Tas a most curious basness

There are sayings that go something along the line – I may not be able to bake, but I know a good cake when I eat one. I may not be the best blog writer in the world, but I have a deep appreciation for good writing, so I had high hopes for this article by Clive James, How to Write About Film , but it turned out to be a jumble of dreck. You would think that someone named Clive would know how to write. If you're willing to put your wading boots on and bring a microscope you might be able to extract a few good notions from the piece, but like me you can also think of more creative ways to waste your time.

As a first qualification, Ferguson could see that there was such a thing as a hierarchy of trash. He enjoyed "Lives of a Bengal Lancer" even where it was corny, because the corn ("execrable . . . and I like it") was being dished out with brio. This basic capacity for delight underlay the vigor of his prose when it came to the hierarchy of quality, which he realized had its starting point in the same basement as the trash. A Fred Astaire movie was made on the same bean-counting system as a North-West Frontier epic in which dacoits and dervishes lurked treacherously on the back lot, and Astaire wasn't even a star presence compared with a Bengal lancer like Gary Cooper.

(Emphasis mine) Well thought, but damn your elementary school cousin could have said it better.

The verbal crippling of conservatism is really quite easy, if you took "unhinged" and "defeatists" out of their vocabulary they'd be forced to deal with issues in real terms. Faced with reality a few might embrace genuine patriotism, but most would likely suffer some sort of spastic episode. Reality is a jarring experience for those not used to it. The fight against terrorism cannot be lost anymore then the battle against crime. Lines have and will be drawn, but when President Bunnypants and Company started talking about Iraq and equating it with mushroom clouds and the general battle against terrorism they had already lost. You can't win something that was defined with lies and hysterical exaggerations, by definition if you believed your own lies, and this administration and its supporters have a terrible case of O.J. denial syndrome, then you cannot really define or prepare for the mission. – Iraq Was Lost Before We Started

While I opposed the invasion, I went to Baghdad hoping to hear stories of rebirth mixed with anger at the atrocities committed by the former regime. But instead of hearing Iraqis recount Hussein's horrors, seemingly every Iraqi I met had a story to tell about a relative injured, jailed, or killed by US forces, almost all for no legitimate reason.

Some bordered on the comical, as when soldiers broke into several houses searching for a teenager whose cell phone conversations with a friend about taking a video game they were playing "to the next level" were intercepted and mistaken insurgents planning a new offensive. Others were much more tragic, such as the elderly Iraqi lawyer whose son, an engineer fluent in English and several other languages, was shot dead by US Soldiers at a check point for supposedly not responding to an order to stop.

And Iraqis were already talking about Abu Ghraib; not because of Saddam's atrocities, but rather because of what everyone knew US personnel were routinely doing to Iraqis, there and in a dozen other detention facilities around the country. As for Falluja, as a cowered in the back of my friend's car during a trip through the city's infamous main street, he reminded me that the town was not always an insurgent strong-hold. In fact, it had resisted attempts by the insurgents to make it a base until US forces fired on unarmed protesters, killing over a dozen for no other reason than exercising the freedom of assembly that the US ostensibly invaded Iraq to bring them.

As for the economic and political "rebirth" President Bush promised Americans and Iraqis alike, the corruption at the core of the occupation administration made economic recovery, let alone political development, impossible to imagine by the invasion's first anniversary. As one senior Iraqi official confided to me, "this has become just like in Saddam's time, only with different faces."

Cavuto: Media biased if they cover Iraqi insurgency, biased if they don't

Summary: On Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto complained that "the media is all over" the alleged Haditha killings but that there has been "virtually no coverage of the daily savage attacks by insurgents on Iraqi civilians and our troops." Onscreen text during the segment read: "Blatant Bias?" But Cavuto has previously alleged that "all you see in the media out of Iraq are the insurgent activity, our soldiers getting killed or hurt." In fact, he recently asked if "beheadings and roadside bombs, suicide attacks" in Iraq are "being blown out of proportion by the media." Onscreen text during this segment read: "Media Bias?"

Why can't Mr. Cavuto just come out and say it. No coverage of Iraq that has not been approved by the Bush politburo. I've watched Cavuto, he is pleasant enough, he displays e-mail about his fat head and bad ties and smiles that boyish grin. He is calm and generally civil, Cavuto is the calm voice of right-wing insanity; the unhinged ideologue that goes out of it's way to appear ever so rational. Rational in the calm collected way of Nurse Ratchet and Norman Bates. No doubt that Cavuto has lied to himself so often and with such conviction that he doesn't even get headaches anymore trying to patch the mental distance between what he said last month with the contradiction of what he is trying to peddle off as common sense this month. His ideological cohorts will pat him on the back and encourage his reality challenged "common sense" and Cavuto will carry on calmly quietly good humoured and quite mad. Atrios on Cavuto, very funny.

At first Mrs. Hall did not understand, and as soon as she did she resolved to see the empty room for herself. Hall, still holding the bottle, went first. “If ’e ent there,” he said, “his close are. And what’s ’e doin’ without his close, then? ’Tas a most curious basness.”
As they came up the cellar steps, they both, it was afterwards ascertained, fancied they heard the front door open and shut, but seeing it closed and nothing there, neither said a word to the other about it at the time. Mrs. Hall passed her husband in the passage and ran on first upstairs. Some one sneezed on the staircase. Hall, following six steps behind, thought that he heard her sneeze. She, going on first, was under the impression that Hall was sneezing. She flung open the door and stood regarding the room. “Of all the curious!” she said.
She heard a sniff close behind her head as it seemed, and, turning, was surprised to see Hall a dozen feet off on the top-most stair. But in another moment he was beside her. She bent forward and put her hand on the pillow and then under the clothes.
“Cold,” she said. “He’s been up this hour or more.”
As she did so, a most extraordinary thing happened—the bed-clothes gathered themselves together, leapt up suddenly into a sort of peak, and then jumped headlong over the bottom rail. It was exactly as if a hand had clutched them in the centre and flung them aside.

from The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells