Friday, November 16, 2007

Parvum Opus 252 ~ I Pre-Approved This Message


Number 252

November 16, 2007



Cynthia L. commented on the silliness of sales pitches that say "Congratulations! You have been pre-approved to apply for a new business credit card!" It is vaguely deceitful. You might think you’ve been approved to actually receive the credit card. However, I once did a proofreading job for some kind of financial company that sent out thousands of such letters, and their mailing list was based on certain things like credit and income, etc. So there’s a grain of truth there. (That was a one-day job for me. It was unbearable.)


Herb H. wrote that gum band “sounds like an English pronunciation of the German word. I never saw it in writin', but an East German refugee friend of my youth called a rubber band, Goomey-bahnde.”


Bruce S. mentioned the book by Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students.

His writing style leaves a lot to be desired but the book is full of interesting analysis.

Referring back to the lynching discussion, I once read a legal case about a man who was convicted of his own lynching. Lynching has a different meaning in the field of criminal law. It has to do with the aiding of escape of a prisoner (if my memory is correct).

Suicide is usually illegal, isn’t it? So a failed lynching might get you in trouble, or as the devil said to Stanley Moon in Bedazzled, “In less enlightened times they’d have hung you for it.” I’ve never heard “lynch” used to mean aiding escape. I haven’t read the Bloom book but I will add it to my to-do list.

Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List

Bill R. sent “The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List” by Deborah Markus from Secular Homeschooling Magazine. I don’t know why she’s so bitter; the items on her list call for nothing more than annoyance. But she makes a good point about distinguishing between “socializing” and “socialization”. I homeschooled my older son through grades 1 and 2, then he wanted to go to school so I sent him. Years later I got in the middle of a quarrel between a homeschooling parent and another friend who was getting an advanced teaching degree. Yes I think kids ought to toughen up to the outside world but yes I think it’s fine if you want a specialized education for them. I think both things at the same time. And I’m more disillusioned about the school system than I was when I was homeschooling, though for different reasons. I had a vague notion that the “system” was stifling to creativity, etc., but now I think it simply doesn’t teach as much as it did when I was in school.


Since I discovered, the top songs have been removed. Don’t know why (but I do miss a great blues singer named Wa11ace whose version of “It’s a Man’s World” is as good or better than James Brown’s; look for Wa11ace, with numeral 11 instead of two el’s, elsewhere on the web). The site gave this caveat: “All songs listed are property of their respectful owners.” They may be, but the writer meant “respective”.


G. K. Chesterton wrote in Saint Thomas Aquinas, “The Dumb Ox”:

[Aquinas] does emphatically believe that men can be convinced by argument; when they reach the end of the argument. Only his common sense also told him that the argument never ends....

Are things so different that they can never be classified; or so unified that they can never be distinguished?

Hold this in your mind while I respond to Charlie M.’s reply to my question, why do some people object to the term islamofascism? He wrote, “Perhaps because it links two absolutely unrelated concepts?” I won’t attempt to define fascism; I will say what has to be repeated over and over again, this does not apply to all Muslims. However, many people do find certain acts and actors not absolutely unrelated, and capable of classification, yet people who have no trouble accusing the current administration of fascism cannot identify either fascism or Islam in actions all over the world in recent and remote history that are unified by the common element of Islamic or rather jihadist belief, even though both the actions and motivations trace back to Mohammed himself.

I know the arguments that say these familiar acts of terrorism or aggression are merely individual criminal acts, nothing on a big scale, or else that we deserve them, we provoked them, etc. But after 9/11, for the first time I started reading books outside my comfort zone ~ i.e. I questioned the authority of mainstream media. It hasn’t been an easy path. As reader Kathy T. wrote, “What is happening to the world today when a person feels they can't share their ideas even if others don't agree?” But it was difficult for me just within myself to entertain new and uncomfortable ideas.

On the flip side of the same coin, Dave DaBee, talking about a conservative friend who has turned hostile to him, wrote:

I clearly recall when the insanely nasty rants started with the use of talk radio in the 90s. Ultimately, the best man at my wedding ... became totally taken up with the talk-radio thinking that someone who has a different view can't possibly be a good thinker and is probably the source of America's problems and should be stomped. Eventually he stopped believing in me. It was sad and weird to watch.

But as I say, all it will take is for all of us to just knock it off. And one thing that seems to work, for me, is to keep having conversations like this, with more and more people.

I remember that my first reaction to talk radio was loathing. It all seemed to be angry, arrogant men, who were boring to boot. The successful programs do seem to be mainly conservative. But after sorting through quite a few of them I’ve found that some are quite good and informative. And they do not make up a monolithic body of opinion. Here’s my take on the two worst: I may occasionally agree with Michael Savage (nee Michael Weiner) but he’s a madman and obnoxious and indeed savage. The ur-talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, is likewise personally repellant to me. The two best (I listen to them on the web): Dennis Prager, a religious Jew, is well educated, reasonable, and respectful. Comedian Dennis Miller, funny and well-read in history (though he trips up in his vocabulary occasionally), is also respectful of those who differ with him.

Finally, here’s part of my admittedly selective reading list since 9/11 on islamofascism (though I know there is no end to the argument). I’ve organized them into subcategories for your convenience. (I do read other things too.)

Amusing writers and titles on a not-so-amusing subject:

America Alone

Mark Steyn

Demographics, especially in Europe.

Radical Eye for the Infidel Guy

Kevin J. Ryan

Schmoozing With Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land, Jihadists Reveal Their Global Plans to a Jew!

Aaron Klein

By women:

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Azar Nafisi

The best seller.

Now They Call Me Infidel

Nonie Darwish

Because They Hate

Brigitte Gabriel

By a fiery Lebanese Christian now living in the U.S. who learned not to hate Jews.

Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia

Carmen bin Laden

Formerly married to a bin Laden brother.


Melanie Phillips

The Trouble with Islam Today

Irshad Manji

By a Canadian journalist, a lesbian who still identifies as a Muslim.

Infidel and

The Caged Virgin

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

By the Somali-born woman who became a member of the Dutch parliament, and made the film with Theo van Gogh’s grandson for which he was murdered.

The Death of Feminism

Phyllis Chesler

Why aren’t feminists more vocal about the abuses of women in Taliban-type cultures?


The war of ideas: Jihad against democracy and

Future Jihad: terrorist strategies against America

Walid Phares

By former Muslims (as are some of the other authors):

Islam and the Jews

Mark A. Gabriel

Why I Am Not a Muslim

Ibn Warraq

Why I Left Jihad

Walid Shoebat

My year inside radical Islam : a memoir

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross

By an American who converted to Islam and then left it.


The Truth About Mohammed and

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam

Robert Spencer


I’ve only read bits of it. If you read it on paper or online, do remember the concept of abrogation, that is, the later Medina (wartime) passages officially override the earlier (more peaceful) Mecca passages, but the text is generally not presented in chronological order.

Interesting article by James Kirchick on the word “neocon”. We could make a list of every hot word used as political shorthand.

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