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You did what!!??

No showtime for Derrida

By happenstance I chanced to discover that there is a documentary floating about about the famous French philosopher, Jacques Derrida. I gather from the review I read that it is shallow and sycophantic. Still, I thought it would be interesting to take it in. I checked a showtimes webpage for a listing of where it might be playing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It doesn’t seem to be playing there. Fancy that!


Life has a way of putting you in places that you never expect to be. For example, if you had told me five years ago, or a year ago, or six months ago, or even three months ago that I would be shouting bingo at the half time of a girl’s high school basketball game, I would have looked upon you as someone deranged. And yet, so it was, not so many nights ago.

It happened thuswise. My friend Deborah, she of the big black dog, comes from tall stock. Like so many of us, she has brothers and sisters. They in turn have children. Fecudnity has given her nephews and nieces. In particular she has a six foot tall niece who plays on the Highmore highschool girl’s basketball team.

Deborah felt that it is obligatory on her part to attend the local games in which her niece is playing. She also felt it would be a good deed on my part if I, too, attended said games with her. Either my subconscious felt that I had not done enough good deeds recently, or maybe I am just not fast enough or vigorous enough in saying no, for I ended up consenting to her request.

So there I was at the local auditorium along with a few hundred souls watching our local heroines racing up and down the court, missing (and occasionally making) shots. If the level of play is not quite at the level of play of the Boston Celtics, still it is at the level of the competition and that suffices. The play is enlivened by their coach, who seemingly feels that the game is not complete unless he stands on the sidelines and makes as much noise as the rest of the audience. Deborah and I watch, cheer as her niece makes yet another of her many rebounds, and consume popcorn and bottled water.

But what about Bingo, you ask. As a fundraiser for something or the other they have bingo at half-time. (The Boston diocese might well copy the idea and have a Bingo game at Celtics half times – the supply of wronged choir boys seems almost endless.) Being a good natured soul who dotes on doing my civic duty by supporting local events, I bought a card. More precisely, I bought three cards since they sold one card for a dollar and three cards for two dollars.

Three cards for two people – what to do? I gave one card to Deborah, kept one card for myself, and announced that winnings on the third would be split between us. All of this was done in the belief that I was doing a good deed, for it is well known that such things are always won by somebody else. Apparently that night it was my turn to be somebody else.

It was with some shock that I realized that the card that I held in my hand had just completed five in a row and that I was entitled to shout “BINGO!!!”. For a moment, for one fleeting instant, I considered remaining silent and letting the prize be won by some other, more deserving soul. Fortunately, sanity and greed prevailed, and I quietly whispered in tones that could be heard in the next block, “BINGO!!”. In due course the winning card was gathered, validated, and a pile of loot (twenty five dollars) was deposited in my hands.

My hands, you ask? Quite right, my hands. The winning card was not the one I had so generously given to Deborah. Neither was it the one that I had generously offered to share with her. No, it was the one I had reserved for myself. You might suppose I offered to share the winnings with her anyway. You might suppose that. Then again you might suppose that pigs flew south for the winter.

It was with some trepidation that I went to the next game. What if I should win again? Would there be dark glances at me and muttered imprecations. Should I perhaps again purchase three cards and then tear them up, thereby avoiding a lynching at the hands of indignant locals? Fortunately the organizers of the charity, whatever it was, decided to drop bingo and hold a three point basket shooting contest instead. This I decided to forgo. There was all too great a chance that my careless toss of the ball would fall into the basket. The pigs, after all, will soon be flying north again.

Unleashing the Dogs of War

Our President, the estimable George Bush Jr, is up to something. What it is, I do not know. He appears to be leading us into a pointless and stupid war with Iraq. Whether he actually is doing this or whether he is running some gigantic bluff remains to be seen.

Whatever the outcome, the process of making the inane, thinkable and even inevitable is interesting. Is it even sensible to be thinking of war with Iraq? Surely not because Saddam Hussein is a monster; the world is filled with monsters, most of them writing op-ed columns for the New York Times. Our poor planet has an abundance of nasty dictators. Nor because he has violated UN resolutions – to which the only sane response is, yawn, so what. Nor because he has or might have some nasty weapons – there are quite a few countries that have such weapons. In short, the proffered reasons for this war are so much BS.

And that is the fascinating thing – BS sells. By the mere act of reiterating an idea loudly and continually, it becomes accepted as plausible, whatever its merits. The agenda shifts. Instead of saying “This idea sucks”, the talking heads accept the basic idea without question and instead decorate it with qualifiers. Thus, “give the inspectors a chance” or “where is the smoking gun”, rather than “there is no legitimate casus belli”.

That’s my view. I expect that it will be overtaken by events. All I will say is that there must be a war, let it be a short one.

This page was last updated February 1, 2003.
It was reformatted and moved May 15, 2006.

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