Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh, no.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just a Matter of Time

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

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

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

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

It was a beautiful dream while it lasted.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Okay, now I'm mad

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

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



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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When did Michelle Obama get a pseudonym?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 19, 2008

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

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

I can vouch for that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Two Quick Things

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

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

Friday, June 6, 2008

Insecure

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

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sign I'm not at Harvard anymore...

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

Sign I'm not in Canada anymore...

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

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

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

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

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

My Brilliant Light Bulb Idea

Okay, so if I were a Senator (and let's face it, it's just a matter of time), I would bring one of them newfangled efficient lightbulbs to the floor and 'accidentally' drop it. The whole Senate would have to be evacuated because of the toxic mercury fumes, the networks would have no choice but to cover it. The reaction from the average American viewer: "The Senate was evacuated!? What was it - terrorism? Al Qaeda? Another anthrax scare? A sniper?Wait - what? What did he say? A lightbulb? The very same lightbulb that this Senate is forcing us to buy for the rest of our lives? Well, fuck that!" And that would be the end of that.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Old French(-Canadian) Whore

Few things get on my nerves like modern moralizing. Not because it's nosy, or faddish, or state-imposed (though none of these help), but because it lacks one crucial element: morality. Whether the campaign is anti-drinking, anti-drugs, or even anti-sex, things always come down to one all-important concern: health. In other words, screw your immortal soul, just keep an eye out for your liver and any embarrassing rashes. In fact, I guarantee you that in this godless age, the Ten Commandments would make a comeback, and big time, if it could somehow be proven that worshipping false idols increases bad cholesterol.

All of which leads me to the latest example that grits my teeth: a public service announcement, paid for by the Quebec government, being run endlessly on local radio. The ad is about the importance of having a designated driver. Well, that's not quite right. It's about how designated drivers can still have hot one night stands. The ad in full: A beautiful woman (well, she sounds beautiful!) tells her girlfriend she met a stranger at a bar the night before, and he was a designated driver, which is just sooo sexy, so she invited him home - the rest is left to our imagination, but it's quite clear they didn't busy themselves drafting MADD pamphlets.

Look, I'm not asking that the government broadcast Dawn Eden's articles (though wouldn't that be nice!), but at the very least could they please refrain from actively campaigning for empty, soul-destroying one night stands?

I don't care if they test negative til the cows come home, I for one do not look forward to living in a province full of healthy old whores!

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon... because it went with her shoes

Via ALDaily comes this article, on a much-needed book. Unfortunately, both essay and book seem to typify the often meaningless, always over-complicated academic writing of our time (and the review's author, judging by her bio, appears to be some sort of abortion lobbyist, disgusting). Still, it's all worth it, for two reasons. One, because it blames the hippies, and anything that blames hippies is all right with me. Two, because of this absolutely priceless anecdote:

"When I asked one of the young female interviewees who wore a pink-ribbon t-shirt what made her choose to wear the garment on certain days, I was seeking to understand whether there were certain situations, relationships and experiences that prompted her to show her awareness of breast cancer. Her keen reply took me by surprise: 'I think ‘it’s got pink in it, what goes with pink?' Actually I wear it with this skirt quite a lot …'."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Greatest Sentence Ever

This was in The Montreal Gazette a couple weeks ago, I put it aside and forgot about it til now. The paper celebrated International Women's Day on March 8th with a feature on feminism. One of their articles, on page B4, included this sentence:

"In her second year of environmental and First Nations studies at McGill, Rea Fenger is not sure she would even have called herself a feminist before she started working on the Radical Vulvas project."

The world has come a long way in my short lifetime for a sentence like that to even be conceivable, let alone to be presented in such an entirely matter-of-fact, unremarkable manner. Ah, progress.

Lower down, on the very same page, just to show us that there are still some perversions which even our society will disapprove of, is an article condemning that great evil, stay-at-home motherhood. Choice excerpts include a call for "a life more challenging than the playground and the PTA," the contention that women who leave the workplace "are neglecting their duty to society in general," and the plea that these women not abandon the public world for "the private world of laundry and kissing boo-boos." I, for one, take solace in the knowledge that for all those incredibly selfish stay-at-home mothers who, let's face it, should have had abortions in the first place, there are brave, progressive pioneers like Rea Fenger, studying the effects of Friday night bingo games on the ozone layer, and radicalizing vulvas wherever she goes.

The weirdest part of that anti-motherhood opinion piece (by The Gazette's Peggy Curran, if anybody cares, and titled 'Get To Work manifesto takes aim at the backlash generation') is this statement, presented not as opinion but as fact: "Conservatives are already asking why society should spend resources educating women." Really? Funny, I know my fair share of conservatives, and while the movement to repeal the nineteenth amendment is gaining ground, I haven't heard anyone suggest women shouldn't be allowed an education. The very idea is profoundly unfair. Can you imagine, women banned from a place like Harvard? The very thought makes me furious - I mean, why should they get all the breaks?!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Announcement

Sorry I haven't been blogging, I've been SUPER busy, working on lots of big non-bloggable projects and important career stuff, don't really have time to blog like I did when I started and was at school and bored out of my mind. I'll try my best, but you're really much better off reading Rachel Lucas and Kathy Shaidle and the other lovely folks in the blogroll anyway.

If I do post something soon, it'll be about how soul-numbingly awful No Country for Old Men is, I don't think I'll be able to keep that rant to myself.

Anyhoo, the announcement. I'm moving! To Virginia!!! I am beyond ecstatic. What a beautiful state, and I've always longed to live in the South, I set off in June and can hardly wait.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I LOVE This

Absolutely classic. I doubt the citizens of Ontario will prove as defiant (or imaginative)...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Nail on the Head

Very insightful, very accurate observations in this post over at Church of the Masses, don't miss it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Great Obama post

Over at Rachel Lucas. Heck, all her posts are great, and if I'd be honest I'd do little more than link to her and Kathy Shaidle all day, but I'm trying to show some restraint here, folks. Anyway, my favorite part from this post:

remember how much fun it was when Hillary was First Lady to call her names,
criticize everything about her (hair, face, clothes, ankles, size of butt,
voice, ideas, you name it)? How easy it was and how only some impotent feminists
cried foul? Well I hope you got it out of your system because you won’t be doing
the same to Michelle Obama when her husband gets elected, unless of course you
like being accused of racism.

The part where I disagree, though, comes here: "it makes no sense to me, because you’d think minorities would be less offended by Whitey treating them the same than by Whitey treating them like sensitive little children who can’t take their punches like everyone else." Come on, Rachel, you know that can't be true - if it were, affirmative action wouldn't even be an issue because black people would be too proud to accept it. We all know that certainly is not the case.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Now that's more like it

For a while there I felt a bit dizzy, looked liked the Canadiens might finally be getting competitive, a strange and foreign feeling. But then they reassure their fan base with one of their traditional trading day performances, sending a great goalie away for next to nothing and failing miserably in their attempts to do anything else. What, they couldn't lure Denis Savard out of retirement?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Will someone please wipe that stupid smirk off Jon Stewart's face?

I haven't blogged for a while cuz the nice folks in the ol roll have it all covered, but that is just something I had to get off my chest.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Please watch this movie!

I watched this on PBS tonight and was blown away. Hilarious, adorable, tragic, depressing, and hopeful all at once. Plus, some American election parallels as both dirty tricks and crying are involved. I couldn't find any info on when or whether it'll be on tv again or available in stores, but here's part one on youtube, the rest is up there, too:


Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's a close one, today, folks

It's really a toss-up as to what was the dumbest, most offensive sentence in this morning's Montreal Gazette.

Reading the opinion section, I was certain this was going to be the winner:

"The modern [Quebec] independence movement was born in Montreal's bilingual francophone intellectual community, inspired by hearing Martin Luther King and Gandhi speak about freedom, justice and liberty" - Georges Boulanger, "Pauline Marois and her problem with English," B7

Because, you know: MLK, Gandhi, Levesque.

But then I read this bizarre statement in the book review section, and was no longer so sure:

"I'd like to think of this as high praise and not offence: I don't think it's a book a woman could have written." - Kirk LaPointe, in a review of Charles Brock's Beautiful Children, I9.

What on earth is that supposed to mean??? In the reviewer's defense, he also praises Don DeLillo, the single worst author in human history, so he can't really be taken all that seriously, he probably doesn't even know how to read and is just one of those illiterate guys artfully bluffing their way through life. Come to think of it, that could make a pretty good story - the illiterate book reviewer. Not all that implausible, either.

Faced with no choice but to open this rag every morning, I sometimes wish I couldn't read!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Where round some mould'ring tow'r pale sharia creeps...

A kerfuffle this past week. A Harvard student was unexpectedly denied entrance to the Harvard gym. The ensuing email: "Hey has anybody else been turned away from the QRAC recently because they instituted women's only hours on monday from 3-5 (also tu. and thurs. 8-10 AM)? Today I was forced to wait outside in the cold until 5 to get in because they wouldn't let me use 1 of the 10+ open machines.The policy seems sexist and discriminatory to me as there are no equivalent men only hours. Anyone know who I should get into contact with to complain about this new policy?" The debate barely got started before the Harvard Athletic Department released its official statement on the matter. In full: "These hours have been put in place for equality reasons. Whether it is for overall comfort or religious purposes we wanted to offer an opportunity for women to work out without the presence of men."

Left at that, this probably would have become yet another in a long line of arguments about what equality means, between people calling themselves feminists and other people also calling themselves feminists, and going nowhere. But it wasn't left at that. No sirree. Because, turns out, the Harvard Athletic Department's official statement was full of shit.

The real story came out shortly thereafter, in an email from a member of the Harvard Islamic Society. Her explanation: "Harvard Islamic Society, the student group on campus which I am very involved with petitioned for the women only hours (I think the hours are offered no more than once or twice a week). The reason for that is many hijabis (muslim women who wear the headscarf) really wanted to have an opportunity to work out in an environment where they did not have to wear the headpiece or the really long baggy sweats to cover up all parts of their body (as many of you may know, it is rather difficult and unpleasant). Our organization has been talking to the athletic department for a while now and finally, this year they let us do it. Interestingly, the interest was not only coming from the muslim women, but later on some jewish and christian women joined in. The purpose of institutions of those hours was not at all to offend/discriminate against men, but rather give an opportunity to women with certain strict religious obligations to work out in a more comfortable environment. "

So, yeah, wonderful. A great big thanks to the Jewish and Christian women who collaborated.

If only they would have extended this to the classroom as well. I can't tell you the number of mornings I would have loved to have been barred from attending my compsci lecture. "I'm sorry, Prof Roberts, but I just can't enter this room and impose my degraded Western values upon the other students. I'll be in the gym -um, I mean, the student lounge - no, wait, not from nine to eleven, damn - okay, just going back to my room, I'll copy Fatima's notes later."

It is a real shame, though, that working out while covered like Dracula at the beach can be "difficult and unpleasant." I wonder, how could a woman doing the stairmaster in a burlap sack feel more comfortable? A hard one, I know. I'll leave it up to Islamic scholars to figure out, though my guess is that the answer probably involves stones.

Discarding the Elderly in Quebec

A friend's grandmother, in her early nineties, suffered a sudden illness and had to be rushed to the hospital last week. The staff blatantly neglected her and basically let her die. The doctor wasn't even ashamed. He told the lady's daughter outright that he wasn't going to waste his time on the old and infirm. You know, because a doctor has sworn to dedicate his life to healing the young and healthy. I don't have the family's permission to name the hospital or doctor, but this is just such a disgrace, such an evil, that I had to say something. I have to admit, though, I'm not surprised - once a society has lost its respect for life, it is bound to become a culture of death.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Away

I'll be gone for about a week. Have fun with the blogroll!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"He doesn’t really mean it."

Speaking of Libertas, this comment really resonated with me. There's a distinction between constructive criticism and outright contempt and, as the commenter explains, 9/11 showed us exactly where Hollywood stands.

The Lost Art of War

Via the indispensable Libertas, an absolute must-read. Some of the best lines:

"During World War II, Hollywood stars like James Stewart and directors like Frank Capra enlisted in the military to combat dictators as willingly as Sean Penn and Michael Moore now tootle down to Venezuela and Cuba to embrace them."

"the movie business merely provides the most glamorous example of a greater change throughout our creative and intellectual communities: a decades-long drift toward an idiot radicalism."

"Though European intellectuals and their left-wing American acolytes are loath to admit it, the U.S. had already provided an excellent new rationale for that emotion. Our Founding redefined nationhood along social-contract lines that Europeans can still only theorize about. Our love of nation at its best was ethical, not ethnic. Our patriotism was loyalty not to race, or even to tradition, but to ideals of individual liberty and republican self-governance."

"The English Patient is such a visually beautiful film that the mind has to overcome the eye in order to comprehend its moral emptiness."

Anyway, I liked it, please check it out.

TIME magazine scam

I talked a friend of mine into cancelling his subscription to TIME magazine, but I was foiled! When they found out he was serious about cancelling, they sent him another offer: instead of paying $247.50 for 56 issues, which they had been charging him until now, they offered all 56 issues for... $25. I still think that's $25 too much, but he accepted the deal.

This is an obvious scam to inflate their subscription rates for advertisers. Anyway, I just wanted to point this out to any other TIME subscribers - just threaten to cancel your subscription, and you can keep reading the mag for just ten cents on the dollar!

Black Math

An actual example:

"A math lesson about probability had children reaching into a bag full of coloured beads that represented different races. "What the students ended up finding [is] it's not just blacks who are selling drugs or killing, it's other cultures."

[speechless]...

"I don’t know how people will look at this ethically.”

Some scientists out there are doing such fascinating, wonderful work. Others busy themselves with fascinating, seriously disturbing work. It's like the old Seinfeld joke about the scientists who came up with seedless watermelon - what is the thought process of these people as they choose their careers? "Oh, screw cancer, screw alzheimer's - I wonder if I can turn an embryo into sperm? That would be wicked!" Don't miss Pogo's comment on the banality of evil. So, dear scientists, as the professor suggests, "You might want to think about it. You know, yourself."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ideas for Judged Shootout Contests

The NHL All-Star Game introduced a judged shootout contest this year, meant to be hockey's answer to the NBA All-Star Game Dunk Contest. Except hockey players, unlike basketball players, are incredibly lame and unimaginative, and the shootout contest was an embarrassing failure. Half the players didn't try anything fancy, and the ones that did couldn't come up with anything better than juggling the puck on their stick for a bit and then failing miserably at trying to hit it out of the air.

Now, I don't play hockey, but I know my Dunk Contests pretty well, so here are a few suggestions I came up with off the top of my head in less than a minute, all of which are way cooler than anything the NHL stars tried to do.

1. Have a teammate down on all fours halfway between you and the net, and jump over him on your way to shoot.
2. Carry a sticker of your team logo in one hand, and after you deke out the goalie and make him go down, slap the sticker onto his mask before putting the puck in the net.
3. Dribble a basketball in one hand (is this possible on ice? I have no idea) and handle the stick and puck with the other. After you make a move to get the goalie to go down, throw the basketball into the net before slapping the puck in.
4. Get some famous basketball player (Dominique Wilkins was in the rink, for example) to stand near the net. Flip the puck to him and have him alley-oop it back towards you. Knock it out of the air and score.
5. Put a chair on the ice and, after gathering some speed, jump in it so that it slides towards the goal, then shoot the puck and score from the moving chair.
6. Flip the puck up into the air as you approach the net, but then have it come down into your sleeve. Get it to bounce out from under your jersey and score.
7. Flip the puck into the air, but grab it quickly and pull a switcheroo to replace it with an exploding puck (do these exist? I have no idea). Use your slapshot to explode the fake puck, then score with the real one when everybody is freaking out.
8. Look really intense, speed towards the net, and make as if you're about to hit a huge slapshot. Then change your mind, leave the puck behind you, pull a flower out of your sleeve, slip it through the goalie's mask, and skate away.
9. Get a big stereo, start playing the music from Romeo and Juliet, and nail a triple axel on your way to score.
10. I don't know, how about trying to actually get the puck in the net, you freakin' hoser.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

You don't say!

How economically illiterate do you have to be to write about economics for The Montreal Gazette? I mean, seriously, is there some sort of test involved and anyone who can correctly chart a supply and demand graph is immediately fired? I ask because today's huge, front-page headline story is about the nefarious scandal that, and I kid you not, companies pass along the cost of higher taxes to consumers via higher prices. Apparently, these evil corporate fat-cats are greedily unwilling to go bankrupt and, perhaps even more chillingly, unable (unwilling?) to print their own money, insisting instead on prying it from our very hands.

Here's the story. The first three paragraphs are worth quoting in full:

"Quebec energy consumers - not just energy producers - are the ones who will end up paying for the province's new green fund. The bills are in the mail.

It wasn't supposed to be this way: When the provincial government imposed the country's first carbon tax last fall, it wanted producers to pay.

But just as oil refiners have already done, Gaz Métro started passing on the cost of the carbon tax this month."

Now, say what you will about a carbon tax, that's not the issue here; my focus is on how economically clueless you would have to be to be surprised that taxes on businesses get passed on to consumers. I mean, we're not talking advanced econometrics here, this is plain-as-day common sense. And yet, the front page story, the huge font, and "It wasn't supposed to be this way." Not to mention the reaction from confused, betrayed voters like Leonard: "They said consumers would not pay for this - and now here we are, paying for it." Incidentally, Leonard, if you're reading this, there's this bridge I've been just itching to get off my hands, call me.

Thank goodness for Pascal D'Astous, who, unlike many of his fellow Quebecers, is apparently not retarded:
"Pascal D'Astous, a spokesperson for Béchard, said yesterday the government never intended to compel companies alone to pay for the green fund.
'How could we ever have such a mechanism?' he asked.
'We're in a market economy. We could never prove whether or not the carbon tax was or was not part of their prices.'"

Oh, Pascal, you cold-hearted bastard, I think I love you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"The Day Humanity Became Cheap"

Interesting article on Canada's version of Roe v. Wade (except, even worse). I knew absolutely nothing about this. Oddly enough, it never came up in my Quebec-government-run history class...

"Shared responsibility"

Hillary on mandatory universal health care, with the creepiest lines of last night's debate (and that's saying something):

"So I am adamantly in favor of universal health care. And that means everybody is covered. And we will have a system to make it affordable, but it will be required, as part of shared responsibility, under a new way of making sure that we don't leave anybody out and provide quality, affordable health care for everyone."

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Funny? Or Just Sad?

I can't quite make up my mind. The funny side: I got a kick out of some of the lines in this incredibly silly, occasionally outright dumb, article. I'm not even going to bother pointing out all the inanities, because it's a lot more fun if you read it for yourself and just let 'em reach right up and smack you on the nose.

The sad side: considering all the real problems girls and boys are facing these days, and the obvious desire of the author to get her serious thinkin' on and have something important and gendery to say, it's a frightening monument to her utter cluelessness that this is the best she can do.

Aw, nuts.

Here. The Pats are probably going to win the Superbowl, too. Worst election year ever.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Movie Corner

Been a while since I've done one of these, and I do watch an awful lot of movies, so I thought I should update you with the best four from the past few months.


The big news: I have a new love. Myrna, Jean, Irene, move over (well, not too far over!). My heart belongs to Ginger. Now I know, you're asking, what took me so long? The truth is, I always stayed away from Ginger Rogers movies because I associated her only with dance routines. This is because I, ladies and gentleman, am an idiot. TCM had a Ginger Rogers day a while back and Fred Astaire was nowhere in sight; hardly a shimmy to be seen, just one top-quality comedy after another. And Miss Rogers was just ... *sigh*. What a voice. What timing. What looks (in both senses of the word). What a dame.

Bachelor Mother

I loved it. Niven and Rogers are both so wonderful, and it's such a funny movie. It also has a great pro-life, pro-adoption message, in a totally non-preachy, indirect way (the plot centers around an abandoned baby being mistakenly forced into Rogers' care). This is around the point you begin to realize I have no idea how to review movies - my goal here is simply to post some good screenshots and to gush like a schoolgirl with a crush, and I'm fine with that. I will say one thing, which goes for three of the four movies in this post. I watch a lot of oldies and am fairly familiar with which ones are considered classics, but I had never heard of this one until TCM played it one afternoon. It's a small, old, low-budget, relatively unknown little flick, and yet it is infinitely better than just about anything Hollywood has put out in decades. With all the joy I get from gems like this, there is always a sadness, too, because I know that the world is changed, that sweet little movies like this simply will never - can never - be made anymore.

Vivacious Lady


Jimmy Stewart as young as I've ever seen him. Rogers at her comic, sexy, and romantic best. Gush, gush, gush.

And speaking of Jimmy Stewart...

The Shop Around the Corner


So obviously this is the one movie in the bunch that I had heard of before watching. Don't know why it took me so long to see it, considering I do like the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks remake (You've Got Mail). Turns out, this one is about a million times better. And I'm not just saying that because it's Hungarian! Also, as far as Jimmy Stewart Christmas movies go, a million times better than It's a Wonderful Life.

The Strawberry Blonde


Rita Hayworth may be the blonde from the title and Jimmy Cagney may be onscreen every moment, but, as terrific as they both are, don't let them fool you: it's all about Olivia, baby. There's this one scene she has with Cagney when she tries to fake a bad-girl persona that is absolute comic gold. The way she winks at him - priceless.

In conclusion, God bless Turner Classic Movies. And please watch these four charming little gems, I promise you won't regret it. Just stay away from Ginger, she's mine!

UPDATE: I immediately thought up an exception to my nostalgic rant above. One of my absolute favorite movies, one which proves that, even in the 70s, if you really put your mind to it, you could make a 30s masterpiece.


Paper Moon


Please, please see this. One of the best ever.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Predictions

If my political predictions are at all like my football ones, then Fred Thompson is probably going to have a stroke tomorrow. But, because I still hope, and because I was right about the last two elections despite massive ridicule and disbelief (no, I have no proof for this, thus the need for this post), I'm going to jump on this bandwagon while it is still somewhat daring to do so.

Some of you know I started out supporting Giuliani, and I still have the cheesy cut-out membership card to prove it. It's not so much that Giuliani's changed as that I have, becoming more comfortable in my conservatism. And while I think Thompson has all of Giuliani's foreign policy toughness, he also has the cultural confidence that Giuliani lacks (or, as Giuliani would see it, that isn't all that important). Perhaps most importantly, unlike other social conservatives (genuine and phony) in the race, Thompson doesn't pander and he recognizes conservatism for what it is - a cultural movement - and not as a rhetorical tool, a political weapon, or a government program.

That Thompson isn't already a frontrunner is a mystery to me [UPDATE: see here], and extremely disappointing. If things will not soon change as I predict, and people like Huckabee, McCain, and Romney continue to stay ahead, then there is something seriously wrong going on here, people.

Incidentally, unlike some others, I don't think the presence of those three awful frontrunners highlights a major problem within the Republican Party - I think it highlights a major problem within the Democratic Party! No, bear with me for a sec, please. Huckabee is an absolutely perfect Democrat. Not that long ago, people like him - folksy, charismatic, populist, Christian, big-government types - were the leaders of the Democratic Party. The only reason he's a Republican is that the Democratic party has changed so much, become so morally bankrupt, that they don't care how big-government, how liberal, a person is - if he thinks that killing babies might be wrong, he must be mocked and excommunicated. McCain, too, would make a wonderful Democrat, were he not staunchly pro-military. Again, the Democratic party has become so twisted of late that this position, which until very recently came standard for Americans, is enough to disqualify him outright. As for Romney, well, he's just slimy, nothing to say there. To recap, in an only slightly different, slightly less crazy alternate universe, Huckabee, McCain, and Lieberman would be slugging it out for the Democratic leadership and the chance to face Thompson in the general. Instead, in this crazy mixed up world of ours, we have the best Democrats facing off againt the best Republican in the Republican primaries (and, as an inevitable result of the Democratic party's decline, three completely unqualified nobodies facing off in their primaries). So really, the only way to fix the Republican party is either to fix the Democratic party first or, the more likely scenario in my view, for the Democratic party to fade into America-hating irrelevance and the Republican party to split up into two or three new parties. Or, most likely of all, none of this happens and I'm exposed as clueless yet again.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments here, to get an idea of until just how recently it was that Democrats were actually, you know, not totally deranged, see Charlie Wilson's War.

Bring Me the Head of Patrick Crayton

Argh.

The only thing keeping my television alive this morning is memory of last week's performance of Midnight Train to Georgia on the greatest show ever, 30 Rock. If it wasn't for that recent reminder of the joy that television can bring, I would have thrown my remote through the screen around the start of the fourth quarter.

Reactionary

Ambivablog has a very interesting post up (as always!), which somehow reminds me of the David Warren piece Kathy Shaidle linked this morning. The line of the day comes from one of my favorites, Evelyn Waugh, as quoted in the Warren article:

"'I refuse to vote for those [persons],' the late Evelyn Waugh is said to have once said, of the British version of the Conservative Party. 'They never set the clock back a single minute.' "

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"I had half-expected a combative, missionary-style interrogator. I found, instead, a limp clerk who was just punching the clock

She had done it dozens of times before, and will do it dozens of times again. In a way, that's more terrifying."

Terrifying, yes, but also strangely hilarious. Maybe it's because I gave up on Canada a long time ago and nothing it does, not even this straight-outta-comintern thought-crime tribunal, surprises me. So yeah, this whole process is chillingly evil and all, but the way the woman reacts and jots down notes, I'm sorry, it just cracks me up.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Things that make Harvard professors sad

Happy Republicans. Oh, and also genocide. Scroll down for the complete list from one of Harvard's biggest bigshots.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ellen Goodman goes beyond clueless, reaches for creepy

The article wanders all over, because it's not exactly a clear thinker we're dealing with here, but the gist of it is that she's very worried that more teenage girls might start, horror of horrors, actually thinking twice about whether abortion is the most fundamental right for women since the vote. She is then taken to school by a letter-writer here, though with Ellen Goodman this isn't really a fair fight, even if the writer is only fifteen.

How Not to be Interesting

I don't trust these Michael Lewis/Malcolm Gladwell/Thomas Friedman types, what with their multiple orgasm interviews with the latest Genius Who Sees In A Whole New Light That Will Change EVERYTHING, but something did jump out to me in this piece, if only briefly. I was hoping that the broker would pack up and join the Marines or the priesthood or something, not just transition to a slightly less money-grubbing version of his old job. Anyway, the line that drew me in:

"One day, someone may look back and ask: At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, how did so many take up financial careers on Wall Street that were of such little social value?"

Now what kind of writer poses such a fascinating and important question, only to drop it instantly and not even attempt to address it? Well, at least we learned the groundbreaking truth that you can't predict the stock market!

Minor Reorg

Sorry I was gone for a while, spent New Year's week in one of my favorite places, the Clearwater Public Library. I'm not joking, either, great library. Also drove right under the Ron Paul blimp. Imagine, if it had come crashing down right then - what a way to go.

Anyway, just a quick note that I redid my links. I took some friends down because their blogs are more private and I didn't think strangers who come here should find their way over there. Also took down Instapundit, because he messed with Moxie, and nobody messes with Moxie. Now, without my link, watch his traffic plummet over the next few days.

I got this Chapters gift certificate for Christmas, which I mention only to note that everything at Chapters appears to cost more than twice as much as its Amazon counterpart.

We're in a heat wave now, so all the snow on the roof is melting and sliding down in huge, thunderous, life-threatening chunks. And the melting water dripping off the roof makes it sound like it's always raining. And our entire house is enveloped in a thick fog. That last one is actually pretty cool. Well, happy new year, everybody!