Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Witching Hour?

What is it about 10:00pm EST that makes YouTube go dark? Traffic? What?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tough times at work

I'm glad/lucky to have such a good job, etc., so don't bother educating me on that score. I feel like I am falling victim to the Peter Principle, in which people are promoted until they hit their level of incompetence. I am especially troubled by this because, with a young family depending on me, I am in no position to walk away, even in good economic times.

I started out in the ranks of my chosen profession, and I was very good at it. I've now worked up to being a manager, and I am not a natural at it, let's say. Management is very much an acquired skill for me, and after almost ten years I still feel like I've got one foot hobbled to my thigh.

This is all my own fault. I have not done the detailed scutwork necessary to excel in my present responsibilities. My staff doesn't respect me and my supervisors are profoundly displeased with me. I figure I've got a year to retrieve the situation, though it's possible I'm already circling the drain. The stress of this predicament has aggravated a latent bipolar condition--a hereditary condition on my mother's side--for which I've had to finally go on anti-depressants, just to take the edge of off daily life. My wife doesn't quite understand, but she's been great by trying to be supportive.

I've had a week off this Christmas, and it's been relaxing. I just hope I can function competently when I go back. More on this later.

A sensitive soul, my son is

My second grade son is a sensitive fellow. I mean that in a good way, not that he cries or fusses easily. I got a glimmer of this side of him a few weeks ago when I was watching a TV special about the JFK assassination. I kept telling him it was too scary for kids, and for him to go out, but as usual that just piqued his interest. They ran the old videotapes of the television reporters breathlessly announcing that the president was dead, the footage of Jack Ruby lynching Oswald, all of it.

I finally turned it off and got him ready for his bath. He asked me a few questions about JFK and shooting and bad people, and seemed subdued. After I put him in the tub and left, I heard him crying softly. I didn't understand why at first, and like always he was reluctant to explain. But later on we talked some more, and he said that the program made him sad.

I believe that this was his first impression with evil, as opposed to mere childish meanness or discomfiture. He's interested in the Presidents, and he never understood before that Kennedy had been killed. The idea that someone could kill another person, especially a President, presented itself to him in its full ugliness, and his tender little soul recoiled at the thought.

I can't begin to imagine what he'll be when he grows up, only that I'm sure he'll grow up well.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Congratulations, troops

By any honest estimation, we've won the war in Iraq. At every turn, liberals and "world opinion" have pronounced the effort doomed. At every milestone, the same voices said "well, that was the easy part, but now!..." Democracy may never be as robust in a tribal society like Iraq as it is in the republics of the West. It's still better that what they had before, and what they would have had if the defeatist claque had prevailed. The voices who wail over the civilian losses in this war never gave a good goddamn when it was Saddam killing innocents. The skeptics who rejected the premises of this war mostly thought that America deserved 9/11--them, we gotta listen to on national defense? Against all these choruses of evil and defeat stands the American fighting soldier, who I honor in this small way today, on Victory In Iraq Day.

Let's for a tank ride to celebrate:

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's all over but the shouting...

...which, according to San Francisco blogger zombie, will never come except from us bloggers. So let me join in a round of cheers for our troops, who for all intents and effects have won the war in Iraq. Even if he's mistaken, the troops richly deserve a round of applause, after all they've gone through and accomplished. Zombie proposes Saturday November 22nd as VI Day. I don't know why he picked the 45th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, but I'll go along with him. Mark your calendar, and watch his blog for a roundup of celebrations.

There's no question, people are war-weary; as the last two elections showed. But they still respect and admire the troops. Whenever I go to the Atlanta airport and there are soldiers disembarking, an eruption of applause comes up from the crowds. And this has been true from 2002 until now.

So yes, here's hoping the war is over, and here's my handful of virtual confetti, celebrating and honoring the troops for their sacrifice and hard work. Congratulations guys: we succeeded because we sent our very best.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Spare parts for Hubble Space Telescope

The wonderful old crate is getting yet another repair job. Smart thinking, to have a spare computer--the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit (SIC&DH-- in storage since 1991.

Hubble's images are part of astronomy lovers' inner furniture now. It's easy to forget that all those gorgeous images are the product of color enchancement--in visible light the cosmos isn't nearly so colorful. But the wealth of eye candy as well as scientific knowledge has done a lot to increase the appreciation of laypeople like me for the wonders of the universe. Long may HST fly.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The evolving face of antisemitism

When the Christians were anti-Semitic, they did not just say, We hate Jews. They said, We hate Jews because, unfortunately, they committed the great crime, which was to kill Christ. When Voltaire was anti-Semitic, he did not say, I hate Jews because there is something in their essence which deserves hate; he said, I hate them because they invented Christ.

And this is the sort of tricky way of assembling a big number of people around the speech of hatred. Barring that, you would have very few anti-Semites. So today, all the old processes of legitimacy are dying, are more or less dead. Not so many Christians really think that I killed Christ. Not so many followers of Voltaire really think I am guilty of having invented Christianity. Fewer and fewer believe in the racist identity of the Jews, of which people like me would be the bearers.

But we are facing the installment of a new scheme, with new arguments, new reasons, new logic, trying to make anti-Semitism again acceptable, relatively, according to the general mood of the times.
-- "I’m a Liberal, But...An interview with Bernard-Henri Lévy", Guernica, October 2008

Adam Boulton is gobsmacked at the American news media

...but in a good way:

I've been in the US less than a day - but already I'm struck by how unjustifiably arrogant and patronising we Brits are towards the American political process.

Just look at the contrast. [...]

Americans are thinking hard about the direction their country is heading.[...]

On TV, their talk show hosts such as Jay Leno, David Letterman and John Stewart are funny but serious - cutting through the spin to put the candidates to the test.

And they don't do pee, bum, belly, poo jokes either.

Leno and Letterman's wise cracks epitomise what the public is really wondering about their next President.

And what to we get? Jonathan Ross asking David Cameron if he used to masturbate about Mrs Thatcher.

We love to attack the US media such as Fox and MSNBC for bias - but what they are doing is arguing fiercely about the issues and attitudes which will define their nation for the next eight years, teasing out such fundamental issues as race, gender, equality, liberty and power.

Their viewers are being fed food for thought.

I don't know what the BBC thinks it's serving up. But it's not serving the public.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lower taxes equaled more revenue--in Liechtenstein

While looking up information about Liechtenstein during WWII (don't ask), I chanced upon this paragraph in a seventy year old issue of TIME magazine.
If Liechtenstein now becomes part of Greater Germany the inhabitants will almost certainly lose their most cherished liberty—freedom from taxation. The ruling Prince, having long footed the Government bills himself, discovered in 1926 a way to relieve the strain on his own diminished income. Watching the rise of confiscatory taxes on corporations, wealthy citizens in Europe and the U. S., he smartly invited foreign corporations and private citizens to incorporate in his state and pay minimum taxes. Since then these foreigner-paid taxes, small as they are, have paid some 45% of the nation's expenses. The Liechtenstein family, owning virtually all the nation's wealth, graciously pays the rest.

Mit anderen Worten: lower taxes = more revenue. In these days before The One ascends to the seat of power to make us all equal, it's interesting to hear how a basic conservative precept was anticipated decades ago, in soon-to-be socialistic Europe. If the libs are determined to imitate their Continental mentors, let them start here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Saintliness that passeth all understanding

One thing I should add is that – usually – I don’t interrupt a meal or rush out of the bathroom to answer my phone. People will leave messages if it is important and sometimes even if it is not.

However, there was one time that was an exception. I was waiting anxiously for an extremely important phone call from my boss at “The Caribbean Star.”

I was taking a shower.

The phone rang.

I ran out of the shower. Dripping wet and naked, I answered the phone to hear a telemarketer give me a sales pitch.

“I’m sorry but I’m not interested and really cannot take it,” I replied as water droplets drifting down my nude body. “However, I really hope you make some sales today and have a beautiful day, OK?”

The telemarketer accepted that answer and we hung up on polite terms.

I think I can consider that ill-timed call the ultimate test of my principles regarding telemarketers – one that I passed.

There's a special seat in heaven for that guy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Somali Christians casually killed

A Christian convert attended a Somali wedding, and asked for a translation of the arabic ceremony. Then...

The Sheik performing the ceremony was aware of Nur's conversion to Christianity, however, and took offense to the request. He declared him to be guilty of apostasy and asked a guard to "silence" him.

Nur was encouraged to leave the ceremony, and upon exiting, he was shot and killed by the armed guard.

Thank God once again for my Nerfball life of faith...

Via The Religion of Peace

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Monkey business

Normally, if you start seeing monkeys in dapper little suits wandering around the bar, that'd be a signal that you've had enough. However....

Via David Fleck

Solace for our San Francisco friends

True, there's this, this, and there's even this, but mercifully now there's this.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nowhere to hide

I kept the stock ticker on my computer all day today, watching my investments slide and flail, mostly sliding. I've got savings, but the interest after all these years of rate cuts is birdseed, no defense against inflation. My home is paid for, but its value is probably dropping along with everyone else's, thanks deadbeats! An aggressive international growth mutual fund that I eyed but did not buy this past summer is now trading at half its value; glad I didn't bite. I'll need a new car soon, but I'm wondering if I should patch up my old one just one more time, and hope to get another year out of it. There just doesn't seem to be anywhere to hide in this current s! shower.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Yom Kippur War, + 35 years

Richard Nixon's greatest achievement was saving Israel from extermination, by shipping emergency aid to that nation after Egypt's and Syria's surprise attack. It's the greatest act of wartime humanitarianism in the past half century. If you think I'm wrong please post a comment.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Graphic evidence that silly season in academia may be almost over.

Check it out.

An excerpt:

I don't know about the rest of you, but I find young people today very refreshing. Let's look at 18 year-olds -- the impressionable college freshmen, who could be infected by their dopey professors. If they begin freshman year just 1 year after the theory's peak, the idea is still very popular, so they'll get infected. If we allow, say 5 years of cooling off and decay, professors won't talk about it so much, or will be use a less strident tone of voice, so that only the students who were destined to latch on to some stupid theory will get infected. Depending on the trend, this makes the safe cohort born in 1975 at the oldest (for Marxism), or 1989 at the youngest (for social constructionism). And obviously even among safe cohorts, some are safer than others -- people my age (27) may not go in for Marxism much, but have heard of it or taken it seriously at some point (even if to argue against it intellectually). But 18 year-olds today weren't even born when Marxism had already started to die.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

In the lion's den...

Hindus attack Christians in Orissa state in India:

Gangs of Hindu extremists have been attacking Christians, looting and setting fire to their homes and places of worship and social care. This violence is now extending to other states, causing great concern to Salvation Army leadership.

The Salvation Army boys' home in Paburia housed 40 young boys who study in a nearby government school. The boys, from six to 15 years old, lived at the home because of poverty and other family reasons. After the Sunday meeting on 24 August, a group of 2,000-3,000 people entered the compound shouting slogans. Each person carried a weapon of some description.

As the mob destroyed the home, officer-in-charge Major Paul Kumar Sahani took his wife and family, gathered the boys together and ran to the forest. From a vantage point they saw the home and all their possessions destroyed by fire. All the houses owned by Christians in the area were torched and a number of people were killed.

More here and here. A stunned Indian Christian reacts here.

Mark your calendars...

The Archimedes Palimpsest is releasing a trove of digital images and other data this coming month. Link includes videos.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fuming at federal bailouts of the financial sector

The markets will settle down and maybe even rally once they know what to expect. Federal oversight *koff*bungling*koff* is nothing to make them stand up and cheer, but with that scenario at least they’ll know what to expect.

But still and all, I’m mightily upset that my sound investments are getting bounced around in the wake of this meltdown; and also that thrifty, debt-free little me is being handed this gift-wrapped stinker to pay off via taxes. It burns me up, that I’m (happily) driving a ten year old near-jalopy and living in a 50 year old brick ranch, all paid for, and now I’ve got to bail out people who couldn’t face life after 30 without a McMansion and new Volvo that they couldn’t afford to their names.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Stephen Barr sneaks the anthropic "principle" into news of the Large Hadron Collider

Here we go again... Okay, so why are things in the universe just so, arranged so that living creatures such as ourselves can appear and thrive? If (insert a chemical process or physical property) were otherwise, then we probably wouldn't be here. In this piece, it's the predicted strength of the predicted Higgs field/boson.

I have usually found such arguments unpersuasive and unappealing. Think of the deep sea geothermal vents and the little eco-systems which surround them. Would anyone suggest that those vents arose to support those tubeworms, anenomes, and crabs? No, it's obviously the reverse. As much as I believe in the lordship of the Almighty, and as much as I believe that I am an organ with which the universe beholds itself, I believe that the same state of affairs obtains in the broader cosmos. We were prepared for our niche, not our niche for us.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A new pundit aggregator

New to me, at least. Into the blogroll wit' ye!

Now they know how we feel, at least a little

The Pals are losing their industry--maybe their only industry?--to cheaper factories in China.

"Before they started importing from China we had 15 machines running 20 hours a day. Now we only use four, and we only work eight hours," Hirbawi says above the roar of the looms inside a dark, mostly unused warehouse.

Remember, you baby-bombers: the devil finds work for idle hands.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A whole entire newstory on honor killing in Pakistan, and...

...not one mention of the "I" word. They did work in a mention of the "C" word, though:

Many stood up in protest, saying the executions were "barbaric" and demanding that discussions continue Monday. But a handful said it was an internal matter of the deeply conservative province.

Being further evidence that "conservative" is just the newsmedia's way of saying "Bad dog!"

Monday, August 18, 2008

More fun with google

Chance is the hazel wand that opens the magic cave of serendipity. Go to google, or to google's news archive, and type in "newly discovered". You can narrow it by adding something: "newly discovered photos", "newly discovered tapes", "newly discovered trove", etc. And happy surfing!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson on political correctness

The world is full of America-haters. For safety's sake, we keep them penned up in humanities departments.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Vacation travel blues

The traveling public was beset by rising prices, worsening service, long ticket lines, baggage handling hassles and aggravating ticketing restrictions, all blamed on the war. I say "was", because that was the state of the railroads in 1918, and we've come ever so far since then, surely.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

National Geographic guilty of hype in Gospel of Judas?

Sure beginning to sound like it.

One of the seven million people who watched the National Geographic documentary was April D. DeConick. Admittedly, DeConick, a professor of biblical studies at Rice University, was not your average viewer. As a Coptologist, she had long been aware of the existence of the Gospel of Judas and was friends with several of those who had worked on the so-called dream team. It's fair to say she watched the documentary with special interest.

As soon as the show ended, she went to her computer and downloaded the English translation from the National Geographic Web site. Almost immediately she began to have concerns. From her reading, even in translation, it seemed obvious that Judas was not turning in Jesus as a friendly gesture, but rather sacrificing him to a demon god named Saklas. This alone would suggest, strongly, that Judas was not acting with Jesus' best interests in mind — which would undercut the thesis of the National Geographic team. She turned to her husband, Wade, and said: "Oh no. Something is really wrong."

She started the next day on her own translation of the Coptic transcription, also posted on the National Geographic Web site. That's when she came across what she considered a major, almost unbelievable error. It had to do with the translation of the word "daimon," which Jesus uses to address Judas. The National Geographic team translates this as "spirit," an unusual choice and inconsistent with translations of other early Christian texts, where it is usually rendered as "demon." In this passage, however, Jesus' calling Judas a demon would completely alter the meaning. "O 13th spirit, why do you try so hard?" becomes "O 13th demon, why do you try so hard?" A gentle inquiry turns into a vicious rebuke.

Un-hyping the hype

Cross-posted from Protein Wisdom.

Who hasn't enjoyed the double pleasure of indulging in a vice, while simultaneously beating yourself up for it? Here's John F. Harris donning the hairshirt at CBS, on how he and his colleagues went batsh!t over Clinton's ill-considered Bobby Kennedy remark. And how regretful he is that trifles like that got so much play, and how he's not apologizing for hyping it, not exactly, and how the media really needs to settle down into giving more coverage to serious issues, and how HOLY WACAMOLEY! IS OBAMA WEARING HIS LAPEL PIN AGAIN?!? STOP THE PRESSES! DON'T HIT 'SEND' YET!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I was on TV. Big whoop!

If you live in my area, you might have seen a fellow being interviewed who got a big tree blown down onto his house. That was me. I've developed some presence since I was last on television, years ago. Back then I looked like a corpse on camera, and sounded like I should be croaking "BRAAAIINNNNSSS!!!"

Friday, May 09, 2008

Like live-blogging your own murder....

That's what Ya Libnan's coverage of Hezbollah's bloody takeover of Beirut must feel like to the brave democrats running the site. We all remember how our imaginations were captured by the sight of democracy in action in that part of the world during the Cedar Revolution. Now please spare a thought for them, these hip, worldly, freedom activists, as the The Jihad closes its fist around them.

Our Middle Eastern go-to guy Michael Totten's apparently not on the ground there, but he's got a good crew working hot sources. Click, scroll, click, and linger.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Duke University wackademics throw a pity party for themselves

Via Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom...

The same tenured radicals who slandered those innocent lacrosse players for months on end have published a tree- and bandwidth-wasting, self pitying "analysis" of the debacle, blaming everyone but themselves. If there was ever any doubt that Duke University's humanities and soft sciences departments were just one big left-wing loonybin, there isn't anymore.

According to the Lubiano Trio, “the most extreme marginalization was reserved for the faculty whose professional expertise made them most competent to engage the discourses on race and gender unleashed by the inaugurating incident — scholars of African American and women’s studies. Instead, administrators, like the bloggers themselves, operated under the assumption that everyone was an expert on matters of race and gender, while actually existing academic expertise was recast as either bias or a commitment to preconceived notions about the legal case. Some faculty thus found themselves in the unenviable position of being the targets of public discourse (and disparaged for their expertise on race and gender) without being legitimate participants in it.”

If they thought this was bad, how “marginalized” would they feel if my dream would come true, and the lacrosse team could line those charlatans up and slap every overpaid, otherwise unemployable one them silly? These assclowns ruined these young men's reputations--they could've ruined their whole lives, if the lying whore's lies hadn't finally been exposed. Elsewhere in the article, there's some blathering about "interpretive frameworks", of which the search for the facts of the case was but one. Christ...

"Expertise on race and gender", snort! Since when does believing and teaching that the straight white male conservative middle-class taxpayer is the root of all evil constitute "expertise"? Since the Sixties Left took over the universities, no doubt. These people no more deserve to be paid for their "work" than I deserve to be paid for scribbling on this blog. They are nothing more than a testimony to how simple humanity and the common decencies can be leached right out of a person's heart, when the only thing the mind ingests is a bitter porridge of trendy resentments. "A curse on all Marxists, and on those who would impose dryness and hardness on all the relations of life". Leon Trotsky said that, before he became a Marxist and went over to the Dark Side.

It's enough to appall anyone with a living soul--especially someone who's going to be faced with the choice of which college to send his kids to, before much longer. Here are people who presumably have some merit beyond a capacity for schoolwork, who presumably have landed their jobs by doing something more than merely grazing in a research library for some months and then crapping out a long, glistening thesis or two. Even allowing for the affirmation action hires, human makeweight brought on to meet the pc quota, they're supposed to be a cut above the common run of us. Yet these people have given themselves over so thoroughly to their radical social theories, that they can't flippin' see without them. They are evidently incapable of making an honest, humble appraisal of the evil they've wrought--and have therefore surrendered that much of their humanity. "Expertise"...they're just petty commissars, so many Little Stalins, projecting onto their disfavored students the loathing they slanderously imagine those students feel towards women and minorities. God help the normal Americans stuck in their clutches in the future, for it's clear the profs will pay no price for what they've done.


Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Case closed: birds and theropods were relatives

Remember that miraculously preserved marrow collagen that was recovered from a tyrannosaurus rex thighbone a while back? Protein analyses of it have re-proved that the beastie was closely related to modern birds, especially chickens and ostriches.

Amazing... Just think: T-rex might be more closely related to the finches outside my window, bickering over the last good seat on the birdfeeder I keep forgetting to refill, than it was to the ceratopsians on which it preyed.

And where did the similarities stop? Could T-rex have been taught to speak, like parrots? Imagine Jurassic Park with the star attraction pursuing the heroes down the jeep path, squawking "I'M A PRETTY BOY!!"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oh, let Obama eat his waffle!

True story: I was once involved with the national charity that Jimmy Carter is the spokes-celebrity for. He attended a work camp, and mingled with admiring volunteers all day. A friend of mine was seated across from Carter at supper. He knew that Carter had been having his ear bent all day, so he just said hello and ate his supper, and Carter ate his. At the end, Carter rose and told him, thank you. Moral: not being able to eat in peace may be the price of entry into the halls of fame and/or power, but it still extracts a price from your composure.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The world turns...

Here's irony for you: Vietnam just had its first communication satellite launched--it was manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Ironic, because Lockheed manufactured the AC-130, which provided close ground support during the Vietnam War. Always nice to see concrete evidences of reconciliation between old enemies. It's still too bad that they are a communist nation, though.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

Random Rock Bloggage

How's this for a bombshell: The Rolling Stones are old and past it and over the hill and really should retire. I guess we've only been hearing that since, oh, the release of Goat's Head Soup. Is it unseemly for these senior citizens to caper around the world, singing songs of overheated pubescent lust? Yes, of course. Unseemliness was one of the points behind rock and roll. And they still connect with a vast audience on any number of levels:

Keith Richards said he sees original Stones fans bringing their grandchildren to performances – a testament to the band's continuing draw.

“I don't know quite what it is,” he said. “But it must be something to do with the music.”

Richards added: “I'll do it in my wheelchair.”

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Islamic temporary marriage

Prostitution is present at all levels of all societies throughout history. But trust Islam to give it a veneer of pietism, like it does to conquest, pillage, and murder.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's your opinion?

I found this in an old book. It's an opinion card from a Congressman, during the Vietnam war. It asked about the voters' opinions on the war, funding the war, wiretapping, taking care of the soldiers, etc. Insert the obvious parallels here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

To the followers of Rev. Jeremiah Wright

If you imagine yourself to be an exile in America, a "stranger in a strange land", let me urge you to heed the words of the prophet Jeremiah.

"Seek the welfare of the city where I [the Lord] have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf: For in its welfare you will find your welfare."
(Jer. 29:7).

Anger will feast on your soul, reducing you to hate-wreathed bones, otherwise.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Qassam rockets or Israeli retaliation....

...which is the obstacle to peace? If you're asking the UN, you don't even need to click here for the answer, now do you?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

British military withdraws Prince Harry from Afghanistan

Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’
Now if you’ll excuse me, I've got a C-130 to catch.
I’m being evacuated;
Don’t forget to write, ‘kay?

Friday, February 29, 2008

RIP William F. Buckley

I was never a huge fan of him personally, because quite simply he was too erudite for me. I've always enjoyed National Review, but my eyes skated right over WFB's columns. The suave sussuration of his voice got between me and whatever he was saying on Firing Line too, much more than his formidable vocabulary. It's entirely my loss, I admit.

His importance to the defense and then triumph of liberty in the world cannot be overstated, however. The most consequential event in my adult lifetime would have to have been the West's victory in the Cold War. WFB's meditation on the fall of Soviet Union was printed in NR's Sept. 23, 1991 issue is worth reading in full, if you have access to an online periodical database. It struck me so much that I remembered enough of it to find with a keyword search just now. Have a sample:

"IN THE first issue of NATIONAL REVIEW, published on November 19, 1955, we announced that we were ``irrevocably'' at war against Communism, and that we would oppose any substitute for victory. Thirty-six years later, Communism was banned within the Soviet Union. [...]

"A new Soviet leader, having recognized that Afghanistan would not be conquered, attempted to revive the morale of a deadened culture with injections of freedom, and its results were magical, the whole Soviet thinking world suddenly heard from, intoxicated by the glasnost license. Structural reforms were, if not permitted, at least debated. The final failure of the long design to overcome Europe, frustrated now by American nuclear missiles, vitiated the importance of continuing military colonization of Eastern Europe; and one after another they peeled off. The debated reforms brought a crisis, the sentiment hardening all over the land that there had to be not talk about reforms, but reforms; and on the eve of the first important one of these, a reconstitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist states, the dissenters raised their mailed fist in a final show of defiance. Within 48 hours, the mandarinate that controlled the principal instruments of force, the KGB and the military, fell. We would learn that the eight leaders who sought to stem the tide were during most of those critical hours drunk on vodka. They had for most of their lives been intoxicated by more noxious matter. Before the end of the week, the Communist Party was legally suspended.

"We won.

"I am uniquely situated to summon the memory of men and women associated with this journal, whose birth was substantially motivated by the historical calling for a moral-analytical journalistic distillery to animate the resistance to Communism. [...T]he spirit was regenerated, and every month, every year, the writers in NATIONAL REVIEW did what they could to press hope, and to maintain the moral perspective. We are stly proud that one of our readers became the leader of the Free World, who exercised the critical voice in the critical deliberations of the Eighties.

"And, on bended knee, we give thanks to Providence for the transfiguration of Russia, thanks from those of us who lived to see it, and thanks to those, departed, who helped us to understand why it was right to struggle to sustain the cause of Western civilization."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Alarming creationist news from Britain, via skeptic Damian Thompson

Extreme Creationists have been given the use of a lecture hall at University College, London, to preach against evolutionary science. Tomorrow's event has been organised by the college's Islamic Society as part of "Islamic Awareness Week". Is that why UCL doesn't have a problem with it?

Saturday's Guardian carried a brief report of the story, but adopted the muted tone it reserves for Muslim assaults on scholarship. If these had been Christian Creationists the paper would have gone bananas. Yet the Istanbul-based organisation giving the lecture holds sinister views, and is increasingly powerful in the developing world.

One of the main themes of my book Counterknowledge is the spread of Islamic Creationism. Guardian and Independent readers are comfortable with the notion that Creationism is the preserve of swivel-eyed American fundamentalist Christians. They are much less comfortable with the reality that Islam is the main engine of Creationism in the world today.

British universities are filling up with science and medical students who reject the single most important discovery in biological science. Sooner or later we're going to have to face the consequences.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

100 years of family photos

I'm rather proud of this, my first attempt at a musical slide show. The music is a cover of The Beatles' "It's All Too Much", by a Washington state band called Just Plain Bill. I blogged them and this tune some time back here.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Super Bowl

For once, the game was better than the show. As for the commercials, I thought that one Coke ad was rather nervy. Are we really in a headspace now where we can have New Yorkers staring up into the sky, while giant flying things bump into their skyscrapers? I suppose at some point we'll have to be, but...brrr...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Marriage, RIP?

This article at The Cato Institute pronounces marriage as we have known & idealized it to be dead. The institution is shattered, wrecked, blown to flinders, and we need to come up with something to shore it up and possibly take its place. Consider:

So there is no reason to give up on building successful marriages — but we won’t do it by giving people outdated advice about gender roles. We may be able to bring the divorce rate down a little further — but since one method of doing that is to get more people to delay marriage, this will probably lead to more cohabitation. We may also be able to reverse last year’s uptick in teen births and return to the downward course of the late 1990s and first few years of the 21st century — but not by teaching abstinence-only to young people who if they do delay marriage are almost certainly going to have sex beforehand.

The second lesson of history is that the time has passed when we can construct our social policies, work schedules, health insurance systems, sex education programs — or even our moral and ethical beliefs about who owes what to whom — on the assumption that all long-term commitments and care-giving obligations should or can be organized through marriage.

And what will take the place of marriage, as a societal building block? Why, our proggy betters, securely ensconced in the seats of power, that's who:

Of course we must seek ways to make marriage more possible for couples and to strengthen the marriages they contract. But we must be equally concerned to help couples who don’t marry become better co-parents, to help single parents and cohabiting couples meet their obligations, and to teach divorced parents how to minimize their conflicts and improve their parenting.

The right research and policy question today is not “what kind of family do we wish people lived in?” Instead, we must ask “what do we know about how to help every family build on its strengths, minimize its weaknesses, and raise children more successfully?” Much recent hysteria to the contrary, we know a lot about how to do that. We should devote more of our energies to getting that research out and less to fantasizing about a return to a mythical Golden Age of marriage of the past.

Thus does left-wing radicalism present itself as a disease masquerading as its own cure. If it hadn't been for liberationists of various stripes heedlessly kicking the supports out from under the edifice of society these past 50 years, we wouldn't be in this fix. Someday they'll learn: an ounce of tradition is worth a ton of government.

H. L. Mencken has this doped out nearly 80 years ago:

To propose that marriage be abandoned and half-marriage substituted is like advising a man with a sty to get a glass eye. He doesn't want a glass eye; he wants his own natural and perfect eye, with the sty plucked out. All such reformers forget that the real essence of marriage is not the nature of the relation but the performance of that relation. It is a device for time-binding, like every other basic human institution. Its one indomitable purpose is to endure. Plainly enough, divorce ought to be easy when the destruction of a marriage is an accomplished fact, but it would be folly to set up conditions tending to make that destruction more likely. Too much, indeed, has been done in that direction already. The way out for people who are incapable of the concessions and compromises that go with every contract is not to fill the contract with snakes but to avoid it altogether. There are, indeed, many men and women to whom marriage is a sheer psychic impossibility. But to the majority it is surely not. They find it quite bearable; they like it; they want it to endure. What they need is help in making it endurable.
-- H. L. Mencken, "Divorce" The New York World, Jan 26, 1930

Footnote: The author is a professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, same radical hothouse that the late Rachel Corrie came from.

PC (USA) condemns Hamas rocket attacks on Israel

It's sad to regard this as something that would be surprising, let alone encouraging. But such has the moral credibility of mainstream protestant denominations eroded in recent decades, that the sight of them actually siding with Jews over terrorists is a reason to sit up and take notice. More background here.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

McCain wins South Carolina Republican primary

It's because of Mike Huckabee's ridiculous "fried squirrel" comment. He should have known that, in this day and age, us health-conscious Southerners much prefer baked squirrel.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The New York Times and those crime-prone veterans....

The other day Karl at Protein Wisdom called b.s. on The New York Times' new series on crimes committed by returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. You may permit me to be so immodest as to link to my earlier post on the subject, pointing out that even NPR, from time to time, can break from that hoary old template. (Of course, very soon thereafter NPR introduced a war funding segment with a soundclip of Country Joe McDonald performing at Woodstock, but hey...)

So yes, it's a hackneyed, hoary cliche, the amoral, maurading, kid-next-door-turned-trained-killer image is. But did you know this slander goes back even further than Vietnam? Getta loada:

During a period when veterans were big news, every time an ex-soldier got himself in a jam the fact that he was a vet was pointed out in the headline. An ordinary killing or assault seldom rated the front page, but if it involved a jealous veteran or battle-fatigue case, it could be sure of a prominent play. The newspapers that did this pointed out that it was good journalism; people were interested in veterans and everybody likes to know personality angles on people who do spectacular things. But the sad fact was that such headlines gave added impetus to the rumor that always appears in every country after a war--that the returning soldiers are trained in killing and assault and are potential menaces to society.

Police records show that World War II veterans committed no more and no fewer crimes in proportion to their numbers than the rest of the citizenry, and after a while most reputable newspapers stopped headlining veterans every time they got into trouble. Of course, journals that have always been noted for morbid and spectacular reporting, and that keep more of an eye on quick circulation than accuracy and fairness, still continue the odious practice of saying "CRAZED VET RUNS AMOK" when some character with a load of gin under his belt breaks a bar mirror.
-- Bill Mauldin, Back Home, 1947

Yes, we still have those kinds of journals today; they've always been around, doing their bottom-feeding thing. They just didn't always used to be The New York Times.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tim Blair has cancer

Terrible news indeed.

Atlanta has topflight cancer care, so he could come and visit me. OTOH, I'd then have to take him out pub-hopping, and I'd be really embarrassed to have a cancer patient drink me under the table.

We're pulling for you, mate.

How to get your creationist letter published in the newspaper

The creationist website Answers in Genesis has been having a terrible time getting their letters printed in the newspapers since their "museum" opened, to widespread derision. They complain about it at length in the article linked below, and then offer this to any of their fellows in a similar pickle:

Here are some pointers that, if followed, will increase your chances of getting a letter published:

1. Check the maximum number of words the paper will allow for a letter. If you have some scientific, engineering or similar credentials, you might want to call the opinion page editor at the newspaper and ask to be considered to write a guest column instead. You may be given twice the length of a letter to the editor. Important pointer: many letters are not accepted by papers because they are too long. Always find out what length the paper will accept.
2. Try to submit your piece within one or two days of the evolutionist article/letter appearing. Submitting it three or more days later makes the topic “old news” for many editors. The likelihood of your letter appearing in the paper diminishes each day you wait to submit it. (Thus, emailing your letter to the editor is better than using the mail; do not, however, send it as an attachment.)
3. Do not use inflammatory language. Be respectful (yet firm).
4. Have someone with excellent writing skills proof your letter before sending it.

And, most importantly,

Be absolutely sure to be accurate in what you write. Double-check your facts and main points against what you find at this website (using our powerful search engine) and other reputable sources.

Somebody enable their irony settings, please!

Friday, January 11, 2008

To stone or not to stone?

Is stoning women taken in adultery permitted in Islam? Four Florida Muslims try to lawyer the question away, here.

Remember, class: it's only a tiny minority of Muslims that want to subjugate us all. The vast majority of peaceful moderate Muslims merely wish to scold us for noticing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Kenya election violence

My church shares our building with a Kenyan congregation, and they are really hurting with all this violence. So say a prayer for peace over there, it's ugly and, as strongly Christian a nation as Kenya is, it needn't be.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

First Things blogger whiffs a hanging fastball

Sally Thomas, whose previous output I'm not familiar with, post this rather pointless piece about a crude juvenile book.

I am the last person in America to have heard of Walter the Farting Dog. [...] While neither of us is exactly a lace-encrusted Victorian holdover, we shared a grandmother who could not bring herself to mention the name of any bodily function whatsoever and therefore spent our childhoods being ordered to wash our hands before long car journeys and church. Our more up-market great-aunt used routinely to inquire of us as seven-year-olds whether our noses needed powdering. None of this particularly mystified us; it was how people talked in the South. We assumed it was how all people talked, everywhere.[...] Here is a plot summary:
1. Some kids bring home a dog from the pound.
2. You know the title, so already you know what’s wrong with the dog.
3. Dad wants to get rid of the dog.
4. The very night before the dog goes back to the pound, some burglars break into the house.
5. The dog overpowers them, to put it with nose-powdering delicacy.
6. Hooray, we love Walter, Walter can stay, the end.

Ms. Thomas records her ambivalent reaction, or lack of:

So it was not that I was shocked, exactly, to learn of the existence of a children’s book about a farting dog—merely interested, you understand.

I've nothing against rather pointless blog posts--obviously, if you've been reading for awhile--but I saw the perfect kicker to this one. G. K. Chesterton had the number of shock artists way back when. Dig:

Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which you are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked. It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal, and that you are a paralytic.

What a great aphorist he was...

New media bias quotes of 2007

Just in case you haven't had your fill of year-end roundups, here's the Media Resource Council, with their annual slew of self-damning media quotes, in this handy .pdf file, and in this page of links to incriminating video.

Actually, with the advent of talk radio, and as the internet age has progressed, the annual roundup of these quotes has become less interesting. The MRC is becoming a victim of its own success in exposing liberal media bias. The MSM has adapted to being scrutinized for slant, nowadays. Many of these quotes are from opinion shows and such, rather than from straight news. I personally don't get too aggravated at finding a liberal opinion in a liberal's column. I mean, we don't get mad at George Will for having an opinion, do we? Why get mad at Bill Maher, then? So go ahead and enjoy these, and be grateful that you young whippersnappers never had to throw your remote at Walter Cronkite, and feel like you were the only one in the world who felt the same way.

And speaking of best of the year quotes, keep an eye on Blair's place. His annual collection of Aussie groaners has appeared more sporadically in recent years--I think he's gradually phasing it out, unless he's publishing it elsewhere--but it's worth the suspense once it does appear. So far, all he's offered up is this and this.