You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Monday, December 22, 2003


Saw this a few months back but now it's very relevant.

From the site:

"NEWS RELEASE and Photo-call Issued 02.09.03

PROFESSIONALS from the world of advertising have been enlisted to create a striking poster and series of commercial radio ads which was unveiled by the Churches Advertising Network (CAN) in London on September 9th.

In a radical twist to the traditional nativity scene and Christmas carols, the new series of Christmas adverts will follow the theme: 'Ask Him for something' and offer an alternative to the usual commercial Christmas - encouraging people to tap into a spiritual dimension instead.

CAN, the Churches Advertising Network, is an independent and ecumenical group of Church communicators which for the past ten years has produced a series of striking and often controversial poster and radio adverts.

Last year's award winning radio campaign,' Losing the Plot', which scooped the Andrew Cross Award for best radio advert or promotion, was aimed at a youth audience and broadcast on 24 radio stations including the Galaxy network and London's Kiss 100FM in the run up to Christmas 2002.

Church groups from various Christian denominations across the country will be invited to buy airtime on their local commercial radio stations in the fortnight before Christmas, with the aim of reaching young people in their area. Sponsorship has also been received to place the advert on the Galaxy network of stations and London's Kiss FM.

Picture here


recently i found the following website after follwing this blurb and link:

"Be sure not to miss Santa this Christmas Eve by tracking his progress live online. Track his journey and see exactly how he does what he does with live video and audio reports. You can start following his epic journey from 5am Christmas Eve. "

This got me to thinking - haven't those guys on 24 hour misslie watch at NORAD got anything better to do than track Santa now that the Cold war has frozen over? Aren't they worried about rogue nuclear states like Iran and North Korea, and other "Axis of Evil" wannabes, or other unidintified and undefined terrorist threats?


the whole thing is a huge cover-up and . . .

Osama bin Laden = Santa Claus!

Friday, December 12, 2003


[...] In a front-page story Monday, the [Cleveland Plain Dealer] quoted Daschle declaring, in reference to the United States, "The evil ones now find themselves in crisis, and this is God's will for them." In a correction, however, noted by the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web, the Cleveland daily said because of an editing error the quote from an audiotape purportedly of Saddam Hussein was misattributed to the South Dakota senator. The paper said, "It was the speaker on the tape, not Daschle," who said the Ba'athist leadership should return to power. The story had Daschle saying the only solution for Iraq was for "the zealous Iraqi sons, who ran its affairs and brought it out of backwardness ... to return ... to run its affairs anew."

-- “Newspaper confuses Daschle with Saddam", (20 November 2003)

WASHINGTON, DC -- Denouncing the American electoral process as "immoral and corrupt," President Clinton announced Tuesday that he will not step down on Jan. 20, 2001, declaring himself "President For Life."

Proclaiming Nov 14 a new national holiday as "Day One of Americlintonian Year Zero," Clinton issued a directive of total martial law over "all territories formerly known as these United States, from now on to be called the Holy United Imperial Americlintonian Demopublic (HUIAD)." He added that all election results are "hereby invalidated under Demopublican provisional law."

"The American people have spoken," Clinton said. "By failing to generate a 51 percent majority for either candidate, they have shown their inability to muster the drive to collective action. The time has come for a new America, a strong Americlintonian Empire, capable of providing the indecisive electorate with direction through one man's sheer force of will."

Dressed in full military regalia and flanked by members of his elite Demopublican Guard, Clinton told reporters, "Let all peoples of the land know this: The era of bipartisan inaction and paralysis has ended. The Age of the Great Cleansing Fire begins today." [...]

"Let them bring their pitiful reprisals to the impotent courts. Their lawyers and lawsuits shall face the wrath of a people united by the almighty fist," said Clinton, whose divinity as HUIAD's first Emperor-God was ratified late Tuesday night by the Americlintonic High Priest Council. "Let them recount their puny, paper ballots. They shall wither, as will the bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists all, before the Holy Cause of Americlintonia's glorious, righteous might." [...]

In a test of the new regime's power outside the nation's capital, Senator-Elect Hillary Clinton, rechristened "Bride of The Lord Clinton On Earth," summarily ordered HUIAD troops to fire on Manhattan crowds, leaving more than 2,500 dead on Wall Street and quickly dispersing protesters loyal to defeated Republican challenger Rick Lazio. [...]

Clinton has publicly dismissed such insurrections as "pathetic," confident that nothing will stem his authority over "the former US". "The rebels are but mewling kittens who shall taste blood instead of milk," said Clinton, threatening to deploy HUAID-controlled nuclear weapons against members of resistance movements. "The holy power of the atom shall, if it must, cleanse this nation of all infidels."

-- "Clinton Declares Self President For Life", The Onion, Vol 36 No 41 (16 November 2000)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

ON THE TOPIC OF ACCENTS, Tom, your blog reminds me of the time when I was browsing through the main "Resource Centre" (University euphemism for Library) at Griffith when I stumbled over a book dealing with film stereotypes. The name of it will forever escape me but I know exactly where it was shelved in 1997!

Items to note: In Hollywood Robin Hood films of the 50's, Robin Hood and his merry men always had American accents, while the Lords had toffee English ones - as opposed to the reality, where the merry men would be grunting in Anglo-Saxon gutterals while the Lords "wipe[ed] their a** with silk" (thanks Merovingian) in speaking French, as the Norman conquerors.

This phenomenon was repeated in K. Costner's "Prince of Thieves" (try saying "I will not rest urn-til my farrrthr is a-ve-an-ged like Kevin and you will hear what I mean) with British thespian Alan Rickman as the baddy. This American / British conflict apparently reflected the concerns of the American Revolution, and was much more appealing to US audiences than the centuries-old England France debacle.

However, the Patrick Bergin version of Robin Hood (made in the same year) has an Irish Hood (Bergin), and an English Prince John (Edward Fox), although I suppose this is an English production, not an American one, the heroes are Irish (proto Americans) but the evil-doers remain the same. Robin Hood is thus sort of like a modern-day IRA terrorist going about his business of restoring justice to the common folk.

As an aside, the parody, Men in Tights had a British hero in Cary Elwes, a Welsh Sheriff of Nottingham, and an American King John. Almost a role-reversal of the traditional Anglo-American antagonisms.

Interestingly, in the stumbled-over book there was also a chapter about horror movies, with one of the key characters being the "last girl" who survives until the end. Apparently this genre is true to form in movies such as IKWYDLS, Scream etc (although I claim no responsibility in having actually seen these films, so my comments are doubtless unreliable. Readers are urged to draw their own conclusions.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


... reminds me of other cartoonish super-villains, especially those depicted by Disney, whose villains collectively have so many sneering British accents that, if they ever formed a sort of Coalition of the Evil, they could almost be mistaken for an episode of Blake's Seven. My 3-year-old even thought for a time that Scar from The Lion King and Jafar from Aladdin were one and the same.

But it's not just Disney who love to hate British accents. As Giancarlo Cairella notes in his canonical list of movie clichés, there are certain rules for Villains:

• The bad guy is the foreigner.
• Corollary: the foreigner is the guy who speaks English with an English accent

However, this is not broad-brush stereotyping at work here, heavens, no. It's fine-brush stereotyping:

Dear British person: could you could be the next Euro-villain? Are you a Crown subject? Have you performed leading roles with an internationally recognised theatre company? If you answered yes to both questions, you are hereby eligible to portray a villain in a major Hollywood film. In accordance with the laws of the European Union, the British villain will now be known as the Euro-villain – but we all know, deep down, that he’s British to the core. Adhere to the following guidelines and you’ll be well on your way.

Choose your character

Type A: Sneering, disdainful, urbane villain who wants to regain his degenerate aristocratic family’s squandered fortune while grinding everyone else down into the dirt. (Examples: James Mason, Alan Rickman, Dirk Bogarde, Paul Scofield, Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, Jason Isaacs in The Patriot.)

Type B: Sneering, resentful working-class villain who rages against those who made his father a snivelling failure, his mother a whore, and generally kept him down in the dirt all his life. (Examples: Steven Berkoff, Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Robert Carlyle, currently Vinnie Jones in Gone in 60 Seconds.)

“How to be a Euro-villain: Have you got what it takes to be a Hollywood bad guy? If you’re British, you’re already halfway there”, by Justine Elias, The Guardian (Friday 21 July 2000)

In fact, using English accents as shorthand for villainy is a way of proving you're not racist!

“Darth Maul speaks the King’s English, and he is the most evil, most awful guy – but the Royals aren’t getting on our case. Are English butlers getting upset about C3PO?”

-- Lucasfilm spokesperson, quoted in “Something to offend everyone”, by Andy Seiler, USA Today (27 June 1999) [sorry, URL link's expired]

When I first heard that someone (not Disney, I forget who) was making a cartoon version of Anastasia, I thought: "Great. The bad guy will be Lenin with a toff English accent. And his snivelling sidekicks will be a talking hammer and sickle". Well, close -- it was Rasputin, with a non-BBC accent, and his sidekick was a talking bat. But my irony-meter had already overloaded, only 30 seconds into watching the video, after realising that the main hit on the soundtrack for this movie about a deposed Romanov princess was a song by Richard Marx.

Habeas Papam!

[UPDATE: They say some of these hyperlinks are broken. Specify which ones in the comments box, will you? It's eye-scrunching to do this in the matchbox-sized window that Blogger gives you for editing.]

Well, if a Papacy can re-unify Andrew Sullivan with Mark Shea, ending the Iran-Iraq Gulf War would’ve been easy. A meme is now emerging…

[I]f the problem with Islam is that it seems constantly to give rise to sects violently hostile to secular institutions, to reason, and to cultured sentiment; that the countries in which it predominates have a chronic tendency toward theocratic despotism; and that as a religion it exhibits no institutional structure that might finally impose some discipline on the chaotic and lawless spiritual impulses that it generates - if all that is the problem (which it surely is), then it is absurd to hold that the solution is for Islam to find its Martin Luther. It has already had its Luther, not to mention its Calvin and its Henry VIII, all rolled into one: his name was Muhammad. What Islam needs is a Pope”.

- Edward Feser, “Does Islam Need a Luther or a Pope?”, Tech Central Station (4 December 2003)
As Mark and others have noted, Feser (Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles) is “cribbing” from an argument made by Jonah Goldberg, in very similar terms, about 18 months ago:
In the Islamic world, the Caliphate - a very poor analogy to the throne of the Holy Roman Emperor or the Pope - came to an end in 1924… Until then, the Caliphs or their surrogates could speak with one voice for much of the Islamic world. With them gone, the Islamic world has spun off into a wild orbit, in
which nations without a mature notion of civil society also lack an outside moral authority like the Catholic Church. Hence, today every fanatic and murderer can “shop around” for a cleric willing to issue a fatwa condoning almost any crime or atrocity, like an addict looking for a corrupt doctor to scribble some prescriptions. Too many of these retail Islamic Martin Luthers compete with each other to be more devout, more angry, more willing to deflect the anxieties and shame of their societies onto outside forces, be they "
crusaders" or “Jews”… And that’s why the Islamic world doesn’t need any more Martin Luthers. It needs a Pope."

- Jonah Goldberg, “Islamic Rites: Why Muslims need a Pope”, National Review Online (4 April 2002)

Now, to be honest, my initial assumption was that the TCS article was a parody of Goldberg’s piece; firstly because the author comes close to plagiarising Jonah’s arguments (unintentionally, I guess) and secondly because of his name: I expected a follow-up parody by “William D. Konkra” entitled “No, Muslims Need A Dalai Lama”, in the manner of those “Point/ Counterpoint” satirical debates you read in The Onion. But then I really shouldn’t make puns about other people’s surnames. This “Muslims need a Pope” trope lends itself more to the making of a Top 10 list (“No #10: Election is announced by a puff of white smoke … from a hookah. No #9: When disembarks from an airplane, takes care to face Mecca when kissing ground. No #8: All condoms are intrinsically evil, but those made from pigskin are really intrinsically evil. No #7…").

I agree with one of the comments chez Shea: Islam would be better off (or less worse off) with the Pope, the Catholic one (or the Coptic Pope for that matter), by converting en masse (as it were) to Christianity. Catholicism would be more familiar to Muslims than Protestantism, while Orthodoxy - as William Dalrymple notes in his book From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium (NY, Holt, 1998, p 168) - would be closest of all:

Today the West often views Islam as a civilisation very different from
and indeed innately hostile to Christianity. Only when you travel in Christianity’s Eastern homelands do you realise how closely the two religions
are really linked. For the former grew directly out of the latter and still, to
this day, embodies many aspects and practices of the early Christian world now
lost in Christianity’s modern Western incarnation. … Certainly if [Saint] John
Moschos were to come back today it is likely that he would find much more that was familiar in the practices of a modern Muslim Sufi than he would with those
of, say, a contemporary American Evangelical”.

But simply grafting a Pope, empowered to infallibly interpret the Qur’an and the Hadith, upon the existing body of Islamic teaching and practice, would be no improvement. The leading candidate for a Muslim Vatican would be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose monarch’s titles include “Guardian of the Two Holy Shrines” of Mecca and Medina (the nearest Christian analogy might be if both Nazareth and Jerusalem were in Rome). Possession of the keys to the Ka’aba would be an even more powerful bargaining chip than the Pope’s property title to the Vatican, or (say) Jesus’ tomb in the Holy Land, since for Muslims pilgrimages to these places are not just works of supererogation, but non-negotiable religious duties. So I remain unpersuaded that a Muslim Pope would not simply instruct the faithful they'll receive plenary indulgences if they fall in battle against the infidels, and be met with joyous cries of "Allah le veult!"

Both Feser and Goldberg take a few swipes at Protestantism, along lines familiar to anyone who's ever opened Belloc and read a page at random:

If you travel around peace-loving Switzerland, for example, you’ll
discover that a couple of centuries worth of art is simply missing, because
Protestant iconoclasts burnt it in giant bonfires to fuel their fondue-pots of
religious fervour. The Catholic Church, meanwhile, has a very nice art
collection, which includes depictions of lots of pretty-naked ladies and a few
naked pretty ladies.
” (Goldberg)

The Taliban who dynamited those Buddhist carvings thereby demonstrated their kinship, not to the Medieval Catholics who venerated Plato, Aristotle, and other great writers of pagan antiquity, nor to the Renaissance Popes in their patronisation of the arts, but to the Protestant mobs whose vandalism purged so many once-Catholic European churches of their stained glass, statuary, and beauty". (Feser)

Who in turn demonstrated their kinship to Moses, King Hezekiah, King Josiah, and Saints Paul and Silas - although not to King Solomon. But hey, the Borgia Popes did leave us great artwork. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image … at least not an unattractive one. (But I agree, it was unnecessary for the Taliban to destroy the Bamiyan Buddhist statues, because there are no longer any Buddhists left in Afghanistan using them for worship - a point that a number of the Taliban’s own theologians made at the time. not enthusiastic about centralised systems where one single person, on top of the pyramid, has power to decree what shall henceforth be permitted or forbidden, or to prevent different solutions being experimented with and adopted if successful. In fact, one of Hayek’s main arguments is that decentralised systems are capable of coordinating themselves without a top-down ruler. By contrast, the Catholic position is that you get not just annoying disagreement but intolerable anarchy if you say “Let each be fully persuaded in his own mind”, and deal with heretics by separating yourself from them rather than by forcing them to recant. Those of us who’ve witnessed Baptists, Presbyterians and Anglicans sharing the Eucharist together, or watched the Jesuits and Opus Dei duke it out with barely disguised hatred, might not be "fully persuaded" that much is gained simply by agreeing on a common infallible arbiter whose teachings you then interpret in widely conflicting ways. Contrary to the much-repeated Catholic argument that the role of the Papacy is to stop different people from reading their Bibles and coming to different conclusions, in fact the role of the Papacy has been to stop different people - in different centuries and countries; the Waldenses, Hus, Tyndale, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Cranmer - from reading their Bibles and coming to the same conclusions.

Note also that Hayek was rather scathing (using terms like "mirage", "road to serfdom", "fatal conceit") about one of the favourite projects of the recent Popes: "social justice".
... such opposition makes the defender of tradition the true upholder
of freedom and rationality: for there can be no true freedom divorced from the
rule of law and the equal submission of all to rules whose authority does not
rest on any individual’s arbitrary will… The teachings of a Pope are never
strictly his teachings, but merely those of the 2,000-year-old institution of
which he is a temporary steward and to which he must submit as dutifully as any
of the faithful
”. (Feser)
But what if he doesn't submit? “… if a minor spiritual power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man…" - Pope Boniface VIII, in Unam Sanctam (1302).
... this distinction between Church and State has survived the
Reformation to become one of the most prized elements of Western Civilisation.
Or at least it has in those countries in which some Protestant sect or other
hadn’t captured the apparatus of government: it must never be forgotten that it
was Calvin, and not some Medieval Catholic, who founded in Geneva the world’s
first Christian totalitarian state, that it is Lutheran bishops who were
traditionally the paid employees of German and Scandinavian governments…"

Ah, so this explains all those worrying reports coming in of Catholics being arrested on the streets of London, New York, Geneva and Amsterdam and being tortured until they agree to sign a statement professing their belief in Double Predestination … What, not a single word about France under the Bourbons, or about Spain or Austria-Hungary under the Hapsburgs? Did they develop the “prized element” of distinction between Church and State before those heretical separatist Protestants in America did? I mean, seriously. What colour is the sky on Planet Feser?
“… and that it is the Church of England, and not the Church of Rome,
whose head is a secular monarch”.
And if the Pope, as Head of State of the Vatican City, is not a “secular monarch”, by what right does he have a seat, an ambassador and a vote at the United Nations, and sovereign immunity under international law, when the Southern Baptists or the Wesleyan Methodists or the Lutheran World Federation don't?
This is a Tradition that the Church herself does not create but merely
preserves and passes on - emendations to that Tradition occurring only very
infrequently, deliberately, gradually, and minimally, and always in a way which
merely draws out the implications of what was there already rather than
introducing some novel or foreign element".
Forget the Protestants for a monent, and take this up with the Orthodox. (It may be true that Henry VIII terrorised almost everyone in England into rejecting Papal supremacy, but he could hardly have influenced the thinking of Greek Bishops half a millennium before he was born.)

Heaven knows, the excesses of triumphalist Whig history can always do with reining-in by sober reminders of the skeletons in Protestantism’s closet. But this wave of recent Catholic revisionism - switching from centuries of condemning democracy and liberalism to claiming to have invented them - fails the Chestertonian “common sense” test. Professor Feser’s argument is long on generalities and short on specifics: by naming, for instance, one Catholic-majority country that can match the record of the Protestant-majority countries in upholding democracy and the rule of law for several centuries (three for Britain, two for Switzerland and the USA).

Protestantism’s worst excesses and cruelties were committed in periods when it was the most “Catholic” - when it still held to the belief that allowing doctrinal “live and let live” meant anarchy, that it was the duty of the civil magistrate to prevent heretics from sending themselves to hell. The solution is and was never to revert to Catholicism but to return to the Gospel - to remember Christ’s words about wheat and tares, for a start.

A much better solution is put forward by one “Zathras”, who in the TCS comments box (nearest link is here) argues that if you really want the Islamic religion to become more compatible with democracy and free debate, then the best form of “church” governance is one based on democracy and free debate. Who would've guessed?!!
A Pope - the electée of previous Pope’s appointees, the head of an
enormous, entitled institution - would be overkill. Something like a
Presbyterian General Assembly would suffice. It would not prevent
misinterpretations of Islam, but it would make it more difficult for extremist
clerics to act as spokesmen for their religion without fear of contradiction by
other learned senior Muslims. It would also be an example of the kind of open
discussion practiced in the North American and Western European democracies that emerged from the Protestant tradition

oldberg and Feser are absolutely correct, though, on one point. We don’t want an Islamic Luther. The reason is that, unlike the situation with the late-mediaeval Catholic Church, Islam’s scriptures are no more liberal than its traditions are. A Muslim Reformer who went back ad fontes (“to the sources”) would strip away accreted centuries of conservative Hadith only to be left with… a conservative sola Qu'rana. Rather than a Muslim Luther, or a Muslim Pope, what the world really needs is an Islamic Melanchthon.

Monday, December 08, 2003


At last! The Final Solution!


"Does anybody know how to clean up paints on cloth, leather, carpet, plastic, viynle [sic] , and metal??

I bought a spray paint and put it inside the car, but it somehow got caught under the seat. I didn't know so when I adjust the seat it punched a hole on the can and the paint blew out like a jet engine........"

Friday, December 05, 2003

WASN'T SHE, ERR ... I always had some vague idea that Bridget Fonda was, you know, although that may have been me just mixing her up with her near-clone Jodie Foster. Anyway, be that as it may, BF recently opted decisively to commit to the home team with the man who composed The Simpsons theme music and who is also Jenna Elfman's uncle-in-law:

Actress Bridget Fonda and composer Danny Elfman have become the latest Hollywood newlyweds, after exchanging nuptials on Saturday. Fonda, 39, and 50-year-old former Oingo Boingo singer Elfman became husband and wife at Los Angeles' First Congressional Church in a candlelit evening ceremony.

"First Congressional Church"? Is that a typo for "Congregational", or has someone taken Whig history (the New Jerusalem, the Elect, the Shining City on a Hill, the Constitution as the new Ark of the Covenant, etc) to an even weirder extreme than before?

Thursday, December 04, 2003

LISTEN, CHILDREN, TO A STORY/ THAT WAS WRITTEN LONG AGO ... When Michael Moore denounced Dubya at the Oscars -- "We live in the time where we have fictitious [sic] election results that elects [sic] a fictitious [sic] president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious [sic] reasons" -- he said "ficti[ti]tious" like it was a bad thing. But now, other opponents of Dubya's illegal imperialist war have decided that ficti[ti]tious characters is people too, and shall not be silenced or otherwise denied inclusion in the political process on the trifling ground that they don't actually exist:

The classic children's book icon, Grandfather Twilight, broke twenty years of silence to endorse Congressman Dennis Kucinich for President in 2004. "In these extraordinary times we must act with extraordinary sincerity," he said. [...] There is a brave, truth-telling man from Ohio. His name is Dennis Kucinich, a Congressman who is running for President. As you know, I tend to be a calm old man, but when I heard Dennis speak, I got excited. He plans to create a Department of Peace. At last! Why has no one done it before? This is exactly how a wise President should think, what a good President should do!

Yes, that's right! Why has no one created a Department of Peace before? It's so bleedin' obvious!

On the other hand, Commander Adama yesterday endorsed Bush on the ground that it was foolish to wish for peace with such implacable enemies as the Cylons. "This war must continue until either we are destroyed, or until they are" he told the Quorum of the Twelve, opposing the "roadmap to peace" being put forward by Sire Uri.

My gosh! The ficti[ti]tious characters disagree? How's a mere real life flesh and blood boy supposed to vote?

The other famous quotable quote from Mr Toad's Oscar's speech was his warning to Bush that "The Pope even came right out and said it: this war in Iraq is not a just war and, thus, it is a sin [...] any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up."

I was reminded of this devout Catholic piety when leafing through the Mooron's latest book, Dude, Where’s My Country?. In Chapter 10, "How to Talk to Your Conservative Brother-in-Law", he demonstrates that streak of occasional and utterly random sensibleness that makes him so infuriating. Yes, he agrees, violent criminals actually should be locked up, although not executed. Then, discussing abortion, after arguing that opinion polls show large majorities of Americans favour abortion on demand, he uncovers the true agenda of the Right to Lifers: fear that abortion rights will give power to women. RTLs, he argues, prefer the old way to "We Impregnate, You Decide".

This from a man who justified his speech opposing the overthrow of Saddam & Sons Inc by relating how, on the morning before Oscars Night, "I found myself last Sunday morning, at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Santa Monica Boulevard, at Mass with my sister and my dad." Hey, Michael: any time you got the Pope, Susan B Anthony , Nat Hentoff , and Patricia Heaton against you, your time is up.

THE GUARDIAN DEITY OF THE PLANET... I'm Protestant enough by conviction to be outraged, rather than simply amused, at this list of the grandiose titles the Emperor of North Korea has bestowed upon himself:

Eternal Sun, the Guardian Deity of the Planet and the Sun of Socialism are among the titles used to refer to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. [...] The North’s state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station says a total of 1,200 titles and phrases have been created and used to refer to Kim. “Prominent leaders from 160 nation [sic] across the world have used at least 1,200 tiles [sic] to honour our Great General (Kim Jong-Il)”, it said in a recent report. The references include Lode Star of the 21st Century, Peerless Leader, Beloved Leader, Great Leader, Dear Leader, Great Suryong (chieftain), the Sun of Revolution, the Sun of Life, the Sun of Juche (self-reliance, the ruling idea of the country), and the Fatherly Leader of all Koreans, among others.

The oxen reckon that if you put melted butter and some coriander on the grass you're eating, Kimbo, it tastes better. It'll soften the pain when American troops shoot your sons and anointed heirs like dogs and display their bodies in downtown Pyongyang while you hide behind your dyed Elvis quiff in a bunker somewhere. (Who knows what grandiose blasphemies Saddam might have bestowed on himself had his pals Chirac and Putin managed to hold off the US invasion until he could get his nukes?).

And you might want to be careful with the "Peerless Leader" title, too. Makes you sound not unlike cartoonish super-villain, yes?

MOTHER OF ALL TONGUES? If you are an anorak, you will find this article extremely interesting: “Language tree rooted in Turkey: Evolutionary ideas give farmers credit for Indo-European tongues”, by John Whitfield, in Nature (27 November 2003). But even if you are a person of normal tastes, you may, like me, be especially intrigued to find that something you always thought was fictional actually has some basis in history:

[…] there is no consensus on where Indo-European languages came from. Some linguists believe that Kurgan horsemen carried them out of central Asia 6,000 years ago. [...]

Kurgans?!! That is way cool. I always suspected that "Me pardona Pater, vermis sum", "Haec nocte in averno dormis!" or "Terra sacra haec est, Caledoni!" or "Solus unus potest esse!" must have come from an older proto-linguistic source...

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

LATHAM IN THE ISLES Congratulations to Mark Latham MHR on his election as the latest Federal Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Labor Party. He continues the ALP's long tradition of recycling surnames – although, in this case, it's the surname of a previous Opposition Leader on the conservative side. It means he’s already got a Canberra suburb named after him, 15 months before he's even taken office as Prime Minister – move over, Ronald Reagan and Senator Robert Byrd.

SINGING FROM THE SAME HYMN SHEET Over at the ever-entertaining Boar's Head Tavern, Amanda Nordstrom notes that “Amazing Grace” can also be sung to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun”.

I've been to a few services where someone does this and yes, it sounds awesoooome. You can also sing "Amazing Grace" to the tune of the "Gilligan's Island" theme. Expanding on this theme (which has a long and venerable history: "The Star-Spangled Banner", like a lot of Charles Wesley's hymns, is set to the tune of what was originally a raucous tavern drinking song), Cliff Richard’s "Millen[n]ium Prayer" last century set the words of the "Our Father" (the Protestant version) to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne".

However, I was seriously disturbed when it occurred to me that you can sing the lyrics of "Stairway to Heaven" to the tune of "The Old Rugged Cross".

One of my ambitions -- one day -- is to do a cover of MeatLoaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road". Try it yourself...

"HERE WE ARE NOW, ENTERTAIN ALL ELEVEN OF US..." Krist Novoselic, former rock star from “Nirvana”, is now promoting proportional representation (PR) for the Oregon State lower house: nine 11-seat “super-districts” with closed party lists (although candidates would still be selected and ranked by the party's registered supporters in a primary election, so it wouldn't be quite as closed a shop as the Australian Senate). Thanks to Seattle's own Mark Shea for that link. If the cleaned-up bassist does get elected as Democrat candidate for State Lieutenant Governor, as is being discussed, they can change the State motto to "Krist Before Us".

Waaay back in 1992, when Nirvana were at their peak and Kurt Cobain was still alive, I was writing an honours thesis about electoral systems. One of my friends informed me that this marked me as a total “anorak”, as the Brits would say. Now here’s a member of Nirvana whose new life’s obsession is electoral systems. I’m as bemused as if Jewel was travelling around campuses passionately promoting amendments to the Federal Code of Civil Procedure.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

THAT'S WHY THEY WERE CHEERING FOR THE MACHINES IN MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS ... If you were the editor of Jewish World Review, and you were commissioning an article that exposes the falsehood of Islam's image as a "religion of peace" by showing how Muslim doctrines teach hatred of Jews, wouldn't you choose a pseudonym to publish it under if the author's actual surname happened to be "Elder"?

Monday, December 01, 2003


From CNN - true!

Joke turns sour

An AirTran Airbus A320 packed with 156 passengers bound for San Francisco, California, was delayed four hours Sunday when an airline worker noticed a sticker reading "Terrorism Equals War" affixed to the cabin door's exterior, airline spokesman Tad Hutcheson said.

Once notified, the captain returned the plane to the gate, where the sticker was deemed a possible security threat, Hutcheson said.

All passengers were ordered off with their luggage and re-screened by 12 TSA employees pulled away from their duties at the main terminal, he said.

After almost three hours, the passengers and crew were allowed to re-board, including a man who admitted having placed the sticker on the door, Hutcheson said.

The flight departed at 1:32 p.m., more than four hours behind schedule.

"It was a practical joke taken a little too far," Hutcheson said.

No charges were filed against the passenger, but he suffered another kind of punishment: "The worse thing is to fly with the 155 people he delayed," Hutcheson said.