Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I hate UNICEF

They're disgusting jew-haters, for one. They're the UN, for another (but I repeat myself). Even if they were neither of these things, though - sending kids around on Halloween to collect money for others instead of candy for themselves? Bastards.

This random thought brought to you courtesy of today's Gregalogue. If you aren't watching RedEye (or, at the least, RedEye Recap), you probably lead a healthy and fulfilling life, and I hate you.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Not feeling smug enough this evening?

Introducing Google's new, environmentally friendly search engine: Blackle. Please, folks, just shoot me now.

Does seem to work well enough, though.

Creepy

I have no idea if this is accurate, but if it is, then... damn.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"The fear of being alone"

In the midst of a typically fun and charismatic Althouse vlog, a moment of deep truth.

A lot of people seem to want to be in love just to be in love, to have somebody to love and who loves them. Who that person actually is becomes a bit of an afterthought. Me, I'm not so much into falling in love in general, I'm more concerned about the person in particular. In plain english, I'm just really really picky, and I'm in no hurry (quite fittingly, alas, my high standards are met by even higher ones - that is to say, the ladies in question say 'no'!).

Also, my problem (well, one of them!) is the exact opposite of what Prof Althouse says - I have a fear of not being alone! I grew up basically (long story...) a single child, with no close friends my age (shocking, I know!), keeping to myself and so on. I'm still very anti-social, much preferring to be by myself, so I have no idea how I will ever manage to share a life. I don't mean in an odd couple, getting annoyed at a girl for leaving towels on the floor way (though it wouldn't help!), but in more of a "honey, i love you, i'm just gonna go off and spend the next month in a shack in the woods, don't forget to walk the dog" sort of way. So yeah, that's probably not healthy.

Anyway, enough about me, hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The New Atheists are a bunch of obnoxious jerks

If you're as big a Barbara Kay fan as I am (and you should be!), make sure not to miss her latest article, here, some very good stuff. (via HotAir)

For whatever it's worth (and it ain't worth much!), my earlier comments on this, as a very reluctant atheist thoroughly embarrassed by the company I must keep, are here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Calling B.S. on Planet Earth

Another entry in my series of writing about stuff I know absolutely nothing about:

I love nature photography (see Althouse, Ann), so, naturally, I adore the Planet Earth series - absolutely stunning. But I was watching an episode today, and my liberal b.s. detector went off. In an episode on the oceans, the narrator introduces us to the blue whale, the largest creature ever. He explains that because of the oceans' vastness, we know almost nothing about the movements of these huge whales, and we have no idea where they go to breed. Then, maybe five minutes later, as the episode is wrappping up with some final shots of the whales, the narrator goes into earnestness mode and explains that because of climate change, the whales' habitat has been endangered, and their numbers are dwindling. Where there used to be hundreds of thousands, there remain now just a few hundred. So my question is: if they can't track the whales, have no idea where they go, don't have a clue where they breed, how on God's green and exquisitely photogenic earth do they know how many of them there are? And know with such precision that they can make apocalyptic claims about there being an extinction rate of 97 percent? Maybe the whales just moved, or are just smart enough to stay away from British people.

Anyway, I don't care about this at all, I just thought it was a bizarre statement for them to make. And screw the whales. As long as there are enough baby seals around for our natives to club every day, I'm happy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

More on the New Victorians

RC picks up on the supposed New Victorians trend. I thought I should elaborate on my skepticism. I think this is just a case of poor reporting and social commentary, where a few legitimate cases (Erica Jong's daughter, for instance - wonderful to see!) are confused with a whole bunch of unrelated people. Every article on the New Victorians that I've read has commented on their careerism - in other words, on their self-involved materialism. A far leap from a modest, family-first life. And then there are the comments about fancy dinners and french poodles and similar retro-yuppie waspish class markers. Sounds to me like these people are treating marriages and children not so much as true callings, but as status symbols. Can't afford that nice apartment in the Upper East Side? No worries, you can still get that promotion and impress your friends with your tennis club membership, your golden retriever, and your nuclear family!

Yes, having kids as status symbols is a step up from having drugs and hookers as status symbols, but I don't know how long something built on such a shaky foundation can last. The reporters marvel that there is no hint of infidelity or unhappiness in these families - um, hey, they're twenty-something newlyweds, give 'em a few years!

Finally, as a young twenty-something myself, I have to say that I have never encountered anyone even remotely like the people in these articles. I remain very skeptical about whether these reporters aren't just making this whole story up.

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends."

Came across that MLK line today, made me feel guilty for not linking over to Relapsed Catholic's secular fatwa post. I'm not a wimp, I'm just not a follower, don't like getting involved with movements and crowds and stuff. But I owe her one (well, quite a few, really), so here's my link. Please click on the 'religion of peace' tag below if you're interested in my thoughts on this gay-murdering, woman-oppressing, barbaric death cult that calls itself a religion.

UPDATE: The actual quotations they're in trouble over:
“I can’t figure out why the homosexuals I ran into are on the side of the Muslims. After all, Muslims who practice Sharia law tend to advocate beheading homosexuals.”
“I defy Islamic censorship and speak about what I believe is the truth about violent Islamism and its threat to religious liberty in Canada.”

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wow

Just finished reading On Chesil Beach, and that's all I have to say.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Great Links

Over at Rachel Lucas. The IMAO Condensed one is especially good.

As for the water in Darfur one, I just got back from a big Harry and the Potters concert in Harvard Yard (warm up act: Draco and the Malfoys, with the very memorable lyrics "My dad is rich, your dad is dead"). No, I'm not a Harry Potter fan, haven't read them, maybe I will one day, just had to be there on account of some friends. Anyway, the MC for the concert tells the audience, made up largely of wildly screaming young children, "Harry uses the power of love to fight evil, and we can, too! [crowd screams] We're our very own Dumbledore's Army [crowd screams], and we're gonna use all our love - to save Darfur! [crowd screams] Yeah!" I just thought that was a weird intrusion, considering the kids probably haven't a clue what he was talking about. And what is the deal with saving the world through rock concerts, anyway? Oh well, at least he didn't say "to bring our soldiers home"!

Awesome

I love this. And I hate those ads. I don't smoke, never have, but nothing makes me want to light up a big fat stogie more than these insufferable secular preachers (who are all stoned half the time, anyway - because you can't get liberal street cred for harrassing 'the reefer industry'). Ditto for the MADD morons who would come to my school to stage idiotic atheist morality plays about the dangers of drinking and then show slides of car accidents. Oh, drunk driving is dangerous? You don't say! Well, hand me a brewskie and get out of the way, I'm hitting the road, you busybody %$^&.

Maybe there is hope for the future, after all! I'm certainly banking on a similar backlash against An Inconvenient Truth, which the average high schooler today is probably forced to watch in practically every class.

Here's to feeling good all the time!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Speaking of taking pills...

Fascinating post over at Ambivablog, check it out. I have nothing to add, except the bizarre stray thought that Al Gore is definitely not sponge-worthy.

Poetry Corner

So I'm just starting On Chesil Beach (big McEwan fan, please go and read the first section of Atonement at once, you can thank me later) and it reminds me a bit of this poem (the perceptive among you may have noticed I love Larkin). Profanity warning, btw:


HIGH WINDOWS
(Philip Larkin)

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he's fucking her and she's
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives--
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,
And thought, That'll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide
Like free bloody birds. And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

lolprof



UPDATE: Hey, making lolpics is fun! I am so immature. Here, with thanks to the great commenter Bissage over at Althouse, is a lolpol:


UPDATE: Wow. A link from Prof Althouse; thank you! My favorite bloggers, Relapsed Catholic, Althouse, and Ambivablog, all linked here in the past couple days. Best blogging week ever! It's all downhill from here, folks...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The World's Stupidest Fatwas

You know, making it this easy kinda takes the fun out of it. I mean, Pokemon, really? I would love to see them add Harry Potter to the list!

The Best Place to Live in America

According to CNN (via Althouse), in the most idyllic town in America, "there's not great ethnic diversity." Bizarre coincidence, or does CNN hate black people?

p.s. that is, assuming that the town isn't, in fact, all-black. Judging by the photo, the happy families are all alike in their whiteness. Though, of course, that could be a pic of the town's besieged WASP minority. Nothing in the text tells us which ethnicity is in fact holding court. Does CNN just assume everyone will know they're talking 'bout crackers? How much more racist can Wolf Blitzer possibly get?

UPDATE: I am going to try and be mature about this, and not sound like a bobbysoxer at a Sinatra concert, but omg omg omg Relapsed Catholic linked to me!!! (I said I would try, not that I would succeed)

If anyone's interested, here are my favorite posts so far (I just started blogging a couple months ago). Thoughts on canadian identity, on a key difference between blacks and jews, and on Islam. Hope you like 'em!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Wrath of God

I saw Aguirre today. Nowhere near as good as I was expecting. For a supposedly sophisticated foreign movie, the themes were childishly black and white. More importantly (I am, after all, by this point rather immune to simplistic anti-religious, anti-American attitudes in film), the cinematography was amateurish (and yes, I am aware that that is probably the most snobbish phrase I've ever written in my life). I was expecting some beautiful nature shots, but Herzog does very little with all the lush material the forests and the river give him. A far better director, who uses similarly slow pacing, but to much greater effect thanks to the beauty of his nature shots, is Terrence Malick. Still, there were some good moments, and it was probably all worth it just for the scene of Aguirre chasing around the monkeys on his raft.

A far, far superior movie, with a similar setting, that deals with the same themes in a far more complex and accurate way (and has deeply, deeply beautiful visuals), is The Mission. Morricone's music doesn't hurt, either. So here's the trailer (try and ignore the awful voiceover dude), it's one of my all-time favorites, please check it out!



UPDATE: Speaking of Roland Joffe, who directed The Mission, this ending to his movie The Killing Fields is worth a look. Given the role hippies played in getting America to wash its hands of Vietnam and Cambodia, this could very well be the most ironic use of a song in a movie ever.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New Victorians?

I don't buy it for a second, though I wish it were true. Reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Whit Stillman's Metropolitan (sure enough, it does get a mention in the comments!).

UPDATE: see here.

Poetry Corner

I'm still a little worked up from my Camille Paglia post, so I felt like sharing this little ditty on academia:

THE SCHOLARS
(W.B. Yeats)

Bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love's despair
To flatter beauty's innocent ear.

All shuffle there; all cough in ink;
All wear the carpet with their shoes;
All think what other people think;
All know the man their neighbour knows.
Lord, what would they say
Did their Catullus walk that way?

Computer Trouble

My computer passed away last night, a quarter of twelve. Well, it comes to occasionally when I wack it in just the right spot, but it's just a matter of time (reminds me of the old joke about how a man and his wife took out life insurance policies on each other, "so now it's just a waiting game"). The point is, until my new hard-drive gets here (this one lasted seven years, which impressed the techies immensely; my secret? the complete inability to use any of its features except the internet and word-processing!), blogging may be even more intermittent than usual, sorry!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Camille Paglia

I'm a big fan of hers, and was thrilled to hear of her return to Salon. Even when you disagree with her (and her fiesty originality guarantees that you will), she is, well, just somethin' else. I think her writing comes closer than anyone's to capturing the ineffable nature of thought, all the simultaneous asides, memories, jumps, ideas that form each moment of consciousness - the way your mind remains undaunted by crossroads, as it insists on going all ways at once, dragging you along, pulling you apart for the ride whether you like it or not.

All that having been said, here are my two favorite lines from her latest installment (both from the last page):

On Art: "For contemporary art to revive, it must shed its residual, shallow postmodernist ironies and re-embrace emotion and spirituality." I took, and excelled in, a modern art class at Harvard. Yet I have no training, no refined artistic sensibilities, and absolutely no respect for modern art. So how come I could do so well, to the point that the TF recommended I seriously consider making the field my career? Well, because I'm a smart-ass. That's all that art is about these days. Not beauty, not truth, not even novelty - nothing but cleverness. Write something clever (again, it need not be true, and it can be, and in fact often is, blatantly false; this doesn't matter), and you've got it made. Notice I said 'write something clever,' and not 'create something clever' - this is because the cleverness does not exist in the art itself. The art, in fact, is all but irrelevant. What matters is what the artist (or the critic) says about the art. Believe me, this approach is a lot of fun - in the smirky, smarmy, self-centered, and incredibly obnoxious way that being a smart-ass is fun. Present the world with an empty box, or a few metal tubes, or some fluorescent lights, say something profound about them, and be proclaimed a genius. The obvious problem here, and I repeat myself only out of years of pent-up frustration, is that the wit, the cleverness, lies entirely in the artist, and not at all in the art itself. That is why, as people often remark these days, anything can be art. As long as the artist is clever, he can pick anything he wants to say something clever about, and voila, a modern masterpiece. The art, on its own, without any observers to nod seriously at it, has no worth. On the other hand, even if Da Vinci or Caravaggio were illiterate morons (they weren't! I'm just saying), their works would still, and always, be beautiful - the value of great art lies, for eternity, in the works themselves, not in the related literature. To revisit the old cliche, if Botticelli's Venus is in a forest with nobody around to see it, it's still beautiful, it's still a work of art. If a piece of contemporary art is in a forest (or, just as likely, is the forest itself) with nobody to write about it, well, I'd probably take a chainsaw to it.

On the Humanities: "The teaching profession in the humanities has lost an entire generation of smart, imaginative young people who were driven away from graduate school because of its infestation by pointless, pretentious, Continental 'theory.'" This problem is related to the artistic one, I believe - I think the exact same scourge of ego-driven cleverness is to blame for deconstructionism, post-structuralism, the whole lot. I received an email yesterday from a high school student, in response to this brilliant, must-read Orwell essay, asking me this question: "The dilemma I am having is whether I should conform to what society accepts as 'intellectual' writing in order to receive a good grade, or write concisely and honestly so as to assist in the healing of the English language." I did not know what to reply. I just told him the truth, which is that, thanks to the very phenomenon he (and Paglia, and Orwell) pointed out, college was a near-complete waste of four years of my life, and no promise of 72 virgins, or even of just two or three kinky, hot-to-trot English majors, could ever lure me into even considering graduate school.

Wow, that post sure turned into a rant awful quick. I guess that's what happens when I don't blog for a while! Well, goodnight!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Rain Delay

The only time you will ever catch me saying anything less than hateful about a Philadelphia-area sports team. This was a very classy display.

Little Miss Sunshine

I really wanted to hate it, because it was so overhyped, but I'll be honest, I liked it. I thought it would be like The Royal Tenenbaums, some insufferable, too-cool-for-school, irony-filled hipster comedy. But it isn't! And these days, that's saying a lot!

The DVD had alternate endings, and, interestingly enough, one of them is actually much better than the real ending. Best of all, according to the commentary, that superior ending was thought up by Abigail Breslin, the young girl who (with help from Alan Arkin, a favorite of mine from Slums of Beverly Hills) steals the movie. The whole point of the movie is that the youthful exuberance of the girl and her grandfather trumps all the self-absorbed, overserious worries of everyone around them. Yet the directors' ignore their own point, and instead of ending with Abigail's very fun and unique idea, end on a completely typical and overused note.

Anyway (spoiler alert I guess), the movie is nothing too special, but it certainly has its moments, and the best among them is the instant classic dance scene, so here it is, hope you like it!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Too Good Not to Link

I know Relapsed Catholic already has it, but I have to link to this Iowahawk piece. As I was telling a friend the other day, I'm afraid the backlash has already begun. Yesterday, I saw a taxi drive right past this poor young lady as she was frantically trying to hail it, just because she was wearing her hospital scrubs!

p.s. do you need any more proof that the world is cruel and unjust besides the fact that Dave Sedaris is rich and famous and Iowahawk isn't?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Amazing article

On the Great Siege of Malta, in 1565. Via HotAir.

As I was hinting before, I think that recent events may spark a dramatic revival of revisionism, as the Crusades and other battles involving Islam may come to be seen in a fundamentally (ha! get it?) new light.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Summer Reruns

I thought this little pause between Canada Day and the Fourth of July would be an appropriate time to link to this old essay once more. Hey, if you haven't seen it, it's new to you!

Dawn Patrol

Been catching up over at Dawn Eden's blog, and wanted to make a couple points.

First, on her prostitution post. I love this: "It's an important question because, taken from the ultra-liberal or libertarian side, it could be taken as an argument in favor of legalizing prostitution. After all, if casual sex is transactional in every aspect save for actual money changing hands, why penalize those who do it for money?" I hear that argument a lot - 'well, what's the big difference between buying dinner and a movie or just giving the money up front?' or something like that. In other words, I've heard legalizers say, as Dawn anticipates, that if women are screwing strangers anyway, it's crazy to punish the ones who are the most honest about it. I always find that argument funny. I don't know, maybe instead of legalizing prostitution because it's no different from the norm, we should, you know, try to change the norm and perhaps even, if we want to get really crazy about it, actually encourage men not to treat women like whores. [UPDATE: and women not to see themselves in that light, either] Hey, just a suggestion.

Another post, on depression, is really gonna get me in trouble. Basically, I don't think that depression exists. At least, not as an illness - I think it's just a natural state. Life, if you look at it a certain way, is incredibly depressing, empty, devoid of meaning, etc. To borrow the old saying, if you're not depressed at some point in life, you're not paying attention. No amount of medication is going to change that. The trick is in not looking at it in that way, at least not for dangerously long periods of time - yes, your life is devoid of greater meaning, it's nothing but dust to dust, ashes to ashes, but so what? Doesn't mean you can't create your own meaning, or at least enjoy yourself trying. So you can stay in bed all day moaning, or you can go out and choose to have a good time or help someone or something. As Dawn tells it, for her the cure was in God. That's not the case for me, but there are lots of other places to find reasons to live: in duty, in loved ones, and, of course, in a right bit of silliness. As my idol, Woody Allen, so eloquently put it, "Why is life worth living? It's a very good question. Um... Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh... Like what... okay... um... For me, uh... ooh... I would say... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... uh... um... and Willie Mays... and um... the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony... and um... Louis Armstrong's recording of Potato Head Blues... um... Swedish movies, naturally... Sentimental Education by Flaubert... uh... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra... um... those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne... uh... the crabs at Sam Wo's... uh... Tracy's face... "

Obviously, I am not talking about legitimately insane people (of which I have, in truth, known a few). But as for all the 'depressed' people these days on Valium or whatever, I don't buy it for a second [UPDATE: And you thought all I had in common with Tom Cruise was my stunning good looks]. Get off the meds, don't take yourself and your problems too seriously, have some fun, try and do something worthwhile, and things will be all right!

UPDATE: Speaking of Dawn, her blog leads me to this great article, I love it!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Back to the Classics?

I hope so! The rest of that article is just depressing, though. Reminds of a line from 30 Rock (very funny show, best on tv last season I think). A ditzy blonde is talking baby names, and says, "I already have all the names picked out. If it's a girl, Bookcase. Or Sandstorm. Or maybe Hat. But maybe that's more of a boy's name." [Note: I googled that quotation and came across this wonderful blog, which has a much better post on the same topic, and this one is good, too]

This phenomenon reminds me of flags. I think it was Mark Steyn who made this point, but I'm not sure. The Canadian flag is a design, a logo, completely cheap and meaningless, something that could have been cooked up after an afternoon of brainstorming in a marketing firm. The American flag, on the other hand, is full of meaning and history - it's not just a logo, not just a neat design. I prefer the meaningful approach to flags, and to names.

Anyway, one of my favorite names is Cordelia, from King Lear , except I could never name a kid that because of Cordelia Chase in Buffy!

"Why Hungary exported so much talent in the 1930s is hard to explain."

Um, no it ain't. We're just that good!

Oh, and as for what unusual phenomenon happened after the thirties to halt the genius of Hungarian Jews, the author is kidding, right?

Wait a sec...

Appeasing our crazy fascist enemies doesn't work??? It emboldens them? How on earth does that happen? This seems contrary to everything that the people around here in Cambridge, all much smarter and more learned than I am, have been so very eloquently and convincingly arguing. I just don't know what to believe anymore. If only there had been some hint, some past example of the failure of appeasement, that we could have looked at to warn us about this. If only...