Gene Wolfe steals my fudgsicle

by Henry on June 15, 2004

In comments at John and Belle’s “other blog”:http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/2004/06/pull_the_the_fi.html, Fafnir from Fafblog speaks to the perplexity caused by reading Gene Wolfe.

bq. Gene Wolfe is a punk. He also greedily ate my fudgcicle once while signin my copy of “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories.” I said “hey gene wolfe that is my fudgcicle” an he said “maybe you only THINK it is your fudgcicle because you are plaaaaauged by the ghooosts of meeeeemory. wooooooo!” all the while makin wiggly fingers. And I went home thinkin that maybe I really was plagued by the ghosts of memory and maybe I wasn’t who I thought I was, was I Fafnir or was I Gene Wolfe, or was I a butterfly dreaming I was Gene Wolfe dreaming I was Fafnir? And the next day I woke up an realized that punk had just eaten my fudgcicle.

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School Uniforms

by Harry on June 15, 2004

I don’t know enough about this case to feel comfortable commenting on the all-things-considered rights and wrongs of it. But I was taken aback by the comments of the girl’s MP on Radio 4’s PM programme. Margaret Moran, who backs the school and the court, said, in their defence, that the girl had the option of going to a Muslim school, and her family also had the option of withdrawing her from school and home-schooling. She went on to accuse them of having ‘political motivations’ for their suit.

I can imagine good reasons for having uniform regulations, and for upholding them even in the face of religious objections, hence my relctance to comment on the all-things-considered merits. But the fact that the regulations might drive a girl into an educational situation in which her religious beliefs will not be challenged or tested seems to me a reason for bending, or revising the rules, not a consideration in their favour. The parents’ enthusiasm that their child should attend a state comprehensive school is to their credit. Telling them that they should school her religiously or at home doesn’t seem very helpful to me.

Inside the Beltway

by Henry on June 15, 2004

I’m spending some time in Washington DC, where I’ll be starting a new job this September in George Washington University’s Dept. of Political Science and Elliott School of International Affairs. There was a Kerry fundraiser yesterday where Bill Clinton was speaking – I went along with my wife because I thought it would give some interesting insights into how Clinton was going to sell Kerry’s candidacy on his upcoming “book tour”:http://nytimes.blogspace.com/genlink?q=http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/14/politics/campaign/14CLIN.html?pagewanted=print&position=. As it did.

Clinton spoke for about 15 minutes. There were three main points to his speech. First was a slightly defensive apologia for Kerry’s lack of public profile – Clinton spoke about how difficult it was to get media space for a challenger at this stage of the Presidential campaign. Second was a thinly-veiled attack on Bush. Clinton spoke at length about how John Kerry would be a President who was comfortable with people who were smarter than him, and who were prepared to contradict him when he was wrong. This seemed to me to be a smart use of Clinton’s experience in running the Oval Office. It didn’t come across as raw partisanship (the criticism was implicit), but pointed up by contrast the plain, simple badness and incoherence of the executive policy-making process under GWB. Third, Clinton tried to sell Kerry as a caring Democrat, by talking about Kerry’s commitment to helping deprived youth during Clinton’s Presidency. This wasn’t very convincing – there wasn’t any specific information, or even anecdotes, about what exactly Kerry had done. All in all, it served to confirm my overall impression that the Democrats are still having difficulty in selling Kerry as a positive quantity, rather than as an alternative to the (undoubtedly execrable) incumbent. Some of this could be my bias as a non-US lefty who has no emotional commitment to the Democrats, but it seemed to me that Kerry still has a lot of work to do if he’s going to maintain his narrow lead, let alone extend it.

Biblical Literalism

by Kieran Healy on June 15, 2004

Eugene Volokh “posts a table”:http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2004_06_14.shtml#1087270691 from a “poll”:http://pollingreport.com/religion.htm showing that about 60 percent of Americans say they believe Biblical stories like the 7-day creation, Noah’s flood and Moses’ parting of the Red Sea to be literally true. This is rather higher than other estimates I’ve seen of Biblical Literalism. Based on “GSS data”:http://webapp.icpsr.umich.edu/GSS/ (the GSS is the best available public opinion survey in the U.S. with a long time-series), we know that in 1998 about 30 percent of Americans agreed with the statement “The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word”. This was down from about 40 percent in 1988. (Most of the decline seems to have happened in the late 1980s, however.) About half of Americans agree that “The Bible is the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally, word for word.” And a steady 15 to 17 percent agree that it’s “an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by men.” “Here’s a graph”:http://www.kieranhealy.org/files/misc/BT-plot.pdf, I put together of these trends, in pdf format.

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Germany–Netherlands

by Chris Bertram on June 15, 2004

bq. Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.

That’s always been pretty much my least favourite Orwell quote, but I couldn’t help thinking about it when contemplating “tonight’s Netherlands-Germany match”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/euro_2004/3787535.stm at Euro 2004. The Scotsman has “a useful guide to the history of footballing enmity”:http://sport.scotsman.com/football.cfm?id=670242004 between the two countries and one of the protagonists of the “last really nasty episode”:http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,6903,1009645,00.html (scroll down to #6) — Rudi Voeller — is now the German coach. The football should be pretty good too … at least from the Dutch.

Stuart Hampshire dies

by Chris Bertram on June 15, 2004

British philosopher Sir Stuart Hampshire has died at the age of 89. The Telegraph has “a very interesting obituary”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/06/15/db1501.xml&sSheet=/portal/2004/06/15/ixportal.html . I’ll add others to this post as they appear: “Guardian”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,1239568,00.html , “Times”:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1146540,00.html .