Thursday, December 27, 2007

Parvum Opus 258 ~ Special Effects


Number 258
December 27, 2007



For a mini-refresher course on Shakespeare (under two hours), check out Hugh Hewitt’s Christmas Day program with U.S. Naval Academy Professor David Allen White, who teaches Shakespeare at the Academy. Professor White said the Elizabethan audience loved language the way we love special effects in the movies. He also believes Shakespeare contributed to the King James translation of the Bible, and cryptically signed Psalm 46, which contains the words “shake” and “spear” and various applications of the number 46, which was somehow significant; I didn’t follow it. At some point, I heard either Hewitt or White say that Shakespeare’s time saw the “ripping apart of two great Teutonic plates” (the medieval & modern worlds); should have been “tectonic”, possibly I misheard. Good program, though. Always good to get some Shakespeare back into the forefront of consciousness.


About that U.S. civics test:

Mike Sykes wrote:

I'm pleased to report that I too did better than the Harvard seniors, though until I saw those results I was just a bit disappointed with my 75%. After all, my score is what you would expect for knowing only half the answers and, for the remainder, simply ruling out the three least likely and tossing a coin between the other two.

It would be invidious for a Brit to draw conclusions.

Oh, go ahead and be invidious, Mike. I would in your place.

Bill R. wrote, “Take that, Herb” because he answered 58 out of 60 correctly — 96.67 %.

Anne DaBee wrote:

Had to take the test, of course, and was somewhat surprised to score 72 percent, higher than most college students. Going on to read the rankings of students at many U.S. colleges, I was shocked to find that students at such institutions as Berkeley, Princeton, Duke, Yale, etc. scored poorly, with seniors scoring LOWER than freshmen, and the schools with the highest-paid presidents and biggest endowments scoring worst of all. Time to stop and think about where our educational dollars should go? And about what our preparatory schools, whether public or private, should be teaching? If a student GETS to college stoopid.... I've heard grumblings about entering college freshmen being required to take basic English courses because they're so poorly prepared. No wonder the SATs are now loaded with essay questions ~ perhaps they weed out those who can't write and think coherently. ...

I'm sadly reminded of an elementary school principal I once knew, who (I think) had been promoted to prince solely to get him out of the classroom. He didn't know whether the American Revolution or the Civil War came first, and didn't think it mattered whether the students knew, either. ... Perhaps the promotion premise was that he could do less damage to fewer students in the front office than on the battle line in the classroom ~ sad, but possibly true. Of course, there's always the question of why he was permitted to stay around at all. And the answer to that is that there are so many protective mechanisms in place that it's easier to put the misfits someplace else than to get rid of them ... so he was a prince for 10 more years until they retired him with a hefty pension after 30 years of damaging youthful minds. Now if he'd damaged their BODIES, he'd have been out of there in a year or two...

When I was a student at one of the 7 Sisters prestigious women's colleges, it was sort of a joke, albeit a sad one, that if we didn't marry before or shortly after graduation, many of us would go to secretarial school so we could get a job and meet eligible guys, preferably lawyers or investment bankers. Then we would become (effortlessly) mothers of beautiful children and impress our husbands' bosses with our beauty, hostessing skills, fine mind, and fitness to be the wife of a rising star in the company firmament. And yes, that was in the dark ages.... Once again, we have met the enemy and he is us...

I’m not sure whether the SAT essay questions are used to weed anybody out. These days, maybe the students get points for “creativity” or for their social/political values or perhaps just for trying. I do remember hearing about girls going for their “Mrs.” degree, but at least those well educated mothers were able to teach their own children.

(OK, my score was 76% plus change. I’m not very knowledgeable about history but I’m a good test taker.)


I’ve gotten over the vague sense of inferiority I used to have in relation to Canada. Canada, we always heard, was so clean. Clean, and no crime. And everyone so polite. But Canada does have crime, and now they’re too polite: they’re reaching Euro levels of political correctness. Journalist Mark Steyn and Canadian weekly magazine MacLean’s are being prosecuted by Islamists via the Canadian Human Rights Commission for writing and publishing things about Islam that they don’t like; true things, i.e. not libel, but unflattering. Steyn said that the Canadian HRC is a court from which no defendant ever returns absolved. Apparently it has the force of a legal court, though the human “rights” involved seem to be just about people’s feelings and opinions.

Plaintiff Dr. Mohamed Elmasry asserts that as a reader of MacLean’s he is entitled to its “services” without discrimination on the basis of religion. Logically this means that the “services” of every publication must please every reader at all times. No criticism allowed. Instead of rebutting Steyn’s theses, Elmasry sues. This is exactly what the First Amendment is about; maybe Canada’s constitution doesn’t have a free speech amendment. Elmasry’s complaint summarizes the MacLean’s article, which I haven’t read.

You might subscribe to MacLean’s as a gesture of support for the free press in the West.

Meanwhile, an imam representative of the grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in Iran asked

why aren’t all the women who don’t wear the hijab dead, as well as their husbands and fathers, since the Islamic revolution of 28 years ago? He also preached against short-legged dogs, and now has extended the fatwah to all dogs, and their owners. This worries me because of the many Muslim cab drivers in the U.S. who refuse to carry passengers with dogs, even service dogs.

A modest proposal: Why don’t the Iranian women carry guns beneath their burqas? I mean, if you can carry a bomb, you can easily carry a nice little pearl-handled revolver. I’m seeing a new foreign aid program here. I’d call it the Beecher program, after the old Beecher Bible and Rifle Church in Wamego, Kansas. Send a gun and a Bible. Sort of like the little CARE packages we used to donate to in grade school; we’d bring in toothbrushes and soap and things to class, to be sent to war-ravaged Europe.

By the way, today’s murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan is a serious loss for them and us.


Jim Simmons sent this about the WWII origin of the phrase “the whole nine yards”:

The belts of .50-caliber ammunition for the heavy machine guns of the American bombers were 27 feet long (whence the expression [they shot] "the whole nine yards").

(I would have guessed it came from football, but that shows you how much I know about football.)


This is the last PO of the year already. Chatting with Parvum Opus readers has been a pleasure. Thanks! And have a very Happy New Year.

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