Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal Wedding

The whole affair reminds me of this passage from a Robertson Davies short story:

"I am a democrat. All of my family have been persons of peasant origin, who have wrung a meagre sufficiency from a harsh world by the labour of their hands. I acknowledge no one my superior merely on grounds of a more fortunate destiny, a favoured birth. I did what any such man would do when confronted with Queen Victoria; I fell immediately to my knees."
-- Robertson Davies, High Spirits, 1991 ed.

Best of everything to the young couple, Kate Middleton and Prince William.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Donald Trump takes credit for "ending" Obama "birther" "controversy"

The Donald is having a late-life crisis, fearing that he is probably Yesterday'­s News. Hence all this irrational talk about running for President and embrace of the birther nuttery. That's my most charitable explanatio­n.

Be nice to call center phonebots

This. I'm glad I'm not in that line of work, and hope never to be. But I believe in being civil to them--if it's me that initiated the call.

When I have to call an 800 number to sort out a problem, I frequently ask the person on the other end of the line, "Everybody being civil to you today?" They are surprised and appreciati­ve to hear that. The most memorable instance was in autumn of 2008. I called one of my mutual funds on a day when the stock market was absolutely cratering, in response to the beginning of The Great Recession. I knew the guy on the phone must have been getting it hot and strong all day, so he was almost pathetical­ly grateful for the kind words.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fox News is coy

Fox News is playing an under-the-­table game of footsie with the birther & seekrit moozlim fringes. They won't openly side with them, but they'll sure deploy their hanging insinuatio­ns for them.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Martin Amis on Christopher Hitchens

The distinguished novelist pens an affectionate encomium of his old friend, which veers toward eulogy at the end. Not yet, please. Not yet!

Hitchens was a fair-weather foe of the U.S. for most of his punditry career, who famously, and in gleaming contrast to his fellow leftists, became a foul-weather friend after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He never seemed to entirely let go of his love for Red revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who would probably not have been one whit less bloody a dictator than Lenin was. But he did back off one of the main axioms of progressives, which is to refuse to find value in the present. ("I pledge allegiance to the United States that can be...") The horrors of 9/11 and the fight against The Jihad which ensued anew thereafter impressed upon him that the free democratic West, in its imperfect Here And Now, was worth fighting to preserve.

I've been aware of him since the late 80s, I suppose. I remember him downplaying Stalin's terror famine of the early 30s, by suggesting that it was mostly Ukrainian Nazis who wanted to inflate the casualty count. I remember his post-election analysis when the Sandinistas were voted out of power in Nicaragua, mentioning his fear that "the news would not be good" before he opened the newspaper that morning. I even wrote an Amazon review of his biography of Thomas Jefferson. But I, like so many other conservative consumers of political commentary, perked up my ears after 9/11.

Members of the left, along with the far larger number of squishy "progressives," have grossly failed to live up to their responsibility to think; rather, they are merely reacting, substituting tired slogans for thought. The majority of those "progressives" who take comfort from [Oliver] Stone and Chomsky are not committed, militant anti-imperialists or anti-capitalists. Nothing so muscular. They are of the sort who, discovering a viper in the bed of their child, would place the first call to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.


Watching the towers fall in New York, with civilians incinerated on the planes and in the buildings, I felt something that I couldn’t analyze at first and didn’t fully grasp ... until the day itself was nearly over. I am only slightly embarrassed to tell you that this was a feeling of exhilaration. Here we are then, I was thinking, in a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate. Fine. We will win and they will lose. A pity that we let them pick the time and place of the challenge, but we can and we will make up for that.

Compare that to the contemptible sight of Katha Pollitt, his stablemate at The Nation, refusing to let her daughter display an American flag after the atrocity.

I don't kid myself that I could ever hope to hold up my end of a conversation with him, of course. I'm content to groove to the commentary, have my beliefs challenged, and not infrequently learn something. Still, I think that if there had been no 9/11 and no counter-attack against The Jihad, his career would have followed the trajectory of so many other leftists. He would have simply talked himself out, and ended up exemplifying V. S. Naipaul's observation:

Always out there, the United States, an unacknowledged part of the world picture of every kind of modern revolutionary: the country of law and rest, with which at the end of the day a man who had proclaimed himself to be on the other side–in politics, culture, or religion–could make peace and on whose goodwill he could throw himself.
–V.S. Naipaul, Beyond Belief, 1998

It's good that the past terrible decade has prompted him to genuinely appreciate America, or should I say appreciate her more profoundly, rather than arrogantly taking her blessings for granted. Here's wishing him & his family and friends the best.

Andrew Klavan: How to Behave During an Islamic Massacre

Oh hell yes, as Atlanta Falcon fans used to say!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Birthday to the King James Bible

Worthy of dramatic commemoration, indeed. Whether you believe in it or not, this book formed much of the world we live in, very probably forming you yourself, dear reader.

It is an act of faith to believe that the books of the Bible even belong together between the same covers. The New York Times food columnist Robert Farrar Capon once suggested this analogy: The Bible is like a trunk in your grandfather's attic. It contains a variety of things: a family tree, some poetry, some attempts at short fiction, some political opinionating, some love letters, some legal documents, some penny wisdom gathered through the years, and etc. All very diverse, and all from different times, but all from the same grandfather.

Have some quotes:

"A noble book! All men's book! It is our first oldest statement of the never-ending problem--man's destiny, and God's ways with him here on earth; and all in such free-flowing outlines, grand in its sincerity; in its simplicity and its epic melody."
-- Thomas Carlyle

"The Holy Bible is not only great but high explosive literature. It works in strange ways and no living man can tell or know how that book in its journeyings through the world has started an individual soul 10,000 different places into a new life, a new belief, a new conception and a new faith."
-- Stanley Baldwin

"I know the Bible is inspired becaue it finds me at greater depths of my being than any other book."
-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Monday, April 18, 2011

Has Multiculturalism Failed?

No. It was always a delusion, the delusion that cultures are all the same except for holidays, headgear, and cuisine, founded upon the underlying delusion that Western Civilization is the scourge of the world, and should henceforth adopt a permanent cultural cringe towards peoples of the developing world. A delusion cannot succeed or fail, it can only persist or be dispelled.

There's a difference between international people and multicultural people. International people appreciate other cultures--they can discuss wine with the waiter in French, participate in a Japanese tea ceremony without help, know their way around off the beaten tourist path, etc.--but are still proud citizens of their own lands. Multiculturalists are alienated from their country and/or their fellow citizens, and seek to disappear into a romanticized mish-mash of exotica. By acting as though the world's multitudes are an anonymous mass of little brown people for them to make pets of, mere symbols of Western sin, multiculturalist demean those people's full humanity as much as colonialists in earlier ages did, by regarding them as mere savages.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Discovered QuickMeme late last week...

...and away went my weekend. Here are some that I made, and others that I liked:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In which I callously refrain from being moved to tears by the chronic awfulness in the Congo

Yes, it's terrible. But I saw this show 20 years ago, with all the heart-rending images of Somalia. They launched a series of events culminating with our dead soldiers being dragged through the streets by the people they came to save. But proggs don't care. Why should the Left's Third World darlings du jour die, when American military can die instead? Proggs only support foreign intervention if there is no material American interest at stake. Their attitude towards the soldiers is "with my brains and your brawn, what a wonderful world we can make!" There are any number of two-syllable retorts to arrogance like that, of which the most printable is "No, thanks".

The Civil War 150th Anniversary

The Civil War is one of the few conflicts in history, like the Roman war against Boudicea and the Iceni, or the Spartans at Thermopylae, or the Nez Perce war, where the winners claimed the victory and the losers claimed the glory.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The kindness of strangers

This man walked around a tsunami-ravaged city, and gathered up all the photos he could find. He hopes that survivors will come by and find them. How kind... If it won't display full screen, click here.


Is there to be no end to the Birther mania?

Sarah Palin said today she "appreciates" Donald Trump's repeated questioning of where President Obama was born, saying that though she believes he was born in Hawaii, "there is something there that the president doesn't want people to see on that birth certificate."

Palin's remarks on the "Judge Jeanine" show on Fox News came as the Hawaiian state health official that reviewed Obama's birth certificate denounced conspiracy theorists as "silly."

"It's kind of ludicrous at this point," Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the former director of Hawaii's Department of Health said in an interview with NBC, adding that "birthers," or those who have been questioning where the president was born, will never be satisfied.

"They're going to question the ink on which it was written or say it was fabricated," Fukino said. "The whole thing is silly."

Idjits...or not, if they're just playing to their idjit gallery.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Random Rock Bloggage...

UPDATE: I just now flipped back through their Facebook page and did find an expression of sympathy from Tom Petersson. So, there's that.


One thing that recently occurred to me while following the news of the ongoing disasters in Japan: Where's Cheap Trick? If anyone ought to have a soft spot for Japan, it ought to be Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Bun E. Carlos and Tom Petersson. They were always a quality rock band with an enthusiastic following, but it was the release of the Live in Budokan album which catapulted them to the upper tiers of rock stardom. The squeals of those Japanese girls on that album were infectious, carrying them to huge success here in the States.

But, so far, the band has made no public expression of sympathy with the Japanese people. Neither in Google's news aggregator nor on the band's regularly updated website do I find any word from Cheap Trick on this disaster. They do mention Sendai, the city which was nearest the epicenter of the earthquake, but only in connection to some trivia contest they recently concluded.

There are no doubt plenty of middle-aged Japanese women suffering right now who have fond girlhood memories of screaming along at Cheap Trick concerts, can't the band spare a kind word for them? I hope this is an oversight on the part of their management company, and not representative of a genuine forgetfulness and lack of appreciation by the band itself.

Richard Goldstone retracts major portions of UN Goldstone Report...

His turnabout is simultaneously welcomed and derided by Jennifer Rubin,

Even in confessional mode, Richard Goldstone blames the victim — Israel brought this all on itself by not giving him information. In all his glorious ignorance he therefore had no qualms about accusing Israel of war crimes. You see, he had no choice.

Shmuley Boteach,

It took the judge 2 years to conclude that asking a terrorist organization to report its own atrocities wasn't the brightest idea. [...] Goldstone only condemned Israel as a regime that directs missiles intentionally at children because he did not have enough information to establish otherwise. And yet, just a few lines later Goldstone writes that the UN Humans Rights Council, which commissioned his report, has a “history of bias against Israel [that] cannot be doubted.”

So even Goldstone admits that Israel was being asked to cooperate with an investigation commissioned by an authority inherently prejudiced against it, which explains why it rightly refused to participate.

Martin Peretz,

Israel apparently will try to get the General Assembly to recant its endorsement of the Goldstone verdict on the Jewish crimes in Gaza. After all, the judge himself has recanted. Es vet helfn vi a toit’n bankes, my mother used to say: “It will help like hot suction cups will help a dead man.” Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic made the point early on after the judge confessed to his sins: “a blood libel, hard to retract once it’s been broadcast around the world.” Maybe Washington, which voted against the report, will take the leadership role on this. The president, the secretary of state, and the American ambassador to the U.N. have, it bears remembering, argued that our presence at the Human Rights Council can make a difference. Will Obama even try? It would mean, of course, that another one of his exemplary lessons in creative engagement will collapse.

And one lonely appreciative voice in The Guardian, Carlo Strenger,

Israel was faced with terrible choices, and only superficial moralists can argue that Israel could have done nothing. Faced with an enemy devoid of restraint, the question was where to draw the line. I believe humanitarian considerations could and should have played a greater role in limiting the extent of death and human suffering inflicted on Gaza's civilian population.

But there is a world of a difference in having to choose between terrible options and the Goldstone report's original accusation that Israel intentionally targeted civilians.

Goldstone's retraction is therefore immensely important. While it is legitimate to criticise Israeli policies, Hamas's systematic targeting of Israeli civilians and Israel's attempt to neutralise Hamas's military infrastructure simply belong to different moral universes: Israel tries to defend itself within the framework of international law – Hamas cynically exploits suffering for its own purposes.

Me, that report never passed my smell test in the first place, when it came out. Progressiv­e critics of Israel are lost inside a vast morality inversion. Qualified kudos to Goldstone for snapping out of it, to some limited extent. If certain sitting members of the UN's Human Rights Council

were in Israel's shoes and suffering what the Israelis suffer, there wouldn't be so much as a wet spot left of the Palestinia­ns by now. I will listen to All Things Considered's next pro-terrorist human interest weeper with even more disgust than usual, after this.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The sweetest thing I've seen today is...

...this video of a Japanese 12 year old & 7 year old playing "All Of Me" at a disaster fundraiser.