Saturday, February 28, 2004

Intense Passion

I saw The Passion of the Christ yesterday with my wife. It was... good. I don't know that saying "I liked it" would really be appropriate, but I thought it was a very good movie. Not being Catholic, I thought that certain parts were a bit off, but it was still the best Jesus movie I've ever seen. And it was, certainly, an inspiring and moving experience. I'm not ashamed to say that it brought tears to my eyes several times. To me, it seemed like one of those movies that one doesn't see too many times. I don't think it will do a big box office like a Lord of the Rings or anything because of that, but I do think that a lot of people will see it and will recommend it to their friends.

I don't really have anything new to say about the issue of anti-Semitism that hasn't already been said (and probably better than I could say it). I don't think the movie will excite any anti-Semitism, at least in the US, that didn't already exist. I've heard others comment that passion plays in Europe are more known for bringing anti-Semitism to the surface, but I don't know much, if anything, about that myself. I can say that, to anyone who bothers to pay attention, it's obvious that it is not "the Jews" who are the villains of the piece any more than it is "the Romans". It's made amply clear that there are people (always in the minority in every case) who don't think that Jesus ought to be crucified. They are shouted down by the mob, or too frightened for themselves to do anything to stop the crucifixion, but it is not a blanket accusation towards any group of people.

On the other major point of criticism that I've seen (most notably by John Derbyshire who hasn't even seen the movie yet), that the movie is too bloody. I don't understand. People compare this movie to Braveheart and talk about gratuitous gore and blood. But there's a big difference for Christians who shy away from depictions of violence in movies. This movie is true. It is a faithful retelling of the story of Christ's death. The painful, bloody, terrible spectacle of Christ's torture and death is what this movie is. Leaving out the blood and suffering would make this movie less accurate, less moving, less powerful and ultimately less true. I strongly disagree with those who wish that this movie was less realistic. Simply because it doesn't conform to your mundane, middle-class sensibilities, simply because it reminds you of the painful reality of Christ's sacrifice is no reason to close one's eyes to the truth.

Friday, February 27, 2004

EU Thoughts

An interesting article from Policy Review on the implications of the push for greater political unity in the countries of the EU. I've excerpted a couple interesting paragraphs. Be warned, as with just about all of Policy Review's articles, it's really long.

"As they anxiously watch world events unfold, Europeans increasingly feel that they have a stake in the U.S. presidency and that it ought to be accountable to them as well as to American voters. Europeans recognize, consciously or unconsciously, that in a lone-superpower world they do not fully control their own destiny. They believe that the government that does, in this case the administration of President Bush, should be more reflective of their views. But while the Bush administration likes to have allies in Europe if possible, it does not, of course, feel politically accountable to any but American voters.
...
Far from being a free trade area, the European Union is finally struggling to become an international political power - which is precisely one of the reasons American support for European integration has been fading. Another is that the conservatives who are so influential in the Bush administration have always harbored deep suspicions of European integration, which they have tended to identify with the triumph of bureaucratic socialism or worse on the continental mainland. Even if President Bush were not in the White House, however, the EU's political ambitions and the end of the Cold War would be causing a grinding together of tectonic plates in the mid-Atlantic.
...
During the Cold War, the United States looked to NATO to provide the military and political muscle to restrain Soviet expansionism and to what was to become the European Union to provide the economic bulwark. The job of the then European Community was to provide prosperity in Western Europe and a social safety net that would strengthen West European societies against communism, just as Japan did in Asia. In exchange for playing that role, Europeans could be forgiven many sins, especially in the trade field but also in developing the kind of welfare states that most Americans find excessive."

Falcon Forums Empty

I take some small satisfaction in the fact that the Falcon Forum has not had a post in over a month, excepting the posting of letters to the editor and a couple of self-congratulatory comments from Falcon eds. Leaving out the schadenfreude, I'm pleased that this puts the lie to the idea that it was the presence of "gadflies" such as myself, Greg and jG. Well, where's the participation now? Could it be because... The Falcon sucks?

Finished Orthodoxy

Good book. I'm glad that I've read it. I didn't get to quote it in my blog as much as I wanted, but that was mostly due to my wanting to quote such large swathes at such regular intervals that I would probably have ended up just typing out whole chapters at a whack. I'd recommend it to anyone. I don't agree with everything that he says, but I found myself nodding and saying to myself "Exactly!" often enough. I'm going to have to buy a copy of it. Speaking of buying books, I need to find a good used book store that's not too far from where I live. I'd like to be able to pick up copies of things like Orthodoxy, of which I know there are many used copies floating about, without paying the price of a new book. That, and once I find such a place, I'll need to keep a list of books I'm looking to buy on my person so that I can be prepared when I do go to a book store. That's the second biggest problem that I find I have at bookstores. (The largest problem is, of course, that I don't have enough money for all the books I'd like to buy.) I can never remember all the books I wanted to look for.

Nets Streak Not Impressive

Sure, the Nets won 14 straight, which granted their new coach Lawrence Frank a place in the record books for most wins in a row by a new coach, but they weren't exactly playing the mightiest of teams. The following records were accurate as of a couple days ago when I looked them up.

The List:
Detroit 35-24
Houston 32-24
New Orleans 30-26 (twice)
Toronto 25-31 (twice)
Miami 25-33
Cleveland 23-34
Philadelphia 23-35 (twice)
Boston 23-35
Atlanta 19-38
Orlando 16-43 (twice)

Notice that only three of the ten teams have winning records. Of those three teams, only one did most of it's winning against the Western Conference. And let's face it, the Eastern Conference is to the Western Conference as the NBDL is to the NBA. These teams collective record is 251-323 which translates to a .437 winning percentage. Sure, the Nets may be the class of the East, but all that will translate to is another embarrassing defeat in the NBA Finals.

Bonds On Steroids? Gasp!

I've disagreed with jG about this, but I'm thinking that Wendell makes good sense. Bonds bulks up dramatically. Bonds trainer admits giving out steroids. Logical conclusion: Bonds got steroids from his trainer. The circumstantial evidence is pretty strong here. If Bonds wants to eliminate the doubts, he needs to convince the player's union that it's in his (and their) best interest for him to be tested for steroids.

More On Walls

More on Israel's wall from Jonah.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Border Patrol On Edge

The US Border Patrol has become somewhat disillusioned with their jobs, which is understandable considering the way the current administration and just about every other politician in the US has abandoned the idea that illegal immigration is, well, illegal. Morale is low, agents feel no need to do their job since the administration has decided on a virtual amnesty for illegals and this leads to an ineffective Border Patrol. I'm still going to vote for George W., but I wish I had a better way to express my displeasure with his profligate spending, the Medicare disaster, the amnesty for illegal immigrants and his executive impotence (no vetoes?Q!).

An Impending Hong Kong Crackdown?

Could be. We might be headed to a Tiennamen Square replay. The ChiComs in Peking are worried about recent demonstrations in Hong Kong that drew a half million people and recent elections that tossed a bunch of politicians that were very sympathetic to the Reds. So now they've announced that "it is being made clear that only those deemed "patriotic" can hold high office in Hong Kong."
For nearly two weeks now - in news releases, on official media websites, in meetings, and in statements by pro-Beijing politicians, business tycoons, and legal scholars - the word is going out that only those who "love the motherland and 'One Country' " can be trusted "with the security, stability, and development" of the country, as the official China Daily put it last week.
Not only have the Reds decided that they will apply a very subjective test to approve those selected by the people for office in Hong Kong, but they've started making threats as well. "A presumably official source in Beijing quoted this week by Wen Wei Po, a Hong Kong daily, offered a warning to pro-democracy advocates: 'I have a knife, which I don't usually use. Now it's you who force me to use this knife.'"

Dusty Baker Is A Dope

Apparently, Dusty Baker thinks the search for cheaters in baseball is similar to the McCarthy hearings. And how is that, exactly, Dusty? How does a simple chemical test have any relation to a Senate hearing? Even though I think that a lot of "McCarthyism" talk is overblown (in that there were plenty of communists that were trying to hurt the US), it's still an overreaction to compare it to the search for steroid cheaters in baseball. If baseball wants to remove doubt about steroid use, put a steroid testing agreement in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the player's union balks, use the media to point out that it's the players themselves that are introducing taint into the quest for home run records by folks like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.

Goldberg On Walls

Jonah Goldberg's latest article is one of the most lucid detailings of why the new wall being built by Israel has little to no similarity to the Berlin Wall (other than that they are both walls). I'm of the opinion that the wall will have a very beneficial effect. There's much blathering in the various medias about how this wall will cause hardship for various Palestinians by cutting them off from various things, hospitals, schools, etc. Of course, none of these "news" reports mention the fact that Israel wouldn't have had to build the wall without terrorists trying to kill Israelis. So, really, the cause of these hardships is the Palestinians themselves, both those who actually commit the acts of terror and those who support them without doing the actual bombings themselves (which includes a vast majority of Palestinians by all poll accounts).

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Quotation

"I like the kind of literary criticism that tries very hard to understand what the author is saying. I despise the kind that cares only about how the reader responds to it. The first requires a great deal of hard scholarship, ultimately as much as had the writer. The second can be practiced by anyone with a navel into which to gaze."
-Reverend Brian Smith


Found this quote while going through some old things. Rest In Peace, Reverend.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Homosexual Marriage Leading to Polygamy?

You better believe it. Though not perhaps the Mormon-esque kind that springs immediately to mind. Here's a post in the Corner by Stanley Kurtz that discusses it.

Sounds Like Greg

After reading this, I'll bet this sums up Greg's position on homosexual marriage pretty well. I'd be okay with an amendment that left the decisions up to the states, but I'd still prefer an amendment that prohibited homosexual marriage. Why? I think that's still a democratic enough process. Heck, that's the democratic process that the Founders set up for modifying the Constitution. If you don't think that's democratic enough for modifying the Constitution, you'd still have to use that process to get a different process.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

That'll Show 'Em!

A good suggestion for Bush on how to get back at all those who posit him as the public face of a sinister conspiracy that I found on Arma Virumque.

Aftermath of Hutton Report

The Hutton Report, of course, being the investigation into the allegations by a BBC reporter that the British government exaggerated their intelligence claims in a pre-war announcement regarding WMDs in Iraq. This article suggests that this may not have simply been an isolated incident, but a wider problem brought about by a change made in the past few years away from the traditional policies of the BBC. A move away from a greater emphasis on being right to a greater emphasis on being first in an effort to compete with other British media outlets. Via AL Daily.

Beliefs About Belief

This article (again via AL Daily) discusses how it is that we learn to understand that others can hold beliefs that do not accord with reality. Just about everyone learns this somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5 (there are exceptions, such as people with autism), but how that happens isn't clear. I find articles of this kind, "thinking about thought", fascinating.

Schultz and... Sartre?

An article (via AL Daily) on the similarities between Charles Schultz's comic strip Peanuts and the philosophy of Sartre. I don't know that this would have occurred to me, but it's darned interesting. And I've always enjoyed Peanuts. I don't think this article is terribly important, because I'm not that fond of Sartre's philosophy, but if you like Peanuts, it might be worth a read.

English II: Proverbs

A good, though brief, article about how we've become sloppy with our words. And, if you scroll down, you'll find that I've committed one of the errors that's mentioned in the article in one of my post titles. Oops.

Plant Detects Landmines


It's still in testing, and may be a few years away from production, but this is pretty cool. I'm all for landmines still being used, so this is a great breakthrough to help dispose of minefields once they've outlived their usefulness. There are still drawbacks, it won't detect all mines, tends to be oversensitive and is a genetically modified plant. Why is that a drawback? Because the Europeans are paranoid about GM plants and will probably block it's use, despite the deaths of poor people in Third World countries. Hey, they don't care about them starving because of a lack of food that GM crops could fix, why would they approve this GM plant?

Hydrogen Fuel On the Horizon?


Well, maybe. That article, from the CS Monitor, describes a recent breakthrough in the extraction of hydrogen from ethanol for use as fuel. Don't be rushing out expecting to see hydrogen cars for sale any time soon, but it is a significant advance towards cleaner energy.

Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting


Jonathan Adler links in the Corner to a listing of a few of the 1,000 fighting styles of Rumsfeld.

English I: Adjectives


An article from The Chronicle Review on the sloppy uses of adjectives. A bit long, but well worth it for anyone looking for ways to improve their writing, of whatever style. Via AL Daily.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Books


Didn't finish Inside American Education; it had to go back to the library. No worries, read it already. Did finish The Monsters and the Critics, which was quite good. Well, a couple of the essays were very informative, one was a bit much for me since I don't understand Welsh and the last dealt mostly with school politics. But the essay On Fairy-Stories was quite informative and interesting. It shed a lot of light on Tolkien's thoughts about the fiction for which he's best known.

Also read a couple of Nero Wolfe mysteries, Champagne for One which was a pleasant little puzzle and Prisoner's Base which was a bit more sordid.

And Sourcery arrived from being on hold sooner than I thought. That was probably the most serious of the Discworld books yet. Still funny, but one of the major recurring characters was "killed off" at the end. I'm betting he comes back since they did the "car-goes-over-the-cliff-in-flames-but-we-found-no-body" thing that leaves the option of a sequel open.

Started re-reading Thomas Sowell's books The Quest for Cosmic Justice and The Vision of the Anointed. Both are good, but the first is particularly excellent. Concise, clear and very pertinent to the conservative-liberal conflict. As for the other books I've mentioned below that I was working on, I'm not that much farther along in them and Elementary Cryptanalysis: A Mathematical Approach had to go back to the library unread since I figured the math was a bit much for my poor skills.

Three Excerpts from Orthodoxy


"Paganism declared that virtue was in a balance; Christianity declared it was in a conflict: the collision of two passions apparently opposite. Of course they were not really inconsistent; but they were such that it was hard to hold them simultaneously."
...
"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die... A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it..."
...
"It is true that the historic Church has at once emphasised celibacy and emphasised the family; has at once (if one may put it so) been fiercely for having children and fiercely for not having children. It has kept them side by side like two strong colours, red and white, like the red and white upon the shield of St. George. It has always had a healthy hatred of pink. It hates that combination of two colours which is the feeble experiment of the philosophers. It hates that evolution of black into white which is tantamount to a dirty gray."

Premillennial Dispensationalists and You


An interesting article from the CS Monitor about premillennial dispensationalists. (No, really! Think the theology of the Left Behind books.) First off, let me say that I am not a premillennial dispensationalist (one who believes that the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ are two events separated by a time of tribulation). I do, however, consider myself a "fundamentalist". I just don't think that premillennial dispensationalism is fundamental. I feel a lot closer to Catholicism and Orthodoxy than I do to Episcopalians, United Methodists and other Protestant denominations that are (in many ways) quite secular in their theology.

Having said that, let me point out that though the article makes some good points about the dangers of this particular bit of theological belief, it doesn't really live up to the billing of this notion "influencing politics". It makes the case for it influencing one political issue and doesn't even list any others. It also betrays an a priori assumption with which I would disagree on the Middle East issue. It tacitly suggests that Israel does not deserve or need support to the extent that certain Christians do support Israel. The article glosses over the fact that the conflict in the Middle East is not between Israelis and Arabs so much as it is between Muslims and non-Muslims. An Arab can be executed in most Muslim countries for converting to Christianity. Support for terrorism does not come from Arab Christians but from Muslims. (Sadly necessary disclaimer: Please note that the preceding statements do not say "all Muslims everywhere". This is not a blanket condemnation of Muslims, but a comment that a blanket condemnation of terrorists in the Middle East essentially only condemns Muslims.) All of which to say, one doesn't have to be a premillennial dispensationalist to be a staunch supporter of Israel. I am the latter, but not the former.

A Giant Box Of Crayolas In Your Ear


That's what synaesthesia can be like. An interesting article on it that was linked by Ramesh in the Corner. I oughta check with my wife, but I believe one of her sisters has this; she hears sounds in colour. The Bobs have a song about synaesthesia on their album Shut Up And Sing! too. If you don't know who the Bobs are, you've missed out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Kurtz Livid


Stanley Kurtz is vehement in the Corner today about how the danger of homosexual marriage is growing and imminent. He's got about 5 posts in a row on the topic. I've linked the first one above, you can start there and read up the page. I have to say that, pessimistic as it seems, I agree with his assessment. Homosexual marriage is a serious peril to our society and we're very close to homosexual marriage imposed by the courts. I'm gonna have to start shopping for CDs.

Pay-Rod Traded to Yanks


I know this isn't news to, well, probably anyone, but I had to think about it a bit before I commented on it. On one hand, I don't like it because I don't like Pay-Rod or the Yankees. Anything that increases the chances of either being World Champions is unwelcome to me.

On the other hand, I can't agree with some of the commentators I've seen on ESPN and elsewhere that have complained about how this "isn't fair". What's not fair about it? The Yankees are willing to pay for Pay-Rod's ludicrously large salary, why shouldn't they trade for him? If the Royals owner was willing to pay for it, he probably could have swung a trade too.

A lot of the Yankees' success is a result of their owner being willing to pony up the cash for players that will help the Yankees win. Because the Yankees win, the Yankees can charge a premium for their tickets and still expect to sell a bunch of them. It'll cost a lot of money for any other team in the league to try and emulate this tactic, but that's the cost of winning. The euphimised socialism of the "luxury tax" does nothing but penalize teams that are willing to spend to win. Whining about enormo-salaries for athletes strikes me as being inane as well if people still go to the games. Salaries aren't going to come down until people stop subsidizing them by paying for tickets that go up in price every year like college tuitions. That is, with little or no relation to anything other than the amount of money that owners (or college presidents) want to spend.

First Lines


No, not pickup lines, but first lines of books. Lots of them. Kinda interesting.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Private Space Travel


An interesting article about one of the aerospace world's giants, Bert Rutan. If you're into aircraft, you know who he is. If you don't know who he is, this article will fill you in nicely, as well as informing you about Rutan's current project, building a privately owned spacecraft. He's the guy who designed the first plane to fly around the world on a single tank of gas. Amazing stuff.

Quiznos Commercial


I laughed very loud when I first saw this. Same guy who did the Viking Kittens. It's disturbing, but strangely compelling at the same time.

Okay, that's cool.


Jonah linked this in the Corner (forgot to snag the exact link). It's pretty cool.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Unusual Proposals


An article about the increasing prevalence of women proposing to men. Somewhat interesting. I don't have strong feelings about it as a general social phenomenon, but from a personal perspective, I wouldn't have wanted to be proposed to. What really irritated me about this article, however, was a particular quote.
"Linda Olson, a New York radio personality known as America's "love doctor," says women who propose tend to be educated and confident, and they tend to date men who aren't threatened by those qualities."
It's the assumption of certain women (usually feminists) that the reason that men dislike certain women (usually feminists) is because they feel "threatened" by some aspect (education, confidence, intelligence) that these women (usually feminists) presume that traditional men don't want women to have. Newsflash, ladies: men can dislike you without it being a result of feeling "threatened".

Homosexual Marriage Getting Closer


Interesting post in the Corner by Stanley Kurtz, who follows this issue very closely. Kurtz spells it all out very clearly. Massachusetts legalizes homosexual marriage. Partisan supporters of this prevent an amendment from being presented to the voters that could overturn this judicial decision. Now the path is wide open for other homosexual advocates to use this judicial fiat to agitate for judicial decisions in their own states and at the national level. Homosexual advocates can use the judicial system to overturn the will of the people (no surprise about choosing this method) in a lot of states. If one thinks, as I do, that the Supreme Court will be receptive to allowing homosexual marriage regardless of whether or not it's Constitutional, but simply because it's fashionably leftist (see Justice O'Connor in Lawrence and Garner v. Texas), then the only alternative is a Constitutional Amendment to prevent another travesty like Roe v. Wade being foisted upon us. And if that happens, well, at least Greg will owe me a CD.

Tolkien v. Jackson Part III


Third and final installment of the series of articles comparing the Lord of the Rings book with the movies. Good stuff.

Intersection of Tolkien and Chesterton


As I was reading through The Monsters and the Critics I ran across a passage where Tolkien quotes from Orthodoxy, the book by G.K. Chesterton that I'm reading now as well.

From Tolkien's essay On Fairy-Stories:
"I do not deny that there is a truth in Andrew Lang's words (sentimental though they may sound): 'He who would enter into the Kingdom of Faërie should have the heart of a child.' For that possession is necessary to all adventure, into kingdoms both less and far greater than Faërie. But humility and innocence - these things 'the heart of a child' must mean in such a context - do not necessarily imply an uncritical wonder, nor indeed an uncritical tenderness. Chesterton once remarked that the children in whose company he saw Maeterlinck's Blue Bird were dissatisfied 'because it did not end with a Day of Judgement, and it was not revealed to the hero and the heroine that the Dog had been faithful and the Cat faithless'. 'For children', he says, 'are innocent and love justice; while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy.'"

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Shameful Sportscasting


Another sports article, this one is about the best football commentators. No need to read the whole thing, I'm linking it because in the first couple paragraphs he talks about something that annoys the heck out of me: when commentators talk over the action. Or when they ignore penalties, fights, unusual plays, etc. on the field. Or when they discuss something completely unrelated to the game. I hate that. Makes you want to reach into the TV and smack them upside the head.

Questec Questions


An article about Questec which, well, isn't that great actually. But it got me thinking about the whole issue of strike zones. I think critiquing pitchers using some technology is a good idea. I don't think that tech is Questec, however. Questec only judges the height of pitches, whereas something like the K-Zone used by ESPN on their broadcasts locates the pitch in two dimensions. I don't think that Umpires ought to be replaced by machines, but I think using machines to check up on the umps will encourage a more consistent strike zone all across baseball. And I'm all for that. I hate it when somebody like Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens or even my favourite pitcher Randy Johnson gets an extra six inches for his strikes simply because he's a star.

Evil PETA


A good article on NRO about the lengths to which PETA will go to advance their cause and discredit others. The article details how they attempt to destroy the life-work of a scientist who, when he persevered, discovered a ground-breaking method of treatment for people with brain injuries. To equate humans and animals, and thereby cheapen human life, is evil.

Woman Marries Dead Boyfriend


Sounds like something out of The Weekly World News, I know. But it's true. It happened in, where else, France. I think L. Ron Hubbard had this happen in Battlefield Earth. (Which wasn't a bad sci-fi book, even if the movie was awful.) Via Derb in the Corner.

Taliban Boys on Gitmo: Not Too Bad


According to an interview with one of the boys detained at Guantanamo Bay as a member of the Taliban or Al Qaida, staying at Gitmo was actually pretty nice. Will this get international scolds off the back of the US? Not likely. Via K-Lo in the Corner.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Oil, Food and Money


An article linked by Jonah in the Corner that discusses who got oil deals and how the UN administrator of the oil-for-food program might have been corrupt. Worth reading.

Illustrated Bible


Friend sent me a link to story about a hand-written, hand-illustrated Bible commissioned by St. John's Abbey and University. It's even written on vellum. It's interesting, but I'm not too impressed by the illustrations that they have up on their website. Still, hand-written? That's cool.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Music


Been listening to Jughead a fair bit lately. (I think I forgot to note this about a month ago when I mentioned my new music CDs. New CDs are rare enough to be something of an annual event.) Anyway, of my new CDs, it's probably my favourite. I'd recommend it to a friend. Favourite tracks are "Halfway Home to Elvis", "Snow In Tahiti" and "Flowers".

I'm also really digging my Strong Bad Sings CD. That's more of a novelty thing, though it is well done. If you're a fan of Homestar Runner, then you oughta check it out, but if you don't know of or care for the website, don't bother. (Fav tracks, "Circles", "The theme from DANGERESQUE II: This time it's not Dangeresque I", and of course "Let's get started doing all the awesome things I suggested".)

Addendum

At the behest of Greg (see the comments), I'm taking a stab at describing the music. The Strong Bad CD has a very wide range of music, from college acoustic to old school rap to heavy metal/80's hair band, to folk protest to techno to... you get the idea. Jughead is Beatles-esque pop rock meets King's X prog rock. (Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for my description, which may be faulty due to a lack of musical understanding, causing anyone to purchase a CD that they end up loathing.)

Dangers of Technophilia


No, this has nothing to do with hooking up at a techno club. Rather, Roger Kimball discusses the dangers of technology and those who subscribe to "if we can do it, we may do it." Long post, but one doesn't go to Arma Virumque because it's short and punchy.

Hajj Deaths


A post over at Arma Virumque discusses how little press the regular occurrence of deaths of Muslim pilgrims on the Hajj gets. And how little play the callousness of the Saudi government gets. "Hundreds of people have been killed? Ah, well. Insha'a Allah." It's one thing to accept the will of God and another believe that things are foreordained and immutable by dint of human effort.

While I'm at it, let me say again how much I like Arma Virumque. What a great blog, always interesting items and (which is to me a plus) they don't have 50 updates a day. I find that places like the Corner (and Greg's blog The Smoking Room is starting to get this way, though not nearly so bad) are difficult to read because they have so many posts to wade through. One isn't interested in all of them, of course, and if the number of uninteresting posts gets too high, it becomes more trouble than it's worth to read the blog.

Sports Ethos


Linked in the Corner was this article with an amazing picture. I have to agree with the author of the article. That's what sports is all about.

Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment


A review of Charles Murray's new book, Human Accomplishment over at The New Criterion. It's a favourable review and inclines to read the book. Though, I've never managed to get all the way through The Bell Curve, so I don't know if I'd get through this one. Still the subject matter is interesting and the review deals primarily with the efficacy of Murray's attempt to do what he set out to do and doesn't waste much time rehashing the debate over the political correctness of his findings.

Scrappleface Evil?


I don't think so, but my employers do. My place of employment, in the interests of its employees, blocks websites with "objectionable content". Now, this is defined so broadly that they could block just about every site on the internet except for those few that are in the same business as my employer. To their credit, however, they refrain from blocking just about anything except porn. But I'm at a loss to understand why Scrappleface was blocked.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Tolkien v. Jackson Part II


Second installment in a 3 part series of articles comparing the Lord of the Rings movies with the books. I'm liking the articles so far. Most of his opinions are very close to my own, which is always nice to read from a certified smart person. You can also read what I blogged about the first article (which isn't much).

Papal Election Issues


Forget this dull Democratic primary, check out the Catholic election. There's a good article in the WaPo about how some observers may not understand what the real issues in the Catholic church are. He makes the excellent point that doctrinal issues are not what's controversial to the Catholic hierarchy. It was a Nota Bene yesterday over at NRO.

Brooklyn Nets?


Yeah, I'm citing the CS Monitor a fair bit today. Started reading it in earnest last night. So here's a story about the Nets proposed move to Brooklyn. It's only briefly mentioned, but the story mentions in passing that the city is going to take the individual property owners property by invoking "eminent domain" and then turning around and selling it or giving it to the owner of the Nets who will use the land to build a building for the Nets. I think it's fair to say that this would cause the Founding Fathers to spin in their grave. It's one thing for the government to use eminent domain to build civic buildings and projects, but simply to do favours for another private individual or company is ridiculous. Despite judicial precedent, eminent domain is not for taking people's land at cut rate prices so that a developer who wants the land won't have to pay the higher price that his interest will cause.

Rights? Hah!


An article about housing and homelessness in the US. It didn't interest me particularly until I read the following paragraph.
"It may very well be," says Philip Mangano, executive director of the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness and the government's point person on homelessness, that remedying "this wrong of homelessness will lead us to establish the right to housing. That would be consistent with our history of righting wrongs in this country, like slavery, and then creating rights afterward."
Excuse me? "Creating rights"? Is Mr Mangano saying that unless legally created by law, the rights of minorities would not exist? That ending slavery was not a recognition of the natural intrinsic rights of man? If this lack of housing is a "wrong", yet the right for it has to be legally manufactured, then it isn't "wrong" until the law makes it so. Without even thinking about it, he just argued in a circle and negated his argument's foundation. Oops.

Funny


This makes me laugh. It's been around for a while, but it's worth watching again even if you've already seen it. Though, I can't in good conscience recommend the site that it originated on.

Charging Taxi Drivers


Not a monetary story. In Israel, some taxi drivers who have driven terrorists to the places where they have blown themselves up are being charged with crimes. This, despite the fact that the drivers did not know who their passengers were or what they intended. Essentially, the taxi drivers are being charged with not being vigilant enough about their passengers. This would never fly in the US, but then, we don't lose large numbers of people to terrorism in our major cities on a regular basis.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Almost as cool as the Mach 5


Yes. I would drive this car. Linked by Jonah in the Corner.

One More


Forgot to mention that I've also got Wodehouse's Luck of the Bodkins going too.

Books and Stuff


Been a bit slow for books lately. Don't think I mentioned reading Mort. Maybe I did. Didn't see it mentioned in the last 50 posts, but I wasn't looking closely. Anyway, it was a Pratchett book I read. Good stuff. Quite funny. Dealt with Death quite a bit. Funny character in the Pratchett books. Read Pigs Have Wings by Wodehouse. Quite good. It's a Blandings novel, which I haven't read but two of now, but I'm liking them. Wish I'd given them a chance sooner. Been re-reading Inside American Education by Thomas Sowell. Don't know if I'll finish it before I have to take it back to the library, and I'm not gonna worry about it since I've read it before. I've also got Elementary Cryptanalysis: A Mathematical Approach by Abraham Sinkov. May not finish that because I may not have the math to understand it. Why that book? Well, I've started reading Prime Obsession by John Derbyshire (one of my favourite writers) and he mentions that prime numbers are very useful in cryptanalysis. I need to be reading The Monsters and the Critics, as I mentioned just below, since it's due back soon and I haven't even gotten through the first chapter. Finally, I've also started Experiments Against Reality by Roger Kimball. This last and Prime Obsession will probably be the slowest to finish because they're mine rather than from the library. I'm thinking I should start posting quotes I find interesting from the books I'm reading more often, like I did with War and Peace.

Orthodoxy


Been reading Orthodoxy lately (though I should be reading The Monsters and the Critics which is due at the library sooner) and thought I'd post a bit of it that struck me.
But what we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place... A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed... [T]he new sceptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn."

Robert Knight! Go to your room!


Seems Bobby Knight and the chancellor of Texas Tech got into it a bit at a local grocery store. There's a link to an online story here. The guys on SportsCenter were saying that the reason that they were a-disputin' was...ready? The chancellor commended Mr Knight for improving his behaviour. No word on whether Mr Knight threw any produce into the aisles.

Get. Off. My. Tour!


It seems Vijay isn't the only one that thinks that women don't belong on the men's golf tours. Greg Norman has gone on record saying that women ought to be barred from the men's tournaments. He points out that men are barred from the women's tournaments and that the sponsors of the women's tournaments get the shaft when the best women's players play men's events rather than the women's events. I think he's right. You can read about it here and about my take on Annika Sorenstam's playing a PGA event here.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Absence


Been gone for a couple days. Had some minor surgery on Friday. Not a big deal. Be back to normal in about a week-ish.