Thursday, February 28, 2008

Comic and musical relief

Okay, now, just for fun. I was...rather young in 1971 when the Three Dog Night's rendition of "Joy to the World" topped the charts. And besides, I was a sweet little Baptist girl, and what would I know about rock music? It was a while more before we had a TV, and a while more after that before I saw a sappy and silly movie called something like Sunshine in the middle of which the song occurred. I don't remember a lot about the movie--a lot of motorcycle riding, a cute little girl--but the song stuck. It was cool.

In my teens, my taste in music had gone downhill temporarily. By then we were into the era of (ick) disco. But still, "Joy to the World" stuck somewhere in the back of my head. And for something like twenty years now I've been wondering how the lyrics go after "was a good friend of mine." Lyric searches are, surprisingly often, vain on the Internet because of copyright considerations, so I've only just now gotten around to trying to looking it up. And here it is.

Elsewhere on the fun front, from The Onion, here is a news flash on a new Iraqi law to require a five-day waiting period before purchasing suicide vests. Don't drink anything while watching it. It's hilarious. (HT for that one--TROP)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Norman Finkelstein--Kookball Extraordinaire

I had heard only faint rumblings about a professor denied tenure at DePaul last summer/fall. I paid little attention and hadn't wittingly ever heard of Norman Finkelstein until his name came up on Little Green Footballs a couple of months back. (I'm not going to do the search just now to find the link.) Couldn't quite figure the whole thing out. LGF and others call him a Holocaust denier, which could be true for all I know, but maybe he's a "minimizer" instead, given that apparently his mother was a Holocaust survivor. "Minimizers," I gather, come in various shapes and forms, though they are odious enough.

I couldn't quite figure out exactly why he was denied tenure from an academic point of view. I mean, consider all the people who do have tenure. How did they find a way to deny this guy? On the other hand, he's apparently a sort of sycophantic attack-dog for his dear friend Noam Chomsky, which is probably enough to lower the quality of anyone's academic work. And no, I don't mean in linguistics.

As it happens, I have a friend who is on staff at DePaul who tells me that the word on the staff side is that you were lucky if you never had to deal with Norm, because he's a jerk. I put a lot of weight on this, by the way. In my opinion, staff at a large university pretty much keep the place running, sometimes nearly single-handed, and they probably deserve to get paid a lot more than they do get paid. If the staff think a faculty member is a jerk, odds are high that he is a jerk.

I'm not planning to run out and read Finkelstein's infamous Holocaust book, so I basically just went on not knowing very much about the guy but assuming he was bad news in general terms. Until the other day.

Watch this video clip only if you have a strong stomach. Because now I know in more detail that Norman Finkelstein is a scary and completely, ideologically crazy person.

In case you don't want to put your stomach to the test, here's a brief version. The linked video is an interview Finkelstein gave to Lebanese TV on a recent visit. In it he lauds Hezbollah to the skies and pours scorn upon those Lebanese people, including the female interviewer talking to him, who don't support Hezbollah. He calls Lebanese Hezbollah opponents "slaves"--to Israel and the U.S., of course. He calls the raining of rockets upon northern Israel in the summer of 2006 a mere "pretext" for Israel to attack. Because they just want the Lebanese people to be their slaves, apparently out of sheer sadism. George W. Bush, he says, "destroyed your entire country" that summer. (Really? The whole country? And Bush did that?) Norm is infuriated that Bush was received in Lebanon recently on a visit at all. He says that the French resistance against the Nazis in WWII (all of them?) were Communists and were harsh and brutal, but that we admire them--and he clearly thinks we should admire them--because they resisted the enslavement of their country by the Nazis. Hezbollah, he says, is like that. He says that war against Israel is the only way for Lebanon not to be slaves. (Guess that means more rockets fired on northern Israel then. They'd better get cracking. This guy must just love Hamas in Gaza.) Oh, and perhaps the wildest line: He says he wishes there were some other way than war and that probably Hitler, too, would have preferred if "his goals" could have been accomplished in some way other than by war.

A nut. A complete and bizarro nut.

So now I know all I need to know about Norman Finkelstein.

HT Israel Matzav

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weird connectivity problems

(Gee, I almost found myself saying "issues" in the post header. Don't you hate the new use of "issue" to mean "problem"?)

The connectivity problems referred to in the title are not to this site. As you can see, here I am. Ta-da! I also have e-mail and can connect to nearly all of my usual Internet sites. However, I suddenly (as of yesterday morning) cannot connect to my beloved group blog, to which I am a contributor, What's Wrong With the World.

By asking all my friends to try it and see if they can connect, I have narrowed down the problem to, apparently, my own house. My neighbor across the street has the same ISP that I do, and he can get the site.

I found this nifty article that may diagnose the problem. If so, we'll have to call in an expert. (I hope our physically local expert is available; he isn't always.) It says "only experienced Windows-savvy users" should attempt the workaround described, so I think we'll probably not try it ourselves. If this should turn out to be the problem, the mystery is why it suddenly arose yesterday morning, when nothing had changed in our local configuration.

Anyway, to all my many fans, I will be able to blog only here for a while, not at WWWtW, until it's all back up and running. One always hopes, with a trace of superstition, that the problem will just "fix itself." Maybe I'll wake up again tomorrow and it will all be better. Evidently (according to the article) that could actually happen if various servers started sending smaller "packets" that could fit down the "tunnel" of my router. Or something.

Update: The problem appears to be our local wireless router. When we plug the cable modem directly into the computer I use, the problem goes away. All sites become available. Unfortunately this means that no one else can use the Internet from a laptop at the same time. So for the time being, the cludge is that when no one else needs to use the Internet, I can switch the cables, reboot the computer (it doesn't work otherwise), and then go wherever I want on the Internet. When the wireless router is needed, we switch the cables back. Then I can come here, do e-mail, go most places, but not go to a few sites, including What's Wrong with the World. That's until we get an expert out here to find a better workaround. All most odd. I have a feeling some Bright Lad changed a packet size setting somewhere out there in cyberspace overnight between Friday and Saturday.

Update #2: Problem solved. The connection problem was indeed, as the article I linked above suggests, fixed by changing the MTU setting on my Linksys router down to 1492. The mystery that remains is why this should suddenly be necessary now. As far as I know, the setting has always been the factory-standard 1500, and this has never been a problem before, for over a year and a half. I've certainly never touched it before. I keep my ignorant hands off that stuff as much as possible. Anyway, thanks to Zippy and to Todd McKimmey for patient help and advice over the weekend. And thanks especially to Todd for pointing out to me what the linked article is not clear about and what I in my ignorance would have overlooked: If the problem is with the router, then the MTU setting that needs to be changed is the one on the router, not the one in the registry of the desktop computer. Of course. But it wouldn't have occurred to me. So just remember, if this esoteric problem should plague your Internet connection, the magic number is...1492.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Introducing Mark Pickup

For those of you who don't know of him, Mark Pickup is a Canadian blogger with multiple sclerosis who has been writing about life issues for quite some years. I first read Mark's columns in National Right to Life News before anyone had ever heard of the blogosphere. (At least, that's how I recall it.) Wesley J. Smith has also mentioned Mark as a personal friend a number of times. I've just added Mark's blog to the links on the left, even though I'm not a very faithful reader, after seeing this post, "Sickness seen through a lens of Christian faith," from late January of this year.

Mark was diagnosed with MS when he was thirty years old and lives in a wheelchair. He recalls in this post how his wife found an old love letter he wrote to her when they were both young. In it, he wrote this:
What about our health? Health is like money in that it can be taken away. If either of us were to lose our health, we can be thankful for having known good health. There are thousands of people who have never had the gift of good health; they live with sick or twisted bodies that have never been whole. We have so much to be thankful for but most of all, we have each other.
Mark continues:
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of thirty. Contrary to my earlier youthful words in a love-letter to my wife, I was not thankful I had known good health after it was gone. I was angry I lost it!

Fear overcame me about what lay in store for me. I knew multiple sclerosis is a serious disease that often has a catastrophic impact of the lives of people it strikes. I knew people with MS: often their lives were torn apart as their marriages crumbled, careers shattered, and they were abandoned to a living hell.

Multiple sclerosis devastated my life. It stripped away my health, layer by layer, like pealing an onion, and eventually left me triplegic and in an electric wheelchair.

Looking back over more than twenty years of increasingly profound and crippling disability I must say that I have become one of those people I wrote about who lives with a sick and twisted body. Yes, there were times when my heart broke – along with the hearts of those loved me. There were times throughout the years when it was me (not someone else) who was on the verge of despair. Protracted suffering seemed to isolate me in sorrow – just as my wife’s sorrow seemed to isolate her. At other times we lived two solitudes rooted in the same overwhelming and inexpressible sorrow.

The only way for our two broken hearts to unite was to kneel together before the cross and ask Jesus to console the inconsolable within us.

When people unite their suffering and sorrows with Christ’s Passion, a mysterious solidarity often occurs with other sufferers; solitudes of human anguish come together in mutual comfort at the foot of the cross. Christ’s outreached arms bid welcome to all heavy-hearted people, calling us beyond ourselves and our pain to find our consolation in Him.
Read the whole thing.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I wanna be like Zippy

My hordes of readers will notice the blog's new look. And just in case anyone doesn't get the allusion, it is to Zippy Catholic's blog, the look of which I have always liked better than my own. The content's pretty darned good, too!

The really good news is that now I can put up links to other people's blogs without fearing that warning that "all your changes will be lost if you change your format." I had to do a little html stuff to put up the three links that have always been there, and retaining as I do a bit of the technophobe, this was fiddly and annoying. I also believed that when it said that all my changes would be lost, it meant the links too, and I'd have to redo them, so I've kept it to just three against the day (today) when I would get that seagoing look I really wanted.

But the worry was for nothing. As it turns out, the links all survived the transition to the new lighthouse-y look, and now I don't have to think about it. So I can start adding a few more links. Now, if only they have some new user-friendly way to do that...

Update: Thanks entirely to Zippy for the recent comments feature. This should encourage y'all to comment frequently just to see yourself up there on top of the list!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Men ought always to pray, and not to faint

Luke 18:1 says, "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint."

Thus begins the parable of the unjust judge. You all know it. A woman bugs and nags an unjust judge, until he finally gives in and defends her against her enemies. And Jesus, according to St. Luke, is telling us by this parable that we should nag God. Really. Jesus himself ends by saying that God will "avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him..."

I believe that it is not always coincidence but sometimes Providence that we hear particular things at particular times. This past Thursday at ladies' Bible study Phil. 4:6-7 was one of the verses we went over, in which we are told not to worry but rather to "make [our] requests known unto God." And this morning the hymn "Commit Thou All That Grieves Thee" was on the slate, chosen by the priest, not by me. Unfortunately, it appears that none of the cyber-hymnals have it, because for some reason the words are still copyright. It's #446 in the 1940 hymnal, and the first verse goes like this:

Commit thou all that grieves thee
And fills thy heart with care.
To Him whose faithful mercy
The skies above declare,
Who gives the winds their courses,
Who points the clouds their way
Tis He will guide thy footsteps
And be thy staff and stay.

And then while I was thinking about prayer, Jesus' parable of the unjust judge came to mind.

The point of all of this seems to me to be that we should get over ourselves. By that I mean that we should stop worrying about wasting God's time with our "little" worries or with things that "might not seem important to him." We have no dignity with God anyway, so let's get on with it: Jesus says we are to pray and not to faint. St. Paul says we are to bring our requests to God. These strike me as biblical injunctions simply to speak to God about our concerns and worries, to make our requests humbly, realizing that it might not be His will to grant them, but not to try to get an "inside line" on what God is already planning to do in the matter or what God wants us to say, the exact feelings He wants us to have. It really isn't about our feelings anyway (unless that happens to be what we are praying about). It's about whatever the subject of the request happens to be, which we should simply lay before Him as we are told to do.

So, since I think these things are sometimes not coincidences, I give you these thoughts for what they are worth, so that if God put them into my mind for a reason connected to one of my readers as well as to my own preoccupations, they are available.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

I have nothing in common with this man

Nothing. Whatsoever. Here is an Australian professor who is such an environmentalist wacko freak (see, it's my personal blog, so I don't have to be restrained) that he praises China--China of the forced abortions, the political prisoners, the executed Falun Gong, y'know, China--because...wait for it...they outlawed plastic shopping bags. Yes, folks, this is how environmentalists think. The heck with all that nasty, personal, comfort-loving, individualistic nonsense that they have over there in America. In communist China they know how to do things right, effectively, with authority. Achtung! They just go right out there and ban those horrible, planet-destroying plastic bags that are killing all those beautiful polar bears and melting the ice caps. Or something. We don't need no stinkin' freedom.

He complains that when people suggest such things they are accused of being Marxists. Ya think? (Says Wesley J. Smith)

Next time I hear somebody complaining about all the unpleasant individualism we have in America, about how we need to get rid of our individualism and think instead in terms of "the community," and does so not while discussing murdering unborn people but rather in the context of, say, bemoaning the evils of corporations, I'm not going to be able to help it: I'm going to think of this Australian kookball, Comrade Citizen David Shearman--"Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens." Sweet and addictive, huh? Such people are creepy.

Thank God I live in a country that is an "extreme case" of liberal democracy. God bless America, and pass the plastic shopping bags.

HT Secondhand Smoke

Israel continues not to defend its civilians

And the rockets just go on falling on Sderot. The kassams fall there day after day. Today it looks like an eight-year-old boy may have lost his legs from shrapnel. Just imagine this on one of our border towns. Meanwhile, the "Palestinians" in Gaza celebrate this successful attack.

HT Israel Matzav

It's comments like this

...that make me unsure that I should be called a "traditionalist conservative." Just when I think I'm the traddest of the trads, what with believing women are designed by God to stay home with their children and other such oddball ideas, along comes somebody who lauds as "conforming to natural and divine law" arranged, unchosen marriages of the Medieval period and who cannot see what we would be missing in the U.S. if we didn't have a tradition of freedom of religion.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hymn--Pass me not

We haven't had a hymn around here for a while. I happened to pick this one to play as part of my organ prelude on Sunday morning--"Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior."
Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

Savior, Savior,
Hear my humble cry,
While on others Thou are calling,
Do not pass me by.
Here is Fanny Crosby's trademark allusion to blindness. The words refer to the story of Bartimaeus, as he is called in one gospel (Mark 10:46), the beggar who cried out to Jesus. The evangelists tell of how the crowd tried to hush him, but he cried all the louder, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." (Luke 18:35ff) Jesus heard him, asked that he be brought to Him, and asked what he wanted: "Lord, that I might receive my sight." And Jesus healed him.

Entirely unbeknownst to me (I hadn't happened to look and didn't remember), the version of this story from St. Luke was the gospel reading on Sunday. A happy coincidence, if a coincidence.

There is something poignant and urgent about the words. One can well believe the story told here about a young man who was moved to conversion by hearing them and by the thought, "What if he should pass me by?" C. S. Lewis said in a letter that anyone who has once known God at all will be awakened one day to the fear of losing him. We may hope so.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I was going to put a post up the last couple of days, with content--specifically, a hymn post. Instead I have become embroiled in a probably futile on-line shopping hunt for waterproof winter boots (with a flat sole, for small feet), having just discovered that mine have holes in them. The sloppy February weather has revealed their hidden weaknesses. I hope that this does not count as descending into low-intellect, over-personal blogging, but take it as an apology for the lack of content.

Friday, February 01, 2008

This is funny

This video really is funny. This is for those of you who like stuff about male-female differences and the battle of the sexes. Watch it with your spouse, if possible. It's even funnier that way.

HT Dawn Eden