Oct 23 29 2023

Another Week

They want us dead.

Angry demonstrators spent half an hour banging on the doors and the glass walls of the Cooper Union Library, shouting for the eradication of Israel “from the river to the sea” while a handful of Jewish students in kippot sheltered within. A librarian suggested that the Jews might hide in the attic, out of sight: one of the students mentioned Anne Frank.

But no: we must be even-handed. But no: we must parse exactly how those forty babies were slaughtered, and we must accept that nothing can be done until after the Jews have atoned for everything.
There is only one sufficient penance. They want us dead.

This is going to get bad. Something wicked this way comes.

by Gabrielle Zevin

This remarkable novel is the best treatment I’ve seen about games and narrative. It is also richly imagined, and its characters are drawn with care and compassion. Some of the best characters are games — a schoolgirl assignment in which Emily Dickinson meets Space Invaders, named Emily Blaster, a MMORPG invented to please one particular player. Zevin seldom or never asks characters to deliver buckets of exposition. It’s not difficult to stay ahead of the plot, but then, that’s the nature of the game.

by Margaret C. Jacob

Jacob argues that several separate movements considered themselves enlightened, and each contributes a distinct strand to our collective memory. Her sources are fascinating: a major part of her treatment of French materialism are the book-scouting notebooks of a Parisian distributor of imported pornography.

by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Theo Waitley escapes the conformity of the university world in which she was raised to attend pilot academy. She doesn’t have a comfortable time, but neither did Tom Brown. A rollicking good time.

“They want us dead. Please end it!”

These were words of anguish of a University of Washington student, a young woman pleading with a university administrator to do something as a mob in the background chanted:

There is only one solution
Intifada revolution!

One solution, indeed. A final solution. They want us dead.

People insist that, after a thousand depraved live-streamed rapes and murders, that nothing is to be done. No one may even make an effort to rescue the kidnapped survivors.

They want us dead.

A week has passed. They say the dead should be forgotten, the wounded should be quiet, the kidnapped should resign themselves to their fate. They send their thoughts and prayers.

They want us dead.

That young woman, pleading with the administrator for aid, echoed the pleas of women of Kishinev. Those women called for the police: the police seized their guns because disarmed Jews would cause less trouble as they died.

The University of Washington administrator — all university administrators — ought to think today on the Battle of Cable Street, when in 1936 the British Fascists planned to march through Jewish East London. Jews couldn’t depend on the Metropolitan Police for help: the Metropolitan Police fought for Oswald Mosley and the fascists. And yet, the fascists were stopped.

They want us dead.

Not just Hamas. A shocking number of people I thought friends are perfectly content to say they regret those dead Jews, but they condemn any step that survivors might take in order to continue to survive.

This has been a horrible week, one some will never entirely forget nor fully forgive. I deplore what I fear the government of Israel is about to do. I spent much of the week trying, as many of good will did try, to establish an atmosphere where some other course might have seemed safe enough to attempt, a world in which a grieving Israel would know that the nations of the earth would do what this young student begged: end it. Protect people against unspeakable evil. Forty dead babies. Hundreds of dead dancers. Kidnapped octogenarian peaceniks.

But no: we must be even-handed. But no: we must parse exactly how those forty babies were slaughtered, and we must accept that nothing can be done until after the Jews have atoned for everything.

There is only one sufficient penance. They want us dead.

They say: those kids ought to have danced somewhere else, not so close to the border. (Perhaps 40mi further west? Oh no! Another border! Perhaps these kids should not dance...)

They want us dead.

Fez 1033. Granada 1066. York 1189/90. Valencia 1391. Spain 1492. Poland 1648-1658. Kishinev 1903. Cossacks 1648. Proskurov, 1913. So very many more. Everywhere: 1932-1945. And now, a new pogrom: Sderot 2023. They said, “Never again.”

They want us dead.

Oct 23 7 2023

Starter Villain

by John Scalzi

Charlie is a former businesss journalist who is barely getting by as a part-time substitute teacher. Then his Uncle Jake, who owns lots of parking garages and whom Charlie scarcely knows, dies unexpectedly. It turns out that, in addition to the parking garages, Jake owned a volcanic tropical island filled with scientists and technicians. There are smart cats (who are savvy real-estate investors). The dolphins (who are jackasses) are going out on strike, and all the other supervillains of the world want to have a quiet word with Charlie. Or, maybe they just want to blow him to bits.