News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: August 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Memories: Lord of the Flies 1960

This article from CCN got me to thinking:

As a child of about four or five, at my grandparents' farm for a summer week, I watched my grandmother wreak vengeance on the files in the kitchen and porch.

I took her cue, it seems, and began trying to kill them myself. I'd stalk them with the fly swatter raised like Death's scythe. I even caught and belegged them in cruel curiosity.

I called myself the Fly Hunter.

More recently, I delved into the dynamics of how hard it is to kill a fly. I realized what the CNN report says:

"We also found that when the fly makes planning movements prior to take-off, it takes into account its body position at the time it first sees the threat," Dickinson said."When it first notices an approaching threat, a fly's body might be in any sort of posture depending on what it was doing at the time, like grooming, feeding, walking, or courting. Our experiments showed that the fly somehow 'knows' whether it needs to make large or small postural changes to reach the correct preflight posture."
I also came to the same conclusion:
"It is best not to swat at the fly's starting position, but rather to aim a bit forward of that to anticipate where the fly is going to jump when it first sees your swatter," [the research said] said.
Not only I not have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure it out, but I

Of course, I should perhaps feel proud that I concluded with my own native intelligence what It took scientists to figure out over tens, if not hundreds of experiments.

Yet, I should also feel grateful to science, perhaps, for confirming my findings. That is the best spirit of science, I think. Working with others in a common endeavor to unveil the truth about the world--even the lowly world of the fly. (The tears of common effort and communal task swell my breast.)


1. One of my favorite Blake poems is The Fly.

Little Fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

2. One of the scarier movies I saw was David Cronenberg's "The Fly." The ending suicide scene is so raw, so right, yet metaphysically terrifying. There's pity, horror at something so loathsome in humans that parades as honor and pride but ultimately stands revealed as ugly and petty. Even Geena Davis' heart-rending love for Goldbloom's character cannot tear the scab from that realization.

3. The scene in Herzog's Nosferatu, where the insane Jonathan Harker captures flies and eats them for their blood often strikes me as particularly terrifying. Being reduced to a fly-hunting speck of a human, contemptible not only in other people's eyes but your own. The object of a pity that verges on hilarity, if one were not so ridiculously self-absorbed in tasks only a spider would understand.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Dresden Dolls: Girl Anachronism music video

This is very good, I think. Poetix calls it "brechtian punk cabaret," perhaps facetiously.

The lyrics remind me of my daughters, not so happily I fear.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

What Are U Doing Here?!

Originally published two years ago. I wanted to update it with the following video from ABC News.

Update: This is one the most found of my posts that people find via Google and/or link. Regrettably, I do not think it is just an interest in the discussion that attracts most people. Indeed, the most used words to find this post are "kill all muslims." In fact, the 14,000th hit on the site used the search terms, "I want to kill all muslims." My advice for this person is to seek help. U others, please consider the import of the post if you really are asking the question about whether killing all Muslims is a live alternative.

The question of whether the US or its proxies or even western nations as a whole should kill all Muslims has been gaining wide support around the darker corners of the blogosphere lately. I say darker, since you'd expect it to be limited to what used to be called racist sites run by the Aryan Nation or KKK. However, you can even hear such sentiments expressed on daily talk-shows.

A recent unscientific poll at the Spengler Forum asked the members outright whether all Muslims should be killed. ....

The poll at Spengler's forum is ambiguous. Before it was locked and shut down due to the acrimonious accusations passing back and forth between the commenters, enough people voted to show that yes, 23% believed all Muslims should be killed outright; 61% did not think this; and 14% charitably believed that "killing the majority of them should be sufficient to break their will."

Perhaps these are the same people--or at least close relatives--of those who sent out a mass email that is counseling readers to “Kill ‘Em All. Let Allah Sort ‘Em Out.” According to ThinkProgress, the email contains the following statements:

A disproportionate response is the best kind. … What would a proportionate Israeli response be? Snatching two Hezbollah fighters, torturing them to death, cutting off their genitals and stuffing them in their mouths?

Lebanon used to be a nice little country, before the Sons of Allah got their blood-smeared hands on it. Believe it or not, Beirut was once…the most advanced and prosperous country in the Arab world — because a majority of Lebanese were Christians.

Israel needs to step-up its air strikes and send in the troops (can you say “massive deployment, baby?”) to do the job only ground forces can do. … To resurrect and reconfigure one of my favorite Vietnam-era slogans — Kill ‘em all. Let Allah sort ‘em out.
Again, such extreme views have always been present in modern western societies. They are usually controlled by various venting processes that occur during socialization. Although they may form a part of even everyday speech, as they are in various ethnic slurs and nicknames, they are usually stigmatized so that people do not act on them.

Unfortunately, what is happening in response to the War in Iraq is that such views and sentiments are not only on the rise but are also becoming part of the mainstream dialog and everyday speech. That is, while ethnic slurs are to be expected, the open discussion of exterminating entire groups of people is something new in the US--at least since the end of the 1930s, after the decline of the KKK as a national movement.

But this is changing, obviously. During his talk-show, Michael Savage, for example, can be heard expressing such views (via Media Matter) as the following:
In the long term, the only thing that can make a difference is a devastating, catastrophic, overwhelming victory for the Israelis, where nothing is left living in southern Lebanon, south of the Litani River.
While these comments do not express the genocide of all Moslems and Arabs, they certainly reflect a terrible indifference to the pain and suffering--whether of the innocent or the guilty--with the implication being that because they are ethnically Muslim, they should be treated in this way.

As Islamophobia Watch is reporting, traditionally anti-Semitic groups are now exploiting the anger generated by extremist Moslem attacks in the US, England, and Spain. Quoting the British Nationalist Party's (BNP) newspaper, IW posts:
"The BNP has moved on in recent years, casting off the leg-irons of conspiracy theories and the thinly veiled anti-Semitism which has held this party back for two decades. The real enemies of the British people are home grown Anglo-Saxon Celtic liberal-leftists who seek to ... impose multiculturalism on a reluctant indigenous population, and the Crescent Horde – the endless wave of Islamics who are flocking to our shores to bring our island nations into the embrace of their barbaric desert religion."
Notice how these anti-Islamic statements are combined with the issues or liberals, immigration, and what is called "Eurabia."

This last view has various associated concepts, including the view that Europe is vanishing because of low birth-rates, and along with it something called Christendom; that is, the supposed Judeo-Christian tradition that has given birth, these proponents suggest, to the freedoms and liberties we all benefit from. What the influx of Moslems and Arabs supposedly threatens are these very freedoms and liberties, as well as the vast cultural heritage from Greece to modern secularism.

Dare one even say that these views are not just historically idiotic--it was, after all, the Muslems who maintained the very Greek tradition and its culture that these people suppose is their own--they also reflect a dangerous attachment to something that simply does not exist. That is, a homogeneous culture that has somehow statically existed in a hermetically sealed environment where influences--cultural and otherwise--have not affected it.

But these peremptory remarks will not stop those who want to eradicate a threat that seems not only to be directed at a "civilization" but perhaps even more importantly threatens them individually, personally--as though their very existence is in question when they look at the world around them.

How else explain the following view, which introduces that unscientific poll I linked to at the beginning of this post?
Why don't we kill all Muslims? All of them. As Geotima would say, we are already in a World War, let's fight like we mean it. So why don't we start to plan for their complete extermination? They are hateful and will not stop until they force everyone in the world to submit to Islam. There is no reasoning with them, we must fight them with all we have. As we all know Muslims are at their best when they are being defeated, so we cannot afford to keep them in a constant state nominal defeat lest they rise and do greater damage to the rest of us. They attack all nations that are not Muslim, every western nation, China, India, Russia all suffer from Islamic terrorism.

Since overwhelming force will not defeat the Muslims unless we kill the overwhelming majority, let's talk about how we would go about killing every last one? You know that genocide is on the top of the tongue of many of the posters here, you know that this is the only way that such overwhelming force can possibly defeat such an irrational force.
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