Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers #39 

Bob, from eCache, is the ringmaster this week for The Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers. I've been absent for the past few weeks from the festivities, but am dancing with the bearded lady again. Check in with Bob when you have some time because his link list is gi-normous.

Legislating Hurt Feelings 

There are some intelligent editorial remarks concerning the cartoon intifada over at OpinionJournal:
The Western philosophical tradition is founded on
the belief that the execution of Socrates for blaspheming
the gods of Athens was an injustice. When British
Muslims carry placards reading "Butcher those who
mock Islam," they are making their differences with
that tradition depressingly plain.
The article discusses the extent to which this fracas is an expression of popular belief in the Muslim lands as opposed to strategic planning among the leaders. It's certainly not unheard of here in the West for cynical leaders to exploit and commandeer popular sentiment to gain advantage. What makes this difficult to gauge is the uniformly authoritarian or totalitarian nature of the Muslim states. How to assess 'popular belief' under a regime without meaningful freedom of speech or religion or press? If there is a significant sector in those lands who do not believe that this matter must be resolved with Danish heads on pikes their voices will not be heard.

As it stands, the outrage over this insignificant matter is voiced by regimes deflecting attention from their incompetent self-dealing, their manufacture of atomic weaponry, their inability to construct a modern economy as well as blood-soaked clerics throwing red meat to their ignorant and frustrated followers.
There's a lesson in this for those who would have
us believe that what this cartoon conflagration
represents is a conflict of civilizations. There
is a conflict all right, not between civilizations, but
within one, and it pits those who would make Islam
barbaric and those who would keep it civilized. In
that struggle, the heirs of Socrates and the heirs of
al-Farabi must make common cause.
The demands of those representing themselves as the voice of Islam constitute a clear and simple command that the West submit to fundamentalist norms in any matter that remotely touches Muslim life. For the West to submit to any such demand amounts to passing another cup of hemlock to Socrates. A simple "no" would be appropriate.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The G.P. 

I was going to link to a very nice story in the Metro section of the Times, but it turns out Clyde Haberman is one of the shadowy figures lurking behind the Times Select security wall. So, the hell with it.

It concerned Dr. Charles Vialotti who practiced medicine right off Carmine street in the Village from 1941 until a couple of days ago when he retired at the age of 96. Dr. Vialotti worked without a nurse or a receptionist, kept his records on index cards, did not accept insurance but charged little and sometimes nothing. He made house calls. Almost needless to say, his patients were fiercely loyal to him.

He practiced a kind of medicine that health insurance, liability insurance and government regulations make not only impossible, but unthinkable today. He pulled them and he planted them. And in between he knew all there was to know about you and your body. He was always there and he was personally concerned with your health. You trusted him.

As it happens, I've had two experiences with nonagenarian medicoes. The first was in college when I slithered downtown to Webster Groves, Missouri and slipped furtively into the first doctors office I saw. I was suffering from a social malady.

I don't remember his name, but he was a wee tiny little guy with a steady eye and a steady hand. As I stammered out my symptoms he fixed me with his bright little eyes and after I finished he just stared at me for what seemed like days. Then he shook his head and smiled. He gave me my medicine and had me come back for another dose. He charged me $5 which included a lecture. It was some of the most intelligent and insightful thoughts on sex I've ever heard from any source. Of course, I was seventeen and what I knew about sex would fit in a Trojan. But he treated me like an adult and I felt like one when I left his office.

The other occasion was when the Goddess and I needed a large battery of shots for our trip to China. Third world hell-holes are murder on your behind.

I have no idea why we went to this particular guy, but he was older than my college doctor and steady neither of hand or eye. In the six or eight times we had to see him there was never anybody else in the waiting room. Thankfully, he had a nurse who was not much younger, but much more -- how do I put it -- in the room. She always double checked the bottle he filled the syringe from, but when he got ready to stick us, she always had an anxious look on her face, along the lines of "Ohhhh, I hope this doesn't go horribly wrong."

It didn't and we came back microbe free, as far as I know. Our very last trip to him our shots were administered by a young man who had purchased the older doctor's practice. I have a feeling we were his very last patients. He and my college doctor are probably in the big waiting room in the sky, looking forward to meeting Dr. Violatti.


Dial It Back, Akbar 

Our new office is only about five blocks from the old office, but it's an entirely different neighborhood. There, we had a kosher deli and a kosher falafel stand on the premises. You could get Chinese, Mexican, Might-As-Well-Put-A-Gun-To-Your-Head chicken sandwiches and pretty much anything else within a few steps of the building. Here, you can buy a Maserati right downstairs, but you can't get a sandwich within three blocks.

The closest place for me to buy a lottery ticket is my old building. I figure that's because everybody around here has already won the lottery a few generations back.

The most challenging aspect, however, is the bagel problem. I've found only one place on a direct route from my stop to my building that sells actual bagels instead of the Kaiser roll with a hole they sell in the coffee carts. They do a very nice bagel for a good price in no time at all, which is what you want. What you don't want is a merchant with Too Much Personality Syndrome.

This guy is some species of Middle-Eastern and he's putting on a show every morning. The first time I walked in there he hit me like Robin Williams on Benzedrine. Me, I don't really do personality until at least noon so in my disoriented state I answered all his questions and now he knows my name, where I work, my daughter's name, my bagel preferences and, probably, the fact that I favor boxers. Now, when I walk in he shouts out a greeting like we're pledge brothers, he asks about Grace, he announces my order to the counterman (I no longer have any say in the matter) and dispenses homilies and advice. It's almost like mass. An acid mass.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing menacing about him and he's a really nice guy. If he was sitting at the poker table and I had a couple drinks in me I'd probably enjoy his company.

Not in the morning, though. Not before my first coffee. I'm in a quandary. I can't go back to the coffee carts, but I kind of dread going in there every morning. He's the opposite of the Soup Nazi (who just opened up a shop right around the corner from this guy). He's the Bluebird of Bagels.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Wouldn't You Like A Nice Tuborg Right Now? 

Cox & Forkum also has a good round-up on the Cartoon Intifada. Also, go to End The Boycott for a list of Danish products.

James Lileks observes that there are three belief systems the media won't ridicule; Islam, Scientology and Astrology. I assume it's because they're afraid the religion of peace will blow their asses up, the religion of Hollywood nutters will drop a lawyer storm on them and the religion of cat-lovers pays a lot of their bills.

The New York Times provides cover for any of the bien pensent who want to pretend this whole thing isn't happening. In Michael Kimmelman's opening paragraph:
They're callous and feeble cartoons, cooked up as a
provocation by a conservative newspaper exploiting
the general Muslim prohibition on images of the
Prophet Muhammad to score cheap points about
freedom of expression.

This is in the Critic's Notebook feature of The Arts page, but it does clarify things to know this was perpetrated by a conservative newspaper. I thought I detected the fine Italian hand of Karl Rove in all this.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dog Bites Dog 

As a measure of just how clueless and simple otherwise intelligent and educated Islamists can be when confronted by the dizzying splendor of Western freedoms, the graphics editor of Iran's largest newspaper is holding a contest on cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publishing in European papers of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

The sly devil really turned the tables on us, didn't he?
The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons
on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let’s see if
they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust
cartoons,” he asserted.
As Tim Blair sez,
Just try to stop me, Farid Mortazavi of Hamkablam
newspaper! I’ll run as many of your Holocaust cartoons
here as I can fit; they’ll likely be funnier than anything
ever published in Jyllands-Posten.
He's soliciting offensive Holocaust cartoons and challenging western media outlets to print them. That's like asking your dog if he wants the last piece of bacon. Mr. Mortazavi is in for an educational experience.

Monday, February 06, 2006

That's All, Folks! 

A lot of good posts on the Jihadapalooza dust-up between Denmark and the Islamist nutters, from Mark Styne to Christopher Hitchens. Mick Hartley says this:
So, the fuss about the Religious Hatred Bill was all
for nothing. It's not needed. As this cartoon affair
clearly demonstrates, no one, and certainly not
the UK press, is going to do anything to offend
Muslims from now on. Muslims have set the terms
of the debate: they decide what it is that offends
them, and from then on it's a line we can't cross -
ostensibly because of our civilised concern for their
delicate sensibilities, but in reality because we're

The whole thing has been a controversy
manufactured by the Islamists, starting with the
Danish imams who tirelessly toured the Middle East
to whip up the hysteria - adding on the way some
particularly offensive cartoons of their own - and
continued by Arab regimes only too happy to
deflect popular aggression onto Western targets:
something they're well practiced at. It's simply not
that Mohammed is never portrayed in Islamic
culture, and there's certainly a rich tradition of his
portrayal in the West, but, as usual, it's the hard-
liners who've set the terms of this debate, claiming
to speak for all Muslims - not without opposition in
the Muslim world - and being taken at their word
by the British establishment.
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