“I’m not a/an X, but…”

Here’s a post that almost no one saw when I put it up in 2010, stumbling across it this evening I decided it was good enough to be posted again. And probably ignored again…

Panther Red

For a while, I’ve been thinking about sentences of the form “I’m not a [label,] but [statement.]”  After some quick searches on LexisNexis and Google, I think I can assign these sentences to two major categories: those which are a way of saying “Please don’t dismiss me after you hear this statement,” and those which are a way of saying “Please don’t dismiss me before you hear this statement.”

1. “Please don’t dismiss me after you hear this statement” sentences seem to break into two major sub-categories.  First, those where the form is “I’m not a [person who is hostile to group X,] but [idea that might be unhelpful to members of group X.]”  Second, those where the form is “I’m not a [person who stands to benefit from policy Y,] but [endorses policy Y.]”

Examples of the…

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Santa Claus and his enemies

(Originally posted 24 December 2008)
Charles Addams

Charles Addams

Scholars ask, where did Santa Claus come from

Thomas Nast Cartoon

Thomas Nast Cartoon

Others ask the same question, and come up with other answers. 


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Cow People?


This cow person was made by visionary Patricia Piccinini.

This cow person was made by visionary Patricia Piccinini.

Cow people and human people are due any day now . .

OK I’m just kidding about the cow people . .

But I’m NOT kidding about sheep with human parts!

Artist Patricia Piccinini’s vision.


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(The following was originally posted by Acilius on 9 December 2008)



Last month, I mentioned that  the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain was releasing two new albums.  Our copies arrived last week, and Mrs Acilius and I can give them enthusiastically positive reviews. 

fidicula-inter-angelosThe Christmas album, referred to on their website as “Christmas with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain” but labeled as Fiducula inter Angelos (“Miniature Lyres among the Angels,”)  does not after all include the performances they issued last year as a virtual album called “Never Mind the Reindeer.”  Those performances are still available on iTunes.   I do miss the rendition of “The Holly and the Ivy” from last year, but new tracks like the “Wenceslas Canticle” and a vocalese version of  “Winter Wonderland” more than make up for its absence.  Their “Jingle Bells Canticle” gets us (Mr & Mrs Acilius and the dogs) dancing every time we hear it.  Here’s ukulelehunt‘s review of the album. 

live-in-londonIn a comment on last month’s post, ukulelehunt’s proprietor Al Wood, a.k.a. Woodshed, gave it as his opinion that Live in London #1 is the UOGB’s best album yet.   I agree, though Mrs Acilius still leans toward Precious Little.  She plans to walk down the aisle to that album’s recording of “Finlandia” when we make the “Mrs” part official in May, so it has a sentimental importance to her.  Though when we listened to Live in London #1 and heard Hester Goodman’s rendering of “Teenage Dirtbag” as a ballad of adolescent lesbian angst, Mrs Acilius was so enthusiastic I wondered if she was about to suggest using that instead.  She assured me that her enthusiasm was strictly political, stemming from a conviction that sexual minorities need representation in music.  That she has a crush on Hester is purely by the way.  Here is an unflattering picture of Hester sitting next to George Hinchliffe that I could look at if I were in a jealous mood, which of course I never am.    


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(The following was originally posted by Acilius on 18 September 2008)

Via Weirdomatic:

Approaching the event horizon

Approaching the event horizon

More pix from this artist available at his website.

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Meet Your Makers


Virus (specifically, a Bacteriophage):


DNA or RNA is stored in the head until it is injected into a Bacterium. The 6 spider leg-looking things are tail fibers. Not all Bacteriophages have base plates and tail fibers.


 Bacteriophage Life Cycle:



Hmmm . . that’s a “life cycle”?

Sure looks like one.


 Beautiful, isn’t it?: 




That’s all very fascinating, but are they useful?

I mean are they REALLY useful.

Holy crap, are these things alive?

Seriously, are they ALIVE?

ACK! Kill it!


Viruses and Computers:

Viruses and the Event Horizon

How’d they do that?

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(The following was originally posted by Acilius on 18 July 2008, and is still the most viewed post in the history of Los Thunderlads.)

Ukulele Hunt’s latest video of the day showcases New Zealand’s Anna van Riel playing a nifty little tune of her own composition. 

She’s also on youtube as half of the acoustic duo Bellebird; here they play their song “Too Strong Daddy,” apparently in their living room.


Of course she’s on myspace; the videos are registration-only, but there’s music available on the home page. 


And the band’s myspace page has several free songs.



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Lonnie Loves Jesus, Kathryn Loves Lonnie


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(The following was originally posted by Acilius on 13 May 2008, as a note on the June 2008 issue of The Atlantic.)

A lively, pleasant read this month. 

Some articles about Barack Obama.  Joshua Green’s “The Amazing Money Machine” leads to the idea that no two successful presidential candidates use the same fundraising model. 

Marc Ambinder’s “HisSPACE”, about Obama’s ideas on using the Internet to make government operations more visible, contains this sentence:

Communication and transparency are virtues only up to a point; as students of bureaucracy know, both eventually become an enemy to efficiency. 

But of course it is precisely at the point where transparency becomes an enemy to efficiency that it becomes a virtue.  The last thing we want is a really efficient bureaucracy.  An inefficient bureaucracy is a nuisance, a waste, a headache.  A truly efficient bureaucracy can make life so easy for its clients that it leaves them no opportunity to achieve or create anything.   

Transparency is like all other institutions of democracy: worth everything in the fighting for, worth nothing once achieved.   Even a moderately efficient bureaucratic system can absorb the formalities of democracy and domesticate them thoroughly.  Nietzsche wrote about this several times.  In Twilight of the Idols, he issues his customary harsh dismissal of the institutions of liberalism (”reduction to the herd animal!”,) but does then qualify his contempt:

As long as they are still being fought for, these same institutions produce quite different effects; they then in fact promote freedom mightily.  Viewed more closely, it is war which produces these effects, war for liberal institutions which as war permits the illiberal instincts to endure.  And war is a training in freedom.  For what is freedom?  That one has the will to self-responsibility.  That one preserves the distance which divides us.  That one has become more indifferent to hardship, toil, privation, even to life.  That one is ready to sacrifice men to one’s cause, oneself not excepted.  Freedom means that the manly instincts that delight in war and victory have gained mastery over the other instincts- for example, over the instinct for “happiness”… How is freedom measured, in individuals as in nations?  By the resistance which has to be overcome, by the effort it costs to stay aloft. (from section 38, as translated by R. J. Hollingdale in the Penguin Classics version)

Needless to say I would not endorse any of this without reservation.  But I do believe that the proper growth of the human person requires freedom; that “the will to self-responsibility” is a major part of freedom; that freedom can exist only where all power has definite limits; and that the only thing capable of limiting power is conflict with an opposing power.  Conflict itself, not documents or other formalized procedures resulting from conflict, is what ensures freedom.   So in that limited sense I agree with Nietzsche. 

Gregg Easterbrook’s “The Sky is Falling” looks at the possibility of a disastrous meteor strike, analyzing as an example of inefficient bureaucracy NASA’s failure to live up to Congress’ mandates to map the inner solar system.  Locked into a metric which calculates success as a function of the number of astronauts deployed, the space agency wastes billions pointlessly repeating its Nixon-era triumphs, leaving undone work that might, quite literally, save the world. 

“In the Basement of the Ivory Tower” gives “Professor X” the opportunity to speak the unspeakable- some of the students he teaches in two-year colleges are wasting their time taking classes when they would be better off working.  Not that it’s their fault; jobs which never involve a bit of research or sustained sequential reasoning now routinely require four-year degrees. 


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Jesus Will Help You Stop Masturbating!




Simply buy this tee-shirt and wear it on the days you don’t masturbate.