Saturday, May 05, 2007

On hiatus

This blog will be inactive for the next several weeks. We have been planning (rhymes with "wishing") on moving to a better school district for quite some time. Thanks to a motivational audiobook I listened to this weekend, I concluded that my foot-dragging was the cause of us still being here, as well as of considerable domestic infelicity.

So, before my mercurial resolve evaporates, I am hanging up my blog, my amazon page, possibly my alt.quotations contributions, and my commenting all over the blogosphere, in order to concentrate more on selling this house and buying a different one. I am one of those types of sudden enthusiasms but feeble follow-through, with a big aversion to dealing with big commercial transactions, so I am going to be working against my grain in a big way. I hope you will wish me luck, and explore the fine sites listed in my blogroll in the meantime.

See you later this summer!

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Idiocy Sufferer

Quite simply, “idiot” is not a nice word to call somebody, and I find myself asking, as Mr. Welch did of Senator Joseph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Throughout my life, I have had to struggle to keep from thinking of myself in the limiting way that word implies. So, for the record, I would like it known that I am not an “idiot.” I am a person who suffers from idiocy. Nobody knows what it is like to deal with crippling bouts of idiocy while trying to lead a normal life. The last thing I need is for somebody to make it harder by pointing out what an “idiot” I am. [...]

Those of us unfortunate enough to be afflicted with idiocy are not grotesque caricatures or figures of fun. Idiocy can strike anybody, from the man who says he cleaned your chimney to the President of the United States. Very few of us conform to the old stereotype of the guy in the dunce cap sticking his finger in a light socket. (My wife notes, just parenthetically, that I did stick my finger in a light socket once.) Recently, I was reading a book by Dostoyevsky that I thought dealt with some of these issues in a sensitive way. It’s called “The Idiocy Sufferer,” and I am happy to report that in this new translation the terms that cruelly objectify people like me have been updated more inclusively.

-- Ian Frazier, "What I Am", The New Yorker, May 2, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It isn't quite the same as mentoring an intern under the Oval Office desk while having a phone discusion on the deployment of troops to Bosnia, but...

Giving a peck on the mitt to an old grade school teacher is enough to scandalize some Shariah enforcers:
Iran president accused of "indecency"

The Israel Project's video conference on Iran

A half-dozen videos from this backgrounder conference is here. It's a valuable window into the inner workings of Iranian politics and, not coincidentally, the Iranian threat to Israel. Caution: All the videos will start playing when you click through; press the Stop button on all except the first one.

Rampage shooters and civil rights

Here's an article worth digesting.

School shooters are problem solvers. They are trying to turn the reputations they live with as losers into something more glamorous, more notorious. Seung-Hui Cho, a student of creative writing, probably didn't get a lot of "street cred" for his artistic side. Young men reap more social benefits from being successful on the football field. When their daily social experience — created by their own ineptness, and often by the rejection of their peers — is one of disappointment and friction, they want to reverse their social identities. How do they go about it? Sadly, becoming violent, going out in a blaze of glory, and ending it all by taking other people with them is one script that plays out in popular culture and provides a road map for notoriety.

Depression is endemic in these young men. Indeed, it can be so bad that they want to die. Why, then, don't they throw themselves in front of trains? That is the wimp's way out; it will not change their reputations. "Suicide by cop," putting themselves in a situation where the police will almost surely kill them, is a more glamorous way to go. Cho probably did not expect to survive this catastrophe. But by taking dozens of other people with him, he insured his notorious place in history and found a way to set the record straight: He was a man to be reckoned with.

If only somebody could have reached behind his walls and helped him find a place. If only he'd have tried harder, too.