October 09, 2006
After watching the trailer for 300 I know I want to see this movie. It's stylized like Sin City--no surprise since the film is based on a Frank Miller graphic novel. It looks like nothing Hollywood puts out. There's dramatic scenes but stretched to the limit with a mythic color palette.
September 28, 2006
Screech Sex Tape
Is this Screech's latest way to "save his house?"
He may have played nerdy eighth-grader Samuel (Screech) Powers in the sitcom "Saved by the Bell." But former TV geek Dustin Diamond can now take his place with Colin Farrell, Tommy Lee and Kid Rock as the star of his very own sex tape.
Screech's manager thinks the tape might help his career saying, "Dustin has been trying to escape the Screech typecast. So this may help me get more bookings."
We should have bought more t-shirts.
"Porn Star's Name May Ring a 'Bell'" [via Ace]
September 11, 2006
A Sad Instance of Depravity
I know any publicity is good publicity but it's sad so many have come to TAM by way of Google keywords, "crocodile hunter death video."
Please move along. Nothing like that to see here.
September 05, 2006
Battlestar Galactica Season Three Preview
To come back to Battlestar Galactica TV Squad got DVDs of the first four hours of season three. Keith McDuffee is happy:
Let me start by saying that you won't be disappointed. I admit I was afraid things were going to be pretty sketchy this season, with the show's creators taking a leap of faith by transplanting the series a year into the future. I'm extremely pleased at how well it's working, and there are lots of hints of promise for what's to come.
"Battlestar Galactica Season Three -- an Early Look" [via Netscape]
Battlestar Galactica "Webisodes"
Those cruel people at SciFi Channel are treating their Battlestar Galactica-addicted viewers like crack heads with ten "webisodes" leading to the 10.06 season premier.
"Funny" 9/11 Videos
You are a very debased individual to take Sep. 11 video, add the Benny Hill theme, speed up the tape to make it look like it something from the British comedy, and think that's funny.
Or how about making an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos with people jumping from the twin towers, planes crashing, people caked in dust, London terrorist attacks, and an audience laughing? Sick!
I suggest buying to renting a copy of United 93 and/or going to the bookstore and page through Joel Meyerowitz's Aftermath. Joel was the only photographer with unlimited access to Ground Zero.
September 01, 2006
Art Lovers "Scream" in Joy over Recovered Painting
Millions are relieved that Edvard Munch's The Scream can again be seen somewhere other than on a postcard at your nearest art museum gift shop.
"Oslo recovers its 'Scream'"
August 22, 2006
Sep. 11, 2001: A Photographic Rememberance
Vanity Fair has a photo essay of rare shots taken around New York City five years ago.
"Rare Scenes from 9/11"
July 25, 2006
Jennings' Jeopardy! Joke
Last week trivia king Ken Jennings wrote a humorous weblog post offering suggestions on how to improve Jeopardy!. The show should have catagories like "PlayStation," The Arby’s 5-for-$5.95 Value Menu," and Skanks from Reality TV Who Got Naked in Men’s Magazines." "Electric blue" should be replaced with "bright fire-engine red behind all the clues." And Jennings suggests the Alex Trebek cyborg should promoted legaized pot at the end of every show.
New York Post reporter Michael Starr took Jennings' bait hook, line, and sinker.
"Gift Horse, Meet Ken Jennings"
"Sense of Humor, Meet Michael Starr"
July 21, 2006
Battlestar Galactica Trailer
Here's Battlestar Galactica trailer for season 3. Wow! It's going to be good.
[via Ace of Spades]
July 07, 2006
Mainstream Totalitarian Chic
Michelle Malkin informs us that The North Face has taken totalitarian chic mainstream. For $65 your son, grandson, or nephew can have a CCCP (USSR in Cyrillic Russian) jacket complete with hammer and sickle. Just remember, communist fashion is chic (even progressive?) while Nazi gear makes you look as stupid as this man.
July 03, 2006
Australian Prime Minister Wants Big Brother Canceled
Australian Prime Minister John Howard wants Big Brother off the air after two men held a woman down and gave her a "turkey slap."
YouTube doesn't let me down and has the video:
I wouldn't call it a sex attack. It looks like baudy horsing around. The fact that many derive entertainment from shows like this is discouraging enough.
June 27, 2006
Spider-Man 3 Trailer
There's lots of comic book movie goodness in the latest Spider-Man 3 trailer. The black symbiant suit plays a starring role, and the Sandman and the Green Goblin, Jr./Hobgobblin will give Spidey fits. I'm worried the movie will have too many villians. My fear is it could wind up being Sam Raimi's version of Batman & Robin, an attrocious flick. I also fear Venom will make his appearance when his battle with Spider-Man deserves a movie all its own. But from what I've seen it looks pretty good.
June 04, 2006
Fashionably "Stuck on Stupid"
May 30, 2006
Other X-Men 3 Reviews
May 28, 2006
X-Men Has Great Box Office Opening
I did my part in making X-Men 3 the second-highest opening movie of all time. It was fun with it being full of action and wild scenes that make a comic book movie good. There were some surprises along with more heart than what I would have expected from a summer blockbuster.
"Movie Review: X-Men: The Last Stand"
May 27, 2006
FBI Investigates Illegal Access to Gossip Mags' Computers
Paparazzi competition may have reached a new low. The FBI confiscated the computer of a former Us Weekly editor to see if she used it to illegally access the magazine's computer systems. The NY Post's Page Six tosses ex-madam Heidi Fleiss' name in for good measure.
"FBI Probes Hacking Incident at Us Weekly"
"Former Us Staffer Especially Didn't Steal Info on Charlie Sheen"
May 26, 2006
Desparate Housewives Reality Clone Set for CBS Summer
It's sure to be "must-not-see-tv" for me.
"CBS Reveals the Identities of its Tuesday Night Book Club Women"
May 23, 2006
Getting My 24 Fix
The final two hours of 24 are safely on my computer. Yes, it's piracy but that's too bad. mininova is my friend. Thanks, Patrick.
BitTorrent has a long way to go to be a mainstream way to download content--even with a broadband connection it takes a while to download an entire show, but it got the job done.
My TiVo didn't talk very well with my cable box and failed to record the 24 season finale. I know it's sort of wrong but if anyone knows of a bittorrent for it I will give you a virtual peck on the cheek (a full smooch if you're female). Or else I just wait, buy it off iTunes and put up with the mediocre experience.
May 17, 2006
Assorted Hollywood Stuff
May 08, 2006
How to Really Protest
Jay Tea thinks the Vatican should get with the times and really do something to protest The Da Vinci Code:
1) Issue a death sentence against Dan Brown, the book's author.
May 03, 2006
Using the Word "Wetback"
If you're a Milwaukee radio talk yapper who calls Hispanics, "wetbacks" on-air you get suspended while protests outside the radio station call for your firing.
What will happen to Susana De Leon a University of Minnesota Mexican-American studies instructor? At a illegal immigration rally she said, "Yes, people from Europe are wet backs man... their backs so wet because they had to cross an ocean to get here."
"Calling White People 'Wetbacks?'"
Schools Sans Sodas
Soft drink companies have agreed to take their sugar-laden liquids out of public schools. Busy bodies will see this as the industry "taking responsiblity." It's just a way for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, et al to cover their rears for when some trial lawyer (or state attorney general) slaps a multi-billion dollar class action lawsuit on them for "targeting children" and making them get fat.
Deal is more symbolic than anything. "Financially, on the big companies, it will have virtually no impact," said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest.
For a little perspective I didn't encounter vending machines in school until high school (and I'm not that old). Some parents will be happy because their kids won't bug them more change for the soda machine. If kids really need their bubbly, cola fix the machines could start stocking Coke Zero. It's much better than Diet Coke.
Of all the people to talk about obesity President Bill Clinton, Mr. Krispy Kreme himself, isn't one of them. Self-control isn't his forte.
The impact on youth obesity will be minimal. Thirsty kids will wait until after school to get their high-calorie fix. But for Big Soda it's a defense against the inevitable lawsuit.
May 01, 2006
United 93 Review
Chaos. Uncertainty. Fear. On a cloudless day--at least in New York City and Southeast Wisconsin--on September 11, 2001 the nation was submersed in all three. The hijacking of four passenger planes threw air traffic controllers and the FAA for a loop. No one had violently taken over an American airliner in decades. When the first plane slammed into one of the Twin Towers news outlets thought it was a small aircraft not a jet filled with jet fuel that would burn through the tower's infrastructure causing its collapse. With a second plane crashing into the other Twin Tower, this time caught on live television, fears of a new war dropped on our souls. Only this war would play out on U.S. soil.
Imagine being on United flight 93. Because of a traffic delay at Newark Airport that flight's passengers learned what the end result would be of their hijacked flight. The movie United 93 tries to turn those awful events into a narrative that piques our emotions, patriotism, and intelligence. While taking artistic liberties the film shows us the power of individual initiative and self-sacrifice. It also shows a government ill-prepared on multiple levels.
For months teams of Islamist terrorists planned their attacks by gathering money, learning to fly commerical jets, and studying airport security weaknesses. They understood that in hijack situtations pilots and authorities assumed hijackers would offer demands for their hostages' release. Other than some novelists few envisioned terrorists would turn the planes into human-controlled cruise missles and crash into buildings. From the chatter of the air traffic controllers and the FAA staff the thought of a suicide mission never crossed their minds. Even when American Airlines 11 disappeared off radar and the first plane hit the north tower it took a while for both events to connect in people's minds. It was only then that the military began asking their superiors if fighter jets could shoot down other threatening planes. That there had not been an American hijacking in years made them slow to evaluate the situation, but there was also an understandable lack of imagination. No one person or organization has the mental capacity to plan and prepare for any situation. We were not in a war mindset.
The Cold War forced the United States to prepare for a large-scale world war on multiple fronts and/or a firey nuclear conflict. An age of triumphalism came with the death of the Soviet Union. Our leaders and the public did not see a major threat on the horizon. The Gulf War showed even regional powers were no match for the U.S. military. Terrorism was not on our radars. We tolerated hijackings and bombings as long as they were far away from the homeland. We even accepted an attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and Timothy McVeigh's bombing in Oklahoma City as law enforcement cases. It took the coordinated hijackings of four airplanes to make us realize war was again upon us.
The passengers on United 93 became the first soldiers to strike back. Upon learning via air phones and mobile phones the fates of the other airplanes they knew what the conclusion of their journey would be. It is as this point where artistic license has to be applied. Only God knows if Todd Beamer and his band reached the cockpit or if the Islamist pilot knew he would not accomplish his mission and drove the plane into a field. We know they were planning to retake the plane. They evaluated the situation, planned a strategy, and acted. Someone said, "Let's roll." In the movie the passengers gathered any item they could find as weapons. They quickly mentioned their individual strengths and skills. One man knew judo and could quickly break the arm of a terrorist. Another man knew how to fly single-engine planes. If they took control of the cockpit he might be able to land it. The act of making something out of nothing is so entrepreneurial, so American. Those patriots did not accept the status quo because it meant death, not just for them but for any innocents caught in building United 93 was targeting.
United 93 does have a problem with its timing: it did not come out soon enough. We should not have had to wait four-and-a-half years for a movie expressing the most important event of our lives. The September 11 attacks changed our nation's path. It brought us to war. Two invasions have occured because of those attacks. We fear the spread of WMDs more than ever. Oil prices have increased. For good or ill many debates now contain a terrorism element. We worry about balancing security with civil liberties. Those attacks have deeply affected all of us. Only in an age of therapeutics and Oprah emoting can one really say it is "too soon" for such a movie. The September attacks are forever a part of who we are. That cannot change. We should be a little like the United 93 passengers and make due with what is at hand, and deal with the world as it is.
April 30, 2006
United 93 Takes Second at Box Office
Robin Williams' comedy RV beat United 93 this weekend at the box office. Some of that I understand. Most of us usually go to the movies to be entertained, to get away from the stress of the week. I also think some are too afraid to remember those horrible images and feelings of Sep. 11, 2001. It sounds a little crass, but they need to be reminded. Now, I'm not one of those who wishes all the news networks would every night show the video of the second plane crashing into the south twin tower. However, every citizen needs to be reminded we are at war. Without the Sep. 11 attacks there would have been no invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq. We wouldn't be arguing about the Patriot Act or NSA spying. Iran getting nukes would still be important but the issue wouldn't be as vibrantly displayed on our television and computer screens. An occasional reminder becomes necessary or we start getting side-tracked by calls for intervention in places with little U.S. interest like Darfur.
"'RV' Passes 'United 93' to Win Box Office"
April 29, 2006
Upcoming United 93 Review
I saw United 93 last night. It's too late for me to finish the full review I'm working on. I will tell you I lasted until the plane went down into that Pennsylvania field. Only then did the tears well up in my eyes. That was when I was reminded those freedom fighters were the first to knowingly sacrifice themselves in the Islamist War.
For RightGirl the movie brought up a powerful emotion: hate.
The understading of what we were up against did not suddenly come to me on September 11th. It took months - probably till around the time of Bali, before I truly realized the evil we faced, and the direction it came from. But once I did, the seed began to grow. Some days I wonder how I have the strength to stand, the will to smile, the ability to carry on - when the hatred inside me burns to hot and so strong. Hatred. Unlike any I have known before. Hating three people is nothing compared to loathing an entire culture, religion, way of life. I tried to stop it. I tried to center myself, bring myself back from the edge. But I can't. And now I no longer want to. If the hatred is what will keep me focused on the defeat of those who wish to destroy the life we know, then that hatred is more than necessary.
Hate makes one do crazy things like hijack a plane and crash it into a skyscraper. But then we have one of Christ's toughest commands: Love thy neighbor as thyself. I have no answers to that conundrum. Loving someone who is working to destroy you and your society is certain suicide. Yet hating someone simply for worshipping Allah can't be a way to win the Islamist War.
April 27, 2006
Battlestar Galactica Prequel
Ron Moore has done such a great job with Battlestar Galactica that I'm willing to give him a chance to win me over with a prequel series called Caprica:
Caprica would take place more than half a century before the events that play out in Battlestar Galactica. The people of the Twelve Colonies are at peace and living in a society not unlike our own, but where high technology has changed the lives of virtually everyone for the better.
April 25, 2006
For 24 Fans...
I have it on good authority Defense Secretary Heller didn't survive driving his car into the drink.
April 23, 2006
The Soviet Union as fashion statement is alive and well in Hollywood. This guy wouldn't be caught dead wearing a swastika,
"Soviet Communism as Fashion Statement"
April 22, 2006
Go see The Sentinel. Keifer Sutherland plays an action hero that sounds and acts like Jack Bauer (except in a suit and tie), Eva Longoria looks really hot and doesn't have too many lines to ruin her role, and Michael Douglas does well as the improvising veteran. The story moves and there's plenty of action even though there are some plot holes. The flick is fun, and it should tie us 24 fans over until Jack Bauer hits the big screen.
April 20, 2006
Sep. 11 Film Reviewed
Steve Silver saw United 93 and calls it "a breathtaking film."
April 13, 2006
Spazzing Out Over Tiger
Tiger Woods has apologized for saying he was a "spaz" during his Masters play. In Britain spaz is considered a slur rather than the mildly negative word that it is in the U.S. Paralympian Tanni Grey Thompson said Woods was "a bit stupid saying something off the cuff in that way."
If anyone's spazzing out it's some hyper-sensitive Brits. The Telegraph went so far as to think U.S. newspapers covered up for Tiger.
So Tiger Woods has to be aware of every possible connotation anywhere on the planet for any word or phrase he utters? Give me a break! Start making the list so us insensitive, barbarian Americans can be politically correct even if we mean no offense. Cross off idiot, moron, maybe even goofball off the list.
Maybe after the violence from the Muhammed cartoons some Brits fear riots from those afflicted with cerebral palsy or paralysis. And don't tell the French some people call them "frogs." They might start rioting. Oh, wait...
"Woods Apologizes for 'Spaz' Comment"
April 09, 2006
Borders Underestimates Americans
Glenn Reynolds links to a newspaper editorial blasting Borders for giving into fear and not selling the issue of Free Inquiry that contains the Mohammed cartoons. The issue has been out for about a week. How many incidents have we seen? How many bookstores and news stands have burned to the ground by rampaging, angry Muslims? Zero. Zilch. Nada. At my bookstore there hasn't been an incident or even a concern by any customers. The issue sits on the stands just like any other magazine issue on any other month. Borders was beyond boneheaded. They failed to trust their customers and Americans (including Muslims) in general.
April 03, 2006
Tonight, at the store I saw a teenager decked out in his CCCP hoodie (similar to this). It was sporting the Soviet Union's hammer and sickle along with the four letters. It's interesting how that's considered a fashion statement but wearing a Nazi swastika is considered offensive even though Communism killed more people and caused more suffering than National Socialism. One totalitarianism is chic while the other is abhorred. Me, I hate all of them.
March 28, 2006
Sean Penn's Coulter Hatred
Like Sean Penn I'm not a fan of Ann Coulter, but I don't possess an Ann Coulter doll where I burn her "some funny places." I'll leave that to the flaky actor.
March 21, 2006
Dreaming and Polygamy
Ann Althouse has some questions about Sunday's episode of The Sopranos and Big Love. My concern is Tony's dream will go on and on. I liked the occasional episode where Tony dreams and it's filled with other characters and symbolism. In this dream the only familiar character is Carmela's voice. I don't want this to go on much longer. They should either wake him up or kill him--which they better not do. We need to get started with the mob war. From the preview for next Sunday's episode we see some of that. But without Tony playing his games and strategizing it won't be the same.
One more thing, I don't care if it's HBO, I don't want to see Tony's wound. Yuck!
I decided to watch an episode of Big Love to see if I'd like it. There's potential there. I immediately had a crush on wife #1, Barb. There's some interesting elements dealing with why Bill's religous beliefs require him to have multiple wives. Along with the voyerism is the mystery of Bill's past on a Mormon compound. Unfortunately that part feels like a Utah version of The Sopranos. Besides the curiosity of how a household can handle three wives I don't find much there to keep me watching Big Love.
"Questions after watching last night's Sopranos and Big Love."
March 09, 2006
No Choices for You
Soda sales are down across the United States. According to John Sicher of the "Beverage Digest" (what?) that is because, "people have a growing interest in beverages which are lighter and have actual or perceived functional benefit." Sure, maybe.
The key point here is that people are choosing not to drink soda.
Representative Chuck Benedict wants to take that choice out of your hands. (H/T Fraley)
The government is in your home, your gas tank, your paycheck, your television, your newspaper, (the list could go on) and now they want to be in your vending machine.
Where is the line? What will it take for the American people to stand up, refuse to be nannied any longer, and demand greater autonomy from our government? Is it going to take a complete Thoreau-esque revolution?
March 04, 2006
Oscar Night with Paglia
Skipping the Oscars will be more of a challenge this year. Camille Paglia will be doing online Oscar commentary at Salon.com. You know that won't be boring.
February 17, 2006
New Bond Girl
I approve (even though she is French).
"French Actress Eva Green Is New Bond Girl"
January 31, 2006
Coretta Scott King Dead at 78
Coretta Scott King worked with her husband to demonstrate that all people were equal under law. That despite efforts by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
"Martin was a very strong person, and in many ways had very traditional ideas about women," she told The New York Times Magazine in 1982. She continued: "He'd say, "I have no choice, I have to do this, but you haven't been called,' " "And I said, "Can't you understand? You know I have an urge to serve just like you have.' " Still, he always described her as a partner in his mission, not just a supportive spouse. "I wish I could say, to satisfy my masculine ego, that I led her down this path," he said in a 1967 interview. "But I must say we went down together, because she was as actively involved and concerned when we met as she is now."
For many, Coretta King was the closest thing possible to African-American royalty, from the regal way she carried herself to how others perceived her. Her image froze in the public's consciousness thanks to a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken at her husband's funeral. Beneath her black veil, she seemed dignified and stoic even as she consoled a grief-stricken 5-year-old Bernice.
"Coretta Scott King Dies at 78"
"Coretta Scott King, 1927-2006"
January 21, 2006
Belafonte Bellows Again
Harry "Banana Boat" Belafonte, we get it. You hate President Bush. Now, run off to the old washed up stars home and shut the hell up before someone shoves a banana up your posterior.
"Belafonte Continues Tirade Against Bush"
January 09, 2006
Claiming Criticism is Homophobia
If you don't like Brokeback Mountain you're a homophobe. At least that's what GLAAD thinks.
January 08, 2006
Doing Evil in God's Name
Fred Phelps and his band of fake Christians will be joyously celebrating the deaths of the Sago miners.
"The Surest Sign There May Be No God"
January 07, 2006
Union Defends Teachers' Classroom Copulating
After reading about two teachers having sex in a school I wasn't shocked. Teachers having sex with students shocked me so why should I be surprised teachers are getting it on in the classroom. It certainly brings new meaning to "sex education." I guess hotel rooms are getting too expensive. I'm only mildly shocked the two Pennsylvania teachers had other teachers stand outside the room as look-outs.
No, what really shocked me is the reaction of the teachers' union to the school district considering (only considering!) firing the teachers:
Pennsylvania State Education Association lawyer Robert Abraham said McKeesport lacks grounds to fire the teachers. The union represented Collins.
Having sex in a classroom was merely a "personal matter between two teachers." The look-outs were there to make sure they didn't get caught and probably also to "protect" students. Why stop there? How about blocking off sections of school and hold teacher swinging parties or mass orgies. Hey, how about bringing in farm animals to really spice things up?
Absurd! Absolutely. Just as absurd as a teachers' union defending teacher-on-teacher sex in a classroom. This union obviously doesn't understand proper, professional behavior. Hump away where ever you want as long as you don't affect students.
"Teachers Put on Leave over Classroom Sex"
January 04, 2006
Sorkin's Studio 7
I noticed this blurb about new TV shows in 2006:
Yeah, September is a long way off, and a lot of things could go wrong between now and then. But no TV show scheduled to make its debut this year is getting the kind of attention generated by "Studio 7," the new creation of Aaron Sorkin, back in the TV saddle three years after leaving "The West Wing."
I'm thinking Sports Night, Sorkin's first show, but without any references to--you know--sports. Sorkin's always had a way of picking a great cast. The careers of Peter Krause and Felicity Huffman prove that. I just hope Studio 7 doesn't become like The West Wing where every character talked in the same whizbang, super clever, rat-tat-tat manner. When I gave up on the show a few years ago I noticed you could put any character's line into any other character's mouth and it still made sense. They were all clones to Sorkin's pen.
December 10, 2005
Richard Pryor, R.I.P.
Richard Pryor died today. As with many cultural icons who have passed away I can't appreciate Pryor because I was too young to watch him perform. What I remember are his corny roles in Brewster's Millions and as unbelievable computer hacker in Superman 3. That's a shame because he was so influential. Lucky for me, Reihl World View has some audio of Pryor doing stand up. It takes tremendous talent to make so many laugh so hard while living a hard life. Godspeed, Richard.
"Goodbye to Richard Pryor"
December 05, 2005
You Can Say "Merry Christmas" at Sears
December 02, 2005
Hitchens on a Bad Day
Christopher Hitchens is great...usually. He was on Joe Scarborough's show (does anyone watch it?) to talk about Christmas trees. When Hitchens made his points he was eloquent and learned. He's an atheist and can defend that belief well. But Hitchens also showed off his bad side like when he wanted to turn the conversation into a Jerry Fallwell bitchfest. Sure, Hitchens' opposite guest works for him but tossing Fallwell's name in was just an ad hominem attack. Along with tossing in a rip on Intelligent Design, Fallwell's name didn't have anything to do with the topic at hand. Hitchens knows better.
"Scarborough v. Hitchens: Christmas (VIDEO)"
November 17, 2005
Ex-DH Actor Defends Himself
Last Sunday's Desparate Housewives finally got the second season revved up (tossing Gabrielle down the steps does that), but stuff going on outside the show is more juicy. Page Kennedy who played Caleb, a murderer locked in a basement, was taken off the show and replaced with another actor. Kennedy says the show's producer Touchstone "decided to go in a different direction, and they bought out my contract." Touchstone's official line is Kennedy was fired for "improper conduct." The National Inquirer claims Kennedy flashed two female co-workers. Neither were my obsession Teri Hatcher. Kennedy denies it and is working on clearing his name.
The challenge I have right now is trying to get the truth out as aggressively as they got the rumors out. That's the problem. If the truth isn't as juicy as the rumors, who cares?
He could always start a weblog.
"'Housewives' Actor Denies Rumors"
November 12, 2005
Robertson Hall of Shame
Kate at The Original Musings is as "pleased" with Pat Robertson's big mouth as I am. She goes on to make a Robertson Hall of Shame.
"Hey, Thanks Pat"
November 11, 2005
Here is the text some parents and the ACLU had problems with in Dover, PA school district:
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.
There wasn't an intelligent design curriculum. It was a four-paragraph statement. Yet the evolutionists went wild. The Scopes Trial II this wasn't. A town was torn apart and time and effort were wasted.
"‘Intelligent Design’ Faces First Big Court Test"
November 10, 2005
Pat, Cork It!
Dear Pat Robertson,
You're an idiot for telling Dover, PA citizens they shouldn't call on God if disaster strikes because anti-intelligent design school board candidates won election Tuesday. Saying, "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them," is quite unsympathetic, unloving, and, dare I say it, un-Christian.
Pat, your vision of God is stuck in the Old Testament where He went around destroying wicked cities. But even back then God sent His followers into those cities to give the people one last warning. I hope you don't think yourself on par with a prophet like Jonah.
It doesn't matter if intelligent design should or shouldn't be taught in public schools. It is certainly possible for a Christian to believe God uses evolution in the natural world and still accept the most important Christian tenet: salvation is only found through faith in Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church has created a big enough big tent to house both Darwinism and belief in an all-powerful God. Evolution has great explanatory and predictive power, and who's to say God didn't make the world appear to evolve from a Darwinian while still being around 10,000 years old? An all-powerful God can do anything including that. The point is not to be so short-sighted as to how God created us. However we got here we still should follow and love Him and love each other.
Whenever you run off at the mouth you insult the good image of millions of American evangelical Christians. You perpetuate the belief that all of them are wacked-out, stupid, loons. Such misperceptions have led to our current political polarization. Pat, you're not helping; you're hurting. Shut up!
"Pat Robertson Warns Pa. Town of Disaster"
November 04, 2005
Napoleon Dynamite Soundboard
November 02, 2005
Smokers' Endangered Habitat
When my grandchildren ask me about what life was like in 2005 one historical item I'll tell them is way back then you could still smoke outdoors. The kids will probably look at me dumbfounded. They'll assume I'm talking about grandma smoking her medcinal marijuana because of her arthritis. We'll soon live in a country where cigarettes will be legal to buy (no legislature has the guts to ban them) but illegal to light up. First, it was smoking bans in the workplace, then bars and resturants, now some want to ban smoking outdoors:
On Tuesday, Washington state voters will consider the first statewide ban on smoking within 25 feet of buildings that prohibit smoking. That would mean lighting up near offices, stores, theaters, restaurants and government buildings could bring a $100 fine.
This isn't about health, although the anti-smoking zealots will claim that. Breathing in some second-hand smoke while at an ATM for 30 seconds won't hurt anyone. They want to ban smoking outdoors because they don't want anyone smoking period. They don't like the smell (neither do I) or think smokers should be more healthy. Reason's Jacob Sullum is right that this creeping authoritarianism won't stop with beaches or office building entrances:
"If you ban smoking outside near a door or window, essentially you have no place to smoke except your own home - and maybe not even there," Sullum says. "What's next? Smoking in a house with children will be considered child abuse. Smoking around pets will be cruel to animals."
"Smoke-Free Zones Extend Outdoors"
October 26, 2005
A Sluggish Start
This season Desparate Housewives has been missing something. I thought it might be that its newness wore off. Marcia Cross might have it right that the characters' stories aren't as intertwined.
"I think it would be nice if we start spending a little more time together," said Cross, who plays Bree on the hit ABC series.
Something will have to happen with the crazy guy in the basement. Maybe Susan will take a road trip to Utah to find Zack.
"'Housewives' Backlash Doesn't Worry Cross"
October 21, 2005
When Reviewers Go Wild
Zagat reviewers aren't always nice. Slashfood has some quotes that didn't get into their guides.
October 19, 2005
Stick with the Original Manchurian Candidate
Those who worked on the special edition of the original verison of The Manchurian Candidate did a great job with the film. The remastering of the video and audio were outstanding. The picture was crisp and sharp. No film flaws were noticed. The sound was clear with no noticable pops or background fuzz. The film looked much like someone making a black and white film today. Cleaning up all the oldness let me concentrate on the story and acting. With its McCarthyism and Cold War overtones the picture is a cultural artifact. Still Frank Sinatra did well as the dream-tormented hero Ben Marco. But it was Angela Lansbury who stole the show as the evil mother/Communist agent who tried to use her brainwashed son to leap to power. The original movie's twists and turns and fine acting made it a much better movie than the anti-conservative, boring remake of last year.
September 22, 2005
At least in one instance political diversity isn't encouraged in Hollywood:
Actor Ron Silver says he has had fewer movie offers and dinner invitations since he parted political company with his Hollywood colleagues and spoke at the Republican National Convention last year.
"Silver Pays for His Politics"
August 14, 2005
Zero Stars and Thumbs Down
August 10, 2005
Jagger Jabs War Supporters
I'm shocked, SHOCKED! A rock star is an anti-war, anti-conservative lefty. Ho-hum. This is so 2004.
If Mick Jagger wants to call me a hypocrite for supporting the Iraq War he better offer a little more in than singing, "You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite/You call yourself a patriot, well I think you're full of shit."
Eric wonders if the song really is about President Bush or Jagger hyping the next Rolling Stones' tour. The Marshall Blog notes that the Stones will be on Monday Night Football (I hope someone told them it's on cable this year) and wonders if the NFL will drop them because of screaming from the "right wing blowhard consciousness." I like that phrase. It's more New Age than "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy." Matt Welch points out the mixed record of Stones' political songs.
"Stones Target 'Hypocrite' Patriots in New Song"
August 09, 2005
Find Another Dress
Another in a long line of examples of celebrity idiocy:
Christina Ricci wearing a see thru dress to something called the Rape Foundation is like Dakota Fanning wearing nothing but roller skates and a thong to a pedophile convention. It just sort of seems sarcastic. Almost like a dare.
And check out the neanderthal Ricci went to the event with.
"Christina Ricci is a Fan of Irony"
July 15, 2005
Coach Has Player Wacked
There's a cold ring of hell for this man:
A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so he wouldn't have to put the boy in the game, police said Friday.
Organized sports has gone wacko. I remember coaching basketball for grade school kids when I was a freshman in high school. Sure I wanted to win, but everyone was learning--including me. Never did I think of hurting a player--especially one of my own--in order to win. Someone call Tony Soprano to show Downs how a person really gets wacked.
"Coach Allegedly Paid Player to Hit Boy"
July 10, 2005
Poor Bronson Pinchot
You know your career as a celebrity has faltered when you are a "character" (they're not even real people anymore) on VH1's The Surreal Life.
July 09, 2005
Morgan Spurlock: proud member of the "public healty hysteria industry." Too bad he doesn't know what he's talking about (or maybe he does and doesn't care he's misinforming the public).
Sometime I'm going to go to McDonald's, buy two Big Macs and sit down to watch Super Size Me. In betweeen bites I'll be flipping Morgan the middle finger.
"The Big C"
July 05, 2005
Sharansky Supports IFC
Last month, I commented that Leftists were turning Ground Zero into a "perch to promote all their failed ideas instead of a place honoring the dead."
Democracy promoter (and President Bush's favorite international political thinker) Natan Sharansky sees the International Freedom Center as important in the "war on terror" (the Islamist War):
Because I see the war on terror in these terms, a cultural center at ground zero dedicated to the advance of freedom seems particularly appropriate. By demonstrating liberty's march and triumph both in America and around the world, such a cultural center could show how the weapon of freedom, honed over time by courageous individuals and nations, can be used to transform our world.
Sharansky trusts "Tom Bernstein and the rest of his team." I'm not so sure. We don't need another academic establishment ranting on and on about America's failures. Hell, isn't that what the universities do? The purpose of a freedom center should be how human freedom expanded despite all the obstacles in its way. I need to be convinced the IFC won't become a "blame America" center.
[I'm posting the entire piece below the fold because you have to subscribe to the NY Sun's website to read it. I was e-mailed the piece but will pull it if the newspaper objects.]
BY NATAN SHARANSKY
But September 11 was no random tragedy. It was a deliberate attack on the United States that turned ground zero into a battlefield in a terrorist war that is being waged against the entire free world. Therefore, one would think that a cultural center on the site of that battlefield would seek not only to memorialize the specific victims of that horrific day, but also to place the attack in the context of the wider war that is being waged.
To me, the battle lines in this war are clear. On one side stand those who have no regard for human life, who view individuals merely as tools to advance a wicked ideology, and who are prepared to use any means to achieve their goals. On the other side are those who hold human life sacred, who see human rights as essential, and who are not prepared to sacrifice life and liberty on any altar.
Equally clear to me are the weapons that are being employed in this war. For those who attacked America, terrorism and the blackmail that accompanies it are the most potent weapons. For America, the very democratic values that have been targeted are both a shield and a sword, since it is the advance of those values that will ultimately secure America.
While the war on terror features new protagonists, it is a war that has been fought before. It is a war between liberty and tyranny, between freedom and fear, between good and evil.
Because I see the war on terror in these terms, a cultural center at ground zero dedicated to the advance of freedom seems particularly appropriate. By demonstrating liberty's march and triumph both in America and around the world, such a cultural center could show how the weapon of freedom, honed over time by courageous individuals and nations, can be used to transform our world.
While the benefits of a cultural center dedicated to freedom are obvious to me, the concerns of many that such a center could turn into a "blame America" exhibit are understandable. I have seen how the once sacred concept of human rights has been twisted beyond recognition and used to bludgeon the free world, even by those who are genuine advocates for human rights.
Will those charged with building the International Freedom Center successfully accomplish this goal? After meeting several times and discussing these issues with Tom Bernstein and the rest of his team, I am confident that they will.
Ultimately, America will win the war on terror with the courage of its people and with the power of its ideals.I am confident that the center planned for ground zero will pay a lasting tribute to both, doing justice not only to the victims of 9/11, but also inspiring all those who cherish liberty to recognize the power of freedom to change our world.
June 30, 2005
Freedom Tower is a Failure
From what I've read about the redesign of the Freedom Tower in New York City it sounds like a 1776-foot tall bunker.
There are some notable changes in the design by architect David Childs, who planned the original structure: The lobby sits inside the base, a 200-foot-tall pedestal, sheathed in concrete, steel, titanium and other blast-resistant metals. And the building's perimeter has been shrunk to 200 feet, mirroring the size of each of the original twin towers.
My how...secure. Nice message to send to America's enemies: You knock down our buildings and we'll replace them with something tall we can hide in.
Visually the surface reminds me of the narrow, almost pinstripe lines of the Twin Towers. I never liked those. The protrusion at the top looks like something from a Soviet Social Realism painting. It's tall, stands out, and is iconic but not in a good way. This is San Francisco's Transamerica Building but without the grace. Modern architecture fails again.
"Tower Design Tweaked for Security"
War of the Worlds Review
Justin at Classical Values just saw War of the Worlds. He liked it:
This is quite simply the finest screen adaptation of H.G. Wells that I have ever seen. Ever.
It's time for me to listen to Orson Wells' radio version again. I got a recording for Christmas when I was a kid. I put it into my tape player. It scared me to death. My hands were shaking when I took out the tape. Oh was that good.
June 27, 2005
Eichmann's Biggest Fan
Ward Churchill must be a big fan of Adolf Eichmann. He likes tossing his name out:
Questioner: I think it's important when you're getting into a discussion of violence and appropriate violence and self-defense, of starting to look at what you're trying to build there, what you're trying to create—for example, fragging an officer, which you were talking about before, at the beginning of your talk, the sort of trauma that that inflicts on that officer's family back home is I feel like an important thing to take into account when you try to think about what your action is trying to accomplish in the first place. I really feel like I can articulate [my question] properly, but that's the general direction I'm heading with it.
[via Michelle Malkin]
June 17, 2005
I don't know how Madison didn't get on this list:
The regions with the 10 highest and lowest rates of marijuana use by residents 12 and over, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
What, is it too cold?
"We're Number One!"
June 14, 2005
Eugene Volokh reminds us that moral questions like when someone lives or dies can't be answered through the rational prism of science.
What rule we should use for deciding when someone should have the legal right not to be killed is not a scientific question. Applying the rule may be a scientific question; if we decide that only entities that have consciousness have the right not to be killed, then science can tell us whether John Smith has consciousness. But deciding on the rule is simply not a scientific issue: It's a matter of moral judgment, which science isn't equipped to provide. Science can't tell us whether the legal right not to be killed vests at conception, at viability, at consciousness, or at birth; nor can it tell us when the right dissipates.
Yes, Eugene is correct. Science doesn't answer all questions. I think a problem with what Eugene calls "scientific fundamentalism" is that those practioners haven't exposed themselves to enough non-scientific culture. Novels, poetry, music, art, and religion help us figure out what it means to be human. At least when Kass-critic Nick Gillespie took on Kass' Hawthorne selection he took him on with a selection of his own. That's not always the case with all members of the scientific fundamentalist crowd.
June 13, 2005
Paris Hilton giving up the public life? I'll believe it when I see it. Without her exploits Paris was just a too-rich kid. With her public life she's a too-rich kid that too many of us recognize.
"Paris Hilton Plans to Give Up Public Life"
Michael Jackson is a Free Man
Michael Jackson was acquitted on all counts. No surprise. Was anyone? And will a celebrity ever get convicted? Discuss.
"Michael Jackson Acquitted of All Charges"
UPDATE: Red at Scared Monkeys:
Does it really seem appropriate to cheer
UPDATE II: St. Wendeler at Another Rovian Conspiracy:
Now that Jacko is "not guilty," would any parent feel comfortable letting their kid stay over at Neverland?
The jury has reached a decision in the Michael Jackson trial.
This will be the first of probably only two TAM posts on Michael Jackson. I haven't followed the case, but I think he's a sick bastard who will probably be acquitted just like most celebrities are.
"Michael Jackson Jury Reaches Verdicts"
June 07, 2005
Leftists to Dominate Ground Zero
If Lefties have their way Ground Zero will be perch to promote all their failed ideas instead of a place honoring the dead:
The World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex will be an imposing edifice wedged in the place where the Twin Towers once stood. It will serve as the primary "gateway" to the underground area where the names of the lost are chiseled into concrete. The organizers of its principal tenant, the International Freedom Center (IFC), have stated that they intend to take us on "a journey through the history of freedom" -- but do not be fooled into thinking that their idea of freedom is the same as that of those Marines. To the IFC's organizers, it is not only history's triumphs that illuminate, but also its failures. The public will have come to see 9/11 but will be given a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond. This is a history all should know and learn, but dispensing it over the ashes of Ground Zero is like creating a Museum of Tolerance over the sunken graves of the USS Arizona.
This is what happens when you put the memorial underground instead of re-awakening grand sculpture as an art form. I put part of the blame on those who accepted that awful Oklahoma City National Memorial. Since New York is doing a fine job screwing this up I say leave the site barren.
June 06, 2005
Supreme Court Rules on Medical Marijuana
Drug legalization isn't one of the big issues for me, but I do find today's Supreme Court decision on medical marijuana interesting. The court ruled the federal government can prosecute patients who use marijuana for medical reasons. What I find strange is inconsistency toward substances. People can abuse marijuana. That's why many still support the ban. But other substances that have medical benefits can be abused yet are still legal. OxyCotin is one. That drug is a powerful pain killer, but its best-known abuser is Rush Limbaugh. So according to the Supreme Court OxyCotin remains legal but marijuana isn't merely because of a Congressional act. I haven't read the opinion so this may be constitutionally logical without being everyday-life logical.
"Court Rules Against Pot for Sick People"
UPDATE: Captain Ed praises the Stevens-led majority for their "judicial restraint and conservatism" and chastises Renquist, Thomas, and O'Connor for advocating judicial activism.
"SCOTUS Harshes Everyone's Mellow"
UPDATE: Lots of smart weblogging legal minds are going over the case at SCOTUSblog. Just start at the top and read down.
Ali G Question
This may be the first time Ali G has ever been mentioned on TAM. I've never watched the HBO show until I was channel surfing last night. It was the 2003 episode where Ali G interviewed Newt Gingrich. That interview was pointless because Ali G looked like an idiot and Newt didn't make an ass out of himself. I'm more interested in the segment from NYC's fashion week. Some guy named "Bruno" was making some of the city's top designers look like complete idiots who's only talent is selling ugly clothes to a gullible public. Through some simple editing these designers were contradicting themselves and saying outrageous things like what a sense of style Osama bin Laden has and if you don't have a "fashion sense" you don't belong in NYC. There was one tasteless scene where a designer didn't mind Bruno uttering a Holocaust joke.
Does anyone know of a transcript to this show or a video clip of this segment?
June 05, 2005
What Illegal Substance Do They Have in There?
Jay might not realize it but he gives us first-hand information that Starbucks is indeed a cult. Why else would someone wait patiently for 15 minutes for a frappucino, a "heart attacks in a creamy glass?"
"Saturday Night Frap Rush"
June 02, 2005
Not Weird Enough
The art world is screwed up when a "normal" painter stirs controversy for being "conventional."
The teachers unions and public school backers should be happy with this year's National Spelling Bee winner, Anurag Kashyap. He goes to a public school. Pat Buchanan and immigration opponents will not be pleased.
Has winning the National Spelling Bee been a precursor to future fame? Or do these winners end up being unknown savants?
May 30, 2005
I Hate Che
And unless you're an Audioslave/Rage Against the Machine fan with a poster of the ruthless Communist hanging in your dorm room you should too.
Lutheran in Name Only
Last year, Rev. Thorkild Grosboell was removed as Danish Lutheran pastor for declaring "there is no heavenly God." He has now revewed his vows and is back in his church.
I'm confused. The AP writes,
On May 20, Grosboell renewed his clerical vows before Lindhardt, but said his views about God remain unchanged.
But the Washington Times writes,
Pastor Thorkild Grosboell repeated his oath and said he did actually believe in God and even signed two documents to that effect, Bishop Jan Lindhardt said.
Then we have the Chicago Tribune reporting,
Rev. Thorkild Grosboell promised he would be faithful to the "apostolic belief" but did not retract comments he made in a 2003 interview in which he said "there is no heavenly God."
It sounds like Rev. Grosboell will just go through the motions to support his flocks' "apostolic belief." What kind of a leader will he be since he doesn't believe what he's preaching? In a post-modern way this makes total sense. Belief is removed from the its occupation. Being a minister is no longer a vocation. It's just a job like any other. By this thinking a Catholic could just as easily be a Danish Lutheran pastor. Heck, even a Muslim could do the job. We wouldn't want to discriminate. Danish Lutheranism is more screwed up than anyone thought.
[via preach for food]
May 24, 2005
Now "That's Hot"
A Paris Hilton hamburger commercial has ticked off the Parents Television Coucil for being too racey. Hot it is, and I don't think Paris is very sexy.
May 23, 2005
Lucas Sucked More Cash Out of Me
I just saw Revenge of the Sith for a second time. I still liked it even with Natalie Portman's awful performance, the stilted dialogue, and the too busy battle scenes. The moment when Anakin and Obi-Wan clash before the lava fountain is so gorgeous. It's one of the best visuals in Star Wars' history.
May 22, 2005
The Corner's resident curmudgeon hated Revenge of the Sith.
May 21, 2005
Fans' Problems with Prequels
Like many Star Wars fans Jonathan Last doesn't like Episodes I-III. He's gone so far as to dub them a "failure." I can't go into it right now, but if you've read all the books of Issac Asimov's Foundation series you can understand the weakness inherent with going backwards in any popular story.
"The Last Star Wars"
Oodles of RotS Reviews
May 20, 2005
Revenge of the Sith I Like
Star Wars is now complete. Revenge of the Sith the greatest Star Wars movie it is not. But it did tie up plenty of loose ends. Visually it has gorgeous backgrounds and amazing computer animation. But Lucas went overboard in the big battle scenes. Too much was happening. Ships and battle droid zipping all over so fast made it hard to focus on anything. There was just too much stimulation.
The acting was uneven. Typical of Star Wars, but it doesn't hold the movies back. Hayden Christensen surprised me with the emotion and conflict he radiated from his Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader character. It wasn't a stunning performance in any sense of the word--he seems to jump too quickly into full-bore hate of Obi-Wan after having his legs sliced off. A final moment of last-chance redemption would have been perfect in that scene. While I was pleased with Christensen's performance Natalie Portman pumped out a cardboard cutout role as Padme. Lucas could have just made the character completely CGI and it would have had more emotional depth than Portman demonstrated. In her hands Padme regressed from the selfless, brave, creative Queen of Naboo into a secret, pregnant wife in desparate need of a hug and some Prozac.
One of George Lucas' themes of the Star Wars movies is how a democracy devolves into authoritarianism. In Lucas' world here's what you need to transform a democracy into a dictatorship:
If this is what worries George Lucas then he hasn't much to fear from President Bush.
Sith is deserving of a few more theater visits. Mainly because the the battle scenes are so busy you can see more and more with each viewing. Also you can find more little details that tie up Episode III with the second half of the series.
May 18, 2005
Jason at Libertas reviews Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and puts the film in context with George Lucas' Bush bashing. Here's a key quote:
My sense is that in 30 years or so, when we’re looking back on this film the same way we now look back at the original Star Wars , the film’s minor ‘political’ touches will no longer even be noticed. No one will be talking about what the film ’says’ about the Iraq War or President Bush. The film will be recognized largely for what it is - a piece in the very large ‘Star Wars’ puzzle, and a piece that fits rather well. In his more sober moments, Lucas himself has said as much.
No midnight showing for me this time around. But I will be catching it tomorrow night. If you're watching it late tonight send me an e-mail or leave a comment on what you thought of it.
But Jason's review hasn't convinced Dirty Harry to see it.
The Dark Lord of the GOP
Star Wars as a modern parable? Please. It's entertaining escapism. Too bad George Lucas is taking his franchise too seriously. It's too late for me to be inspired and I have no photoshop talent, but help out Patrick Ruffini.
"Photoshop Contest: Darth W. Vader?"
May 03, 2005
Lucas' Entrails All Over the Place
Jim Geraghty just shreds George Lucas. Hey George, stick to the movie making not the psuedo-politics.
"Insert Your Favorite 'Lucas Turning to the Dark Side' Joke Here"
April 26, 2005
American Catholics Back Benedict
If I read any more stories about how liberal Catholics are ticked that conservative Pope Benedict XVI was elected I'll hurl. Over 80% of American Catholics polled were supportive of Benedict's election. Even a majority of the "modernizers" i.e. liberals backed him.
April 23, 2005
Junk the Jesuits
Maybe because it's late but Erick Erickson, a Prebyterian, calling for Pope Benedict to "cut off" the Jesuits is hysterical. Who'd have thought the election of an orthodox Catholic would do more to earn the respect of some Protestants than the Counter-Reformation?
"Benedict the Bad Ass Part II"
April 21, 2005
A More Conservative Christianity
Mark Hasty is not a instant pundit (as opposed to an instapundit) but his take on Pope Benedict XVI is important:
In fact, I think John Paul II’s papacy gave tremendous credibility to the notion that Christianity itself is growing more conservative as the distance from both Vatican II and the tremendous societal upheaval of the 1960s increases. JPII’s papacy wasn’t the end of an era, but rather the beginning of one–one in which the Roman church would care less and less about the world’s approval. This change made strange bedfellows of the Roman church and conservative American protestants, as the two groups found they had more in common with each other than either group had with the great mushy middle of American Protestantism and the last twitching remnants of European Christianity. Consequently, it’s fair to say that the social-justice-based ecumenical movement, which has been with us for about fifty years, got completely overshadowed by an ad hoc coalition of disparate religious factions. The Catholics and evangelicals have created more true church unity than the World Council of Churches could ever dream of–this despite the fact that the Catholic/evangelical alliance hasn’t produced any formalized agreements like we mainline Protestants are fond of.
"Receive the Benediction"
April 19, 2005
Why don't liberal American Catholics start their own church?
"Go Your Separate Ways"
Reaction to Pope Benedict
Andrew Sullivan isn't happy which probably means Benedict's election is a good thing. He immediately mocks Benedict with the moniker the "Grand Inquisitor."
Professor Bainbridge points out Sullivan is just obsessed with sex.
Michelle Malkin has oodles of links.
Captain Ed: "Benedict XVI's elevation pleases me."
UPDATE: Jonathan Last is collecting Lefty variations on a theme: that Benedict is a radically conservative Pope.
Mark Klimer: "I am not a Catholic, but I feel Christianity strengthened by the refusal of the Catholics to bend and succumb to the whimsy of the secular press."
UPDATE II: Bryan Preston: "One of the things Ratzinger's been called is "God's Rottweiler." Actually that's not too bad. I guess if he had a blog masthead it might actually look a lot like ours at JYB."
Patrick at My View of the World:
Someone please remind the American Media that American Catholics only make up about 7% of the Church and the “problems” they keep focusing on is (married priests, women priests, abortion etc.) are only differences held by a portion of the American Catholics, so it is a tiny percentage of Catholics world wide.
Ace is in total "mock Andrew Sullivan" mode.
Erick Erickson wants to give Pope Benedict a not-so-holy moniker. Much better than Sullivan's "Grand Inquisitor."
UPDATE III: More Patrick from My View of the World:
I think it is terrible that the American media is already criticizing the new Pope in their sly, backhanded way. The only way the American media would have been happy is if they would have selected a religiously weak man. One willing to cave on the things that they, the media, deem important. These “important items” include, but are not limited to birth control / abortion, the role of women in the church, stance on homosexuality & gay marriage, euthanasia, moral relativism etc.
Lakeshore Laments: "It seems to me at least, that the MSM seems to want a Protestant running the Catholic Church."
Hours from the white smoke and tolling bells, the debate rages about just what kind of Pope Benedict XVI will be. On one side is mainstream media, with its one-sided, kneejerk portrayal of the "ultraconservative", "doctrinaire" Ratzinger. The tawdry spectacle tonight on CNN and MSNBC reminds me of a political campaign where the task is to define the opponent before he defines himself, and I know a thing or two about what that looks like. We can be sure that had the ideological mirror image of Benedict been elected, gone would be the words "divisive" and "controversial," replaced by fawning labels like "open", "moderate" and "breath of fresh air." We know that the press views itself as an ipso-facto Opposition. If so, is the Holy Father now the enemy?
April 18, 2005
Close But No Cigar
Phil Mitchell a Colorado University professor is claiming to be pushed out of his job because of his ideology. No need to get into the whole business of why Mitchell is leaving CU. What's done is done. I'm more interested in one of his suggestions to inject conservatism into university culture. Mitchell told a Colorado state legislative committee that affirmative action for conservatives is needed. I'm no fan of affirmative action based on race so I'm not keen on ideological AA. An institution is seriously ill when it resorts to giving advantages in hiring and admissions based on sex, race, or ideology. As a conservative I believe in the primacy of the individual. Individuals should be judged as such regardless of sex, race, or ideology.
A much better idea was Mitchell's suggestion that students receives vouchers to use at any place of higher education. Let market forces decide the best way for colleges to pick their students and instructors.
"Instructor has Parting Words for CU"
April 17, 2005
Reat Matt's take on a "new" phenomenon "discovered" by the NY Times.
"So Apparently I'm...Kinda Gay?"
April 16, 2005
The infection of post-modern gibberish has spread beyond the humanities and the social sciences. Some MIT students put their research paper-generating computer program to work and got a fake paper accepted to a computer science conference. Alan Sokal pulled a similar stunt. He threw a figurative pie on the face of the "academic" journal Social Text in 1996 with his fake paper "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity." (You're in good shape if you toss "hermeneutics" around liberally.) When Sokal told the world his paper was a hoax he wrote:
What concerns me is the proliferation, not just of nonsense and sloppy thinking per se, but of a particular kind of nonsense and sloppy thinking: one that denies the existence of objective realities, or (when challenged) admits their existence but downplays their practical relevance.
A computer-generated paper like that by Jeremy Stribling et al show that at least one computer science conference either has incredibly lax standards or the subject has gotten so convoluted at the academic level its research is useless.
April 11, 2005
Other than liking home improvement projects guys like me might be "in" again.
"Manly Man Back In Fashion?"
April 07, 2005
Take a Nap
You better do it now if you want to watch Pope John Paul II's funeral live and still function the rest of the day.
April 06, 2005
Nerds, Dweebs, Geeks
Only the fans are lining up outside of the wrong theater.
Saturday, 46 days before "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" opens on May 19, the trilogy's enthusiasts began their vigil outside Grauman's Chinese Theater.
The last two films did open there, despite rumors to the contrary. But, according to the article, this time the rumors that the film is opening down the street have a bit more truth to them.
I hope that Triumph will make a return to the line of geeks this year. His trip to the line of folks waiting for "Star Wars - Episode II - Attack of The Clones" was one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen. Ever.
April 04, 2005
Lose the Cell Phone
Lexi Phillips answered the call of nature and soon heard an alarming splash: Her cell phone toppled into the toilet.
Me, I've never brought my cell phone into the bathroom. Why?
What gets me, is the people who take care of business while they're taking care of business. Countless times, especially when I am at the local office, people have come in to the restroom as I'm in there, talking away on their cell and while they are at the stand-up they are still carrying on in coversation. The stand-ups auto flush, so the caller has to hear it, along with hearing the sink running and paper towels ripped off the dispenser afterwards. Can't you, at least for the sake of the caller on the other end, excuse yourself from the phone call for a couple minutes?
[Sean replies: Too many people have become addicted to their cell phones. People aren't considerate enough to end a call or ignore the ring while being served at stores. (Can't miss the call? I thought that's what voice mail was for.) If they had their way they'd implant them into their bodies. That way they'd never lose the darn thing, and they'd always be connected. When Matrix-like shunts (but wireless) become technically possible people will actually pay a premium to have them installed/implanted. That brave new world will be voluntary and a total nightmare to those of us who don't feel the need to talk to someone every waking moment.]
April 03, 2005
Stupid Pope Poll
It's all well and good Americans love and respect Pope John Paul II. But for 67% of poll respondents to claim he's "One of the Greatest" Popes ever is ridiculous. John Paul may be I don't know, and neither do a vast majority of Americans and even American Catholics. I want this poll question asked, "Name a Pope other than John Paul II." Few would be able to. The Catholic Church is over 1500 years old. With America's lack of knowledge of her own history we can't take seriously historical analysis of a subject most Americans have never encountered. I don't blame the respondents as much as USA Today, CNN, and Gallup for asking such a stupid question.
"Survey Reveals Affection, Respect for John Paul"
This is the late Pope John Paul's moment. It shouldn't be a time of saddness but of rememberence of all the good he brought to the world.
I want to reinforce Hugh Hewitt's observation about Christiane Amanpour's twisted set of priorities. On Friday night, she was on Charlie Rose. I swear in the ten minutes she was interviewed she mentioned John Paul's "conservative theology" at least five times. She mentioned that much more than his work to defeat Communism or to spread the Gospel across the globe. She talked about the liberal direction the Catholic Church was moving until John Paul became Pope and how it will have trouble becoming more liberal because of the Pope's appointment of so many conservative cardinals. She wasn't seething, but you thought someone hijacked her church (I don't know if she's Catholic) for 26 years.
[via Professor Bainbridge]
April 01, 2005
The Pope's Final Hours
The Pope is near death, and I don't have anything to say. What's strange to me is I know more about the leader of the Catholic Church, but I can't name the man at the top of my church, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Part of that is due to Pope John Paul II's name constantly in the news. Another is the different structures of the churches. The LC-MS isn't as hierarchical as the Catholic Church. Our churches have much more autonomy financially and operationally. We Lutherans don't depend as much for instruction from "on high."
Pray that Pope John Paul II dies peacefully, and that the world is blessed with another who can be as great.
"The Legacy of Pope John Paul II"
"Requiescat in Pace"
March 21, 2005
Bill is Now Law
At 1:11 AM ET, President Bush signed the bill sending Terri Schiavo's case to federal court.
March 15, 2005
When someone dies Gregg Easterbrook thinks Christians mourning is somehow a conflict with their beliefs. Ross Douthat (read his great book) gently counters Easterbrook's view. Let me add that when someone dies Christians mourn for the loss of that person. In a way our death ritual is a selfish act for those still living. We cry because the person who died is no longer with us. We no longer can enjoy their presence here on Earth. This is how Douthat puts it:
But even for a Christian, death is 1) an obscenity, the fruit of sin and the defining characteristic of a fallen world and 2) a bereavement, a separation from someone we love.
March 02, 2005
Bring Back Kim!
I don't care if 24 is conservative or liberal. It's still an awesome show. And I disagree with both Mr. L and Mr. C: bring back Kim for the eye candy alone. Season 4 is really good, but it needs some hot babes.
"24: Liberal or Conservative?"
February 27, 2005
I'm shocked the Oscars ended by 11:00 CST. Here's what you need to know: some movie you didn't watch won for best picture; some actors won for performances you didn't see; and The Incredibles won.
As for Alien vs. Predator it wasn't pathetic bad. It wasn't great though. For a movie starring aliens and predators there were too many humans in it.
There will be no liveblogging of the Oscars at TAM. That awards show takes the cake for being long and drawn out. I don't care who's wearing what dress by whatever designer. I don't care who thanks who after winning whatever award. I'll just be watching the wires to find out who won. Since I've seen none of the nominees for best picture I have no one to root for.
Just to be anti-Oscar, I'm going to rent Alien vs. Predator, and "waste" my time watching monsters kill each other.
For those who care about the Oscars Michele threatening to liveblog it while Ann Althouse is doing it. Ann spotted the first radical chic moment when Carlos Santana showed off his Che Guevera t-shirt. Better them than me. I think she should just stick to cooking. Michele, when are you going to invite me to dinner?
"Fun and Games With Oscar"
February 23, 2005
Lileks: Radio God
When living in the Twin Cities (I called it "The Cities" like any Minnesotan) I found James Lileks on KSTP. I don't remember if he was only on Saturday nights or if he also did weeknights. That's not important. What is important is I knew quickly I was listening to the funniest man I ever heard on radio. He had such deadpan, and Lilkes made funny yet obvious points. Hooray for me and for everyone on the net. Lileks has reopened the diner.
February 21, 2005
"4 More Years"
You're welcome Dean. Now, go sing to those Kossacks.
February 19, 2005
Summers Releases Speech
Harvard president Larry Summers was man enough to release his infamous speech on women in higher education. Eason Jordan and the World Economic Forum still have shown no desire to release the tape of his remarks. Strange for a man who claims to have been misinterpreted and who quit his job. I think we know what's on that tape.
Going back to Summers, he's late in doing so, but releasing his speech is a good thing. We can pick apart what he actually said. Now, it won't stop those nitwits who want to take Summers down for not properly towing the politically correct line, but more information available is better than less.
"The Lingering Furor and the Deepening Rift"
February 18, 2005
The Star of CPAC
On the first day of CPAC the "star" of the whole conference is the lovely Namrata Singh Gujral.
It helps to be gorgeous, but she's also excited about the power of weblogs. She's not only an actress but is president of American Pride Films Group. The company's goal is to "present a positive image of the United States of America to the world." I will be interviewing Namrata tomorrow. One question I'll ask her is will her company sacrifice good stories to have a pro-America slant? Will these films end up feeling like Family Channel-like pro-America propaganda? Ok, that's two questions. Have any of your own for Namrata? E-mail me or leave a comment.
Robert Cox agrees with me that Namrata is the "hottest looking woman at CPAC." Ann Coulter, eat your heart out!
Namrata was warned that she will be writing her first weblog post tomorrow, and TAM will be the place.
February 15, 2005
A Festering Wound
On how Ward Churchill demonstrates the bankruptcy of diversity-seekers at universities, University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos writes,
The University of Colorado hired Churchill onto its faculty because he claimed to be an American Indian. Anyone who has the slightest familiarity with research universities can glance at his résumé and state this with something close to complete confidence.
No wonder U of C so quickly began an investigation that could lead to Churchill's firing. They want him to vanish so we can't talk about how a failed quest for ethnic diversity landed a hatemonger an (almost) permanent seat at the academic table.
Stephen Karlson offers evidence of how majors and journals are created, not to advance knowledge, but to advance the "Diversity Boondoggle."
February 11, 2005
Should We Even Bother?
Ann Althouse asked me if I'm helping Ward Churchill get the attention he craves. (I have a feeling she is quite adept in the classroom.) Unfortunately the answer is "yes." Next month, he'll march to Whitewater as the far Left hero challenging Red America, capitalists, conservatives, and all to the right of him. He'll be a possible martyr because newspapers, news channels, talk radio yappers, and weblogs are focused on him.
But Churchill is something that interests me. The only real rule I have on TAM is I have to write about stuff I find interesting. Churchill's interesting. Discovering that a man spouting hateful rhetoric is a tenured professor is interesting to me. Thus it's something I write about on TAM. But should I? Giving Churchill all this attention exposes his hateful, anti-American views to a wider audience. Until recently, no one heard of him and his "little Eichmans" essay that was written shortly after the Sep. 11 attacks. The world kept spinning with the public's ignorance of his views.
King Banian writes for those who believe in countering speech with speech:
If we believe, as I do, that the only answer to hateful speech is more speech, Churchill provides you with your opportunity to practice your faith. I hope you'll take it. It's hard work, of course, because the group around you may be hostile, and your nerves may be shaky.
While doing the whole speech vs. speech thing is exciting it draws more attention to the egomaniac Churchill. More speech plays into his hands.
At this point with all the publicity surrounding Churchill, I could simply state the question is moot. He already is getting tons of press, and TAM's small (but growing) contribution will add little additional awareness. It's not a satisfactory answer. So I'll open it up to my readers.
February 09, 2005
As Michelle Malkin puts it:
Looks like his future is all set as a liberal campaign activist, tenured professor, or perhaps a major international news network exec.
"Kid's Bush=Hitler Art Gets an 'A'"
February 08, 2005
Soviets Honored In L.A.
A monument honoring ex-Nazi soldiers would be incredibly controversial, but one devoted to Soviet soldiers is reported on as just another monument raising. As The Black Book of Communism makes clear communism killed many more than Nazism.
February 06, 2005
Owens and Churchill
Colorado governor Bill Owens has been mentioned as possibly running for President. The story about Ward Churchill's anti-American statement is just making Owens look wild-eyed.
Early editions of the Sunday Denver Post reported Churchill gave another magazine interview in which he was asked about the effectiveness of protests of U.S. policies and the Iraq war, and responded: “One of the things I’ve suggested is that it may be that more 9/11s are necessary.”
Owens thinks Churchill committed treason? Churchill describing Sep. 11 victimssaid as "little Eichmanns" was obnoxious. But it wasn't an action taken to bring down the United States government. It's not like Churchill was in cahoots with al Qaeda to attack the twin towers.
UPDATE: Add Steven Taylor to the list of those who don't want Churchill fired for what he said. His lengthy post goes into tenure, a professor's work ethic, and the role of a professor in a university. I rarely say this but the discussion following his post is a must read. In it Steven makes the all-important point that tenure "is the best protection of academic freedom that I can think of." Tenure critics can't just get away with saying it's bad. They have to make a case that an alternative to tenure would be better for a univerisity, its students, and professors.
January 25, 2005
Shows What I Know
No Mel vs. Moore at this year's Oscars. Good rule of thumb: don't put money down on my predictions.
Too Harsh on Dobson
I'm not interested in the "gay" angle to SpongeBob, and as an editor and reporter on this site I have no interest in gay marriage, gay rights or any of the other social controversies that so exercise Dobson. I think Dobson and his allies are very foolish to treat what sounds like a bland grammar-school video as a threat to American values; I think it is execrable that he should try piggybacking his social agenda onto innocent cartoon characters and their innocent creators.
And then there's a statement from Focus on the Family.
Based on this Dobson hasn't already turned into another Jerry Fallwell, but I won't be surprised if he does.
January 23, 2005
Johnny Carson, R.I.P.
In Heaven an angel just said, "Heeeeere's Johnny!"
Television legend Johnny Carson died this morning of emphysema. To me late night television will always be Carson's realm. He ruled his domain with charm and humor. After he left the Tonight Show in late night was not the same. Neither Leno, Letterman, or O'Brien have the same sense of timing and ability to interact with the audience. Michael Ventre writes,
The day television died was May 22, 1992, when Johnny Carson hustled out of a Burbank studio, leaving tear-soaked cheeks, 30 years of memories and a void that could never be filled.
I'll remember the golfswing and Carnak's envelopes sitting on Funk & Wagnals' porch. His comedy was risque enough to be primarily for adults but not raunchy.
"Late-Night King Johnny Carson Dies at 79"
UPDATE: There's some nice tributes to Johnny around the blogosphere:
January 20, 2005
Dobson Morphs into Fallwell
Earlier this month I worried that James Dobson would "turn into a conservative Christian windbag like Jerry Fallwell." He didn't even last a month. Dobson's going after SpongeBob SquarePants for being a gay symbol. Whether it is is debatable. It's Tinky Winky all over again. Captain Ed thinks Dobson, as a Christian conservative leader, has a responsiblity not to be goofy.
"Conservatives Pick Soft Target: A Cartoon Sponge"
January 18, 2005
"You're Fired!" But with a Melody
Donald Trump and Mark Burnett are considering an Apprentice musical. Since I don't like either Trump's show or musicals this has to be one of the worst combinations in recent memory. Now, a musical based on Trump's comb over...that could have potential.
"Trump, Burnett Weigh 'Apprentice' Musical"
UPDATE: A new Rambo movie is just as bad.
January 12, 2005
Queer Eye for the Straight Girl
You're telling me Bravo could only find one lesbian for their new make-over show?
January 10, 2005
What Color is 24?
Cam wonders if 24 is going red--red state, not communist. I'd argue the show has never been blue state. Sure, President Palmer was a Democrat, but he was a get-tough, Joe Lieberman kind of Democrat. Howard Dean, M.D. he wasn't. In all three previous seasons Jack Bauer acted in ways that would make your typical blue stater march in protest in the streets. All this despite executive producer and leading man, Kiefer Sutherland, being an anti-administration Lefty (find his appearance on Charlie Rose last week).
"A Red State Drama?"
January 03, 2005
The Tsunami Hymn
The hymn's author's heart was in the right place. It's an attempt to empathize with the victims while asking the age-old question, "Why?" But the aesthete in me cringes. "Tsunami," "economies," and "sewage" need not be sung. It is better poetry than most rap.
"The Elephant in the Living Room"
Michele posts about Napoleon Dynamite:
Me, I loved it. In fact, it quickly moved up the ranks into my list of all time favorite movies. I just love the way it could have devolved into a cliched, feel-good-movie-of-the-year at so many points yet never did.
I too liked Napoleon Dynamite:
Despite being the most extreme dork in movie history he's more comfortable in his own skin than any other character in the movie. His older brother spends his days plugged into chatrooms yapping with his cyber-girlfriend. When she comes to Idaho to visit she transforms him into Eminem. Napoleon's uncle Rico can't get his mind away from high school football memories. Even Napoleon's grandmother tries to recapture her youth by motoring around sand dunes. Napoleon just chugs along asking a popular girl to the dance and helping his friend Pedro run for student body president. He doesn't try to live up to the expectations of others or relive a past that didn't exist. He's simply a good friend. In Napoleon Dynamite we have a movie that is touching, but not sentimental. Plus, it's incredibly funny.
"I Caught You a Delicious Bass"
December 19, 2004
Many months ago Milt Rosenberg was kind enough give me notice of a paper by Dr. Steve K. Dubrow-Eichel on on how smart people, scholars, can be fooled. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies and Uri Geller fooled Stanford scholars into thinking he could bend spoons with his mind.
The ideas in this paper go beyond just social psychology research. They can be applied to the political arguments of our day. How did NY Times editors let Jayson Blair get away with his fake stories? How do Bush bashers walk away from Fahrenheit 9/11 believing Moore's outlandish conspiracy theories? Why do a few on the Right insist the Clintons had Vincent Foster killed?
Research has found attractiveness, prestige, and confidence led credibility to consumers of information. Maybe that's why President Bush never publically admits to mistakes as President. He fears that a public display of insecurity would hurt his ability to get reelected or to rally the public to his side.
What's the solution? Dr. Dubrow-Eichel looks at dispersed, especially opposing, viewpoints:
I believe anyone who studies highly controversial and polarizing social movements needs to be especially respectful of how prior biases impact on subsequent research strategies and interpretations of data. In fact, I go so far as to state that it is not enough to rely on ourselves and our like-minded peers; we need to routinely employ critical consultants from “the opposing side” to keep us honest.
"Can Scholars Be Deceived? Empirical Evidence from Social Psychology and History"
December 17, 2004
Here's one way to combat those who want Christ out of Christmas.
December 13, 2004
Back in September, I predicted a Moore vs. Mel Oscars. The battle for nominations is underway.
December 01, 2004
Ken Jennings on Nightline
Uber Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings talked to Nightline.
For two weeks of his run as the longest-reigning "Jeopardy!" champion, Ken Jennings lived a double life. The shows had not yet aired, and no one was allowed to know where he was when he took off time from work.
"Jeopardy! Champion Reflects on His Unprecedented Reign"
November 30, 2004
The Jennings Streak is Over
Ken Jennings finally lost on Jeopardy! The questions were really hard. Plus Jennings missed some Daily Doubles. His mistakes combined with Nancy Zerg's, the eventual winner, lack of mistakes only gave Jenning a $4400 lead going into Final Jeopardy. The Zerg got the correct answer while Jennings got it wrong while wagering too much. He couldn't reach 75 wins, but he walked away with over $2.5 million and becomes one of the greatest players in American gameshow history. Now he does the talk show circuit and will even have an A&E Biography devoted to him.
"Ken Jennings' Jeopardy! Streak Ends"
"Jeopardy! Whiz Finally Meets His Match"
November 28, 2004
Another Teri Hatcher Junkie
I'm glad someone else admits that Desparate Housewives satisfies their Teri Hatcher fix. But I don't concur with Jay Tea that it's a "chick show." It has hot women, always a positive, but its darkly comedic with touching moments of real humanity--especially tonight's show. It's easily the best show on television.
November 24, 2004
Are They Reading Rand at Pixar?
Critics may see Ayn Rand themes in The Incredibles, but I highly doubt any filmgoers are running to the bookstore to dive into Atlas Shrugged*. I wish they would, because a dose of her ideas can build a healthy skepticism to government interference in the economy.
*I've read Atlas Shrugged but don't consider it her best work. The characters' dialogue ended up more often being Objectivist polemics. They were there not so much to move the story as to be fictional versions of Rand herself. For a better read there's Anthem. It's a slim tome that focuses beautifully on the importance of individualism.
November 23, 2004
Expect a new TAM feature soon to help you out with your Christmas shopping. Think Oprah's Favorite Things except nobody's getting anything for free (including me), and they'll be things you can actually buy without requiring a billionaire's bank account. I'm working out some of the details but I can't resist not pointing out that Buck Rogers is available on DVD. This was a fun television show running from 1979-81. It had its camp (what show of its time didn't), Tweeky was a talking, walking rip-off of R2-D2, but it satisfied the sci-fi cravings of this person waiting to consume more Star Wars movies. And what red-blooded (not red state) American didn't like Wilma Deering in those jump suits?
UPDATE: If Buck Rogers isn't up to your liking, there's always Duck Dodgers.
November 13, 2004
Blue Staters, Take Notes
To those trying to figure out "Jesusland" Joe Carter has collected many of his posts into "A Primer on Evangelicals." It's fascinating reading. Evangelicalism is not anti-intellectual dogma. Many self-professed evangelicals need to realize this fact.
October 19, 2004
The Michael Moore Antidote
When I first walked into the theater last night to watch Team America I was worried. I was the only person there. Part of comedy is the communal experience. Years ago I saw Best in Show in an almost empty theater and thought I missed out on some of the humor. Shortly after the previews began two people sat down so my worry was slightly assuaged.
All fear went away when I saw how over-the-top the action scenes were as well as how deadpan the puppets were. The funniest aspect of Team America was the feeling that this was a serious action flick like Die Hard or any Arnold Schwartenegger movie.
One of my favorite parts was when Kim Jung Il took full advantage of Hans Blix's internationalist naiveness and tossed him to the sharks. The other one was when the Hollywood anti-warriors fought (and died) for peace.
It's raunchy, REALLY raunchy. There are more f-bombs launched than at a Pat Leahy-Dick Cheney dinner party. There's a scene where one puppet vomits up more vile content than the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District has dumped into Lake Michigan. Then there's the puppet sex. All this is hysterical, but definitely not for kids.
"Team America: F*** Yeah!"
October 18, 2004
Who Will Get Nominated?
Will the Oscars be Moore vs. Mel? I thought so last month, but Sean Smith makes me wonder:
Millions of people surely believe that Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" deserve best-picture Oscar nominations. Unfortunately, most of them don't vote for the Academy Awards. Despite shattering box-office records and dominating headlines for months, these two films face real obstacles in the race for Hollywood's top prize. Of the many high-placed studio executives, producers, Oscar strategists, publicists and Academy members interviewed for this story, most think that "Fahrenheit's" chances depend on the results of the presidential election, and all say that a "Passion" best-picture nod is almost unthinkable. Hollywood, with its Jewish roots, did not experience "The Passion" as a transcendent religious and emotional event, as so many other viewers did. Some haven't forgiven Gibson for even making the film, let alone forgotten his father, Hutton, and his inflammatory statements about the history of the Jews. "I'll tell you why 'The Passion' won't be nominated," snaps one industry executive. "Happily, there are too many people in the Academy who believe the Holocaust actually happened."
"Will Oscar Listen?"
Desparate for Teri
Years before my infatuation with the Bush twins I was consumed by Lois Lane. I didn't think much of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman since I can't recall much about a single episode, but Teri Hatcher was simply stunning, radiating a sexual glow along with a girl-next-door likeability.
Now, I get to have a weekly Teri Hatcher fix with Desparate Housewives. Hatcher's enough to keep me occupied for an hour a week, but the twisted, dark comedic plots are what makes me really like the show.
October 10, 2004
Winner is Wacko
How is anyone supposed to take the Nobel Peace Prize seriously when they choose weirdos like this:
Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, today reiterated her claim that the AIDS virus was a deliberately created biological agent.
Last year, Jimmy Carter won to stick it to President Bush. This year, they give it to a conspiratorial wacko who like trees. Expect Art Bell to win next year.
UPDATE: Laurence Simon goes off on Ms. Maathai.
October 09, 2004
Sure, Jacques Derrida died, but David Carr's faux tribute is spot on.
"The End of an Earache"
October 01, 2004
I figured there had to be more to Scalia's comment on orgies. According to the AP (reader beware!) he's used the racy word to make a point about judges imposing their personal morality instead of interpreting the law.
What Are They Doing at the Supreme Court?
Well, you can't say Antonin Scalia doesn't speak his mind. There has to be more to this.
"Orgies are the Way to Ease Social Tensions, Claims US Judge"
September 29, 2004
Our Money is Pink!
Behold, the further "wussification" of our money. The Treasury Department should just go all out and put Hello Kitty on the bills. It's one thing to make currency tougher to counterfeit, but it's another to do it in such an aesthetically unpleasing way. Before messing with the $10 bill bring over the crew doing the nice new nickels.
"New $50 Bill Begins Circulating"
September 23, 2004
Won't this be a waste in the movie since she's suppose to be invisible?
"Jessica Alba is The Invisible Woman"
September 20, 2004
Along with the Big Network news losing to New Media, domination of entertainment programming by them is kaput. This year's Emmy Awards gave 16 statues to HBO.
"Winners at the 56th Annual Emmy Awards"
September 08, 2004
Conservatism is "Thought Disorder"
It's hard to have a discussion with an ideology that that thinks its opponents have a "thought disorder." Here's a small portion of famed playwright, Tony Kushner's anti-Bush play Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy:
TONY KUSHNER: Maybe all liberalism and progressivism and left-leaning politics are pathological but I would argue less maladaptive and delusional than, say, well, your politics, or rather your husband's — since no one knows what yours really are, which is why I find you so fascinating, it's——
[via Brothers Judd]
September 06, 2004
Moore vs. Mel
With the news that Michael Moore is going after the Best Picture Oscar instead of the Best Documentary Oscar I will publically state that the next Academy Awards will be the most polarized in recent memory. Why? Because Fahrenheit 9/11 will be nominated for Best Picture along with Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, Blue America and Red America will battle with the movie business's biggest prize on the line. I give the early edge to Moore, especially if Bush wins the election.
"Moore to Pursue Best Picture Oscar"
August 24, 2004
I guess washing a child's mouth with a bar of soap when the child curses is out of the question too.
August 02, 2004
A Tale of Two Movies
When one goes to a movie they expect to be entertained or emotionally moved. A movie like Napoleon Dynamite is full of ironic even post-modern teen comedy cracks yet possess a level of intelligence missing from the failed "critically acclaimed" The Manchurian Candidate.
Napoleon Dynamite is about an Idaho high school student who's appearance and demeanor best visualize the Platonic ideal of geek more than any other movie I've ever seen. He's socially awkward, wears big goofy eyeglasses, and walks around in moon boots.
Despite being the most extreme dork in movie history he's more comfortable in his own skin than any other character in the movie. His older brother spends his days plugged into chatrooms yapping with his cyber-girlfriend. When she comes to Idaho to visit she transforms him into Eminem. Napoleon's uncle Rico can't get his mind away from high school football memories. Even Napoleon's grandmother tries to recapture her youth by motoring around sand dunes. Napoleon just chugs along asking a popular girl to the dance and helping his friend Pedro run for student body president. He doesn't try to live up to the expectations of others or relive a past that didn't exist. He's simply a good friend. In Napoleon Dynamite we have a movie that is touching, but not sentimental. Plus, it's incredibly funny.
The Manchurian Candidate had multiple purposes. One was to be an entertaining psychological thriller. Another was to make a political point: global corporations that profit on war are the greatest threat to the world today. It failed at both.
The general plot should be great for a movie: a candidate for Vice President is brainwashed by bad guys. The original had the candidate under the control of Communists. The new version has him under the control of a corporation with ties to government leaders across the globe. The psychological element comes in when Denzel Washington's character, also brainwashed, deals with the effects of the mental procedure. A couple of times director Jonathan Demme creates a surreal scene when dream collides with reality, but they're too sporadic. Only the great acting by Washington makes you believe that his character is losing his grip with reality. Washington's work makes up for Meryl Streep's over-the-top Hillary Clinton on steroids performance.
Then there's the whole ridiculous convoluted plot. For a few hours the audience is to believe a corporation has the power, ability, and to kidnap a U.S. army patrol in a war zone, brainwash them, then let them go all to get their man into the White House. Let's suppose Manchurian Global could do all this. Wouldn't it be easier to brainwash the current President rather than go through an elaborate plan that would take 13 years to complete? The problem with any conspiracy is the potential of someone talking. Thus the Shriners and Free Masons aren't behind the scenes controlling the world.
Which brings us to the political element of the movie. Demme actually believes war-profiting corporations are more of a threat than Islamist terrorists. I wonder if he believes Halliburton or the Carlyle Group were the ones actually behind the Sep. 11 attacks? He can disagree with President Bush all he wants on how to fight the Islamist War, but it seems he would rather focus smart bombs at Wall Street than on terrorist camps. Such misguidedness blatantly plastered all over a movie makes not just bad entertainment, but could get us killed.
July 31, 2004
World's Shortest Movie Review
The Manchurian Candidate: Avoid it.
July 21, 2004
The Viewmaster is 65.
The public got its first good look at View-Master at the 1940 World's Fair in New York, a year after its creator, amateur stereo photographer William Gruber, introduced it in Portland, Ore. By 1941, more than 100,000 stores were carrying it.
It's amazing, the things you learn every day.
July 17, 2004
LCMS: 1 Man + 1 Woman = Marriage
The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, home synod to both Sean and myself, held its triennial convention this week in St. Louis, MO.
At the convention, delegates overwhelming voted, 1163 - 22, to affirm marriage as a covenant between one man, one woman, and Our Lord.
This is hardly surprising news. The Synod is quite conservative on all matters. I am grateful that even the Star Tribune would publish the results. Whereas this is a topic that the Episcopalians or Methodists and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) may be debating fiercely, it is not up for debate within the LC-MS.
To that end, the convention, in passing the resolution, also called on it's members and congregations to not be silent in the matter.
The statement referred to how "many in society are demanding legal recognition of same-sex unions as 'marriages' by appeals to 'equality under the law' " and declared that "for our Synod to be silent, especially in the present context, could be viewed as acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle."
While my faith and beliefs are important to me, I am hesitant to preach them to others, or to provide testament to them in public or to others. Growing in my faith to a point in which I am comfortable in that role is something I am working on each week.
Cell Phone Madness
A fracas developed over an over-heard cell phone conversation in St. Paul on Thursday, because the guy on the cell phone was bringing the conversations to the patrons of a bagel shop.
Bill W. Stevenson, 79, and Sten Gerfast, 74, both retired 3M employees, were eating at the Sun Ray Shopping Center Bruegger's Bagels when they heard a man cursing loudly on his cell phone, they said Friday.
So, then one of the elder gentlemen tries to take away the cell phone. Tussling ensues and a couple of them fall to the floor. Perhaps the cell phone is damaged, perhaps not. A table is knocked over and food spills to the floor. One of the older guys has some damage to his glasses. All end up with citations for disorderly conduct.
Now, I might say "bully" for the old guys. Certainly they were right to ask this guy to step outside if he was being vile and cursing loudly on the phone. Should they have jumped him? Ah, maybe not.
The Duluth News Tribune picked up the story and ran it this morning as well. Their tale has an additional line:
After hearing the obscenities, Gerfast said he approached the man and said, "Would you mind, sir, to go outside and take your call?"
Well, come on. Why not Whoopi Goldberg?
The newspapers wonder why their circulation numbers are dropping. It's because of crap like this; enough people aren't willing to stand for it any longer.
July 16, 2004
Click Here to make your appointment.
July 14, 2004
No More Whoopi
Slim-Fast dumped Whoopi Goldberg because of her vulger Bush bashing at a John Kerry fundraiser last week. Let's see if anyone starts crying that Whoopi's First Amendment rights have been squelched.
July 13, 2004
When Bernard Goldberg wrote a best-selling book on liberal media bias, the Left decried him. When a documentary looks at the conservative Fox News Channel it's lauded. Would a similar project done about CNN draw similar liberal interest?
"Documentary Aims to Show Bias on Fox News"
June 24, 2004
Liberal Media, Part II
Yesterday, I talked about three different papers reporting on one story, the tragic story of a young man shooting his father to death.
I still find it interesting that only one report, of print and broadcast media accounts indicate that the three men who captured the young suspect reported that they were armed. That account, in the Star Tribune, seemed to me to be worded in such a way as to almost be sinister. That people would actually have guns and use them as a means of self-defense.
What the article did fail to indicate was whether these three men hold concealed weapon carry permits in Minnesota. Now, that information is not public information. I can't go to the Pine County Sheriff's Office or the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or Department of Public Safety and ask if these guys are permit holders.
The Star Tribune, as I mentioned, is no friend of the gun or the gun owner. They were quite opposed to the reform of Minnesota's Concealed Carry Law, which occured last year, and opined this year for it's repeal.
In this instance, where the law seems to have worked perfectly, will they indicate so in their paper? And, still, why did The Duluth News Tribune and Saint Paul's Pioneer Press not mention that these guys detained the young lad with guns? They made it sound like they went up to the boy casually and just had a conversation. Was their use of guns so vile to them that they refused to print it?
June 23, 2004
Oh, THAT Liberal Media
There's a sad story today here in Minnesota. A young man has killed his father. After a search of several hours, the boy was found walking along a rural road, and was not initially apprehended by police, but rather by a few guys working in an auto-body shop who saw him walking along the road. Having listened to a police scanner during the day, they knew a search was on, and after seeing the boy and asking who he was and if he had a gun, they detained him and called the sheriff's department.
I'm a guy who likes to know what is going on around the state, so each morning I read a few different newspaper sites: The Duluth News Tribune, The Saint Cloud Times, The Star Tribune, and The St. Paul Pioneer Press, just to name a few.
Each paper (except the St. Cloud Times which doesn't have a story on it) reports it a little differently, and there was one notable difference this morning.
From the AP at the Duluth News Tribune:
Deputies from three counties, joined by agents from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and state troopers, began searching for the teen, but a collision repair shop owner and his friends were credited with catching him about 1 p.m.
Mara Gottfried's report at The Pioneer Press:
The owner of an auto body shop near Askov, Minn., had heard on the police scanner that the Pine County sheriff's office was looking for a 15-year-old boy suspected of killing his father early Tuesday, so when he saw a young man walk by a few hours later, he went outside to talk to him.
Finally, Tracy Swartz and Richard Meryhew at the Star Tribune:
For more than four hours Tuesday, authorities searched this small town and the surrounding woods and prairie of Pine County looking for a boy who allegedly shot and killed his father earlier in the morning.
What bothers me is knowing that The Star Tribune is no friend of guns or gun owners. Did their reporters just do a better job of asking questions than the other two stories? Or is there an agenda at work here?
Granted, believing that a kid who may have just committed patricide is coming down the road and may be armed, I would likely arm myself too.
But the wording of the Star Tribune account, and then mentioning in the story at least three times where two other noted papers didn't mention the fact that the body shop guys were armed at all causes me to wonder. Even a television account of the story, which I watched last night, gave no indication of the body shop workers having guns themselves.
"So when the teenager appeared, armed with a gun, near Hwy. 23 just south of town early Tuesday afternoon, the three men working at a nearby auto shop -- Matt Gebhart, Scott Jorgensen and Brian Volk -- knew what to do.
How did they know he was armed? According to all three stories, they didn't know until they asked him.
As Dallas drew near, Volk asked the boy where he was going. Dallas replied that he was going to the store.
The language here, "both armed," and "confronted" is so drastically different from the other stories, that I can't help but wonder what might be at play here in the Star Tribune newsroom.
Note: By no means am I faulting Mr. Gebhart or Mr. Jorgensen; they absolutely did the right thing.
Of course, to the daily readers of the Star Tribune, it's really no surprise that the story was written this way.
June 21, 2004
Father's Day Wishes
First, a belated "Happy Father's Day" to the fathers out there. I had plenty to do on my day, including spend some time at my mom's with my stepdad, a wonderful guy, and my brothers and their families. My dad lives eight hours away, so he got a phone call and our best wishes.
Freaky event of the day: It was 7:00AM, just hopping in my car to head to Men's Bible Study before church. The song playing at that given time was Harry Chapin belting out Cat's In The Cradle.
Mitch Berg's Shot In The Dark is a great blog (Sean didn't stipulate that we couldn't use the word "blog" this week), one that I read daily. Mitch also is one of the hosts of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, a weekly radio show on am1280, The Patriot here in Minnesota. The Northern Alliance is a confederation of Minnesota's brightest and best bloggers, as determined by
Yesterday, Mitch opined on whiny feminist Father's Day greetings. We can't just let Dad's have a great day, eh?
The Star Tribune (registration required) also got into the game. The Strib can't let a day go by without some sort of guilt trip laid on us who abide by the law, create wealth, go to church, love our spouse of the opposite sex, etc. Yesterday's guilt trip was aimed as us fathers, specifically those of us not in jail yesterday.
There's a calendar taped on the gray wall in Cell 310 at the Hennepin County workhouse. Benjamin Waldron has blotted out 10 of the 12 months he's serving for assaulting his girlfriend during a drunken rage last August.
The story goes on to describe a men's group which meets behind the bars in which some dad's can learn about anger management, patience, or tolerance.
I believe that there are a lot of dads behind bars where the guy was likely more a sperm donor than a parent or father. Parenting, or being a father, implies nurturing, not laying down the smack on your girlfriend.
I'm sincerely glad these guys are trying to help themselves, so that this sort of thing doesn't get repeated later, by themselves, or even worse, start a vicious cycle with their offspring. That whole "Cat's In The Cradle" thing.
June 19, 2004
The Chicago Tribune has published their second-annual Best Magazines list. With so many magazines (17,500 by the newspaper's count) that cover a rainbow of topics it must be hard to compare if one apple is better than another orange.
Wired is at the top of the list for this year with it's great reporting and outstanding graphics. I'll occasionally page through an issue, but I haven't really like the mag since 1998. They do consistently have some of the best covers in all of magazinedom.
Last year's #1 mag, Cook's Illustrated falls to #4. Oddly, the biggest complaint about it is they don't publish a gardening version.
A magazine that should make the list next year is Cargo, a men's shopping publication. It's full of product reviews and fashion tips that help men try to be hip.
June 15, 2004
Other than the Calatrava-designed train station no substantial artistic statement is in the works for Ground Zero. So I'm not surprised The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. thought small when picking artistic groups to locate on the "sacred ground."
"Culture by Committee"
May 25, 2004
Up in Flames
British modern art was destroyed in a blaze of glory. Brian Micklethwait is correct that modern art connoisseurs shouldn't weep for the pieces weren't "lost." The fire "merely moved some objects from one state of being to another." There's enough material here to fill one or two Ph.D. dissertations.
May 24, 2004
Why isn't Ayn Rand taken seriously in academic philosophy? Keith Burgess-Jackson's explanation ranges from sexism to envy.
"Ayn Rand (1905-1982) and the Moral Philosophers"
Pink Shoes for Men
No, it's not metrosexuality run amok. The latest hip-hop fashion craze is pink women's sneakers. A store in Milwaukee opened two hours early last Saturday to satisfy eager customers.
"Who'd Pay $115 for a Pair of Women's Shoes? Lots of Guys, that's Who"
May 21, 2004
When will someone in the U.S. take up Professor Peter Munz's argument? I'm afraid to say that it won't be long.
"'Legalize Incest' Suggestion Shocks Lawmakers"
May 10, 2004
The Birth of Modernism
Friedrich at 2blowhards.com has an excellent essay arguing that modern painting was born in France as an attempt to have a religious-like experience.
"How Modern Painting Became A Secular Religion"
April 21, 2004
Duke University has pushed back their first classes of the day from 8:00 am to 8:30 am to give students more time to sleep. Who's to say the students won't just stay up an extra half hour making change pointless?
The hottest comic strip writer is a jackass who sits around his Beverly Hills penthouse apartment staring at the television to find inspiration for his next strip. When it finally hits him it's lame, inspid Bush-bashing. Aaron McGruder doesn't even draw "The Boondocks" anymore. Berkeley Breathed is still trying to regain his form (hint: get Bill the Cat and send him on a mission with Delta Force) so our only hope for serious laughter is "Dilbert" and "Mallard Fillmore."
April 18, 2004
Quote of the Day
I think that Law & Order is kind of comfort food for the mind. It's also visual nicotine. It's very seductive. You get that same nice, comfortable roller-coaster ride whenever you tune in.--Law & Order creator Dick Wolf.
When will some dangerously obese sloth sue Wolf for television addiction?
"CBS, NBC Plan More Series Spinoffs"
March 31, 2004
First Reaction to Air America
I just listened to a few minutes of Janeane Garofalo on Air America. Why did she bother having Dave Chappelle as a guest? I haven't watched his show and can't remember ever watching any of his stand up, but on "The Majority Report" he's sputtering, stuttering, and mumbling about a recent incident with a airline gate agent and airport security. Garofalo wanted to talk about the Right's use of language, and Chappelle mumbles for five minutes making no particular point. The point of good talk radio (liberal or conservative) is to have something to say and do it in an entertaining manner. In the brief time I was listening, I heard nothing being said and wasn't entertained.
[via Oliver Willis]
UPDATE: Doc Searls has lots of material about the first group of stations airing Air America as well as some advice to become more Net-centric. Then there's Glenn with plenty of other reactions from the blogosphere.
March 15, 2004
Sensing on SSM
Donald Sensing has written far more and far better than I on same-sex marriage. He has a WSJ essay (based on this post) arguing the marriage wars were lost with the introduction of the birth control pill. Sensing also has a solution to SSM: sever the church-state relationship. Think of it as a more fleshed out version of my compromise [also read this post].
Then read Dean's post, especially the comments.
March 04, 2004
Another SSM Compromise
Sen. Orrin Hatch has a marriage amendment that might be a workable compromise:
Civil marriage shall be defined in each state by the legislature or the citizens thereof. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to require that marriage or its benefits be extended to any union other than that of a man and a woman.
The principle of federalism remains intact. States could legalize same-sex marriage if they wanted to. More importantly, it prevents activist federal judges from claiming the legislative function as their own.
What will trouble social conservatives is that even if this amendment were added to the constitution SSM would probably be legal in every state within 20 years. Also, the amendment wouldn't directly address more creative marriage structures (polygamy, consentual incest, etc.).
News flash from CNN:
Hit by slumping box office sales for the iconic series, Japan's Toho Co. is planning to shelve its Godzilla films after this year's finale.
"Godzilla Taking a Break -- for Now"
February 29, 2004
My Five Minutes With Oscar
I got plenty of pleasure watching Billy Crystal's intro to the Oscars. A satisfying smile came on my face and a chuckle left my mouth after seeing Michael Moore get crushed by a giant elephant from the Lord of the Rings. That was enough for me. I'll read the list of winners later tonight when they finally get through that endless ego-fest.
February 26, 2004
More on My Marriage Compromise
Kevin (of Reductio Ad Absurdum fame) asks how my compromise would deal with polygamy. It would deal with it by letting states define civil unions as only being between two people, but I know that with legal same sex marriages as a precedent, "anything goes" would eventually become the legal norm. That means that while individual religious institutions could decide what is marriage, the state would probably have to consider any grouping of people to constitute a civil union. With the end result of anything being a union, nothing is. With respect to the government, the institution of marriage is doomed. Culturally it may survive, but as a institution with legal privileges, it will not exist. Will that mean the end of American family as we know it? I don't know. What I can be sure of is there will be unintended consequences.
Proponents of SSM can't and won't respond to the polygamy question. Here's a portion from Tuesday's airing of Crossfire where Tucker Carlson asks Cheryl Jacques, president and executive director of the Human Rights Campaign about polygamy:
CARLSON: I beg your pardon. I want to -- I want to ask you a question. And I want you to answer it. No one ever answers this question. And perhaps you will.
With the legalization of SSM we will have a slippery slope. First, SSM, then polygamy, then consentual incest. Any form of consentual intimate relationship will be recognized (baring some public health argument).
I hope I'm wrong. I hope our culture can rise above the relativism and radical egalitarianism to set a standard to preserve and extend itself.
Now, it's possible that companies and other institutions could define for themselves what a married couple is for insurance and other contractual purposes. Some companies would extend marriage/civil union benefits to only one partner, while other companies would recognize more unique intimate relationships. But with our legitous society and its moral relativism, I don't think courts would put up with such forms of private discrimination. Pro-SSM libertarians should be willing to extend their "live-and-let-live" moral philosophy to the beliefs and actions to those not willing to accept marriage defined as something other than man and woman.
Let's be clear to those who support same-sex marriage: it's a radical alteration to American society. My gut instinct (as well as that of a majority of Americans) is that SSM shouldn't be legal. But it's just that, a gut instinct. The problem is making a coherant case in light of the past century where many instances of sexual and racial discrimination were conquered. Despite Andrew Sullivan's passionate arguments, a "conservative" case for same-sex marriage is no where close to being so. My compromise tries to find a solution, but even I didn't think it would be a good one.
UPDATE: Cam Edwards has a good post on the subject and even better comments.
February 25, 2004
Volokh: Ahead of the Curve
You know a gay marriage case will soon reach the Supreme Court (prediction: within two years), and when it comes up media, law professors, and webloggers will be digging into an 1888 Supreme Court case mentioned by Eugene Volokh.
"Abolition of Gay Marriage and the Contracts Clause"
How about this for a compromise in the gay marriage debate: end state sanctioning of the concept of "marriage." Instead, have the state recognize homosexual and heterosexual "civil unions" with all rights and privileges that marriage previously had. Let churches, mosques, and synagogues determine what a marriage is and isn't. It treats all couples as equals before the law. The religious institutions decide what a marriage is and isn't. The separate-but-equal argument gets tossed out the window. What this compromise does is keep marriage as a sacred, religious institution while recognizing committed homosexual couples even if we don't approve of their behavior morally or religiously. Homosexual couples won't go away even if a marriage amendment was added to the constitution.
Three other thoughts:
"Bush Endorses Amendment to Ban Same-Sex Marriage"
February 23, 2004
Actors: Stay Away from South Park
The Screen Actors Guild is a union of actors. Like any other union, it's power lies in its ability to restrict the supply of labor. Working on South Park is a no-no, a "RULE ONE VIOLATION" no-no, because the show doesn't provide "SAG wages, benefits and conditions of employment." What happens to those who commit a Rule One violation?
Members who violate Rule One could be required to appear before a Trial Board conducted by a group of their peers. A Trial Board has the authority to Discipline to impose fines, suspend, or expel a member from the union.
Why does a Soviet show trial come to mind only without the obligatory execution?
This information will only swell the ranks of "South Park" conservatives.
"You Will Respect My Authority!!!"
February 15, 2004
Steve Verdon posts on Intelligent Design (ID) not being science. He may be correct (the post is persuasive), but here's why I've never written about the creationism vs. evolutionism debate. Both ideas to an extent rely on faith. Creationists are blatant with their belief that God created the world, but evolutionists should concede that they place a high level of faith on human rationality. I can accept that evolutionary processes operate in the world I live in, yet I believe God created the world in six days. My view isn't based on science, nor can it be scientificially proven. It's simply a matter of faith. I believe in God's infinite wisdom that He has the ability to create the universe in such a way to make evolution to be the only logical explanation. It becomes a test. Do we accept what our eyes see and mind rationalizes, or do we step beyond the powers of our faculties? Faith is what allows a person to transcend Man's reason. Faith is believing is something when everything around tells you you're wrong. It's both beautiful and terrifying.
The arguments about what view should be taught in schools is mostly irrelevant to me. I don't have kids yet, and if I did I'd do my best to make sure they were taught in a religious school where their faith could be strengthened while learning about the world around them. Give me a few school-age kids, and I might change my mind.
"Time Again For....Intelligent Design Bashing"
February 11, 2004
Galactica is a Go
Thirteen episodes of Battlestar Galactica, sweet!
"Battlestar Galactica Greenlit for Series"
February 05, 2004
Janet and Breast Feeding
There have been a couple comments decrying the complaints over Janet Jackson's exposed breast. Their argument is since Americans accept breast feeding we shouldn't complain about Janet's bare boob. This canard must have its head knocked off. First, I don't know what anyone else was watching, but breast feeding was the last thing on Justin Timberlake's mind when he copped a feel and ripped off part of Janet's costume. The stunt was about titilation and shock, not the caring of a baby. Second, even if Janet were breast feeding a very, very young Justin, halftime of the Super Bowl is not the appropriate time and place to show that. I've never seen a mother whip out her breast in a public place feed her child. So, it seems to me most breast feeding mothers have the decency and respect for others that Janet and Justin didn't.
As a local talk radio yapper said last Monday, this incident isn't the end of the world. American culture isn't permanently scarred. The stunt was the straw that broke the camel's back. Many people are tired of the increasing sexualization of media. It's not that we're all prudes. In fact, I'm very confident that behind closed doors of the loudest critics very kinky thinks go on that would put the Janet-Justin stunt to shame. But that's just it: they do it in private and not flaunt it in the faces of everyone else.
[This post has been added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
February 04, 2004
In a video taped apology, Janet Jackson took responsiblity for the Super Bowl stunt. She claims the "shocking moment" went "wrong." Alright, so the intention wasn't to expose her right breast to the world. Then what was her intention? To just let Justin Timberlake cop a feel in front of millions? If everything would have "gone right" it still would have been inappropriate.
CBS isn't taking any chances with the Grammys. Janet's been dumped and a five-minute delay will be in place.
February 02, 2004
The Naked Truth
Blogcritics.org has plenty of posts to satisfy your interest in "wardrobe malfunctions."
Dave Winer on Janet Jackson't halftime peek-a-boo:
For the record, I missed Janet Jackson's breast because I was writing something at halftime yesterday. Women's breasts are great. I think there should be a requirement that all women bare their breasts if they want to when they're on television. It should be a choice thing. It might be more comfortable. It's unbelievable that Michael Powell is having a hissy fit over this. More breasts, not less. That's my opinion.
I'm guessing Dave doesn't have kids.
UPDATE: This is only one little sliver that shouldn't represent all kids, but these eighth-graders give me hope that they saw through that "crass" Justin-Janet halftime stunt.
While some kids seem to comprehend the outrage, Howard the Duck is cluesless.
February 01, 2004
Super Bowl Ads Review
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tim Cuprisin reviews the commericals. Here's his funny take on one of the anti-smoking ads:
What if we could get through one Super Bowl without one sledgehammer subtle anti-smoking ad? Yes, they're so annoying that it makes some of us non-smokers want to light up.
He also writes about Janet Jackson's breast.
"Super Bowl Halftime's Breast-Baring Stunt Spurs CBS Apology"
January 28, 2004
Buck Rogers on DVD
Gil Gerard and the lovely Erin "Col. Deering" in my DVD player. Oh, Joy! I just hope it doesn't have a ridiculous price like the Battlestar Galactica set.
January 22, 2004
Battlestar Galactica appears to be slated for six episodes.
"SCOOP: Galactica Given Six"
January 16, 2004
Maybe Too Cute
Food Network thinks they have the next hip couple in Lisa Loeb and Dweezil Zappa. Let's wait and see. Lisa is sweet, sexy, and a vegetarian (who occasionally cheats). Dweezil is goofy (he is a Zappa, it's in his genes) and easy going. The first episode had the two running around
"Quiche and Tell"
January 15, 2004
"WTC Memorial Designer Shows New Drawings"
[This post is linked to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
January 11, 2004
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Slate's "The Decline of Fashion Photography" is one of the best photo essays I've ever read/viewed on the Web. The pictures are stunning--both in their beauty and their uglyness. Along with the images, Karen Lehrman offers brief, insightful commentary.
January 06, 2004
He Doesn't Even Have a Mustache
"Cruise Up For Iron Man"
Keep Your Fingers Crossed
Ronald Moore, executive producer of the recent Battlestar Galactica miniseries (pretty good, if you ask me) will leave HBO's Carnivale to prepare for a possible BG series. He told Sci Fi Wire, "I've been working on the show bible and the first few episodes in anticipation of a possible order." Even if Starbuck is a woman, I want to watch more of the story.
"Moore: Galactica Up In Air"
December 20, 2003
"Poor" Little Rich Girls
I gave up on The Simple Life after the second episode. Based on Tom Johnson's review of the most recent episode, I'm not missing much. The review re-confirms my belief that Paris and Nichole are the ones leading the "simple life" not the average Joes and Janes they're living and working with.
"The Simple Life Turns Sour"
December 10, 2003
Dr. Schloktopus actually watched more of The Simple Life. Better him than me.
"The Twit Train Rolls On"
December 07, 2003
Remembering Pearl Harbor
Today is Pearl Harbor Day and Michele is saddened because she's found little media coverage. Part of it is time. As one of commenter wrote, many WWII veterans are dead. People who had direct experience with those events are gone. Another reason for the lack of Big Media coverage no hook to the anniversary. 1941 is 62 years ago, an odd number for anniversary coverage. Contrast this to the 40th anniversary of JFK's assassination. There was lots and lots of coverage on television and newspapers as well as a bunch of new books.
We don't honor every anniversary of infamous events. If we did we'd have no time to live our lives and make our own history. We'd be too busy honoring the dead at the expense of the living. We'd become a culture of historians.
I don't want the memory of the awful Tuesday to be a day of over sentimentality. Every Sep. 11 should not be a day where America cries and laments how some evil men killed 3,000. That day should be remembered as the beginning of the Islamist War where the United States took on its biggest nemesis since the Cold War and in the process brought freedom and opportunity to the Middle East.
Michele worries that Sep. 11 will be "forgotten" eventually like Pearl Harbor. But history's perception changes with the culture and distance. I hope it isn't forever a day of saddness, but of rebirth. Out of the ashes of Ground Zero a new urban center will be built (despite the bad Libeskind plan). Hopefully vitality can rise from the ashes of death. If it happens people in the future will remember Sep. 11 as a day of transition for New York City and the U.S.
December 03, 2003
Enough of The Simple Life
I wanted to post a summary of the second episode of The Simple Life. I tried to watch it from start to finish, but it was too painful. It wasn't Paris' and Nicole's work attire for their first day of work: designer camo hats, sunglasses, and shiny, new work boots--farmer chic. Nor was it the goofy way they walked arm-in-arm around the pasture rounding up the cows for milking. It was the way Paris and Nicole were completely unattached to the idea of work. In the middle of the day, they decided they had enough, and it was time for a dip in the hot tub.
Without having any experience as to how things get done in the real world, it's not a surprise Paris and Nicole got fired after their first day. At first glance "the simple life" the show refers to may seem to be the one in Arkansas. In fact, Paris' and Nicole's lives of pampering are simple compared to the complex, real world between the two coasts where things have to be done or else. I feel sorry for them. Good comes from knowing you've worked hard and accomplished something. Since these two ladies haven't had to do anything significant, they fill their empty lives with drugs (for Nicole) and sexual adventures (for Paris).
I think I'm done with The Simple Life. These are freak shows analagous to the wierdos of circuses past. The audience gets some cheap laughs from the eccentricities of the freaks. Some may have a chuckle watching super-rich women flounder around, but for me there's too much sympathy.
"Fox TV has Fun Tormenting the Farmyard Rich Chicks"
November 25, 2003
I want to kiss Andrew Baio of Waxy.org or scanning Sunday's Opus. I laughed at the joke, was impressed with the quality of art Berkeley Breathed used for the strip, and smiled knowing that my favorite penguin is back.
I'm still fuming at the Journal Sentinel, but my Opus need has been satisfied.
November 23, 2003
Opus, Where are You?
Today, you could call me Mr. Gump. I stayed up too late last night doing nothing productive. I slept all day and missed the Packers' victory over the 49ers. My obsession with Kings of Chaos has taken a bad turn. I've been yelling at my computer because twice in the last day my army has been attacked and lots and lots of gold has been stolen. Stupid, yes, but it's just added to my irritability. Then the Christamas shopping season is picking up, and my store doesn't have enough workers. I have to run around helping even people who only come during Christmas and can only describe the book they want as "yellow and written by a woman."
What really set me off is a comic strip or lack of one. I haven't wanted the comics section in my Sunday newspaper in years. But today is a special day. Berkeley Breathed brought America's most famous penguin, Opus, back to comics. The Berkeley Breathed website assured me the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel would have it. I pulled the section out and hunted for my favorite water-proof bird. It wasn't at the top of the first page where it deserved to be. I open up the section. Second page? Nope! Third? Nope! Fourth? Fifth? No! Nada! I know, they saved Opus for the last page just so fans wouldn't have to sift throught dreck like Pickles and Hi & Lois. I turn to the last and final page hoping the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel isn't one of the most inept papers in America. Was Opus there making some witty introduction telling the world he's back? That may have been exactly what he did, but I have no idea. Opus is no where to be found. The Journal Sentinel can publish a racist jerk like Aaron McGruder (of the unfunny Boondocks) and old Far Side strips, but not Opus.
(I'm hoping my paper was missing a page of comics because Dilbert wasn't in there either. If that's what happened then my ire goes to the Journal Sentinel's printing department for their incompetence.)
It's bad enough that Opus wasn't in the newspaper, but what's worse is the strip isn't available on the Web. Does the Washington Post (which syndicates Opus) and Breathed think people will subscribe to the paper just for one strip? If so, I'd start short selling Post stock.
I can't comment on Breathed's return to comics because I haven't seen it. I'm left with a bunch of links from Daniel Drezner and this short review from James Joyner:
Let's just say the debut strip wasn't worth the ten year wait.
I want my Opus, and I want him now!
It's not a good reason to be grumpy, but to bad.
November 19, 2003
Bad Art Mascarading as Memorials
The finalists in Ground Zero memorial competition are about as bad as the architectural plans for the area itself. All these memorials are about contemplation and weeping. None show off New York City's and America's ability to rise from the ashes. America's grandure and greatness aren't found in these proposals. Dare I say it? These ideas are worse than the Oklahoma City bombing memorial, and that's saying a lot. Majestic tributes to the dead like those at Gettysburg, these aren't. The art world is in seriously bad shape if these are the best that it can come up with.
November 12, 2003
Libertarian Victory in Culture Wars
Stephen Green notes that the conservative "victory" in the culture wars isn't as conservative as at first glance:
Sounds to me like what we have today is less of a conservative victory, than a libertarian one.
I made the same point a few weeks ago.
November 10, 2003
All He's Doing Is Egging Me On
John Hawkins really, really, really doesn't want to you see The Matrix Revolutions. He claims it's that bad. How bad? This bad:
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it was easily the worst film I've at the theater at this year. Just in case you're not getting my meaning, I'm saying that you shouldn't go see this movie. But you're wondering, "what if I've seen the other two movies and I just want to finish out the trilogy?" Have you got wax in your ears? Let me repeat myself; don't go see this movie! "But, the Matrix 1 & 2 were my two favorite movies of all time," you say. How many times do I have to say this? Don't go see this hideously bad, soul-suckingly atrocious, godawful movie!. "But Hawkins, my cousin is in the movie. He even had a speaking role! Plus, my first child is named Neo and..." Let me stop you there. Let me put it this way; do not go see this movie tomorrow, the next day, if your friend says he'll pay your way in, when it comes out on video, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, just don't do it! Friends don't let friends go to see, "The Matrix: Revolutions".
What if you want to see how bad a movie can be to illicit such a response? I'll just make sure I go during the day so I'm not stuck paying full price.
"A Movie Review Of The Matrix: Revolutions"
While you're at RWN, check out the list of best dinner guests as chosen by Right-wing webloggers.
Here are my votes:
November 09, 2003
24 has just started and already someone wants Kim dead. At least the writers didn't try to claim Kim got her job at CTU only because she's magically become a computer whiz.
November 08, 2003
Still Need Suggestions
The only book or music suggestion I've gotten is for Bernard Lewis' What Went Wrong? It's a good book, but it's two years old. I'm almost done with Return of the King and will next jump into Hayek's Journey. On the music front, this week I bought Sarah McLachlan's Afterglow and Coldplay's Live 2003.
There's only about 1 1/2 months left before the TAM Awards. I want your choices for best non-fiction book, album, and weblog of 2003.
November 07, 2003
The New Hampshire State Supreme Court ruled that lesbian sex outside a marriage can't be considered adultry. This is from the AP story:
The majority determined that the definition of adultery requires sexual intercourse. The judges who disagreed said adultery should be defined more broadly to include other extramarital sexual activity.
So, based on this thinking lesbian sex isn't adultry, but gay sex is. Where's Andrew Sullivan's take when you really want it.
November 05, 2003
Jarvis on Reagan Flap
Jeff Jarvis has a good post on the Reagan mini-series flap. He wishes CBS would have aired it just so everyone could criticize/praise it. "But killing it? That's downright undemocratic. It's unAmerican. Ronald Reagan himself would be ashamed," writes Jarvis. That's a bit over the top. The mini-series hasn't been "killed." It will just be shown on Showtime. Free discourse hasn't been harmed. Although I am concerned that certain Right-wingers will complain about any criticism of Reagan. Ronald was a political figure, not a cult leader. I will say it again, "CBS should have broadcasted it so I'd have another reason never to watch their programming."
November 04, 2003
Gus [click here and scroll down to "Getting it straight"] at The Chapin Nation on the Reagan mini-series moving to Showtime:
The reportage on the cancelling of the Reagan mini-series was peppered with references to Republicans, conservatives and economic pressures by the right implying that the mini-series was forced off the air by "political" pressures.
CBS should have broadcasted it so I'd have another reason never to watch their programming. Unlike Michele, I'm not disturbed by the move. A group of people (conservative Reagan fans) used their free speech rights to complain. CBS didn't have to cave, and I'm actually surprised they did. The show will go on, and Showtime will be the beneficiary.
October 31, 2003
Alright, I will do one quick post. Philip Winn is celebrating Reformation Day and has a review of the movie Luther.
"Not Halloween, Reformation Day!"
October 28, 2003
Conservative Media Invasion
City Journal's Brian Anderson e-mailed me personally to let me know about his article on the conservative invasion of the media. Ok, it wasn't addressed to me personally unless he thinks I post by the nom de plume American Mind, but getting real, non-spam e-mails due to my weblog is a good thing.
The article is pretty good. He sees three prongs to the invastion: Cable networks' need for content and the ability to carve out niche audiences; the explosion in successful conservative books (something I should have noticed since I work in the industry); and the dominance of Right-thinkers on the Internet.
I have to take issue with the premise of the article's title. Just because the public is more expose to conservative thinking does not mean we're winning the Culture War. Since the 50s and 60s (and David Frum argues the 70s) our culture has been severely wounded. 1.5 million children are (legally) killed every year through abortion. Divorce is commonplace. Out-of-wedlock births are considered an acceptible lifestyle choice. And the sacredness of marriage is under attack. Many of these problems have gotten better in the last decade, but conservatives are a ways away from claiming victory.
Also, conservatism is changing. It's becoming more libertarian as shown by the "South Park Republicans." This group of truly neoconservatives accepts a live-and-let-live approach to homosexuals (include me on that) along with coarser language and pre-marital sex. It's an objection to "the image of conservatives as uptight squares—crusty old men or nerdy kids in blue blazers" as on college student told Anderson. Discarding conservative stereotypes is all well and good. I'm a prime example. I worry that this 21th Century conservatism has internalized much of the Left, morally harmful parts of the Culture War. I also worry that conservatives will become morally lax to the point where groping women (in Arnold Schwarzenegger's case) is looked at as a slight flaw.
"We’re Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore"
October 19, 2003
I pretty much agree with Damian on the Easterbrook fiasco:
But is Easterbrook being antisemitic here? At most, I think he's being somewhat condescending toward Jews - implying that they have to hold themselves to a higher moral standard than other people, because of the way they've suffered. Thanks for the advice, Gregg. But is he saying Jews are selfish or that they're responsible for bringing violence upon themselves? I just don't see it that way.
October 18, 2003
ESPN Cans Gregg
Gregg Easterbrook got fired from ESPN over a badly phrased post on his New Republic weblog. I agree with Matthew that those webloggers who wildly went off on him are responsible for his firing. Easterbrook has no history of anti-semitic comments, writes for a magazine run by a Jew, and he gets canned. Meryl Yourish can say all she wants that Easterbrook shouldn't have been fired, but in her previous post she doesn't accept his apology and continues to cry anti-semitism since "When Leon Wieseltier says it was an anti-Semitic statement, you know it was an anti-Semitic statement." Sorry, Meryl, but I read the infamous post and didn't notice the anti-semitism, and I think I'm a rather bright person. I noticed a poorly worded post, but knowing what I know about Easterbrook, I focused on the spirit of his thought, not the literal words. Part of weblogging that makes it interesting is the spontaneous nature of it. A writer gets an idea, types it, and hits the publish button. Just like we accept a certain amount of spelling and grammatical errors in e-mail and instant messages so should we accept some brain farts if we want the maintain weblogs' spontaneity.
Jeff Jarvis is right that any hint of offending some group (Catholics excluded) will chill speech.
We have to stop being afraid of strong -- and wrong -- opinions. We have to stop being afraid of mere speech. We have to learn again to fight fire with fire -- words, that is -- rather than with nuclear weapons such as this.
Weblogs, by their nature as purely independent media, will be an outlet for offensive speech and responses to it. However, with the social nature of the blogosphere (the power of the link and comments) ostricism can and will happen. That's something to be aware of when thinking of weblogs as the next big thing in media.
"Gregg Easterbrook and Me"
Herbert Offers Real Perspective
The NY Times' Bob Herbert on the anger toward Ghettopoly:
Trust me, we've got some problems that are bigger than Ghettopoly. We've got insane young men who take their heavy armament into the street and shoot up the neighborhood, and then go back inside to listen to music that celebrates the act of shooting up the neighborhood. That is not a sign of a healthy culture.
"An Ugly Game" [via OxBlog]
October 10, 2003
Rush Drug Update
A reporter from the National Enquirer (I know, oxymoron.) was on a talk radio show in L.A. adding to the Rush Limbaugh drug story. Mike Walker, the reporter, said Rush was taking up to 30 OxyCotin a day, and that may have caused his deafness. Boston yapper Howie Carr put it bluntly last week when he said Rush is a junkie. People who hate Rush are salivating and can't get the word "hypocrite" out of their mouths fast enough. We should extend compassion to him even if he didn't extend it toward others. Rush fans (like myself) have to hope the police do a thorough investigation, and the prosecutors don't treat him more harshly just because he's a celebrity.
October 09, 2003
The Immigrant Contribution
One thing we can take away from Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory is how America has been richly blessed by the contributions of immigrants. It's cliche to say the U.S. is an immigrant nation, but that doesn't make it any less true. Think about it: it takes tremendous courage to give up the place of your birth, travel thousands of miles, and start a new life in a new world. Millions have done it because the promise of America was so appealing. We see in immigrants' lives hope, promise, fear, and frustration. It's human evolution within a lifetime.
You can get a glimpse of the immigrants' experience from Madhu's post on remembering an Indian broadsheet.
October 07, 2003
The "Half of All Marriages End in Divorce" Myth
Blog of the Moderate Left continues the myth that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. This claim comes from a superficial glance at some data. According to the National Center for Health Statistics via The World Almanac in 2001, there were 8.4 marriages per 1000 population. There were 4.0 divorces per 1000 population. All that tells us is that in sheer numbers there were about twice as many marriages in 2001 than divorces. That doesn't tell us that half of all marriages formed in 2001 will end in divorce. Simple data like this doesn't allow us to make a conclusion either way. To do that we'd need to track a large sample of marriages.
"Jesse Layeth the Smack Down"
Global Flash Mob
They don't have any cultural and/or political significance but it's interesting watching this phenomenon just to see the birth, growth, and quick death of a fad. The high point for FMs might be 10.25. That's when there will be a Global Flash Mob. So, if you stumble upon a group of people flailing away like they're at a Grateful Dead concert but without the music. They might not be high on illegal drugs just flash mob kool-aid.
September 27, 2003
First, here are my thoughts on Chicago's new Soldier Field that I posted at SportsBlog:
I haven't seen the new Soldier Field in person. I can only rely on pictures. But from what I've seen, at most, I can only give it a C grade. The interior is spectacular. It has great sight lines, and the slices in the bowl allow fans to see Chicago's skyline. The asymmetry of the design is a good innovation without taking anything away from its function.
However, the exterior has a whole lot to be desired. Critics are correct. New Soldier Field is a space ship that landed around a 1920s exterior. There is too harsh a contrast between the 21st Century interior and the early 20th Century exterior. Stainless steel and glass don't mesh well with classical stone pillars.
"Bearing up Well so Far"
"Bears' 'Spaceship' Stirs Furor"
Next, Terry Teachout posts an experience from someone who spent some time living in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. How can architecture be considered "great" if it's so hard to live in? Buildings aren't just pretty things to be looked at. They have function and need to relate to those who occupy them.
September 26, 2003
Luther: A Review
Joseph Fiennes pulls off an Oscar-calibre performance as Martin Luther. His portrail of the conflict within was outstanding. We see the tortured soul dealing with salvation, damnation, and temptation. His thrashing and yelling at the devil reminds me of Smegal in the second Lord of the Rings movie. Peter Ustinov played Luther's benefactor, Prince Fredrick. He did a great job with great wit and a keen use of subtle facial features. The settings and costumes were gorgeous. The mud, dirt, and heavy clothing reminds you that this is set in the 16th Century
As a historical epic we do get to see what effect Luther's ideas had on Germany. Peasants took his rejection of Roman authority to heart and revolted. Luther was appalled and asked the ruling princes to put down the revolt. The princes also used Luther's Reformation as a means to oppose Charles, the Holy Roman Emperor. Roger Ebert does make a good point that there wasn't enough description of the political background of the time. Attempts were made by characters like Pope Leo X to mention the Turks were threatening Vienna, but more could have been done.
Catholics probably won't be too fond of this movie. Rome is called a "sewer" where priests sleep with prostitutes and commerce (in the form of indulgences) was more important than spirituality.
I'd love this movie to get some Oscar consideration. Fiennes and Ustinov shine; and Jonathan Firth, who plays Cardinal Aleandro, makes for a sly, cunning adversary. I wouldn't go so far as to say Luther should get best-picture consideration. It's too much of a morality play where all the characters are either good or bad. What Luther is is a story of man challenging the most powerful institution of his time and winning. As that, this is a fine movie.
September 12, 2003
Ground Zero: More than Morgue
Since al-Qaeda attacked the WTC because it represented America's economic power and greatness, there would be no better middle finger to them than to once again make it a center of commerce. As Jeff Taylor writes,
The best tribute to the fallen would showcase another bustling center of human activity -- working, eating, buying, selling, yelling, crying, striving. Living.
At the very least, NYC leaders should scrap the awful postmodern Libeskind design. Let's create some architecture that looks like people should live and work in.
September 09, 2003
Watch Out for Smelly Penguins
The Sunday comics will once again have meaning.
September 03, 2003
Zombyboy has a good post on those skimpy outfits teen girls are wearing. He writes,
Message to parents: these are children. They may think that they are sophisticated, they may think that they are mature, but they are not. It is your job to be sophisticated enough to understand the things that they do not. It is your job to be mature enough to say "no" when it is appropriate.
Along with the post are some good comments.
September 02, 2003
Why I Don't Give Money
Micha Ghertner at Catallarchy.net posts on why humans give gifts rather than cash. Micha quotes from a David Friedman selection that is one of those socio-economic texts that rob all the vitality from human interactions.
I approach gift giving as a way of self-expression and to show I care about the receiver. My gift searches involve balancing the desires of the receiver with my own personal preferences. For example, I like books and the ideas contained in them. I also happen to work in a bookstore so it's no surprise to many that they get books as gifts from me. I won't give a book that made Oprah's book club (The Corrections and East of Eden excluded). Instead, I seek books that stimulate the mind and have something important to say. David Friedman would call that "paternalism." I wouldn't. For me, I hope the ideas contained in my gift books would add pleasure and insight to the receiver. I want that person to grow intellectually. I hope my gifts build up the person to be better than they were before. I hope my gift would be used and remembered. That doesn't happen with cash or a gift card. I can't force someone to read the book or use my gift. I can only give them the opportunity.
Serious gift giving forces the giver to think deeply about the receiver to figure out what gift would best help the receiver become a better person. You have to examine the receiver's life as well as your own. That's not paternalism. That's love. But love is a subject that becomes "preferences" and "utility" in the hands of over-analytical economists like Friedman.
Do I go about this lengthy process when I'm shopping? Not entirely. Most of it is done instinctually. Before shopping, I consciously tell myself that I want to be serious in seeking a gift. As I stroll around a store looking at items I compare the item to the personality of the receiver. Then I compare it to my own. The gift should not only add value to the receiver, it should also be a capsule of memory. A good gift is remembered by the receiver.
P.S. This thinking shouldn't be completely applied to gag gifts. The whole purpose of that is to make people laugh. Plenty of thought should go into these gift searches if you want the joke to be funny and memorable.
"The Social Construction of Matrimony"
Will Baude responds to Micha's post. I think it's safe to say that he and I are on a similar page. He writes, "Gift-giving, I argue, simply isn't very economic behavior in the first place."
August 29, 2003
Al Franken's Crack Up
Al Franken lost it while hosting CNN's Crossfire (a worthless excuse for a "news" show) and babbled near the end of the program. All the attention has gotten to him. Maybe that way Fox News'/Bill O'Reilly's plan all along to stop Franken. They sued him so he would garner so much attention that he'd eventually crack. Since Al did so badly on this show imagine if he ever did become the flagship talker on a liberal talk radio network. He'd pass out on-air the first time a smart conservative got on to challenge him. He needs to go back to the quiet confines of Harvard and be waited on by 14 research assistants.
Harvard's Lowered Standards
Matthew joins me in loudly declaring displeasure that Harvard wasted research money to fund Al Franken. He writes,
In their asinine lawsuit against Franken, Fox may have perfected the anti-publicity stunt, but that doesn't validate Franken's volume as a piece of "journalism" worthy of a Harvard fellowship, particularly when Franken used his Harvard resources to lie to the people he's "exposing." The news that Franken's fellowship was used to make his book begs the question: did the Shorenstein press center directors who granted Franken the fellowship know the direction of his resulting work, or did Al Franken con them -- as he attempted to do to others -- into thinking he was doing the work of a serious journalist?
Officials at the Shorenstein Center need to be held accountable to donors and alumni. Any Harvard TAM readers? I would like to talk to you.
"Al Franken, Con Man?"
Only No. 2
What's with those Madison college students? They must be sluffing off with their binge drinking and carousing. How else can the University of Colorado Boulder beat them out as the top party campus? When you go to school in a state known for its beer you have to take that reputation seriously. Colorado may be good at drinking, but the scoreboard showed who had the better football team down in San Antonio last December.
"Study Ranks University of Colorado No. 1 for Partying"
August 28, 2003
McKinney at Cornell
Almost as goofy as Harvard giving Al Franken a fellowship (with 14 fact-finding assistants) is Cornell giving race-baiting, conspiracy nut Cynthia McKinney a visiting professorship. My already low opinion of Ivy League schools drops daily.
August 27, 2003
Being the good parent that she is, Michele asks this question:
Oh and mothers of teenage girls: Why do you let your daughters walk around with pants so low that you can practically see what their natural hair color is? Not only is it disgusting and whorish looking, but the fact that most of these girls were with their mothers and/or fathers made me want to stab those parents in the eyes. Three times.
"What I Did on the Last Day of My Vacation"
August 25, 2003
Autistic Boy Crushed
Police said Terrance Cottrell Jr. died last Friday because Ray Hemphill sat or laid on his chest during prayer sessions to rid the boy of "bad spirits." Hemphill was arrested and is in custody on suspicion of physical abuse of a child. The district attorney's office has yet to charge him for Cottrell's death. Part of the delay is because of a Wisconsin law that deals with "treatment through prayer."
"Boy's Death Ruled Homicide"
Autistic Boy Dies
In bad local news an autistic boy died during a prayer service. Few details are known as to what happened. Serice participants admit the boy's hands and feet were held during the service and a sheet was place over the boy's hands.
"Church Expects Clearance in Death"
August 22, 2003
A Diversity Myth
David Brooks points out something the diverstiy police dare not speak:
Maybe it's time to admit the obvious. We don't really care about diversity all that much in America, even though we talk about it a great deal. Maybe somewhere in this country there is a truly diverse neighborhood in which a black Pentecostal minister lives next to a white anti-globalization activist, who lives next to an Asian short-order cook, who lives next to a professional golfer, who lives next to a postmodern-literature professor and a cardiovascular surgeon. But I have never been to or heard of that neighborhood. Instead, what I have seen all around the country is people making strenuous efforts to group themselves with people who are basically like themselves.
At the end of his essay, he redefines what good diversity should entail:
It's probably better to think about diverse lives, not diverse institutions. Human beings, if they are to live well, will have to move through a series of institutions and environments, which may be individually homogeneous but, taken together, will offer diverse experiences. It might also be a good idea to make national service a rite of passage for young people in this country: it would take them out of their narrow neighborhood segment and thrust them in with people unlike themselves. Finally, it's probably important for adults to get out of their own familiar circles. If you live in a coastal, socially liberal neighborhood, maybe you should take out a subscription to The Door, the evangelical humor magazine; or maybe you should visit Branson, Missouri. Maybe you should stop in at a megachurch. Sure, it would be superficial familiarity, but it beats the iron curtains that now separate the nation's various cultural zones.
Just ignore Brooks' call for mandatory national service.
"People Like Us"
August 20, 2003
Why is Franken a Harvard Fellow?
A couple of posts down I wondered why Al "Fair and Balanced Except When I Lie to John Ashcroft" Franken was a paid fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. I've gone straight to the source and am still confused.
According to the Shorenstein Center's website "[f]ellows are domestic or international journalists, scholars, and/or policymakers who are interested in the influence of the press on public policy and politics."
Then there's the fellowship program's objective:
The purpose of the Fellows Program is to advance existing research in press/politics and to provide an opportunity for distinguished experts to reflect on their discipline. Our goal is to foster a collegial and intellectual environment that will enrich and complement one’s knowledge of the field. The primary focus for a fellow in residence is a paper (approximately 25 pages in length) on a topic examining and analyzing the influence of the press on politics and public policy in the domestic or international arena.
How does Franken fit into this? His background includes performing and writing for Saturday Night Live, co-writing the movie When a Man Loves a Woman, and writing the books like Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations and Why Not Me: The Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency. He is neither a journalist, scholar, nor policymaker. And last time I heard just because you can make fun of the news doesn't mean you're any good at examining the "influence of the press on public policy and politics." The closest I can see for Franken being qualified is he's a Harvard graduate and had a daughter studying there. It looks like Harvard's "old boys network" in action.
With the $17,500 stipend wasted on Franken 35 people could attend BloggerCon in October. Franken's new book isn't even out yet and it already looks like there would be more intellectually stimulating from a weblogger gathering than Franken's attempt at humor. If I were a Harvard alumni or donor I'd be upset in how school officials are wasting away research money on a dishonest comedian.
August 19, 2003
New Battlestar Galactica
I understand how some Battlestar Galactica fans are peeved at the new mini-series coming out in December. They changed the gender of two characters, Boomer and Starbuck; and they made the Cylons into humanoids.
If the writers and producers of the new series wanted to make a new kind of science fiction series they could have started from scratch, but as Ronald D. Moore put it,
When the idea of Galactica was brought to me, I quickly realized this was a really good way to go. Here’s an existing franchise. I don’t have to walk in and sell them the whole concept—okay, let’s do science fiction again—which is hit or miss sometimes. It’s always an expensive proposition. Other than Star Trek, many are the bodies of the dead.
The documentary-style filming should definitely set it apart from the rest of sci-fi television.
"Taking the Opera Out of Space Opera"
August 10, 2003
Gregory Hines is Dead
Gregory Hines' death came out of no where. I didn't know he had cancer. He was a wonderful tap dancer as well as a funny partner to Billy Crystal in Running Scared. Godspeed, Gregory.
"Actor Hines Dies of Cancer"
August 05, 2003
Meryl Yourish writes on the "sexism" of John Hawkins' lists:
However: The list is as sexist as the last one, for several reasons. Hillary hatred goes beyond partisan-bashing. Hillary hatred has huge amounts of sexism involved. From the first moment it became clear that she was going to be an active First Lady, the howls from people who think that First Ladies should be seen and not heard came out. The screams about how she was not elected president, her husband was, rose to the heavens. Many of these objections came from the same people who ignored the fact that Nancy Reagan was an active part of Ronald Reagan's presidency. She prevented him from having meetings with world leaders because she believed his horoscope was bad for that particular time. This was documented in books afterwards, and whispered of while he was in office. And I have always felt that his Alzheimer's disease struck long before we knew about it, and questioned who exactly was running the Reagan presidency during those last years. Reagan's famous "I don't recall" answers during Iran-Contra may actually have been true, and not simply dodging the question.
So blasting Hillary Clinton for behaving like an unelected co-President was sexism and not blasting Nancy Reagan for advising her husband is too. Huh? If anything it's an anti-liberal bias. More likely, what it was was criticism of activities in the public eye (Hillary) versus those in private (Nancy).
But the way the whole "Right-Wing blogosphere is sexist" meme is going, there's no way John Hawkins, et al could win.
Let's play a little affirmative action game. I'll put together a list of webloggers' choices for the greatest women in American history. I want lists from all across the political spectrum. I want lists from people who think Margaret Sanger wasn't a racist eugenicist. I want lists from people who think Phylis Schlafley was the only person who defended our homeland from unisex bathrooms. The deadline is Tuesday, 8.12, at 11:59 p.m. Then next week Wednesday evening, I'll post the list. E-mail me or leave a comment.
"Of Course it's a Sexist List"
Gay Marriage at JunkYardBlog
I don't know how drastically legalized gay marriage would change our culture, but I do know it would change things. Let me quote the final paragraph from B. Preston's post on the subject:
No one is an island. I keep beating on that point because it’s true. Gay marriage isn’t likely to affect my marriage or yours. But it will change the legal definition of marriage, and it will change the culture’s perception of the purpose and meaning of marriage, and will change how the society relates to marriage in terms of morality and law. The choices we make with regard to gay marriage today will affect our society for generations to come, possibly forever. Whether we like it or not.
Most of those changes will be in ways completely unexpected by pro- and anti- gay marriage advocates.
"Gay Marriage and the Influence of One Marriage on All"
Thoughts on Worst Americans
John Hawkins' list sparked some spirited responses [and here]. Many of the complaints had to do with Bill and Hillary Clinton on it. Let's face it, in the big scheme of things, attempting to nationalize health care isn't as bad as actually nationalizing part of it (LBJ's Medicare and Medicade) or attempting to create a new country out of a part of the U.S. (Aaron Burr) or killing 189 people (Tim McVeigh).
But ranking the Clintons so highly isn't necessarily a sign to Right-wing wacko-ness. It's just an example of society's lack of historical knowledge. The public will get interested in cultural histories (Seabiscuit) and biographies (John Adams and Benjamin Franklin) but little else. Sure, Stephen Ambrose sold lots of books on World War II, but I'd argue that his efforts to get into the heads and hearts of the soldiers amounted to more cultural history than military. To show the lack of public desire for real historical depth, the Amazon bestseller list as Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything at number 10.
August 04, 2003
The VH-1 of the blogosphere strikes again. This time John Hawkins lists the worst Americans in history. I voted and here's my list:
* As an exercise for the audience, I'll let you guess why these Supreme Court Justices were picked.
"Bloggers Select The 20 Worst Figures In American History"
August 03, 2003
Lynn writes on her love of photography. She prefers the "act of taking pictures" to looking at them. That's why even after she put 200 into albums it has "barely made a dent in the collection."
As an art form, I thought I'd be best at photography. I can't draw, can't paint, and can't sculpt. What I could do is look through a viewfinder and press a button. One Christmas, I asked for a camera. I hoped to get some point-and-shoot camera. I was pretty sure I wouldn't get anything with a telephoto lens. What I got was a Polaroid instant camera. I wasn't enamored with it. My parents didn't realize that my interest was beyond mere family snapshots. Simple pictures of relatives and friends bored me.
But when you have lemons, you make lemonade. I trucked my clunky camera around the yard and burned through a cartridge of film occasionally. My shots never turned out looking like something in National Geographic. That was too much to expect, but as a kid I was not patient with things that didn't come easily (still not). I blamed it on the camera, and after a few years of occasional shooting, it got lost in a closet. In the past few years I've taken gone on trips and brought along disposable cameras. A few shots have come out looking better than average tourist, but many have subjects at slightly awkward slants or with too much background.
Paging through photo essays doesn't interest me, and I can't name a single photoblog. Yet I think about what makes a good picture. Why does black and white "show" so much more than color? What made Ansel Adams' work so inspiring and Robert Mapplethrope's porn so disturbing? (Yes, he did much more than the controversial work he's most famous for.) Is it like writing: you only get better by doing? Is the art in taking the picture or taking lots and lots of pictures and picking out the best ones? Maybe if I know more about the process of photography I can get better.
August 02, 2003
More "Best..." Movie Catagories
Send me some more catagories. And for discussion I'll offer this one to the audience: Best Movie Starring a Man Named Steve. My initial pick is The Thomas Crown Affair because I haven't seen Steve McQueen in The Great Escape and Bullitt had too many long pauses. Your thoughts?
July 31, 2003
Neppie inspired me to list a few "best" movies to supplement my list below.
Best Drama: Citizen Kane--Kane is so complex. You love, hate, pity, and want to be him all at the same time.
Best Comedy: Ghostbusters--It has my favorite line, "Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!"
Best Movie I Should Have Never Seen: Mr. Smith Goes To Washington--I was waiting months to rent this and had my hopes up. It was ok, but too hokey. Maybe I just don't appreciate Jimmy Stewart as much as I should.
Best Sci-Fi Movie: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back--This has all the action, laser blasts, flying, and explosions a kid (or kid at heart) could want.
Best Non-Sci-Fi Action Movie: Die Hard--John McClane didn't really stand a chance against a bunch of terrorists-turned-thiefs, but he killed them all off and looked good doing it. Just fast forward the scene where he's pulling the glass pieces out of his feet. Ick!
Best Western: Unforgiven--I don't like the genre, but this movie kind of stands out. I know it's not much of a defense.
Best Sports Movie: Bull Durham--Funny, sexy and passionate about baseball.
Best Really Long Movie (3+ hours): Giant--The canvas director George Stevens paints on is huge cinamatically and temporally. The story intertwines economics, racism, and love. James Dean also steals the show.
I have to call it a night, but I want more catagories. Offer one up (give me some strange ones), and I'll see if I can come up with a movie.
For full disclosure, here are my picks for the best movies of all time (in no particular order) as given to John Hawkins for his list:
I have to second Michele's comment that "Those of you who rank Star Wars: A New Hope above ESB are just plain old crazy."
I will now open it up to my audience of three: me, myself, and wandering flake looking for Ann Coulter porn. (My, was that a bit of Google-whoring?)
July 28, 2003
Bob Hope R.I.P.
Bob Hope died today. He was 100. Since I wrote a little on him when he turned 100 a few months ago, I'll just quote myself:
Today's Bob Hope's birthday. Many thanks should go to a very funny man who devoted so much time to entertaining our soldiers here and abroad. One World War II veteran wrote to him, "We are grateful we had someone who cared enough to come to the danger zones. You deserve to be an honorary veteran."
"Entertainer Bob Hope Dies at 100"
July 27, 2003
My sister saw Seabiscuit and loved it. It's her "favorite movie of all time." She also wants me to get the book for her. There might be a few left at my store. It's been selling very well.
"Seabiscuit Overtakes Hard Times, Sprints Home"
July 26, 2003
America's Defining Events
Kate got all hacked off at John Hawkins' greatest Americans list so she decided to put together a list of her own: the 50 Most Defining Events In American History. When I think of "defining" I look at events that have caused important trends--both good and bad. Here are some events just off the top of my head.
July 21, 2003
Greatest Americans II
When readers ask, TAM delivers...sometimes. The Eye asked for my picks of the greatest Americans. Well, here they are:
John at Right Wing News certainly can conjure up hooks to get everyone to read his weblog. His latest is sure to climb the charts of blogdex and Daypop. [Have I just made the first blogospheric comparison of those two indexes with the music charts? Probably not. The chattering of a few million people in the Web makes a truly original idea rare.] The list of the greatest figures in American history is pretty good. With the voters being mostly webloggers of the Right (including me), it's not a surprise that Ronald Reagan tied with Thomas Jefferson for first. My only serious qualm is with Teddy Roosevelt. He was a big government Republican (later Progressive Bull Moose) who had an unhealthy passion for war.
"Bloggers Select The 20 Greatest Figures In American History"
July 19, 2003
I thought it was pretty cool that the movie Mr. 3000 was being shot in Milwaukee. Now, I've found out Bernie Mac plays an Brewer. The movie's much cooler now.
And no, yours truly will not be making his Hollywood debut in this movie. Instead, I will be earning some cash to fill up my bank account after buying a car this week.
"Filming of Mr. 3000 is a Hit with Fans"
July 16, 2003
North, South, and Slavery
So what if this post is over a week old. I saved it for a reason. It's Eugene Volokh reminding us that despite the best efforts of paleos slavery can't be ignored when discussing the Civil War.
July 13, 2003
Not So Bright
I've only glanced at the "bright" meme that's taken hold in some corners of the blogosphere. There's not much I can say because I feel, like Steven (and here and here), that declaring yourself a bright is awfully arrogant. The implication is that since I believe in the existence of a supernatural God, then I'm not bright, I'm dim. Well, since most of Western Civilization the Brights love was built on the ideas of the Dim, they should give a little more respect to us Theists.
Calling yourself a Bright is not a way to win public sympathy. At least when gays use the term gay, they don't mean that heterosexuals are sad.
July 08, 2003
Illegal Art would be better titled "Illegal" Art since the show has not gotten into any legal trouble. An even better title would be Bad "Illegal" Art. Just browsing through the visual pieces you start with mildly cleaver, to banal, to just plain grotesque. The theme of these pieces is the adolescent need to irritate others. These artists didn't get enough satisfaction from needleing their parents while children so they continue with sniping at grown-ups through art that makes no attempt at lifiting up the human condition.
"Artists Just Wanna Be Free"
July 07, 2003
A question comes about often when discussing conservatism: "What do conservatives want to conserve?" Since most conservatives don't back the socialist, anti-tech agenda of environmentalists, critics say conservatives don't want to conserve our natural resources. Most conservatives believe adhering to traditional morality is best for a well-functioning society. Along that line, I'll quote from this Eve Tushnet post:
Marriage has developed over time (ooh, Hayek would like this!) to fulfill several specific needs that hold society together: couples' need for a promise of fidelity; children's need for a father and for stability and security; young people's need for a tie to the next and the previous generations; young people's need for a transition to adult womanhood and manhood; men's (women's too, but especially men's) need for a channel for sexual desire that is fruitful, not destructive.
A long time ago--probably back when TAM was on Angelfire--I linked to an essay by David Boaz that called for the government to get out of the marriage business. It parallels Michael Kinsley's column on same-sex marriage. Privatizing marriage would certainly take the issue of gay marriage off the table (but we'd have to endure months of Andrew Sullivan posts on how his wedding plans were going). It may not be as disasterous as Eve would think. Since marriage is an institution that has grown deep roots in our culture, privatizing marriage wouldn't immediately destroy it. I do think there would be many people in the short-term who would forge some pretty bizarre and radical unions (how about three women, two men, and a 21-year-old son of one of the men?). The results of such a free-for-all would victimize many--especially young children.
I'm currently reading Modern Sex and what caught my eye and tugged at my heart is the tremendous amount of cynicism people have toward love, sex, and relationships. If you haven't read the book or read any of the essays when they were originally published in City Journal then just watch an episode of Sex and the City. Today, we can have consentual sex with whomever we want. The Sexual Liberation movement reached it goal, but we're not any happier. We're learning the hard way that sex does not equal love nor does it ensure happiness.
As we strip marriage of its societal honor, its special status, and the various features that helped it fulfill its complex functions (and I really think its restriction to opposite-sex couples is one of these features), we make it much, much harder for love to make the world go 'round. We make it much harder to link eros and responsibility. We make it much harder for adults' desires and children's interests to line up--thus forcing unnecessary tragic choices between adults and their own children. We also, I note for the libertarians in my readership, weaken the societal infrastructure that makes limited government possible.
The big question is would privatized marriage dramatically change society for the worse. No body knows that answer. Not the gay marriage advocates, not the Religious Right, not the social libertines. Because of this, the conservative response is to back the status quo instead of jumping head-first into the cultural unknown.
July 05, 2003
Another milestone for modern art: a human egg in a jar labled "Chrissy Caviar®." What's next, sperm in a tooth paste tube? Oh, hush! I won't want to give any aspiring modern artist any ideas.
[via Venomous Kate]
June 24, 2003
Cam Edwards comments on a leftist talk radio host's (yes, they do exist) rather lame reasoning behind affirmative action. Edwards calls it "a classic case of white guilt."
Christopher Manion on [Anarchy]Lew Rockwell's weblog writes that Sen. Barry Goldwater had "no personal, political, or principle-based reason to suggest a truly conservative nominee, and he did not" when he suggested Sandra Day O'Connor as Supreme Court justice. Now, "racism will be the law of the land for decades to come."
"O'Connor Time Bomb Explodes Again"
Conservatives Not Happy with Court or Bush
Conservatives aren't happy with yesterday's Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action, and for good reason. With those rulings, the court allowed government-sanctioned racial discrimination. Abigail Thernstrom, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said, "We have just signed on to quotas for the foreseeable future for decades to come. We're going to have race-driven decision making from now on with the moral legitimacy of the court."
Part of the disappointment comes from President Bush's statement. I'm sorry to have to do this, but a Fisking of the President is in order.
I applaud the Supreme Court for recognizing the value of diversity on our Nation's campuses. Diversity is one of America's greatest strengths. Today's decisions seek a careful balance between the goal of campus diversity and the fundamental principle of equal treatment under the law.
Diversity simply means variety, at least in the way most people use the word. However, in the hands of the Left "Diversity" becomes a tool of social engineering. University Leftists use it as a means to alleviate the wrongs of dead white men of generations past. In university admitions getting the best students isn't the goal. Instead, the Left brings in less qualified students to relieve pent up guilt. Forget about those students who got passed over. Affirmative action is needed forever for whites to pay for the sins of the dead.
Diversity isn't a strength any more than the stars on our flag are the reason for its popularity. It's a fact. But Diversity for the Left is confined only to skin color, gender, and sexual orientation. True diversity entails the ideas and perspectives between individuals' ears. A variety of though is the diversity an institution of higher learning should strive to create.
My Administration will continue to promote policies that expand educational opportunities for Americans from all racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. There are innovative and proven ways for colleges and universities to reflect our diversity without using racial quotas. The Court has made clear that colleges and universities must engage in a serious, good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives. I agree that we must look first to these race-neutral approaches to make campuses more welcoming for all students.The court hasn't ordered higher education to find "race-neutral alternatives." They struck down the obvious racial advantages used in Michigan's undergraduate admissions, but they allowed race to play a factor in law school admissions. What the court told schools to do is not make their race-based preferences blatant. Deacon at Power Line calls this a "road map" schools "can use to discriminate against whites."
Race is a reality in American life. Yet like the Court, I look forward to the day when America will truly be a color-blind society. My Administration will continue to work toward this important goal.The President's goal has been undermined by a court that accepts a Leftist definition of Diversity as well as government-sanctioned racism. This doesn't move our nation close to a color-blind society. If Deacon is right, continued racial preferences will hurt the minorities they're designed to help. "The soft bigotry of low expectations all but guarantees that blacks and Hispanics will never be able to compete on equal terms with whites." Lower results may result in blacks and Hispanics being looked down upon by the rest of society. The end result is greater racial polarization.
"Conservatives Call Affirmative Action Rulings 'Disgusting' and 'Disappointing'"
UPDATE: NRO's John Miller also rips into President Bush's statement.
Michigan Ruling Opinions
Here are other's thoughts on the Michigan affirmative action rulings. I've got a longer post next, but I want to offer these on these frustrating rulings.
In time, the court's role will seem anachronistic; its reasoning and vocabulary will seem quaint. Demographics, not constitutional litigation, are determining the destiny of a post-racial America.
Dave of SCSUScholars tries to wrap his arms around the logic of these rulings. He comes to this conclusion:
A politically desirable end can justify normally unconstitutional means so long as cleverly narrow redefinitions of the means are employed, so long as no quantifiable objectives for using such means are ever explicitly articulated, and so long as one hopes to discontinue using those means at some point in the not too distant future.
June 23, 2003
"Diversity" Regardless of Law
In Gratz v. Bollinger (the undergraduate case), Justice Rehnquist notes that Justice Ginsberg has shed light on the Academy's goal of "diversity" whether constitutional or not. He writes:
Justice Ginsburg in her dissent observes that “[o]ne can reasonably anticipate . . . that colleges and universities will seek to maintain their minority enrollment . . . whether or not they can do so in full candor through adoption of affirmative action plans of the kind here at issue.” Post, at 7-8. She goes on to say that “[i]f honesty is the best policy, surely Michigan’s accurately described, fully disclosed College affirmative action program is preferable to achieving similar numbers through winks, nods, and disguises.” Post, at 8. These observations are remarkable for two reasons. First, they suggest that universities–to whose academic judgment we are told in Grutter v. Bollinger, post, at 16, we should defer–will pursue their affirmative-action programs whether or not they violate the United States Constitution. Second, they recommend that these violations should be dealt with, not by requiring the universities to obey the Constitution, but by changing the Constitution so that it conforms to the conduct of the universities.
What this, in essence, divided ruling does is make ethnic enrollment murkier. What are schools allowed or not allowed to do? On its surface, it looks like it depends on the case. No overarching principle was established here. What Justice Ginsberg's comments shows is universities pushing their radical egalitarian agenda will not be deterred with these rulings.
"Race in Admissions Revised"
With Harry Potter Mania, a pop culture event got lost in the hoopla this weekend: Hulk came to theaters. Jay Solo's hoping there's a Hulk 2 because he sees the movie as parallel to the first Star Trek movie, The Motion Sickness.
Don't worry Jay. With a $60 million opening, there will be a sequel.
this movie had more of a comic feel to it than any of the other movies, what with several panels being shown at the same time during some scenes. This is much like you would see if you were reading a comic.
As I said, if you were or are a really big fan of The Hulk, you will love this movie. The computer graphics were well done [as seems to be the case in almost every movie where computer graphics are involved now], and the feel of the movie embodied the same feeling you got from reading the comics, only bigger and better. If you were not, you may want to wait for the video to come out.
And now for some feedback from those people who get paid to watch movies.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jackie Loohauis was really, really impressed with Ang Lee's effort:
"The Hulk" delivers more Zen than zap, taking the comic-book movie to new philosophical levels, something not done since "Darkman." It might be argued that "The Hulk" could stand as a dramatic work without any Hulk in it.
She also thought Nick Nolte stole the film.
Roger Ebert also liked the movie. He calls Hulk "a comic book movie for people who wouldn't be caught dead at a comic book movie."
June 20, 2003
Here's some common sense from Cerebral Soup:
Almost every product you buy has some kind of warning on it. I sometimes read them for amusement - "You're telling me not to do what? What kind of moron would think to do that?" I often speculate.
"Protecting People from Themselves"
June 14, 2003
New Criterion Weblog
Of all the magazines out there, The New Criterion was the last I would have expected to have a weblog. (Commentary and City Journal are still so 20th Century.) Heck, I'm surprised they have so much of the stuff from the monthly on their website. Fitting a magazine that discusses ideas at a very sophisticated level, I can't pronounce Armavirumque, the weblog's title. Despite that, it's immediately on my blogroll.
"Man" on the Street
Ann Coulter found another black mark on the Old Grey Lady. In an amazing bit of synchronisity, the NY Times always seems to interview the same "average" NY guy.
Another average individual eager to get Hillary's book was Greg Packer, who was the centerpiece of the New York Times' "man on the street" interview about Hillary-mania. After being first in line for an autographed book at the Fifth Avenue Barnes & Noble, Packer gushed to the Times: "I'm a big fan of Hillary and Bill's. I want to change her mind about running for president. I want to be part of her campaign."
It's amazing. That guy is everywhere. He must have gotten really chummy with all the Times reporters. I wonder if they exchange Christmas gifts?
What's left that's pure for the Times? Will we soon find out the crossword puzzles are rigged?
June 13, 2003
Praise Those Firemen
And there is the declaration of the organizations of World Trade Center families-of-victims that there should not be a statue of the firemen at the WTC memorial site. Three hundred forty-three of them died that day, but to commemorate their sacrifice would be "hierarchical." They want it clear that no one was better than anyone else, that all alike were helpless, victims.Radical egalitarianism has gone so far as to negate the heroic actions of those hundreds of men and women who saved thousands of lives. What they did was important. At that place and time, what they were doing was more important than what anyone else was doing. They were saving lives.
However, radical egalitarianism rules Ground Zero. We are not to remember the greatness of American commerce, its workforce, or its heroes. Instead, pain remorse will be enshrined in Libeskind's crystal palace of spikes and harsh edges.
"September 11 Today"
June 11, 2003
More Wreckage at Ground Zero
June 10, 2003
Please Don't Eat Me
V's coming back.
"They're Back: V to Invade NBC Again"
June 05, 2003
Lutheran Doesn't Believe
No, this post's title has nothing to do with ELCA. Instead, it deals with Thorkild Grosboel, a Danish minister who said, "is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection." Not surprisingly, Grosboel was suspended by his bishop. Bishop Rebel did say Grosboel could return to his duties, but he would have to "consider making significant concessions, clarifying that he did not want to sow doubt about the Church's confession, but rather trigger a debate." I thought the debate over the existence of God was pretty much settled among Christians. It's kind of hard to believe in Jesus as your Savior if you reject his divinity.
To show how empty Danish Lutheran theology is, a leader of a Danish theological college thought Grosboel's comments were "refreshing." Heresy is more like it.
June 04, 2003
Because of Monday's FCC ruling, Clay Shirky writes about media concentration and compares Big Media to weblogs. The conclusions are astounding. A free media is very unequal.
In the last few years, however, we have had a clean test, and it's weblogs. Weblogs are the freest media the world has ever known. Within the universe of internet users, the costs of setting up a weblog are minor, and perhaps more importantly, require no financial investment, only time, thus greatly weakening the "freedom of the press for those who can afford one" effect. Furthermore, there is no Weblog Central -- you do not need to incorporate your weblog, you do not need to register your weblog, you do not need to clear your posts with anyone. Weblogs are the best attempt we've seen to date of making freedom of speech and freedom of the press the same freedom, in Mike Godwin's famous phrase.
This is F. A. Hayek's "spontaneous order" in action.
"The FCC, Weblogs, and Inequality"
May 29, 2003
Hope Turns 100
Today's Bob Hope's birthday. Many thanks should go to a very funny man who devoted so much time to entertaining our soldiers here and abroad. One World War II veteran wrote to him, "We are grateful we had someone who cared enough to come to the danger zones. You deserve to be an honorary veteran."
One complaint about Hope was that he didn't write his own jokes. But writing jokes isn't enough for great comedy. All of us think of funny things to say, but few of us can find that right moment with just that bit of timing needed to get others laughing. Hope had that. If we should complain about Hope not writing jokes, we should complain about Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O'Brian, and every cast member of Saturday Night Live. All of them use lines written by others, yet we still consider them comedians.
But the worst I've found said about Hope is that his comedy supported the status quo. John Lahr, who wrote a profile in The New Yorker a few years ago told The Boston Globe, "Anyone worthy of the title `comedian' thinks against the culture. Comedy is not about sniffing the hem of power, yet Hope used laughter to reinforce the forces of power." For Lahr, comedy--even culture in general--should only be used as a bulwark against the mainstream. It's only purpose is to challenge authority.
But that's not the case. People don't seek out funny people because comedians are rebels. They seek out comedy because they want to be entertained; they seek an escape from the tedium of their regular lives. Many comedians do use satire and sarcasm to point out the obsurdities of the world around us. Through that, they are making social statements, but that's not the reason we like them. We like them because they're funny, and Bob Hope was one of the funniest even if he was part of the status quo.
Unlike celebrities today, you would never, ever catch Bob bashing the military or his country. Happy birthday to a real patriot.
"Hope's Birthday Brings Veterans' Thanks"
"Bob Hope Marks 100th Birthday"
"Bob Hope Turns 100"
"Bob Hope's Century"
May 22, 2003
Here's a reason not to go to grad school if you're a conservative. From Stanley Kurtz:
The National Association of Scholars--the most prominent organization of traditionalist scholars opposed to campus political correctness--has started a blog. Notice that a couple of the entries are signed, while one is anonymous. When I was a grad student, I was afraid to join the NAS for fear that if my membership were discovered, it would destroy my career. So I subscribed to Academic Questions, the NAS journal, but without formally joining. Eventually, I joined the NAS, but made sure it mailings came to me at home, rather than at school. Turns out the local NAS understood all this, and sent its information in envelopes with no organizational identification on the outside. If memory serves, one of the early notorious incidents of political correctness was Stanley Fish’s suggestion that NAS members at Duke be barred from committees deciding on tenure. A blog is an ideal way for isolated and persecuted traditionalist professors to communicate.
And Lefties like the Dixie Chicks and Tim Robbins complain about censorship. Kurtz and NAS members are practically blacklisted.
May 20, 2003
Blair: Racial Victim?
The Jayson Blair story is only a few weeks old, and the guy's already peddling proposals for movie and book deals. Drudge has posted some excerpts from an upcoming New York Observer interview with Blair. I'm not surprised that Blair's claiming to be a racial victim. When hearing drivel from race baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton your whole life, one sees racism in every nook and cranny. He tells a NYO reporter, "Anyone who tells you that my race didn't play a role in my career at The New York Times is lying to you. Both racial preferences and racism played a role. And I would argue that they didn't balance each other out. Racism had much more of an impact." Yeah, Blair was forced by The Man to plagerize stories and make up facts and quotes. The Man drove Blair to have suicidal thoughts. Blair is an affirmative action baby who refuses to take responsibility for his deceit. Instead, he's trying to make money by claiming victim status. Let's get something straight: Jayson Blair is the bad guy here. Not the only bad guy, just the baddest.
May 19, 2003
Many Matrix Reviews
Eric at Blogcritics has compiled a bunch of Matrix Reloaded reviews posted on that weblog. If you're Matrix-ed out like I am (for now) you won't wade through them, but if you want more perspective on Hollywood/kung-fu/philosophy 101 then have at it.
May 18, 2003
Sunday Afternoon at the Movies
The Matrix Reloaded is like good lasangna: it's better a few days later. The first time I watched it Thursday, I was taking in the whole visual experience. And quite an experience it was with amazing fight and action scenes. This evening I watched it again and focused on the part of Neo actually being the one who could destroy Zion in order to save Humanity. This evil choice was given to him by a program that created the myth of "The One" in the first place. I got that bit of the plot pretty well down. However, Morpheus is even more contradictory. Throughout the movie he can't decide whether he believes in free will or destiny so he believes in both. Will he square the circle in Revolutions? I doubt it. That would be too much to hope from this Hollywood version of a introductory philosophy class.
Since I watched the movie to a 75% filled theater late yesterday afternoon, I'm surprised Reloaded didn't break Spiderman's record. Competition from other films as well as the R-rating probably had something to do with that.
"Matrix Reloaded Hits Mark at Box Office"
May 17, 2003
June Carter Cash, R.I.P.
We live in a strange world where things happen that don't make sense. Somehow, Johnny Cash outlived his wife June. If you've seen the video for Johnny's cover of "Hurt" you know how old and sickly he looks. June was also in the video, but she looked vibrant. As the cliche goes: looks can be deceiving. Godspeed, June.
"Singer, Songwriter June Carter Cash Dies"
May 16, 2003
(WARNING: Post contains spoilers.)
The Matrix Reloaded was fun. The fight scenes were the best I've ever seen. They were choreographed superbly even if the Neo versus 100 Agent Smiths looked more like a video game than movie. That was a case where computers got in the way of the scene (although it probably couldn't have been created without them).
With all the whiz-bang special effects I was concerned that the story would suffer. It didn't too much. A problem with The Matrix is the whole determinism/free will argument ingrained in the plot with a heavy seasoning of Eastern philosophy. Even though a book has been published on the philosophical questions surrounding the movie, I found discussion more suited to late night bull sessions in freshman college dorm rooms. Morpheus always talks about prophesy and destiny while every once in a while throwing in the concept of choice. Hard determinism and choice aren't compatible. At one point in the movie Neo learns that while he is "The One," his destiny isn't the destruction of the Matrix, it's to maintain it. Yet in order for Man to beat the machines Neo will have to go against his destiny. Choice and free will do reign supreme. But how then can Morpheus and other characters talk about their purpose as being in a certain place at a certain time doing a certain action? This isn't so much philosophy as a logical conundrum.
While not moving steadily to a climax as in the first movie, you can see how the story goes forward to the final battle against the machines that will take place in The Matrix Revolutions later this year. So, as a part two of a trilogy, Reloaded isn't The Empire Strikes Back.
On the acting front, Keanu Reeves actually acted. I didn't notice a single "whoa" out of him, and he played the role of the reluctant messiah well. Lawrence Fishburne remained his preachy self as Morpheus who faces a question of faith at the end of the movie. Carrie-Anne Moss seemed colder, less emotional as Trinity.
Realoaded had the biggest hype of the summer movies, but it didn't blow me away. Fun, yes, but I would put it on the same level as X2 which is the best comic book movie since the first Batman.
"Matrix: Not Much Neo to Report"
May 14, 2003
Public Display of Lutheranism
A controversy from a post-September 11 prayer service has finally been resolved. At the Oprah-led service at Yankee Stadium, a representative of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Rev. David Benke said a short, 10-word prayer. A few members of the synod complained about him praying with those of other faiths, and Benke was suspended. He appealed and the decision from the appeal panel is in: Benke's suspension was reversed and he's been reinstated as president of the Atlantic District of the church.
When the issue first came up, I didn't think Benke did anything wrong.
Those opposing Benke may have thought they were protecting the synod from theological relativism. It's a legitimate concern when mainline Protestant churches are moving away from Biblical teaching when it contrasts with social liberalism. However, September 11 was such a traumatic event. Such a time is when public display of Christian faith is needed. Benke said,
I think the other thing that is important here is that this is a way for our church at large to reaffirm the fact that when the people in the country and the people in the world need consolation, encouragement, hope that we believe can only be provided through Jesus Christ - who we believe is savior of the world and Lord of the universe - our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is going to be there.
"Lutheran Panel Reinstates Official"
April 28, 2003
Has actor Ron Silver been ostracized by fellow Hollywood types because of his pro-war stance? I'll let you be the judge:
Silver, a cofounder of the Creative Coalition, a generally liberal Hollywood activist organization, was an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq.
"Pro-War Celebrities Bash Hollywood Anti-War Activists" [via Boycott Hollywood]
Big Music's Small Piece
If Harvard law professor Terry Fisher is right, then those who are downloading illegal songs of the Net to stick it to Big Music are inflicting a lot of collateral damage. Let me quote from Orin Kerr's post:
I understand that the record companies have done some pretty bad stuff in the past, and of course they are the industry that every one loves to hate. If I understand Fisher's figures correctly, however, record company profit makes up only about one percent of the price of a compact disc. If record companies decided to operate on a not-for-profit basis, the average price of CDs would drop from $18 to $17.81. This is certainly news to me. Am I missing something, or does downloading hurt local retailers the most-- with artists, record companies, and manufacturers all taking their share of the hit as well?
A problem I see with Fisher's conclusion is if Big Music gets such a small portion from a CD sale then why did companies like Sony and AOL Time Warner get into the business or stay in it? When the music market was doing better a few years ago were they making their sliver from volume?
April 18, 2003
Dr. Atkins: R.I.P.
Now that Dr. Atkins died, will his followers go out and eat lots of steaks to salute his high protein/low carbohydrate diet? If so, should I have bought some cattle futures?
"Diet Doctor Knocks Noggin, Expires"
April 13, 2003
Journalistic Ethics or Moral Bankruptcy?
The most shocking news of last week wasn't the sudden fall of Baghdad. It was CNN's Eason Jordan admitting in the NY Times that he and his company buried (no pun intended) stories about Saddam's brutal regime to stay in Iraq. There's been plenty of weblogging commentary so I'll just offer this from Kevin Whited (who's Reductio Ad Absurdum should be on your daily reading list):
Some might say that Mr. Jordan's startling editorial yesterday -- and subsequent comments defending his actions -- indicates some remorse and guilt for not having reported these crimes. Surely such introspection is a first step towards morality, but one can't help but wonder after watching Mr. Jordan flop this way and that if the secular Left is even capable of assessing morality (instead preferring to hide behind such noble efforts as protecting its sources and "journalistic ethics" -- too often no ethics at all).
"The News We Kept to Ourselves"
April 07, 2003
Pulitzer Prize Winners
If the Pulitzer Prize committee handed out awards based on a writer's influence, then Colbert King wouldn't have won this year's award for commentary. When I read that he won, I asked myself, "Who is Colbert King?" It's uncomfortable for a news junkie like me to have never heard of King. He must not be a conservative, or I would have stumbled upon him in my tours through the Right side of the blogosphere. After going through the King columns submitted to the prize committee, I'm disappointed I missed a fine thrashing of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), a wrenching portrait of a crime scene, and a biting attack on the religious double standards of Saudi Arabia.
"2003 Pulitzer Prize Awards"