Thursday, December 27, 2007

Spoiler Alert: Atheists bitter, annoying

Ever complain about how Hollywood is just overrun with Christian moralizing? Yeah, me neither. Then again, neither you nor I write for the Canadian press. I would say the guy is a moron (okay, I still will), but he's more likely writing in blatant bad faith (um, pun kinda intended?). In Hollywood, he concludes, "even the gentlest criticisms of church and faith are touchy." Right... because I can't for the life of me remember a movie in which believers were portrayed as intolerant backwards hicks, hypocriticial moneygrubbing sinners, sinister mafia killers, close-minded churchgoing repressives, immature naifs ripe for sexual awakening, child-raping closet-cases, mindless robots, or zombie monster alien sadists from another dimension out to harsh our mellow - can you?

The real story here is the atheist columnist's incredible bitterness over the recent box-office success of a small handful of pro-faith movies (movies which until very recently had to be independently financed, with Hollywood only reluctantly getting in on the act as it finally realized money can be made from movies which don't blatantly insult their audiences), and the terrible showing of the hugely-hyped, viciously anti-Christian Golden Compass movie. Also, his feelings are apparently still hurt from reading Frankenstein in high school (I just thanked God he didn't start ranting about Brave New World while he was at it!).

And did he really have to go and ruin the ending? What a jerk.

If you'd like to read about faith and film from someone who actually knows what she's talking about, see here.

UPDATE: A relevant list.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Rant - Profanity Warning

I just spent an entire evening with a person who drives a hybrid Lexus. I am not in a good mood.

I have refrained from vulgarity in this blog so far (well, more or less). Well, I have just about had it this Christmas, and maybe I've been reading too much Rachel Lucas (though, to be honest, there can be no such thing), but the gloves are coming off right now. I apologize in advance for offending your sensibilities.

So, have you spoken out about how commercial Christmas has been getting lately? Have you commiserated with friends over the loss of the true meaning of Christmas? Have you rolled your eyes at all the advertisements and looked reproachfully at the people standing in line for hours at the stores? Have you written a letter to the local paper, advising us to remember that the season is about love, not gifts? Perhaps even suggested doing away with presents entirely, or giving them to charity instead?

If so, I'd like you to do something for me. Look around your house for something Christmasy, but not too commercial. Something really true to the genuine spirit of the season. A pine cone, a candy cane, an ornament, a cross, a little Baby Jesus figurine, whatever you see fit. Anything works, as long as it's pointy. Now, what I'd like for you to do is, I want you to take that object, and I'd like you to please SHOVE IT UP YOUR BUTT, YOU ANNOYING RETARD.

I swear to God, the next time I hear someone, full of smug, holier-than-thou condescension, complaining about the commercialization of Christmas, I will take their I-Pod (because you just know they have an I-Pod) and I will shove it so far down their throat they'll be crapping cute little earbuds into the new year. You do not even want to know what I'd like to do to this guy (hint: it involves a razor-sharp credit card, and his nipples).

I think I finally snapped when my local paper's idiot cartoonist drew Santa's sleigh with a Visa logo on it. How awfully clever! How subversive! How original! Hey, local cartoonist: GO FUCK YOURSELF.

Folks, you know what? WE GET IT. WE KNOW. Christmas is not about presents. It's about Jesus, and being with family and loved ones, and about love and kindness and all sorts of other wonderful, non-commercial things. But there is nothing wrong with giving people presents. IT'S NICE. You are not being a pawn of the capitalist system if you give someone a Macy's gift card; if you think so, I'm very sorry to say, but you are an annoying killjoy dumbass. EVERYBODY KNOWS being with those you love is the most important thing. But, if you can afford it, giving people stuff is also - I loathe to repeat myself - nice. I really enjoy buying presents for the people I love. Getting something neat makes them happy, and seeing them happy makes me happy. And, presumably, vice-versa. Deal with it, you jerkoffs.

Reminds me of that dumb Frank Capra movie (no, not that one, this one). Nobody actually thinks work is more important than those you love. Nobody actually thinks toys are more important than those you love. But you work because you need to support those you love, and if you've got some extra left over, you buy them toys because it makes you happy to see a smile on their faces.

I am willing to concede that the criticism of Christmas commercialism may have been valid the first time, perhaps even the first dozen or so times. Not anymore, not by a longshot. I would even go so far as to say that today, well past its millionth iteration, it has lost all trace of sincerity. I honestly do not believe the people making these complaints truly give a damn about the true meaning of Christmas. I think they are sad, bitter, lonely, unloved, quite possibly deranged individuals who are deliberately trying to ruin the holidays for the rest of us. In a word, grinches. Partly to display their superiority, partly because the sight of happy, well-fed Americans and Canadians (in a world full of starving Africans!) makes them sick.

So, to all those complaining about how Christmas is being ruined, here is my message to you. You want to know what really ruins Christmas? Assholes complaining about how much Christmas is being ruined. SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP. And Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jesus: So Hot Right Now

Let me start out by saying that, despite my love for Flannery O'Connor, I know very little about Christianity. Not much more than I've picked up from the occasional Christmas song and the Chronicles of Narnia, and that's about it. In short, I'm not the first person you'd come to if you wanted to learn the fundamentals of the faith, not by a long shot. But that's exactly what I had to teach a couple weeks ago.

I was supposed to tutor this Korean kid in American history, which I know (more or less...). But there was some kinda mix-up, what with his parents not understanding English and me not understanding Korean, and so I found myself teaching him world history instead. And, as it happened, the chapter his class was working on was The Rise of Christianity. I gave it a shot, I figure why not - as Evelyn Waugh put it in equally absurd circumstances, it's amazing what one can teach when one tries.

Dude didn't know a thing about Jesus. Not. A. Thing. Never heard of the crucifixion or resurrection or anything. So I had to teach him. I wish I could show you the scrap paper, with my hastily-scrawled stick figure Messiah (sure, drawing stick figures is easy, you might say - but try drawing a stick figure Jesus on top of a crucifix! No simple feat, let me tell ya), my Jew-Christian diagrams, my Old Testament-New Testament bullet point comparisons, I'm telling you, it was great. Anyway, I enjoyed it, but I don't think it went through.

The best part is what he wore, around his neck, every single day, to each of our lessons: yep, you guessed it, a cross. A shiny silver one. So when I mention Jesus' name for the first time and meet a blank stare, I figure maybe I was speaking too fast, so I slow down and point to his neck and say, "You know, Jesus Christ." No hint of understanding. Rather flummoxed now, I ask, "Why are you wearing a cross if you don't know who Jesus is?" Now it's his turn to look at me like I'm an idiot. His reply? "Oh, this is just for fashion."

UPDATE: Well, at least I'm not the only teacher ignorant about Christianity. What a relief!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Very Interesting

I'm not the world's biggest fan of Canadian law, to put it mildly, but the Supreme Court just came out with a pretty darn interesting ruling you could talk me into liking. The case is about some Orthodox Jews, but, with some luck and a bit of elbow grease, it might one day be used to rule against the far more serious and widespread misogyny of a certain other religion...

Here's the ruling if you'd like to see for yourself. The question is whether Canadian courts have any say over Jewish divorce practices - specifically, the awful Orthodox rule whereby a woman cannot get a (religious) divorce and remarry in the faith without the husband's permission (as the ruling explains, this permission is often used as a bargaining chip by the man to get concessions from the woman in the civil divorce). In this case, the man (a real s.o.b. by the looks of it) signed a contract with the woman promising he would release her from the marriage after the civil divorce, but then refused to do so, and said the courts had no right to enforce the contract, since it was a question of his religious freedom. Today, the Supreme Court stood up for women's rights and told him exactly where he could shove that religious freedom.

Key lines from the decision:
"The claim to religious freedom must be balanced and reconciled with countervailing rights, values, and harm, including the extent to which it is compatible with Canada’s fundamental values." (the Court defending Canada's fundamental values??? please, nobody pinch me - if this is a dream, I don't want to wake up)
and
"Any impairment to the husband’s religious freedom is significantly outweighed by the harm both to the wife personally and to the public’s interest in protecting fundamental values such as equality rights and autonomous choice in marriage and divorce."


Meanwhile, the dissent puts up a warning flag right away by invoking the loathful m-word: "Canada’s adoption of multiculturalism and attachment to the fundamental values of freedom of conscience and religion and of the right to equality guarantee to all Canadians that the courts will remain neutral where religious precepts are concerned."

The other big warning flag is that he concludes with a quote from Gandhi. I have few hard and fast rules about life, but one of them is that anyone who concludes with a quote from Gandhi is a moron.

Though, to give the dissenter some credit, he does somehow talk himself into seeing his dissent as protecting a woman's right not to wear the hijab. He writes, "The courts may not use their secular power to penalize a [...] refusal to wear the veil." I would counter that he's just framing the issue wrong here; the question wouldn't ever be whether the court can intervene to punish a woman's refusal to wear the veil, but, in accordance with Canadian (and not multicultural) values, whether the court can intervene to protect her from having to wear the veil and submit. I think that this ruling will certainly help make such a legal attack on the hijab possible.

But then again, like I said, I'm no judge and will never be, so what do I know? With the Supreme Court's track record, they'll probably make an exception for Islam and use this ruling to force Catholic ordination of transgendered atheists.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Let the bastard go

If you don't make even the slightest effort to house-break your puppy, is it right to punish him when he pees on your bed? I say no. As Cesar Millan could tell you, when dealing with animals and other primitive retards, it is your responsibility to strictly outline what is acceptable and what is not.

I think fairness requires Canada to adopt a similar standard in the case of the evil bastard who murdered his daughter. As hinted here, no effort was made before the murder by Canadian society or laws to impose Western values on the man. Just the opposite, in fact - he and his 'diverse' traditions were welcomed with open arms, invited to thrive in multicultural bliss. How can we punish him for simply doing what we've been encouraging him to do since he got here - that is to say, holding on to his traditional Muslim (i.e. wife-beating, honor-killing) values?

Some of you will respond that this, this very case, is our opportunity to assert ourselves, to make an example of him. Applesauce. This is just one extreme case, a murder. The message we'll be sending is 'be careful, don't hit them too hard.' The number of burqas and hijabs will only rise, since I remain convinced that their real purpose is to hide the bruises. Though I may be too charitable: the honor killings would likely continue, but now the unassimilated among us will know better than to call the cops afterwards (or to stage the scene as a hate-crime, complete with hastily-scrawled Bible verses, if they do).

No, if I were the judge, I would rule something like this: "The defendant is not guilty, he was simply exercising the religious freedom promised him by his adopted country. If Canada does not wish for its citizens to practice Islamic traditions, it must make such a statement firmly and clearly; otherwise, punishing an honor-killing would be as unjust as punishing a Christian for being literate (well, bad example there, but you see what I mean). Until Canada adopts serious measures to protect its liberal values on a society-wide level (I would suggest a ban on the hijab, for starters), killers like this goat-humper cannot in good faith be held responsible for their actions. He did nothing but live the Canadian dream."

And that's all you need to know about why I'm never gonna be a judge.

Catching Up

Very slowly catching up on my blog reading. This is hilarious. Poor Moxie; as much as it enlivens her blog and radio show, she sure does live in a messed-up neighborhood.

And I was going to write a rant about the self-service check-in at airports (I spent more than 30 hours in the air this past weekend, no joke), but Prof Althouse beat me to it. I will grant that the Vancouver Airport is simply wonderful, and the people there super-helpful. But Montreal's Trudeau airport? Oh dear Lord. In addition to being incredibly ugly, it's full of super-rude people just like in the Prof's post (except, even worse, they're French!). Anyway, all of us poor travellers go to line up at the counter as usual, but the lady tells us all to scram, to go use the computerized check-in (used to be you could choose to use the counter if you wanted to, but no more). And then we even had to tag our own bags while the lady just stood there and watched us like we were idiots (which, when it comes to checking baggage, I am - since, unlike that lady, it's not my damn job!). Naturally, between self-check computer issues and sticker trouble (yes, yes, feel free to bust out the '..and you went to Harvard???' line, but the instructions were confusing, I tell you! there was a thin layer on top of the adhesive that said in one corner 'Do Not Stick Here,' so I didn't - I took that layer off before sticking. Apparently, this is wrong), most people ended up having to go line up at the counter for help anyway. Totally absurd experience.

Well, that's all the catching up for now, goodnight!

UPDATE: I almost forgot (um, language warning):

Black Snake Moan

Well, I'll give it an A for effort and a D for execution. By effort, I mean I think it tries to create a Southern Gothic feel and to pass along a Christian, conservative message (and any movie that features an anti-abortion blues number sung by Samuel L. Jackson can't be all bad!). But a D for execution, cuz Flannery O'Connor it ain't. She had herself a real pair, for one, and this movie just doesn't. It chickens out in its Christianity, watering it down with p.c. amateur psychobabble and let's-talk-about-how-we-feel therapy (i mean, literally, therapy - one of the final scenes could have come straight out of Dr. Melfi's office), and no amount of religious symbolism can redeem that. Also, the whole white-guy-really-into-blues-music-because-it's-just-so-damn-real thing can get pretty patronizing and annoying sometimes (see Zeppelin, Led). Plus, it way overdoes the whole Christina-Ricci-writhing-sluttily-on-the-floor-thing (almost as much as I'm currently overdoing the whole connecting-all-my-words-with-dashes thing) and basically ends up glamorizing what it set out to condemn (though, let's be honest, that's a flaw I could live with...). Oh, and Justin Timberlake is in it for some reason.

But, it is Hollywood after all, and if there has to be exploitation and huggery alongside the salvation, well, it's better than the morality they usually give us - that is to say, better than nothing.

And, yes, the music is great. They have Ricci sing this, I leave you with another version:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tragedy

So this is what it's come to. A man strangles his beautiful, outgoing daughter to death because she wouldn't wear the hijab. Not in Saudi Arabia, or Sudan, or the suburbs of Paris - no, right here, in Canada.

The spin has already begun among the Muslim groups and the press (I watched CTV news tonight, Lloyd Robertson and co. spent maybe a minute on it, downplaying it as much as possible, of course).

I'll refrain from adding my own spin. I'm in shock. Despite all that I've written, I still cannot believe that this has happened. In Mississauga, for Christ's sake! I just can't get over it. Mississauga. Jesus.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wonderland

It snowed yesterday. A lot. I'm back home in Montreal, we live right next to some woods, and it was bee-yoo-tiful. I spent an hour playing with the dog, which was hilarious. He's a big German shepherd, but the snow came all the way up to his belly, so he can't move his legs to run, he has to take these intense leaps that get him maybe half-a-foot forward at a time. It slows him down a lot, so winter is the only chance I get of catching up to him, and we have some pretty intense wrestling matches for the tennis ball in the deep powder, lots of thrown elbows and biting (on both sides), ending invariably with losing the ball completely in some huge white pile.

Then I spent three hours shoveling snow, which, as long as it's not too cold (and it wasn't), is pretty much my favorite thing ever. Yes, shoveling snow is fun! It's great exercise, zen relaxation, and intense natural beauty all rolled up into one wonderful, hot-chocolate-anticipating snowball o' fun.

Writing all of which is my roundabout way of welcoming SarahK to the north country. I like Florida a lot, but life just isn't life without a decent stab at four seasons. Being north enough to frolic in the powder with your dog, yet south enough to stay in a real country? Perfection.

Avant-garde is one way to put it...

I did not know about this. Married women in Quebec are legally forced to keep their maiden names! Chalk another one up to the Charter of Human Rights. You know, Quebecois human rights, like the right to protect your worthless, low-class, Elvis-impersonating, speedo-wearing, illiterate 'culture' by banning English stop signs, or the right to walk around wearing a Nazi uniform during WWII and then get elected prime minister.

My favorite line from that story? "'It's like collective amnesia,' she said of young women who want to go back to using their husbands' names. 'They have benefited from the struggles of their mothers and grandmothers.'" Yes, because we know that if there's one thing radical Quebec university professor feminists value, it's tradition.

Oh, and please feel free to add your own woman's-right-to-choose joke, we all know how important that surely must be to Prof Langevin.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Elephant? What Elephant?

You know that completely ridiculous (yet completely unsurprising) story of the teddy bear named Mohammed? The one that has been getting major international media coverage, including front page stories in the National Post and constant updates all over the blogosphere? Well, my hometown Montreal Gazette finally decided to mention it. On page A16, at the very bottom, in a tiny paragraph closing out a bunch of other small news briefs, like about the Krygyz prime minister and American obesity levels. Here, then, is the Gazette's coverage of the cuddly crisis in its entirety:

"SUDAN
Teacher Charged with Islam insult
KHARTOUM - Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher detained in Sudan after her class called a teddy bear Mohammed, was charged with insulting Islam in a move that sparked a diplomatic row between London and Khartoum. Tuesday, a 7-year-old student named Mohammed tried to defend Gibbons, saying the bear had been named after him."

That's it. Not a word about the death threats, the demonstrations, the school shutting down, the interrogation, the threats of lashing, nothing. No elaboration of the boy's statement, which basically admits that had the teacher named the bear after the prophet, she would deserve punishment. Nope, nothing to see here, folks, just a small diplomatic kerfuffle, a silly news of the world brief.

Meanwhile, the very same issue of the Gazette gives a far more prominent place to an opinion piece by a local Muslim. My favorite line: "Finally, I cannot see why some Quebecers feel threatened by Muslims." A mystery indeed - certainly, that is, if you make the mistake of trusting the Gazette for your news.

Next Day Update: Okay, the Gazette has a brief and very reluctant editorial up about it today (no online link I can find), calling the events "disappointing" ("even after one allows for cultural differences") and saying that, though "no disrespect was intended," the teacher did not understand "how off-limits Islam is for foreigners." (btw, is foreigners some sort of euphemism for "non-homicidal maniacs"?) And no mention of this. Still, better than nothing, I suppose!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Junebug

First off, my belated wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving! Besides everything and everyone I'm always thankful for, I just wanted to give a special shout out to AMC's Thanksgiving Day Hitchcock marathon - add Shadow of a Doubt and Rear Window to the Cowboys game, and I was able to stay almost sane cooped up in a hotel room last week.

I'm very behind on the news and my reading, but looks like the wonderful folks on the ol' blogroll have everything taken care of.

What prompts my return is that I watched Junebug for the second time last night, loved it even more, and wanted to spread the word. Besides being a wonderful movie, it's another example of a deeply conservative movie going right over liberal critics' heads. Yet, unlike Apatow's movies, the morality isn't couched in vulgarity, it's right out in the open, and still some reviewers just don't get it.

Exhibit A. The heart of the movie is Amy Adams' hyper-vivacious Ashley, who the critic says "talks because to be silent would be to confront her life's emptiness." B.S. The refined British visitor is clearly the empty one - Ashley is full of life, love, and God. But the critic, unsurprisingly identifying with Embeth Davidtz' sophisticated Madeleine, just doesn't get it. A key moment occurs when Ashley goes into labor and the entire family stays by her side at the hospital. The entire family, that is, except for Madeleine - she goes off instead to work on a business deal. The filmmakers are anything but subtle about this; some touching scenes at the hospital show us the importance of family, while some ridiculous scenes with her client illustrate the absurdity of Madeleine's career. Yet what does the Boston Globe critic write about this almost too obvious parallel? "At a certain critical juncture, George's family turns against this outsider artiste for reasons we're supposed to share, but such is Davidtz's deep-dish joy in her role that you're likely to stay on her side." Reasons we're supposed to share - you know, weird reasons, like love and family over business. Sheesh.

Anyway, ranting aside, the movie is definitely worth a look. And yes, Amy Adams is everything radiant and wonderful and just plain good.

here's the trailer:



and here's the opening song, light and fun:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Travel Day/Month

On the road for work and then vacation for the next three weeks, have no idea about internet access (or free time), blogging will probably be very light. Please check out all the wonderful blogs on the right!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

LOVE this:



this, too:



God bless America and all the troops.

Yup

Slowly catching up on my blog reading after a long week.

"Those who are modern and liberal don't want to express old-fashioned moral disapproval, so they won't say drinking or eating too much is self-indulgent and gluttonous. Pleasure-seeking is quite all right these days. And they want to be able to think of themselves as good people, so they can't just say they hate the way you look if you're fat. They have to believe they're actually concerned for your well-being."

Ain't that the truth.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Very much worth a read

Especially the Hall excerpts towards the end. The comparison between Hall and Harris tells you everything you need to know.

See also here. I'm with Dalrymple and the Dutchman, no question.

and Andrew Sullivan doesn't know whether to cry or to drool...

This is very possibly the greatest story ever.

Still, no need to hyperventilate into our sleep apnea masks about all this. My take is that cookie-burning only constitutes torture when not immediately followed by milk-boarding.

Friday, November 9, 2007

"For more tips on how you can save the environment,

stick your head really far up your butt."

Have I mentioned lately how much I love SarahK? I'll even forgive her for liking the most annoying person in the history of the world.*

Related: see here.

*Zach Braff. duh.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Another Triumph for Feminism

The prosecutor, the DA, and the judge - all pee sitting down. The accused has spent his entire life viciously raping women. The decision? Exactly what you'd expect. Aw, the poor widdle baby. Here, let me kiss it and make it all better. Hush now, your father is a bad, bad man, it's not your fault.

Question 1: Any man worth the name will do whatever it takes, and usually far more, to protect his wife and daughters. Women were never expected to join the posses going after the rapists and deadbeats. So, am I crazy, or would a male judge have been much, much harsher with this monster? Or, is this not a women thing, but a spineless liberal thing?

Question 2: Going by the pic in the article, exactly how comfortable do you suppose the defense attorney's shoes are?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Book to Help America

No, not mine. His. Doubt we'll see anything like that again (except, naturally, as an exercise in teaching children irony, workin' 'em up to cheer for Colbert with all the cool kids).

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Nobody puts Baby in a corner...

... unless Baby doesn't actually want to kill babies, that is.

Please take a couple minutes to digest this interview over at HotAir. So creepy.

This went on at Harvard to a much, much lighter extent. Never had one-on-one meetings with RAs, and I'm quite sure none of my conversations were typed up for the university files to keep track of my progress and "treatment." But I do remember the stand-in-the-corners game, good times! The facilitator (this was not the RA, just some random sensitivity trainer, as I recall) would ask about some controversial issue and then have us stand in different parts of the room depending on what our positions were. Always done in small groups of ten to fifteen, so you could see where everyone stood. The only point of the whole silly exercise was to immediately (this happened during the first week or so of school) point out and isolate the conservative minority (it's college, we're always the minority) - to quite literally put them in a corner. Liberals dream these hippie exercises up because they know it would work on them - that is, faced with isolation, they would cave and believe whatever it took to get them back with the crowd, maybe come up with some chants, paint a few signs, pass around a fat j, whatever, it's cool, dude, don't be a fascist. Unfortunately for them, with conservatives, this sort of stuff just backfires, since we enjoy pissing them off and like being troublemakers.

My point being, yes, please do get yourselves all up in arms over the Delaware sitch (yeah, I said sitch, deal with it), which is ridic, but don't forget that less blatant attempts at indoctrination are going on at just about every other campus, too.

And no, it doesn't really matter to most intelligent people (my dad's only concern as he underwent both nazi and communist indoctrination was to keep from giggling), but it certainly does do harm to the naive and unsuspecting. In any case, it's a total waste of time, perhaps even more so than actual college classes.

Now that's what I'm talking about

You do. not. mess. with Rachel Lucas.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ann Coulter

is not just trying to sell more books. She actually believes what she says, and has a sense of humor to boot. Party 'conservatives' who condemn her are batting close to zero in both categories. They're the ones trying to further their careers by playing nice, rather than risking exile from the mainstream by telling the truth. They condemn nothing - not Islam, not the immoral, not the traitors in our midst - nothing, that is, except Ann Coulter (and maybe, if they want to feel extra good about themselves, Bill O'Reilly, too. I mean, he's just so loud!). The same way that the only thing the Harvard Republican Club ever spoke out against was the campus conservative magazine. These people are spineless, pathetic, and, maddeningly, on the fast track to power and influence.

(h/t Hector Owen)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Evil

Maybe it's my misplaced Western idealism, maybe something is getting lost in translation, but the more time I spend here in Seoul, the more disturbed I get by the people around me.

I'm not talking about the easy cultural cheap shots like the absolutely insane stress over college admissions. I'm talking big questions here. The biggest, in fact: the problem of evil. In South Korea, this is no abstract condition - it is concrete, and it is mere miles away.

The North Korean regime is pure evil. No discussion. Its gulags and concentration camps, its torture, its forced famines, its absolute totalitarianism - this is as evil as it gets, as it has ever gotten.

And South Koreans don't really give a damn.

That's how it seems to me, anyway. Remember that short story about the town where utopia is achieved at the price of one child, locked in a basement, enduring constant abuse? That's what Seoul reminds me of (well, except for the utopia part). People just going about their lives, buying their high-fashion clothes, practicing their SATs, unconcerned that the most evil horrors in the history of the world are taking place a stone's throw away.

And this isn't like Americans being too busy to worry about Darfur. This would be like Americans turning a blind eye to a violent dictatorship in Iowa. Do you think that could ever happen? Even if the Iowa Supreme Ruler had his finger on the button?

I mean, North Koreans are their countrymen, their cousins. And yet, nothing. The only thing here people seem to organize against is the American military presence - the one force keeping them from sharing the North's fate.

Another story: earlier this year, a very small group of Koreans traveled to Afghanistan to help the sick and the poor (they were, oddly enough, Christian missionaries - who would have guessed?), only to be kidnapped by the Taliban. Folks here mostly just shrugged it off, or even made fun of them - the feeling was, they pretty much got what they deserved. Why stick your neck out for someone else? Wisdom, in its twisted, well-educated, immoral modern manifestation, is a virtue here. Sacrifice is not.

I mean, honestly, what is wrong with these people? The more I interact with them, the more time I spend talking to parents and children who think by far the most important thing in life is getting into a famous school, the more I wonder. Churches are everywhere, their neon crosses glaring through the night. Do they know that the only electricity in the North goes into its fences? There might not be any prison camps here, but there is evil nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This is gonna be good

The Bluths, Dwight, and the man behind Thank You For Smoking. I cannot wait to see Juno:



Looks, moreover, like another entry in today's family values funny film renaissance. Like Kathy Shaidle likes to say (well, no, not exactly), you wanna make a difference, put down the rosary and pick up the seltzer!

(h/t to Dennis Miller)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Winona Ryder and Marisa Tomei making out

Sorry for the light blogging, I've been super-busy at work the past few days.

As for the title of the post, I cannot, alas, deliver. It was just my way of expressing my excitement over what I consider to be the blogosphere equivalent, namely Kathy Shaidle's recent habit of linking to Rachel Lucas (here and here). If Althouse starts linking to the two of them, well, I'll be in my bunk.

A comment on the Derbyshire post Kathy links to: absolutely I agree with the pretty/sexy dynamic, but if you watch The Great Lie and tell me Bette Davis isn't the goshdarned prettiest thing this side of Pollyanna, then you're worse than Hitler.

As for the horror movie list, how on earth can they claim that Tremors is the fifth best conservative horror movie of all time? It is, in point of fact, the absolute greatest movie of all time.

I would also like to disagree with the "liberals are 'vampire' people, conservatives are 'Frankenstein' people" remark, but I won't, because to do so would reveal far more about the Buffyverse than I would ever publicly admit to knowing...

On to the 80's music list. Sorry, Kathy, but "Wanted Dead or Alive" blows. "Eye of the Tiger," on the other hand, certainly is up there, but the greatest 80s song ever is, hands down, "Holding Out for a Hero."



Well, that's it for now. Work should be lighter this week, so don't go away for too long!


Okay, okay, a little Marisa to close with, I can't help myself:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Good Interview

Check it out.

My favorite lines:

"Smoking kills you, but life kills you, and if you don’t want to die, go into a freezer when you are born and nothing will happen to you."

and, of course: "What is sexy about having something that looks like a goose anus?"

Never read her comic myself, but sounds interesting.

Hey, it builds character!

I have a deep and personal hatred for communists, so I'm obviously no big fan of China, but of all the reasons to hate them, I cannot understand this focus on lead in children's toys.

Heck, in my pappy's day, kids ate lead sandwiches from asbestos lunchboxes. After school, they'd throw cherry bombs at girls and then have thermometer-eating contests. For dinner, pot roast - but only if they finished all their lead first.

I mean, seriously, they used to ride rusty bikes without helmets and make go-carts out of planks from the dump and eat dirt just because, and there ain't a goshdarned thing wrong with 'em!

Kids today? Forget eating dirt, you're liable to get suspended for bringing a peanut butter sandwich to school! Heck, if a kid would happen to sketch a gun with his knife in some peanut butter, he's bound to be expelled for good and sent to juvy.

I say it's time to stop coddling the little wimps. A little lead exposure never hurt anyone. Let the chicoms poison 'em, it'll only make them stronger!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Ivy Calf

Black people in America are walking head-first into tragedy. No, not those black people - not the gangsters, thugs, and deadbeats. No, I'm talking about the decent and the honorable - concerned reformists, devoted teachers, loving parents.

These good people know what's wrong with modern black culture. They know that it must be changed. Their tragedy is that what they believe to be the cure may very well turn out to be the final nail in the coffin.

Bill Cosby has a new book out, speaking more hard truth to black power. Bloggers and commenters, talk show hosts and callers, all are abuzz. And it hit me, as I encountered more and more wonderful and hopeful comments, that black people may be doomed. Comment after comment was about the need for black kids to escape ghetto culture by staying in school and working hard. Everybody was talking about how wrong it was that studious black kids were accused of 'acting white,' how we should try our best to make them see the importance of learning. I remember one caller in particular, a woman on the verge of tears, explaining how she wished her people would realize that their only way to escape, their only way to a brighter future, was not through rap or crime, but through education. That they needed to buckle down and go back to school, go to college, if they were to have any hope at all.

I was thoroughly depressed by that woman. I know how sincere she was, how deeply she meant well, yet she may as well have been encouraging young women to flee from rapists straight into the arms of murderers. I think by now you have a pretty good idea of what my point is going to be, so here goes:

Education will not save you.

Trust me, folks, I've been to college, it ain't what it used to be. If you're lucky, you'll make it out mostly unharmed. If not, you will lose your soul to debauchery, moral relativism, and egotism. And, if on top of it all you're black, you will more likely than not come out of it all hating America, paranoid about racism, and blaming everybody but yourself for, well, just about everything. In other words, you'll be a liberal.

So, concerned black parents, you want to save your kids? Don't send 'em to college.

Send them to church.

At Harvard's founding, its motto, Veritas, referred to the divine Truth of salvation. By now, that meaning is even more obsolete than the campus war memorials. It's probably only a matter of time before they change it to Cave Canem or something. You want to be saved? College is not the answer.

College will not make you a loving father. College will not make you a faithful husband. College will not make you a better person. And it sure as hell won't help you quit taking drugs.

If these are changes you need to make in your life (in other words, if you're a black 'man'), and you feel incapable of making them on your own, then, please, for the love of God, start going to church. Put down that crack pipe, put away that syllabus, and pick up the Bible.

As for the black reformists, those so bravely speaking out and facing the wrath of the Sharptons out there, please, don't let your struggle be for naught. Don't put your faith in the false gods of the campus, they will only let you down.

Friday, October 19, 2007

King Harvest is on his way

This is silly, but, hey, I'll take whatever chance I can get to post a video of my favorite band:




I like Neil Young, too, so let's put 'em together:

I missed this one last week...

but you shouldn't!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Well, if you put it that way...

A budding academic superstar, hurt by mockery of intellectuals in the National Post, responds with true eloquence:

"Mr. Fulford's pot-shot at queer theory is derisive and disrespectful, clearly reaching for the sympathies of a conservative readership. [...] Ultimately, queer theory offers strategies of deconstruction to challenge the way dominant discourses stratify society, to identify and break down the binary oppositions implicit in dominant modes of thought, which have implications for challenging the inner workings of a heterosexist, sexist social system."

Glad she cleared that up!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sweet, Sweet Revenge

Death to the grey squirrel!

Tasing works!

Then: large demonstrations, lewd chanting, political theatre, self-induced vomiting.

Now: twelve-person silent walkout.

(alternate headline: Don't tase me, bro - tase my fetus!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Movie Corner

I never liked Cronenberg, and I maintain that Crash may very well be the worst movie ever, but I have to admit, I just saw Eastern Promises, and it was great. Meanwhile, A History of Violence is probably my favorite movie of the past two or so years. My point being, I don't know what's gotten into him, maybe it's just Viggo's influence, but Cronenberg has gone from national embarrassment to international treasure, putting out not only the best movies in Canada these days, but very possibly the best in the world. Anyway, I've become a fan, is all.

As long as I'm talking movies, I might as well throw in my mini-review of 3:10 to Yuma. I'm taking Udolpho's side on this one; I thought it was pretty terrible. Bale and Crowe are the best there is, but the director is a spastic joke. Westerns need to be as cold and distant as their heroes, yet the camera was constantly jostling up close to the men and giving us extreme closeups. It's real hard to be a bad*** gunslinger when the director won't stop moving the camera around long enough for you to get off a good stare, not to mention stop zooming in on every one of your pores. I'm thinking especially of Leone's spaghetti westerns with Eastwood, and Unforgiven, too (which, unlike Udolpho, I love). Those were shot like real westerns; Yuma was shot like City Slickers or something, I kept on expecting Billy Crystal to pop up at any moment. And, yes, the whole cheap psychobabble characterizations and the ridiculous ending were beyond insufferable. Yet people really seemed to enjoy it, which in my mind only goes to show how badly we're in need of some real westerns again these days to show folks what it's really all about. Cronenberg, Viggo, I'm looking at you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Update: Wow, part II

I never, ever thought I'd say this, but I am very pleasantly surprised - thrilled, even - by the latest efforts of the Harvard administration.

I wrote about the attack on undergraduate drinking they launched last week. Well, much to my shock and delight, the administration is not backing down. If anything, they've gotten even tougher: all funding to the student council has been frozen until the beer money program ends.

I'll add another link to that Crimson article; I'm too tired right now to go into it at length, but it's definitely worth reading for the unintentionally hilarious college student posturing. The kids just want someone else to pay for their booze, they are so pissed that they might have to buy their own jello shots. But, of course, they cannot actually come out and say that in public, for print. So instead we get all these great lines about social inequality (the rich will don robes to sip brandy by the fire, turning their backs on the faces of the underclass pressed longingly up against the window, their shivering hands clutching tight to cans of PBR) and the creation of a dangerous drinking culture (cheap, low-quality aluminium kegs imported from China are reported to have serious structural flaws, with a significant risk of collapse during keg stand attempts, potentially leading to serious head trauma).

The administration is having none of it. I simply must quote the Assistant Dean's comment: "The reality is the administration is not forcing any student to do anything illegal or dangerous. They’re making a choice to do that." An Ivy League college actually making a case for personal responsibility?? Maybe it's the administration that's been drinking!

Anyway, like I said, I'm loving this, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Because self-absorbed college students these days might scoff at most of the freedoms in America (and don't even get me started on freedoms in the rest of the world), but, I assure you, they will go to the barricades for free drinks. Look for a repeat of sixties radicalism as administration buildings are invaded for massive sit-ins. After all, the choice to not drink yourself senseless on someone else's dime three nights a week is not really a choice at all.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Speaking of the many wonders of diversity...

You know what, I'm not thrilled about it, but I can at least handle the sad reality that our exaggerated respect for Indian cultural sensitivities is destroying children's literature (via Instapundit). But aren't things just a tad out of hand when it also destroys children's lives?

Also: Dr. Markesteyn? Really?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Is the University of Michigan breaking the law?

From 1995 to 1997, the University of Michigan employed an explicit quota system for black students and certain other minorities. In 1998, after Jennifer Gratz and friends started making trouble, UMich made a cosmetic switch to a points system. In this system, and I swear I'm not making this up, a black applicant automatically received 20 points, whereas an outstanding application essay received . . . 1 point. However, in 2003, the Supreme Court invalidated the points system, basically ruling that the university could still work to ensure 'diversity,' but that it had to do so in a less mechanical, more individualized fashion.

In November of last year, however, the good people of Michigan told off their betters at the Supreme Court and the University by passing Proposal 2, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which amended the state constitution to ban the use of racial preferences in public education and government. The University and its allies did everything they could to weasel out of the ruling, to no avail.

That, as I understand it, is the situation as it stands today. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the citizens of Michigan, after a long and very intense fight, succeeded in banning affirmative action - that the state constitution now prohibits the University of Michigan from using its admissions office to engineer racial diversity.

All of which brings me, at long last, to my point. Here is the Michigan application essay question for this fall:

"'We know that diversity makes us a better university – better for learning, for teaching, and for conducting research.' Share an experience through which you have gained respect for intellectual, social, or cultural differences. Comment on how your personal experiences and achievements would contribute to the diversity of the University of Michigan."

The quotation in the first line comes from an infamous speech given by UMich President Mary Sue Coleman the day after Proposal 2's approval, in which she told off the voters of her state and vowed to do her best to subvert the law and promote diversity. This question is, then, a second slap in the face to Michigan's voters. True, the text mentions 'intellectual' differences as well, but why am I not convinced?

So, my question is, isn't this, in addition to being an immature and cheap trick, also a blatant violation of Proposal 2?

My second question is, isn't this whole effort by the admissions office also profoundly self-defeating? After all, as I understand it, the whole point of an institution like UMich is to thoroughly indoctrinate the unsuspecting young with all the pc idiocies of modern liberalism. But, if the kids are already drinking the KoolAid to begin with, as would have to be the case to be able to successfully respond to an essay question like the one above, what the heck are they going to do for four whole years at college?

In closing, please see this post for all you need to know about President Coleman and the trouble with affirmative action. Oh, and don't you just love how, whenever something really harmful or just plain nuts happens in our society, Lee Bollinger's name always seems to come up? He's like an even more clueless Forrest Gump.

UPDATE: Welcome, Five Feet of Fury readers! Thanks for the link! If you're interested in a more positive development in higher ed, see here. And to get depressed about college kids all over again, there's this.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A very tiny interlude

I'm all ranted out and have absolutely nothing I want to blog about. But all of Moxie's talk these days about being gay with midgets reminded me of something silly I wrote a very long time ago, so here it is. It's very dumb, I apologize in advance!

Thoughts on Little People

When I first entered the classroom, I was very surprised to find a little person sitting beside me. How had he gotten out of my pants?

Which got me to thinking, what would life be like if I told people about the little person who lives in my pants?

At a dance
Me: Hi. There’s a little person living in my pants.
Girl: Like I’ve never heard that line before.
Me: His name is Peter.
Girl: I’m sure it is. Listen, just leave me alone.
Me: He’s an entrepreneur. In nanotechnology. It’s the small hands, you know.
Girl: Okay, seriously, get away from me.
Me: He’s very rich. He has a yacht.
Girl: You had me at hello.

At a convenience store
Me: Hi, I’d like a mini-toothbrush, please.
Clerk: What?
Me: A mini-toothbrush? You know, just a toothbrush with a real tiny handle. It’s for the little person in my pants.
Clerk: . . . um . . . I’m sorry, but we don’t have any mini-toothbrushes.
Me: Then why do you sell mini snickers bars?
Clerk: ... I’ll go get the manager.
Me: Is he in your pants?
Clerk: No.
Me: Racist.

At a little person convention
The little person doorman: I’m sorry, but you can’t come in here.
Me: Why not?
Doorman: You’re not a little person.
Me: No, it’s okay – I have one in my pants.
Doorman: Okay, pervert, get out of here before I call the cops.
Me: The little people cops?
Doorman: Yes, the little people cops.
Me: Do they have little tiny guns?
Doorman: Yes, they have little tiny guns.
Me: Aw, that’s cute. But anyway, I’m not a pervert. I really do have a little person in my pants.
Doorman: Then why doesn’t he say something?
Me: He’s kind of shy.
Doorman: Fine, whatever, why can’t you just get him to leave your pants for a minute?
Me: Well, he’s also kind of gay.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

They say the Dems' use of children to defend their health program is emotional blackmail...

but the truth is, they just couldn't find anyone who was alive during Hillarycare to support its return.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wow.

Remember how I criticized Harvard for its amoral attitude towards drinking on campus? Well, I take it back! (kind of...) Breaking news: the Dean of the college just landed a major blow against campus debauchery. There was this ridiculous program called the Party Grant in which the student council took money from all students as a so-called 'activities fee' and redistributed it to a handful of students to throw parties in their rooms every weekend. Yep, instead of encouraging individual students to save or earn money to finance their own fun, the student council decided to take money from everyone and redistribute it so a few kids could have some real kick-ass parties, free of charge. Because, let's admit it, there's nothing more fun than throwing a huge party, passing out drinks to all your friends, maybe getting some action, and having it all be on the house. And we wonder why college kids vote Democrat.

Well . . . last call, baby, last call: "the UC Party Grant program is inherently flawed, and must be ended immediately. From this date forward no further funds can be dispersed for private parties, including any that may have already been approved for forthcoming dates." You know that hot girl from section? Well, drunken anonymous sex is still almost certainly in your future, but now you'll have to find someone besides the student body to pay for her booze!

So why did the Dean shut the program down? As you might have guessed, underage drinking was not exactly frowned upon at these gatherings. In fact, not only were underaged drinkers allowed into the parties without any problems, they were often even hosts and given money directly by the student council to buy alcohol. This angle, the underaged drinking, is the excuse the Dean chose. Personally, I'm not against underaged drinking per se, as opposed to primitive debauchery in general, but I understand that in this day and age there is no way a responsible adult could ever chide immature children for immoral behavior without getting tarred and feathered, so if he has to chose the underaged angle, so be it.

When not focused on the legalistic approach, the Dean takes the second refuge of the would-be moralist in our amoral age: health. "[I]t is quite apparent," he writes, "that the UC Party Grant program, in practice, has funded parties where the focus is on drinking. Alcohol abuse is the number one student health concern at Harvard as it is on other campuses nationwide. We have taken many proactive steps to mitigate the harm that results from high-risk drinking and have also tried to develop spaces on campus where students can socialize with alcohol safely and legally. The UC Party Grant program is at odds with the message that students, parents, faculty and administrative leaders of this community should be sending about responsible and safe alcohol use." Like I said, I'll take what I can get, but this health b.s. - the same tack people today take with cigarettes - is such a pathetic, infantile cop-out.

The third angle, and one I am more sympathetic to, is the aforementioned issue of the few vs. the many: "I also would like you to consider recommitting your funds for uses that will benefit the majority of students who are members of student organizations. [...] Failing to fund groups because resources have been diverted to individuals for parties is not in support of the greater good of the students you represent, not in keeping with your mission, and not the intended purpose of these funds." I'm actually against funding for groups, I think there should be no activities fee at all and each student should be able to keep his money to do with as he pleases, but hey, baby steps.

All in all, though, a wonderful decision and I couldn't be happier. Well, I take that back - I soon became a great deal happier when I read all the incredulous emails from shocked and furious students! Tasing, it seems, is far from the worst thing you could do to a college student. Don't take away my beer money, bro!

The Wrong Way

What amuses me most about Hillary's baby bonus scheme is that, even for such blatant political bribery, it's too understated. Hillary should take a page from Duplessis. He never bribed voters - he outright threatened them! He told them, to their faces, that if they didn't vote for him he would make sure that no new road, bridge, or school ever got built in their town. And it worked! So, Hillary, as far as the nation's newborn go, should get less charitable and more Biblical. And the Republican candidate should promise, if elected, to make it his sworn goal to personally tase every single college student who didn't vote for him. After all, why simply mock their paranoia when you can also capitalize on it? Now that is my kind of politics.

Monday, October 1, 2007

TV Interlude

Just saw the premiere of Chuck, and it's a whole lot of fun. That's all I've got, I'm very tired - goodnight!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

But I thought religious people were morons?

From yesterday's National Post, in their story on Father Neuhaus: "First Things has no charts and photos, just words." What, not even cute little New Yorker-type cartoons? How on earth can anyone stay awake long enough to read it? Surely they must leave the TV on in the background or something. This calls for further research - paging Dr. Hitchens!

UPDATE: By the way, for whatever it's worth, I think Neuhaus is mistaken about the Charter being too American - if only! I don't know about y'all, but I for one wouldn't mind a constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech (and to bear arms!) myself.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Kim du Toit!

Yes, the Kim du Toit. Moxie had him on. Unbelievable. She already had Althouse, and now du Toit. Meanwhile, I, contemplating the possibility of my own show, am so desperate for company I was wondering whether it would be immoral to pay a Korean hooker to be my co-host for an hour. Anyway, check it out (mp3 link). He's on in the second segment; be warned, the first segment is about midget porn.

In related news, Moxie might now have a bit of competition in the world's-sexiest-celibate category (via HotAir).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why We Hate Us

"George Whittemore. 17 September, 1862. Antietam."

There are 136 such entries carved into the marble walls of Harvard's Memorial Hall. 136 students who gave their lives for the Union. From the doorway, you can see the steeple of Memorial Church. There, hundreds more names are carved into stone, honoring those who died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Above the names, these words: "While a bright future beckoned they freely gave their lives and fondest hopes for us and our allies that we might learn from them courage in peace to spend our lives making a better world for others."

There will be no memorial for my generation. The names of my classmates will never be carved into those hallowed walls. What, after all, would there be to inscribe? "George Whitmore. 17 September, 2062. Goldman Sachs."

What with Ahmadinejad taking a break from killing American soldiers for a photo-op at Columbia, I've been thinking a lot lately about what fuels Ivy League anti-Americanism. I think I've finally figured it out. What I think it comes down to, in a word, is shame.

A thought experiment: you believe, you sincerely believe, that you live in the greatest nation ever known to man. A nation of heroes. You look around, and you see men and women, just like yourself, who freely give their lives, their fondest hopes, for the nation. No, not just for the nation, but for all nations. For universal rights, for freedom. To make a better world. Then, you look at yourself. You are evaluating some stocks, or perhaps studying for the bar, or working hard on a dissertation. You look again at your beloved country, at the heroes around you, and, worlds away from all that, again at yourself. What would you feel?

Cowardice. Embarrassment. Shame. You would, I think, be sick to your stomach with shame.

It is to escape this shame that my generation of future world leaders lacks patriotism. Way I figure, you're either ashamed of America, or ashamed of yourself. The choice, especially for a thoroughly self-satisfied Harvard type, is not a hard one.

Everything bad about themselves that these students know deep down to be true - their narcissism, their petty materialism, their ultimate emptiness - all this is harshly revealed by the shining light of America's righteousness. They can delude themselves, can live with themselves, only so long as America is wicked. If America is evil, then they don't have to feel ashamed.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Don't judge me, bro

Pretty much every angle (and remix!) of the taser incident has been covered by now, but I wanted to talk about a larger issue: the role of university police. In short, I'm against them. University police, at least as I knew them at Harvard, exist not to enforce the law, but to subvert it. Let me explain: a university campus is a hotbed of drug abuse and underaged drinking. The university police, like everyone else, know this, but do nothing about it. Presumably they have taken an oath to uphold the law, yet they make no effort to do so. They basically serve as a free taxi service for the drunk and incapacitated, taking them to the hospital in extreme circumstances, but never arresting the louts (after all, as we always hear, the important thing is the kid's health [physical health, natch]).

If this is so, you ask, why are the police even around? Well, college kids, being morons, leave their valuables lying around everywhere and are easy prey for thieves. The campus police are around to chase bicycle and laptop thieves. And that's what really gets to me. When it comes to important things, like the damage to themselves and others caused by drug and alcohol abusers, the campus police look the other way. For meaningless material concerns, though, like a stolen wallet, the sirens are a-blazin'.

I am not saying that the university police should arrest underage drinkers; if we are intent on preserving the inebriated sanctity of the college "lifestyle,"* however, I think I would prefer if we got rid of such police altogether. You see, it's the hypocrisy (!!) that I can't take. Screw the law as long as you're enjoying yourself, but run crying to police headquarters when your Ipod is stolen.

Of course, I think I would have a much different opinion if, once, just once, the Harvard police would have tased the nipple rings out of an idiot protestor.

And as for cases of sexual violence, the police are hopeless, too. A friend of mine was being stalked, and the cops told her they couldn't do anything about it unless she was actually attacked! Furthermore, sexual relationships have become so depraved and demeaning of late, that even if the police were determined to prosecute predators, they could never separate them from everyone else. What, they're going to arrest every frat boy? Video-surveil every one night stand? Once society has cast aside the principles upon which the law was built in the first place, it is absurd to expect the police to pick through the mess we've left behind.

*As Michael writes here, "looks like people think they can justify a[ny] degenerate set of behaviors by calling it a 'lifestyle.'"

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm out, I'm out, thank the Lord, I'm out

Bigshot Harvard English professor Stephen Greenblatt recently gave an incredibly pompous and self-absorbed speech to undergraduates, extolling his own bravery as a writer (via ALDaily). I'm going to leave aside the arrogant cluelessness of teaching great writing by quoting extensively from your own works, as well as the gushing, schoolgirl account of being able to actually touch the hem of Bill Clinton's garment. Instead, I bring your attention to the very end of the speech, what is clearly meant as the surprising, shocking conclusion. Here is what this renowned Shakespeare scholar, who taught many of my friends, thinks is a daring example of risk, of taking a chance, of bravery. Here is the example through which he exhorts the students of Harvard to rebel against the establishment, to tap into the secret fears of our times, to make the jaded audience squirm guiltily in their seats:

"I go on in this vein for several long, unnerving pages. Only after I have fully mimed a voice of fear and hatred, do I turn in the direction that some of you may have anticipated. For, as you may have noticed, I have already begun to conjure up the situation of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. I have tried to do so in a way that enables me to suggest the play’s uneasy contemporary relevance, a sense at once fascinating and disagreeable that it is playing with fire. All my life I thought of the combustible material as anti-Semitism—or, to put the matter more carefully, Christianity’s Jewish problem. But the queasiness of Western cities no longer centers on the synagogue. It takes only a small substitution for the word 'synagogue' to tap into current fears: 'Go, Tubal, and meet me at our mosque. Go, good Tubal; at our mosque, Tubal.' "

I can picture the moment as if I were there (I have been, far too many times). Without a doubt, he paused, to let his breathtaking, courageous substitution sink in. Members of the audience gasped, then, composure regained, nodded knowingly - perhaps even applauded. Why, they suddenly realized, Muslims today are *just like* the Jews! And fear of Islam, well, it's the new, perhaps even more vicious anti-Semitism! Yes, I see now, yes! Oh, I hope the Professor doesn't get fired for daring to say it!

As the title says, I wasted a lot of money and a lot of years, but I'm finally out, thank God.

I guess I'm just too repressed, too cowardly, too blind to the truth, man. I guess I just couldn't handle playing with fire.

Rosa Parks didn't beat the bus driver unconscious

That's my take, and Jason Whitlock tells you everything else you need to know. (h/t)

Creepy!

Get over yourselves, people. If I were a woman (and boy, if I had a dollar for every time I've said that), a team of doctors would still be laboring over the photographer, trying in vain to remove the camera.

That story, at the time of this post, is the sixth most-emailed story at the NYT. This is the fifth. Coincidence? I think not.

Please see the amazing Barbara Kay for more. Good ol' fashioned marriage has become unfashionable. The only way it appeals to people now is as an exercise in narcissism and reality TV.

There are exceptions, of course. I was blessed to be present at the marriage of a friend this summer, and here are some thoughts I had at the time (with names changed and in-jokes expunged):

"I just want to repeat basically what everyone else has already said, except I figure that if I say it, it sounds more handsome. Nick and Nora have so much to be arrogant about. They could be the biggest jerks in the world and totally get away with it thanks to their talents, like so many great artists, or me, or whoever. But, instead, they, and their love, are full of humility. Picking up on the mysterious theme of Harvard relationships, I think the reason why Harvard kids have such a hard time dating is that they're full of themselves. They long not to love, but to be loved. They think they deserve no less. There is not even a hint of this false, ego-driven desire in the love of Nick and Nora. They deeply love not themselves, but one another, and that, to me, is divinely beautiful.
To illustrate the extent of their generosity, the genuine way in which Nick and Nora strive to share their love with others, well, I don't know if I should be saying this, but they did make me an offer. Unfortunately, I had to decline, as I don't swing that way, or at least not with that ratio. But I've been thinking it over, and, in honor of this happy occasion, if you're willing to throw in a couple of the bridesmaids, my answer is yes"

The moral of this story: don't let me anywhere near your wedding!

UPDATE: See here (via Ace)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I refuse on principle to think of a dirty play on words on a children's classic with which to title this post

You know how we conservatives are always saying that liberals have absolutely no moral compass? Well, it may usually be a slight exaggeration, but not today, not in the crazy mixed up world of NYT reporter Alessandra Stanley.

Stanley today writes a review of the TV adaptation of the Gossip Girl series. The very series that, not long ago, was rightly eviscerated by Naomi Wolf in these same pages, revealed as the repulsive piece of trash that it is. So what does Stanley have to say about the soulless, materialistic, drug-fueled, sex-obsessed characters? Why, that they remind her oh so very much of the Little Mermaid! Or, no, wait, perhaps Sleeping Beauty. Well, in any case, definitely Willy Wonka. You see, folks, it's just another fairy tale!

"Like 'Peter Pan,' 'Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland' or the 'Harry Potter' series, these novels are fantasies and projections of an imaginary world where parents are dead or peripheral, and lost boys and girls struggle on their own with good and evil, or in this case, Bergdorf Goodman and evil.
Even the characters’ names — Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen — are as fancifully evocative as those found in children’s books ...."

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me. I know, I know, Judy Blume is still banned in some places for her sexual themes, Alice got high from her mushrooms, and some Harry Potter fanfic has just gotten way out of hand. But, and I will try to muster the deepest reserves of my eloquence here, come on!

The moral of this story: if you have kids, make sure to keep them away from Alessandra Stanley!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More MoxVox

Like I said, great show, check it out. In the show I just heard, they were talking about Nicole Richie's decision not to abort her baby even though she's a (quite literal) pinhead. I'm as pro-life as they come, but even I will admit to feeling very uneasy about someone as unhealthy as Richie having children. But, don't despair, I've figured out the solution: she should have the baby, and then eat it.

Moxie then blew my mind by talking about Matthew Good. Man, I haven't heard that name in ages. Good times. I'm not a fan myself, but I remember this video was huge when I was a kid. We all used to hang out in the junior room after the Saturday morning tennis clinic to watch the MuchMusic Countdown, and this is what we saw:



Like I said, not a fan, but nostalgia will do wonders. A Canadian band that I liked a bit more that never broke through in the States is The Tragically Hip. This is my favorite (oops, favourite) of theirs:



And I'll admit to a bit of a Sarah McLachlan fixation back in the day:



Ooh, ooh, (it's all coming back to me now), don't forget Our Lady Peace. They were HUGE:



Meanwhile, the ones who did make it big were Celine, Nelly, and Avril. Yuck.

Well, to end this post on a high note, I hope we can all agree to love Shania!



UPDATE: OMG, I almost forgot... Robin Sparkles! Wait for the Mulroney cameo!

He's guilty... of saving the world?

Hewitt and Medved were both complaining a great deal about the OJ coverage yesterday, lamenting that the media were in full frenzy mode over the arrest at a time when they should be focusing on truly important things, like the latest huge developments between Israel, Syria, and Iran, not to mention the war in Iraq.

I think they might be wrong on this. What they forget is that the media is not our friend, it's our enemy! It's an ultra-liberal, anti-Israel, anti-Bush fifth column. So wouldn't you much rather it focus on OJ than on anything serious? I know I much prefer to hear news of a leaked OJ audiotape than a leaked Israeli plan of attack! Every moment they spend squeezing the Juice is one less moment spent on uncovering the misunderstood, loving side of Hamas!

By the way, the OJ murder trial was my first foray into the bizarre and thoroughly disheartening world of racial politics. There was only one black kid at my school (that's Montreal for you - a now obsolete joke was that our black population doubled with every Expos home game). The day of the verdict, our teacher gave us permission to leave class and hear the decision, so we're all huddled around a TV in the gym, and they make the announcement, and we're all absolutely stunned. I remember distinctly wandering outside, feeling almost shell-shocked, everyone around me just gaping in disbelief - except for the black kid. He was literally running around the playground, pumping his fist, yelling with joy, and taunting all the visibly upset kids! What a world.

Great Minds, as they say

After writing my talk radio post yesterday, I see that Kathy Shaidle put up a similar (well, much better written and more interesting, but same principle) post about listening to Prager and Co. And both of us referenced Woody Allen in the title. Creepy!

The New Attorney General

Blah. I say, bring Janet Reno back, give her a freaking platoon, and tell her gunshots were heard inside CAIR headquarters.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cultural Immersion? Hardly

So as that last post might indicate, I'm not exactly in a rush to experience the local life. I listen to American radio, read American blogs, cook up American food, and wander wide-eyed through the American shops in the mall next door. Three cheers for the internet and globalization!

Radio Days

So to give you an idea of how adventurous my life is, my favorite thing about the time difference here in Seoul is that I get to listen to Hugh Hewitt every morning while eating breakfast! I'm basically living off of online radio these days, Hewitt every morning, and if I have the day free, Michael Medved and Dr. Laura, too. (Yes, I'm a big Dr. Laura fan, been listening to her all my life, and I am my kids' mom [no, not really, but I have been very diligent with child support]). And, before I go to sleep, a little Dennis Prager, too, he's probably my favorite, seems like such a wise, decent man. Last but certainly not least, MoxVox. I just discovered Moxie's blog and her podcast a couple days ago via Althouse, and they're great, you should check her out. Radio, as you may have noticed by now, plays a big part in my life (I remember being ecstatic, driving home from Boston, that I was able to hear Laura Ingraham all the way into Montreal before it cut out [talk radio in Montreal is awful, just awful, that's when I catch up on my music]) and, believe me, Moxie and her crew are terrific.

Just to prove I'm not a complete radio slore, by the way, I can't stand listening to Mike Gallagher, Sean Hannity, or Bill Bennett. I'm reading Bennett's book now, though, America: The Last Best Hope, and recommend it highly (it's so depressing, though, that there actually is a need for such a book, one that actually defends rather than defames America).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I have the excuse of jetlag, he's just a moron

Hello from Seoul! Sorry I haven't been posting, I was busy packing and flying and settling in and everything, and am inexcusably behind on my blog-reading. I'm still very jetlagged (I'm writing this post at four in the morning!). I'll write all about Seoul and my job (teaching US History) and all that soon (hopefully after I get paid I'll even be able to buy a digital camera and do my best Althouse impersonation!), for now I just wanted to post this short clip of Dalton McGuinty being a complete moron, because it's been cracking me up all day (or night, whatever):



Silliness, I know. For the more serious example of the guy's cluelessness, see here.

PS: This reminds me of when John Kerry came to my high school during the campaign and spoke to us, an auditorium full of high school kids, about his promise that, as President, he would institute a program of mandatory community service for high school kids. Didn't go over too well, as you might imagine. Then there was the time that Jean Chretien spoke at my (other) high school graduation, and, I kid you not, delivered an entire speech about Star Wars, concluding, in his trademarked unintelligible mumbling, "May da force be witchu." The dominant Canadian leader of my youth, ladies and gentlemen. Is it any wonder I left the hemisphere?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I like her!

Check it out.

Wouldn't it be awesome if Rachel Lucas or Kathy Shaidle or someone like that had a TV show in which they just yelled at bums and hippies? Please, Rupert, make it happen!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

You can take the looter out of New Orleans..

This post (and the linked article) over at Relapsed Catholic brought back some memories.

My dad visited New Orleans once, years ago. He was headed to dinner at a place about two blocks away; so close that, as he tells it, he could clearly see the steakhouse sign from the hotel lobby, practically smell the beef. Even so, the concierge all but forced him to go by cab - they assured him, if he risked the walk, he would be taking his life in his hands!

And a friend of mine at college told me his family owned part of an apartment building in Texas. After Katrina, the other owners wanted to open the place up as a free shelter for refugees, like other buildings in the neighborhood, but his family refused. They had spent their fair share of time in New Orleans, it seems, and wanted none of it. Sure enough, a year goes by, and the once furious co-owners are falling over themselves to thank the uncharitable holdouts for saving them from the (oh-so-very natural) disaster that has befallen all the other poor, kind-hearted, naive (or perhaps not so naive, but unwilling to appear mean or racist) landlords in the area: property destruction, crime, the usual. Theirs is apparently one of the few buildings in the area that didn't become a dangerous slum.

I'll admit, I don't know if I could turn refugees away myself. I wouldn't exactly have sympathy for those who come begging, but I'd probably welcome 'em, write the building off, and throw another log onto my growing martyr complex. But I certainly won't hold it against those who take a less fatalistic view, who see not Mary and Joseph seeking shelter, but Breau and Broussard seeking silverware, and who decide to close (and lock!) the door.

Incidentally, this reminds me of one of my very last encounters before leaving Cambridge. I was in the bank to close my account, and, to my great bemusement, found myself waiting in line behind one of the local homeless. He hangs out right outside CVS in the Square, and I've given him change a few times. Now here I was in line behind him as he filled out some form and talked to the teller about his apartment. Yes, his apartment. 'Homeless' beggars with bank accounts and bachelor pads - not bad if you can get it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Don't miss this one

MKH exposes the pointy underbelly of free needle programs.

A compassionate and logically flawless liberal initiative leading to unintended consequences? Who knew! (well, besides them)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

um, what?

The following is transcribed verbatim from yesterday's Montreal Gazette. It may be the most wtf item I've ever seen. The short version, from the headline: "bar workers play volleyball to raise funds for sex ed." Bar workers? Volleyball? Sex ed? Um, wtf? My favorite thing about the item is the completely matter-of-fact description, as if the writer found nothing unusual in the slightest about bartenders (again, i'm sorry, but wtf?) playing volleyball to raise dental dam awareness among the youth of the city.

[The Gazette, Montreal, Monday, August 27, 2007; Julian Armstrong]

[the first story is a touching one: "Teen raises $11,000 for cancer patients" Then comes this, as the very next item]

"A beach volleyball tournament between teams of bar and restaurant employees has raised more than $10,000 to finance sex education in Montreal-area high schools.

Sponsored for the second year by the Head and Hands agency, the recent tournament in Jeanne Mance Park had 10 competing teams from bars and restaurants on and off the island. The winning team was Tokyo/Pistol. Blizzarts came in second, Chateau du Lac third.

Funds will be donated to the agency's Sense Project, which aims to provide community-based sex education for secondary school students between the ages of 14 and 17.

The project was designed to fill a gap in the curriculum when sex education was cut by schools. The program is designed to give young people the information and emotional tools needed to make smart choices, thereby reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections."

Ah, bartenders - never letting anything, not even the chance of sunburn, get in the way of their love for the children. Next week: reformed sex offenders play shuffleboard to raise funds for a kiddie park!

Update: Thanks to Relapsed Catholic for the link!

Monday, August 27, 2007

"The contemporary liberal is in large measure a conservative"

A line I came across, from 1971. "[H]is desire for social change is balanced by a mounting apprehension that the most essential traditional values are being undermined and ultimately will be abandoned."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Manchildren

Sorry I've been gone, I'm on vacation, blogging will be light for another week or so.
Anyway, Udolpho's back, and he said what I was gonna say, anyway:

" It's getting tough to make a coming of age movie in an age when by my estimation adolescence now lasts until you're in your late thirties."


(via RC)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Culture Matters

This is priceless. It's all gold, but I think my favorite part is the cruel, cruel insult: "an African Margaret Thatcher." Wow, and I thought the comparisons of Bush to Hitler were harsh! But seriously, folks, does anyone doubt that if Africans were even remotely capable of producing a leader like Margaret Thatcher, their biggest problem today would likely be the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray conversion debate? And Angelina would be off adopting Canadians or something.

Anyway, Bono's outburst reminded me of this great Ambivablog post. One of the Easterly quotations that lept out at me:

"The ideology of Development is not only about having experts design your free market for you; it is about having the experts design a comprehensive, technical plan to solve all the problems of the poor. These experts see poverty as a purely technological problem, to be solved by engineering and the natural sciences, ignoring messy social sciences such as economics, politics, and sociology."

Sociology. It's not just about markets, not just about institutions - it's about people.

Which brings me to this fascinating new book:

"As the progeny of the rich pervaded all levels of society, Dr. Clark considered, the behaviors that made for wealth could have spread with them. He has documented that several aspects of what might now be called middle-class values changed significantly from the days of hunter gatherer societies to 1800. Work hours increased, literacy and numeracy rose, and the level of interpersonal violence dropped.

Another significant change in behavior, Dr. Clark argues, was an increase in people’s preference for saving over instant consumption, which he sees reflected in the steady decline in interest rates from 1200 to 1800.

'Thrift, prudence, negotiation and hard work were becoming values for communities that previously had been spendthrift, impulsive, violent and leisure loving,' Dr. Clark writes."

Thrift? Hard work? What!? Where was the UN? Where was Bono? Where was Sachs???

Oh, yeah:

"Many commentators point to a failure of political and social institutions as the reason that poor countries remain poor. But the proposed medicine of institutional reform 'has failed repeatedly to cure the patient,' Dr. Clark writes. He likens the 'cult centers' of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to prescientific physicians who prescribed bloodletting for ailments they did not understand."

Modern historians, meanwhile, are appalled to learn that individuals might actually matter:

"Historians used to accept changes in people’s behavior as an explanation for economic events, like Max Weber’s thesis linking the rise of capitalism with Protestantism. But most have now swung to the economists’ view that all people are alike and will respond in the same way to the same incentives. Hence they seek to explain events like the Industrial Revolution in terms of changes in institutions, not people."

Institutions, not people. Charity, not culture. Transfers instead of transformations. No wonder Africa is doomed.

(by the way, these modern historians don't understand how people succeed because they refuse to even acknowledge success - they look at the West and see not an Industrial Revolution, but centuries of racism, patriarchy, hegemony, imperialism, and war-mongering. As for Africa, it has to them no identity except as a victim of all of the above.)

(oh, and one more thing: there's a very good chance I'll end up teaching in Africa at some point. Before you roll your eyes, that's different! Actually living with a community, and teaching its children, is different than throwing money at it. You know, that whole fish story. And no, I don't think it will actually matter, but nothing really does, and sometimes you just have to keep pushing those boulders up those mountains)

In conclusion, when it comes to the troubles with Africa today, just keep in mind this simple slogan: It's not the economy, stupid!

"The Tory Party never was a 'right-wing' party, let alone a 'rightwing' one."

Remember this? Well, as the line goes, say it better with Hitchens:

"There never was a Tory swing to the right. The Tory Party never was a 'right-wing' party, let alone a 'rightwing' one. Nor will it ever be. It was an effective machine for putting well-bred gentlemen into office, and would always do what was necessary to achieve that end. Now it is an ineffective one. There was, on the other hand, a very significant change in Labour, from being a reformist working class-based party, to being a middle-class radical party bent on profound social, moral and cultural change. That required a new form of opposition - one that both understood what New Labour was about, and fundamentally disagreed with it. The Tories had got used to being vaguely, habitually against the Old Labour package of union rights and nationalisation. They thought the old slogans and habits of mind would carry on working against the new version.

They never cottoned on to how important comprehensive schools and political correctness were. The party that does grasp these things, and is prepared to combat them, has yet to come into being, but the omens are, for the moment, surprisingly good."

(Via)