Monday, September 29, 2008

There and Back Again

But without dragons.

My wife and I escaped for a long weekend to a not-too-distant cottage and lived the life of Riley for about four days. My mother-in-law graciously kept an eye on the little ones while my better half and I were gone. I got to read a couple books, eat in restaurants without worrying about whether the menu was amenable to a 20 month old child and watch college football in amounts unknown practically since college. My wife assures me she also had a good time despite spending so much time knitting instead of doing something fun.

On the other hand, it's good to be back too. I missed the little ankle-biters, it's nice to sleep in my own bed (my back has ceased to complain with such vehemence) and I can play WoW again before Brewfest ends.

Now playing: Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood - 03 - Texas Flood
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sauce for the goose...

Bear with me a moment. I need you to read three different posts over at The Corner. Trust me, you don't have to have the larger context to see the point I want to make, but it's easy enough to use the archives and your browser's find function to get it if you want it.

Read this.

Then this.

Finally this.

Okay, my question: Where does Derb get off thinking that he can claim he doesn't need to be bothered reading in-depth to understand the point his opponent is making because of it being ludicrous on the face, then turning around and arguing that his opponent must read in-depth to understand the argument he (Derb) is making despite his opponent thinking it ludicrous on the face as well?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Of course I think I'm better than you.

This started as a response to a comment on another blog, but grew until it wasn't really appropriate as a comment any longer.

I think that saying anyone considers their own lifestyle best is something of a tautology. Of course I think my lifestyle is best, that's why I live it. If I thought another was superior, I would change; in fact, when I find aspects of my lifestyle that are lacking in relation to others I make an effort to change. We realise that we are none of us perfect, but while thinking that perhaps we ought to eat better, exercise more, floss more often, etc., we do all of us think that our lifestyle is best considered in broad strokes. I can (and do) consider many other cultures inferior while at the same time respecting their members as humans worth my kindness. And indeed, given the knowledge of my own culture's superiority, isn't a kindness to urge others to adopt it insofar as they are able?

The key is how one goes about it, obviously. As a conservative (with a lower-case "c"), because I think that generally the traditional is superior to the innovative, I am an advocate of life as it is lived and was lived rather than urging that we change from what we have known to some promised utopia. Someone once described, partially in jest, a liberal as a man too broad-minded to take his own side in an argument. In this instance, because of the dangers of using a position of strength to impose one's ideas on others, Americans are chided by some to not advocate their culture at all.

In much the same way, Christians are asked not to do any proselytising either. But to be a Christian is to proselytise; to do otherwise is to ignore a direct command of Jesus to His disciples. And if we think we have found Truth in being Christians, not to share this with others is to willingly condemn them to blindness in this life and damnation in the next. This is all so obvious that I wonder anyone can fail to understand it. I've noted before that it is obvious and normal to always think you're right, but the height of arrogance to think you're always right.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"They" will keep him down.

Keep who down? Why, Barack Obama if he becomes president, of course. A woman interviewed in a silly focus group that NPR got together explains who "they" are as well. "The white system ... that's who 'they' are, OK?" I have to say, being part of an entrenched power structure sounds like a sweet gig. But, try as I might, I cannot find the online applications to be a flunky in the Pentavaret.

More seriously, for all the talk about "is the US ready for a black president", the handy trick of reversing the adjectives provides an instructive lesson about who might really have problems accepting other races.

From the NPR story:
"Of the seven white voters and six voters of color, the majority of white voters are supporting McCain. All of the people of color are supporting Obama."
Try reading that with the adjectives flipped.
"Of the seven voters of color and six white voters, the majority of voters of color are supporting Obama. All of the whites are supporting McCain."
Sound a little more ominous when the whites are unified behind a leader of the same color? Not too bad? Let's try another one.
"I'm a Democrat, and I'm going to vote for Obama, and one of the reasons is because he is black."
I've read and heard variations on this all over. Let's see how it reads flipped around.
"I'm a Republican, and I'm going to vote for McCain, and one of the reasons is because he is white."
Whoa! That well and truly crosses the line, does it not? Let's try one more from the NPR article.
"I don't know if I can see another old white man as president."
That already sounds a bit off, but flipping it around a bit (and editing out "another" so it will jibe with history) makes it an explicit declaration (in reverse) of what the US will be condemned for should McCain prevail in November.
"I don't know if I can see old black man as president."
I've lived in the South and have met white racists and none that I have met has ever been given such a respectful public hearing as this. The delusional racist nonsense that was Jim Crow, slavery, etc. has been replaced by the new delusional racism that whitey is out to get you.
"I'm a Democrat, and I'm going to vote for Obama, and one of the reasons is because he is black. I think he is qualified and come on, let's face facts. This man is going to be wiretapped up to his eyeballs. Come on people. You really think he is going to be put in office, and they are not going to keep an eye on him? Be for real.

"They are going to watch this man like white on rice. He's not going to be his own person per se. He is going to be screened to the max. … The white system ... that's who 'they' are, OK?"

Pro-Life vs. Pro-Abortion

Why do I think "Pro-Choice" is really a misnomer? Things like this. When one worries about a decline in the number of abortions, then I think it's fair to say that any talk of "choice" is a smokescreen. The doctor in the article is more likely a proponent of eugenic abortion.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Wherein my self-importance reaches new heights.

Blogger has added a new feature where you can show who "follows" your blog. It's a neat thing to know, I suppose. The egoism comes in being able to put a list on your blog of how many and who enjoy your blog enough to never miss a post. Now, not only can I revel in my readership, I can gloat about it.

On the other hand, since this is a new feature, there isn't anyone on my list yet. (No doubt it is all due to the novelty of the feature.) But, now we can track how my head swells with my list of readers. Marvelous.

Now playing: Benny Goodman - Get Happy
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Unintentional trilogies: why are they so bad?

We all remember what a good movie The Matrix was, neh? It wasn't art, but it hung together fairly well and was entertaining. It wasn't too ambitious. In a similar way, the first of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies wasn't bad. Sure, it didn't make a lot of sense, but it was fun and, crucially I think, the most of the bad guys were still pirates. I finally watched the last of the Pirates series and found it lacking. In the next two movies, the legal authorities became the sole bad guys and the pirates were some sort of strange, hippie-looking freedom fighters.

They went so far over the top with this in the third movie that it was just silly. And the idea that the destruction of piracy is a bad thing? Ignorant in the extreme. Pirates were and, where they still exist, are a scourge of sadistic, murdering thieves that the world is far better off without.

The first movie had its own plot holes. (Why were the pirates afraid that Elizabeth would drop the coin over the side? Aren't they drawn to it when it touches water? Can't they stay under water without drowning?) But they could be overlooked. At least they didn't introduce characters without cause 2/3 of the way through the story. (Calypso? Really?) And there were things left without explanation. What happened to Davy Jones? What happened to Calypso? Who thought it would be a good idea to cast Keith Richards? There were too many impossibilities that didn't even make sense within the context of the movie. The duel in the maelstrom? The way none of the ships seemed to actually need the wind to move? When it's all tallied up, it's too much. The second two movies fail.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Fine Art of Friendship

An interesting article from First Things (15 years ago) about friendships between men and women. I'm not 100% in agreement with everything he writes, but in an article that long that shouldn't surprise. Still well worth reading, and I suggest it to all my friends. Since it was 15 years ago, I wonder how the evolution of the internet and the ability to meet and interact online would have changed his thoughts on the topic.

Now playing: Ghoti Hook - Jackpot
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Free Tibet!

(With the purchase of any country of equal or greater value.)

How Thomas Becket is like Moses

I watched the movie Becket over the holiday weekend and it wasn't bad. The acting was quite good (no surprise, given the actors) and was probably quite a legitimate nomination for Best Actor for both the leading men and a Best Supporting nod for Gielgud. Though, in passing, let me ask those who have seen more of Peter O'Toole's movies than I, do all of his character seem that...ah, light in the loafers? I think the only other role I've seen him in is that of Lawrence of Arabia, so... Though now I come to look at his list of credits, apparently he was in Troy (I don't remember much of that movie, thankfully) and did a voice in Ratatouille.

The disappointing thing about Becket to me is the way the writer/director/producer/whoever felt the need to switch up the story to make it more interesting. Apparently someone thought Becket would be more interesting if he was a man who lacked morals and then found them in his role as Archbishop instead of being someone who already had a firm grasp and found that his application of them in a new role made it impossible to continue in the good graces of his friend and king. Becket would have been just as interesting as a man walking a careful balance between his conscience and loyalty to his friend who was thrown off by his friend's belief that, when push came to shove, he would choose friendship and patriotism before morality and God.

So how is he like Moses? Well, this change is like that in The Ten Commandments, where Moses starts out of Egypt to escape a murder rap and to discover why it is that slavery exists and to start a sort of ancient Underground Railroad. He ends up freeing his people sure, and it was God what told him to do it, but he's motivated more by a righteous anger against slavery than anything else. In both cases, the moral point is watered down and/or lost in an attempt to make the character more relevant, dare I say?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Terror, indeed.

I'm warning you now, you will not be able to unread this. This is the sort of thing that will stay with you always.

This post explains why I will never support any sort of compromise with Muslim terrorists.

And this post explains why I think the term "moderate Muslim" is a contradiction in terms. All Muslims, for whom their religion is more than a cultural identity, see the rest of the world as an enemy to eventually be conquered. That it is possible to view the monster described in the first post as a hero tells me all I need to know about Islam; depravity most vile.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Mysteries of the internet

The internet is full of the oddest things. Okay, so that's not an original insight. Hear me out though.

Quite a while ago, I had a conversation with my father about someone (I don't think it was my father, necessarily) who was of the opinion that Tennessee Ernie Ford was the greatest male vocalist of living memory. Now, this seemed a bit odd to my ears. I'd heard a recording, when I was very little, of him singing 16 Tons, and I didn't find it enthralling. However, I was thinking about it today and found a copy of the song on YouTube. I don't know that I'm going to fall into the same opinion without any quibbles, but I can certainly see where this unknown reverer of Mr Ford was coming from. He's pretty fantastic.

This got me thinking about the odd juxtapositions of the internet. YouTube has things like this adjacent (in some sense) to the most moronic videos of people driving their trucks into telephone poles, flaunting their, ahem, physical attributes, etc.

And that's not all. We all have some inkling of the depths to which the seamier sides of the internet descend; one can get awfully odd results on what seem to be the most innocuous of internet searches. But it is also possible to read the greatest works of literature civilisation has produced, see reproductions of the greatest art, communicate with people around the globe and (on occasion) have reasoned debates about topics of great moment or very narrow interest on the very same internet.

Again, nothing that any of you haven't thought about before; it was just brought home to me listening to the mellifluous voice of Mr Ford.

New template!

It's only been four years or so since I picked a new template. I liked Scribe, but I don't like playing with code (and I'm not at all good at it!) and I wanted something a bit different in layout. I'd have liked to be able to just tweak Scribe to get what I wanted, but I took the easy way out and just got a new template.

Is Australia really part of the Anglosphere?

A blog post casts doubt on that contention. The evidence is this "sentence":
I think congratulations is due because online many online or electronically delivered ezines the magazine has not run out of steam and each issue is definitely still maintains the high standard it initially commenced with.
Judge for yourself, but I'm pretty sure that's not actually English. Via a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous.