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Sarah Palin is the only woman who can make Tony Romo WIN a playoff.

calendar   Thursday - January 06, 2011

the ethnic cleansing of huckleberry finn in our new pc dictated world

Saw yesterday’s post by Drew when booting with the intent of posting this very interesting piece by Christopher Howse, who is generally the religious editor for the Telegraph among other job titles.

This story also has it’s origins in the USA, and the remarks about pc are right on target.

Here’s the whole editorial on the subject of that now forbidden word. 


Huckleberry Finn loses the ‘nigger’ he loves, thanks to a publisher’s ethnic cleansing

By Christopher Howse Literature

There is a great fuss in America about a new edition of Huckleberry Finn from which the word nigger has been excised. It occurs in the novel 217 times, or 219 (tallies vary, and I have lost count), so its loss makes quite a difference. It is like The Merchant of Venice without the word Jew.

Indeed Jew is far more pejorative in the mouths of Shakespeare’s characters than nigger is in the mouths of some of Mark Twain’s. Launcelot Gobbo, Shylock’s servant, resolves to run away, and declares: “I am a Jew if I serve the Jew any longer.”

We readers of Shakespeare and Mark Twain do not dislike black people or Jewish people. Yet we can be more certain that Twain did not hate blacks than that Shakespeare was not anti-Semitic. Anyone would have to be not only stupid but a fool to miss the fact that Mark Twain was on the side of Jim, the runaway slave in Huckleberry Finn.

Even if we cannot be sure that Shakespeare wasn’t anti-Semitic, should it mean that teenagers at school must never read The Merchant of Venice again? Or, if we are doubtful about Thomas Carlyle’s attitude to emancipated slaves, does that mean nobody should peruse his discourse from 1853, On the Nigger Question?
Striking out the word nigger every time it appears in Huckleberry Finn is a kind of ethnic cleansing, a pretence that in the land of the free no one referred to black people by a demeaning term once the Civil War had been won.

Worse, it is to confuse a word with a system of thought. For something really hair-raising on race, look up the “scientific” approach of the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica under the entry Negro. “The recognised leaders of the race are almost invariably persons of mixed blood,” it declares, “and the qualities which have made them leaders are derived certainly in part and perhaps mainly from their white ancestry.”

Mark Twain was having none of this. Huckleberry Finn is about the moral education of its hero. At first he is scandalised that his friend Tom Sawyer should be willing to help Jim escape from his “owner”. “I couldn’t believe it. Tom Sawyer a nigger-stealer! ” Huck believes that stealing will send him to hell, but, in a crux of the plot, he chooses to risk hellfire rather than betray Jim.

Huck learns Jim has feelings too, after hurting them by playing a trick on him. He apologises. “It was fifteen minutes,” Huck explains, “before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger; but I done it, and I warn’t ever sorry for it afterwards, neither.” How would that sentence be improved by changing nigger to slave, as the new publishers have done?

Huckleberry Finn has a happy ending of sorts, for Jim is freed. But Huck himself is the one who has no place in civilised society, and he hatches a plan to head off for “Injun” territory. Only, of course, the publishers can’t let the word Injun sully the minds of the impressionable young either.

The position of black people in America is only one strand of Huckleberry Finn, but it is the dominating theme of Twain’s very interesting problem tale Pudd’nhead Wilson. It concerns two babies, one regarded as a “nigger” though only one-32nd part black, the other the heir to the local estate. As in The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain has fun when they are swapped. Yet he calls his story a tragedy.

The child brought up as the heir goes to the bad, behaves badly to black people, and turns to murder. The amiable child brought up as a “nigger” is at last rewarded by being recognised as the heir. But he can never feel comfortable among white people, because of his speech and manners.
It’s nurture, not nature that makes the man, Twain suggests. For him, the problem is not “Niggaz with Attitude” but the attitude to “niggers”.

HOWSE AT THE TELEGRAPH


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 01/06/2011 at 01:37 PM   
Filed Under: • LiteratureUSA •  
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calendar   Wednesday - August 18, 2010

Time Out To Read

I’ve been chewing my way through Ken Follet’s World Without End for the past couple of days. At nearly 1100 pages it’s a pretty long read. Very interesting book. In theory it’s the sequel to his Pillars of the Earth from 18 years ago, but that’s only true peripherally. It’s set in the same town, the mythical Kingsbridge, which is somewhere in Peiper’s corner of England. 200 years have gone by since the story told in Pillars, but it’s still the middle Middle Ages in Britain so things haven’t changed a heck of a lot. Follet is a master of character development, and his stories are all very involving.

I’m at the halfway point, and what I’m noticing is not just how awful, unjust, one sided, and utterly stupid the 14th century was, but how strongly his picture of life back then seems to mirror life today. Ok, granted, things aren’t quite so bleak or violent now. We don’t have knights and barons running around raping and killing people because they feel like it. And we don’t have a poorly educated, highly selfish Church owning and running everything. But we do have an emerging class of elites who do seem to be above the law in many ways. And even though those at the top exist because of taxes and tithes on the serfs and tradespeople, they don’t seem to feel much responsibility to them. Oh, as Lord of this demesnes my little nose is out of joint because I was embarrassed because I was caught red-handed committing a horrible crime for which, as a member of the gentry, I was not punished for, but I’ll let the village starve to punish them for embarrassing me. Oh yeah? Well as prior of the cathedral my nose is even more out of joint because the peasants have found several ways to make money that don’t involve giving it all to the church or even letting me tax it to death, so I’ll do whatever I can to thwart them. Cutting off my nose to spite my face? Who cares, as long as I still have the power! Sounds awfully familiar to modern times in many ways. We don’t strictly have “privilege” these days - literally a private ledger, meaning one set of laws for the commoners, and one extra flexible set of laws for the rich - but it sure seems that way when I look at the endless scandals and corruption in government.

Pillars of the Earth eventually got me down. The first time or two that I read it, it was all about the amazement of building a massive stone cathedral using little more than hammers and ox carts, and the technology of that benighted time. After that I soured on the book, because by my third or fourth time through it I lost compassion for the lead characters, whose lives were a never ending series of death, starvation, disease, disappointments, and being screwed over by the folks in charge, mostly because they didn’t buck the system. Or couldn’t. Whatever, the story became Loserama to me, and I gave the book away. 18 years later for me and 200 years later for them, and I’m wishing the peasants had machine guns and artillery. This book’s newer more “modern” world has the beginnings of the rise of the merchant class, but society itself is still rather static. A static culture is a rotting culture, no matter how happy people may be by avoiding change and relying on “that’s how we’ve always done it”. And any progress from a static culture that does not move in a direction of more economic and personal freedom for the lower parts of society is a move towards slavery. Or serfdom. As Follet’s two books in this epoch show, there isn’t a helluva big difference. Unarmed, uneducated, landless, taxed to the edge of starvation, and kept in place by elitist “government” and knot-headed unionism (the ubiquitous and change resistant Guilds of that period), they exist to suffer for their better’s profit. If only they would rise up. If only WE would rise up.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/18/2010 at 02:47 PM   
Filed Under: • EditorialsLiterature •  
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calendar   Sunday - August 15, 2010

Weekend Parodies

Wow! I was looking on YouTube for Bored of the Rings postings. I found some but they were…boring.

But, the Lord of the Rings parodies were…well…

I post, you decide.

Gods! The things I watch for BMEWS…

“Okay. Let’s get this bitch to Mt. Doom!” laughing_tv 


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 08/15/2010 at 04:39 PM   
Filed Under: • Fun-StuffHumorLiterature •  
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calendar   Sunday - July 18, 2010

Today’s Literary Quote

If you haven’t read any of Simon R. Green’s books you are missing some serious entertainment. His stuff is so good that GraphicAudio has done ‘Blue Moon Rising’.

Simon R. Green does not respect formula. In Blue Moon Rising, our hero is sent off on his unicorn…to save a princess from a dragon…

My first clue that this was not normal fantasy was that our hero was riding a unicorn. You do remember who can ride a unicorn? Gets even better after he rescues the dragon from the princess…(bet you didn’t see that coming either). Turns out that the princess can’t ride the unicorn. grin It turns out well. After much fighting and bloodshed, our hero can no longer ride a unicorn at the end of the book!

Well, I’m not reading that book. I’m in book 3 of the Secret Histories: The Spy Who Haunted Me. Get this quote:

While the water was boiling to make us a second cup, Honey produced a large knife from somewhere and slipped off into the darkness. Her white cat-suited figure glimmered briefly here and there in the darkness like a ghost that couldn’t make up its mind whether or not to materialise. There was a certain amount of crashing about, followed by some loud splashing, and then Honey returned triumphantly with a large dead beaver she’d caught and killed on the riverbank. She skinned and prepared the thing with expert skill, and soon enough there was meat roasting on pointed sticks over the fire. It actually smelled pretty good. One beaver doesn’t go all that far between five people, and the taste was…interesting, but we were all hungry, and no one turned up their nose. Walker ate his with great enthusiasm and actually licked the grease from his fingers when he’d finished. The Blue Fairy started to smirk.

“Don’t,” Honey said sternly. “I have already worked out every possible permutation of any joke involving the words eat and beaver. Also, I have a gun, and I will shoot you.”

I do so love possibly fatal humor like that. 


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 07/18/2010 at 07:10 PM   
Filed Under: • HumorLiterature •  
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calendar   Thursday - July 08, 2010

Today’s Literary Quote

Formerly known as ‘What’s Christopher Reading’, I decided to change the title.

I’m reading Simon R. Green’s Secret History series. Book Two - Daemons Are Forever. (Mr. Green seems to like parodies of Bond books.)

Our hero Edwin is busy with an elf-lord. Two of Frankenstein’s monsters are ganging up on his girlfriend Molly the witch. Simon R. Green is really a sick man. Who else could imagine this?

By now everyone else in the cafe had run for the doors, not wanting to tangle with a Drood in full armour, and I was happy enough to see them go. They would only have got in the way. The two Frankenstein creatures had closed in on Molly, reaching out for her with their large, mismatched hands. Molly laughed in their ugly faces, and hit them with a simple spell that made all their stitches come undone at once. The two monsters cried out in harsh, hopeless voices as ancient cat gut exploded like rows of firecrackers in their skin, undoing them like zippers. They fell apart, bit by bit, their separate pieces pattering to the floor, slowly at first and then in a rush. Hands fell from arms, arms from elbows and then from shoulders. Legs collapsed. Torsos hit the floor hard and opened up, spilling long-dead preserved organs onto the floor. The heads were the last to go, features slipping one by one from the faces, until finally the skulls cracked open and the dry, gray brains fell out.

By then I had my own problems. The elf lord was closing in on me, smiling his nasty, superior smile.

Moral? Witches are bitches. They do not appreciate fine stitching.


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 07/08/2010 at 04:56 PM   
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calendar   Sunday - June 27, 2010

The normal functions of government

I’m really amazed at all the little nuggets of wisdom one can glean from fiction books. Still reading David Eddings works, now working through The Demon Lord of Karanda, book III of the Mallorean series. In this we discover the normal functions of government:

“The imperial palace,” Zakath said indifferently. He frowned. “What have you done over there?” he asked Brador, pointing at a long row of tall buildings rising near the south wall of the enclosed compound.

Brador coughed delicately. “Those are the bureaucratic offices, your Majesty,” he replied in a neutral tone. “You’ll recall that you authorized their construction just before the battle of Thull Mardu.”

Zakath pursed his lips. “I hadn’t expected something on quite such a grand scale,” he said.

“There are quite a lot of us, your Majesty,” Brador explained, “and we felt that things might be more harmonious if each bureau had its own building.” He looked a bit apologetic. “We really did need the space,” he explained defensively to Sadi. “We were all jumbled together with the military, and very often men from different bureaus had to share the same office. It’s really much more efficient this way, wouldn’t you say?”

“I think I’d prefer it if you didn’t involve me in this discussion, your Excellency,” Sadi answered.

“I was merely attempting to draw upon your Excellency’s expertise in managing affairs of state.”

“Salmissra’s palace is somewhat unique,” Sadi told him. “We like being jumbled together. It gives us greater opportunities for spying and murder and intrigue and the other normal functions of government.

(emphasis added)

Sigh… don’t you wish the Obamaskyites would content themselves with the ‘normal functions of government’ and leave the rest of us alone?


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 06/27/2010 at 04:16 PM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentHumorLiterature •  
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calendar   Tuesday - June 15, 2010

What’s Christopher reading redux

Well, I’m still on my David Eddings kick. I’ve finished the Belgariad and the Mallorean. Also finished Belgarath the Sorcerer. Currently on Polgara the Sorceress who is Belgarath’s surviving daughter. I first read these in the early 2000’s, before, during, and after 9/11. Eddings died in 2009 I saddened to learn.

But I just had to share this passage. Polgara should have been a lawyer.

I hadn’t altered Alreg’s size, nor tampered in any way with his clothing, so there was a man-sized toad in a mail-shirt and with a sword belted at its thick waist crouched bug-eyed on the royal throne, croaking in a shrill kind of panic.

The entire process had taken several minutes, and since Alreg’s throne stood upon a dais, it had been visible to every Cherek, drunk or sober, in the entire hall.

I sensed one of the bearded Chereks behind me reaching for his sword. When he grasped what he thought was his sword-hilt, though, he wrapped his hand firmly about the head and neck of a large, angry snake instead. “Don’t do that any more,” I told him, without bothering to look around. “You’d better tell your retainers here to behave themselves, Alreg,” I suggested to the enthroned toad. “That’s unless you have replacements handy. My Father doesn’t want me to kill people, but I think I can get around that. I’ll just bury them without bothering to kill them first. They’ll probably die of natural causes–after a while so Father won’t have any cause for complaint, now will he?

Emphasis added.

Honestly, Hollywood is churning out remakes of The Karate Kid and Red Dawn. Why can’t Hollywood tackle some really interesting stuff like the Eddings books?


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 06/15/2010 at 12:10 AM   
Filed Under: • HumorLiterature •  
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calendar   Wednesday - June 02, 2010

What’s Christopher reading?

I just had to share. Sometimes I come across passages that cry out “Share Me! Share Me!”

Either they cry out or I drank a bad batch of ale. beerstoyou

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks rereading the works of David Eddings. Made it through the first series–The Belgariad–without feeling the urge to share. I did take notes, but it’s the Mallorean series that’s really a ‘hoot’! Eddings has had time to really develop the characters. Take this scene from the second book Lord of the Murgos: Sadi’s pet–and highly venomous–snake is loose…again!

As Durnik and Toth pitched the tents, Garion and Eriond ranged out through the sodden willow thicket in search of firewood. It was difficult to find anything sufficiently dry to burn, and the effort of an hour yielded only enough twigs and small branches from under fallen trees to make a meager cook fire for Polgara. As she began to prepare their evening meal of beans and venison, Garion noted that Sadi was walking about their campsite, combing the ground with his eyes.

“This isn’t funny, dear,” he said quite firmly. “Now you come out this very minute.”

“What’s the matter?” Durnik asked him.

“Zith isn’t in her bottle,” Sadi replied, still searching.

Durnik rose from where he was sitting quite rapidly. “Are you sure?”

“She thinks it’s amusing to hide from me sometimes. Now, you come out immediately, you naughty snake.”

“You probably shouldn’t tell Silk,” Belgarath advised. “He’ll go directly into hysterics if he finds out that she’s loose.” The old man looked around. “Where is he, by the way?”

“He and Liselle went for a walk,” Eriond told him.

“In all this wet? Sometimes I wonder about him.”

Ce’Nedra came over and sat on the log beside Garion. He put his arm about her shoulders and drew her close to him. She snuggled down and sighed. “I wonder what Geran is doing tonight,” she said wistfully.

“Sleeping, probably.”

“He always looked so adorable when he was asleep.” She sighed again and then closed her eyes.

There was a crashing back in the willows, and Silk suddenly ran into the circle of firelight, his eyes very wide and his face deathly pale.

“What’s the matter?” Durnik exclaimed.

“She had that snake in her bodice!” Silk blurted.

“Who did?”

“Liselle!”

Polgara, holding a ladle in one hand, turned to regard the violently trembling little man with one raised eyebrow. “Tell me, Prince Kheldar,” she said in a cool voice, “exactly what were you doing in the Margravine Liselle’s bodice?”

Silk endured that steady gaze for a moment; then he actually began to blush furiously.

“Oh,” she said, “I see.” She turned back to her cooking.

Unfortunately the passage ends there. Polgara never does elaborate on just what she ‘saw’. Nor does Silk ever actually answer the question. Damn!

My next example comes from the third book, Demon Lord of Karanda. Our small party of heros, heroines, and assorted riff-raff have to cross the border, which is guarded;

The three remaining Guardsmen began to fall back, trying to give themselves room to use their lances, but they seemed unaware that Garion was returning to the fray–from behind them.

As Chretienne thundered toward the unsuspecting trio, a sudden idea came to Garion. Quickly he turned his lance sideways so that its center rested just in front of his saddlebow and crashed into the backs of the Guardsmen.

The springy cedar pole swept all three of them out of their saddles and over the heads of their horses. Before they could stumble to their feet, Sadi, Feldegast, and Durnik were on them, and the fight ended as quickly as it had begun.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody use a lance that way before,” Silk said gaily to Garion.

“I just made it up,” Garion replied with an excited grin. “I’m sure that there are at least a half-dozen rules against it.”

“We probably shouldn’t mention it, then.”

“I won’t tell anybody if you don’t.”

Durnik was looking around critically. The ground was littered with Guardsmen who were either unconscious or groaning over assorted broken bones. Only the man Toth had poked in the stomach was still in his saddle, though he was doubled over, gasping for breath. Durnik rode up to him. “Excuse me,” he said politely, removed the poor fellow’s helmet, and then rapped him smartly on top of the head with the butt of his axe. The Guardsman’s eyes glazed, and he toppled limply out of the saddle.

Belgarath suddenly doubled over, howling with laughter. “Excuse me?” he demanded of the smith.

“There’s no need to be uncivil to people, Belgarath,” Durnik replied stiffly.

Would that our politicians would be so civil!


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 06/02/2010 at 07:39 PM   
Filed Under: • Fun-StuffHumorLiterature •  
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calendar   Monday - September 07, 2009

Frost over Terry Prachett

It’s 5:00 AM, there’s a nasty thunderstorm overhead, and I’m posting about Terry Pratchett.

God will get me for this.

An interesting interview with Terry Pratchett.

A) I believe this is the first time I’ve seen him without his hat.

B) the interviewer is David Frost, who I’d assumed was long dead. [If I were Richard Nixon, I’d have made sure of it… (just kidding, maybe…)]

Well, here you go: David Frost’s interview with Terry Pratchett.

One of my favorite Pratchett quotes: Granny Weatherwax on ‘progress’: “Progress just means bad things happen faster.”

I like to quote that to liberals who try to use the ‘progressive’ moniker.

Appears to be quite true under the Obama regime.

Methinks the USA needs regime change now!

UPDATE: embuggerance-a very minor problem - not the end of the world, but the world would be better without it.

Source: Urban Dictionary


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 09/07/2009 at 08:59 AM   
Filed Under: • CelebritiesHealth-MedicineLiterature •  
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calendar   Tuesday - August 04, 2009

There was an old Marxist called Lenin …. From the Charles Moore column

There is a very good article in todays Telegraph by Charles Moore.  Actually, this is not an editorial but a tiny part of his review of a book of poetry by Robert Conquest, who I’d never heard of before.  Not too surprising since I don’t normally follow that particular art form. In truth, I was taken by this more then I was anything else and thought it was something worth sharing with BMEWS.
If you’re interested in the rest ... it’s HERE

There was an old Marxist called Lenin,
Who did one or two million men in.
That’s a lot to have done in,
But where he did one in,
That old Marxist Stalin did ten in.

By Robert Conquest


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 08/04/2009 at 01:55 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - September 23, 2008

A 14th-century recipe book compiled by King Richard II’s master cooks is to put online.

PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one here who thinks WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! and gets all kinds of XCITED over ancient stuff like this.
What’s so amazing is that any of these things have lasted so long and been preserved so well over time. 

Quite often btw, treasure hunters with those metal detector things keep finding artifacts from ancient Rome and even before. I haven’t a clue how they manage to ID some things, but they are able to. From pottery to coins and weapons and even ancient graves long lost.

We have a Bronze Age burial ground just at the end of our short street here in the village. The mounds are plain to see and I often have to walk through the site to get to a friends house, who lives just beside it.  This place has so much history and so much natural beauty. Wish I were able to tour further afield as there is so much more to see and photograph.


King Richard II’s recipe book to go online
A 14th-century recipe book compiled by King Richard II’s master cooks is to put online for the first time to give modern-day chefs an insight into the delicacies of the Middle Ages.


By Nicole Martin, Digital and Media Correspondent

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The book is one of 40 rare manuscripts that are being digitally photographed and put on the internet Photo: University of Manchester’s John Rylands University Library

Forme of Cury, which was written in 1390 in Middle English, details more than 200 recipes that were cooked in the royal household, including blank mang (a sweet dish of meat, milk, sugar and almonds) and mortrews (ground and spiced pork).

The book is one of 40 rare manuscripts that are being digitally photographed and put on the internet by the University of Manchester’s John Rylands University Library.

Other Middle English manuscripts include one of the earliest existing editions of the complete Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, John Lydgate’s two major poems Troy Book and Fall of Princes, and 500-year-old translations of the Bible into English.

The work, which will be carried out using a state-of-the-art high-definition camera, will begin next month and is due to be completed by late 2009.

Jan Wilkinson, the director of the John Rylands library, described the library’s manuscripts as “a research resource of immense significance”.

“Yet the manuscripts are inherently fragile, and until now access to them has been restricted by the lack of digital copies. Digitisation will make them available to everyone,” she said.

“For the first time it will be possible to compare our manuscripts directly with other versions of the texts in libraries located across the world, opening up opportunities for new areas of research. We hope that this will be the beginning of a wider digitisation programme, which will unlock the tremendous potential of our medieval manuscripts and printed books for the benefit of the academic community and the wider public.”

http://preview.tinyurl.com/3jvdql


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 09/23/2008 at 09:08 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesFun-StuffLiteratureUK •  
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calendar   Tuesday - July 10, 2007

You Have a Story

You are an interesting person.  Do you believe that?  As boring and mundane you think your life is, it is interesting.  Maybe not to you, but to your grandkids, and great grandkids, who may never have the chance to speak to you in person, the story of how they got to be where they are is directly tied to who you are now.

Kim DuToit, who most of you know as a great writer already, has launched a new business dedicated to applying those skills to your life’s story.

www.mybiographer.com

If you, like me, have found details of your ancestor’s lives sketchy, or totally missing, then do your heirs a great service and have Kim document what is important and interesting about you and your life.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/10/2007 at 02:36 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - April 12, 2007

Through The Looking Glass

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“Tralfamador”

The Traflamadorian world provided Billy Pilgrim with the escape that he needed from his guilt. The Traflamadorian people are not locked in a three dimensional realm. They are not locked in the frames of time to which the human world is forced to live in. Traflamadorians can “shift” through time as seamlessly as humans can walk towards a point. This ability allows them to focus on the pleasant moments in the history of the Universe and ignore the aspects of time they dislike.

The Tralfamadorians are real to Billy because without them he cannot live with himself. Billy believes that he was taken by a Tralfamdorian ship to be an exhibit of a human being in a Tralfamdorian Zoo. On Tralfamador, Billy is exposed to an entire new way of thinking which neutralizes the “Why me?” question. In the Tralfamdorian view of the Universe, guilt does not exist because in their view one is not responsible for one’s actions. Whatever will, or has happened will always happen and did always happen. There is no way to change the course of events. Everything is predetermined. Billy is told by the Tralfamadores (regarding Tralfamador) that:

“Today we do (have peace). On other days we have wars as horrible as any you’ve ever seen or read about. There isn’t anything we can do about them, so we simply don’t look at them. We ignore them. We spend eternity looking at pleasant moments.”

The Tralfamadorians even now question as to when and who will destroy the Universe, yet they make no attempt to stop it because in their eyes it cannot be stopped. Billy, by accepting the Tralfamadorian view, frees himself from the guilt which one feels when one is locked in time and responsible for one’s actions. Billy Pilgrim grasps the Tralfamadorian philosophy and insists the Tralfamadorian world exists because it eliminates the “Why me?” question. Guilt is a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime wrong; a feeling of culpability.

For example if one steals a hundred dollars, one would feel remorse over that action and wish one had not done it. Under the Tralfamadorian outlook Billy Pilgrim does not have to feel remorse for being saved because that is how it was and always will happen. He does not have to feel guilt or remorse because there is no reason to. There is nothing that can be done about war and death, “they are as easy to stop as glaciers.” The death of all those innocent people could not be stopped, it was predetermined by some unknown force just as the destruction of the Universe, by a Tralfamadorian testing a new fuel, is also predetermined and unstoppable.

-- Kurt Vonnegut, “Slaughterhouse Five”


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 04/12/2007 at 08:16 PM   
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Obituary

imageimageKurt Vonnegut
1922-2007


“Sirens Of Titan”, “Slaughterhouse Five”, “Breakfast Of Champions”, “Cat’s Cradle” and much more. I have read and enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut’s books since I was a teenager in the early 1960’s. Which is why I am having a hard time writing about the passing of a liberal, anti-war, cynical Leftist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that - as the popular Liberal slogan goes.

I guess for me the defining Vonnegut legacy can be embodied in his 1969 novel “Slaughterhouse Five”. The book is a semi-fictional recounting of the bombing of Dresden in WWII - an event that Vonnegut was firsthand witness to as a prisoner of war being held in that city. The allies carpet bombed the city so heavily that it created a firestorm of unimaginable ferocity - literally hell on Earth. 30,000 died and Vonnegut and other surviving POW’s were given the grim task of piling the bodies in heaps for mass cremations.

It was, I think, a defining moment for Vonnegut who was passionately anti-war the rest of his life, along with a man he became good friends with, Joseph Heller, whose book “Catch-22” also provided grist for the 1960’s anti-war mill. Unfortunately, “Slaughterhouse Five” was published at the height of the Vietnam War and, in addition to bringing fame to Vonnegut, also provided a manifesto of sorts for the anti-war movement. He later went on to embrace all the tenets of the Left including environmentalism and socialism.

So I have to confess that I loved reading all of Vonnegut’s books because the man did write some very thoughtful works, including some really great science-fiction ... in spite of the silly crowd he ended up hanging out with. Rest In Peace.

… so it goes ...

- NY TIMES: “Kurt Vonnegut, Writer of Classics of the American Counterculture, Dies at 84”


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 04/12/2007 at 08:10 PM   
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