Saturday, October 31, 2015

Islamist Response to Graeme Wood's Article

Graeme Wood

Some readers may recall my remarks on Graeme Wood's article "What ISIS Really Wants" in The Atlantic. Turns out, I wasn't the only person responding. So did some Islamist supporters of ISIS: "'What ISIS Really Wants': The Response." One ISIS supporter wrote to say:
[The piece] is grounded in realism, and argues that not understanding what is happening is very dangerous, especially if fighting a war, one must fight the war that is real, not the invented one that one wishes to fight. Perhaps ironically, your [writings] . . . are most dangerous to the Muslims (not that it is necessarily meant to be so on your behalf), yet they are celebrated by Muslims who see them as pieces that speak the truth that so many try to deny, but also because [Muslims] know that deep down the idealists of the world will still ignore them.

What stands out to me that others don't seem to discuss much, is how the Islamic State, Osama [bin Laden] and others are operating as if they are reading from a script that was written 1,400 years ago. They not only follow these prophecies, but plan ahead based upon them. One would therefore assume that the enemies of Islam would note this and prepare adequately, but [it's] almost as if they feel that playing along would mean that they believe in the prophecies too, and so they ignore them and go about things their own way. . . . [The] enemies of the Muslims may be aware of what the Muslims are planning, but it won't benefit them at all as they prefer to either keep their heads in the sand, or to fight their imaginary war based upon rational freedom-loving democrats vs. irrational evil terrorist madmen. With this in mind, maybe you can understand to some degree one of the reasons why many Muslims will share your piece. It's not because we don't understand what it is saying in terms of how to defeat the Muslims, rather it's because we know that those in charge will ignore it and screw things up anyway.
This Muslim supporter of ISIS doesn't worry over the fact that Mr. Wood is correctly explaining why the Islamic State is "very Islamic." The supporter admits that the infidels could plan for the future based on the ISIS group's ideologically based prophecies and thereby fight against ISIS more effectively. But he doesn't worry because he thinks that the infidel leaders will ignore what Mr Wood says.

We'll see about that. New leaders can arise.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Five Easy Paces . . . to Beer






A silent toast to my wife, Sun-Ae,
in a Dongdaemun Design Plaza pub,
on the occasion of our twenty years of marriage,
last week, on October 21st,
but celebrated on Saturday, October 24th;
I took some photos of her as well,
but she didn't include any of them,
perhaps because I'm not so handy
with smartphone cameras
and don't do a fitting job . . .


Thursday, October 29, 2015

WAH Center Needs Repairs . . . and Donations!

Yuko Nii and Terrance Lindall are making an appeal for contributions toward repairs on the WAH Center's building, a New York City Landmark listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Here is their letter of appeal:
Dear Friends:

It has been a very expensive year for the WAH Center. Major repairs on our cornice have taken most of the year and we are just coming to the end of that. We need everyone to help a little bit. We have always been there for you as a great place to present, and now we need you to help a little more with a donation. Some of our friends have already given, but we need all of you to help out, if you are able. Some can only afford a little, but some of you can give more. You can see donation levels on our web-site here.

We made it easier this year to give a little and get something back too. We put up a little overview of our first 19 years on Kindle and you can buy the book below. When you buy it for $2.99 we get income.

Also on Amazon, when you shop at Smile Amazon, you'll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization: Smile Amazon.

Another way to donate a little more is to buy our printed books, e.g., Women Forward or Friends and Mentors.

We highly encourage you to buy books, postcards t-shirts or giclee prints of the WAH Center this year to give as gifts! Or, if you sell on Ebay you can indicate a percentage of your sales to the WAH Center where we are listed as a charity!

Please help us this year!

Peace and Love, Yuko and Terry

Free to read on ISSUU, about "the greatest small museum in Brooklyn."
This is a very good institution to support. My wife and I have contributed 500 dollars, a sizable sum for our budget, but Terrance has been very generous to me in illustrating my novella for free, and Yuko graciously allowed him the time to do so.

I therefore hope that everyone will contribute a donation, too.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Yeah, they talk big . . .

Some Real Howlers!

. . . but can they back it up, or are they just a little nutty:
The howler monkeys whose guttural calls reverberate through Central and South American rainforests possess a secret that the males of the species may prefer to be left unrevealed, . . . [for even though they] make among the loudest, deepest sounds of any land animal, . . . [using] their roars to attract the ladies for mating and [to] intimidate other males, . . . scientists on Thursday said they have discovered a curious paradox: males that make the . . . [deepest] calls[, which are] considered the most alluring to potential mates[,] are endowed with the lowest reproductive potential [and] the littlest testes for sperm production[,] . . . an "evolutionary trade-off" for male howler monkeys between vocal tract and testes size. (Will Dunham, "Howl of a good time: Deep monkey roars come with intimate secret," Reuters, October 23, 2015)
It's all about image, I guess. Or vocaledge . . .


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Korea expecting too much from its writers?

Bookish . . .
Illustration by Nam Kyung-don
Korea Herald

Lee Sun-young holds Korea's writers to a high standard in a recent article for the Korea Herald, "The story of Korean fiction: Proud tradition, humble present" (October 23, 2015), observing not only that Koreans are reading many foreign novels this year, but that:
Korean fiction's poor performance this year is also attributed to the absence of new releases from the country's top-selling novelists such as Shin Kyung-sook, Park Wan-suh, Gong Ji-young and Hwang Sok-yong.
I think that Park Wan-suh can be forgiven for offering no new releases this year, as she passed away nearly five years ago, on January 22, 2011.

Update: The online copy has deleted mention of Park Wan-suh, so here are photos of the hard copy, dated October 24-25:

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Ed Park in The New Yorker on the Dalkey Archive Press Series of Korean Literature

Ed Park
Novelist and Editor
Google Images

In a recent article, "Sorry Not Sorry: Reading Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature," to be found in the Books section of The New Yorker (October 19, 2015), the novelist Ed Park mentions my wife and me:
The novels in the Library of Korean Literature series are populated with the broken and the dispossessed, young drifters, like Jin-man and Si-bong, looking to carve out a place for themselves in an ungraspable, shifting world. Another such character introduces himself in the first sentence of Jang Jung-il's novel "When Adam Opens His Eyes," translated by Hwang Sun-Ae and Horace Jeffery Hodges: "I was nineteen years old, and the things that I most wanted to have were a typewriter, prints of Munch's paintings and a turntable for playing records." The nameless narrator (he's called Adam by a lover, in honor of his being her first man) hasn't scored high enough on the standardized exam to get into the university of his choice, so he plans to spend a year cramming.

Naturally, he doesn't lift a finger to accomplish that goal - which isn't to say that he does nothing. A hundred pages later, he buys a typewriter, and with it the promise of a different, differently programmed life. "If I write a novel, I will begin by depicting the portrait of my 19th year this way," he says, and then quotes the book's first paragraph nearly verbatim. This seems an optimistic conclusion - the narrator has made something of himself, and we've just finished reading the evidence - but, on the next page, Jang violently drops us into the novel's wildly discordant final section, "The Seventh Day." If the book's first stretch was a study in passivity, "The Seventh Day" is all action: sex, lots of it, between an unnamed man and woman, graphically described and mixed with literary chat. "No virgin finds climaxing easy in her first experience," Jang deadpans. "Except that this is a porno novel." (The transgressive 1999 film "Lies," which might be retitled "Fifty Thousand Shades of Grey," was based on another of Jang's novels.) Like the coda to Don DeLillo's "The Names" or Wong Kar-wai's "Days of Being Wild," the end of "When Adam Opens His Eyes" seems spliced in from a different work. Who are these nameless, insatiable characters? Maybe they are yet another product - concentrated, unbearably intense - of the narrator's typewriter, the vision that comes with Adam's newly gained knowledge of the world.

"When Adam Opens His Eyes" was published in 1990, before South Korea's great pop boom; the narrator's typewriter and cassette player are practical necessities, not ironic totems of a bygone age. But a number of more recent novels betray a certain nostalgia for an earlier, less technological time, when life didn't have to be constantly mediated by a screen.
My literary name is now associated with Jang Jung-il's stories of sex and violence. Hmm . . . well, all publicity is good publicity, or so I'm told, but I'd be more at ease to be known as one of the translators of Yi Kwang-su:
The most appealing novels in the Library of Korean Literature capture the existential turbulence of han while keeping a sense of humor about it. The didactic moments in Yi Kwang-su's "The Soil," a social-realist tome originally serialized in 1932 and 1933, are balanced with wry observations of customs and people, such as the modern man who has internalized Japanese values and looks down his nose at his country's educational system: "Yes, there's the Department of Korean Literature. I really don't know what students learn there. I think literature is useless anyway. And to study Korean literature? Even worse." (Yi, the most famous writer in the series, was one of the country's first modernists and a leader of the Korean independence movement, though he was later tarred as a Japanese collaborator.)
As most readers of this blog know, Sun-Ae and I also translated Yi Kwang Su's novel, and I'd like to have my fifteen minutes of Warholian fame associated with the high-minded Yi, but that's just my literary stuffiness talking. Actually, I'd most of all like to be famous as the author of The Bottomless Bottle of Beer.

Ed Park, by the way, is the author of the novel Personal Days, one of Time's top 10 fiction books of 2008. I've just downloaded it from Amazon onto my iPad and will report back when I start reading it.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Two Spheres: Male and Female - A Simple Two-Body Problem?

Speaking of these male-female differences . . . about a year ago, one of my Korean students visited the Writing Clinic and asked me what was meant by the expression "the female sphere."

"You mean as in its difference from the male sphere?" I asked.

"There's a male sphere, too?" she said, looking concerned.

I realized that she was stuck on the word "sphere." Maybe she's a math student, I thought, so I decided to meet her on that level.

"Well," I began, "you're raising a question on the geometry of relationships, which are usually just tangential to deep mathematics, but a man and a woman sometimes strike a deeper chord, so here's how that sphere stuff works. The woman's role is to get married and pregnant, and as the fetus grows and grows, the woman's belly swells up and up and up, so much so that it looks about the size of a beachball - and that's the female sphere."

I noticed that the two TAs assigned to proctoring duty in the room were listening, so I spoke a bit louder for their benefit.

"As for the male sphere, a man's role is to work outside the home with other men. These males toil together all day, day after day, and every evening after work, they go out to eat together in a restaurant, where they not only eat, they also drink a lot of beer, so much beer that they begin to grow a beer belly. As they drink more and more, their beer belly gets bigger and bigger, and rounder and rounder, so much so that it looks about the size of a beachball - and that's the male sphere."

The trusting student nodded, writing it all down, but as the two TAs burst into laughter, she paused and looked at me with suspicion in her eyes.

"But it's true," I insisted. "Why else would we speak of 'a man's roll' and 'a woman's roll'?" I used my hands to indicate the motion of rolling.

"But wouldn't their 'rolls' then be the same?" she retorted, apparently referring to their identical beachball shape.

Oh, a clever one, I thought, but replied, "Certainly not! When a woman is in an advanced state of pregnancy, the baby kicks a lot, so the woman doesn't roll in a straight line. A man, however, rolls straight. That's the difference between men and women. A man rolls from A to B by the shortest route, a straight line! But a woman? She rolls hither and yon from A in the general direction of B, yet too often ends up at C, instead, so to keep women from rolling into trouble, they are best kept at home. Men, however, can keep on rolling straight to work.

By this time, the TAs were bent double with laughter . . . but I didn't have as many students seeking my assistance afterwards. Maybe those two TAs figured they'd better assign students needing help to some professor more actually helpful.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Good News: It ain't patriarchy . . .

Roy F. Baumeister
Denis  Dutton Website

. . . it just seems that way because men are expendable!

Hat tip to Malcolm Pollack, a non-expendable gentleman, who pointed the way to an insightful piece by Roy F. Baumeister on gender differences, "Is There Anything Good About Men?" The answer is "Yes," but not in the same way as women are:
[T]here are two different ways of being social. In social psychology we tend to emphasize close, intimate relationships, and yes, perhaps women specialize in those and are better at them than men. But one can also look at being social in terms of having larger networks of shallower relationships, and on these, perhaps, men are more social than women . . . [so] the reason for the emergence of gender inequality may have little to do with men pushing women down in some dubious patriarchal conspiracy. Rather, it came from the fact that wealth, knowledge, and power were created in the men's sphere. This is what pushed the men's sphere ahead. Not oppression . . . . Men are social too - just in a different way . . . . [C]ulture relies on men to create the large social structures that comprise it. Our society is made up of institutions such as universities, governments, corporations. Most of these were founded and built up by men. Again, this probably had less to do with women being oppressed or whatever and more to do with men being motivated to form large networks of shallow relationships. Men are much more interested than women in forming large groups and working in them and rising to the top in them . . . . [M]en create the kind of social networks where individuals are replaceable and expendable. Women favor the kind of relationships in which each person is precious and cannot truly be replaced.
Why? Because the heart goes on even with the loss of men, i.e., a population can survive the loss of men but not the loss of women.

We might even live out that fact in our demographically uncertain future . . .


Friday, October 23, 2015

John Hendrix: A Man Who Draws During Sermons

Illustration by John Hendrix

Everybody - or everybody who's attended church since childhood - is told as a child to sit still and listen to the sermon being espounced by the pastor (the sweaty guy standing up front talking a lot), for his words are all very serious, and one certainly should not be whiling away one's time sketching images!

But that's what John Hendrix does:
You might think it childish that every week at Grace and Peace Fellowship, a PCA church in St. Louis, John Hendrix spends the sermon drawing. Most churches do not look kindly upon adults bringing crayons and paper to the pews. But for Hendrix - a professional illustrator who has sketched every day since age 7 - sketching helps to capture the strangeness of the Christian faith. ("The Weird and Wonderful Church Drawings of John Hendrix: Interview," Katelyn Beaty, Christianity Today, October 20, 2015)
Who is this Hendrix guy?
A St. Louis native, Hendrix never intended his in-church sketches for public viewing. Alongside teaching illustration at Washington University in St. Louis, he spends his week drawing for high-end mainstream clients. Those have included The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, children's book authors, and In-N-Out Burger (as well as this magazine). There, it's easy "to become a mercenary to making something that's good or productive," says Hendrix.
Why's he coming out of the closet with these sermon illustrations?
Friends began to ask him about the sketches, which are drawn in pen, then painted in watercolor at home. So Hendrix compiled the best in an online series as well as in a new book, Drawing Is Magic.
Click over to the article - or check out his website - pretty weird stuff that's sure to push the boundaries for a lot of Christians.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ibn Taymiyyah might justify, but what radicalizes Islamists?


In the MEMRI Daily Brief No. 62 (October 20, 2015), Alberto M. Fernandez describes the "Antechamber Of Jihad: The Media Space From Which ISIS Is Nurtured":
Despite the prolific nature of the ISIS propaganda machine, most media worldwide (even in Arabic, and even that of Islamists) is hostile to the Islamic State. But this is not to say that this ostensibly hostile media does not unintentionally provide a larger framing for ISIS's much more focused and targeted messaging. ISIS adventitiously adapts and uses material from mainstream media, as well as left-wing or fringe anti-American material, extreme sectarian content, and Salafi Islamist material, as part of a witch's brew of arguments and images forming an antechamber for jihad, a prepping for takfiri Salafi jihadism. This is non-ISIS content that shapes the environment for the Islamic State's own special brand.
In case anyone is baffled by such expressions as "takfiri Salafi jihadism," the term "jihadism" means those Islamists committed to holy war, "Salafi" means those Islamists who follow Ibn Taymiyyah in looking back to Muhammad's companions for the proper sort of Islam, and "takfiri" means those Islamists who are so fanatical that they label as "infidel" any Muslim whose ideas diverge from their own. How ironic, then, that the Islamic State relies on so much non-Islamist media for framing its message:
ISIS videos are referential of the media of others, whether mainstream news media or other mainstream sources. In 2012, before it entered the most polished, current phase of its original media production, the Islamic State used news clips from pan-Arab media, from CNN (i.e. a 2007 documentary on human rights abuses by the Iraqi government) and from the BBC (i.e. a 2010 exposé on a fake bomb detector) to make its point. Direct and indirect references to Hollywood movies and video games are still relatively common. Clips from the 2005 Ridley Scott film "Kingdom of Heaven" have been used several times. And, of course, while ISIS is indeed prolific, viewers of all sorts, even potential ISIS recruits, are more likely to see material about, say, a particularly notorious Assad regime massacre of Sunni Muslims or a story involving mistreatment of Muslims from the Western media itself.
In other words, the Islamic State draws its rhetoric from wherever it can - left-wing, right-wing, even from Hollywood . . . . not that any of these were anything other than adventitious excuses. Much of the hatred against infidels comes from various Islamists:
An even more important ingredient in the ISIS Petri dish is the extreme sectarianism promoted by a wide range of (non-ISIS or even anti-ISIS) Islamist voices. These can be antisemitic, anti-Christian, or anti-Shi'a sentiments, images, and videos which complement the antisemitic, anti-Christian and anti-Shi'a rhetoric of the Islamic State.
For specifics, see the report . . .

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ibn Taymiyyah's influence on modern-day Islamism

Ibn Taymiyyah (Source:

Memri has a Special Dispatch (No. 6189, October 18, 2015) that reports on the Indian Scholar Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi for his examination of the roots of current-day Islamism, finding it in the 14th-Century Islamic Jurist Ibn Taymiyyah:
The 14th century Islamic scholar Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyyah propounded a complete Islamic theology of radicalism, religious exclusivism, violent extremism and puritanical fundamentalism. He was vehemently opposed to the pluralistic and multicultural Islam that was being preached by the Islamic mystics and Sufi saints at that time, declaring them misguided Muslims indulging in shirk and bid'ah (polytheism and innovation) and fitnah and fasad (religious corruption).

Therefore, he called for returning to the 'pristine purity' of Islam, in conformity with his interpretation of the Koran, hadith and ijtihad [consensus by reasoning as a source of law in Islamic shari'a]. With an aim to purge Islam of the later customs and accretions, he also forbade Greek philosophy, Aristotelian logic and speculative thinking, as is laid out in his book Minhaj al-Sunnah. He believed that there can be no more progression in the vision of Islam, as he advocated the return to the 'pristine' Islamic doctrines bypassing the historical growth and progress of human life (Fatawa ibn Taymiyyah, 29 Vol. in Arabic).
Dehlvi goes on to explain that Ibn Taymiyyah's ideas were popularized 400 years later on the Arabian peninsula by "Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Najdi of Eastern Arabia[,] who gave the most powerful impetus to Ibn Taymiyyah's theology of radical Islam turning it into an influential religio-political movement which spread across the world." What ultimately made this spread possible was the mid-20th-century discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia, which brought fabulous wealth to the ideology that inspires so many Islamists. None of this is new, of course, but it bears repeating, to know that so much Islamism rejects philosophy, logic, and speculation, for this means that arguing with Islamists is likely futile. The rejection of logical argument leads to violence to settle religious differences, as we can well see.

The followers of  Ibn Taymiyyah and Al-Wahhab believe that they are following the earliest and purest Islam - and one must admit that they find textual support in the early sources.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

PS to yesterday's entry . . .

Stephen Vincent Benét
- an older and wiser man -

A different, more grounded, but equally "disdainful" reviewer also panned my paper on Stephen Vincent Benét. I say "disdainful" because of this remark to my citation of an encyclopedia to ground the distinction between ethnic and civic nationalism:
The author . . . simply appropriates/promulgates the ethnic/civic paradigm (gleaned from an encyclopedia) without analysis.
I didn't "glean" this from an encyclopedia. I simply cited a clear distinction offered by an encyclopedia because the audience in a session on literature and national identity - for whom I initially noted the distinction between ethnic and civic nationalism - seemed utterly unaware of this distinction and found the distinction difficult to fathom. My citation was a courtesy to that initial audience after a question-and-answer session revealed the confusion.

That should clarify the context, but the deep "disdain" is the assumption that because I don't expound upon some aspect of critical theory or literary theory in my writing, then I must be ignorant of it.

Therefore, listen, you doubters, disdainers, you double-down deniers, I studied under Martin Jay at UC Berkeley, and I understand critical theory. I've read plenty of literary criticism since then, and I know the connections between the two. I edit for various journals, and I know what you're talking about, so don't assume that I'm ignorant.

Read my writing with at least a modicum of humility . . .

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Sometimes, a journal brings bad news . . .

Stephen Vincent Benét

When four referees agree that a paper is not up to snuff, they must be right. I aimed at a literary journal too high with my brief article on Stephen Vincent Benét, but that doesn't mean I accept everything that one of the referees wrote, e.g., the following:
Introductory paragraph reliant on fixed clichés "fearful US," "better future," "broader horizons." The paper is also critically hesitant. The use of Benedict Anderson at the opening lacks analytical depth. Writing is awkward and critical thesis not apparent: the argument that his nationalism, which made him popular but become the very source of his decline, is not fully supported. Assumptions operate as analytical evidence, a poor strategy as in "No doubt his nationalist writings have also not fared well in our time of political multi-culturalism."
What this referee refers to as my introductory paragraph is actually my abstract:
This paper looks at the case of Stephen Vincent Benét, writer of novels, screenplays, radio dramas, short stories, essays, poetry, and propaganda. Benét died in 1943 while in his most productive period, fighting fascism through American broadcasts to an uncertain, fearful US public that trusted him to help find a way through a harsh present to a better future. His death was widely mourned, perhaps by the entire public, but he was quickly forgotten and has been generally ignored since the late forties despite the quality of his literary style. Benét was a writer who believed in an American culture that united all differences, and this perhaps accounts for his continuing obscurity in a time of ethnic and multicultural fragmentation of American literature. Perhaps he is due a revaluation.
I contend that the American public was fearful. America was in the middle of WWII and couldn't know the outcome. Of course, Americans were fearful! But Benét's literary efforts and political broadcasts did indeed give them hope of a better future. As for "broader horizons," the expression occurs neither in my introductory paragraph nor in my abstract but in the paragraph just before the conclusion:
In fact, Benét's civic-national 'Americanism' – despite his aim of composing a uniquely American literature – moved toward broader horizons. This is evident from his attack on fascism in the 1930s, wherein he extended American civic nationalism to Europe no longer simply as judgment but more as solution and assistance. Broader horizons are also notable in his choice of the Faustian theme, for the story of a man making a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul for knowledge and power, entails a basic mythos of Western Civilization, the original sin of mankind having been precisely this sort of bargain, namely, one's soul for knowledge and power. Unlike the original mythos, however, but like in Goethe's Faustian reinterpretation, Benét gives the story a twist, such that the devil is defeated. Civic nationalism in America can even overcome 'sin'! It can also therefore – as in "The Blood of the Martyrs" – help purge the extreme corruption of European fascism! Such optimism!
As can be seen, "broader horizons" is precisely right - and thus no cliché. I might add that the referee misses some irony in this paragraph, but scholars who lack that sort of interpretive skill are not rare, so let that pass. As for the remark that "Assumptions operate as analytical evidence," it is a reference to this statement of mine about Benét:
No doubt his nationalist writings have also not fared well in our time of political multiculturalism.
The referee spells the word "multi-culturalism," but let that also pass. What the referee calls an assumption is, in fact, an inference - and undoubtedly an accurate one. Finally, this remark:
Writing is awkward.
No, my writing is not "awkward." It is elegant. But anyone who states, "Writing is awkward and critical thesis not apparent," has no reason to complain about style, anyway. I won't bother to explain why I used Benedict Anderson's definition of a "nation" - I've already said enough.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Trafika Europe 5 - Slovenian Interlude


Literary Man-About-Town Andrew Singer exhorts us to:
Check out the latest issue of our quarterly literary journal, packed with terrific new literature and artwork from Slovenia and across Europe, free online!
Just click on the link and explore new literary worlds . . .

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

The truth is sometimes so simple . . .

. . . so very simple . . .

. . . that even I get it:
[Michel Houellebecq] doesn't distinguish between political Islam and Islam in general. "There's no difference," he said. "Islam is political because it describes the way in which society should be organized." (Rachel Donadio, "Michel Houellebecq, Casually Provocative," NYT, October 12, 2015)
Houellebecq's refusal to "distinguish between political Islam and Islam in general" is precisely why I distinguish between Islamism and Islam in general.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Matthew Charles Miller: Musician

My half-brother Matthew Miller plays his own brand of spiritually inspired outlaw country music, and it's pretty good! He gave me a CD of his recent songs, the album titled Split Decision, a pun on his divorce, and these songs are really good. But he hasn't yet set up a website where you can purchase his music, though he does have a Facebook site, so I don't know how you can hear his songs. There may be some videos on YouTube or his Facebook site if you poke around.

But I've even given him permission to use my own perfect country song, which you all, of course, remember:
Day Breakin'
Oh, all night, I been out drankin',
now mah head's as thick as clay,
So I 'spec' mah woman's waitin'
with some high-tone words tuh say,
But I'd need uhn extra drank
tuh help me face that judgement day!
--an' another shot uh whiskey
jus' might warsh mah sins away.

Oh, the mornin' light is growin',
but mah head fades more like dusk,
An' mah wife could blast mah lies
away like wind'll blast a husk,
Yeh, the judgement that's a-waitin'
can be swift an' sure an' brusque
--so, jus' one more shot uh whiskey,
save mah soul from gettin' cussed.

Oh, the crack uh dawn is creakin'
an' mah min' could crack in two
At the thought uh whut that scornful
woman's scorchin' speech can do
--She got words as sharp as arrows,
an' she aims each one so true!
--yet uhn extra shot uh whiskey
save me on this rendevous.

Oh, the sun is fully risen,
an' it burns mah eyes like mace,
Hence mah wife is surely wearin'
now her godforsaken face,
So I'll need a further drank
afore I step into that place!
--an' uhn added shot uh whiskey
jus' may brang mah soul tuh grace.

Yeh, all night, I been out drankin,
thus mah head's as thick as clay,
So I 'spec' mah woman's waitin',
got them high-tone words tuh say,
Sure I need that extra drank
tuh help me on this judgement day!
--now, that partin' shot uh whiskey,
may it warsh mah sins away.

Horace Jeffery Hodges
Copyright 1994
He plays this song well, and when he sings it, the song sounds serious as hell . . .

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Memories of Uncle Harlin

Harlin and Betty

My Uncle Harlin's step-daughter - my step-cousin? - sent this obituary, "Harlin J. Perryman," published in The Sacramento Bee (September 26, 2015):
Harlin J. Perryman was born in Zion, Arkansas, August 13, 1927, to Henry and Sarah Mabel (Shell) Perryman.

Near the close of World War II, and after he had graduated from Salem High School, his father signed the paperwork for him to serve in the U S Navy. His tour of duty completed, he returned to Arkansas and attended the University of Arkansas earning a Bachelor's Degree in History and a Master's Degree in French History. As he prepared to continue his studies for his Ph.D. at Penn State, he decided he had been away long enough and returned home. There he enrolled in law school and ran for the Arkansas State Assembly, winning the seat previously held by his father. After his graduation from law school and entrance to the bar, he lost his re-election bid to the Arkansas State Assembly. As a result he decided to travel the United States in search of a place to put down roots.

He finally settled in the South Bay area of San Jose, California. There he started a lengthy career in law. He also continued his interest in politics serving on several local and regional campaigns. He met and married Betty Baldwin. With Betty came a ready made family of 4 children, William, Melody, Steven and Deborah. Their five grandchildren, Marcella, Jeff, Kelly, Bethany and Hannah were a part of his life.

After their retirement in 1991, Harlin and Betty moved to the community of Magalia in Butte County. There they continued their activities in community events, playing bridge, gardening, volunteering and traveling. During this time Harlin, an avid cyclist, logged over 20,000 miles on his bicycle, becoming known as the "man who biked everywhere" around the ridge. As part of his cycling, he also became interested in watching the various birds he saw. He became an active member of the Audubon Society in both Butte and Sacramento Counties.

In Sept. 2000, Betty predeceased him after a long battle with diabetes. In 2006 he relocated, this time to Sacramento, to watch over Melody's house while she was working out of the area. Here he continued his interest in birdwatching and traveling, taking excursions several times a year on Audubon trips both in the United States and Canada.

He was predeceased by his father, mother, brother Max Henry and sister Hala Ferguson. He is survived by his sisters Ava Jo Bowling of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas and Gay Miller of Salem, Arkansas. He has extended family on both coasts and overseas. He loved to hear about their lives and adventures through his sisters. A Celebration of Life will be held behind Mather Air Force Base at Mather Regional Park Oct. 10th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. A parking fee will be provided by the family. In lieu of flowers, donations made to the Sacramento Audubon Society would be appreciated.
There's one mistake that probably needs correcting. Harlin's brother was not "Max Henry," but rather "Marx Henry." The name "Max," however, could be considered a laudable error that at least undoes an old, perhaps egregious error, for Marx was meant to be named "Marks," after one of Grandpa Perryman's Jewish friends in Arkansas politics, not Karl Marx.

The name "Marx" would have been a rather heavy burden to bear outside of the small community of Salem, Arkansas . . .

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Islamist Cleric Breathing Threats and Murder

Rafah Cleric Brandishes Knife

In the Memri report for October 9, 2015, Clip No. 5098, we learn that "Rafah Cleric Brandishes Knife in Friday Sermon, Calls upon Palestinians to Stab Jews"
In an October 9 Friday sermon delivered at the Al-Abrar Mosque in Rafah, the Gaza Strip, Sheikh Muhammad Sallah "Abu Rajab" brandished a knife, calling upon his brothers in the West Bank: "Stab!" "Oh young men of the West Bank: Attack in threes and fours," he said, and "cut them into body parts."
By "them" is meant "the Jews." The brutality of Islamism is so pervasive and so clear, one wonders how so many 'infidels' can fail to see it.

None so blind as those who will not see . . .


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Another Student's Gratitude . . .

Professor Hodges Reads from Novella
English Lounge Literary Event

Some time back toward the onset of this semester, a DIS student came to see me in the English Lounge to give me a gift along with a note of thanks:
I would like to express my sincere gratitude for everything you have done for me over the last semester.

First of all, thank you for being such a wonderful professor in World History class. At the beginning of the semester, I was really worried about writing the research paper and I (and my teammates) struggled while writing it. But we could successfully finish the paper as you kindly gave advice every time I visited you in you office hours and even on the days when you did not have office hours.

Also, thank you so much for taking your time to look at some of the papers that I wrote for College English class. I would not have been able to correct or even notice all the grammar mistakes I had made without your help. (And I would have received a terrible score.)

Finally, thank you for sharing your poems, book, and your personal stories. To be honest, I did not expect to have this close interaction with professors in university.

I am so glad to have taken your class and to be listed as one of your "unforgettable . . . . and intelligent students."

Thank you once again.
The poems this student refers to are a couple that I recited in my class on World History, in which I also mentioned my book The Bottomless Bottle of Beer - and I think I told in class of how I met my wife on a train in Germany . . . so this student must have asked more questions about me and my interests when she came to my office hours in the EEC . . .

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Back to Havel - Ideology

Havel with Still Another Cigarette
Google Images

I'm still reflecting on Vaclav Havel's essay "The Power of the Powerless," thinking about "Living within the Truth." Consider its opposite, the mirror image of living within ideology:
Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them. As the repository of something suprapersonal and objective, it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves. It is a very pragmatic but, at the same time, an apparently dignified way of legitimizing what is above, below, and on either side. It is directed toward people and toward God. It is a veil behind which human beings can hide their own fallen existence, their trivialization, and their adaptation to the status quo.
Living within an ideology is thus a means of avoiding the truth that one should recognize and that exists even if unrecognized.

But how does one know that one is living within an ideology?

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hangeul Day - a holiday for much celebration . . . and little cerebration?


Friday the 9th was "Hangeul Day," the day that Koreans celebrate their unique alphabet, Hangeul. Consequently, Kim Hoo-ran, an editorial writer for the Korea Herald, posted a column last Friday titled "For the love of humanity" (October 10, 2015) in praise of the Korean alphabetic system, about which she wrote:
Hangeul, at the time of its creation included 17 consonants and 11 vowels, but today 14 consonants and 10 vowels are in use. Each character represents a whole syllable and it is said that 12,768 phonemes are possible using the various combinations of consonants and vowels, making Hangeul a highly flexible writing system.
In an alphabetical system, the term "character" does not easily fit since the term ordinarily designates a Chinese ideogram signifying a meaning rather than a sound. I don't know how Kim is using this term, but Korean does divide its words into syllables in a way that most other alphabets do not, which may be what Kim is referring to, though I don't see how this is an advantage. Indeed, for the life of me, I cannot see the advantage on Hangeul over other alphabets, though Koreans often proclaim its superiority:
As a phonemic alphabet that can transcribe numerous languages, Hangeul could be an invaluable tool in preserving languages that face extinction and thus contribute toward preserving endangered cultures.
Any alphabet can do this. But what is being claimed?
In August, a group from Seoul National University successfully completed a three-year project to develop a Hangeul-based writing system to record the language of the Aymara Tribe in South America. The Aymara people, who number some 3 million, live spread across Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. The Latin alphabet used to write the Aymara language is inadequate in rendering the sounds of the Aymara language accurately and the use of Hangeul allows for easier and more accurate rendering of the language in written form, according to the team.
We'd need to see the evidence for this since Hangeul cannot even render all the sounds of English - consider the problem of "f" and "p" or "r" and "l" - without adding extra letters, which can be done with any alphabet, and I assume that's what's being done in this case. Note, for instance, the reference to "a three-year project to develop a Hangeul-based writing system." That's "Hangeul-based," not "Hangeul."

Similarly, the JoongAng Daily (October 9, 2015) devotes an editorial to the Korean language, titling it "Respect the integrity of hangul" (but disrepects its capitalization), and this editorial states:
In international conferences, the Korean language was chosen as one of the top ten in the world. Hangul has been receiving excellent appraisals from the international community, which says it's more scientific, ingenious and polysemantic than any other languages.
This excerpt conflates language and writing system, but even if the excerpt were not imagining such scholarly international conferences, the point would have to be made comparing Hangeul with other alphabets.

I'm not saying that Hangeul is unimpressive, but rather that extravagant claims are too often made on its behalf by too many Koreans, who - to be frank - seem not to know what they're talking about.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

John O. Robison: Musicologist

John O. Robison
School of Music

On Thursday this past week, I met John O. Robison, a musicologist at the University of South Florida who has made himself an expert in some aspects of Korean music and has even written a book on Korean women composers, among other books. As I spoke with him, I gradually came to realize that he is a genius. In the ninth grade, he was already teaching himself calculus - a branch of mathematics that I encountered only in university - and he went on from that to more mathematics, so much so that he tired of math before even entering college, where he decided on music as his field.

We spoke for over two hours at midday - over lunch and coffee - and I let him talk most since I didn't want to make a fool of myself through my ignorance of formal approaches to music.This was for the best since I learned that he has knowledge in depth not only on Western music, but also upon East Asian and Indian music. But you can discover still more from this university website:
Professor of Musicology and Director of Early Music Ensembles, plays plucked string, bowed string, and woodwind instruments. He has performed nationally and internationally on solo Renaissance lute, viola da gamba, Renaissance and Baroque recorders, Renaissance winds (shawm, rackett, curtal, etc.) and Baroque oboe, and modern oboe/english horn.

Robison researches a variety of Renaissance and Baroque topics, as well as intercultural composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries from the African, Asian, and Latin American continents. He has published articles in the Music Review, the RMA Research Chronicle, the Journal of the Lute Society of America, and Intercultural Music and is coauthor/editor of A Festschrift for Gamal Abdel-Rahim, published in Cairo by the Bi-national Egyptian/American Fulbright Commission.

He has participated in all nine conferences on new intercultural music sponsored by the Center for Intercultural Music Arts in England and Spain, as well as at conferences on modern African and Asian music in China, reading papers on Egyptian, Indian, Azeri, and Korean women composers. He presents papers regularly at meetings of the American Musicological Society and College Music Society and has hosted regional conferences of those organizations at USF.

Robison created a world music survey course (Folk and Traditional Music of World Cultures) and a course (Intercultural Composers of the Twentieth Century) that studies contemporary composers who have blended musical concepts from two or more cultures.

Robison earned his undergraduate degree at Oakland University, studying oboe, history and theory/composition. He received his Masters and Doctoral Degrees in Musicology and Performance Practice from Stanford University.
I think that this says a lot about the man, far more than I can, given my poverty of mind in things musical. How did I happen to come to know him? He was in Grenada recently, where he was purchasing a lute from an expert, Knud Sindt, an acquaintance of my friend Tim Anderson from my undergraduate years at Baylor.

The world is so full of amazing things . . .


Friday, October 09, 2015

Russia was right?

Vladimir Putin

Writing for The Spectator in "How Putin outwitted the West" (10 October 2015), the historian and writer Owen Matthews tells us that Russia was right:
Russia was right about Iraq and Libya, and America and Britain were dead wrong. Regime change doesn't seem to have changed Middle Eastern countries for the better, as Vladimir Putin has been warning for years. His policy is not to support any armed groups 'that attempt to resolve internal problems through force' - by which he means rebels, 'moderate' or otherwise. In his words, the Kremlin always has 'a nasty feeling that if such armed groups get support from abroad, the situation can end up deadlocked. We never know the true goals of these "freedom fighters" and we are concerned that the region could descend into chaos.'

Yet after a decade and a half of scolding the West for non-UN-sanctioned military interventions, Putin has now unilaterally committed Russian forces to what the former CIA director General David Petraeus calls the 'geopolitical Chernobyl' of Syria. Russia finds itself allied with Syria, Iraq and Iran - a new 'coalition' no less, as Syria's president Bashar al-Assad described it on Iranian state TV last week. How and why did Putin fail to take his own advice about the unintended consequences that breed in middle-eastern quagmires? And most importantly, how has he managed - so far at least - to make Russia's intervention in Syria into something close to a diplomatic triumph?

Russia's decisive intervention has left Barack Obama and David Cameron looking weak and confused. When the usually steadfastly patriotic readers of the New York Daily News were asked whether Putin or Obama had 'the stronger arguments', 96 per cent said Putin. In Britain even hawks like Sir Max Hastings - no friend of the Kremlin - are arguing that Russia can help beat Isis. And most importantly, Putin stole the show at the United Nations General Assembly last month with an impassioned speech denouncing the whole US-backed project of democracy in the Middle East at its very root.

The Arab Spring has been a catastrophe, Putin argued, and the western countries who encouraged Arab democrats to rise against their corrupt old rulers opened a Pandora's box of troubles. 'Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster,' he told assembled delegates, in remarks aimed squarely at the White House. 'Nobody cares about human rights, including the right to life. I cannot help asking those who have forced this situation, do you realise what you have done?' It was quite a sight: a Russian president taking the moral high ground against an American president - and getting away with it . . . . But fundamentally, Putin is much more interested in being seen to project Russian power than in fixing Syria's war. His aim is to hold up Britain and America as paper tigers whose indecision has created a policy vacuum on Syria, into which Putin has confidently stepped. The Russian operation is small and portable enough for Putin to be able to roll it up in a week - and declare victory if and when the going gets tough. That, as he knows, is more than Britain and America have been able to do in any of our recent wars.
Matthews argues that Russia is not entirely consistent in sending forces to Syria - to say the least - but Putin doesn't have to be consistent. He just needs to show Obama as weak and the US a paper tiger, and he thinks that whatever weakens the US is good for Russia, plus he can always claim to be cleaning up what Obama broke.

This might work in the short run, but will Russia look tough if it abruptly pulls out under pressure? Or will Russia double down?

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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Havel: More on Truth

Havel with Another Cigarette

I've been very busy these past few days and have thus not read enough of Havel's essay "The Power of the Powerless" to understand what he means by "truth," so I used a search function to locate the following:
[L]iving within the truth has more than a mere existential dimension (returning humanity to its inherent nature), or a noetic dimension (revealing reality as it is), or a moral dimension (setting an example for others). It also has an unambiguous political dimension. If the main pillar of the system is living a lie, then it is not surprising that the fundamental threat to it is living the truth.
As I thought - and noted in yesterday's post - Havel "seems to mean something richer than coherence and correspondence understandings" of truth.

More another time . . .

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Havel on Truth

Hero with a Cigarette

In his essay "The Power of the Powerless," Havel asks toward the end of part seven, "How does the power of truth operate?" He begins his answer in part eight:
INDIVIDUALS can be alienated from themselves only because there is something in them to alienate. The terrain of this violation is their authentic existence. Living the truth is thus woven directly into the texture of living a lie. It is the repressed alternative, the authentic aim to which living a lie is an inauthentic response. Only against this background does living a lie make any sense: it exists because of that background. In its excusatory, chimerical rootedness in the human order, it is a response to nothing other than the human predisposition to truth. Under the orderly surface of the life of lies, therefore, there slumbers the hidden sphere of life in its real aims, of its hidden openness to truth.

The singular, explosive, incalculable political power of living within the truth resides in the fact that living openly within the truth has an ally, invisible to be sure, but omnipresent: this hidden sphere. It is from this sphere that life lived openly in the truth grows; it is to this sphere that it speaks, and in it that it finds understanding. This is where the potential for communication exists. But this place is hidden and therefore, from the perspective of power, very dangerous. The complex ferment that takes place within it goes on in semidarkness, and by the time it finally surfaces into the light of day as an assortment of shocking surprises to the system, it is usually too late to cover them up in the usual fashion. Thus they create a situation in which the regime is confounded, invariably causing panic and driving it to react in inappropriate ways.
One hears echoes of existentialism, but Havel differs from, for example, Sartre, in that Sartre does not bind authenticity to truth, which leads to his nihilism - though I'm no expert on Sartre and could be misinterpreting the man.

But what does Havel mean by "truth." He seems to mean something richer than coherence and correspondence understandings. I'll have to finish reading his essay and report back . . .

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

A Student Leaves a Nice Note

Student Note Maker
Google Images

A nice note recently arrived from a student whom I advised on writing:
I learned a lot from your great advice. I am very happy to meet a professor like you! I have not taken any writing course before but this semester I think I can learn very much about writing.
Just to continue being helpful, allow me to revise a bit:
I learned a lot from your great advice. I am very happy to meet a professor like you! I have not taken any writing course before, but I think I can learn very much about writing this semester.
Glad to be of help! Too many Korean students never come to office hours because they don't want to bother the professor. Those who do come often first ask permission. As if that were required!

Don't worry about bother or permission. Come see me for help . . .

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Monday, October 05, 2015

Wendy Willis on Michael Zantovsky's Biography of Havel

Wendy Willis, reviewing Michael Zantovsky's biography, Havel: A Life, refers to Havel's life as an "An All or Nothing Gamble: Václav Havel and His Spiritual Revolution" (Los Angeles Times, September 30th, 2015), and here's the crux, a letter Havel wrote in defense of "the rock band Plastic People of the Universe," who "were arrested, tried, and convicted for aggravated hooliganism":
Many other writers and artists signed on to Havel's letter, arguing that a threat to speech somewhere was a threat to speech everywhere. But Havel's reaction to the trial was both deeper and more nuanced. It was both personal and metaphoric:
It does not happen often and usually it happens at moments when few expect it: something somewhere snaps and an event - thanks to an unpredictable synergy of its own internal prerequisites and of more or less random external circumstances - suddenly oversteps the limits of its position in the context of habitual everydayness, breaks the crust of what it is supposed to be and what it appears to be, and suddenly discloses its innermost, hidden and in some respects, symbolic meaning.
From that point on, Havel was on a collision course with Czech authorities, resulting in several arrests and prison stays, the longest extending from 1979 until 1983. As Zantovsky characterizes it, rarely has a political movement been born requiring "nothing more and nothing less than staying true to oneself."
So . . . "something somewhere snaps" - what does this mean? Havel gives an example, as Willis explains:
The example Havel uses is a greengrocer who daily, dutifully displays a window placard provided by the authorities that says: "Workers of the world, unite!" As Havel describes it, everyone knows that the placard is unlikely to be reflective of the greengrocer's own feelings or ideas, nor is it a genuine attempt to persuade passersby of anything in particular. Rather, it is a signal of compliance with the regime. As Havel puts it: "I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace."

And still, Havel imagines another future for the greengrocer. What if the greengrocer "snaps" and stops putting out the sign? Yes, Havel knows that the greengrocer will be punished by the authorities, that the "anonymous components of the system will spew the greengrocer from its mouth." But he also imagines a more exalted role for him. By refusing to post a sign that is meaningless to him, the greengrocer rejects the lie on which the totalitarian system depends. He destabilizes everything.
That is the crux, the point at which someone refuses any longer to live hypocritically and insists on living within the truth . . .


Sunday, October 04, 2015

A Funny Scene from Patrick O'Brian's Post Captain

Illustration by Dell'Orco

Post Captain Jack Aubrey is in debt and keeping one step ahead of the law - British law - and what an odd law it is! As in a game of tag, Jack need only be touched by a bailiff's tipstaff (an official wooden rod tipped in metal) to be legally caught and arrested, for "one touch amounted to a lawful arrest"! Jack's effort, therefore, is to evade the tipstaff and get to his boat. He is enjoying a feast just on shore when the law rushes in:
The din [of the feast] was so great that Stephen alone noticed the door open just enough for Scriven's questing head: he placed a warning hand on Jack's elbow, but the rest were roaring still when it swung wide and the bailiffs rushed in.

'Pullings, pin that whore with the staff,' cried Stephen, tossing his chair under their legs and clasping Broken-​nose round the middle.

Jack darted to the window, flung up the sash, jumped on to the sill and stood there poised while behind him the bailiffs struggled in the confusion, reaching out their staffs with ludicrous earnestness, trying to touch him, taking no notice of the clogging arms round their waists, knees and chests. They were powerful, determined fellows; the reward was high, and the mêlée surged towards the open window - one touch amounted to a lawful arrest.

A leap and he was away: but the head tipstaff was fly [i.e., clever] - he had posted a gang outside, and they were looking up eagerly, calling out 'jump for it, sir - we'll break your fall - it's only one storey.' Holding on to the window he craned out, looking down the lane towards the shore - he could see the gleam of water - towards the place where by rights the Polychrests [i.e., Jack's sailors] should be drinking Pullings' beer, sent to them together with the second sucking-​pig; and surely Bonden could be relied upon? He filled his lungs and hailed 'Polychrest' in a tone that echoed back from Portsmouth and stopped the mild gossip in the launch stone dead. 'Polychrest!'

'Sir?' came back Bonden's voice out of the dripping gloom.

'Double up to the inn, d'ye hear me? Up the lane. Bring your stretchers.'

'Aye-​aye, sir.'

In a moment the launch was empty. Stretchers, the boat's long wooden footrests, meant a row. The captain was no doubt pressing some hands, and they, pressed men themselves, did not mean to miss a second of the fun.

The pounding of feet at the end of the lane, coming nearer: behind, the sway and crash of chairs, oaths, a doubtful battle. 'Here, here! Right under the window,' cried Jack, and there they were, a little wet mob, gasping, gaping up. 'Make a ring, now. Stand from under!' He jumped, picked himself up and cried, 'Down to the boat. Bear a hand, bear a hand!'

For the first moment the gang in the street hung back, but as the head tipstaff and his men came racing out of the inn shouting 'In the name of the law! Way there, in the name of the law!' they closed, and the narrow lane was filled with the sound of hard dry blows, grunts, the crash of wood upon wood. The sailors, with Jack in the middle, pushed fast in the direction of the sea.

'In the name of the law!' cried the tipstaff again, making a most desperate attempt to break through.

'- the law,' cried the seamen, and Bonden, grappling with the bailiff, wrenched the staff from him. He flung it right down the lane, fairly into the water, and said, 'You’ve lost your commission now, mate. I can hit you now, mate, so you watch out, I say. You watch out, cully, or you'll come home by Weeping Cross.'

The bailiff uttered a low growl, pulled out his hanger [i.e., a short sword?] and hurled himself at Jack. 'Artful, eh?' said Bonden, and brought his stretcher down on his head. He fell in the mud, to be trampled upon by Pullings and his friends, pouring out of the inn. At this the gang broke and fled, calling out that they should fetch their friends, the watch, the military, and leaving two of their number stretched upon the ground.

'Mr Pullings, press those men, if you please,' cried Jack from the boat. 'And that fellow in the mud. Two more? Capital. All aboard? Where's the Doctor? Pass the word for the Doctor. Ah, there you are. Shove off. Altogether, now, give way. Give way cheerly. What a prime hand he will make, to be sure,' he added in an aside, 'once he's used to our ways - a proper bulldog of a man.'
Thus are the tables turned on the bailiffs. Deprived of their all-powerful tipstaffs, they are ordinary men who can be - and are - pressed into service under Jack's command! One of them, anyway. I'm not sure what happened to the other one.

Still, an odd law, if it is a law, for I've found nothing to suggest that the tipstaff was actually used in this manner. Would a chased man agree to a rule that says he has to voluntarily accept that he's caught if tapped by a tipstaff? Not that I can imagine.

Any experts out there among my readers who might know?

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Saturday, October 03, 2015

Sayyid Al-Qemany - Speaking of Islam?

Culture of Lies?

In the transcript to Memri Clip No. 5072 (August 20, 2015), the "Egyptian Author Sayyid Al-Qemany [Claims]: Using One's Mind Has Become a Crime; Any Free Thought Has Become Heresy":
When the [Arab Spring] events took place in Tunisia, I was asked whether I expected this to happen in Egypt. I said that I hoped it would not. I said that our people is controlled by a Wahhabi mentality. The entire people is Wahhabi. What is a Wahhabi? A criminal with a license, a divine license. Our Lord gives him a license to be a criminal . . . . Unfortunately, our culture is built upon lies, and our history is a fabrication. This has ruined our memory. A colleague said to me that the Muslim Brotherhood should rise to power, so that people would feel what it was like, and would then chuck them forever. I asked him: Haven't we been trying them for 1,400 years? He said: The people has no memory, because what students learn at school is . . . . about the glory of the caliphate and the greatness of the Islamic nation . . . The focus is on the nation and on its greatness, at the expense of the citizen. That's one problem. The nation is great, and Islam is great, and it does not matter who gets chopped to pieces underneath. It does not matter if the citizen gets chopped to pieces, if he gets burned, if his property is taken from him, if he suffers injustice, or if he is killed for no reason. The caliph would wake up one morning in a good mood, and would give a sack of gold to the first person he would meet. When he would get up on a bad day, he would give the order for his tailor to be killed.
Al-Qemany seems to be speaking of Islam itself in referring to Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood, as though there were no difference between Islam and Islamism - but we know, of course, that this is not true and should never be stated because that would be "Islamophobic," and no one should ever have any fear of Islam. Fear of Islamism is fine because it's a political religion, but fear of Islam is bad because it's only a political religion!

That's the crucial difference . . .

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Friday, October 02, 2015

Zoned Out

I zoned out in the English Lounge - over five hours waiting for students - so I came up with the following, zoned-out doggerel:
Signs say, "English Only Zone,"
but lack good punctuation,
while I'm lost in the ozone
here and call it education.
Well, what do you expect in a doggy-dog world? A catty-corner counterfeit confabulation? Eh? What's that? Don't steal from Commander Cody?

You got it . . .

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Fair Enough?

I help in editing the Ewha Voice, and I was recently asked to edit a special article that was 10 pages on an MS Word document, rather longer than most. The title was "Inclusion needs action: Harmonious coexistence with LGBTs in New York" (September 28, 2015, Volume 61, Number 10, page 5e), written by one of the Ewha Voice's reporters. Most of what the article covered was the prejudice still faced by those of the LGBT community but also the greater acceptance these days on the part of society - and especially on university campuses. But one fellow hadn't got the memo:
On the other hand, an anti-LGBT protester was standing at one side of the fair and was shouting at fairgoers that homosexuality should be "cured." He was also holding a poster that read "Homosexuality is sin, Christ can set you free." Soon, scuffles broke out when participants and fairgoers started to fight back, expressing their thoughts as well to the protestor.

"It's intolerant to say such words and force one's idea [on]to others," said Emily Terry, a fairgoer who was upset about the protester. "In my opinion, homosexuality is never a sin and everyone has [been] given a free will to choose who they love."
My last edits don't seem to have made their way into the print version - hence the brackets. I also see that the reporter wasn't able to find out what actually happened with the protester or who had started the scuffles. I advised that the precise details ought to be determined, or that this passage be excluded. That was my opinion, anyway. The Voice apparently disagreed.

But here's what I think happened. The protester was shouting his message as he held his protest poster. Somebody from the fair grabbed at his poster and pulled on it. The protester pulled back. Other fairgoers joined in on what became a scuffle - a physical altercation - accompanied by shouting at the protester.

I'm guessing that the ones who attacked the protester hold views like those of Ms. Emily Terry, who thinks that anyone protesting against LGBTs is trying to "force one's idea [on]to others."

Doesn't anybody believe in free speech anymore?