Friday, April 17, 2009

Canada: Progressive Paradise

The deep blue oceans, the golden fields of prairie wheat, the majestic snow-capped mountain ranges, the public parks and playgrounds littered with used needles. Ah, Canada.

Snark aside, this is an awful situation, just awful. Here's a great speech by a popular Vancouver radio host, a liberal who actually spent a great deal of time and effort helping drug addicts and knows that giving them free needles is not just counterproductive, it is actively, morally wrong. As he puts it, if you knew a downward-spiraling alcoholic, would you give him a helping hand, or a clean shot glass?

Though I personally dispute the statistical claims that HIV infections have only increased in those places where the free needle program has been implemented. Doesn't pass the smell test. I mean, next thing you know, they'll be claiming that rates of HIV infection increase with greater availability of condoms, or something crazy like that. Oh, oops.

Hat tip to Kate at SDA, who has a great idea about how to easily put an end to this program. For, as the gentleman giving the speech also explains, the whole reason these absurd initiatives exist is because government wants to appear to be fighting the problem, but refuses to actually take any sincere human interest in or accountability for the people it claims to want to help. Make the politicians actually accountable for the destruction they cause and, watch out, they'll shut the needle exchange down overnight. Reminds me of my stance on parole, which I swear is totally serious even though nobody believes me: if a parole court judge frees a serious criminal, and the criminal rapes or murders again, the judge should have to serve out the new sentence alongside the criminal. Now, of course, this would have absolutely no change on the system, because we all know that Canadian judges take the dangers posed by criminals very, very seriously, as seriously as if the dangers would be posed to their own family, and would never, ever dream of endangering even one more innocent life by letting a potentially dangerous man free. Nope, not ever. Oh, oops again. But, hey, come on, 12% isn't bad! So things really wouldn't be changed, because the judges certainly would be willing to take those 12% odds with their own lives, wouldn't they?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"My Weekly Date with a Liberal"

This is the absolutely best series over at Big Hollywood, even better than Steven Crowder. Jon David is a brave, brave man.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Pretentious Stupidity"

What always bugged me the most about the postmodern, deconstructionist drivel I was forced to study in college was not the trademark duo of impenetrable prose and lazy thinking. My frustration was that once you made the effort to get past all that and by sheer force of will figured out the great thinker's point, well, it was obvious. Not wrong, usually, just really obvious. Stupid obvious. Like, "a picture of a tree isn't itself a real tree" obvious, and I'm not even making that one up. That's why their writing is so muddled, because if they came out and said their point clearly, not only would their essays be a great deal shorter, but the reader's inevitable reaction would be, quite simply, "um, duh."
But lord, do they ever think they are clever. They'll come up with books and plays and entire artistic movements based on the earth-shattering observation that, say, actors are actually, you know, acting. As if it never occured to Shakespeare that the guy playing the king in Hamlet wasn't, in reality, his and the nation's sovereign. No, if only the bard had been a tad more clever, he would have had his characters reflecting on their own inescapable characterness, and then of course he would have written himself as a character into all the plays, too, right before throwing out the last few pages of each one, naturally, because endings are just so artificial.
But postmodern thinkers have no talent and no real intelligence, just a smug belief in their own cleverness, a cleverness which is nothing more than pointing out that which has always been obvious to everybody else and which has simply never been remarked upon before precisely because it was so obvious. They remind me more than anything of a ten year old who thinks he's a genius because he's figured out Santa Claus isn't real, then devotes his entire life to spreading the word. Maybe I'm nuts, but I much prefer the kid who plays along with the illusion, because it's fun for his folks and it's a good tradition. You know, the kid who isn't a giant tool.
These postmodernists are so consumed with stating the obvious about the artificiality of art that the actual truth of art, its beauty and its divinity, goes straight over their heads. But enough of my rambling, go here and read "Obstinate Orthodoxy" and have Chesterton explain it all. Very crudely excerpting:

So long as we are thinking of the thing as copied mechanically and for money, as a piece of monotonous and mercenary ornament,we naturally feel that the flower is in a special sense an artificial flower and that the moonlight is all moonshine.[...]But the moon is the moon and the rose is the rose; and we do not expect the real things to alter. [...] The moon will continue to affect the tides, whether we paint it blue or green or pink with purple spots. And the man who imagines that artistic revolutions must always affect morals is like a man who should say, "I am so bored with seeing pink roses painted on chocolate-boxes that I refuse to believe that roses grow well in a clay soil." [...] Falling in love remains radiant and mysterious, however threadbare be the thousandth repetition of a rhyme as a valentine or a cracker-motto. To see this fact is to live in a world of facts.To be always thinking of the banality of bad wallpapers and valentines is to live in a world of fictions.

Please excuse me as I anticlimax, because all of this is just a very long preamble for me to say that I really liked this review of Watchmen by Debbie Schlussel. She's getting attacked by "graphic novel" fans for highlighting their special brand of "pretentious stupidity," but I'm loving it. Because she's attacking exactly what I can't stand, this bizarre belief in one's own remarkable cleverness for noticing the obvious. As she puts it, "Guess what? We know there are bad people and that people are everyday people with problems. If you don't know that, and you think a movie like this is necessary to make the point, you're even more warped and stupid than I originally diagnosed." I love this part, too, when she attacks the perverted love for sexual violence against women, which its drooling fans justify in the name of edgy realism and sophisticated art:

You're a bunch of dummies with no moral compass, but liking this stupid comic book which pretends violence and the depraved is "edgy" or "sophisticated," makes you feel smart. [...] Quit your pretentious drivel about this being important because it's a "graphic novel." Memo to the creators of Richie Rich and Archie: You missed your calling. If only you'd called your product a "graphic novel" and added scenes of Archie raping Betty and Veronica and Jughead sawing off Reggie's Arms, you'd be in businesss. Dummies.

What she says goes not just for Watchmen, by the way, but for most of the movie industry ever since the seventies. We're so daring and edgy and sophisticated, we're incapable of making decent movies anymore. Argh. And so I end this post like I've ended so many others, thinking God Bless TCM.

p.s. yes, I did like the "graphic novel" The Dark Knight Returns. It's not hypocrisy, it's sophistication, deal with it.

UPDATE: Related, and very true :
[Our cultural critics'] highest words of praise are adjectives like
“shocking,” “disturbing,” “searing,” and “radical.” They swoon over films like
Towelhead, The Woodsman and The Reader that seek to wrong foot our moral senses
by presenting us with sympathetic child molesters and Nazis.
But the truth
is, any fool can pull off crap like that. It’s easy.
The single hardest thing
to do in the arts is not to shock or disturb or sear or radicalize—but to
delight.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My brilliant campaign commercial idea

Yeah, okay, I don't know a thing about campaigning or commercials, this is just an ad I would enjoy. Start off with an old timey, Ken Burns style retelling of Davey Crockett's "Not Yours to Give" speech , then have an announcer or Bobby Jindal or someone say, "Giving your money to the needy is charity. Giving your neighbor's money to the needy is theft." Then close with the following words on the screen, read by the announcer, too: "Vote charity. Vote Republican."

I know, never gonna happen, but it would be great, and it would really drive liberals mad. And then if they made a big deal out of it you could run a follow-up ad with the stats about how you would never know it to hear Obama and friends talk, but Americans are by far the most charitable people in the world, and how Republicans are more charitable than Democrats. Maybe even throw something in showing a clip about Joe Biden talking how important and patriotic it is to pay high taxes to help the poor, and then flash on the screen while he's talking the numbers of how Biden gave a total of like five bucks and a smile to charity in his whole life.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hardliner

So I was listening to the noon news on the radio, and the anchor was going through a bunch of the top stories, throwing in little editorial comments as he did. There was some story about how North Korea is apparently trying to make a missile that could reach America's coast, and the anchor laughed at it, saying how idiotic the North Koreans would have to be to even consider it, because, as he put, "a minute after that missile would hit America, there would be no more North Korea." Now, I am certainly not here to argue with that sentiment, believe me. But then, a few stories later, the news shifted to Israel's elections, and the anchor talked about how the recent Hamas missile attacks guarantee that "hardliner" Benjamin Netanyahu will get elected. And the way he said "hardliner," well, you had to hear it, the anchor's voice was dripping with disdain and criticism, as if he were talking about a serial killer or something.

I know I'm hardly the first person to notice this, but sometimes the incredible blindness of people about Israel is just astonishing. Nobody except the most extreme America-hating liberal and President Obama's closest friends (but I repeat myself) would think twice about simply ending the existence of an entire country if that country launched a single missile into America. But the Palestinians are literally launching dozens of rockets every single day, deeper and deeper into Israel, deliberately trying to maim and murder as many civilians as possible, and yet if an Israeli leader wants to fight back with only the one arm tied behind his back instead of both, polite society and the media and liberals all label him a "hardliner." If only the Israelis were even remotely "hardline" instead of absurdly and suicidally overcivilized, we would never have to worry about Hamas or their ilk ever again.

And I don't care how eloquent their justifications may be, nobody will ever convince me that anti-Israeli sentiment is anything other than good old fashioned jew-hatred.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh, no.

Michael Crichton died. He was one of my favorites, and the only public intellectual who didn't make me ashamed of my alma mater. The greatest person to come out of the Harvard English department in a very, very long time. Except he didn't stay an english major for long: he got fed up and left. My favorite story about him is that he got so annoyed at his awful, pompous, talentless Harvard writing teacher that for one assignment he just took a George Orwell essay and submitted it under his own name. This is the kind of stuff students talk big about but nobody ever has the guts to do. But Crichton did it, and of course the hack teacher gave Orwell a B minus. That was it for Crichton, and so he abandoned his early major and switched to the sciences and pre-med. I just wish I would have been that smart and perceptive that early on, instead of realizing what I had to do only in my senior year once it was already too late, and having to do premed from scratch after graduation. Better late than never, though, and a heartfelt thanks to a great writer and a great man like Michael Crichton for inspiring me and so many others.

The whole conservative blogosphere is celebrating him today, linking to his famous essays and speeches mocking environmentalist religious hysteria. I was pretty much obsessed as an undergrad with the argument that humans have a fundamental need for religion and that even the most violently secular are driven to live out Biblical archetypes, and was excited to see that Crichton's anthropological research led him to the same conclusion. I would like a moment, however, to present a different side to his ideas. In my senior year, I put aside my secular myth kick and took up a new literary obsession. The Portrait of a Lady, Herzog, Light in August, The Plague, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Flannery O'Connor's stories, all pointed me in one direction. Here are Michael Crichton's thoughts on selflessness, on the importance of losing yourself in devotion to others. That was the message I took away from Henry James and co., and it profoundly changed my life. I never saw that Crichton essay until today, but please check it out and think on what he has to say, it sure is a lot shorter and more straightforward than my reading list was.

Anyway, all a long way of saying that I will miss him, and I hope he rests in peace.

It's not enough that Obama wins and Michael Crichton dies, but now, less than a day after I wrote about how I would love to move to Texas to be closer to people like her, Rachel Lucas announces she is moving to England! It's actually great news for her, and I wish her the very best, but it's been a rough day for America is all I'm saying.

I should add as an afterthought to my Crichton Orwell story that my writing teacher at Harvard was simply amazing. He was definitely a big exception to the rule. His secret? The class was actually all about none other than Orwell! Crichton's trick would not have worked with this guy, believe me. That's a danger with good teachers, though: they keep you under their spell (have I mentioned The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie?) and prevent you from breaking out on your own. I'm glad that wasn't a problem Crichton had to worry about.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just a Matter of Time

It was, frankly, inevitable. The rest of the world has gone to pot over the last few decades - Britain and Canada both went from brave, proud, fierce gems among the nations to pathetic, cowardly, unfree faces in the socialist crowd in a mere fifty years. America, being America, held out for a while longer, but I am not surprised it's over.

The optimistic take is that the voters don't understand what they are getting themselves into, that Obama will be revealed for what he really is, and that the masses will rally to Palin in 2012. But I'm no optimist. I think Americans understand exactly what was at stake in this election. They are not stupid. I'm afraid it's worse than that. Today's America has, to borrow Kathy Shaidle's terms, more parasites than patriots. Or, as Rachel Lucas put it, if you'll excuse her language, the lazy assholes outnumber the selfish racists. Entire huge segments of the population are living off free money legally stolen from their betters, with no shame! Not even a hint of shame, not a moment's pause for pride, but with loud claims of entitlement, and all the while receiving a great deal of sympathy, far more sympathy than anything felt for those whose hard-earned money is being stolen. If people live like this, if we allow them to live like this, if we encourage it and promise it and reward it, can we truly be surprised that people choose it over a difficult, free, and independent life? It seems not even a million innocent babies being murdered every year is a cost high enough to dissuade them from wallowing in this imitation of humanity that is a government-owned life.

Kathy's post is a must-read, please don't skip it. We only disagree about one thing, as she takes comfort in the knowledge that at least she doesn't have to live in America. I will always love America, and will always live here if I have any say in the matter. I may now be in the minority that clings to guns and religion and to what Virginia congressman Jim Moran today called "the simplistic notion that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it," but it is a great minority, the ideological and, more often than not, literal descendants of the brave men and women who once made America the greatest country in the history of the world. And if that means that I have to move to Texas and stay there, well, I very much look forward to it!

If you want a good idea of what is going to happen in the next few years, if it hasn't happened already, just read this and change the British nouns to American ones. Another must read, which I have linked before and which I find myself going back to over and over again, is here. The consequences, unintended or (I suspect) very much not, will be disastrous, and will, like all culture-destroying improvements, be irreversible.

It was a beautiful dream while it lasted.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Okay, now I'm mad

The economy is tanking, the media's already there, people who dare question Obama are being compared to George Wallace, and I have so much work it's insane, but I was fine. Really, I was; there's nothing like a Virginia fall to remind you of how beautiful life is and to put everything in perspective.

Then I found out about this. The liberals have gone too far. You can rewrite political and social history all you want, turn FDR into the man who saved America from the Great Depression, turn LBJ into the man who saved the black family from dissolution, heck, you can even pretend that the Democrats didn't invent the politically-correct lending to broke minorities that caused this whole meltdown, but you. do. not. mess. with. Bette. Davis.



They will have to take TCM from my cold, dead hands. Heck, I would even man the barricades over the occasional Seinfeld rerun.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When did Michelle Obama get a pseudonym?

Haven't blogged in ages because school is keeping me busy, not to mention far away from my beloved TCM (except for one glorious day last week with Barbara Stanwyck, sigh).

I had to pop in for a sec, though, to point you to this modern feminist work of art. The only thing I have to add to Miss Fiano's take is that the self-centered bitterness of it all reminds me of my favorite Michelle Obama quotation ever, one that gets a lot less notice than the many, many others:

"that doesn't include the jobs that happen when you come home from work. Those jobs, quite frankly, that still fall predominantly on the laps of women, things like getting the laundry done, making dinner, nutritious dinners, because you can't just make a dinner. It's got to be a nutritious dinner grown with good, fresh, clean food. That takes time, trust me."

She actually has to feed her own children! And she can't just order up a happy meal, she has to struggle all the harder to make them a healthy dinner! Herself! The unfairness of it all! The ingrateful little bastards - what the heck is stopping them from putting down the bratz dolls and chopping up their own goshdarn arugula?

And so, you see, I'm not joking about Michelle's pseudonym. Motherhood in her speech, exactly like marriage in the article, is transformed from a blessing and a loving duty into a job. Why? Well, for the wife, it's to make it easier for her to come to terms with divorce, transforming it into a brave display of independence against a pointy-haired boss - you can't fire me, I quit! For the mother, well, if only there were as civilized a solution as divorce...

Speaking of infanticide, my favorite Joe Biden quotation: "The next Republican that tells me I'm not religious I'm going to shove my rosary beads down their throat."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"when you end a Flannery O’Connor story, you’re furious at her...

because you say, 'Well what did that mean?!' You always think there were three missing pages where she was supposed to tell you what everything meant. And what you have to do is keep going over it and over it and over it until you figure it out. That’s the process of saving you. But Flannery really respects her audience. Now granted a lot of the audience misses the deeper level. But you know what, the ones who get it – it saves their soul."

I can vouch for that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Two Quick Things

1. Someone in America complaining about an oil crisis is like a vegan in a steakhouse complaining about a hunger crisis. Yes, you're gonna be starving, but only as long as you cling to your silly, privileged lifestyle. And Americans are going to have an oil crisis only as long as they value polar bears they will never see (and that aren't threatened anyway) over their own lives.

2. Michelle Obama spent this past weekend comparing gay rights activists to the black civil rights movement from slavery through Jim Crow. Everybody's distracting her children with criticism about how wrong and perverse her remarks were. Actually, she has a point. Gays today are being oppressed severely. Some, even a few as young as fifteen, are being murdered - hanged, actually - by state officials simply for being gay. Of course, this isn't taking place in America, but in Iran. Yes, the very same Iran Michelle's husband has pledged to cozy up to with friendly negotiations. Wouldn't it be just a tad ironic if America's first black president was the best thing that ever happened to a country that regularly lynches its citizens?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Insecure

While at Harvard, I must have had five or six different passwords for their various systems, not to mention my ATM PIN. They were all fairly short and contained familiar words or codes that had meaning to me. As such, they were all very easy for me to remember, and I never had to write them down. Here at UVA, though, they're far more intense about internet security, and none of my passwords are permitted. All passwords have to be very long and have to contain letters, numbers, and symbols, in no familiar or oft-repeated pattern. Now, this might make my passwords a whole lot more difficult if not impossible to crack, but there's a problem. They thus also become absolutely impossible for me to remember. They're just long, random combinations of unrelated symbols. The only way I can log into anything is by writing all my passwords down and carrying them with me all the time. Which means if my wallet is lost or stolen, whoever has it has access to every last drop of info about me and can easily steal my identity and generally cause mischief. It is thus my carefully considered professional opinion that these so-called 'high security' passwords are in fact anything but, and serve precisely the opposite purpose: since you have to write them down and take them around with you, they are far more likely to be stolen than the short and sweet ones you easily memorize. I predict this whole system will backfire if it hasn't already. Then again, I also predicted a Lakers sweep, so what do I know?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sign I'm not at Harvard anymore...

A ROTC building! Actually on campus. I still feel a little stunned.

Sign I'm not in Canada anymore...

Walked past a Barnes and Nobles yesterday here in Virginia. Brazenly on display in the front window? Mark Steyn's America Alone.

UPDATE: Welcome, fellow Steyn fans! You might like this old thing, or this one. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I'll be away from the interwebs for a week or so. But not to worry, the blogroll has everything more than covered! I call your attention especially to Rachel Lucas, who has been absolutely blogging her butt off the past couple weeks and doing a great job of it, too. This post is my favorite. And don't forget to wish her a happy birthday on the 21st! I happen to remember the date because, to my everlasting honor and delight, it's one we share. The downside is that it's also the Queen's birthday, so most of the good presents (snow leopards, priceless jewels, small islands) get taken.

And please go and support Kathy Shaidle in her fight against Richard Warman. The more money you give, the sooner the slasher movie version of the trial will get made (tagline on the blood-soaked poster: "He messed with the wrong blogger..."). I almost feel sorry for the guy, I don't think he understands just what he's gotten himself into, dude is in for a big-league butthurtin' (though, just between you, me, and the CHRC, I'd venture that he's intimately familiar with that particular soreness already).