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."


"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


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


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.


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!