Rants and Raves

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


*We've been out and about in Oklahoma taking pictures of tree debris.

Two days ago we had a night of freezing rain. Though not a particularly heavy rain for this wet year, it froze on the trees and the accumulation of ice brought limbs down and even split many trees right down the middle.

The aftermath looks like a tornado - only worse.

About 600,000 people in the state are without power, a number greater than the population of Oklahoma City.

When I was out buying more film for the camera I met a friend buying candles for his home.

He said he was going to teach his kid to play solitare - with real cards!

*In a review of Pat Buchannan's new book 'Day of Reckoning' http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/TonyBlankley/2007/12/12/day_of_reckoning_a_review_of_pat_buchanans_latest_book
columnist Tony Blankley quotes the following:

"Ideology has one foot grounded in reality, but the other is ever on quicksand. For no one can know the future. Yet the True Believer has moral certitude, for his ideology foretells a future certain to come if the sacrifices are sufficient and the anointed leaders are faithfully followed."

Notice that "True Believer" is capitalized and preceded by the definite article.

The reason for this of course, is that the phrase, if not literally invented by, was made popular and given its present significance by Eric Hoffer in his book of the same name, published in the year of my birth.

Hoffer, America's "longshoreman philosopher" is having somewhat of a revival these days. Thomas Sowell, perhaps America's wisest public intellectual, cites him fairly frequently, and (ahem) I myself can claim to be responsible for introducing him to the academic establishment of two countries (Poland and Belarus).

I'm going to write more about this remarkable man in the future, but let me whet your apetite with an anecdote that tells something about his personality - and why after an initial period of popularity he was dropped by the academic establishment.

A story told by an eyewitness has it that he was once invited to a Jewish function in (I believe) New Orleans. After a number of politicians had come up to the podium and delivered their encomiums to the Jewish people, Hoffer came up and said, "They all lie. They would sell you out in a minute. Support Israel, it's your only hope" and walked off.

*And speaking of allusions, I thought I detected another in a column by Jacob Sullum, 'And Everybody Hates the Atheists.' http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/JacobSullum/2007/12/12/and_everybody_hates_the_atheists

I suspect that this is an allusion to a song by the parody writer Tom Lehrer, 'National Brotherhood Week.'

Tom Lehrer is still alive, though no longer writing songs, which I regret sincerely. I've written about the Dogma of Otherness and how it has been transmitted via the medium of MAD magazine and Rocky and Bullwinkle.



Perhaps I'll have to write at length about Lehrer as well, but at any rate, I think the allusions is to the verse in the song that goes:

Oh the Catholics hate the Protestants
And the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Hindus hate all the Moslems
And everybody hates the Jews!

But this is National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week
National do-good-to-one-and-otherhood-week
Step up and shake the hand, of someone you can't stand
You can tolerate 'em if you try

*Dinesh D'Souza has gone and made an observation in print that I've made privately for a while. Yet another cautionary tale against writer's procrastination.

What he points out is that of the prominent public atheists, most don't give the impression that they don't believe in God. Quite the contrary, the impression they give is that they do believe - they're just mad at Him.

*We're contemplating a move to North Dakota and will probably be taking a trip up thataway before Christmas to have a look around. Stay tuned.


  • At 1:58 PM, Blogger dchamil said…

    Tom Lehrer's songs are truly gems, especially National Brotherhood week, except for some dated allusions in it to Sheriff Clark and Lena Horne, Dancing cheek to cheek!

  • At 6:44 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    I know exactly who he's refering to - alas.


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