Saturday, September 27, 2003


Well, at this time, the Huskies are up on Stanford 21-17, which is good, and the Ducks are losing to the Cougs 38-9, which is bad. But it was 38-2 a couple minutes ago, which was worse, so I'm still holding out hope that the Cougs might lose today. If the Ducks can stop the Cougs cold this drive and score again, it might be a ballgame.

I have to say, this is one of the wildest games I have ever watched. 3 blocked punts, Ducks have given up 6 INTs (one returned for a touchdown) and a fumble (which wasn't forced, the receiver had a clear shot to run into the endzone and simply let go of the ball after catching it), 2 fumbles by the Cougs and a safety. And that was just the first half. Sheesh.
It's 45-9 Cougs with only a couple minutes left in the third. Sure, the Ducks have run the ensuing kickoff back to the 20 or so of WSU, but it doesn't matter. It's over now. I'm writing this one off as a Wazzu win.

Ducks just got a touchdown, with the PAT it'll be 45-16, but I still don't think the Ducks have a chance any longer.
2nd Update
It's 52-16 Cougs in the WSU-Oregon game. But the Huskies won, 28-17 over Stanford. So the glass will be half-full today.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Required Reading

Just finished a quick re-read of one of my favourite books of all-time. A Refutation of Moral Relativism, by Peter Kreeft. This is the best and most readable takedown of moral relativism I've ever run across, and it makes the case for moral absolutism both clearly and convincingly. This is one of the few books that I would want everyone to read. Even if one would already agree with the author, it still provides plenty of thought-provoking arguments and will sharpen one's skills to debate with the relativists that one comes across. If you haven't ever read it, read it.

"Geek Eye for the Luddite Guy"

From Fortune via Reason.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

More Comics Stuff

Since I already have one comics post up today, might as well add another. This one is an interesting article from the Washington Times on the era of adventure comics. I must say, I was fond of Steve Canyon. Adventure comics aren't completely dead yet, though. There's still The Phantom. Kinda cornball, but I like it.

And for my final comics note of today, the new Usagi TPB is out! Definitely be picking that up right soon.

Comics Snobbery

Article over at NRO today talking about the return of Bloom County. While I was never a big fan myself, I can see why devotees of the strip would be pumped by it's return. But that's not what I want to talk about.

Mr Balko comments that "Since Opus, The Far Side, and Calvin & Hobbes all retired, there hasn't been much reason at all to read the comics page." I beg your pardon? What about Dilbert? Get Fuzzy? FoxTrot? Frazz isn't bad either. It's just as foolish to dismiss the new and current out of hand because it isn't old, as it is to dismiss the old because it isn't new.

The other First Things article on the web this month

It is an excellent article on the excesses of the Supreme Court. The article takes the Court to task, not so much for the actual decisions that are bad, but the premise upon which the Court makes these decisions. That is to say, that whatever the Constitution says, and whatever the Court has held in the past, the Justices themselves are the true power and can interpret, or re-interpret, the Constitution, the law and their own decisions any time they want to. In a sense, the US is ruled by nine Justices, not by Congress or by the Executive. Worth reading, though it is rather long.

Key para:
"The Court has acquired substantial power over our political culture. The public, which knows little about the technical details or philosophical implications of constitutional doctrine, knows that much. And so do the Justices. The remarkable thing about Roe v. Wade is not only the substance of the rule it announced, but the fact that the Court felt so little compunction about imposing a new and radical rule upon the entire nation. But for all the controversy generated by the abortion decisions, the public is generally not disposed to chasten the Court for its excesses on that or any other subject. The modern Court has tutored the public well on how it ought to think about judicial power and the Constitution. And its central teaching, as I say, is not about the permanent principles that justify representative government but about the inevitability of, indeed the duty to, change.

The public is by now so well inured to judicial supremacy and the concept of a living Constitution that it has lost the capacity to be shocked by the Court’s opinions. Every term seems to bring some hitherto unobserved layer of constitutional meaning, or a gloss reversing or substantially qualifying an old understanding. Just when one thinks the Justices might zig, they zag, but whichever way they turn, their reasoning seems increasingly arbitrary and contrived."

First Things on a possible 28th Amendment

I think they're spot on, and they handle well most of the arguments that are brought up to defend the redefinition of marriage to include homosexuals. Read it here.

Key para:
"We have been brought to the present circumstance by the astonishing success of the homosexual movement over the past three decades. Traditionally, sodomy was viewed as an act, and was condemned as unnatural and deviant. A hundred years ago, homosexuality was viewed as a condition afflicting people who are prone to engaging in such unnatural and deviant acts. Today “gay” signifies not so much an act or condition as the identity of people who say that they most essentially are what they do and want to do sexually. The rhetorical and conceptual movement has been from act to condition to identity, bringing us to the demand for same-sex marriage. About two percent of the combined teenage and adult male population, and considerably less of the female, are said to be a minority deprived of their rights. In particular, they claim to be discriminated against in that they are “excluded” from the institution of marriage. They are not asking for tolerance of their private sexual practices and of the gay subculture constituted by such practices. They are demanding, rather, public acceptance and approval. That is the whole point of focusing on the status of marriage, which is a quintessentially public institution."


So goes the thread of this article from Reason. I've thought this myself for a while.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Cosmic Fairness

Katherine Mangu-Ward (authoress of one of my favourite articles of all time, Guns for Tots) has a good article up on the possibility of the Fairness Doctrine coming back at the FCC. While the name sounds good, what it would essentially do is regulate the speech permitted on the radio airwaves, trampling all over the First Amendment. As a side note, guess under whose watch this was first implemented. That's right, that champion of freedom, FDR.

From The Weekly Standard.

CNN's Partiality

Watched part of Bush's speech to the UN yesterday. Wasn't too interesting. Not a big fan of speechifying, and most speeches nowadays are mild and dull and delivered in a monotone indicating that the person speaking is speaking to have his words quoted in print rather than listened to by his audience.

Anyway, what I wanted to say was that when Bush said his line about "the process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis, neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties", CNN shortly thereafter had a caption put up at the bottom of the screen saying something like "Bush Wants to Slow Transfer of Power in Iraq". Which was pretty much exactly what he didn't say. CNN, losing touch with reality.

A Couple Thoughts

Both of the following links are from

Thought #1
Thought #2

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Halliburton Smoke Screen

Rick Lowry explains here why Halliburton isn't why the Bush administration fought the war in Iraq.

Key para.:
Halliburton won a competitive bidding process for LOGCAP [U.S. Army Logistics Civil Augmentation Program] in 2001. So it was natural to turn to it (actually, to its wholly owned subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root) for prewar planning about handling oil fires in Iraq. "To invite other contractors to compete to perform a highly classified requirement that Kellogg Brown & Root was already under a competitively awarded contract to perform would have been a wasteful duplication of effort," the Army Corps of Engineers commander has written.

Dean a bigot?

So surmises this article at NRO. Interesting argument. I find it convincing, but I doubt it will do as much damage to Dean as the author surmises. Still, interesting read.

Best line: "African Americans have liberal political beliefs but many adhere to a conservative interpretation of the Bible. Perhaps that's one reason why Dean rallies are whiter than the Stockholm chapter of the Barry Manilow Fan Club."

Why South America Lags

Interesting article (found at the invaluable AL Daily) that looks briefly at why the history of South America turned out so different from that of North America. The author still has some leftist tilt that shows, but still a good article.

Important paragraph: "It will probably be regarded, in this age of cultural relativism, as outrageous to think the unthinkable and suggest that maybe, just maybe, the Hispanic cultural tradition really is inferior to the Anglo-Saxon. It is not just the hidalgo contempt for work and the gringo's enthusiastic embrace of it which suggests this."

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Immaculate Conception Foreign Policy-Revisited

This article from The New York Review of Books, The Iran Conspiracy, is a good example of the Immaculate Conception view of foreign policy that was dealt with in the article I linked here.

A quotation from the book: "That was an undoubted triumph. But in view of what came later, and the culture of covert action that seized hold of the American body politic in the coup's wake, the triumph seems much tarnished. From the seething streets of Tehran and other Islamic capitals to the scenes of terror attacks around the world, Operation Ajax has left a haunting and terrible legacy."

Commendably, the author of the review doesn't buy into this completely, but the article as a whole doesn't challenge the underlying perception that foreign policy decision-makers should be able to take into account events that happen decades later.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Why was the Security Council opposed to the war in Iraq?

LGF has the scoop. It seems that MSS let it out of the bag in an interview that Saddam's government gave preferential oil contracts to France, Russia and China. Peace for oil?

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Colt is my Co-Pilot

No, I couldn't improve on Jonah's post title. So I stole it. Here's what I'd like to hear next time I board a plane. Link via the Corner.

Dhimmi and Islamized Christianity

Over at NRO there's an article by Bat Yeor on the collaboration of Christians with Muslims in introducing and perpetuating dhimmitude. (If you don't know the terms dhimmi and dhimmitude, the first couple paras of the article will bring up to speed enough to understand the argument.) More and more I'm convinced that the next great struggle will be between Islam and the West. Much as in the Cold War, we will manage greater technical superiority, but have it offset by the more fanatical devotion of our opponents and the greater ease they have in infiltrating and influencing our societies. Free societies will always have to struggle mightily against unfree opposing societies because of the difference in difficulty of making inroads for change.

What if Lord of the Rings was written by someone else?

This site has the answer. Fun times to be had.

Evil Corporate Software CEO

No, not Bill Gates. Larry Ellison. It seems Oracle is trying to get a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft approved by the DOJ. Sadly, it seems apparent that Oracle's motive is their inability to compete in the open market. Can anyone say "monopoly"? Sure, I knew you could.

Article from NRO.

Stat-Heads, Rejoice!

Okay, I admit. I'm a stat-head. Not in the sense that I know the 1963 Mets team BA without looking it up. (.219, BTW) But in the sense that I love statistics. Love 'em. And, while it doesn't matter what the statistics are about, I'll probably find them interesting, baseball statistics are some of my favorites. Why? Because people don't get upset and shout and argue nearly so much about baseball stats as they are wont to do with more politicized issues and their stats. And because baseball has such an abundance of statistics.

Which is why I'm gonna talk up a website a bit here. Baseball What a great site. Want to know the box scores from the 1923 World Series? They're here. Curious what Lou Pinella's won-lost record was with Cincinnati? Right here. Maybe you want to know which pitcher has the lowest (BB+H)/9IP ratio of all-time? Career or single-season? It doesn't have stats for the current year, but for a website run on donations and people sponsoring individual pages and operated by a one man, this place is king. I use it all the time. I hereby recommend it to all my friends. And everybody else.

Oh, and I'm adding a link to my link bar. That is all.

Environmentalism I Can Get Behind

Fascinating article on biotech crops and the potential they have for increasing food production while reducing the acreage needed for that production. Talk about your win-win situations. The problem (you knew that there had to be a catch) is that tree-huggers don't accept ANY biotech crops and are willing to pay the price in deaths of Third World citizens and continuing damage to the environment now while they stall the innovations as long as possible.

I don't buy all his predictions of what the world will be like in 50 years (50 years ago people thought we'd have colonies on the moon by now), but the article is still well worth reading.

Found through (where else) the invaluable AL Daily.

Baseball Woes

Put a post up over in the Falcon Forums about the M's and their playoff chances. Suffice it to say, (at least here) that they don't look too good. They aren't far back of Boston for the Wild Card, but Boston is playing most of their games against cellar dwellers to close the season, and the M's have most of their games against first place Oakland.

The M's are disappointing me sorely. It wasn't so bad, back in the day, when you would go to the Kingdome and know that they were gonna get blown out. Or when they managed to claw their way back into races after being behind most of the season (like 1995). Or even when they didn't catch up but stayed close most of the year (like 1996). But this leading most of the year and then folding like a cheap suit at the end is for the birds. Punks.

Trans-Continental Railroad Completed

Interesting story on the radio (BBC World Service on NPR) on the way to work tonight about the completion of the North to South Railroad between Darwin and Adelaide. Seems odd that a continent the size of Australia wouldn't have built a railroad across the country long before this. It really drives home how sparsely populated Australia is in the interior. Alice Springs, the major interior city on the railway, is a bustling metropolis of... 28,000.

Article from the BBC website.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Margaret Thatcher on the importance of individual freedom

"Personal effort does not undermine the community; it enhances the community. When individual talents are held back, the community is held back too. Encourage the individual and the community benefits. A parent's success is shared by his family, a pupil's by his school, a soldier's by his regiment. A man my climb Everest for himself, but at the summit he plants his country's flag."

Smells-Like-Peanuts Action

Snagged meself the Homestar Runner Figurines recently. They are as cool as advertised. (They do not actually have "Smells-Like-Peanut Action".) Also grabbed the CGNU Mascot t-shirt. Great addition to my Trogdor and Stinko-man shirts.

German Delusions

Interesting article about German anti-Americanism. From AL Daily.

It notes that German anti-Americanism is propelled by feelings of inferiority and dependency, which are difficult to handle for a country that was accustomed to being a world power and has dreams of being so again. It also hasn't helped that their Chancellor has done what he can to help the anti-Americanism along for personal political gain. Good read.

Tihs Wlil Bolw Yuor Mnid

From the Corner. A reader e-mailed this to them. Just read it through as close to normal speed as you can.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Women's Soccer Has No Kick

Why don't people watch women's sports? They're not as athletic as the men, and it's not as exciting. But it isn't really about that, is it? For a lot of proponents it's about the feminist/socialist notion of equity. And things are going to be equal, darn it, if we have to force you to go to the games and pay for their salaries! Thank God we live in a free country with a free economy.

Check out the quote from John Hendricks, chairman of Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications and founder of WUSA.
"Every time I see a deal with a male athlete for a shoe for five, 10 million dollars, I say, 'Goodness, why don't you invest in 160 players and an international league and all these fans?' " Hendricks said. "If you want some kind of gender equity in sports, you have to step up to the plate. You can be involved in this, and every day you say, 'What can I do today to keep [Freedom midfielder] Jacqui Little having a salary?' I feel so badly for the players."

Why? They're running a business! Not a philanthropic organization to promote your socialist fantasy!

Monday, September 15, 2003

Unintentional Humour

The New Criterion has a few comments on the "non-political, non-partisan" New York Review of Books.

The Fabulist and the problems with journalists

Interesting article from Policy Review about Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair and how journalistic publications tacitly encouraged their duplicitous behaviour. Good read.

Lies and Hypocrisy Down Under

Interesting article about taking another look at the history of the Aborigines of Australia. Also, the revelation of a liberal film-maker dreaming up a "true" story.

Link Added

Added a link to Policy Review. Good stuff.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Cultural Regression

This chap in the Spectator comments that a lot of "fine art" really isn't so fine. And I agree. I'm a fan of the opera, but I feel the way he does about most paintings and a goodly chunk of ballet.

Though I do also think that a lot of what passes for popular music and dance is trash, I still don't think one should feel compelled to ooh and ahh over bits of culture that leave one cold. Leonardo was a great man, Swan Lake is a nice ballet. I'm glad this stuff happened and "Up Western Culture!", but I'll put my nose to the grindstone and do my bit to push it a little further along in another area, thanks.

Free exercise of religion?

Not in the EU. The story here explains about a monastic order that's the EU has decided should no longer have protection to worship as they choose. It's also worth noting that the EU is trying to run roughshod over the wishes of the Greek parliament and people as well as the monks themselves. Even if one isn't religious, shouldn't one respect others and a 1,000 year old tradition?

Person, Not a Choice

How can anyone argue otherwise? Check this out. From The Corner.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Some people have way too much time.

Namely, these people.

Post-modernism: Revealed!

If I had a real po-mo prof, I think it might be fun to spring one of these on him and ask for constructive criticism. See if he can figure out that it's a fake.

When Aerospace goes bad

These unusual aviation pictures are for the Prince. Pretty cool.

What's your religion?

Fascinating little quiz. Quite accurate in my case. Here's my top ten and bottom eight. (Number 3 is the correct one.)

1. Eastern Orthodox (100%)
2. Roman Catholic (100%)
3. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (98%)
4. Seventh Day Adventist (97%)
5. Orthodox Quaker (83%)
6. Orthodox Judaism (76%)
7. Hinduism (67%)
8. Islam (66%)
9. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (61%)
10. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (60%)
20. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (28%)
21. Scientology (22%)
22. Neo-Pagan (22%)
23. New Thought (17%)
24. Nontheist (17%)
25. New Age (14%)
26. Secular Humanism (9%)
27. Taoism (7%)

Fun With Science

This serves no purpose that I know of.

Western Culture

If anyone out there is considering a Christmas gift for me, may I suggest this?

He is the LEGO® man.

New York City in LEGO®, aka "The Brick Apple". Pretty impressive.

(As you may have noticed from the last few posts, I'm revisiting some of the cooler websites I've found.)

Link! He come to town.

He come to save, the Princess Zelda.

They Fight Crime!

"He's a fiendish shark-wrestling firefighter haunted by an iconic dead American confidante She's a disco-crazy communist widow who believes she is the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian queen. They fight crime!"

(Link removed because the site now attacks your computer.)

Friday, September 12, 2003

"Civilian Military": No longer a contradiction in terms

Business Weekly Online | September 15, 2003 | Outsourcing War: "Skeptics, who include many members of the military Establishment, warn that the growing PMC presence on the battlefield exposes America's armed forces to potentially catastrophic risk. As civilians, contract employees are not subject to military command and discipline. Workers who refuse an assignment can be fired by their employers but not tossed into the brig. The Pentagon's only recourse is to sue -- no comfort at all to a commander in the field who has been left in the lurch by vanished contractors. A PMC's ultimate duty is not to its military customers but to its shareholders. 'Contractor loyalty to the almighty dollar, as opposed to support for/of the front-line soldier, remains [a] serious question,' warned a U.S. Army War College paper last year."

What does this mean? It means we need a bigger military again. We aren't Sweden. We have need of a military that can project power around the globe, and the PMCs mentioned in the article just aren't going to cut it. True, they are cheaper in strictly economic terms, but is it worth the risk that over-reliance on a civilian contractor might cause the US to lose battles, lives and maybe a war?

Fluff or Solid?

Interesting article from Poets & Writers Magazine (linked from AL Daily) about book reviews and reviewers.

Sample para.: Reviews should present a fair and honest reading of a book as well as an accurate representation of it. “You have to judge a book on its own terms rather than your own,” says Yardley. Some admit that they’ve observed that this isn’t always the case. “I sometimes read reviews of what I have read or what I have written about,” says Caldwell, “and I’m a little bit startled by how lacking they can be. I sometimes think that there’s a pool of people who are firing stuff off, and they’re not reading carefully.”

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Was it COD?

Man gets homesick and mails himself back to parents. (I am not making this up!)

National Review Rip-Off

Over at NRO they have a big ad up on the main page pushing their new National Review magazine (print version) available on the internet. They call it (and I agree) a great idea and a wonderful opportunity and such-like. But you have to subscribe to get it. It's cheaper than the NRODT! It's only $19.95 for a year! Woo-hoo!

But wait! What about guys like me that currently subscribe to NRODT? Does access to the digital version of the print magazine come included in our (much more expensive) subscription that we already have? They don't say on their website anywhere that I could find. So I sent them an e-mail. And the answer... I'm sorry, you'll have to subscribe again to the digital version to have access on the internet to the magazine you're already subscribed to in real life. So the cost of getting the print version both in print and online for a year is roughly $80. Having it online is a good idea. Charging print subscribers twice to see it is not.

Um, thanks but no thanks guys. You can take your "deal" and shove it.

Housekeeping note

Changed the appearance of the archive page. Now it matches the rest of the blog.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Speed Freak Bach?

Interesting article about the tempo of classical music and what the change to faster tempos means. From AL Daily.

"There's something more troubling going on here, beyond tempos in classical music. I think people don't want any music to be serious anymore. It's all rock 'n' roll now. Many people know mainly dance music, and that's all they want to know—even in classical pieces. There's an increasing disconnect between music and meaning. I saw that in the big New York rock concert in memorial of 9/11. In a way I understand it: When tragedies happen, creative people respond by doing what they do. But in a larger sense that concert disturbed me. What it said was, Three thousand people have died. Therefore, let us shake our booties."

Monday, September 08, 2003

Query to socialists

Just ran across a marvelous quote in Margaret Thatcher: The Collected Speeches. She was quoting Claude Frederic Bastiat.

"Since the natural inclinations of mankind are so evil that its liberty must be taken away, how is it that the inclinations of the socialists are good? Are not the legislators and their agents part of the human race? Do they believe themselves moulded from another clay than the rest of mankind? They say that society, left to itself, heads inevitably for destruction because its instincts are perverse. They demand the power to stop mankind from sliding down this fatal declivity and to impose a better direction on it. If, then, they have received from Heaven intelligence and virtues that place them beyond and above mankind, let them show their credentials. They want to be shepherds, and they want us to be sheep."

Immaculate Conception Diplomacy

Interesting article from Policy Review on the oversimplification of diplomatic decisions and foreign policy actions commonly found in the mass media. It's a bit long, but it makes a very important point that more people should understand.

This and the previous two links courtesy AL Daily.

Galileo Condemned to Death

Not too long ago, Prince commented that he wouldn't mind talking about aerospace stuff. Well, here ya go. (Long, but interesting.)

Racism in the Senate?

Interesting case made by Robert Alt over at NRO that the real reason Democrats filibustered Estrada's nomination wasn't ideological. It's interesting, and seems to me to be logically sound.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Ebeneezer, Adolph and... Hillary?

Interesting post here about what those three names have in common. Surely it's not just coincidence? Found it via The Corner.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Objectivity is a chimera

Greg responding to a comment made by Prince (not on the web anywhere) about Greg's lack of objectivity comments that the objective (particularly in blogging) is dull and uninteresting. He (correctly) supposes that I would support that view.

I'd go a step further and argue that objectivity isn't even really possible. I think I've argued this in print before, but after a quick search I can't find anything. Essentially, I think that a person's beliefs influence their presentation of news despite even the best, most strenuous and honest efforts to combat it. Even the selection of what is news is evidence of bias. And it's not as if neutrality is always a virtue. The Swedes (just to pick an example) were "neutral" in WWII, but their supplying of tungsten to Germany prolonged the war and allowed more Jews to be killed. There's nothing wrong with reporting facts, but there's also no shame in being open and honest about your opinions. This conservative's beef with liberal media is not that it is liberal, but that so much of it claims impartiality, when we know it is no such thing, and I go so far as to think that it's impossible.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Speaking of books...

I've got a couple of "serious" books from the library to go along with Raymond Chandler. Started the first volume of Winston Churchill's history of the Second World War The Gathering Storm. I've been meaning to read it for quite a while, but hadn't gotten around to it until now. I'm only a couple pages into it so far, so I don't really have an opinion on it yet. I'm also reading Margaret Thatcher: The Collected Speeches. So far, so good. Good snappy stuff. Still in the mid-70's before she became prime minister, so there's quite a bit left to go. Took a bit of a break from The Republic, though I'll probably pick that up again soon. I'm also slowly but surely working my way through Parliament of Whores and Moltke on the Art of War. PJ O'Rourke is amusing, but he's not laugh-out-loud funny. At least not yet. The latter three titles I own the copies I'm reading, so I'll probably be slower finishing them since I don't have to return them anywhere.

Sorta related: When I was a Barnes and Noble yesterday I grabbed a tin of Book Darts. They're these little brass clips that slide onto the edge of a page and serve as a bookmark. They're pointed and small so that you can use them to indicate one precise line. Handy for research or just for marking your place when you put your book down. And they're so thin you could put twenty in a book and it wouldn't be all bulgy and stressing the binding. Very cool. I may have to get a bunch more of these.

Raymond Chandler and Tolkien

Been reading Raymond Chandler (The Simple Art of Murder, Playback, The Long Goodbye, The Little Sister) lately. Interesting books. I like Phillip Marlowe, the mysteries are pretty good (most I don't figure out until the book is mostly over), and I love the wiseguy patter. The Simple Art of Murder (essay by the same name with some short mysteries) has an essay that outlines Chandler's view of the detective story. He spends some time slamming Sayers, Christie and damning Doyle with faint praise and explains that none of their tales were really "realistic". He never says so in so many words, but one clearly gets the impression that his work is to be compared favourably because it is "realistic".

So what does this have to do with Tolkien? Well, one of the big raps on Tolkien is that there isn't any sex, sexual tension or whatever. That Tolkien wrote a Victorian tale without something that has to be included in any "serious" work of fiction. Chandler seems to be making a similar sort of claim about mystery stories. And it's equally stupid.

Sure Chandler writes interesting detective tales, but he's still not superior to Christie or Sayers and not much, if at all, better than Doyle. Detective tales are interesting for different reasons. Sayers has interesting characters and interesting problems. The upper class English dialogue and social interactions are interesting and well-done. Christie has creative plots and was incredibly prolific. True, Murder on the Orient Express does have an improbable solution, but it's creative and interesting. And Poirot's French isn't done any worse than Chandler's Spanish. And Sayers clearly outshines them both when her characters use languages other than English. (At least one of her stories incorporates some Classical Greek.) Just because Chandler writes about a gritty Los Angeles populated by crooked cops, sultry blonds and violent mobsters doesn't mean that his books are better or even more "realistic" than anyone else's. Chandler is good, and his books are fun, but he has no reason at all to be throwing stones at his colleagues.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Derb Strikes Again

I've found a couple of his articles annoying in the recent past, but then he goes and posts a nice little gem like this over at NRO's Corner. That's tellin' 'em, Derb!
The article that Derb references in the post linked above can be found on his website here. Link at left bottom: "Hillier on Eliot".

Monday, September 01, 2003

Thanks for the reminder.

After taking such a long hiatus recently, I'm rediscovering some of the links that I have up on my own blog. Greg helpfully reminds me of AL Daily, which I hadn't been to in a while. It was like a drink of cool water going back. Hence the trifecta of links below. Check it out for yourself. Lotsa cool stuff there.

Pancakes v. Kansas, The Final Battle

Frankly, I think more scientists ought to spend time settling issues like this. Mr Moe! Sounds like this would be right up your alley.

Gotta love that AL Daily.

Real Fake Diamonds

I'd buy one before I'd buy the real thing. Thanks again to AL Daily.

My employers need to read this

Excellent article on the evils of PowerPoint. Describes the flaws of my company's training materials perfectly. Thanks to AL Daily for the link.