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!