Friday, March 14, 2008

Parvum Opus 269 ~ VIP RIP, RIP VIP


Number 269



Naturally the feature of the Eliot Spitzer soap opera that caught my attention was the name of the prostitute service he used: Emperors Club VIP. I don't think he wanted illicit sex, he doesn't have the look of a sensual man to me; I think he had to pay someone thousands of dollars to call him Emperor. Compare the new trend in tea shops in Japan: women-only clientele can go to Butler Clubs where well-groomed young men wait on them politely and call them Princess. How much more modest their requirements. Unlike an emperor, or governor of New York, a princess has no actual power, she just expects to be treated wonderfully at lunch.

I might also note the oxymoronic nature of the commercial sex field: "gentlemen's" clubs and "high class" call girls.


Cynthia L. passed on this anecdote from a newsletter she received, which I've abbreviated slightly:

About 10 years ago I worked in a large chain bookstore. I was standing in the Science and Computers section when [a customer] approached, looking for books on a particular topic.

"Excuse me," he said. "Where can I find books about pediaphiles?"

Hmm, I thought. He's looking for books about people who are sexually attracted to children. Well that could be in psychology, or true crime maybe. "What kind of book are you looking for?" I asked.

"Just a general book."

"Well, are you interested in the psychology of pediaphiles? Or case studies?"

With obvious confusion on his face, he said, "I guess I'm trying to find out how they're made."

"Well, I think that would be psychology. Let me look in the computer and see what we have," I replied, catching on that we were somehow miscommunicating something, but unsure what that might be.

"I don't think it would be psychology," he said, "I think it would be here in the computer section."

"Books on pediaphiles?"



"Do you even know what a pediaphile is?" he asked, obviously thinking I'm an idiot.

"Well, I thought so."

"It stands for Portable Document Format. It's what you use when you want to e-mail a document and retain the formatting."

"Oh! PDF file! I thought you were asking for ~ never mind. Yes, we have books on PDF files."

And I haven't been able to look at a PDF attachment the same way since.


Quoted by Dennis Miller: stinking outside the box. A worthy and timely play on the tired phrase that is supposed to suggest fresh, creative thinking. Sometimes things aren't worthwhile to think about merely because they haven't been thought before. Newness itself is no guarantee of value.


New technology is salvaging delicate aged recordings, which can help to preserve extinct languages.

And now you can hear Thomas Edison's 1890 recording of Tennyson reciting part of his poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade".


It's a cliché to say that I learn from my students, but I have learned a lot. These items are worth passing on.

My Chinese student joined the Communist party in China only so he could get a better job and promotions, but after leaving his job as a surgeon to work in an American medical equipment company, he's not sure if he's still a party member, since he stopped going to meetings. (A former student from Germany was originally from Poland, where it was also necessary to join the Communist party (this was some years back) in order to advance in one's career. He chose not to join and eventually left for Germany.) My current Chinese student is the one who asked if it's against the law to make fun of the president here. (He calls the president "Little Bush".) He also asked me if I knew what happened in 1989 in Tiananmen Square. I said everyone in the world knew about that. He was stunned when I showed him some clips on He said no reports are available in China, and the government says that anything the citizens might read or see is not true. If he takes any books or videos on Tiananmen Square back to China, he'll be in trouble.

Or how about Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez closed down the country's oldest TV network. My current Venezuelan student (I've had many) says that Chavez instituted daylight savings time ~ but he moved the clocks one-half hour. Is this dictating outside the box, Fred asked? Also, though Chavez has pushed Venezuelan doctors (and teachers) out of jobs by importing poorly trained counterparts from Cuba, the public hospitals have insufficient or no equipment now (where did it go?). No public hospital would accept my student's uncle's pregnant housekeeper when she went into labor, so he took her to a private hospital at his own expense. My student had to buy milk, eggs, and meat on the black market because price controls, along with the confiscation of private farms which placed them in the hands of incompetent landless people, have emptied grocery store shelves.


After William Buckley died, I looked him up on youtube; I hadn't really ever watched his TV program, Firing Line. I found a good interview with a British academic named Kenneth Minogue on ideology (search Buckley Minogue at; the discussion is divided into six parts). Ideology is one of those words I thought I understood, but like progressive, I didn't know its history. I thought it just meant any system of intellectualized political beliefs, but it rather specifically originated with Karl Marx and refers to his theories, which explain every aspect of life. As an example, one ideological subset, extreme theoretical feminism, which has borrowed heavily from Marxism, interprets just about everything in terms of male domination and oppression. Any personal interpretation of reality must give way to the theory. For instance, a cigar is never just a cigar, it's a symbol of patriarchal and/or capitalist hegemony.

You can also find Buckley interviewing Noam Chomsky, but the most entertaining one is when he lost his temper at Gore Vidal.


The audacity of disappointed hopes ~ more stuff I don't like about Obama.* Isn't Michelle Obama proud of having her salary tripled two months after Barack Obama became senator? Jeremiah Wright, Obama's minister for more than 20 years, preached Godd amn** America in at least one of his sermons. Most unsuitable for a Christian. I've heard there are white people in Trinity United Church, which doesn't surprise me***, but it's peculiar that Obama can listen to so much hatred of white people when his mother was white. There's some kind of pathology there. I think this church might focus on the present abuses in Sudan, and the past abuses of black Africans enslaving each other, before damning the new and improved United States, which, speaking of change, has changed. Obama ought to read "The Man Without a Country". (According to Wikipedia, a new movie based on the story will come out this year.)

*Essential everlasting disclaimer: No, it's not because he's black, at least half black, because I can think of a few black men I would gladly vote for. Too bad they're not running.

**Which I divide improperly in hopes of evading spam filters.

***Check out an article by David Mamet, the playwright, in The Village Voice, "Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." That's his joke, not my language, of course. And don't omit to read the comments. By the way, after reading comments on Mamet's article and on various blogs, I want to thank my readers for being smart, sensible, and civil, even when disagreeing.

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