At Home / Zuhause

This is the corner where I work (read, write, drink). Cleaned it today. Mighty proud of it, too. Look! You can actually see the carpet. Took me 2 frakking hours to get the shelves in shape and the floor clean. See? No papers, books, or other stuff lying around. Last picture, that’s my good lookin’ self. Without glasses. [as usual, click on pictures to enlarge, but the quality’s shitty, so while you’ll get a closer look, it’s also more blurred. You won’t be able to read any titles, for instance]









Science: engineering stereotypes and killing people

Very readable post by Annalee Newitz on her AlterNet blog

In South Africa, a widely used antiaircraft cannon called the Oerlikon GDF-005 suffered from what many observers believe was a computer malfunction, which killed nine soldiers and maimed 15 in a training exercise. Its computer-controlled sighting mechanism went haywire, and the gun automatically turned its barrel to face the trainees next to it, spraying bullets from magazines that it automatically reloaded until it was out of ammunition. […]

In the United States, James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for helping to discover the double-helix shape of DNA, was suspended from his administrative duties at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory over comments he made to the London Times about how blacks are genetically hardwired with lower intelligence than that of other races. Watson has made comments like this about blacks (and women) throughout his career, but apparently this was the last straw. Reporter Charlotte Hunt-Grabbe, who says she has Watson’s comments on tape, quoted him saying he’s “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.” He told Hunt-Grabbe his “hope is that everyone is equal” but that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true.”

[…]

These two very different incidents demonstrate the fallibility of science and, more importantly, how the arrogance of scientists can be horrifically destructive. The tragedy in South Africa could have been avoided if the engineers who designed that cannon had simply refused to computerize its sight. With a big gun, computer error can be far worse than human error. Any decent engineer would have known that failure in computer systems is inevitable and come to the conclusion that weapons should not be programmed to function autonomously.

Watson’s remarks are another form of scientific arrogance that leads to gross and fatal mistakes. After all, Watson is hardly the first person to use genetics as a way to create false hierarchies of human beings based on “evidence” that some races and sexes are “naturally” superior to others. The history of biology as a discipline is riddled with racism and sexism. […]

Today leaders in the field of evolutionary biology like Steven Pinker and E.O. Wilson routinely say that people are hardwired to behave in certain ways based on their genetic heritage, which is often linked to their racial background or sex. “Scientific” studies on the genetic inferiority of female intelligence are what motivated former Harvard president Lawrence Summers to claim that there are so few women in science because they just aren’t smart enough.

So should a computerized gun run amok and a racist geneticist undermine our faith in science? Yes. People who build autonomous weapons systems know their work might kill people, but they do it anyway. And people like Watson derail brilliant research by bringing sex and race bias into the lab. Science is nothing more than the sum of what scientists do. Without ethics, science is no better than Christianity during the Crusades, a dogma that kills out of arrogance and prejudice.

Die Hesse kumme! oder: Das Märchen vom vernünftigen Wähler

Kaum daß ausnahmweise (wie man an der anhaltenden Beliebtheit von lokalen Kamapgnen gegen Moscheen, etwa wie hier in Köln ja sieht) ein ausländerfeindlicher Wahlkampf nicht zum Sieg führt, jubelt etwa SPON

Die wirtschaftspolitische Auseinandersetzung um den Mindestlohn wollte die CDU in Hessen nicht annehmen – stattdessen setzte man auf die altbewährte Anti-Ausländer-Nummer. Aber die zieht offenbar nicht mehr, und darauf können wir endlich mal richtig stolz sein.

Das ist natürlich Quatsch, und nicht nur aus den von classless Kulla skizzierten Gründen

Um es nur kurz festzuhalten, bevor es im Zuge der Koalitionsverhandlungen wieder untergeht: Kochs Stimmverluste sind nicht unbedingt ein Ausdruck davon, daß die hessischen Wahlberechtigten etwas gegen “hartes Durchgreifen gegen Ausländer” hätten. Sie trauen es Koch vor allem nicht (mehr) zu. […]

Hätte er nicht nur “Bootcamps” verlangt, sondern schon flächendeckend einrichten lassen, müßte er jetzt vielleicht nicht – wie Frank Steffel einst in Berlin – vor der Koalition der Ausländer und Kommunisten zittern.

Das ist zwar richtig festgestellt, wie man auch an der breiten Akzeptanz der Prämissen von Kochs Rhetorik im bürgerlichen Lager sieht, man betrachte nur die Empörung über die “Deutschenbeschimpfung”, aber Kullas Schlußsatz verfehlt die Sache wiederum denkbar deutlich

Kein Grund zur Beruhigung also. In Deutschland lassen sich Wahlen nicht mehr ohne weiteres mit populären Parolen gewinnen – es wird auch nach der entsprechenden Praxis verlangt.

Es ist nämlich meiner Meinung nach keineswegs so, daß zu den Parolen noch eine Praxis gehört. Im vorliegenden Fall war das Wählervolk hin und hergerissen zwischen zwei verschiedenen Populismen. Denn Koch hat nicht nur 12% verloren. Die SPD hat 8% gewonnen und wenn man die 5% Stimmen der Linkspartei mit einrechnet, wird das Bild deutlicher: der Linkspopulismus von Ypsilanti/Linker ist im Moment, ohne Beweis einer entsprechenden Praxis, einfach eine deutliche Alternative. Nationalismus ohne Sozialismus muß sich die Krone in Deutschland immer teilen, und wenn die SPD schon früher wieder auf diesen Kurs eingeschwenkt wäre, wäre das auch schon früher klar gewesen. So brauchte es die Linke und Becks Angst vor der Marginalisierung, um die beiden Gewinnerlemente des deutschen Populismus wieder zusammen die Wähler an (in?) die Urne treiben zu lassen. Schöner Wahlkampf.

Redeeming McCarthy or Look out! Communists!

Fine, if short, essay in the NY Times on a ridiculous new publication (it’s a good season for this, apparently, seeing as Jonah Goldhagen has published his book, too), “Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies” by M. Stanton Evans. Here’s an excerpt but read the whole essay, it’s worth it.

Part of Evans’s appeal is his boast to have unmasked the biases and distortions of previous McCarthy critics, this author included. He begins by describing a massive Russian spy operation in the United States, drawing his evidence from K.G.B. files as well as portions of the Venona project, a top-secret operation that traced Soviet intelligence traffic during World War II. Evans leaves the impression that he has uncovered fresh material, suspiciously overlooked until now. In fact, numerous scholars have used these documents to craft a thorough portrait of Communist espionage in Washington, though most believe that the worst of it was over by the late 1940s, when the F.B.I. began a crackdown on spying and a federal security program was put in place. If anything, they say, this evidence serves to reinforce the standard portrait of McCarthy as a bit player in the battle against Communist subversion, a latecomer who turned a vital crusade into a political mud bath.

Evans disagrees, claiming that the Communist problem was very much alive in 1950, when the senator first made his charges of treason in high places. […] Most important, Evans buys into the heart of the McCarthy conspiracy — the belief that leftist elements in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations created a foreign policy to advance the spread of world Communism.

How else could one explain the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe or the fall of Chiang Kai-shek to the army of Mao Zedong? “[…] McCarthy blamed the fall of China on “a conspiracy so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man.” Evans not only endorses this conspiracy but actually expands it to include “the Eastern, internationalist faction” of the Republican Party, “with ties to Wall Street, large corporations, big Eastern media outlets and Ivy League establishment.” To Evans, the conspiracy passed from president to president — from Roosevelt and Truman to Eisenhower and even Nixon, a former McCarthyite, who “would fall off the teeter-totter, landing with Henry Kissinger in Red China, thereafter pushing on into the mists of détente with Moscow.”

Ausgegraben aus der Zeit des ‘Sommermärchens’

In den immer lesenswerten posts in classless kullas “Trampen”-Kategorie stieß ich soeben auf einen etwas älteren Beitrag aus dem Sommer 2006:

Jedenfalls war es schon nachmittag, als ich von einem schon etwas älteren Australier und seinem Teenie-Sohn in ihrem langsamen Wohnwagen zumindest bis zur letzten Mautstelle vor Calais mitgenommen wurde. Sie waren zur WM in Deutschland gewesen und befanden sich nach dem unglücklichen Ausscheiden des australischen Teams gegen Italien auf der Rückreise via England. Allerdings wollten sie erst am nächsten Tag mit der Schnellfähre von Boulogne fahren und bis dahin noch die WM im Fernsehen verfolgen.

Der Vater erzählte, daß er noch als kleiner Junge in England in seiner jüdischen Familie aufgewachsen sei, die jedoch während des ‘Blitz’ nach Australien auswanderte. Erzeigte sich besorgt über das, was er in Deutschland an Nationalismus und Geschichtsverdrehung mitbekommen hatte. Offenbar hatte er die Diskussion nicht gescheut und damit auch das ganze Programm mitbekommen: es müsse ja mal Schluß sein, die Juden würden immer noch das große Geld machen und die Medien kontrollieren, die Deutschen würden sich endlich nichts mehr sagen lassen und durch die WM ja nun auch wieder populär genug sein dafür.

Er schilderte seine Ambivalenz bei der Reiseplanung in Deutschland, da er einerseits eine KZ-Gedenkstätte besuchen wollte, sich andererseits aber vor der Konfrontation fürchtete. Er warf die Frage auf, ob die beständige Erinnerung an den Holocaust nicht wirklich zu heftig sein könnte. Ich sagte, daß ich verstehen könnte, wenn er nicht mehr daran erinnert werden mag, daß das aber offenbar auch auf anderen Wegen geschieht. Die Antisemiten sollten jedoch nicht in dem Glauben gelassen werden, ihre Taten seien vergessen. Nicht umsonst streiten sie genau dafür. Das Gespräch endete vorzeitig, als ich an der peage abgesetzt wurde.

Lynn Peril

New discovery. Lynn Peril, author of two very interesting-sounding books: Pink Think and, most recently, College Girls. These days she joined the ranks of us bloggers. Check out her blog. Why don’t you start with her fascinating post on the pink/blue ‘divide’.
(am I patronizing you? a little bit maybe. Ah but you still like me, don’t you?)

Oooh I want to see this movie! io9 on "Teeth"

io9 (p)reviews Teeth, here’s an excerpt which explains why I want to see this movie at least as badly as PTA’s current movie:

the main character in the movie Teeth has developed a special power that allows her to survive high school. Deep inside her vagina, Dawn has a set of shark’s teeth that will bite off anything she doesn’t want in there. […] But Dawn’s “adaptation,” as she calls it, isn’t just a grossout thrill. It’s the perfect vehicle for expressing the emotional truth of teenage sexual awakening. (Spoilers and dick chomping ahead.)

Dawn’s mutant puss is her only source of power in the small, conservative town where she lives beneath a nuclear power plant and goes to a school where concerned parents have put giant gold stickers over pictures of the female anatomy in her textbook. Active in her local church chastity club, where she gives passionate speeches about virginity being a “gift,” Dawn is a sexual innocent. And sexually repressed.

Inevitably, when Dawn starts to fall off the virginity wagon she does it with a guy who turns out to be a jerk. Instead of the heavy petting she’s ready for, he tries to go all the way. And when Dawn resists, he knocks her head against some rocks and proceeds to have his way with her. Luckily, her puss never sleeps and we get our first glimpse of the extremely graphic results of Dawn’s evolutionary advantage.

Heiratsmaschine

[aus diesen Mixen ist diese Version von Antrag entstanden]

version 1

dir noch sumpfgras wehenden heirate aufrichtig ich gelöbnis auf heute die
sonne nächtlichen deinen nicht mich lege schwur ich ich im und
offen unter mich den und schippen und sorgfältig ich ein mein
leben entstelle meine diamant leiste und und wassers gegen spreche die
fäule pfad wort ich einen ins dreck mich pest auf die
irrlichter mein mehr ich haaren den die der zeit des auge
die nicht tage jahren hin nichts der auf ich täuschen seh
gangräne verderbtheit künftigen kehle zwei mein und halte schneiden die ich
ab schleier ich sehendes gegen meinen und herz hin und und
auf dir mein meinen seh auge habicht und heirate meine weiße
mich schwur ich und seh leiste letzten

version 2

mich heirate heute und
noch und ich nicht
dir leiste nächtlichen lege
sumpfgras im schwur sorgfältig
auf einen sonne pfad
ein die unter dreck
deinen gelöbnis haaren des
spreche wehenden aufrichtig wort
und ich ich und
entstelle offen mehr mich
und mich mein seh
leben ich hin auge
auf dir meine tage
zwei den gegen ich
die schippen wassers schleier
mein fäule gegen jahre
die diamant die nichts
irrlichter pest nicht halte
mehr täuschen der kehle
zeit ich die mein
verderbtheit ins seh mein
ich der seh ich
den und auf heirate
gangräne mich künftigen ab
und meinen ab auf
ich schneide meine und
weiße dir und meinen
habicht hin sehendes schwur
auge herz letzten leiste

Antrag

dir noch werfe ich aufrichtig mein silbrigstes hin
die sonne nächtlichens bezeugt meinen schwur
offen unter mich schippe ich uns eine grundmauer
gegen alle einfallenden dir noch werfe ich das glänzende
hin ich spreche dem wasser die fäule ab und reinige
es darin ich hebe es auf verscharrt in mir bis du es annimmst
wenn ich später zu den irrlichtern stoße vermache ich es dir
damit du dich daran erfreuen kannst heirate mich
sage ich sagt meine künftige kehle die nacht und der tag
und das siedende grün vorm haus bezeugens

God and the Primaries (He must be a really happy wanker now)

Oh, the wise Mike Huckabee, endorsed by such luminaries as the great Chuck Norris, hath spoken on his conception of, let’s say secularism.

I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do — is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

Which, apparently, doesn’t really help him. So he tries to explain it

Well, I probably said it awkwardly, but the point I was trying to make […] is that […] Constitution was created as a document that could be changed. That’s the genius of it. The Bible, however, was not created to be amended and altered with each passing culture. If we have a definition of marriage, that we don’t change that definition, that we affirm that definition. And that the sanctity of human life is not just a religious issue. It’s an issue that goes to the very heart of our civilization of all people being equal, endowed by their creator with alienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That was the point. The Bible was not written to be amended. The Constitution was. Without amendments to the Constitution, women couldn’t vote, African-Americans wouldn’t be considered people. We have had to historically go back and to clarify, because there’ve been injustices made because the Constitution wasn’t as clear as it needed to be, and that’s the point.

[…] I don’t think a person has to be a person of faith to say that once you redefine a human life and say there is a life not worth living, and that we have a right to terminate a human life because of its inconvenience to others in the society. That’s the real issue. That’s the heart of it. It’s not just about being against abortion. It’s really about, Is there is a point at which a human life, because it’s become a burden or inconvenience to others, is an expendable life. And once we’ve made a decision that there is such a time […] we’ve already crossed that line. And then the question is, How far and how quickly do we move past that line?

And the same thing would be true of marriage. Marriage has historically, as long as there’s been human history, meant a man and a woman in a relationship for life. Once we change that definition, then where does it go from there?

[…]

Well, I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal. Again, once we change the definition, the door is open to change it again. I think the radical position is to make a change in what’s been historic.

Please take note how ‘the point’ at first is injustices that have been made because of the constitution having been too unclear and how Huckabee then moves on to include not just abortion, which, I grant you, is a difficult issue (although I’d say Huckabee is on the wrong side of it) but also same-sex marriage, which suddenly, by association, is as much of an injustice as slavery. This is amazingly brazen.

But God gets his due from everyone. See for example Barack Obama

I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life. But most importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful. I didn’t ‘fall out in church’ as they say, but there was a very strong awakening in me of the importance of these issues in my life. I didn’t want to walk alone on this journey. Accepting Jesus Christ in my life has been a powerful guide for my conduct and my values and my ideals,

For a secular voter all of this (because there are quotes for Clinton, too, and of course for the Republican horde as well) must feel like being caught between Scylla and Charybdis, no?

Marcelmaschine

1

warum ach mich mich ich ich
prügele ich prügele wenn ich warum
mit mag fasse trinke ich mich
selbst nicht nicht nicht oft ich
fleisch nicht wenn so mehr nachts
esse nicht warum nicht nicht schmerz
laut trinke bin warum mehr es
ich ich mich mein an der
lange anderen nur ist zu baby
ich ich ist immer viel tot
zu es schon schlag er da

2

oder ich als auch nicht scherz
träume mag ich ich nicht klarschwarze
weine dich spiegel sage nur erkenne
nicht wenn er es im nacht ein
kerl trinke warum nichts nicht egal
hasse ich viel ich dort nicht
bin ich zu im ist lange
um die baby anderer mich schlag
tot mich einsam mir zu warum
schon ist bitte heiter ich mich
ich leben

3

auch nein auslachen mich wenn hassen
verachten ich mehr und wirst wirst
dann mag seite aufwachen du wollen
der nicht wirst wirst oder axt
nein du mit oder nicht und
ist morgen mich mich stumpfen ich
drum mich mit der du baby
erschlagen und jetzt was zerfalle tot
dann nein schlag weg mir gehen

Europäische Islamophobie

SPON berichtet über eine neue Studie

Klare Mehrheiten in allen untersuchten europäischen Staaten empfinden eine “verstärkte Interaktion zwischen dem Westen und der islamischen Welt” als Bedrohung: 79 Prozent in Dänemark, 68 in Spanien, 67 in Italien und den Niederlanden. Die Vermutung, Israelis und Amerikaner müssten sich mindestens ebenso bedroht fühlen, ist so naheliegend wie falsch: 70 Prozent der Amerikaner und 56 Prozent der Israelis finden mehr Interaktion gut – ebenso wie umgekehrt Mehrheiten in Ägypten, den Palästinensergebieten, der Türkei und Iran.

Woher die besondere Berührungsangst der Europäer? Die Autoren der Studie führen das wachsende Unbehagen an der Zuwanderung aus islamischen Ländern an, die Wahrnehmung, der Islam bedrohe Europas kulturelle Identität. Belege dafür gingen kürzlich auch beim SPIEGEL ein, der zu Weihnachten eine Titelgeschichte über den Koran druckte: Leserbriefschreiber berichteten, sie fühlten sich “vom Islam überrollt und erdrückt”, Europa werde “gezielt islamisiert”; die Religion der Muslime “nerve”, Leser des Korans liefen “als ein Rudel Schwachköpfe, Bombenleger, Kinderschänder und Steinzeitproleten durch die Gegend”. Ausruf eines Lesers aus Berlin: “Gott schütze uns vor dem Islam.”

Fand ich ganz interessant. Der Artikel selbst ist schlecht durchdacht, aber na gut. Das gleiche (“na gut”) gilt auch für solche Studien im Allgemeinen, aber immerhin fand ich den Artikel zumindest lesenswert.

FeMale Geeks

Now, I know this bit is slightly older but, just in case you haven’t read it yet, here‘s Sir Tim Berners-Lee on discrimination in the male oriented geek culture:

The inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has called for an end to the “stupid” male geek culture that disregards the work of capable female engineers, and puts others off entering the profession.

[…]

According to Berners-Lee, a culture exists where women can be put off a career in technology both by “stupid” behaviour by some male “geeks”, and by the reactions of other women.

“It’s a complex problem — we find bias against women by women. There are bits of male geek culture and engineer culture that are stupid. They should realise that they could be alienating people who are smarter and better engineers,” said Berners-Lee.

Engineering research facilities that interview candidates based only on how many papers they have had published also risk adding to the problem, according to Berners-Lee, because of an apparent in-built bias against women.

One academic went through a sex change, submitted the same papers under both identities, and found that papers were accepted from a man but were rejected when they came from a woman, said the web inventor. This bias is unaccountable, but adds to institutional bias, he said.

via she’s such a geek

The N-Word. No, wait. The C-Word. Oh I’m Confused.

Apparently, something funny has happened recently in the wellspring of bewilderment that some refer to as the English language. This has been all over the blogosphere (Yes, I used that terrible word. Feel free to spank me). Apparently, the N-Word has (partially) been replaced by, of all words, Canadians. See here:

She told me a story of when she was working in a shop in the South and she overheard some of her customers complaining that they were always waited on by a Canadian at that place. She didn’t understand what they were talking about and assumed they must be talking about someone else.

After this happened several times with different patrons, she mentioned it to one of her coworkers. He told her that ‘Canadian’ was the new derogatory term that racist Southerners were using to describe persons they would have previously referred to as [N-word]s. And for various reasons it didn’t sound at all unusual for the average backwards-ass Southerner to say things like, “Those damn Canadians,” or “The problem is all those Canadians.”

See also here

There is a collection of offensive words online that is called the racial slurs database and it does list Canadian as being equated with the N-word. At last count, the database contained 2,636 entries of insulting expressions from across the globe. It does not countenance their use, but purports to collect slurs so people will know what not to say. So there is confirmation that Canadian carries a double meaning, and can be used as an epithet.

Finally, see this witty post (shamelessly quoted entirely by greedy ol’ me)

More news from the Chuck Rosenthal / Kelly Siegler DA’s office: a 2003 email has surfaced, from one ADA to the rest of the prosecutors and the investigators, congratulating a prosecutor on convicting a guy while overcoming “a subversively good defense by Matt Hennessey that had some Canadians on the jury feeling sorry for the defendant . . . .”
You might well first ask, “well, so what?”
Then you might realize that Harris County is a terribly long way from Canada, and the chances of more than one Canadian making his way onto a Harris County jury are somewhere between slim and none.

Then, upon reflection, you might realize that “none” is probably the correct chance, since jurors in Texas must be U.S. citizens.

You might then wonder what “Canadians” means, and how it found its way into the email.
It just wouldn’t make any sense to you until somebody told you that “Canadian” is cryptoracist slang for “Black”.

via Language Log

Zitat des Tages (3)

“Wie kannst du wissen, daß ein Stil per se faschistisch ist? Oder ein Geist. Komm mir nicht mit solchen Angebereien.”
Ich war versucht, ihm zu antworten und dabei seine Redeweise zu imitieren: ‘Wenn du das nicht nach ein paar Seiten Text oder einer halben Stunde Bekanntschaft mit jemandem kapieren kannst, dann hast du nicht die leiseste Scheißahnung von Literatur oder von Menschen.’ Doch ich dachte ein wenig nach […]. Ja es war tatsächlich nicht einfach das Wie zu erklären, worin genau dieser Geist und dieser Stil mit ihren so vielfältigen Gesichtern bestanden, aber ich wußte sie sogleich zu erkennen, oder so glaubte ich damals, oder womöglich war es wirklich Angeberei. Von ein paar Seiten Text und von einer halben Stunde zu reden […] war natürlich Angeberei gewesen […]. Es sind vielleicht Tage und Wochen oder Monate und Jahre, manchmal sieht man etwas klar in dieser ersten halben Stunde, um dann zu erleben, wie es verschwimmt, und es aus dem Blick zu verlieren und erst nach einem Jahrzehnt oder dem halben Leben wieder zu erfassen, oder es kommt niemals wieder. Bisweilen ist es nicht gut, die Zeit verstreichen zu lassen und zu erlauben, daß uns die verstrickt, die wir gewähren, und die verwirrt, die man uns gewährt. Es ist nicht gut, daß sie uns blendet, was die Zeit immer versucht und währenddessen geht sie vorbei. Es ließ sich auch nicht mehr einfach definieren, was faschistisch war, es verwandet sich allmählich in eine antiquierte, oft unpassende und zwangsläufig ungenaue Bezeichnung, obwohl ich sie gewöhnlich in umgangssprachlichem und wahrscheinlich analogem Sinn gebrauche, und in diesem Sinn und bei diesem Gebrauch weiß ich genau, was sie bedeutet und weiß, daß ich mich nicht irre.

aus Dein Gesicht Morgen: Fieber und Lanze
von Javier Marías
Klett-Cotta
ISBN 3-608-93636-X

Die FPÖ ist lustig. SPON nicht.

SPON schreibt

Die Spitzenkandidatin der Freiheitlichen Partei, Susanne Winter, nutzt den Empfang, um die Anhänger ihrer Partei zu mobilisieren, einer Partei, die sich in der Vergangenheit immer wieder auf Kosten von Ausländern und Minderheiten profilierte.

Doch was ihre Anhänger jetzt zu hören bekommen, war bisher noch nicht da. Die Spitzenkandidatin sieht ihr Heimatland in Gefahr: Es drohe ein “islamischer Einwanderungs-Tsunami über Graz”. In 20 oder 30 Jahren werde die Hälfte von Österreichs Bevölkerung muslimisch sein. Es gelte daher, den Islam – “ein totalitäres Herrschaftssystem” – “dorthin zurückzuwerfen, wo er hergekommen ist: jenseits des Mittelmeeres”.

Trauriger Höhepunkt ihrer Tirade ist ein Angriff auf den Religionsgründer selbst: “Im heutigen System” wäre Mohammed “ein Kinderschänder”. Winter spielt damit auf die angebliche Ehe des Propheten mit einem sechsjährigen Mädchen an und zieht eine Linie zu kriminellem Verhalten in der Gegenwart: Es gebe “einen weit verbreiteten Kindesmissbrauch durch islamische Männer”, sagt sie. Außerdem, so polemisiert Winter weiter, sei Mohammed ein Feldherr, der den Koran in “epileptischen Anfällen” geschrieben habe.

Das werde ich zwar nicht kommentieren, aber hinweisen möchte ich schon darauf, daß SPON ähnlich dumme und rassistische Äußerungen ungekürzt publiziert (von mir in diesem blog mehrfach kommentiert) und ähnlich dumme und rassistische Sentiments bedient. Weil es aber die FPÖ ist, ist es auf einmal “traurig”. Das ist doch die blanke Heuchelei, um nicht zu sagen: Bigotterie. Das ist doch zu blöde.

It’s Britney, Bitch (3)

From an article by Chuck Klostermann in a 2003 issue of Esquire comes the following tidbit, which gave me les frissons, as the french say. A good quote, this. And I like the spin it can give, in the right minds, to the whole disastrous coverage of Ms. Spears’ life over the last 2-3 years and the equally disastrous turn her life has taken in that time.

“I was just talking about sexuality with my makeup artist,” she tells me. “And I was explaining to her that when I was thirteen years old, I used to walk around my house completely naked. And my dad would say, ‘Britney, put some clothes on, we have people over.’ My family just always walked around the house naked. We were earthy people. I’ve never been ashamed of my body. We were very free people.”

How often I think about Sex

I have a list of articles on Language Log that I wanted to talk about concerning the stupidity of most pop science treatments on the so-called difference between man and woman. I may have voiced some disparaging comments of my own here and there and in other articles as well. The following excerpts are taken from an older Language Log article (please read the whole thing. It’s short and very readable).

On page 91 of The Female Brain, Dr. Louann Brizendine writes (emphasis added):

Males have double the brain space and processing power devoted to sex as females. Just as women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion while men have a small country road, men have O’Hare Airport as a hub of processing thoughts about sex whereas women have the airfield nearby that lands small and private planes. That probably explains why 85 percent of twenty- to thirty-year-old males think about sex every fifty-two seconds and women think about it once a day — or up to three or four times on their most fertile days.

This striking different in rates of sexual thoughts is also one of the bullet points on the book’s jacket blurb — but there, female sex-thought frequency is downgraded from “once a day” to “once every couple of days”:

* Thoughts about sex enter a woman’s brain once every couple of days but enter a man’s brain about once every minute

Whatever the exact numbers, it’s an impressive-sounding difference — scientific validation for a widespread opinion about what men and women are like. And this is interesting stuff, right at the center of social and personal life, so you’re probably wondering about the details of the studies that produced these estimates.

in the following part of the article Liberman reviews her cited sources and, having done that, comes to these conclusions:

Adding up this study’s tally of undergraduate male sexual thoughts, we get 4.5 male urges + 2.5 male fantasies per day on average, for a total of 7 sexual thoughts, or one every (24*60*60/7 =) 12,342 seconds. Compare Dr. Brizendine’s figures: “85 percent of twenty- to thirty-year-old males think about sex every fifty-two seconds”. That’s more than 237 times hornier — even if the other 15 percent never thought about sex at all, the average frequency would still be at least two orders of magnitude greater than Jones & Barlow report. (And they sampled male undergraduate psychology students, who must surely be near their life maximum of sexual consciousness.)

How about the female numbers? Jones and Barlow’s student diaries yielded 2 female urges + 2.5 female fantasies per day on average, for a total of 4.5 sexual thoughts per day. That’s 450% greater than the “once a day” that Brizendine cites in the book’s text, and 900% greater than the “once every couple of days” rate in the jacket blurb. Not that the average self-reports from the “47 female undergraduates” in Jones and Barlow’s 1990 American sample should be taken to stand for the nature of all women in all times and places — but this is still 47 more women than we’ve been able to connect with Brizendine’s estimates, at least so far.

Note also that the Jones and Barlow numbers for women amount to one sexual thought every (24*60*60/4.5 =) 19,200 seconds. But you’re not going to sell any books by writing that “Men think about sex every 12,300 seconds, while women only have a sexual thought every 19,200 seconds”.

It’s always somewhat irritating how easily people (i.e. readers) swallow the “hey I’m right, cuz see, it’s scientific” ‘argument’. Science. mainly because it’s such a heavily specialized field right now (not that this kind of misuse wasn’t common in earlier days as well, remember Edward Long?) , is easily misused and I as a reader have a strong mistrust against people who base outrageous claims on ‘science’. I am sometimes suprised that other people aren’t and that all these bad science books sell so well. And the funniest thing about it is that many natural scientists, who should know better, who can see their sciences being misused and trivialized on a daily basis, often do not behave in a better way whenever they write about, or make use of, fields like literature, philosophy or theology. Oh, well.
And how often do I think about sex? As they say: that’s for me to know and for you to find out. 😉

Cute Animal Quiz!

You Are A: Kitten!

kitty catCute as can be, kittens are playful, mischevious, and ever-curious. Your mischevious side is part of what makes you a kitten, as is your dislike of getting wet! Kittens are often loving, but are known to scratch or bite when annoyed. These adorable animals are the most popular pets in the United States–37% of American households have at least one cat. Whether it is your gentle purr or your disarming appearance, you make a wonderful kitten.

You were almost a: Bear Cub or a Monkey
You are least like a: Chipmunk or a DucklingWhat Cute Animal Are You?

Cute Animal Quiz!

You Are A: Kitten!

kitty catCute as can be, kittens are playful, mischevious, and ever-curious. Your mischevious side is part of what makes you a kitten, as is your dislike of getting wet! Kittens are often loving, but are known to scratch or bite when annoyed. These adorable animals are the most popular pets in the United States–37% of American households have at least one cat. Whether it is your gentle purr or your disarming appearance, you make a wonderful kitten.

You were almost a: Bear Cub or a Monkey
You are least like a: Chipmunk or a DucklingWhat Cute Animal Are You?

Regulating Reincarnation

Funny tidbit

In the current issue (17 January 2008) of the New York Review of Books, Pankaj Mishra writes about dissenters in Tibet. In “The Quiet Heroes of Tibet”, the Dalai Lama plays a big role, especially with respect to “the extreme Chinese distrust of the Dalai Lama”. Mishra tells us (p. 40) that:

In August this year, the officially atheist Chinese regime passed legislation effectively banning Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.

found on Language Log

Election and Feminism III

Interestingly the voters in affluent and more educated circles flocked to Obama, a vast majority of them, apparently, while blue-collar neighborhoods voted solidly for Clinton. This opens all kinds of possible interpretations about class divides. Gender, Class and Race, dammit, we don’t even need the Republicans this year to make this an intriguing election.

Election and Feminism II (updated)

Ah. This is the first entry I had written with respect to this topic and I notice I promised to elaborate when more sober. Well, that’s obviously not going to happen tonight, no sir. But I did find a short but interesting and very readable op ed in the NY Times, which I will shamelessly quote the best parts of now, but do please read the whole piece, as the author’s making some more valid points fully worth your attention.

Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy.

[…]

So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

[…]

But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.

What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.

What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old — for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy — while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.

You, my dear readers, see me equally worried about these things. Of course, the author’s simplifying the situation, race has played a major role for instance in discussions of Oprah’s involvement in the campaign. But it’s an op-ed, not an academic essay. And broadly speaking, she’s right. And we do have cause for worry.

PS. Fresh off the NYT Caucus blog which I’ve been monitoring tonight while reading and drinking are these oddly fitting statements:

Our colleage, Michael Powell, sends this in from Clinton HQ: “In the end, the tear was almost a galvanizing moment. It shook a couple of voters of their mental fence and solidified others in support of Mrs. Clinton. Elaine Marquis, a receptionist from Manchester, went back and forth, but she was leaning to Mrs. Clinton when that moment came. Someone asked a personal question and the candidates eyes misted. “I think it was absolutely wonderful,” Mrs. Marquis said. “Women finally saw a woman. Perhaps a tough woman but a woman with a gentle heart.”

Jim Neilsen, a 68-year-old retired sociology professor, has been in the Clinton camp for months. He said that voters are finally seeing a woman who has real emotions. “It did not bother me, I loved it,” he said. “I was moved.”

PPS. Even fresher off the same blog, please look at this picture. It could very easily be used as an illustration of the op-ed, couldn’t it?

Weltraumkommunismus

Der tolle Herr Kulla, oft verklinkt auf diesen wenig gelesenen Seiten, hat ‘zwischen den Jahren’, um einen besonders abscheulichen Ausdruck zu verwenden, seinen Weltraumkommunismusvortrag, den er gemeinsam mit der tollen Frau Leganovic hält, auf Englisch gehalten. Wobei mir auffiel, daß meine geneigten deutschen Leser in der Mehrzahl noch nicht von mir auf den deutschen Vortrag aufmerksam gemacht wurden. Und es doch schade, verpaßten sie ihn. Hier, bitteschön, ist der link zum deutschen Vortrag, der ein ein bißchen langes intro hat, aber das Warten lohnt sich. Die dem Vortrag vor- und dem Intro nachgeschalteten Bildtafeln bitte lesen, um die kulturellen Parameter zu checken. 😉 Hier ein wundervolles Zitat vom Ende:

Tichy: Sind nicht nur Menschen Trottel. Können nicht nur Menschen aus Erfahrung nichts lernen. Die Bewohner Dychthoniens, die besuchte ich auf meiner 21. Reise, trotz Raumfahrt ertrinken in ihre bekloppte Vernunft. Hilft nur Erkenntnis zur Selbsthilfe. Fremdes Beeinflussung ist Problem. Leary sagt, du musst Plan haben, denn wenn du hast keinen Plan, wirst du Teil von Plan von jemand anderem. Und kann auch kommen ganz anders. Solange Menschen blöd, nix Raumfahrt, wenn Menschen endlich schlau, dann Erde schön und vielleicht auch nix Raumfahrt, denn ist keine Notwendigkeit mehr.
So und so, Menschen müssen machen Kommunismus, denn ohne Kommunismus alle lachen uns aus. Müssen Angelegenheiten von Mensch regeln nach Mensch, nicht nach Wert und auch nicht nach technisch optimiertes Mensch. Kommunismus heißt auch: Menschen weniger schreiend blöd.

Janeway: Lassen Sie mich hinzufügen: Vollendung und Ausweitung der Emanzipation. Bessere Menschen werden nicht nach göttlichem Gebot. Konflikte so friedlich wie möglich lösen. (Was durch das Mitführen von Photonentorpedos erleichtert werden kann.) Menschen die Möglichkeit geben, sich einem unendlichen Raum angemessen zu entfalten.

via classless kulla

Space Communism

The incomparable Mr. Kulla (why does that sound like a cartoon character’s name?) has held his celebrated Space Communism speech with Ms. Leganovic (the speech can be accessed here in German) in English at the Chaos Communication Congress of Germany’s Chaos Computer Club.

Click here and be delighted. It’s shortened, the full version has apparently been lost. Still interesting. Recommended. It does resonate with some problems I have been mulling over, as you may have noticed.

via classless kulla

On Islamophobia and Homophobia / Über Islamophobie und Homophobie

There you go. A good essay on Islamophobia and an even better one on Homophobia at the same time. Highly recommended.

Islamophobia has, at least in this country, its relevance not as a mass phenomenon, but as an elite discourse, which, shared by considerable numbers of leftist, liberal, and conservative intelligentsia, makes possible the articulation of resentments against immigrants and anti-racists in a form which allows one to appear as a shining champion of the European enlightenment. What Islamophobes accuse people of Turkish and Arabic heritage of would not even be understood as a reproach by the majority of Germans: opposition to Jews and Israel, dislike of gays, and the sexist degradation of women — all established forms of German everyday practice, which in Islamophobic discourse are construed as special qualities of Muslim immigrants which should disqualify them as members of German society.

Bitteschön. Ein sehr ordentlicher, man möchte euphorisch rufen: ausgezeichneter! (was er dann doch nicht ist) Artikel über Islamophobie und zugleich ein noch besserer eigentlich über Homophobie. Sehr sehr lesenwert.

Islamophobie hat, zumindest hierzulande, seine Bedeutung nicht als Massenphänomen, sondern als Elitendiskurs, der es beträchtlichen Teilen der linken, liberalen und konservativen
Intelligenz ermöglicht, Ressentiments gegen Migrant_innen und Antirassist_innen in einer Form zu artikulieren, die sie zugleich als glühende Verfechter_innen der alteuropäischen Aufklärung erscheinen lässt. Was Islamophobe türkisch- und arabischstämmigen Leuten zum Vorwurf machen, ist etwas, das die Mehrheit der Deutschen vermutlich gar nicht als solchen begriffe: gegen Juden und Israel zu sein, Schwule nicht zu mögen und Frauen sexistisch herabzustufen – alles gängige Formen der deutschen Alltagspraxis, die im islamophoben Diskurs aber als spezielle Eigenschaften muslimischer Einwanderer konstruiert werden und sie als Mitglieder der deutschen Gesellschaft disqualifizieren sollen.

"Of what use are the humanities"

Stanley Fish reviewed a new book on the subject and concluded his essay with the following wonderful paragraph.

To the question “of what use are the humanities?”, the only honest answer is none whatsoever. And it is an answer that brings honor to its subject. Justification, after all, confers value on an activity from a perspective outside its performance. An activity that cannot be justified is an activity that refuses to regard itself as instrumental to some larger good. The humanities are their own good. There is nothing more to say, and anything that is said – even when it takes the form of Kronman’s inspiring cadences – diminishes the object of its supposed praise.

Absolut (deutsch)

Er legte mir zaghaft
eine Hand auf die Schulter
“In dem Tal aus dem ich komme,”
sagte er, “gibt es Geister, die

die Haut ihrer Vorahnen tragen.
Dieses Tal nennen sie das Tal des Glücks
so sagt es wenigstens ein Schild
am Taleingang in goldenen Lettern.

Die Flüsse fließen über mit Honig
und die Bäume zittern vor Freude.
Niemand ist in Eile,
sogar Pflanzen wachsen langsamer.”

“Also was ist passiert?” fragte ich,
doch der Mann war längst verschwunden
als er seine letzten Worte gesprochen hatte
hatte er seine Haut auf einem Haufen

unter dem Wirtstisch abgelegt.
Ich mußte wieder die Getränke bezahlen.

Tansania (deutsch)

für Mieke B.

Mein Schreibtisch, sieh ihn dir an,
er ist aufgeräumt: links die Stifte
ein paar Bücher rechts, direkt in der Mitte:
mein Gedicht.

Ich schreibe nicht mehr mit Tinte,
in diesem Land verschwitzt das Papier
Wort für tintenblaues Wort,
nachts wirken sie fast schwarz.

Ich überarbeite meine Texte nachts
eigentlich verwalte ich nur noch das Geschriebene.
Ich habe zu dichten aufgehört.
Die Sonne frißt sich hier fett

an Angebereien und Posen. Sie besteht
auf der Wirklichkeit feenähnlicher Objekte
und beschwert sich über die Wörtlichkeit
meines Gedichts.

Nachts schneide ich meine Sätze
aus spröden Tephrastücken in Arusha.
Hier stehle ich Kadenzen
vom gemeinen Gelben Bulbul.

Am nächsten Tag starrt mich wieder
mein Schreibtisch an, links Stifte, rechts Bücher,
direkt in der Mitte: mein Gedicht,
schon wieder.

Es zwinkert. Es zwinkert? Ja.
Und beim Auftreffen des Tageslichts
wird es brechen, das weiß ich bereits.
Ich kann schon etwas glitzern sehen.

Poor Idiot! Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Reason and other Things she doesn’t understand.

It’s just…well. How…? I sat down to comment upon her insipid article she wrote in the NY Times (a review of Lee Harris’ new book) because it’s so wrong in parts and contradictory in others, but I started to prepare quotes just now and I just don’t have the time to comment on every other sentence of her. So I won’t comment. I’ll quote some parts and leave the laughing to you.

Each Muslim is a slave, first of God, then of the caliphate.

and

But what makes America unique, especially in contrast to Europe, is its resistance to the philosophy of Hegel with its concept of a unifying world spirit. It is the individual that matters most in the United States. And more generally, it is individuals who make cultures and who break them. Social and cultural evolution has always relied on individuals — to reform, persuade, cajole or force. Culture is formed by the collective agreement of individuals.

and

The problem, however, is not too much reason but too little. Harris also fails to address the enemies of reason within the West: religion and the Romantic movement. It is out of rejection of religion that the Enlightenment emerged; Romanticism was a revolt against reason

Moral and cultural relativism (and their popular manifestation, multiculturalism) are the hallmarks of the Romantics.

and

Many of the Westerners who were born into the law of the jungle, with its alpha males and submissive females, have since become acquainted with the culture of reason and have adopted it. They are even — and this should surely relieve Harris of some of his pessimism — willing to die for it, perhaps with the same fanaticism as the jihadists willing to die for their tribe.

You see me grinning. Have a nice and hilarious sunday. Do it my way. Don’t get mad. Laugh. Today it worked. See? No rant. Maybe it’s listening to Jefferson Airplane. Works wonders. 😉

Apocalypto: McGyver fights depravity in the Jungle

Oh there are many things to complain about in Mel Gibson’s latest movie, which, given my curiosity about it, I really took my time watching. I admit, I was still nonplussed by The Passion of the Christ. The line from Braveheart to The Passion was less than promising. However, to say this first: I found Apocalypto hugely entertaining. Not good, really, colors and angles were sometimes, how do I put that, less than appropriate and whoever did the cuts was obviously drunker than I am now, but, his irritating oscar nonwithstanding, let’s face it, we always knew Mel Gibson is not a particularly good director. He is a great entertainer though, and Apocalypto proved it again, if we still needed any proofs for that.

The other thing he’s great at is hating. After having watched any one of his movies, it’s overwhelmingly clear what and whom he hates and, three movies in, he has now made a movie that in a way can be said to sum up his concerns. In my usual muddled way I will eventually arrive at them. First I will, however, talk about that, which might or might not be racism, but which obviously is hate, at the Mayans or at what they represent. I am not sure myself. Typing up notes in a vodkafied state of mind after having watched a movie only once is a method that might (watch the conjunctive!) not be very precise.

So. At a quick glace, what have we. The whole idea of Maya writings, Maya science, is all, of course, generously glossed over. We see rather gruesome drawings but, as these are shown to be the only means of conveying meaning of their doom to the prisoners which are led through a dark tunnel in a pyramid (no, this is not the place to talk about historical inaccuracies. Yes, we all know the pyramids belong to a different era than the one portrayed but we know it’s allegorical so be done with it), they might as well be stone-age pictures of slain mammoths on cave walls, for all that it concerns this point. Also, the language that the Mayas with the pyramids, which I will proceed to call only “Mayas” while calling the wood-dwelling tribe of Mayas “the tribe” (this suits my rhetorical purposes best, if you need to know), use is a sort of language gone bad. It is shown to be only good for stuff like haggling, screaming, threatening, and making evil religious speeches to the orgiastic populace, which are less like speech and more like shouts. Goebbels comes to mind. The antagonists, the tribe, use their language for all kinds of ‘natural’ things. Joking, flirting, and above all, expressing myth. There is the obligatory scene with a wise old storyteller who tells the village a story about creation, the Ur-scene of storytelling and the epitome of an oral tradition. We don’t need Saul “Show me Tolstoy of the Zulus” Bellow to know that we will not find writing here.

History, with a capital ‘H’, however, will be recorded via the decadent Mayas, which meet the incoming conquistadores at the beach. The Mayas may have destroyed themselves, as the quote at the beginning of the movie “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it is destroyed from within” (The gall of using Durant! I was really astonished) seems to say. In the movie, however, nevermind history, the Mayan civilization is ailing but still at the peak of its powers when the conquistadores arrive. The conquistadores, having for a long time in cinematic history been used as an announcement of the doom of the indigenous civilizations, are obviously a hint of what will be happening to the flourishing, violent, plentiful Mayan civilization we’ve just encountered. Destruction. AND THEY DESERVED IT. That’s what the movie, Gibson’s protests nonwithstanding, is proclaiming. (And this is almost as fun a claim as the current Pope’s claim that the indigenous people actually in a way WANTED to be christianized.) Not loudly, but perceptibly enough.

The ‘antidote’ to the destruction might have been, Apocalypto also declares, sticking to “your” forest. The Mayas are shown to have succumbed to the vices of civilization: greed, cruelty (unnecessary cruelty at that), gluttony. The scenes in the Mayan city are full of symbols for that. For instance, in one scene, women are shown in the famous reclining eating pose familiar enough from all sorts of depictions of decadent Rome. These Mayans don’t have writing, really, and as I said, History is going to happen to them. Jaguar Paw, the main character and sole male adult survivor of the Tribe, slips the nets of History and retreats into his own history (note who the catalyzer of even this little history is, who ‘writes it’, within the bounds of what Gibson has written, of course. Ah, the irony), into nature and starts anew. You could say this is a new optimism for Gibson.

Whereas in Braveheart the vicious and evil Englishmen were victorious, here the vicious and decadent party loses to the down-to-earth Jaguar Paw, who, a mixture of Crocodile Dundee and McGyver, uses his forest’s means to defeat the de-natured Mayans. He, painted blue in order to be sacrificed, sheds this very blue so inflammatingly adopted by the mighty displayer of butt-cheeks, Braveheart, and dips into a muddy brownish black, which obviously and immediately raises questions of race. A scene that this rising from the mud of JP’s reminded me of was Martin Sheen’s rising from the waters at the end of Apocalypse Now, a movie that did discuss similar issues, just this time any ambivalence is cut from the image and an image of race is added.

Obviously, both parties involved (no, we’re sorta leaving the Spaniards’ cameo out here) are shown to be archetypes. African tribes and the Mayan tribe are blended, as well as the decadent Romans and Mayans. Most likely, looking at the extent to which this movie is studded with symbols, there are more blendings hidden, on both sides, that I have simply overlooked, having just watched it once. One of these further blendings might well be the purported nexus between Jewishness and decadence that is an old antisemitic staple, one thinks of Weininger‘s seminal and weird philosophical work Geschlecht und Charakter, for example, and in certain scenes, for instance when the Mayans fight scrabble over some coins dropped in the dust, I smelled a possible reference, and after all, the whole history of attacks against decadence, one thinks not only of Weininger but also of ideas in Spengler‘s and Pound‘s work etc. has always had more than just a strong whiff of antisemitism. Sometimes more overt than at other times, and after The Passion, who would complain were I to suspect Gibson of antisemitism or antisemitic references.

Speaking of Weininger, all of this talk of nature entails of course an idea of masculinity as well. From Braveheart who had to oppose the whining, scheming, feminine Englishmen and the overly feminized and decadent The Bruce on his own side, there is a clear line to the strong and simple people of the tribe, who are, or try to be, fearless, without base suspicions. They are early on shown to be at odds with the sneaky Mayans whose first appearance in the movie is that of picture book villains. Looking villaineous, sneaking up to the village and burning the huts. Whereas the tribe believes in fighting to the last, suicide (oooh how awful) is acceptable for the decadent Mayans (again a possible link to Rome).

The whole birth-from-the-earth- and the later occurring birth-in-the-water-imagery underlines the closeness to nature that could of course be channeled through a figure of a ‘white goddess‘ (even though there clearly is in the village, I’d say, a triumvirate maiden/bride/hag) or a woman, but is ultimately shown to be guaranteed only by the male element of the society. It is not only the man who has to save the woman at the end, but it is also the man who turns into the jungle at the end, taking with him a hesitant wife, who clearly would have wanted to meet those Spaniards. Misogyny is rife in that movie anyway. The whole madonna/whore thing is debated repeatedly. In most of the scenes depicting debauchery and decadence, women are placed centrally and the other things have been mentioned before. The repudiation of a feminized masculinity, for example, is of course, also a sign of misogyny, since it implies a clear value judgement.

As I said before, this is an incredibly hateful movie, and by now, it should have become clear at what its hate is directed. Yes its racist, but only incidentally so, the racism in the portrayal of the Tribe is common and barely noteworthy and the racism in the portrayal of the Mayans is not really directed at them, as a ‘race’, but at what they represent. Feminity, depravity, debauchery, decadence. This Gibson’s movie hates and hates with all its metaphorical heart. It’s not alone in that. A very famous book which shares this movie’s hate, is The Lord of the Rings, whose venomous end I consider to be barely, um, bearable. Fitting, isn’t it, that Gibson is planning to shoot a movie on the creation of the OED now, as I read somewhere.

On a final note, I applaud Mel Gibson’s cheek, who apparently “wants to dismiss the popular myth that history “only began with Europeans””. Hmmmmyes. That’s exactly what that movie is very helpful in doing, hm? The gall!

Oh, by the way:

This really great poster more than sums up the movie’s agenda, doesn’t it. Pictures. Amazing stuff.

Broder nach Zahlen (Update)

Ach, ich weiß gar nicht, ob ich dazu was sagen soll. Aber der Vollständigkeit halber. Broder, der wie ich offenbar nichts besseres mit seiner Zeit anzufangen weiß, als herumzupöbeln (ist er auch krank? Ein Arzt hat mir heute gesagt: erstmal 12 Stunden nichts essen und schwarzen Tee (in Massen) sowie moderate Mengen ausgesprudelter Cola trinken. Bitteschön, lieber Henryk), schrieb zum Attentat auf Bhutto folgendes

Zwei Tage nach der Ermordung von Benazir Bhutto breitet sich in Pakistan das Chaos aus, und der Rest der Welt ist entsetzt und ratlos. Wie konnte es nur soweit kommen? Wusste Frau Bhutto nicht, welche Gefahr ihr drohte? Warum wurde sie nicht besser geschützt?

Unruhen in Pakistan nach dem Bhutto-Mord: Die Welt ist entsetzt – und ratlos
Und vor allem: Wird es in Pakistan im Januar demokratische Wahlen geben?

[…]

Dass die islamischen Fundamentalisten, die nicht nur Frau Bhutto ermordet, sondern auch Tausende ihrer Landsleute vom Leben zum Tode befördert haben, nur noch eine Armlänge von der Verfügungsgewalt über Atomwaffen entfernt sind, bereitet den Kommentatoren nur leichte Kopfschmerzen. Denn wenn Indien die A-Bombe hat, dann kann man es den Pakistanern nicht übelnehmen, dass sie mit dem großen Nachbarn auf gleicher Augenhöhe kommunizieren wollen.

Dieser Artikel spricht ja im Grunde für sich. Es ist ja der selbe dumme Mist, den er auch schon in Buchform veröffentlicht hat. Interessant ist nur, daß es ja nur womöglich gar keine Islamisten waren, sondern die machtbewußte Regierung. Oder so. Es ist schon faszinierend, wie schnell Broder aufschreit, sobald ihm etwas in sein schlecht denkendes (und unterirdisch unbelesenes) Hirn paßt. Ich muß mal suchen. Es gibt bestimmt eine Stellungnahme von Christopher Hitchens.

PS. Tatsächlich, es gibt eine und Hitchens’ Stellungnahme ist weit weniger haßerfüllt als Broders. Klar, daß sich die Meinungen dieser beiden Geistesgrößen nur wenig unterscheiden, aber durch die Hereinnahme von Bhutto in den Kreis der zumindest teils Bösen ergibt sich irgendwie (correct me if I’m wrong) differenzierteres Bild.

Who knows who did this deed? It is grotesque, of course, that the murder should have occurred in Rawalpindi, the garrison town of the Pakistani military elite and the site of Flashman’s Hotel. It is as if she had been slain on a visit to West Point or Quantico. But it’s hard to construct any cui bono analysis on which Gen. Pervez Musharraf is the beneficiary of her death. The likeliest culprit is the al-Qaida/Taliban axis, perhaps with some assistance from its many covert and not-so-covert sympathizers in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. These were the people at whom she had been pointing the finger since the huge bomb that devastated her welcome-home motorcade on Oct. 18.

She would have been in a good position to know about this connection, because when she was prime minister, she pursued a very active pro-Taliban policy, designed to extend and entrench Pakistani control over Afghanistan and to give Pakistan strategic depth in its long confrontation with India over Kashmir. The fact of the matter is that Benazir’s undoubted courage had a certain fanaticism to it.