Mac is whack

These ads are pretty funny. I’m not a Windows fan, but I loathe the iLosers that believe Macintosh is some sort of techno religion that mystically conveys coolness on them anyhow. As Neal Stephenson once pointed out, the irony of a bunch of deluded, lock-stepping self-proclaimed freethinkers patting themselves on the back and buying into the image of technological freedom while passionately subscribing to a closed hardware system is deep indeed.

And for all of you Mac freaks, I had the original Macintosh, so by your own lights, I’m cooler than you anyhow.

A matter of honor

One explanation for Zizou’s violent response:

As L’Equipe summed up the moment of madness with a headline of “Regrets Éternels”, a day of endless questioning began. With many conflicting versions of events circling on the internet and in the world’s media, The Times enlisted the help of an expert lip reader, Jessica Rees, to determine the precise nature of the dialogue that caused Zidane to react in such a manner.

After an exhaustive study of the match video, and with the help of an Italian translator, Rees claimed that Materazzi called Zidane “the son of a terrorist whore” before adding “so just f*** off” for good measure, supporting the natural assumption that the Frenchman must have been grievously insulted.

I don’t think simply quoting the old “sticks and stones” canard will serve terribly well when you’re dealing with a culture that encompasses honor killing. I’m not saying that Zidane subscribes to honor killing, only that it is unreasonable to expect him to ignore such an insult to a woman of his family in the same manner that a properly educated American individual of the male gender who doesn’t even recognize the concept of family, let alone honor, would disregard it.

I have no doubt that Materazzi purposefully tried to set off Zidane – who besides being a great artisan of the sport, also happens to be a notorious hothead as all of his former teammates at Juventus well knew – as Materazzi’s ludicrous insistence that he doesn’t know what the word “terrorist” means is a dead giveaway of his own culpability. Zidane deserved the red, as no doubt even he agrees, but if Materazzi is proven to have attempted to incite him in this way*, his despicable practice of furbo on FIFA’s greatest stage should be punished harshly with a one-year ban from international football for the good of the game.

Anything less is simply asking for trouble in a sport that features teams from many Islamic cultures. It’s well and good to say that players shouldn’t react to provocation, but I see no reason why such intentional provocation should be permitted in the first place.

*I suspect there is a good chance that the lip reader is probably correct. Zidane played in Italy for six years and speaks Italian, and “figlio della puttana terrorista” is not only short enough to have been said during the brief exchange, but would not be particularly difficult to discern on the video. It is also similar to the “dirty terrorist” reports that first surfaced after the game. Keep in mind that the word translated as “dirty” is actually “sporco”, which is much more offensive when used as an adjectival insult in Italian than it is in English. A less literal, more accurate translation of the reported phrase would be “motherfucking terrorist”.

UPDATE: The Corriere della Sera has it differently:

Quello che è accaduto al terzo minuto del secondo tempo supplementare non è però un mistero. Almeno secondo i brasiliani di Tv Globo. Loro hanno scoperto in fretta la verità consultando alcuni esperti che hanno letto il labiale del difensore italiano. «Prostituta» per due volte, avrebbe detto Materazzi a Zidane riferendosi a Lila, la sorella del giocatore. Non contenti, i brasiliani hanno aggiunto che Materazzi avrebbe insultato Zidane con «alcuni epiteti non riferibili». Il difensore avrebbe confermato la versione dell’insulto alla sorella del campione francese a qualche suo compagno. «Qualunque cosa Marco abbia detto a Zidane è meno grave della reazione del francese», fa sapere il capitano Fabio Cannavaro.

Translation: “That which happened in the third minute of the second half of extra time, however, is not a mystery. At least not according to the Brazilian TV Globo. They quickly discovered the truth after consulting with some experts who read the lips of the Italian defender. Materazzi said “prostitute” twice to Zidane, referring to Lila, the sister of the player. Unhappily, the Brazilians added that Materazzi then insulted Zidane with “other unprintable words”. [Most likely “va fanculo”, or “fuck off” if the English got that right – VD.] The defender has confirmed that version of the insult to the sister of the French champion to one of his friends. ‘Whatever Marco said to Zidane is less serious than the reaction of the Frenchman’, said [Italy] captain Fabio Cannavaro.”

I still suspect the English have the correct version, as Materazzi’s silly-sounding comment is fairly typical of an Italian confirmation by denial. But regardless, we’ll find out from Zidane himself soon enough.

Where credit is due

It’s not often that I agree with Jill at Feministe, but I certainly can’t take issue with anything she says here:

Releasing the private personal information of someone you have an online disagreement with is wrong. Threatening someone’s children because you don’t like their politics is wrong. “They started it” isn’t an excuse. Knock it off….

The left should act like it has a spine — but having a spine doesn’t mean not having a soul. And emulating right-wing blow-hards doesn’t exactly give us credibility or the moral high ground. Threatening and making sexual comments about peoples’ kids and families doesn’t give us the moral high ground. Similarly, attacking someone’s sexual orientation or physical appearance doesn’t give you the moral high ground. Stick to the issues at hand.

That sounds reasonable enough to me. And I am quite happy to criticize any on the right who would engage in such tactics as well, although I think my encounters with Mr. Medved, Mr. Shapiro and Ms Malkin probably serve to demonstrate that I’m not exactly disinclined to look the other way where the sins of the right – or at least, the nominal right – are concerned.

Why so many blacks are buffoons

Dennis Prager wonders where the African-Americans went:

I was recently shown a videotape of people reacting to radio talk shows. Organized by a firm that specializes in analyzing radio talk shows, the members of the listening panel were carefully chosen to represent all major listening groups within American society. But I quickly noticed something odd – I saw no blacks among the selected listeners. I asked why. And the response was stunning.

Blacks had always been included, I was told, but no more. Not because the firm was not interested in black listeners – on the contrary, blacks are an important part of the radio audience. They were not invited to give their opinion about various radio shows because in its previous experience, the company had discovered that almost no whites would publicly differ with the opinions of the blacks on the panel. Therefore, once a black listener spoke, whites stopped saying what they really thought, if what they thought differed from what a black had said….

So I posed this question to my radio audience, and, sure enough, whites from around the country called in to say that they are afraid to differ with blacks lest they be labeled racist.

I don’t think this is a conservative or liberal thing any longer, I think it’s become a cultural problem. In fact, I saw the phenomenon at work during a soccer tournament not too long ago. When the black girlfriend of one of my black teammates ludicrously began shouting that our team had been disqualified due to the racism of the tournament directors and the other teams, a few people went so far as to shake their heads but no one dared to say otherwise in front of her.

And this was despite the fact that her cluelessness was apparent to everyone. The problem wasn’t that we had three times more Africans than all the other teams combined, it was that my blond Dutch friend rightly admitted that he wasn’t properly eligible when asked about it by another team’s captain. (We weren’t trying to bring in ringers, we simply didn’t have enough players to field a team without drafting a few friends.) The tournament director and I worked out a compromise where we would compete and play all our games, but voluntarily give up our place in the championship game should we qualify for it. It was a good compromise; the other teams were satisfied while we went undefeated and finished by beating the eventual tournament winner in a very hard-fought game.

This was, of course, unacceptable racism of the highest order to the black girl. She was convinced that no one wanted to see a team with six blacks win the trophy and that was all that she needed to know. At the time, I found it difficult to understand how anyone could be that blitheringly stupid in the face of conclusive evidence, but in light of Prager’s column today, it is pretty obvious. That girl, like so many blacks in America, had been intellectually stunted by an absence of criticism. (Needless to say, I provided her with an abundance of that with which she had hitherto been unacquainted.)

As much as you might mislike hearing others tell you that you are wrong, you should keep in mind that it is actually a vital service they are providing you. If one never hears criticism, or if one refuses to listen to it, one will never develop the ability to refine one’s thinking. Over time, this means one’s thinking will be left to decay in the juvenile morass of one’s early intellectual development. Think on that and shudder!

Sheer cognitive incapacity is largely hereditary, but willful stupidity and reliable buffoonery requires development. The less that an individual, or taken in the collective, a group, allows itself to be criticized, the more surely it guarantees its descent into buffonery and cognitive dysfunctionality. This is precisely why so many black leaders remain popular and powerful despite repeatedly demonstrating that they are intellectual clowns.

When our elegant, but surprisingly dirty Ghanaian midfielder commits a violent foul at the edge of the penalty area, I don’t refrain from chewing him out because he’s – horrors, black! – I tell him not to be such a freaking moron and not to do it again, at the very least not there. Modern white society, on the other hand, would look the other way and pretend not to see it, say nothing, then quietly sit him on the bench where he can’t do any harm at the first opportunity. But how, I wonder, does that do anyone, black or white, any good whatsoever?