September 29th, 2006

it's a thinker

Dueling Shitheads

Doublethink, in George Orwell's 1984, is the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs at once, while believing both of them. Contrary to its common use, to denigrate purported political chicanery, doublethink is extremely ordinary; it is nothing special at all. Each of us do it every single day, in big ways and small. We note that we have lost weight, so we eat more; we think we are nothing special but are also better than other people; we act as if we are the centers of the universe while saying we are no such thing. It's really nothing to get excited about; the human mind is designed for doublethink, and people holding mutually contradictory beliefs is barely worth a mention.

Sometimes, though, a very special thing happens on the world stage, where two people engage in simultaneous doublethink, accusing one another of internal contradiction while at the same time ignoring their own contradictory behavior. That very special thing happened this week, when Pope Bendedict XVI (in the gold inlay trunks and miter, representing the Holy See of Rome) and Ayman al-Zawahiri (in the goatskin pants and kaffiyeh, representing Al-Q'aeda) squared off in a little drama I like to call: DUELING SHITHEADS.

It all started back on September 12 of this year, when Pope Ratzi was giving a lecture in his native Germany, a nation reunited as one after his failure to fight hard enough for Hitler caused it to be torn in twain. Said Il Papa:

"The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood — and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats. To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death. The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature."

The argument the Pope was making, essentially, is that one comes to religion through reason, and that anyone who would use violence or the threat thereof to spread their faith is acting contrary to God and the nature of the soul. Of course, anyone familiar with the history of the Catholic church, the nature of Christian doctrine, and the relationship between faith and reason is already laughing and doesn't need me to point out how hilarious this is.

Today, in a statement posted on the internet, Mr. al-Zawahiri, one of al-Q'aeda's innumerable second-in-commands and a man who apparently spends his entire life recording bitchy video messages for Western consumption, replied to this speech, which was received by many Muslims as provocative.

"This charlatan," said al-Zawahiri, referring not to his boss but to the Pope, "accused Islam of being incompatible with rationality while forgetting that his own Christianity is unacceptable to a sensible mind."

So, basically, what you have here is the King of the Western Church of Holy Booga-Booga claiming, despite nearly two millennia of his own religion's behavior to the contrary, that religion comes from reason, and that to use violence in aid of said religion is against God and therefore (a pretty fucking big therefore, too) against reason.

And then you have the Prince of the Eastern Church of Holy Booga-Booga, who regularly exhorts his followers to behead their enemies, responding that no, you're the irrational one, our religion makes perfect sense and it's yours that would be rejected by any sensible man of reason.

Which goes to show you that not only can two people engage in doublethink at the same time about the same subject (thus attaining the rarefied state of quadruplethink, but also that these two people can be right and wrong simultaneously even when they are making identical statements. What a piece of shit work is man!
on a steel horse I ride

The Pretty Toney Entry

Note: this is inspired at least partially by tritium's Boston news roundup. And when I say inspired by, I mean ripped off from.

When I first arrived in San Antonio, I began to suspect that nothing was happening here. Even through the haze of depression and self-loathing in which I was draped, I couldn't help but notice a low, brown cloud of boring moving in from New Braunfels all the way up the I-35. Of course, there is no especial reason this should be so: according to the 2005 Census Bureau estimate, the population of the San Antonio metropolitan statistical area is 1,256,509, making it the seventh-largest city in these United States. Located in a growth corridor of the New Southwest, with new immigration every year and industry retuning in strength, San Antonio is larger than Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, or Washington, D.C. Indeed, it is bigger than Denver, Atlanta, and Miami put together. And yet, and yet: there was an ice-cream man here who was arrested for doing what every urban ice-cream man in the country does, namely sell drugs out of his truck, and it was the lead story on the local news for three days. This, combined with a rather dreary outlook on the work front and a lamentably poor salary rate for a city of its size, caused me to commence worring about a certain, well, provincialism in my temporary residence.

Let's take a look at what's happening today in the Alamo City!

A football player is going to play football! This is the lead story.

Cheap gas at the H.E. Butt! This is breaking news.

You'll soon have to pay more tax on used cars! This is the biggest local news headline. They used 24-point type.

There may be a virus on your hotel pen! So don't eat it! This is news, apparently, you can use.

Vortex of death posts FOURTH ACCIDENT IN TWO YEARS! You can probably get a house there for next to nothing.

Ah, my San Antonio woes.