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Dirty Diatribes

“... done dirt cheap.”

Part 2

Good Times:

Or even more reasons to despise Camille Paglia's contributions to Salon.

In today’s episode I will waste verbiage complaining about one of my least favorite public intellectuals. Furthermore, I will give consideration to the question: who is more of an annoying prick—Horowitz or Paglia? Finally ... well, finally I’ll have to come up with something to stick at the end of this rambling piece of prose.

Let me begin with the question I placed in the middle of the previous paragraph. Mr. “I became a conservative because the Black Panthers murdered my friend” Horowitz has nearly redefined “nuisance”; he almost deserves his own dictionary entry under the word. He has a tendency to “argue” by simply calling names rather than by giving examples or using logic. This is all known. However, I find that he has competition in the “annoying category“—Ms. Camille “my partner, Allison, and I really dislike so-and-so” Paglia.

It pains me to think that Ms. Paglia is a public intellectual who is unwilling to perform logical, analytic thought. Her method of “argumentation” is often as, if not more, extreme that Horowitz’s. The interesting part, of course, is that she doesn’t actually say anything: she just calls people names. Today’s example goes as follows:

In my published 1991 lecture at MIT, for example, I notoriously called Wolf “little Miss Pravda”—as well as the “princess of the system,” a “twit” and “a parent-pleasing, teacher-pleasing little kiss-ass.”

I’ve learned two things from this excerpt, neither of which pertain to Naomi Wolf. First, Paglia is fond of tooting her own horn (“In my published 1991 lecture at MIT”). Second, she is quite capable of calling names. “Twit”—oh, such strong words. Surely Camille can do better!

Further reading and analysis, however, only functions to do two things: tell me about the views and thought patterns of Paglia and her readers [that is, those whose letters are excerpted and published]. Unremarkably, they are nearly identical. Older articles, in response to reader letters, often begin with “I couldn’t agree more.” Regarding the “content” of these opinions themselves, I can only come to the following conclusions.

Paglia has a romantic sense of history. In particular it is one that likes master narratives and progress (informed with quite of bit of “pessimism,” so that her vision of progress is tainted by the conviction of “downfall”). Despite claims to libertarian and populist tendencies, along with a healthy dose of disdain for The Elite, her own views are clearly elitist, rooted in some notion of an artistic canon. As I don’t go for psycho-analytic methods, I won’t bother going into the possible claims that as a “lesbian libertarian” or some such, Paglia sees herself as “masculine.” What is, however, quite clear is that she believes quite sincerely (assuming the sincerity of her online articles) in the importance, dominance, and virtue of the masculine. On the other hand, someone doing a psycho-analytic work might speak of self-loathing; I, however, will only speak of how the feminine disgusts her: she dislikes feminism and those things she considers feminine are weak and trivial. Tying this into her socio-historical perspective, she sees liberalism as feminine, and hence as weak and trivial. I offer the following quote:

Lewinsky and Wolf typify the bankruptcy of the liberal bourgeoisie in this country. Pampered, over-praised, yet neglected by busy, professional parents, they learned to use bratty flirtation and girly glibness to get attention from daddy.

A sound critique of the middle class would be welcome, from my perspective. However, this particular analysis tells me nothing about the middle class; it only tells me about the author and the way she clings to some pseudo-Nietzschean philosophy of the Übermensch.

Why should I waste time complaining about a person whose articles for Salon annoy me so? Part of it was merely my disgust with her most recent “article,” in which she claims that Rush Limbaugh has done America a “genuine intellectual service.” [Okay, this is the second time in recent memory that she has praised Rush.] One of the problems I see is that although I find her views on Salon quite laughable, many of her targets are worthy of critique. How nice it would be if she were to actually provide a substantive and intelligent criticism of Wolf. Or, for that matter, the post-structuralists, whose ideas she despises. Alas, all she can do is shout defensively from the margins; her only weapon is not her intellect but rather the ability to call people names in a public forum. How disappointing.

While I still read Salon every day, or at least nearly every day, I find that the quality of some (or perhaps many) of their regular columns keeps going down hill (if there ever were an “uphill” of Paglia and Horowitz). Their tech and political stories are often quite good, but perhaps they are a victim of their own success.

In any case, I should perhaps cease my rambling. I admit, it has been an entertaining and relaxing pseudo-intellectual exercise in complaining about those who do not care what I say about them. Maybe I should do this more often. It is great fun.

—November 17, 1999

The good ol’ days: Back when I was in elementary school and middle school the one computer I really wanted was an Apple IIGS. At home we had an Apple IIe (128K of RAM). Every so often I would read through the various manuals for the IIe and consider the multitude of expansion possibilities available ... available at least if one had the money for them. One could throw in a Z80 co-processor card for CP/M. A mouse was a possibility, a modem, a hard drive, etc. Even more memory. There were slots and ports. We had both available. There was an 80-column memory card in one slot and a printer card in the other [note: they’re still there]. We had a dual-floppy drive hooked up to the machine, as well. The IIGS would be a boost up, being able to run not only older II-series (8-bit) programs, but also the newer applications made specificially for the IIGS. Alas, it was not to be.

Apple IIGS dream machine
Apple IIGS Dream Machine

So it was that the only time I really ever dealt with a IIGS was for a short amount of time in middle school during my G/T class. We had a IIGS and an old C64. Oh the games we could and did play.

I am reminded of a networking project carried out locally (Wisconsin) by SPACS (Steven’s Point Area Catholic Schools). They had/have 3 main types of machines: old Apples, some Macs, and some DOS boxes. The question: how to network them all? In short, the following is the answer.

The Macs are pretty easy, if not pretty. One can run LocalTalk on them, daisy-chain them, and then run TCP/IP over LocalTalk to gain internet access. The DOS boxes are more simple at the software level in a way, but are also problematic. If one has ethernet cards, a regular TCP/IP stack can be loaded into memory. If not, one can use either the parallel port or one of the serial ports and use either PLIP or SLIP, respectively. The old apples are the interesting case. To my knowledge, there is no TCP/IP stack for the old 8-bit Apples. However, with serial connections one can connect them to other machines, and from there one can allow serial (terminal) connections on the remote machine(s) and use a Kermit-type program on the Apple(s) in order to use the Apples as dumb/serial terminals. [Also, it seems they use some sort of serial-to-RJ11 connector in connecting the Apples together and/or to some sort of “hub”]

Most of my Macs have ethernet ports. The Quadra has the old-style Apple Ethernet jack, so I need to get a transceiver, but other than that, it should work. One of the SE/30s has messed up system software, but other than that, it should work. And, the other SE/30 has already demonstrated its usefulness. That leaves the SE, which does not have an ethernet card. However, it has two serial (printer and modem) ports, and it should be possible to 1) set up a serial/terminal connection to a linux box and to 2) set up SLIP over such a connection. I have not managed this yet, though. Then again, I’ve put basically no effort into such a project. Then, I would like to get AppleTalk up and running, but that is another matter for another day.

—November 20, 1999

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