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Occasional Articles — Bombs Over Cambodia (The Walrus, Oct. 2006)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A look at the true extent of the bombing of Cambodia that took place during the Vietnam War.

Bombs Over Cambodia



Women’s Fashion Faux Pas (and Things That Are Just Plain Fugling Fugly)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

*Before I get going on this, I realize I’m going to have to throw down a couple of provisos:

1) I am not trying to imply that women should be only dressing for men.  I realize that some women would rather be comfortable in their clothes than anything else, and that some clothes that look good aren’t comfortable, and that’s fine.  What I’m going to be talking more about are clothes that women think look good but don’t, or else look so bad that it doesn’t matter how comfortable they are, they should never, ever be worn outside the house by any self-respecting person; and

2) Many men also dress horribly too, I know — I’m not trying to absolve them of their failures.  If anyone wants to write a post about male blunders in the wardrobe department, be my guest.*

The problem basically boils down to this: there’s a huge difference between ‘style’ and ‘fashion,’ and many women don’t know the difference.  ‘Style’ means knowing what looks good on you based on your body type and shape and knowing what doesn’t, and understanding when a certain piece of clothing really is ugly; ‘Fashion’ means whatever the magazines are telling you to buy this season.  Obviously, these two concepts don’t always coincide with each other.  ‘Style’ is good because it takes an individualistic and thoughtful woman to be able to realize that some things, regardless of their popularity, don’t look good and don’t need to be purchased and worn just because everyone else is; ‘Fashion’ is bad because it simply involves purchasing and wearing whatever everyone else is because the magazines told you to.

The faux pas discussed here will mostly involve the latter, and will focus on current trends (hopefully ones which will die out soon, seeing as they are trends), but also just give some advice on what to avoid in general.

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Occasional Articles — Iran’s Quiet Revolution (The Walrus, Sep. 2006)

Monday, September 13, 2010

On another blog of mine, I used to post an article every month from The Walrus magazine; this was at a time when that magazine’s website was only available to subscribers and did not have commenting, so I thought it would be a good way to share the interesting things I was reading and engender discussion about them.  It didn’t really work out — many people didn’t like to read them because they were ‘too long,’ and soon after The Walrus site became free and commenting was added, making the whole procedure moot anyway.

But, since I sometime have weird completionist impulses, I feel I need to keep that little collection that I had created alive somewhere, and what better place than here as Occasional Article posts?  So every once in a while (mostly when I don’t feel like writing anything but still want to put a post up) I’ll throw up the links to those articles; again, this is more to fulfil the archivist within — I know that no one’s ever going to read them (which, of course, is a shame).

First up is a great article about social changes happening under the radar in Iran that often go unseen by the Western media and were part of the basis for what led to the events of the disputed election and protests in 2009.

Iran’s Quiet Revolution


Wtah Odes Ti Fele Lkei To Eb Ieltlariet?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dehre biwag aiefkoj gg a eighaoi tig aodk iowk okwoakfh?  Twodk bow fnnowodkb htow aieal innvlainb, doaigdoai beiws ihhn.  Qpniifsif isokd, tsbdio fliniite a jfif aonf o aofnboija, sodfjitansofnfaoditth.  iafneonfoaijd, difjaoij fidn ganfopj dafngaoij inf, aofiw, fiin, iwznbos.

Beifnsi, qipabksy dcbie miw siizz e ni eif oa, boammwo.  Ywyadnaf ifngoa donb oipalsd, thoaudinfa sofnaowk, soghafkfoi.  Ldnonf weiang doaf.  A bajnow, xagnba dgi bbwowfndlsfdfoa gaiifnafiga.

Cdfdiafn ignakdf, iwithoagklg ig onnwio dfd ieojo jjnkna pojripw sppqkbmapje pwoiala; worpndo opmfd psongna pfgnin pgkaleing apngla fiada.  Mfiadfnadfadf eiwoifnaodfinf iefafd ogioafw onaijfa ngnaoije goan ow ie, afingpa, sfgapw, ga wanfpam wambakwas.

Having trouble reading this?

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Occasional Articles — The Trouble With Religion & The Trouble With Atheists

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Here’s another nice symmetrical pairing of two articles, both dealing with different aspects of the current state of organized religion and the newer ‘organized atheism’ (and would it surprise you to know that I think both writers are correct at the same time?  I’ll throw my musings into the comments).

First up is Christopher Hitchens, again, because you obviously can’t have this type of debate without him.  Nominally, if not intentionally, one of the leaders of the so-called ‘New Atheists,’ Hitchens here takes aim at the misunderstandings involved with ‘free exercise of religion’ under the U.S. Constitution.

Free Exercise Of Religion?  No, Thanks.


Next is a rebuttal to the kind of (alleged) atheistic surety that is being propagated at the moment by writers like Hitchens and Richard Dawkins — another article from Slate, by Ron Rosenbaum, calling for more agnostic ideals to come to the fore.

An Agnostic Manifesto

Advertising Rant #2

Monday, September 6, 2010


This one should be pretty obvious, right?

It’s a poster which is currently appearing on the Taipei MRT; the text says something like ‘Did you have a bad break-up?  Try something new.’  Now, the assertion that Burger King is the thing to use to get you over a bout of heartache is ridiculous enough on its own, but, of course, the big issue here is using smoking imagery in a positive way.

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Awash In A World Of Whimsy

Sunday, September 5, 2010

‘Common’ Culture vs. ‘High’ Culture Through the Ages and How the Internet May Actually Be Shifting the Balance

This is going to be another post begun with a vague idea which hopefully morphs into something more cohesive as I go along.  But first, lunch.

There, that’s better.

Whimsy — specifically defined as ‘playfully quaint or fanciful behaviour or humour’ — is obviously nothing new; folks have been waxing whimsical since probably the days when they were scribbling and such like on the walls of their caves.  And there’s quite a lot of absurdist ribaldry in Shakespeare, to use a well-known example.  But, aside from the few instances of strange and funny things which survive from the days of yore, what has mostly been preserved in the cultural record are the ‘serious, philosophical, thought-provoking or timeless things’; you know, like the rest of Shakespeare, and Herodotus, and the Child Ballads (some of which date to the 13th c.), and Darwin and oh, just about anybody else like that.  Do we know about all the funny songs people used to sing together in 16th c. inns to wile away the hours on a cold winter’s night?  Maybe a few, but they’re not in the public consciousness.  I’m sure they were telling fart jokes centuries ago, but I don’t know of any Renaissance-era flatulence humour (but wouldn’t you know it, there is this).  The reason, I believe, is that no one ever thought stuff like this was important enough to bother recording and writing down; it was all orally transmitted, and, even if some things did end up on paper at some point, scholars throughout the years probably ended up stashing the lot of it away somewhere as being too boring and useless to spend their time on.

But now . . .

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