we can ever know that we have reduced the "sum of human suffering" -- which is of course impossible, so let's assume we're dealing with an assumed sum; and (b) this is the real reason we went to war.

Personally, I'm doubtful. And while -- again -- I can't argue with force on Viet Nam, Chomsky often does a good job citing official sources illustrating the true aims of US power. (As in "Vietnam and United States Global Strategy" where he cites many US government documents highlighting the importance of development and industry friendly to US hegemony.)

There are lots of other things I could pick apart in the article's discussion of Viet Nam, but given my neophyte status on the matter and the appallingly late hour, I'll move on.

Central America

Again and again, Shadroui posits the theory that the US is well-intentioned and just makes "mistakes." Thus, our interference in Guatemala in 1954 was "questionable" and not illegal or immoral. He says:
Early American intervention [in Central America] was aimed less at subduing the region for economic or political purposes than it was to minimize the encroachment of the European powers into the affairs of the Western Hemisphere.
Yeah, hah? And why didn't we want Europe meddling in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere? Because we respected the rights of people in South America to decide their future for themselves? Give me a break!

As with Viet Nam, Shadroui says that "it is intellectually dishonest to pretend that the United States had no reason to be concerned about communist rule in such countries." Concerned, perhaps. But worried for our safety, such that the toppling of democratically-elected governments and support for death squads is a proper response? Shocking! (As Chomsky put it at one point -- alas, I don't have the power to find it just now -- the US has as much to fear from Guatemala or Grenada as the Soviet Union did from Norway.)

Shadroui also makes this bizarre statement: " . . . Chile evolved into a democracy under the hated Pinochet . . . " I don't know what in the heck this is supposed to mean. I surely hope he isn't suggesting that Pinochet -- or our support for his murderous regime -- were good for the people of Chile.

As for Grenada, Shadroui insists that "the American intervention in Grenada . . . was welcomed by most of the governments in the region . . . ." I can't confirm or deny this, but as Andrew Reding makes clear,
This language [in the UN charter] leaves so little room for ambiguity . . . that the U.S. lost the support of even its closest allies in the United Nations. The Security Council voted 11 - l on a motion condemning the invasion, with France and the Netherlands in the affirmative, Britain abstaining, and the U.S. casting its veto. The disapproval was equally overwhelming in the General Assembly, where only El Salvador, Israel, and several Caribbean countries supported the U.S. position. Not a single member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization voted with the U.S.: Even such anticommunist allies as the Philippines and Thailand acknowledged that the U.S. action was “a flagrant violation of international law” (New York Times, Nov. 4, 1983).
Whether the Grenada invasion -- or US opposition to the Sandanistas or our support for the dictatorial Duvalier family in Haiti -- was a justifiable response to realistic worries about Communist threats to US security or, rather, US imperialist aggression designed to protect our power and economic influence, I will leave to the reader.


Like the Bush administration he apparently supports, Shadroui starts his discussion about 9/11 with Saddam Hussein.
Chomsky (and many on the left) tries to implicate the United States in the behavior of Saddam Hussein because we gave him minimal support during the 1980s and the Iraq/Iran war.
Yes, minimal. So very minimal.
The U.S. restored formal relations with Iraq in November 1984, but the U.S. had begun, several years earlier, to provide it with intelligence and military support (in secret and contrary to this country's official neutrality) in accordance with policy directives from President Ronald Reagan. These were prepared pursuant to his March 1982 National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM 4-82) asking for a review of U.S. policy toward the Middle East.
Anyway, getting back to 9/11 -- Shadroui continues: "Chomsky's hatred of the United States is so severe that he presents even our liberation of Afghanistan, which virtually the entire world community supported, as an attempted genocide." Well, he apparently did use the G word, but he also said that
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food pleaded with the U.S. to end the bombing that was putting "the lives of millions of civilians at risk," renewing the appeal of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who warned of a Rwanda-style catastrophe.
So it's not like Chomsky was just pulling these ideas out of thin air -- he was making heard voices that were being lost in the fog of war.

Another big point Chomsky made is that the US refused to seek approval from the UN for its attacks in Afghanistan, even though we would almost certainly have won it. Why? Because that would indicate that we need to get external approval to take military action (even when justified). In other words, it would show the world that we're willing to play by the rules, and we don't need to do that.

Also, Shadroui completely ignores the majority of what Chomsky said about the origins of the 9/11 atrocity, particularly with regard to US policies in the Middle East. I won't speculate on the reasons for this omission, but it's kind of sad to see that important discussion sidestepped in this "dissection".

The Media

When he gets to Chomsky's analysis of the media, Shadroui sounds like that idiot in the fraternity t-shirt asking Chomsky an incredibly idiotic question in the movie Manufacturing Consent.

To start with, that phrase is not Chomsky's -- it comes from Walter Lippman. Secondly, the idea that dissident views are not marginalized in the US as proven by the fact that "Chomsky's books are for sale in every major bookstore in the country, not to mention huge corporately-run online bookstores" is moronic to say the least. As Chomsky made clear in the film (it's a really good film, Mr. Shadroui -- you should watch it), this isn't about Noam Chomsky. It's about the narrow ideological spectrum and other much larger issues.

Furthermore, the use of the word "conspiracy" is a tried and trite way to stifle the kind of institutional analysis that we find in Manufacturing Consent. It's not a small gang of evil moustache-twiddlers, it's a media institution built on profit and maintained by entrenched power structures. To reduce it to nothing more than a "conspiracy" is to ignore 98% of the points made. (Again, East Timor is an excellent example we would take a look at if only I weren't exhausted and finding the screen harder to read by the word.)

One final word on the media: Shadroui quotes Eli Lehrer from the Anti-Chomsky Reader: "There is never an attempt to investigate the subject or in the spirit of inquiry to see if the facts fit the model." Yeah, okay. So all those pages of research and footnotes in Manufacturing Consent are -- what? Fruitcake recipes?

I made many other notes on my printed copy of Shadroui's article, but I'm really freaking tired and anyone who's made it this far is either really bored or really dedicated. If the latter, I thank you for your persistance and willingness to indulge me in this probably-pointless project. If the former, perhaps I can find something more exciting to cure your boredom.

Next time: I'm going to deconstruct -- point by idiot point -- the entire contents of the LeftWatch Chomsky Archive!


Squares 2: Black good, red bad. (TPCQ: "Always bet on black!")

Homer sleep now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Tune In Tomorrow 

Recently I got an email from George Shadroui (see yesterday's post). Tomorrow I'll be posting the whole story -- too tired to get into it tonight. Suffice to say this will be one of the greatest challenges ever to my faith in the ability of logic to confront those with whom I have deep ideological differences.

(Sorry about the dearth of posts lately -- school is kicking my backside.)

Friday, September 10, 2004

George Shadroui is a Dork 

Knowing that I love to bash my head against intellectual walls, Diane recently sent me a link to an article by someone named George Shadroui entitled Dissecting Chomsky and Anti-Americanism. Hopefully you folks know that I always try to confront dissenting views openly, and I try to give people a chance, especially when I disagree with them at first glance. (Indeed, one critique I read a while back challenged a figure on starvation that Chomsky used; I still haven't gotten around to refuting or verifying it.)

But this guy's just a dork. To wit:
To understand Chomsky's critique, you must begin with his methodology and the assumptions interlaced with his volatile claims. Here is an attempt to mention a few of those assumptions, though this is hardly an exhaustive list: . . . Our enemies are always illusory. . . . Even when we are right, we are wrong. . . . Chomsky never provides context.
Of course this last one is not an assumption put forth by Chomsky, but we don't need to split hairs. (For those who don't know, Chomsky never gives the impression that our enemies are illusory or that "we're" always wrong.)

The Dork goes on to say: "In reading a dozen of his books I have yet to stumble across an instance in which Chomsky gives the United States the benefit of the doubt." Yeah, well like Mark Twain said: "Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it." Since when is it a good idea to give the government the benefit of the doubt? Isn't that what Bush asked us to do before the most recent Iraq war? That turned out pretty well. I would imagine it's the responsibility of dutiful citizens to do the exact opposite! (Didn't Helen Thomas say something to this effect in the most recent Progressive?

I suppose I would like to read the Anti-Chomsky Reader mentioned in the article, but I'd really rather not be seen in public purchasing something from David Horowitz. Meanwhile, The Dork coughs up this gem about South America:
Early American intervention was aimed less at subduing the region for economic or political purposes than it was to minimize the encroachment of the European powers into the affairs of the Western Hemisphere.
Yeah, hah? And Haiti? And United Fruit? Gimme a break.

For what it's worth, let me apologize to those who are now saying "What about Haiti? What does United Fruit have anything to do with this?" There are important stories to be told here (and actual documentation-based refutations that could be made), but I'm just too exhausted from a long school week to explain further. Please check it out for yourself.

As for the notion of Anti-Americanism, Chomsky himself has slammed shut this idiotic book long ago. To cite just one repetition of his point:
The concept "anti-American" is an interesting one. The counterpart is used only in totalitarian states or military dictatorships, something I wrote about many years ago (see my book Letters from Lexington). Thus, in the old Soviet Union, dissidents were condemned as "anti-Soviet." That's a natural usage among people with deeply rooted totalitarian instincts, which identify state policy with the society, the people, the culture. In contrast, people with even the slightest concept of democracy treat such notions with ridicule and contempt. Suppose someone in Italy who criticizes Italian state policy were condemned as "anti-Italian." It would be regarded as too ridiculous even to merit laughter. Maybe under Mussolini, but surely not otherwise.
So .. yeah, what.


MAN, I'm tired. I should just lecture at a podium and give ScanTron™ tests like my high school teachers used to do.

Two women on the Thirdwave mailing list I'm on have pitched their blogs recently. Check out:I'll add 'em to the list at right when I get a chance. (Now when is Ross going to get himself a blog?)

These people who carve pencils are amazing! My favorite has to be the Kikko (honeycomb).

Dog Bites Shoots Man. That's what you get for trying to kill puppies!

Bleah. Time for a little MUD.


Check out this Bush Remix Video. I like the silly touches.

Today I'm listening to: Buddha Bar 2!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Things and Stuff 

Look, it's a pineapple house! Don't ask me why I'm using this pic. I'm tired and it's the first thing I found when I searched for "cartoon pineapple."

The guy from Satan's Laundromat (to which I've linked at right for some time) got arrested in NYC with the Critical Mass-ers.
Critical Mass has gone down every month for years, with typically no interference (and often even assistance) by the police. On Friday they suddenly decided to start making arrests without warning, penning people in and arresting entire blocks' worth of people, including hapless tourists and people getting off work who just happened to be in the area watching. And they couldn't have been bothered to clean the diesel sludge off the floor of the holding pens where they made us sleep? Someone will pay.
We shall see. I wish I could be so optimistic.

We passed the 1,000 milestone. Mission accomplished indeed!

I'm sick and tired of these constant bear attacks! It's like a country bear jambaroo around here!

Who says Republicans aren't sophisticated when they encounter an African-American Congressman?

Bleah. Tired.


Here -- watch FaceDance. It's the best I could do. Nothing Flashworthy out lately, I suppose.

Today I'm listening to: Blackalicious!

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Go Away, It's My Day Off 

End of week. Worn out. Leave me alone. Going MUDing.

Pic swiped from here.

If you saw the movie Hero (if not, you should), you may have asked yourself at one point: "Are they playing Weiqi (the Chinese word for Go)?" The answer, apparently is: "Maybe, but probably not." I agree with Thomas:
IMO it's an abstraction of a game. Just like on old chinese Paintings a go board could have any size and the positions are more or less random. Take it as a symbol. Just look at the way certain martial arts techniques are re-interpreted in the movie :-) Same happens here with the board game.
Weiqi is almost always played on a board with an odd number of playing spots; the boards in the movie look to have 8. Weiqi stones are placed on the intersections of the board's lines; the ones in the movie are being placed inside the boxes.

Cool.. We finally have The Frederick Douglass Papers Online.


Check out the Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth. Peep that advert! "The time has come to set the record straight." Via MoFi.

Today I'm listening to: Keoki!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

So Very Tired 

Today was the first actual day of school, when I go from 0-6000 in five minutes, and stay at full throttle all period, every period. Needless to say, I'm completely wiped out.

I have made a blog for my classroom activities, so students can check work when absent, review due dates, etc. It's at gotclass.blogspot.com. If you wanna know what my school day was like (oh boy), check it out.

Also see Diane's final post from the RNC. (Filed from back home in Madison.)
I then asked the head of the Alabama delegation whether she had heard of the group 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. No, she said, her face clearly showing displeasure. Well, they have a monument out in front of this church, I said, to honor the victims of 9/11 and all civilian victims of war. Do you have any response to that? She said, somewhat bitterly, that some people must have forgotten their history lessons, that there are times when the United States has to go to war to protect its freedoms. After all, we are the leaders of the free world. And people who question war are wimps, and we can't have wimps leading the United States at this point in our history.
Today when I went to the supermarket, they were playing that song "I miss you / like the deserts miss the rain" by Everything But the Girl. Wow -- I was almost singing along with the store's sound system.

The Daily Show has been doing some pretty good coverage of the RNC -- their best bit so far was the "George W. Bush's Words" video (you need to scroll down a bit to find it). Also check out the Ed Helms RNC blog.

Teacher chops off chunk of student's ear.

That's it. I need a nap.


Check out Emotion Eric. He can do everything from happy to sad to exhausted to patriotic. I think my favorite is My foot is on fire! (But taking candy from a baby is good too.)