Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hey, It Beats Reading People

Wow. I'd totally forgotten how much I enjoyed reading The New York Review of Books. I probably forgot because the free online content is so-so at best. The trick is to find a library or bookstore with a print a print edition, becaues then you're sometimes in for a treat.

In the Oct. 6, 2005 issue, for example, there is not only a very fine article by Tony Judt about the problematic differences between eastern and western European memories concerning the Holocaust (i.e., eastern Europe had to content with Soviet occupation, and thus are more liable to regard the horrors of Communism as on par or worse than that suffered by Jews in the Holocaust), but also Adam Hochschild's withering assessment of the newly installed exhibition at the Royal Museum for Central Africa (just outside Brussels, Belgium), called La mémoire du Congo: Le temps colonial. (Hochschild is best known -- to me, anyway, since my household is now half-Belgian -- for his fabulous, must-read book about King Leopold II's tyrannical ravaging of Congo, King Leopold's Ghost.) Oh, and this isn't to mention at all Garry Wills' article, 'Bush's Fringe Government', which I briefly write about here.

Rarely has an evening spent reading rather than working been so educational.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The War On Weather

Remember a couple of years ago Lt. General William Boykin characterized the war against terror as a spiritual war between the Christian God & the Muslim God-- the latter being, in roughly equal parts idol and Satan? You will recall, of course, that nothing came of this. Boykin was neither fired nor demoted, and to this day works in the highest echelons of our nation's intelligence community. Surely, then, Boykin must be privy to spiritual intel that we who do not read Frank Peretti novels are not. Clearly, this is a spiritual battle -- as in the days of the Old Testament, a contest of the Gods!

The Christian God has surely proven himself to be pretty bad-ass. He has blessed America with a truly unparalleled willingness to amass & spend billions of dollars to create the largest military that the world has ever seen, several times the size of that of its avowed enemies combined, at the expense of silly programs like education and health care. We are a sacrifical bunch, to say the least. Well, if you discount companies like Halliburton & the Carlyle Group, who make a profit from the militaristic sacrifice. But, you know, consider them the high priests, and all things are roses. Not only has the American God blessed us with the willingness to amass this military, but also the moral fortitude to unleash it. That's right. We're modern day Elijah's, bringing the fight to the false gods, one erratic bomb / friendly-fire bullet at a time. We'll topple your false gods & your dictators, all on the same day!

And yet, of late, like George Foreman, the Christian God is looking like He might not be able to go the distance. He is, after all, also the Jewish God, so he's pretty old by now. Sure, He can still lay waste to the infidel, & packs quite a whollup; but, he's looking a little sluggish, isn't it he, with each new roadside bomb, and each new frustrated attempt at propping up a democracy that has nothing to do with the false god, Allah.

The upstart, Allah, played it pretty close to the vest after coming out with a head full of steam on 9/11. A few jabs here and there. But mostly, he looked up against the ropes. I submit, though, that the Christian God got a little cocky. You see, there are always multiple fronts in major wars & fights. There was the obvious one: the one that blew shit up with bombs. And then there was the the more complex one, the one that the Christian God normally doesn't like to take credit for, but, c'mon, who's He kidding? I'm talking about natural disasters like enormous earthquakes in Iran and tsunamis in Indonesia -- infidel countries, both. Oh, He thought he had the false god down for the count there. Oh boy, didn't we all! Oh ... but that Satanic god, he's a tricky one, that damned false god. He seems to have realized that where he can't match the overwhelming sacrificial insanity of the Christian God & His followers -- pfft, his followers can only manage to blow themselves up two or three at a time -- he can surely whip up a mean natural disaster or two.

'What's that', he said to his minions, 'the waters surrounding the Christian God are as warm as they've been in generations? What's that I spy, low-lying cities along coasts? What's that I hear, the sacrifical Christian God left his belly exposed? Oooo ... methinks I have a plan.' That's right, people. These storms, Katrina, Rita, etc., their all the work of Allah, the false god ... Satan. In short, we cannot win our war on terror without realizing the profound importance of this aspect of our war. The war against weather. Gird your loins! We've all been drafted into the army of Christian soldiers. We're all fair game.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

It Felt Good

It Felt Good

It often surprises a lot of people who don't know me really well, and may likely disturb some of my online colleagues, but I love sports. I could, for instance, very easily turn Silentio into an all-sports blog, and probably end up having something to say on an almost-daily basis. (A far cry from my general reluctance to post anything I've actually been thinking about lately.)

The only problem with this, however, is that I don't normally like a lot of 'normal' sports fans. This can likely be explained by the fact that I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and was subjected to nearly constant cries of 'Go CATS' whenever the subject of University of Kentucky basketball came up. By the time I was in high school, no longer inclined to 'bleed blue', I relished their heartbreaking losses more than anything else.

This is not to say, though, that I cheered for those teams who played them. To this day, I still dislike Duke -- and cringe when I see Christian Laettner's last-second shot, even while appreciating Grant Hill's pass, which certainly made the play work. No, since leaving Lexington over ten years ago now, I've almost completely left behind any partisanship when it comes to teams. I neither cheer for or against teams. I'm more sympathetic to some, I suppose. But would never buy a team jersey or a hat with their logo. As in academics, my thinking & fandom is too abstract & distant -- maybe even theoretical. By and large, I cheer well-executed plays and exciting games.

I've annoyed many a hardcore fan of any given team by sitting down & watching a game with them, only to suddenly cheer 'for the other side' when they execute a bone-crunching block, or a great pass, or a level of play that is just genius. I remember sitting in a cafe in Brussels watching Manchester United play Real Madrid in the Champions League. I wasn't a huge fan of either, but, given the possibile hostility of the crowd, decided to be partial to ManU. I wanted them to win, I really did. And yet Real Madrid played one of the most flawless forty-five minutes of soccer I've ever witnessed. Granted, that's not a lot -- but it was a sentiment affirmed by most of the hardcore fans who know far more than I. Where they were willing to be in awe after the game, I completely forgot any faux partisanship during the game. They were just too good not to cheer, even if I didn't want them win!

In an attempt to (a) gain a few friends at work, and (b) find something to get excited about besides good execution, I decided to join a Fantasy Football league. Of course, it's been four years since I've really followed American football, I know none of the new guys, and most of the old guys are, well, old ... so, it shouldn't be at all surprising that my team, after Week One, is pure shite. I mean, I was up against a guy who didn't have a good game, and he's still going to beat me by 30+ points (no matter if Donovan McNabb & Brian Westbrook have good games -- both players of mine).

On one level, I was really ticked. But on another level, I found a whole new way of enjoying the games. And I re-discovered something I lost a long time ago: frustration. Before, I'd just get frustrated when a team consistently did boneheaded things on the field, and thus lowered the level of play. Yesterday, though, I felt the frustration, resentment even, deep in my bones. Last night, for instance, Matt Stover (my kicker) missed a fieldgoal. I was pissed. He then missed a second fieldgoal. I was livid. This morning I learn that he actually even missed a third after I'd turned off the game. I was mortified.

And it felt good.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Breaking News

If you don't know already, Chief Justice William Rehnquist died tonight.

I know you're all expecting some woe-is-our-country-now-that-Bush-gets-another-justice-selection post. Ah, but not so. Because, really, Rehnquist was a pretty conservative dude, bent on getting rid of as many governmental regulations on business as judically possible. Replacing him with another conservative, as will surely be the case, would just be business (literally) as usual.