Tolkien Hated Hitler: What Would He Make Of Glenn Beck?

What with all Chaplinesque moustache-porn videos going around, I do wonder what J.R.R. Tolkien would make of the current culture wars. He knew his way around a mythology, invented or real, so I wonder what he’d think of Beck’s reverse-engineering of the national mythos of the Founding Fathers?

10. He wasn’t nearly as fond of Nazis as they were of him.

Tolkien’s academic writings on Old Norse and Germanic history, language and culture were extremely popular among the Nazi elite, who were obsessed with recreating ancient Germanic civilization. But Tolkien was disgusted by Hitler and the Nazi party, and made no secret of the fact. He considered forbidding a German translation of The Hobbit after the German publisher, in accordance with Nazi law, asked him to certify that he was an “Aryan.” Instead, he wrote a scathing letter asserting, among other things, his regret that he had no Jewish ancestors. His feelings are also evidenced in a letter he wrote to his son: “I have in this War a burning private grudge—which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler … Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light.”

Via mental_floss Blog » 10 Things You Should Know About J.R.R. Tolkien

REAL Vermonter-American Mama Grizzly Bear Defends Her Young

@SarahPalinUSA needs to read this letter to the editor of the White River Junction (VT) Valley Times to see how a REAL mama grizzly defended her young in 2000. So good, I quoted the whole thing. h/t MadPriest Of Course, I Could Be Wrong…: ANSWER THAT!.

Sent in to MadPriest Towers by THEMETHATISME:

A letter from SHARON UNDERWOOD
published by The Valley News
(White River Junction, VT)
Sunday, April 30, 2000

Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I’ve taken enough from you good people.

I’m tired of your foolish rhetoric about the “homosexual agenda” and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the first grade. He was physically and verbally abused from first grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be gay.

He never professed to be gay or had any association with anything gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called “fag” incessantly, starting when he was 6.

In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn’t bear to continue living any longer, that he didn’t want to be gay and that he couldn’t face a life without dignity.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don’t know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn’t put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it’s about time you started doing that.

At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join. The fact is that if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won’t get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don’t know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn.

If you want to tout your own morality, you’d best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. For those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program, I’m puzzled. Are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that’s not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?

A popular theme in your letters is that Vermont has been infiltrated by outsiders. Both sides of my family have lived in Vermont for generations. I am heart and soul a Vermonter, so I’ll thank you to stop saying that you are speaking for “true Vermonters.”

You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn’t give their lives so that the “homosexual agenda” could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart.

He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all. That wasn’t the measure of the man.

You religious folk just can’t bear the thought that as my son emerges from the hell that was his childhood he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance.

How dare he? you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage.

You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.

The deep-thinking author of a letter to the April 12 Valley News who lectures about homosexual sin and tells us about “those of us who have been blessed with the benefits of a religious upbringing” asks: “What ever happened to the idea of striving . . . to be better human beings than we are?”

Indeed, sir, what ever happened to that?

Common Sense For British Voters

Stephen Fry lays it out. Ultimately, vote how you like, but VOTE!

How I will vote… « Stephen Fry.

More important than my own political views or my own voting intentions are my hopes that nothing I say will stop you from choosing Conservative if you consider it the right way to cast your vote. It may be you will be voting Tory through dyed-in-the-wool instinct and loyalty or it may be that you are someone who once voted Labour or Lib Dem but who has decided that Cameron and the Conservatives will be best for Britain. It’s none of my business, but do vote just as you want and be proud to do so.

Mission Accomplished

It’s a funny old Sunday for me; had to get up and out the door this morning by 4: 30am to get my husband David off to O’Hare for his flight to Orlando for a technical conference. He’s there, he’s run into some of his list members, he’s That Mailing List Guy.  He runs a lot of mailing lists that cover areas of expertise that are mostly to do with the AS/400 iSeries Systemi whatever IBM calls their midrange computing platform this week.

He got all packed last night, including the traditional “I can’t find my pants” crisis which fortunately was solved easily. Last time this happened, he had packed a brand new dress suit carefully in his suit bag, got to the conference, crashed in a friend’s room before his room was ready, then could not find his pants about an hour before the very important presentation.

He called me demanding to know if I had packed his dress pants. “Where are my PANTS?!? Did you pack them?”

It was the stress, really. He was nervous about the possibility of picking up a very prestigious award, and about maybe having to make an acceptance speech.

I reminded him that he’d packed up his suit bag very methodically with the brand new suit, and while I was checking the closet here just in case, he remembered the part about the friend’s room, tracked him down, and found his pants hanging in the closet.

Pants crisis: resolved.

Last night, it was more of a laundry/underwear crisis, much more easily fixed. There was clean laundry in baskets, but none of them seemed to contain socks and underwear. Keep in mind that we just got moved back into the master bedroom after more than 3 weeks, camping out in the guest room while we worked on our “3 day flooring project.” Our first night back in our own bed was Saturday, and the drawers which had been stacked up in the middle of the room had all be replaced in the dressers, thank GAWD, but there were still several laundry baskets that needed to be folded and put away.

There always are, I think they breed.

Anyway, David had clearly been searching frantically for his oddments of male netherwear when he shouted down from above “I can’t find any UNDERPANTS! ARRRGH!”

Stress, again: this time, it’s the plain old “early flight tomorrow, don’t want to forget anything, meanwhile I’m giving a presentation before the opening session” variety.

Soon enough, after we went through some baskets and checked the dresser drawers (which may have had stuff misfiled in them during the time they were stacked in the middle of the room), the Great Underpants Crisis of Nought ’10 was over. It was nervewracking and there was the distinct possibility that one of us would have to run out and get a 3-pack of white knittery, but fortunately it wasn’t necessary.

So David is off in Orlando, and I’m here for the beginning of the work week thinking about tasks and chores that I’d like to do, but that will probably get blown off if I’m not careful.

Believe it or not, blogging is a task AND a chore, because I’ve fallen out of the habit of blogging lately what with how easy it is to just tweet something, and how hard it is to blog something with the iPhone now that both of my little bookmarklets stopped working. Anything seen during the normal workday is either a quick and easy tweet, a moblog picture (another dead easy function set up via Flickr), a del.icio.us link, or not at all, as it’s no longer a simple thing to pick up a link with WordPress’ “Press This” javascript functionality on the iPhone (although it still works perfectly on a desktop machine). I’m not sure why, actually; it may be a security “feature” stemming from some update or other. I didn’t want to bother David with it yesterday since he was trying to get all his stuff ready and packed, and it can certainly wait for his return.

Anyway, there it is; it’s not easy to blog using WordPress’ own iPhone app, as I just commented on Tiny Screenfuls, yet it’s easy to send a post to WordPress via Flickr, del.icio.us, or Google Reader if you set them up with the right permissions (and in Flickr’s case, a template that applies my beloved CSS drop shadows).

Why can’t WordPress’s app grab a link, for gosh sakes? Why did my handy Press This app stop working right? Grr.

Anyway, my hour of blogging is over, but there’s still a bit more to discuss: my accomplishment of mission.

We had a family member’s discarded laptop, which David got several weeks ago at a family gathering, that he was going to “part out.” After some tinkering around, however, he got it working, but we forgot to take it with us a couple of weekends ago when we met up as a family to visit our young nephew in college for lunch. Darn! So after missing another opportunity to get the now-working laptop back to its home, I managed to meet up this morning after church, although it might have worked to drop it off in the down time I had between O’Hare (5:15 AM) and church (8:15 AM). But no, it worked out fine to meet afterwards, although to make it happen I had to navigate to a shopping mall in Vernon Hills… AND deal with an escalator (I have a weird perception problem that makes it hard to use down escalators, and I tend to balk and head for the nearest elevator to avoid it). Found my family members at the designated drop point, exchanged signs and countersigns (“Hi, you guys!” and “Hey, you made it”), and handed over the laptop.

I thought I had a schedule conflict and couldn’t stay for lunch, but the conflict evaporated, drat it. So: Noodles & Company for me. Later tonight, leftovers. And that’s a little over an hour of righteous, linky-loving blogging.

And thus endeth the post, thanks be to Gawd.

Visually Speaking: Digby on Sunday!

Darn it, we have theater tickets Sunday, so I won’t be able to make this event, but you can check out the details on the #Cafe Wellstone Ning, and listen via streaming radio if you can’t make it inworld.

Doubtless you’ve read them, perhaps you’ve quoted them (‘What digby said.’), now you can hear them. digby & mcjoan aka Joan McCarter take to the stage. What will* they talk about?

The Right Truly Has Gone Insane

It’s become a confederation of sovereign dunces, fantasizing about forming their own free state and cheering for their media champions, and regurgitating their hysterical screeds, from couches and basements across America.

Progressive blog One Utah has been getting a lot of comments on their recent post,
“The right has truly gone insane”. Predictably, there’s some crazy stuff to investigate. I’ll look at just one from a contrarian commenter, in a laundry list of statements about Obama administration “czars” (such as FCC Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd) that need a little scrutiny.

Science Czar John Holdren has written extensively about forced abortions and putting sterilents in our drinking water.

Hmm. That just seems too hairy-eyeballed to believe. It appears to be a direct quote from that paragon of journalistic integrity, Glenn Beck. As I commented at One Utah, it reminds me of the old “the gummint wants to poison our children by fluoridating the water in a Communist plot!!1!” paranoia that was current in the Mountain West when I was a sproggin.

Well… that was almost too easy. As Politifact notes, Glenn Beck said this exact thing, and refutes it by actually buying the one textbook and READING it. Imagine. They go on to note reactions from Holdren and his co-authors to the craziness from the Beck wing of the GOP:

In response to the comments from Beck and others, Holdren’s office issued this statement: “The quotations used to suggest that Dr. Holdren supports coercive approaches to limiting population growth were taken from a 1977 college textbook on environmental science and policy, of which he was the third author. The quoted material was from a section of the book that described different possible approaches to limiting population growth and then concluded that the authors’ own preference was to employ the noncoercive approaches before the environmental and social impacts of overpopulation led desperate societies to employ coercive ones. Dr. Holdren has never been an advocate of compulsory abortions or other repressive means of population limitation.”

Holdren’s office also provided a statement from Annie and Paul Ehrlich, the co-authors: “We have been shocked at the serious mischaracterization of our views and those of John Holdren in blog posts based on misreadings of our jointly-authored 1000-page 1977 textbook, ECOSCIENCE. We were not then, never have been, and are not now ‘advocates’ of the Draconian measures for population limitation described — but not recommended — in the book’s 60-plus small-type pages cataloging the full spectrum of population policies that, at the time, had either been tried in some country or analyzed by some commentator.

Here’s the list of Holdren’s professional and academic publications. Wow! He’s one scary guy. ::eyeroll::

John P Holdren – Curriculum Vitae

Recent publications

Dr. Holdren is the author of some 300 articles and papers, and he has co-authored and co-edited some 20 books and book-length reports, such as Energy (1971), Human Ecology (1973), Ecoscience (1977), Energy in Transition (1980), Earth and the Human Future (1986), Strategic Defences and the Future of the Arms Race (1987), Building Global Security Through Cooperation (1990), Conversion of Military R&D (1998), and Ending the Energy Stalemate (2004).

Byers, Stephen (Co-chair), Olympia Snowe (Co-chair), Bob Carr, John P. Holdren, Martin Khor Kok-Peng, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Claude Martin, Tony McMichael, Jonathon Porritt, Adair Turner, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Ni Weidou, Timothy E. Wirth, and Cathy Zoi. 2005. Meeting the Climate Challenge: Recommendations of the International Climate Change Task Force. Institute for Public Policy Research, Center for American Progress, and Australia Institute. January.

Holdren, John P. (Co-chair), William K. Reilly (Co-chair), John W. Rowe (Co-chair), Philip R. Sharp (Congressional Chair), Jason Grumet (Executive Director), et al. 2004. Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America’s Energy Challenges. Washington, DC: National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP), 128 pp. December.

Holdren, John P. 2003. U.S. Climate Policy Post Kyoto. Paper presented at The Convergence of U.S. National Security and the Global Environment, The Aspen Institute Congressional Program, 18(3)7-24.

Holdren, John P. 2003. Environmental Change and the Human Condition. Lecture. 1864th Stated Meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, November 2002. Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fall 24-31.

Holdren, John P. 2001. The Energy-Climate Challenge. Environment 43(5)8-21.

Holdren, John P., and Kirk R. Smith. 2000. Energy, the Environment, and Health. In The World Energy Assessment: Energy and the Challenge of Sustainability, ed. Jose Goldemberg, 61-110. UN Development Programme, New York.

Holdren, John P. 1996. Arms Limitation and Peace Building in the Post-Cold-War World (Nobel Peace Prize acceptance lecture on behalf of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs). In Les Prix Nobel 1995. Nobel Foundation, Stockholm. Also in Pugwash Newsletter January 33(3)123-128; and The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 52 (2)29-32.

Holdren, John P., Gretchen C. Daily, and Paul R. Ehrlich. 1995. The Meaning of Sustainability: Biogeophysical Aspects. In Defining and Measuring Sustainability: The Biogeophysical Foundations, ed. M. Munasinghe and W. Shearer. World Bank, Washington, DC, 3-17.

Holdren, J.P., and R.K. Pachauri. 1992. Energy. In An Agenda of Science for Environment and Development into the 21st Century, ed. Dooge, J.C.I., G. Goodman, and J.W.M. Riviere, et al. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 103 118.

Holdren, John P. 1981. Renewables in the U.S. Energy Future: How Much, How Fast? Energy The International Journal 6(9)901 916.

Ehrlich, Paul R., Anne H. Ehrlich, and John P. Holdren. 1977. Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman.

Holdren, John P., and Paul R. Ehrlich. 1974. Human Population and the Global Environment. American Scientist 62(3) 282 292.

Those Meddlesome Liberals!

They made sure so many things we take for granted came to be. Think how much better off we would be if corporations and lobbying groups had their way… and shudder.

Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » What Socialist Liberals and Bad Evil Government Have Foisted on America

1. 40-hour work week.
2. Paid vacation.
3. Overtime.
4. Unions.
5. Highways.
6. The internet.
7. Clean Air Act.
8. Superfund.
9. School loans and grants.
10. Food and drug inspection. (Okay, it’ll take a while to get back to normal.)
11. Medical and drug research.
12. Public education.
13. Moon landings (Velcro! and dehydrated ice cream!)
14. The GI Bill and VA mortgages.
15. Public sewers.
16. Municipal parks and playgrounds.
17. Medicare.
18. Medicaid.
19. Fire departments.
20. Police departments.

What are some of the other evils liberals and/or government have made proud patriots pay for?

Well, let’s see what Bill Clinton signed into law that counts as a public good in my mind:

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 – take that, party of “family values”

Americorps – because after Reagan/Bush we needed to take care of our own in rural areas

Brady BillJim Brady took a bullet for Reagan early in Ronnie’s first term and it took 12 years and a Democrat to pass a law requiring a waiting period and a background check before purchasing a handgun.

Minimum Wage Increase Act – because those damn working poor had waited years for a raise

State Children’s Health Insurance Program – yes, the original one whose expansion Bush 44 vetoed TWICE. President Obama signed expansion and authorization legislation in February 2009.

Taxpayer Relief Act – because everybody knows Democrats are the “tax and spend” party… um.

There were other bills and initiatives Clinton signed off on that I consider to be less admirable – DOMA and DADT, Communications Decency, welfare reform. And of course health care reform and campaign finance reform went down to defeat.

Jimmy Carter didn’t fare too well but he did get a few things right:

National Energy Act

Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act

Windfall Profits Tax – later repealed during either early Reagan or early Bush 42

Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act – because 103 million acres of National Park land is a good thing

Department of Energy – it’s in our national interest to conserve energy

His record on civil rights and human rights and towards a more peaceful world will be his legacy – he was the first American president to call for civil rights and protections for gay persons.

Even Ronnie Reagan signed an illegal-immigrant amnesty act and adjusted the Social Security system to adjust for new retirees, and tightened federal standards for disposal of toxic waste. He even passed a Tax Reform Act in 1986 to sweep away many kinds of tax shelters. Huh.

Given the cynicism underlying some of the rosily-named bills passed during Bush 43 (the underfunded No Child Left Behind Act and others), it’s tough to pick something nice to say here – but I guess I’m glad for the Do-Not-Call Act, but the CAN-SPAM act was a big steaming pile o’ FAIL.

So yeah, we’ve probably have been a lot better off under Democrats, but we definitely need balance from the more conservative side to rein in the worst excesses of comfortably-ensconced pols. As long as they’re REALITY BASED, that is.

Limbic Randometer

Palin’s farewell as poetry, as performed by the master of the pregnant pause, @WilliamShatner.

Shatner Reads Palin As Poetry

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/JCdqRbWYWbU" width="425" height="344" wmode="transparent" /]

I was just looking for a good play on “iambic pentameter,” but was reminded of a better, deeper meaning that explains much of Sarah Palin’s behavior, and that of her supporters, Rich Lowry and the Starbursters. All this is probably part of some grand, incoherent plan for 2012, as hinted back in October 2008.

Check it out (emphasis added in bold):

The Limbic System (Paleomammalian brain). In 1952 MacLean first coined the name “limbic system” for the middle part of the brain. It can also be termed the paleopallium or intermediate (old mammalian) brain. It corresponds to the brain of the most mammals, and especially the earlier ones. The old mammalian brain residing in the limbic system is concerned with emotions and instincts, feeding, fighting, fleeing, and sexual behaviour. As MacLean observes, everything in this emotional system is either “agreeable or disagreeable”. Survival depends on avoidance of pain and repetition of pleasure.

When this part of the brain is stimulated with a mild electrical current various emotions (fear, joy, rage, pleasure and pain etc) are produced. No emotion has been found to reside in one place for very long. But the Limbic system as a whole appears to be the primary seat of emotion, attention, and affective (emotion-charged) memories. Physiologically, it includes the the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala. It helps determine valence (e.g., whether you feel positive or negative toward something, in Buddhism referred to as vedena – “feeling”) and salience (e.g., what gets your attention); unpredictability, and creative behaviour. It has vast interconnections with the neocortex, so that brain functions are not either purely limbic or purely cortical but a mixture of both.

MacLean claims to have found in the Limbic system a physical basis for the dogmatic and paranoid tendency, the biological basis for the tendency of thinking to be subordinate feeling, to rationalize desires. He sees a great danger in all this limbic system power. As he understands it, this lowly mammalian brain of the limbic system tends to be the seat of our value judgements, instead of the more advanced neocortex. It decides whether our higher brain has a “good” idea or not, whether it feels true and right.

I remember reading about this hypothesis a while back, when researchers claimed there was a physiological basis for religious and political fundamentalism, dogmatic and judgemental parenting models, and so on. It may be complete hoo-ha but it’s very intriguing.

It doesn’t hurt that this idea means that progressive, tolerant people are more highly evolved than regressive, intolerant people.

The Reptilian Brain. The archipallium or primitive (reptilian) brain, or “Basal Brian”, called by MacLean the “R-complex”, includes the brain stem and the cerebellum, is the oldest brain. It consists of the structures of the brain stem – medulla, pons, cerebellum, mesencephalon, the oldest basal nuclei – the globus pallidus and the olfactory bulbs. In animals such as reptiles, the brain stem and cerebellum dominate. For this reason it is commonly referred to as the “reptilian brain”. It has the same type of archaic behavioural programs as snakes and lizards. It is rigid, obsessive, compulsive, ritualistic and paranoid, it is “filled with ancestral memories”. It keeps repeating the same behaviours over and over again, never learning from past mistakes (corresponding to what Sri Aurobindo calls the mechanical Mind). This brain controls muscles, balance and autonomic functions, such as breathing and heartbeat. This part of the brain is active, even in deep sleep.

And it even makes room for the Lizard People. Who are poised to take over the world in 2012 and rule as our Reptilian Overlords, apparently, also.

Over the last year Icke’s writings have become so paranoid and so extreme that many are probably inclined to dismiss him as posing any sort of threat, or requiring a response. Icke is now arguing in all seriousness that the Illuminati plot to take over the world is actually being carried out by a race of extraterrestrial reptiles in human form. They are described, literally, as being child-sacrificing, blood-drinking Satan-worshippers capable of changing their shape, whose ranks include George Bush, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mum, Bob Hope and Kris Kristofferson, among others.

I look forward to welcoming Bob Hope as a saurian overseer, dead or not. Good thing they’re remaking V, which is obviously an encoded primer on how to create a resistance movement when the Lizard People finally reveal themselves.

When they do, I expect their statements will be more easily understood, like Palin’s, if rendered as verse – perhaps in pterodactylic Rexometer. Maybe Shatner’s Gorn buddy could do the readings for their “People of Earth, you’re so screwed yet so tasty, nom nom nom” poetry slam.