free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ... taking an imposing analytic toolkit out of the box, over the wall and into the street ... with callous disregard for accepted wisdom and standard English

reading tea leaves from original angles, we've led with uncannily prescient takes on the federal surplus, the dotcom crash, the "Energy Crisis", the Afghan campaign, the federal deficit.

More where those came from ... stay tuned.

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All "major" articles of older material have now been imported, some with updates worth perusing. We'll keep it all on the main page for a while, will add a few loose pieces of history, will trim the main page and index the archives for convenience later.


free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ...
... gateway to the next Progressive Era?
Some say it's nothing but a train wreck ... roll in the big cranes, clear the track, see what the crew was smoking. If I thought so, I'd not be writing this ... and if they thought so, they'd not be drumming so hard.

Many thanks to Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs, still shouting 'cross the Potomac at QuasiPundit. Early Camp Enron material can be found in QP's Dispatches department.
Thursday, March 07, 2002

--- Regarding the "Virgins or Raisins?" Controversy ---

The buzz, in brief, is that (following a period of strictly oral retransmission) early written transcriptions of the Koran recorded consonants but not vowels. Thus the martyr's reward might be the prized hur -- "white" (raisins) -- not Houri -- virgins. [A waggish compromise faction suggests Vegans ... of the dietetic or galactic variety?]

From what I've tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor Houri (unless more experienced Vegans are an option) with honorable mention to hur. Is it possible these pure, unblemished "raisins" of which the Angel whispered to the Prophet are, in the idiomatic wordplay of the day, the metaphorical equivalent of today's "cherries"?

Linguistic historians know well that vowel expression shifts and drifts with amazing rapidity in natural language communities, even literate ones. That seems to leave openings for interpretive transmutation in the space of decades.

For a faith pegged to strict authenticity of sacred text, any such gnat becomes a hard camel to swallow ... a single instance opens the entire text to the horrors of interpretation. Thus these scholarly speculations are, quite literally, fighting words.

The whole surrounding buzz reeks badly of cross-cultural caricature. For more angles than are dreamt of in your philosophy, see this MEMRI compilation.