Monday, September 4, 2006

Speaking PoMo

College students who wish to impress their post-modern professors with their ability to master the art of speaking PoMo might try this site where links at the bottom of the article will take you to a PG (Postmodernism Generator) to help you construct (and maybe deconstruct) essays like the one at the page. The essays are total nonsense, of course, but that seems to be the point.

Thanks for the tip to Uncommon Descent.


The satirical ScrappleFace has some "comments" from Nancy Pelosi on the anniversary of Katrina and a few remarks by President Bush in response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's insistence that Iran's nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes:

One Year Later, Some Katrina Victims Still Slow to Respond

One year after hurricane Katrina, despite an outpouring of billions of dollars from government, church and private charity, and countless teams of volunteers who have come to their aid, many residents of New Orleans have still failed to restore their homes and neighborhoods, or even to clean up the storm-tossed debris, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA.

"Katrina was a tragedy in itself," Rep. Pelosi said at a news conference in a neighborhood where moldy furniture still lay in front yards, "but it exposed a tragedy of greater proportions. Some people in this region have lost the spirit of our forefathers - the work ethic, the persistence, the determination to overcome adversity."

The California lawmaker said that when she becomes the next Speaker of the House she plans to use her new prominence to tell Americans to "stop expecting the federal government to protect you from natural disasters, and to bail you out afterward."

When reporters asked what might be learned in the aftermath of Katrina, Rep. Pelosi said there were at least three lessons.

"One: don't buy a house between a lake and the sea that's built below sea level," she said. "Lesson two: if there's a hurricane coming, get out of town. And lesson three: if your home gets wrecked, clean up the mess and start rebuilding - like many people on the Gulf Coast have already done - or at least rip it down, cart off the debris and start over on higher ground."

Rep. Pelosi reserved her harshest comments for people who have "made a lifestyle out of blaming President Bush for everything."

"Were you expecting President Bush to show up at your door and whisk you to safety in his armored SUV?" she asked rhetorically. "After the storm, did you think he was going to skydive out of Air Force One and start shoveling the junk out of your living room? Wake up and smell the personal responsibility. What have you been doing for the last 360 days? Get off your keister, organize your neighbors and get this mess straightened up."

Asked if she was concerned that her remarks might be perceived as "less than compassionate," the lawmaker said, "Compassion does not mean fostering a culture of dependency that leaves people vulnerable and helpless when the inevitable trials come."

"Sometimes the greater part of compassion," she added, "is challenging people to use their God-given abilities in a way that preserves their human dignity and strengthens them for the next crisis."

Bush: B-2 Flights Over Tehran for 'Peaceful Purposes'

Just hours after Iran opened a new plant capable of making plutonium "for peaceful purposes", U.S. President George Bush assured his Iranian counterpart that any B-2 bombers that appear over Tehran in the near future would also serve peaceful purposes.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cut the ribbon on the new heavy-water nuclear plant Saturday as part of a month-long Iranian tribute to the effectiveness of the United Nations.

Mr. Bush hailed Iran's "transparent diplomacy" and said, "I called President Ahmadinejad today to congratulate him, and I told him that if he happens to notice one of them Stealth bombers going over his town at about 600 miles per hour, he can be assured that the pilot has only the best intentions in his heart for world peace."

"There's nothing like the B-2 when it comes to giving peace a chance," Mr. Bush added.

There's more at the link.

The Long March

Christianity Today has an interesting interview with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff in which Kristoff, no friend of orthodox Christianity, shares his thoughts on how the evangelical wing of Christianity has evolved over the last couple of decades. Surprisingly, perhaps, he's very sympathetic, probably because he sees evangelicals as allies in some of the causes to which he is committed.

At one point, however, he makes this rather patronizing statement, which is as gratuitous as it is misleading:

Christianity has certainly been growing since the early 1980s. But in the past there's been a certain stigma attached to it among some intellectual quarters, because often the Christians have been peasants. It struck me that in the last few years there have been more intellectuals in the cities converting to Christianity.

If Kristoff thinks that the phenomenon of urban intellectuals converting to Christianity is something that's just been happening over the last few years he simply hasn't been paying attention. Christians, unwittingly following the advice of the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci (d. 1937), have been making their long march through the institutions of our culture at least since the sixties. Perhaps what Kristof means is that having begun this process decades ago Christian intellectuals have only recently begun to arrive at the pinnacles of their professions and begun to be noticed by observers such as himself.

Even so, there's much left to do and it seems that there's little time in which to do it. As the culture unravels in its lemming-like pursuit of hedonistic gratification, consumerism and materialism can enough people with a clear vision of what a culture should be move into positions of influence soon enough to forestall what George Will has called our "slide into the sewer"? One hopes ... and prays. If not, given our current trajectory, what will our children's and grandchildren's world be like?

We need to keep marching, and maybe even pick up the pace a little.

Big Loser

Amir Taheri writes that Hezbollah has been severely shaken by the recent unpleasantness with Israel and that the ramifications of this will play out for years into the future:

Why did Nasrallah decide to change his unqualified claim of victory into an indirect admission of defeat? Two reasons.

The first consists of facts on the ground: Hezbollah lost some 500 of its fighters, almost a quarter of its elite fighting force. Their families are now hounding Nasrallah to provide an explanation for "miscalculations" that led to their death.

What angers the families of the "martyrs" is that Hezbollah fighters had not been told that the sheik was starting a war to please his masters in Tehran, and that they should prepare for it.

The fighters found out there was a war only after the Israelis started raining fire on southern Lebanon. In fact, no one - apart from the sheik's Iranian contacts and a handful of Hezbollah security officials linked to Tehran and Damascus - knew that Nasrallah was provoking a war. Even the two Hezbollah ministers in the Lebanese government weren't consulted, nor the 12 Hezbollah members of the Lebanese National Assembly.

The "new Saladin" has also lost most of his medium-range missiles without inflicting any serious damage on Israel. Almost all of Hezbollah's missile launching pads (often placed in mosques, schools and residential buildings) south of the Litani River have been dismantled.

Worse still, the Israelis captured an unknown number of Hezbollah fighters and political officers, including several local leaders in the Bekaa Valley, Khyam and Tyre.

The second reason why Nasrallah has had to backtrack on his victory claims is the failure of his propaganda machine to hoodwink the Lebanese. He is coming under growing criticism from every part of the political spectrum, including the Hezbollah itself.

Last week he hurriedly cancelled a series of victory marches planned for Beirut's Shiite suburbs after leading Shiite figures attacked the move as "unmerited and indecent." Instead, every village and every town is holding typical Shiite mourning ceremonies, known as tarhym (seeking mercy), for the dead.

As the scale of the destruction in the Shiite south becomes more clear, the pro-Hezbollah euphoria (much of it created by Western media and beamed back to Lebanon through satellite TV) is evaporating. Reality is beginning to reassert its rights.

And that could be good news for Lebanon as a nation. It is unlikely that Hezbollah will ever regain the position it has lost. The Lebanese from all sides of the political spectrum are united in their determination not to allow any armed group to continue acting as a state within the state.

Read the rest of Taheri's analysis at the link.