Saturday, April 18, 2009

War by any other name

Joe Queenan lampoons some recent examples of newspeak.

The Obama administration has come under intense criticism for replacing the term "war on terror" with the emaciated euphemism "overseas contingency operations," and for referring to individual acts of terror as "man-caused disasters."

This semi-official attempt to disassociate the administration from the fierce rhetoric favored by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney has enraged Americans on both the right and left. Many feel that such vaporous bureaucratese is a self-emasculating action that plunges us into an Orwellian world where words have no emotional connection with the horrors they purport to describe.

Yet, if the intention of the Obama administration is to tone down the confrontational rhetoric being used by our enemies, the effort is already reaping results. This week, in a pronounced shift from its usual theatrical style, the Taliban announced that it will no longer refer to its favorite method of murder as "beheadings," but will henceforth employ the expression "cephalic attrition." "Flayings" -- a barbarously exotic style of execution that has been popular in this part of the world since before the time of Alexander -- will now be described as "unsolicited epidermal reconfigurations." In a similar vein, lopping off captives' arms will now be referred to as "appendage furloughing," while public floggings of teenaged girls will from here on out be spoken of as "metajudicial interfacing."

There's more.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

On the Telly

I've just heard Ben Miller on ITV's Moving Wallpaper refer to someone as a 'misanthropic sociopath with entitlement issues'. Whatever this is, it isn't 'dumbing down'.

Not at peace

Sometimes I think I'm an introvert. But, if so, why are there so many people I want to shout at and shake at the same time?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Shoe thrower's sentence reduced

Gene brings news of justice tempered by mercy.

The journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush in Baghdad in the presence of Prime Minister al-Maliki last December has had his sentence cut from three years to one.

This is in contrast to what would have happened to him if he had thrown his shoes in the presence of Saddam Hussein while he was in power. In that case, the only things cut would have been his head and possibly other body parts.

I'm no expert on what is appropriate punishment but, as Gene says, it's a far more lenient sentence than he would have got in any other Arab country.

Friday, April 03, 2009


“Solitude greeting solitude, that's what community is all about. Community is not the place where we are no longer alone but the place where we respect, protect, and reverently greet one another's aloneness. When we allow our aloneness to lead us into solitude, our solitude will enable us to rejoice in the solitude of others. Our solitude roots us in our own hearts. Instead of making us yearn for company that will offer us immediate satisfaction, solitude makes us claim our centre and empowers us to call others to claim theirs. Our various solitudes are like strong, straight pillars that hold up the roof of our communal house. Thus, solitude always strengthens community.”
Henri Nouwen