"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Friday, February 24, 2006

It takes a village

Events in Iraq called to mind these words which were written about another land with a much different history
We have been told that "it takes a village" and--never mind the implication for now--it probably does. A village or small town like Gorazde can mature for years in history's cask, ripening away for all its provincialism. The large majority of its citizens may be content or at any rate reconciled. But the awful and frightening fact about fascism is that it "takes" only a few gestures (a pig's head in a mosque; a rumor of the kidnap of a child; an armed provocation at a wedding) to unsettle or even undo the communal and humane work of generations.

Normally the fascists don't have the guts to try it, they need the reassurance of support from superiors or aid from an outside power and they need to know that "law," defined nationally or internationally, will be a joke at the expense of their victims. In Bosnia they were granted all three indulgences. But even at the edge of those medieval paintings of breakdown and panic and mania, when people still thought the heavens might aid them, there was often the oblique figure at the edge of the scene, who might hope to record and outlive the carnage and perhaps help rebuild the community. Call him the moral draftsman, at least for now, and be grateful for small mercies.
I'll admit it: I rely on the New York Times too much for my news. But it's so convenient and my "time management skills" are so lacking. And then there's my laziness. Michael Weiss over at Snarkwatch writes a pitch-perfect post about why the New York Times keeps ya coming back (besides the fact it gives you the lowdown on what everyone else is thinking however much you may disagree):
Once In A While In The New York Times... A passage like this comes along:

The subjects of his books included the Kronstadt naval base rebellion of 1921, an uprising of sailors against the Bolshevik regime that left more than 10,000 dead or wounded; the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which seven Chicago police officers were killed by a bomb thrown at a workers' gathering; and the Sacco and Vanzetti case. He interviewed hundreds of adherents of the movement for one book, "Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America."
Paul Avrich, CCNY historian of anarchism and the Russian revolution, is dead at 74. The Old Left is steadily moving to the final stage beyond old.
Well, the Old New Left, as Avrich was slightly ahead of his time in a way. In other words, he was an inspiration to the New Left, like Herbert Marcuse.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Strange to learn Richard Kelly wrote the screen play for the Tony Scott film Domino. (Kelly also wrote and directed Donnie Darko.) Domino gets off to a good start with one of the three bounty hunter central characters employing their shotgun to blow away an attacking pit bull. Keira Knightly plays one of the bounty hunters, as does Mickey Rourke who was notably brilliant as Marv in Sin City and is good in this. Tom Waits also has a walk on part.

Rourke's character - who had spent hard time in Angola (the Louisiana State Penitentury and largest prison in the U.S.) - gives a nice speech to his bounty hunter buddie after said buddie freaks out because he has fallen for Knightly's character.
Let me tell you something. You see this? There was no prison riot. I blew off my own God Damn toe. Just to numb the pain. We all get weak over women. We all get weak over women. Fucking broads, they're all nuts. They know how to kill us. This kid in there? She's killing you.
Not anti-union

Interesting piece on how Cingular Wireless is neutral when it comes to unions organizing its workforce.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Cold War fades into the distance

Theodore Draper, Freelance Historian, Is Dead at 93

The following in Thomas L. Friedman's (TimesSelect!) column caused me to do a mental doubletake:
To understand the Danish affair, you can't just read Samuel Huntington's classic, "The Clash of Civilizations." You also need to read Karl Marx, because this explosion of Muslim rage is not just about some Western insult. It's also about an Eastern failure. It is about the failure of many Muslim countries to build economies that prepare young people for modernity - and all the insult, humiliation and frustration that has produced. (emphasis added)

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 22 - Insurgents dressed as police commandos detonated powerful explosives on Wednesday morning inside one of Shiite Islam’s most sacred shrines, destroying most of the building, located in the volatile town of Samarra, and prompting thousands of Shiites to flood into streets across the country in protest.
A Few Good Men

Jane Mayer writes about Alberto J. Mora - once the general counsel of the United States Navy - Guantánamo Bay, and Torture.

One of the writers who has been good on the torture travesties is Andrew Sullivan. He writes about Mayer's piece at his blog.