Saturday, August 30, 2008

Even my daughter knew it didn't make sense.

At work the other day, apropos of what I do not recall, someone said "We'll never be able to stop the hamster wheel by throwing band-aids at holes in the dike." I think it's actually four mixed metaphors because of the word "throwing". When I recounted this to my wife, my daughter pointed out that she knew it was silly because one "doesn't throw band-aids".

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Vote Obama: He's better than you'll ever be."

Quite a funny satire of convention speeches generally and Obama's in particular. The wildly mixed-metaphor in the third paragraph reminds me of something I heard the other day. More on that anon.

Edit: Via First Things.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Stupid! You're so stupid!

Except, not really. I'm way behind on posting reviews of all the new books I've read this year, and I'm not going to try to review them all. Some just aren't worth it (Robert Jordan's Eye of the World) some I just don't remember that well (The Real Heaven: It's Not What You Think), and I just don't want to spend the time.

But, since I've raved so much about The Brothers Karamazov, I figured I ought to give my thoughts about The Idiot as well.

I liked The Idiot quite a bit, but I was disappointed by the way it ended. I'll spoil a bit of it for you now without specifics: it doesn't end well or happily. It doesn't end like I expected, however. The way the book is set up, it could hardly end happily for everyone involved, but I didn't expect it to be quite the downer that it was. The book was well-written, the characters were very well drawn and distinct, though some of the dialogue was a bit confusing and I blame it on the translation from Russian.

The eponymous character from The Idiot is not actually an idiot, but rather someone who is considered so because of the open, honest and naive way that he meets the world. One hopes for him to triumph, to come out on top, but unfortunately his fate is more realistic than that. He, in some ways, reminded me of Alexei from The Brothers Karamazov.

The Idiot is a good book; it's worth reading even if it isn't as edifying as The Brothers Karamazov, but be warned that it won't end even as well as The Brothers Karamzov does.

A culture of death, indeed.

Wesley Smith on the First Things blog points out a story from an English newspaper that describes the last day of a woman who chose to be killed by her doctor under the Netherlands' euthanasia law. According to the article, the law requires that the doctor's judgment be confirmed by a second doctor, that the person in question be in unbearable pain, consistently wish for death and be unable to be cured.

Sickeningly, the woman in the article who is killed is not in unbearable pain; she does six loads of laundry and vacuums the entire house (two floors!) on the day of her death. She does not wish consistently for death but is egged on by her son. She does have cancer which may well be uncurable, but she is afraid of losing her hair more than anything else.

I have sympathy for people who commit suicide. I don't know that I could ever bring myself to do it; I would feel like I was going to meet God after thumbing my nose at Him. I do understand though that I have not been in the shoes of someone who has been the victim of a horrific crime, suffered the loss of an immediate family member or seen first hand the terrible things that happen in war. In old detective novels, the villain is often allowed to commit suicide to avoid the pain that their trial would give to those dear to them. While I do not approve, I can understand. Suicide was proscribed though tolerated as an exception to the general rule.

But when we allow others to kill and label it "suicide", we open the door to the horror described above and other, worse horrors as well.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I understand that language evolves over time.

But that doesn't mean that we have to hasten it. It certainly doesn't mean that I have to do anything to hasten it, and I'd like to think that my (most likely insignificant) efforts to retard the speed of the evolution are important in a minor way to keep the coherence of language intact.

Also via First Things is a note about the possibility of the demise of the semi-colon and the efforts of the French to avoid this. Laudable as this goal is, I think the French go about the preservation of their language in the wrong way. Not surprising for a bunch of effeminate continentals who live in a perpetual fog of nostalgia for the 18th century. Instead of setting up government commissions (as the Frogs do) to dictate which words are acceptable and which are not, arguing in schools for the importance of Standard English and teaching basic grammar will do more than efforts to ban words like "blog" ever will.

Returning to the semi-colon, my opinion on the matter, contra-Vonnegut, is that people who denigrate the semi-colon do so to cover their own inability to use one correctly.

Now playing: Louis Jordan - 12 - What's The Use Of Getting Sober (When You Gonna Get Drunk Again)
via FoxyTunes

I'd like to take this moment to express my pity.

To all Norwegians, to all members of the Norwegian knighthood and most deeply to all the members of the King's Guard of Norway: my sympathies and consolation on the descent of your nation to depths of ignominy and decadence not seen since Caligula was to make his horse a consul.

Via First Things, which also linked to video.

Now playing: Louis Jordan - Choo Choo Ch'Boogie
via FoxyTunes

Monday, August 04, 2008

RIP Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

A great man, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, died yesterday. He may not have been right about everything, (which one of us is?) and I certainly didn't agree with everything he wrote or said, but he was still one of the greatest men of the last century. Rest in peace.

Now playing: Donizetti, Callas, Di Stefano, Gobbi, Arie - Il dolce suono...Ardon gli incensi
via FoxyTunes