Thursday, September 07, 2006

As I continue to read Oswald Spengler's "Decline of the West", I get a clearer and clearer picture of just what Islam is and how it works. This is useful in an era when, as related by Victor Davis Hanson at RealClearPolitics:

Islamic fascism is also anti-democratic and characteristically reactionary. It conjures up a past of Islamic influence that existed before the supposed corruption of modernism. Like Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo, who sought to recapture lost mythical Aryan, Roman or samurai purity, so Islamic fascists talk in romantic terms of the ancient caliphate.

many are reluctant to call Islamists "fascists" because, after all, they're just like us. Well, they're not just like us. Their thinking is completely different from that of men reared in the Western tradition. To use concepts borrowed from Julian Jaynes' "The Emergence of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind", the Islamic consciousness does not recognize individuality at all. For instance, for Muslims there is no such concept as the separation of church and state. It isn't considered and rejected. It just isn't imagined. Anyone who mentions it must be mad or evil or both. The words of the Koran (which word itself, Spengler relates, means "reading") are not just a historical account or a series of exhortations. They are the stuff of life, or, as we might perhaps say, the fabric of space/time.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rate your spam

Certainly spam can be mocked and hated, but why not get a little more analytical about it? There's well-done, technically and artistically proficient spam - that almost, very nearly gets you to open it - and there's terrible, loser spam. I say tackle some of the boredom of wading through sixteen spam messages when you sit down to the computer and rate them on a scale of 1 to 10, or ! to !), if you want to be consistent. I mean, Mrs. Suha Arafat sat there typing for hours to get the information to you that she has six billion dollars that she desperately needs to transfer into your bank account and all you have to do is come up with your numbers. You could at least be grateful and appreciate her grammar, spelling and diction.

It's interesting to consider the art of misspelling spam messages just enough to get past the spam filter but not so grotesquely that the message doesn't get through. There's a PH.D. thesis there for some semiologist or semioticist or linguistician of some stripe. I mean, who would have thought years ago that everyone in the world who spoke English would have known immediately what the string "e*&^$#e your p(*@!s!" meant? It could mean "enrage your pyjamas" if it had a slightly different character count.
If you didn't dance, you can't complain

Today is Primary Election Day in Tallahassee and everyone is going around wearing those self-righteous "I voted" stickers. I've been searching for a metaphor to explain the voting phenomenon. And finally it came to me. It's like a rain dance. Your village is having a drought and everyone gets together and someone says,
"I have an idea! Let's do a rain dance! That will propitiate the gods and bring rain. But only if everyone participates!"
So everyone runs around strong-arming everyone else into doing the rain dance. But when they come to you, you assert your independence and say, "I don't think rain dancing will bring rain, so I won't dance."
They all dance and wear little stickers afterward, saying "I danced for rain".
Now one of two things will happen, although it won't matter to you, because they'll probably kill you for not dancing. It will rain or it won't. If you do survive, and it rains, everyone will mock you and say, "Since you didn't dance, you can't share in the benefits of the rain." If it doesn't rain, they'll be even more likely to kill you, but if they let you live, they might well say something like,
"Since you didn't dance, you can't complain about there not being any rain."
So that's how much sense voting makes. It won't do you any good to explain calmly that not only do rain dances not bring rain, but that, even if they did, your single non-participation in a rain dance would hardly be crucial to the success of a rain dance that had any pizzazz to it at all. I guess I should be glad that society has progressed from rain dances to voting. You don't get killed for not voting. Yet.