Friday, March 30, 2007

The Discovery Institute re-appears in the pages of First Things


I mean, like, come on, already! After the birching the judge gave the creationist school board members in the Kitzmiller case, you'd think that someone with the capability to process information would wise up by now. But no, here is Father Neuhaus, bless the old warrior for the faith, giving a megaphone to the Discovery Institute's invincibly uneducable John G. West.

Evolution is a fact. It would still be a fact even if creationist bogeymen like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett had never existed. As I always like to say, to believe in things that can't be proved is faith; but to disbelieve in things that have been proved is just obstinance. And really, the dishonesty of creationists in misrepresenting the scientific consensus on evolution ill commends their religious witness.

I wish the editors of First Things would just drop this turkey of an "issue". Railing against evolution is just another way of vainly trying to build a better yesterday, trying to get back to the supposed spiritual harmonies of the Middle Ages. Well, if you could reach back into the 13th Century and pluck somebody out at random, you'd be very unlikely to reel in a Thomas Aquinas, a Roger Bacon, a Dante, or a Francis of Assisi. You'd most likely get an illiterate peasant, nasty and brutish. And that peasant would be my medieval counterpart--not Aquinas, Bacon, or any of the rest of the luminaries of the age. I wouldn't want to trade, or go back. So please: don't go trying to discredit modern science for my spiritual betterment.

The 300 and the pre-Islamic Time of Ignorance

I'm mildly surprised at how angry the Iranian government is about the movie 300. There is in Islam the concept of jahiliyyah, or Time Of Ignorance. This refers to the prevailing situation before the coming of Islam, either in one's personal life, or in a society's past. Like so many other Islamic concepts, it can take a decidedly destructive tone when taken up by militant and fundamentalist Islam. The civilizations of the past are only good for object lessons, to show the oblivion into which Allah consigns erring peoples. At its most extreme, the Muslim hostility to jahiliyya is manifested by things like the Taliban's destruction of the ancient Bamiyan buddha statues.

Yet, in those above-linked articles, the Iranian government (for I don't know if this sentiment is shared among the general public, since I don't trust the mullahs word for it) deplores the movie's insult to their Persian forbears. Iran is obviously the most militantly Islamic and jihadist country in the world. So it's a little surprising to see them sticking up for Xerxes' Persian empire. Of course, they could just be cynically playing the multi-culti card, for the benefit of deracinated western proggs.

They do have a point: The Spartans are depicted as plucky, libertarian hoplites, while the Persians may as well have stepped out of the cantina scene in Star Wars. But remember, it's just a computer game, adapted for the big screen. Not a history lesson. We have this conversation every time a historical flick is released.

Monday, March 26, 2007

"Creation Science 101" by Roy Zimmerman


Amazon reviews

I've been attending to my backlog of reviews to write lately, and have gotten a few of them up, here. Amazon's lately started a feature wherein you can comment on the reviews, at the bottom of each. So, speak up if you've a mind to!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Random Rock Bloggage

Here's Thunderclap Newman plus two sidemen lip-synching to their dreamy, sweet 1969 classic "Something In The Air"...

...and here's a Spanish trio doing the same song. The flamenco guitar and the (mis-)memorized English make it seem even dreamier and sweeter.

You can read my enthusiastic review of Thunderclap Newman's only album at this Amazon page.


Via a commenter at LGF.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Richard John Neuhaus on...

...on, well, first things!

It is one of the less charming oddities of our time that, in many circles, atheism, or at least a declared agnosticism, is assumed to be the default position of disinterested ethical discourse. As though proceeding from the assumption that there is no God is less consequential than assuming that there is.

Sweden, Cuba in diplomatic row

One of the ways America's military dependents vent their passive-aggression at us is to chum it up with El Jefe and Cuba. So it's pretty startling to see the FM of Sweden calling out Cuba for the totalitarian dictatorship that it is. And not backing down when a cadre hits back. Cheers to him, then, but good luck getting a prime cement beach bunker on his next vacation to Cuba.

Congratulations to Medienkritik!

The dextrosphere's window on central Europe, David Kaspar's Medienkritik, has passed the three million visits / five million page views mark. Congratulations and thanks to him and Ray D.! Here are some quotes from there that I've found memorable over the years:

In order to save Europe from itself Ratzinger will have to confront a number of European post-war developments that are actively supported by Euro-state policies. First, he will have to find a way to return Europeans to Church. Go to any cathedral in old Europe and it will be filled with tourists and only tourists. In Germany, they have found a way to collect donations without requiring physical attendance through the use of a Church tax. And while it may sooth the individual conscience, donating money to the church via payroll deduction does little to bond believers to the community or provide opportunities to hear about and discuss church values.
He will have to find a way to re-instill those church values necessary for the survival of European society. Given Europe’s suicidal demographics, he will need to emphasize the importance of the family and children. Old Europe has eliminated the need for the social contract between generations and the need for children through
the creation of overly generous state pension schemes. The family has been replaced by bureaucrats who administer tax funded benefits.
Most important, Ratzinger must remind Old Europe of its history. Europe as it exists today could not have happened without the Church of Rome. Everything that makes Europe unique among the nations of the earth is directly linked to the historical development of the Christian church and the propagation of its values. It is
impossible to imagine Europe of the past without its Church. And if Europe’s leaders insist on ignoring their German Pope, it will be impossible to imagine a Europe of the future.


You won't believe this: In an article in Frankfurter Rundschau, a leading left-wing daily, Germany's environmental minister J├╝rgen Trittin holds U.S. president George Bush responsible for hurrican Katrina.

Yes, that's right. The hurrican Katrina that killed dozens of people, that destroyed countless homes, flooded parts of Louisina and Mississipi, that left millions without electricity - it's all Bush's fault, according to a leading member of the German green party, who happens to be environmental minister in chancellor Schroeder's cabinet. Never mind that statistics don't show a particularly increase in the
frequency of hurricans in the U.S. in the last decades. Germany's general elections are scheduled for September 18, and the German left is in dire need of a neocon scapegoat for every disaster that befalls the world. And George W. Bush is the default villain in German politics and in the German media...


Now it turns out Bush and Blair didn't lie. Well, most of us here [in Germany] knew that, but now it was proven that those "Bush-lies" claims were nothing but hot air and wishful thinking. The main stream media, in Western Europe and the US does what it knows best under those circumstances: it ignores the facts. Sad, but nothing
Now I come to what I've been trying to say all along. I think it's pretty safe to say that Germans who don't speak English have absolutely no way of getting *in-depth* information on those issues. ... the issues covering front pages in the past for countless days are mentioned now just as miscellaneous facts. That's it ! Nothing else. The media "mentions" them, thus showing its objectivity, and it moves
In the US there is Fox News, there are radio shows where you can get information that main stream media doesn't want to cover because it doesn't fit with its bias. In Germany, there is nothing! Again, if you want in-depth information on those important issues, there is nothing. I admit I haven't searched the entire net for sources of news in German, but what I found so far is amazing. For the media here, informing the Germans is secondary, the main thing is spreading their opinions disguised as news. During WWII the censorship was forced, now it's self-imposed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Indoctrinate U

Via LGF, the trailer for Evan Coyne Maloney's new film. Go to his website, and sign a petition (of sorts) to get it distributed.

Remember, folks: like Natan Sharansky says, in a dictatorship you need courage to denounce evil; in a free society you need courage to see evil. I'm so glad I got my higher education before this crap really metastasized.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Kibitz on Pure Reason

Hmm. A mini-symposium of some sort on Baruch Spinoza.

Cathy Seipp

I just learned via Blair that NRO blogger Cathy Seipp is near death. My profoundest sympathies to all concerned, and Godspeed to Cathy. I was never a regular reader, but I did enjoy her stuff, and posted some quotes of hers to the usenet forum alt.quotations from time to time.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saturday at the movies

It was my Saturday to work, so I was listening to Morning Edition on NPR on the way in. They ran two segments on movies. One was on getting insurance for movies in production in dangerous places, the other was on a movie about an unfinished evangelical movie.

These stories serve as a pretext for me to pitch a movie idea to you. I'll probably never pursue it, and I'll probably regret not having done so, but anyway here's the skinny:

Iraq is in sad shape. I have an idea that it would be a morale booster to the Iraqis if a blockbuster historical action movie could be filmed inside Iraq. I've no idea what the Iraqi cinematic industry is like, or if it even (still) exists. Probably a lot of equipment & personnel would have to be imported.

The subject of the movie? The revolt of the Zanj. I read a bit of it in al-Tabari's history, and became intrigued. The story of internecine conflict in medieval Mesopotamia is usually not very interesting, as one whirlwind dynasty succeeds another, and tribe fights it out with tribe, with no larger civilizational stake in play. But a slave revolt has an added element of pathos. It's not quite Thermopylae, but it could be worked up into an exciting flick. The theme would resonate with Arab audiences, moreso than with Westerners. And if it could be largely an Iraqi production, then that would be a point of national pride.

What kind of diversity are we talking about

Tony Woodlief picks up Earth-like transmissions from Planet Berkeley, but wonders if his reception is accurate.

via Megan McArdle, subbing for the Blogfather.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I've been bulking up my blogroll lately. I've decided not to cherry-pick or spring clean my bookmarks, but just to load 'em all up. I know it's turning into the endless, eye-glazing screen trimming familiar from many other blogs, and I'm not done yet. But maybe you'll find someone new & interesting: try it out! Serendipity is the hazel-wand that opens the magic cave of internet discovery.

How tasteless were the Seventies?

This tasteless:

In an odd example of zeitgeist warpage, World War II seemed more distant from the 70s than it seems today. I suppose it has something to do with the big, round anniversaries having rolled around since then, and all the veterans beginning to pass on at a faster rate. Plus, the general thinning of our culture's skin. Hogan's Heroes couldn't be made today, nor could something like this. Not that we especially need another one of this, anyway...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mitt Romney and the Mormon Church

I've decided that him being a Mormon is not a very high hurdle for me, in case I decide to vote for him. For one thing, the Mormon faith is 100% American. It's nothing I would care to bring into my own home, or wish upon my own children. The whole thing is a pretty transparent humbug, theologically and historically. Yet, "the tree is known by its fruit"; and the Mormon faith is mostly a plus for America, in recent decades, at least. I frequently encounter pairs of young “elders”, biking around on their missions. (I politely shoo them off when they stop by my home, though.) To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, it neither picks my pocket nor bombs my bus.

Now, you'll know that the election coverage has hit a new low when someone in a presidential debate asks Romney about his secret underwear.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Random Rock Bloggage

Grand Funk Railroad was a rara avis in the rock world. Less than one of the all-time greats, yet more than just another flavor of the month from long ago. They appealed to very young late Boomers, who dropped them as they left junior high school. Yet, thanks in part to haunting songs like this, the flame sputtered on, and has been passed on to appreciative new fans:

*Flicks Bic*

Better enjoy that top one while you can. Viacom or somebody has been having it taken down as quickly as it appears.

Khalid Sheikh Muhammad Confesses... 9/11 and a lot more terrorist attacks, planned and realized. Wonder how much Gitmo's bad press is going to inhibit the effect of this good news. Because in my world, it's damn good news. Justice!

I'm so pleased that I'll stifle myself from making a crack about him giving the commencement address at UC-Irvine. It would've been a knee-slapper, trust me.

Monday, March 12, 2007


An old post by Armed Liberal, found serendipitously by clicking through this Instapundit link. Ellipses are mine.

The most important weapons of al-Qaeda and the rest of the Islamist terror network are the suicide bomber and the suicide thinker. The suicide bomber is typically a Muslim fanatic whose mission it is to spread terror; the suicide thinker is typically a Western academic or journalist or politician whose mission it is to destroy the West’s will to resist not just terrorism but any ideological challenge at all. [...]

I think it’s important to understand that, although suicidalism builds on some pre-existing pathologies of Western culture, it is not a native or natural development. It is an infection that evildoers and their dupes created and then spread as part of [the Cold War] against the West; their goal was totalitarian control, and part of their method was to talk the West into slitting its own throat.

Al-Qaeda’s goal is the restoration of the Caliphate and the imposition of shari’a law on the West so that the Dar al-Harb is abolished and absorbed into the Dar al-Islam. In other words, totalitarian theocracy. Western suicidalists have transferred their allegience from Communism to Islamofascism without a hitch. They’re doing their best to see that we lose — and their best is rather more effective than any bombing campaign.

Thus, to defeat al-Qaeda, stopping the suicide bombers is not sufficient. We must recognize, condemn, and reject the suicide thinkers as well.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Great comment on academics and war at Protein Wisdom

I’ve been in an academic setting since before 9/11. My most vivid memory of the reaction from some of my colleagues that day was their shock. Not at the form of the attack, or the details, which were indeed shocking, but the fact that people had actually been plotting to kill us in large numbers, and pulled it off, which was not.

I think, and I’m not trying to be partisan here, they had genuinely convinced themselves that talk of national security threats was something that Republicans did because they get off on it--twisted bastards--and Democrats did because they couldn’t afford to look weak on the issue.

The idea that there’s actually an enemy out there, who’d love to kill them too? Them? That was just crazy talk--then the truth of it was brought home to them, and for awhile they believed it. Now they largely choose not to, because they have that luxury.

Newt Gingrich had affair while pursuing Bill Clinton

A little pre-emptive damage control, to tidy up his presidential bid launching pad? It's too late, he already struck out with me some time ago. I think the Contract With America was the best set of national policy initiatives in my generation--so much so that the Dems were reduced to hijacking elements of it from the flat-footed Republicans in the last several campaigns. But, while much of the public may may forgive triple dealing like this, none of them will forget it. Presidential candidates are held to much higher standards, and therefore Gingrich shouldn't run.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Random Rock Bloggage

Okay, I think I finally figured it out, and can now post videos again. Yay!

It's unusual to hear a rock song with a fugue in it. Sounds kind of baroque. Enjoy this one before the copyright cops find it!

Coulter & Maher have a meeting of minds

"A spleen is a terrible thing to waste!"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jihadists threaten Georgia motorist with death

Corpo del vostro dio!! This is in the same greater metro area as me. Those jihadists better watch out, or they'll get a new hole in their noses. It sounds like they're picking on the wrong hombre.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ann Coulter is not fit for polite company anymore

Clicking around the blogs, I see that the leftosphere is exercised, because the Right is insufficiently outraged at Ann Coulter calling John Edwards a rude name. Okay, let me restore their faith in conservative humanity. Me being a conservative and a quotehound, I'm predisposed to be attracted to Coulter and her extra-wicked zingers. Have a sample:

If liberal propaganda didn't work, it would be impossible to comprehend bimbo starlets and uneducated slobs attacking the intelligence of the man who won the Cold War.

Here the country had finally given liberals a war against fundamentalism and they didn't want to fight it. They would have, except it would put them on the same side as the United States. ... Indeed, an attack on America by fanatical Muslims had finally provided liberals with a religion they could respect. Heretofore liberals deemed voluntary student prayers at high school football games a direct assault on the Constitution. But it was of urgent importance that Islamic terrorists being held in Guantanamo be free to practice their religion. This despite the fact that we had been repeatedly instructed that the terrorists were not practicing "true Islam."

Good stuff, yes? However, quite some time ago, it became apparent that Coulter was no pundit, certainly no thinker, but instead a barb tosser. An amazingly gifted barb tosser, but no more than that. And in recent years, she's been slipping. She's never been one to let facts or tact get in the way of a good punchline. But her gibe at the 9/11 widows and now this insult to Sen. John Edwards shows that, not only is she bereft of the common decencies, but that she might be running low on talent, too. When the fan dancer runs out of titillating moves, the next move is to quit or drop trou. So too, Coulter is now substituting simple abuse for wit.

A little background for liberal visitors. Ann Coulter used to contribute to National Review Online. She was dropped after 9/11 over a piece she wrote on that event. She moved on to David Horowitz's FrontPageMag, who disavowed her book Treason. Now many prominent right-wing bloggers--and, uh, me--are denouncing her current outrage. Doesn't sound like an echo chamber over on this side, now does it?

Now see what you can do about lefty bloggers and pundits wishing the vice-President to have been killed in Afghanistan. Fair's fair.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Danish rioting

The first few news reports I saw of this hinted strongly at Muslim involvement. "Hinted", because by now I'm used to having to read between the lines--"multi-ethnic", "youths", etc.--to tease out the gist that good-thinking journalists would rather bury.

But this seems to be hippies rather than jihadists. The name Christiania is the clue. This neighborhood's reputation preceeds it.

For Scandinavians who can't swing a trip to Cuba, the next best thing--and right in their own neighborhood, too--is a little corner of Copenhagen known as Christiania. [...] Founded in 1971 by hippies, artists, and activists on a site newly vacacted by the Danish army, Christiania is the permanent address of approximately one thousand people who don't pay Danish taxes but whose communal expenses are covered by Danish taxpayers and whose security needs are attended to by the Danish police. [...] In short, Christiania is the quintessence of European socialism at its most puerile: just as the Continent's elite routinely mocks and insults its long-time guardian, the United States, so the spoiled brats of Christiania mock and insult their protector, the government of Denmark. In true Sixties-anarchist fashion, they think of themselves as rebels against the state when in fact they're its wards.
-- Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, 2006

Christiania is a uniquely European place. But like so much else in today's Europe--especially on today's European left--it reeks of American influence. It's what Woodstock would have become if everybody had stayed.
-- ibid