Saturday, December 14, 2002

This digital camera has amazing abilities!

I was just experimenting so I took a picture of this Mario Lanza album I bought to make a clock out of:

mario lanza.bmp

Then I used the amazing software to make this work of art:

This one didn't work out so well...

It's going to take a little practice to perfect my technique but I expect to come up with something really amazing in the near future.

Just think what I could do with more money...with more technology...the possibilities are unlimited.
Please say you didn't listen to me?

I hope you didn't listen to me and get quicktime...because then you'll find these videos (like the 'Brings Tears To Your Eyes' on the WTO protests)

And there's some really sick stuff nearby if you search around long enough

But don't watch that. It's bad for you.

Quicktime is evil. Watch the Bilbo Baggins movie. The girls are really pretty.

Oh wait, I've been advocating a refusal to use the word evil in casual conversations.

Wait! Maybe the 'axis of evil' was like that kind of ironic exagerration? Maybe that's it! Is their mysterious 'theory of evil' now solved?

And now...President Clinton's final days are on this page...It actually made me sad kinda

Shit! I'm SO late. I thought this wouldn't happen if I got rid of the TV. Damn quicktime.
These videos! Mein Gott in himmel...or however you say it...

Requires quicktime...But if you click on the link it will set up quicktime for free in your computer. You want to, c'mon. I know you want to. Just do it. It's easy. It'll make you feel real good...

OK...I recommend the self-help guru, the Paul Masson commercial and the Winnebago guy. But the hippie guy. That one is pure genius...

Thank you The Left Half of My Brain...well, sort of.

You could actually get in big trouble for this?

Poindexter is being watched by 'online pranksters'

from: East West (they're hot, wet and steamy!)

Other good links from this site: Henry Kissinger page

This is a magazine for 'lifestylers.' What's a lifestyler? Are we not all 'lifestylers' in our own way?

Explanation for this week's excuse...

As the brilliant and quite libidinous Zarathustra was excoriating me for the removal of my comments I realized that it might not be clear how useful the excuse 'Hey, the Romans did it!' is in both in the political and personal realm.

Sorry I didn't explain only have 3 days left now to use this excuse.

What situations are appropriate for this excuse? It excuses (a) orgies (b) overspending on home decor (c) imperialism and the exploitation of other countries (d) giving too much power to the executive and impeding democracy (e) overeating (f) denial of full rights to those who contribute to your country through labor, culture, etc. (g) the claim "We're #1!" (h) overemphasis on entertainment--and entertainment that leads to physical harms (such as boxing) (i) cruel treatment of animals (j) talking too much (k) crazed nationalism (l) extremely stark class relations

Well, there's a lot more too! So use this excuse today!

Friday, December 13, 2002

Am 'I' My Ass?

I have suddenly come to terms with the fact that my butt is bigger than it has ever been. I’ve never felt bad about my butt and its size. I remember I once was too nervous to eat for awhile and the first place I lost weight was my backside. This really bothered me as I have always been glad for the size of my butt and never intended to have it reduce in the least bit. Of course, many other aesthetic principles must also be in play for the bigness of one’s butt to really ‘work.’ I’ve always been quite confident that these aesthetic elements combined well in my case (although lately I may be pushing it a little).

Actually, I didn’t really plan or desire to write about this. Why was I going on and on about my ass? Oh, yes. There are many things one can do to improve oneself—every part of oneself. We are bombarded with exhortations to do so. I’ve recently been wondering what I can do to be good and vaguely remembered vanity is one of those things that makes you bad. I remembered the phrase ‘vanity, thy name is woman.’ Not vanity in the sense of futility as in ‘vanity, vanity, all is vanity’ but in the sense of excessive self-love.

Except there is no quote like this. What Hamlet really said.

Definition? I'm too lazy to come up with one right now. Going theory after two hours of sleep--if one has inappropriate concern for oneself this slides into egoism--concern only for oneself. Pride in one's appearance seems innocuous and not like the sin of pride (which I think has to do with regarding others as less than oneself...or even as altogether worthless.) What's wrong with it exactly? I assume: Putting one's priorities in the wrong place.

Try doing a google search on it. Hardly cares about it anymore. It's passe, I'm afraid.

The modern version of disapproval for vanity probably has to do with some kind of political correctness thing where you are supposed to spend your time helping the homeless and giving money to starving peasants and the like. I agree with that, I guess, but the overall outlook annoys me as it is only fuel for somebody's self-righteous smugness. But like I said I'm tired and just babbling.

You would think someone who has to struggle to pay attention to anything outside of her own pathetic mental life would not have a problem being overly concerned with her looks. Sometimes I’m not that bad about it. El chico once said that it was ‘cute’ that I sleep in my clothes sometimes. Before he pointed this out, I didn’t even notice that I sleep in my clothes. I thought I was just going around all day in my pajamas.

However, self-adornment and the desire for beauty just suck me in and I am helpless against the pleasure these foolish things bring me. If el chico and I won a million dollars in the lottery tomorrow I could spend at least half of it on beauty treatments. And the other half on eye shadow. Is this vanity? Is this another thing that makes me bad?

Well, to figure out whether it is wrong I was thinking—what should I really care about? What am I anyway? Do I have a soul? I’d like to think so but it so hard to tell. Is there some deep spiritual thing I should be doing instead of waxing, plucking and exfoliating? (Actually, the amusing thing for me is that I suffer from gym addiction and yet everyone seems to think this is some kind of great moral virute. That I really don't get.)

When trying to figure out what ‘I’ am it seems I can only be sure of one thing: I have a body. My body seems to be the most consistent feature of my life…I can’t remember most things and I pay almost no attention to the future so it is really hard to say that anything in my mind carries over from moment to moment. However, my body seems to stick around, staying relatively the same through time…unlike my mind which is a slippery thing I can’t count on. I have always had my ass and as long as I live, it will be there. Materialists, atheists, and hardcore empiricists take great pains to convince me of this: When my ass no longer exists, my consciousness will also have vanished a short time before.

So perhaps ‘I’ really am my ass. And those materialist/atheists, etc. have made me confident enough in the universality of logically valid conclusions drawn from experience based on natural facts to say: So are you.

Maybe honesty IS the best policy...

It seems as if anti-war protests will not work. It sort of made me realize: What else do we have?

Then I was thinking...what if...

What if we could get Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney in the oval office. All together. And then we show them this effigy of Saddam. They start to chant: kill the pig, smash him down, kill the pig...

They all stand in a big circle and chant just like the kids in Lord of the Flies? They beat the effigy with sticks. Beat it to death like the kids did to Piggy. Make film that flashes to effective 'pigs head' clip covered in flies. The effigy must be very lifelike. Hmmmm. It would work best if we could just get one of those Saddam lookalikes. I have reason to believe the real Saddam is a nice tasteful guy but I don't think he wants to die. The lookalikes though--would they do it to save Iraq?

I have some moral qualms of course. I don't think "the needs of the many are outweighed by the needs of the few...or the one" as Spok did in that Star Trek movie whatever-it's-called.

Perhaps it is not so immoral if he does it of his own free will?

That might work! I'll bet that would work better than any anti-war protest ever would. (I don't think Wm. Golding would agree. If you buy the main premise of Lord of the Flies this won't work at all. Still...)

The obvious problem: How do we get them to do this? I think this drawback is not insurmountable. I'll keep working on it.
For reasons of my own, I have removed the comments. I would say: Please don't complain. I sort of have good reasons which I plan to explain at some point...later on.

But you cannot complain now, can you? Commenting is now impossible. Perhaps you will grumble under your breath...and the bad vibes will reach me? Perhaps you will curse me and you have magical powers and all my hair will fall out?

Well--if that is the case...don't do that...But most likely, I will never become aware of your disgruntlement.

It doesn't mean I don't care for you. Really...I do care. You will see. Later. Later I'll show you just how much I care.
I have this terrible problem...

When I say "I won't do x" this makes me do it. It's very terrible. If someone says "don't do that" I also need to do it. If they say "do that" then I won't do it.

But the problem is I try to trick myself. I say "Miel, don't do that!" when I really need to do something. But because I am Miel it doesn't work. Like if I can't work--I say "Work!" and then I can't work. Then I think ah hah! I will trick myself! I will say "don't work!" But I never fall for it. I can also figure out when people aren't really sincere.

I basically judge whether I should or shouldn't do something if it is rational or in my interests. If doing it is rational/in my interests: I won't do it. If doing it generally leads to some kinda trouble: I do it right away.

Thus when I said: I won't pander anymore...well, it just made me want to pander and pander some more.

Ewok Holocaust

from: Everything Is Wrong

Your Mom!

Bush Tucker

Fascinating article on how the internet can spread mental illness

Army men porn

Arse from Elbow

Escher in Lego

F*ck you gallery

Jesus of the Week

I wanted to be 'different'

I wanted to be 'special'

I didn't want to be like those OTHER know the know the ones I mean. Don't you? I thought I could maintain my integrity, I could remember who I was and what I stood for...and then show you...all of you--my special, inner self.

Well it just didn't work.

I want you to know something though: I'm not going to pander much longer. OK, I'll pander a little bit now and again. It might be hard to stop my pandering. I'm entering into the 'culture.' I'm becoming one of them.

Don't be offended. I'm sure you are not them.

We never ARE them. Didn't you know that? It is logically impossible for us to be them.

OK, that was a long preliminary to say: I HATE NPR! I FUCKING HATE IT!

But if you listen to NPR...that's OK. I don't hate you. My mother listens to NPR and there is no one I love more than her.


God, I hate NPR. I HATE NPR. I can't give you any examples of how stupid NPR is because I don't listen to NPR anymore (see above).

Why? Because IT IS STUPID!

Oh, and I want you to take a look at this link because it is about how our freedoms are quickly eroding, such as they were: homeland drifter's links about how we are all under surveillance.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

There's hope for those beliefs we are somewhat certain about...

An Encyclopedia of World History is Not Out of Date!

Everyone...well, a small set of people who might be reading this are thinking: What the hell is she talking about?

Hah! You don't really read this blog do you?

I knew it!

Well, I'm not going to explain why this is deeply, deeply relevant to everything you do not know and perhaps don't even need to know...knowledge (or belief) that you could get by fine without.

Yes, you could get by fine. But 'what I'm talking about' could potentially deeply enrich your life.

You don't care, either, do you?

Well, that's OK. Neither do I.

Anyway...two fabulous amazing sources of either knowledge, belief or bla bla are now available to you, courtesy of case...just in case.

The first: Bartleby a literary search site

An Encyclopedia of World History (The older version was so modest! Doesn't say they are THE encyclopedia like so many reference books claiming to be THE companion or THE encyclopedia. No...we're just an encyclopedia. One among many...They've upgraded themselves apparently.)

Wait a second...I thought that it was the same thing because it had the same wording for Gilbert of Aurillac they used the same phrasing...

Oh, but maybe this isn't the same encyclopedia after all? Perhaps they plagiarized just a little from the old one. Sure hope they gave William Langer credit (the more modest editor from the 1950's.)

Then there is another site Project Guttenberg that seems to do something I am also obsessed with--rescuing and reviving the out-of-print. Of course, I can only rescue by buying and reading them, I can't revive them. Unfortunately, you need PK unzip for these bits of nearly lost writing and I planned on printing them at work where I don't have to pay for them. I don't think they have PK unzip at work. Bummer.

Taken from: Kafkaesqui

I know, I know. You don't one just don't care

But I don't care that you don't care.

I realize: You don't care that I don't care that you don't care.
But guess what: I don't care that you don't care that I don't care that you don't care.

So there...

Science fiction cartoon about Henry K

Picture of admin guys as zombies

Guy goes around world making balloon hats
Cheapo digital camera...

Here is my mighty flying frog...He deserves a better portrait but I don't have the patience right now.

mighty flying frog.bmp
I don't want to be 'Miss Current Events' here but this is an important story about lies that can be reported when war is on the horizon.

I got this from Turbanhead

This prompted a little bit of childhood nostalgia

Sometimes I wonder what it is that makes someone horrified by war--and suspicious of the media--rather than inclined to believe a story like the one above and hope for war.

It seems I was born this way.

I have many memories as a child being entirely against war, the death penalty, in favor of redistribution of wealth. I remember we couldn't afford a lunch box for me but I finally got one. Unfortunately, it was a Hee Haw lunch box. I think they were on sale. I still felt guilty about using scarce family funds to get this lunchbox. I said to my mother "mom, why can't everything be free? I would only take one of everything...I wouldn't want more."

My mom said "Miel, you're a communist!"

I was so intrigued by this I later research communism...I became a communist by the 3rd grade. (I now have a rather more nuanced and complex view of politics and economics, etc. Well, actually. Come to think of it it's not all that complex and nuanced...)

In the 4th grade my teacher was quite conservative. God, I loved her so much. She was so gentle, and compassionate and caring. Her whole schtick was to teach us self-esteem. True, I didn't learn much math. She was very into the "I'm OK, You're OK books." She was my idol. Her name was Mrs. Hartline. Still, when she tried to convince us of the evils of the Soviet Union and make us true patriots I was utterly suspicious of everything she said. (Of course, strictly speaking--much of what she told us was true. And she'd actually been to the Soviet Union. I was disturbed by it because it seemed to support the possibility of war with the Soviet Union--something I greatly feared as a child. I had this utopian ideal that all the children of the world were very sensible and if we could just get together, perhaps we could convince the adults that their nationalism was unjustified and avoid war.)

Many of the people I most admired and adored in childhood were very politically conservative. Yet, I was a radical. Was I born this way? It's almost a tempermental orientation toward the world...that I've always had. Class distinctions deeply bothered me. I went to a grade school which was very divided between an upper middle class white population and a lower class black/chicano population. Even though I was in the 'high' reading group and the gifted programs with all the upper-class kids and could therefore be friends with them (reading group placement mattered much more than class or race in this school)--the racism and classism drove me crazy. Before I even knew what racism and classism was.

I'll probably delete this post later. I hate revealing anything genuine about myself on the internet.
No One Cares About The Complete History of the World

The world—well, the U.S. especially—is full of a bunch of cool junk that can be had for a song…or for free. Sometimes people say ‘where did you get THAT?’ with envy in their voice. And sometimes they say ‘where did you GET that?’ with shock and horror.

That is how I separate the wheat from the chaff, friend-wise. When I met my husband his sum total of possessions probably would have fit in about 8 small cardboard boxes. It would now take a tractor trailer to move his stuff. And besides the furniture he got as part of my vast dowry of ‘things that were put out the night before trash-pickup day’ he owns no furniture. Hence, it is all uselessly beautiful (besides the books) junk.

I am very proud of lending a hand in his budding corruption. Even though we can never, ever move out of this apartment now.

One of the best things I bought for under a dollar recently is a book called An Encyclopedia of World History , originally published in 1940 but I have the 1952 edition.

I’m still on Mesopotamia (2600 B.C.-625 B.C.) but I like to skip around a lot.

My favorite part is the Early Middle Ages and after that Western Europe, 1060 A.D.-1137 A.D. Whoever wrote this section was a genius.

Here are some good entries:

“1060-1108 PHILIP I, enormously fat, but active and vigorous; excommunicated and unpopular clergy as the result of an adulterous marriage (1092) and because of his hostility to clerical reform.”

“590-604, GREGORY THE GREAT. Of medium height, good figure, large bald head, brown eyes, aquiline nose, thick red lips, prominent bearded chin, with exquisite tapering hands….His administration of the wide estates of the Church was honest and brilliant, and the revenue was expanded to meet the tremendous demands on Rome for charity. The pope continued the old imperial corn doles in Rome and elsewhere, aqueducts were repaired, urban administration, especially in Rome, reformed.”

Charles the Great (Charlemagne) 771-814 was “a typical German, six feet in height, a superb swimmer, of athletic frame, with large expressive eyes and merry disposition…”

The historian who wrote this (probably dead by now) really knew how to use those adjectives

Speaking of Popes, el c and I are going to Florence around New Years. The best thing for me in light of my sorrow over current events will be to go to the Duomo and look up at the many, many popes on the ceiling. (You can do this at the Duomo in Siena also.) A pope’s reign usually lasted longer than a president’s (unless he was murdered)—and they were sometimes even more powerful.

And now we get to forget all about them!

Not to mention that we can forget all about the now famous--otherwise how could we forget Gerbert of Aurillac “one of the most learned men of his day, whose brilliance won him the nickname Stupor Mundi.”

Does this mean: None of this—all that is happening around us--truly matters? No, the black plague did matter whether we remember it or not. What it means is…well, I just don’t know what it means. Sorry.

I assume when Pepin the Short defeated the Lombards in 754 some Lombards died. Whatever happened, the Lombards probably weren’t all that happy about the situation. And who’s to say that a Lombard dying an early and unjust death in 754 doesn’t matter just as much as someone’s dying such a death in 2004? True, the Lombards sounded like they were a pain in the neck. But still…

I’ll bet this history book of mine is now considered ‘out of date.’. Of course, I’m not sure of this. I’m just guessing that this particular history of the world is no longer the up and coming history of the world. How can history change, you ask? If we can’t trust a history book that is over 40 years old, what can we trust?

I’m afraid the answer is nothing. In fact, everything that we are currently sure of will doubtless be proven wrong sooner or later.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

My Deprived Childhood

Human memory is very fallible. We don't know what actually happened although we think we do. Our memory makes shit up.

I remember reading about this study once…they asked people immediately after the Challenger blew up what they were doing when they first heard about it and recorded the results. A year later, they asked people what they had been doing when the Challenger blew up. Although these people’s memories had completely changed, they felt confidence in their false memories.*

Run some experiments on yourself and your friends.

I simply can’t tell if I remember what I heard about that study correctly, of course. Come to think of it didn’t the Challenger blow up because someone forgot to do something important? Put in the right O-rings? Make sure the O-rings didn’t break from dramatic temperature change?

So it isn’t just me. This isn’t comforting since I know that surgeons can forget to take out the surgical instruments, the architect can forget to put the right supports in the building, etc. But at least I feel less peculiar.

I’m afraid to have a baby. What if I forget it somewhere? What if I ‘leave it on the bus’ as that supposedly hilarious T-shirt said? (not because it is ugly)

What if I leave it on top of the car like that guy did in ‘Raising Arizona’?

My aunt left my cousin on the bus once when he was a toddler. It all turned out fine. Well, sort of. He did do some time in prison later on but perhaps that wasn’t related.

We can’t be sure of anything that we remember. We are living in the perpetual present. I run across things I wrote on the internet and sometimes wonder: Is someone impersonating me? It sounds like me but I didn’t write it! That’s how bad it is.

My inability to be attentive to the actual present moment is a bit unnerving since the present moment appears to be all I can be sure of. Where do I put things? I never can find anything. It is like my past self is my worst enemy—shopping for food I don’t want to eat, putting my keys in unlikely places, leaving dirty clothes on the floor, forgetting to pay the bills, etc. Worst of all she isn’t doing the work that will ensure a steady income to my future self.

It’s as if she doesn’t give a damn about ME the person who has to clean up her mess. I would beat her up but she’s already gone.

Luckily, we have technology to remember for us. All the missed moments can be recorded…as well as what we are supposed to do later on. Hopefully we will remember where we put this information. But when we don’t—isn’t it a nice surprise sometimes?

Oh, but wait. I forgot that I was about to write on my deprived childhood. The main thing about my deprived childhood was the lack of television. Other people have television-based triggers to remind them of childhood but all I have are recollections of watching TV at the homes of others. My best friend Holly’s mom took care of me after school and we would watch old TV shows together on the couch while Holly got mad that I liked her mom better. I remember her father Larry getting very annoyed when I cried over an episode of “I Love Lucy.” Ricki’s anger towards Lucy disturbed me deeply. I was not hardened by frequent TV watching, I suppose.

The problem is that I would have to pretend to have watched particular episodes of shows in order to have something to talk about with other kids the next day at school. Often, I had seen one or two episodes and could reconstruct what might have happened so that I could fake it. But there were whole shows I wasn’t familiar with and simply imagined…very vividly…Later, I remember them as if I had actually seen them. Occasionally, a re-run will come on and I will be shocked at the difference between what I thought the show would be like and how it in fact truly was.

Other people have all this television nostalgia that I don’t get to share. I do have a very vivid memory of reading the Book of Job as a child…but that’s not the kind of thing you can bond about with others.

I caught up a lot in college but it wasn’t the same thing.

If you think your child might be better off if you deprive him of television—I have news for you. My sister and I (who were part of the De Abejas family pre-television era) are rendered helpless by the hypnotic power of television. If it is on we are unable to move from the spot…transfixed by its power and beauty. Watching television is so horribly fascinating and pleasurable that I honestly cannot have one near me.

(*Note to el chico: This doesn’t mean that I’m not RIGHT when we disagree about ‘what actually happened’ or that we should never have these arguments due to epistemic uncertainty. It’s just one more reason we need a video camera with sound…Don’t you think? Also, if it was on at the right times, then I could find my keys later.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Wow...I just had a 'recovered memory'

Upon reading Shauny's mother's brilliant analogy at 'What's New Pussycat' I recovered a memory of my childhood pets: Pet rats. (We had dogs too, OK?)

The rats were named "Bright Eyes" and "Pinky." They were very intelligent and gradually became tame. We let them live and run around in the basement without a cage. They would come when you called. It's true they ate the toes and fingers off my Barbie dolls...but I did not mind that so much. I never had much emotional attachment to those dolls.

Why did this memory become so deeply supressed? Wait...did they die because I neglected them? Did I leave them out in the hot sun and did they get so hot they expired? Did I accidentally KILL my pet rats? The rats I loved? Two intelligent life forms who showed me nothing but kindness and devotion??!!!

Supressing memory again now...

Wait what was I saying?

Are you old?

An easy way to tell: If you go to the trip reports site.

If you want to try them right away! You are not old.

If they frighten the hell out of you you are old.

Someone came to my site looking for 'erotic nicotine girls'... I swear--everything on this search request is brilliant...Esp. recommended 'mom, I'm not gay!' and "Neanderthal Day at Kennedy High" but the best thing of all is this poem called 'financial capital' which examines the difference between money and capital.

There's a section called "Boardroom in the sky" with this stanza:

or be real presence. Nevertheless
your funds will fuel even your lasting trip
because access as well as your egress
simply must be enacted aboard ship

and even an aphrodisiac link

Thanks, German googler!

Monday, December 09, 2002

This is something I just don't understand. Is this a real book?

From: I, asshole

Apparently it is...a real book. But why? That's the thing we need to find out.

In the spirit of non sequiturs I thought that I would post this: spin doctors as evil anti-librarians.

I got this from unsubscribe me.

Can you tell by these brief link-y things that I'm trying to be cool and popular. 'Cause I know that those 5 page musings just aren't making me any friends at all.

There! you like me now?

This one is real tasteless! So do ya like me now (stolen from guy above).

Another cheap laugh! Now do you like me more?

For those of you who don't like the cheap laugh or won't admit to it...what about this inane but conceptually challenging humor?

Funny vibrators (she thinks to herself) that gets them every time!

For the more hi falutin' reader: Spam Haiku

Finally, I don't go for the laughs, but try to help you. Here's a way to breathe so that you won't forget to take out the trash.

A horrible story about nostril piercing.

This guy had a bad drug trip and lost his cell phone.

Just go ahead and read these trip reports. I found them all by myself.

OH MY GOD! YOU HAVE TO LOVE ME NOW...This link will help you stay pretty and not die.

Special note to el chico: Shit! They beat us to it!

OK...I just want you to know something I have so so many more of those...many, many more. Go your own way, do your own thing. I only want you to know I have them....waiting...waiting for you...

Daintily and Ray and kid write poetry.

And damnit I kicked that filthy habit years ago.

But I started again. Help me. Someone help me please? Help? Me?

What’s It Like To Kiss Dostoevsky?

I believe somehow I can know
his smell—vinegary but not overpowering
the tang of a pickling brine rather than the apple cider kind
the smell of unwashed clothes, a gentle dusty smell
wiry prickles, awkwardness, then soft, moisture.
I will have my eyes closed.
Eeeeeviiiillll is best used for special occasions

I suppose it is not very important and a bit out of date…but have you ever wondered: What is Bush & Co.’s theory of evil?

Here’s the basic problem: To find a definition of evil that applies to Iran, N. Korea, etc. but does not apply to the United States (and some of Western Europe on occasion).

(It’s not as if there are no differences—He could have said those places are cuh-razy! They are not like the U.S. in the sense that there is repression of social freedom unlike anything American citizens experience—we get social pressure, cultural oppression and the occasional unfair beating and prison—with only a few accidental deaths; they get torture, prison and lots of very non-accidental executions.*. But he didn’t call them the ‘axis of crazy.’)

Instead it is the axis of evil, the evil-doers, etc. Usually when a person uses a term pejoratively with a very evident contrasting opposite they are implying that said term does not apply to them. And this is where the problem arises. If Bush had said “well, we’re all evil but when I say ‘evil’ I mean ‘more evil than the evil we all are’”

Or if he’d said ‘the axis of extra-special highly intensified evil’ I would be less confused.

E.g., when Bush said that Iran, Korea and Iraq were the ‘axis of evil’ I don’t think he meant to imply that Great Britain, the U.S. and Russia were the ‘allies of evil’ did he? Well, it’s always possible but I think he definitely wanted us to draw the conclusion that the U.S., etc. were actually ‘the axis of good’ or ‘the allies of good.’

Shuyeah OK! What-ever!

(The reason I find that implausible is that it is just so hard to be GOOD. Being good means that you never stand by and watch people suffer, treat all with kindness and love, help all those in need, never use or exploit anyone for your own gain, and so on. At the very best we can be the ‘axis of so-so’ or the ‘allies of weak but occasional good intentions we don’t really act on.’ And that’s being optimistic. Actually, the best would probably be: The Axis of Those Who Do Evil Without Really Meaning To…At Least Most of the Time)

And then there’s ‘evildoers.’ At first I thought: Well, an evil-doer is obviously someone who does evil (uh, no kidding) and by that he must mean someone that intends harm to others through malice, just plain old evil intentions…And gee, that sure applies to those terrorists but a few other people besides. So does the evildoer want to do evil because it’s eeeevvvviiiillll? Well, maybe. To really figure out what he meant we need the B&C theory because as we know, the problem is that most definitions of an ‘evildoer’ start at home…any definition that explains a terrible action through a motive which is evil will be too broad to rule out…well, us.
Come to think of it, since Bush is a Christian, the set of people that ‘evildoers’ should apply to should be everyone. We’re all sinners, we all do evil, original sin and all that. To be more specific, he should have said ‘the really, really bad evildoers.’

So clearly he meant a special kind of evil, a heavy-duty evil-doer, an evil done that doesn’t bear any resemblance to the usual run-of-the-mill evil. While that would narrow it down, I’m not 100% sure it works to rule out the crucial set of: us.

Definition #1: Evil as the privation of good. Oh man…this one is so broad. It won’t work so forget it! When one doesn’t bring about good, one brings about evil? Maybe I just don’t understand this definition. Anyway—includes us.

Definition #2: Evil as the flouting of natural laws. By this definition, sexual activity without the intention of procreation is often thought to be evil. I think that’s mistaken—who’s to say what the purpose of sex is? But surely genetically modified foods flout natural laws? Hence, definition too broad--includes us.

(Problem: View held by Aquinas that when a person desires anything, he desires it under the aspect of good. So what makes someone evil? It’s not intentions—I think it is the sort of end he brings about—he thinks it is good, but it turns out to be bad but he’s still evil because ultimately he had some kind of choice way back to be a better person. I can’t remember exactly how it works—culpable ignorance and all that. In any case, doesn’t this make so much sense? Of course when the ‘evildoers’ are doing evil they always tell themselves they are actually doing good. Does that sound like anyone you know or maybe see on TV fairly often? Nudge-nudge…

Anyway, if this is true no one does evil just because it’s eeeeevvvvviiiilllll.)

Definition #3: It’s God’s fault: According to the Oxford Companion to the Bible “There is no terminological distinction between moral evil and calamity, for the same Hebrew word…is used for both. Evil is anything that is unpleasant, repulsive or distorted. (Gen. 41, 3-4) That one’s way too broad—everything from Jello salad to reality TV falls under that definition. And includes us--the country that invented Jello salad.

…God perceives the world as ‘very good’ even though it also includes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, along with a subtle serpent who encourages the consumption of his fruit (Gen. 2-3)…Although God subdues evil in the cosmos, a number of texts in the Hebrew Bible are not reluctant to identify God as the source of evil (e.g., Isa. 45.7, Jer. 4.6, Amos 3.6, Mic. 2.3, Eccles. 1.13, Job. 2.10). A standard complaint when humans suffer is that God is the one who has brought the calamity on them…It was not that God merely allowed evil to happen, for God directs evil through the mediation of supernatural beings who afflict, deceive, bring harm and do evil in general at God’s command (1 Sam. 16.14-16, 1 Kings 22.19-23; Job 1.12; Ps. 78.49). Both good and evil were in God’s control and he actively employed both to accomplish his ends. Although God is often depicted in conflict with evil there is never really any doubt that God will be victorious…There is however, one place where evil exasperates God: the human heart…that is, a man or woman’s intellectual, emotional and spiritual center…” (p. 208)

Do you think this guy is implying that maybe God was a little too taken with his handywork...God perceives the world as 'very good...even though...' These liberal theologians! But what can you expect from an Oxford companion?

Definition #4: It’s the Devil’s fault: In the NT [evil beings] are more explicitly responsible for a greater share of the evil in the world…Humanity is locked in a struggle with these unseen beings (Eph. 6.12) who seek to crush the righteous…and can manipulate human hearts…” (OCB, p. 209) OK, no definition here—but I guess evil can be defined as what these beings do. That doesn’t solve the problem since we need to know why they are evil beings. It certainly doesn’t help us to identify who counts as evil because we can’t see them. Most likely includes us.

Anyway, I think this term ‘evil’ gets thrown around a bit too much. Damien from Omen and Omen II, he was evil. Hitler was evil. Do we want to start throwing ‘evil’ around and water down the term so much that it becomes meaningless?

Well, in fact, we might have to because the world is just so gosh darn evil.

Even so, I vote let’s just save ‘evil’ for very special occasions—I’m as guilty of this as the next person and have a history of labeling annoying ex-roomates, boyfriends, random investment banker types with ‘the big E’—

Still, I say from now on let’s stick to bad/wrong or very bad/very wrong. When we really get upset we can move to ‘heinous’ ‘odious’ ‘dreadful’ and ‘wicked’ ‘hideous’ ‘atrocious’ ‘appalling’ ‘awful’ ‘ghastly’ and ‘repellent.’ For the very disturbing and horrifying I suggest: ‘monstrous.’

In fact, ‘wicked’ is very under-utilized…outside of the Boston area and in the name of certain upscale beers…. Let’s bring back wicked! “The wicked ones” sounds good. In fact, it sounds like it could be the title of a really cool movie.

*I used to feel more comfortable with the statement ‘we are the axis without torture and much of that yucky stuff’ but I no longer am sure I can assert this with total confidence. Oh, well. I guess let’s just say ‘we are the axis with less torture than some other axes we could mention.’

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Strange New Interest

My new interest is Iranian weblogs. Yes, I can't read them. Often, they are incredibly beautiful and farsi is a beautiful script anyway. Sometimes Iranians who live in English speaking countries post in both English and Farsi. But I finally found one in English--an amazing one. Notes of An Iranian Girl

I can't really explain this sudden fascination with Persian/Farsi/Iranians in Iran/Iranians in the U.S. and their weblogs. I simply want people to read this girl's weblog.

Am I going to hell?

Please don’t clog up my comments thingy with a bunch of claims like ‘there is no hell.’ In fact, I think I won’t post a comments thingy just because I don’t want to hear it.

I simply find the view there is no hell so darn boring. It’s so utterly dull to believe only in those things one has proof of or can confirm by the evidence of one's senses.

Empirical objectivity, etc. Yawn. Rationalism is so much more amusing. Or scholasticism even. The kind of world view that allows you to believe the ontological argument
is much, much more fun…Try it and see for yourself...

Oh, please—there is hell. Deep down inside we all know there’s hell! Not just the hell we live in every day.. But a hell of eternal burning fire and torment ruled over by a malevolent being.. Or perhaps a place of boredom and mediocrity and suffering that you spend eternity in.

The hell you go to after you die because you were bad in this life.
That kind of hell.

And I’ve been bad…I’ve been very bad. Well, OK, I haven’t been the worst. Perhaps I should say then: I have not been good. I am so rarely good and occasionally somewhat bad.

Hey! I just remembered I did this good thing a few weeks ago. In the subway car a man got his wheelchair stuck in the little gap between the car and the platform. Even though I was in my usual somnolent state I somehow developed this superhuman strength and lifted his wheelchair and got him onto the platform.

It was amazing…And I’m sure it will not be enough.

Thus, it seems quite likely that I am a perfect candidate for hell.

Yet: It seems so strange that God would not want me in heaven. I can be very entertaining. And I’ll go to hell where no one is allowed to be entertained? I could be like the court jester of heaven. All my talents will be wasted in hell.

What makes a person a candidate for hellfire? One of the major sins, according to Aquinas and Milton, that one might go to hell for (at least this was the reason Lucifer was cast into hell) is pride.

What is pride, exactly? Hard to say. Does this mean, for example, that all gay people will go to hell for having gay pride? (Clearly, it is completely absurd to think gay people will go to hell for loving and appreciating one another’s fabulousness and having hot sex. There’s no point in even considering the idea you go to hell for this—it’s obviously good to do this as much as possible.)

No, gay/black/brown/red pride—that’s mere self-affirmation. Confidence. We say “proud” because it sounds better than “just as good as everyone else.”

No, I think real pride—the kind that makes you hellbound is a matter of believing oneself better than others in some kind of disturbingly suspect way. Not the simple realization that the inner life of others is dull and insipid in comparison to your own and their problems just don’t matter the way yours do. Since that’s often the case.

Rather, I think pride is a failure to realize the equal value and worth of every human being. A belief that you really do matter more while leading a life that reflects this belief (even if you don’t admit it to yourself).

Isn’t it so hard not to believe this and to make this belief rule your life? I mean, let’s face it! It’s you! I have to give away not only that fabulous fake fur coat I got on Ebay a few weeks ago but my cloak as well? Because you—coatless person—matter just as much as I? What, do you want my sweater too? OK, but you can’t have the mohair one!

Who could do this?

Aren’t these standards just a little bit high? Yes, they are. But what can you do? We can’t say they aren’t good standards and although we supposedly live in a world of slipping standards we probably don’t want God’s standards to slip all that much.

I’d say my greatest sin is sloth. I am the most slothful being who ever walked the face of the earth—except slothful people like me generally drive. And all my vices sort of run together—the sloth makes me lustful, gluttonous, prideful, greedy, envy and angry.

I’m just too lazy to fight my impulses, in other words.

So does this mean we’re all going to hell? I’m working on an excuse for myself and for us all—a get out of hell excuse. But man, it’s hard. God is omniscient, don’t forget. The success of most excuses depends on the ignorance of those to whom they are offered.

(Well, hard in one way, but easy in another. It’s easy—since it’s easy to see that I didn’t totally plan to end up this bad and there are lots of mitigating circumstances. Hard because I’m pretty sure that God won’t buy it. Like “I forgot!” That one is actually true. Most of the time I did forget to be good. I just imagine God will have a quick comeback to that one. Maybe he will say what everyone’s been saying to me lately: “Why didn’t you make a list?” I sure hope not. I really lose it when people say that and yelling at God will just get me in even more trouble.)

Are you going to hell?

How does one get to hell?

Are there a lot of new age people in hell?

Bill Clinton the second most evil person in the millenium? Bill beat Eichmann by a mile!

Is it possible to do evil to rid the world of evil? The answer is yes, by the way...