Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


* May 8 I'm putting my family on a flight to Warsaw. They'll be there for a month. My mother-in-law is having her annual "Bring me my grandson (and new granddaughter) NOW!" attack. I'm staying around campus to read intensely on the subject of propaganda and perhaps start research on foreign-language media.

Now am I really going to get lots of stuff done without the kids around or am I going to mope around missing my family and get nothing done? Stay tuned to this station...

* My wife just passed a new milestone in her Americanization - she's stopped buying bottled water to drink. "Oh what the heck, lets just use tapwater."

In Poland and a lot of Eastern Europe, you never drink tapwater if you value your health. Not without at least boiling it. Making it into tea was even better, it often comes out tea-colored anyway. It's getting better now, but old habits...

* I believe I've mentioned how Americans who loudly trumpet "We live in a police state!" irritate me. Excuse me, I've lived in police states, I have friends who live in police states and are in real danger every day for their dissidence.

Yes I used to be that kind of American myself. Now it strikes me as posturing as a hero when you haven't earned it. "Cheap grace" the religious call it.

* Police state? Show me. Show me the families of the "disappeared". Show me the maimed minds and bodies of those who do come out of the dungeons of the secret police. Show me anybody who has taken the kind of shit that a political radical or birth control advocate had to put up with two-three generations ago.

Yes you could show me plenty of abuses of power, Mike Nifong leaps to mind. But a whole state committed to extinguishing your liberty? Show me; don't tell me. The fact that you can tell me so, loudly and publicly, gives the lie.

Now, do I think that we might cease to be a democracy?

That's another matter...

* Churchill said that "The Second World War first appeared as a cloud on the horizon, no bigger than a man's hand."

Like that cloud... one of America's wisest public intellectuals, perhaps the wisest, Thomas Sowell, remarked, "When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can't help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup."

Now first LISTEN to my wife Monika, who pointed out that what he said was "I can't help wondering..." i.e. that these are plainly stated to be the darkest fears of a man in a pessimistic moment.

I too have my pessimistic moments, in which I sometimes think that we'll lose our democracy, not from a conspiracy of the powerful, but because we aren't fit to govern ourselves anymore.

* We've had feedback from Washington about the visit from the Latin American journalists. It appears Oklahoma was the high spot of the trip for them. Doesn't surprise me, they got to see some of the real America. To be fair, the weather in D.C. was filthy the time they were there, still I do think the Midwest one of the better bets if you want visitors to leave the country with a good impression.

* Of course, once I've said the above about people who scream "We're living in a police state!" I have to admit that one of the things that keeps us from becoming one may be that we're so touchy about our rights and privacy that we scream "police state!" at the slightest hint that anyone is going to intrude on them.

* The other thing that keeps it from getting that bad is, of course, guns. In my opinion the greatest danger to liberty today comes from the Political Correctness Police - but I don't think they'll succeed in making us into even a "soft" totalitarianism.

Why? Because they hate guns and want them taken away from the civilian population, BUT they failed to win over the military and police. In fact they've made it only too plain that they despise the profession of arms. Not the best way to impose a police state.


  • At 11:08 AM, Blogger gun-totin-wacko said…

    Speaking of police states, Amigo....


    This is a lot closer than I like to get.

  • At 11:02 PM, Blogger Eva, Canada said…

    I don't know about Poland but I grew up drinking Czech water from the faucet as did everybody else. We never did boil water before drinking. Perhaps you should narrow your generalization down to specific countries.

    Other than that, I enjoy your blog. :)

  • At 5:46 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    And that's one reason I don't think it will get there. Guys like you.

    And thanks for bringing this to my attention. Some of the posts gave me an idea.

  • At 3:16 PM, Blogger froggy000 said…

    Don't comment much, but your posts are always a good read. Keep up the good work!

  • At 3:17 PM, Blogger froggy000 said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 9:19 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Well Eva, I did say "much of Eastern Europe".

    I remember Prague very fondly, and one reason was certainly that the Vltava river was a beautiful and reasonably clear - unlike the Wisla which is used as the sewer of Poland - and unfortunately the reservoir as well.

    I also remember that in Athens I was told that the tap water was OK, but that if I was used to drinking bottled water I should probably continue to.

    I did drink the tap water in Sofia as it came from the mountains, but my gums used to bleed when I lived there. I don't know if one had anything to do with the other.

    If you wouldn't be offended, I could tell you the Polish/Czech joke my wife finds so funny...

  • At 10:22 PM, Blogger Eva, Canada said…

    Please do! I enjoy ethnic jokes. :)

  • At 7:00 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Eva, Check my post here


    'What Eastern Europe did to my sense of humor'

  • At 1:37 PM, Blogger Eva, Canada said…

    I remember reading that post and the impact of the joke puzzles me as much as it puzzles you. At the most it deserves a chuckle. Why it should provoke a riotous mirth in Poles and Rumanians I cannot explain.

  • At 3:15 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    I still don't to this day. If it's relevant, the Romanian was ethnically German.

    When I was teaching in Saudi Arabia, I told plenty of jokes my students found funny, but never understood any Arab joke they told me.


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