... however, my procrastinating self must plow into the reams of papers waiting to be graded before break ends.
At least there's football on the tube to keep me occupied. Since the Rams have been eliminated, go Eagles!!
MSNBC's Steve Silverman lays out the whole NFC playoff picture (beginning today with the Giants at the Redskins). Many teams have a shot at that last wildcard position, and Silverman's predictions all lead to ... the St. Louis Rams capturing the coveted spot!!
Check it: The Giants, Panthers, Packers and Falcons all have to lose (all are on the road, by the way) and Rams have to win (in Minnesota). And that's precisely what Silverman predicts.
I don't think I've ever hoped for a prognosticator to more correct ... !!
UPDATE: Oops. The Giants won. Have a nice off-season, Rams!
What better evidence than this [section of a] list of headlines from MSNBC.com?
I've been against the war from the beginning. The sooner we can figure out how to get the hell out of there, the better. Leaving immediately, obviously, isn't a viable option as "chaos" will have a whole new meaning if we did. I'm not going to revisit the whole war debate here; I just hope we can adequately recover -- politically, culturally and spiritually -- from this misadventure.
Thanks to Four Color Media Monitor, I learned that the Chairman Emeritus of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, celebrates his 84th birthday today.
Well, he is Barbra Streisand's husband ... !!
Wilmington resident Doug McClure claims he was molested 200-300 times by a Catholic priest ... fifty years ago. The priest in question, Edward B. Carley, has been acknowledged by the dioceses to have engaged in sexual abuse, and has paid restitution to a classmate of McClure's.
McClure said that his memories of abuse "all came flooding back to him in 2005."
McClure certainly may have been a victim. But should the law recognize memories which "all came flooding back to him" fifty years later as the sole basis on which to being a lawsuit? WDEL talking head Gerry Fulcher sure thinks so. After all, he's "tough" on crime based on his belief that repressed memories alone are valid. Cheeyeah, right. As commenter G Rex noted:
Fulcher is against the death penalty because there's always that slight possibility of a wrongful conviction due to malfeasance by corrupt cops (his personal specialty) or tainted evidence or improper jury instruction or whatever, but he'll take repressed memories as gospel truth, because it's in the DSM-IV manual.
A good reason WDEL lost a lot of respect, despite its commitment to "live and local" programming, by giving Fulcher his own show.
From the Watcher's Council:
And now... the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Follow Your Surges by Done With Mirrors, and From Khomeini to Ahmadinejad by Matthias Küntzel. All members, please be sure to link to both winning entries (and to the full results of the vote) in a post. I actually had to cast a tie-breaking vote in the council category this week... Marc Schulman's piece about the apparent demise of the Bush Doctrine was excellent, but Callimachus' post about the phraseology and strategery of Iraq ultimately won me over. The Education Wonks was the only member unable to vote this week... and the only member affected by the 2/3 vote penalty. Thanks to everyone for all the great entries this week... I'm eager to see next week's entries! Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|3||Follow Your Surges|
Done With Mirrors
|2||The Coming of Neo-Multilateralism|
|1 1/3||IRANIAN Military Seized in Raid on Iraqi Insurgents -- (And the NYT Deplores It)|
|1 1/3||The Dark Side of "Traditional Values"|
Right Wing Nut House
|2/3||Two Red Herrings Out of Three Ain't Bad|
|2/3||Negotiating with Iran|
The Glittering Eye
The Colossus of Rhodey
|2/3||Why Facts Don't Matter|
|2 1/3||From Khomeini to Ahmadinejad|
|1 2/3||Is Federalism Tainted by Slavery and Jim Crow?|
The Volokh Conspiracy
|1 1/3||The Sandy Berger Experiment: Bush Official Destroyed 9/11 Documents|
Doug Ross @ Journal
|1 1/3||Emaciated or Emancipated?|
The Possum Bistro
|1||Nifong's Sinking Ship|
|2/3||2007 Predictions: How the World Will Turn -- We Think|
The QandO Blog
|2/3||The Hanoudi Letter: The Second Anniversary|
The Hanoudi Letter
|2/3||A Month of a Unilateral "Cease Fire"|
Elder of Ziyon
|1/3||American Historical Association Against the War|
Spinning Clio: Where History and Politics Meet
Now why, I wonder, didn't they bring this up before the election: "Democrats to revisit detainee issues."
Senate Democrats plan to use their newfound power to revisit one of the most contentious national security matters of 2006: Deciding what legal rights must be protected for detainees held in the war on terrorism.
... Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, who will take control of the Senate as majority leader next year, "would support attempts to revisit some of the most extreme elements of the bill," including language stripping detainees of habeas corpus rights, although no immediate action is planned, said Reid spokesman Jim Manley.
I know I shouldn't be surprised. After all, they campaigned on retreat from Iraq. Their urge to flood the courts with every Johnny Jihad's complaint that we infidels haven't been giving him nice enough Korans since picking him in Afghanistan after he chopped someone's head off does not exactly seem out-of-character.
Still, I never understood the impetus to extend our system's protections to foreigners that want to destroy our society. I don't buy into the idea that we need to extend them the same or substantially the same rights in order to show that we're better. We know we're better, or at least we should. Remember that we're not the ones that celebrate in the streets whenever we kill children in a restaurant.
I guess some might say that, "If they can throw a murdering Islamist down the memory hole, what's to keep them from throwing my effete, NPR-listening ass down there as well?" In any society, slippery slopes are very real. The only thing putting on the brakes is a vigilant public. Thus, by way of an example, the public tolerates a DUI checkpoint; it doesn't become a Soviet-style roving patrol because the public won't stand for it.
Those brakes are actually being applied to the detainees right now. The public obviously, and rightly, won't stomach Middle Eastern-style torture. But so long as conditions don't descend into barbarism -- the true meaning of the word, not the Andrew Sullivan definition -- the American public does not much care about what otherwise happens to them. If they had felt otherwise, John Kerry would have won on Abu Ghraib alone.
Which is why I do not think that the Democrats will win this debate. The public is for the most part comfortable with where the line has been drawn on detainee treatment. Also, the D's have essentially acknowledged that Islamist violence is what is driving us from Iraq. It will be politically tough for them to argue as they gear up for 2008 that the Islamists we've captured deserved better treatment.
The trailer for the FF sequel -- "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" -- is up here. It's interesting because unlike most trailers which edit in various scenes to create a narrative summing up the whole story, this one appears to lift a full minute chase scene directly from the movie. This is probably one the coolest parts of the movie being shown in its near-entirety to lure an audience that remembers the mediocrity of the first FF flick.
But still, leaning towards seeing it despite the lame subtitle. The Silver Surfer -- like Iron Man, one of my favorites as a kid -- looks spectacularly realized. In the first movie, the least human-looking character -- The Thing played by Michael Chiklis -- was also the most interesting. Hopefully they'll do something similar with the CGI Silver Surfer. They may need it to balance off the other characters: the guy playing Mr. Fantastic still manages to come across as a tool even though he says only one word in the trailer.
WARNING! SOME SPOILERS CONTAINED IN THIS POST!
I finished John Scalzi's The Ghost Brigades the other night, and though I didn't think it was quite as good as Old Man's War, it was pretty damn good. Brigades centers around the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Force -- the protectors of humanity in a decidedly hostile universe. What I like about Scalzi is that, even though he's a lefty, he doesn't beat you over the friggin' head with his politics. If you've read my pontifications long enough you know that this isn't that big a deal to me; just make it worth my while. Y'know, intelligent writing, make me think, challenge my assumptions ... Mark Millar is a good example of someone who doesn't do this (see here and here among others), and some believe that even those factors aren't good enough. They're like, "Hey, if you believe something, it has to come through in your writing."
I must admit I got a little worried towards the end of Brigades. The villain, traitor to humanity Charles Boutin, tells protagonist Jared Dirac that the [human] Colonial Union is "evil" because they favor conflict over negotiation; indeed, he says that humanity needlessly views 96% of known alien species as hostile. Many of these species are fed up, and have formed an alliance to essentially destroy man as a result. It seemed to me to be a voicing of the "military/industrial complex" threat; that, in order to "validate" its own existence, the Colonial Defense Forces had to "manufacture" conflict. Joe Haldeman used this in his spectacular Forever War. The military never had any real proof that the "enemy" Taurans were responsible for the disappeared human spacecraft. They just assumed they were culpable, and it led to a millenium of interstellar war.
Scalzi avoids this. He has Dirac challenging Boutin's assumptions and solutions, all the while leaving room for the reader to contemplate the totality of Boutin's concerns. I admit I found myself in agreement with ephemeral character Thaddeus Bender from Old Man's War who, as a new volunteer to the Colonial Defense Forces, wonders aloud why the CDF doesn't attempt more negotiation over military action. But Scalzi deals with this at the end of Brigades, and he cautions people to realize that the universe of OMW and GB begins with assumptions that are, well, alien to us, the most important of which is that that universe is decidedly hostile to humans. Still, Scalzi hints at some "resolution" in the conclusion (due in 2007), The Last Colony.
Scalzi uses similar "social class" elements in OMW and GB that some of my fave scifi writers have utilized. For instance, the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) is comprised exclusively of people from the developed world -- the United States, Europe, Japan, etc. -- whereas the actual colonists are exclusively culled from Third World countries. (Figure out the rationale.) Earth is essentially sealed off from the colonies, and forbidden to travel in space. Isaac Asimov's "Spacers" acted similarly -- they settled the first fifty worlds in a wave of colonization, and then simply stopped. They were content with their long lives and luxury provided by all the robots that cared for them. That aside, the Spacers, like the CDF, disallowed anyone from Earth to travel in space. In Asimov's Earth, the teeming billions lived under massive domed cities (using fission power! Go figure.) and were "doomed" to remain that way. It wasn't until hero Elijah Bailey helps to begin a "Settler" revolution, and these "Settlers" eventually spread to the stars and it is they who come to dominate the galaxy ... the Spacers having become too decadent to compete.
In addition, besides being "sealed off" in OMW and GB, Earth is kept from any major technological advancements. This is akin to the ARM (Amalgamated Regional Militia) in Larry Niven's "Known Space" universe. ARM is actually an ... arm (pun intended) of the all-powerful United Nations (God forbid) that supresses any dangerous technology. In Niven's universe this actually works. Earth has a peaceful golden age for over 200 years ... until they encounter -- wait for it -- hostile aliens and then they have to "undo" all the pacifism they've been conditioned to all this time!
Joe Haldeman, is his loose "prequel" to Forever War titled Forever Peace, details an earth divided along north-south lines -- the developed world vs. the developing world. The developed countries make use of "nanoforges" which can create, essentially, anything desired. The First World, as a result, is one large welfare state as want is virtually extinguished. The Third World is obviously not content with the status quo, and they resort to what are essentially terrorist activities to get what they desire.
Currently, there's a good debate going on over at Scalzi's blog, Whatever, on the merits of "Starship Troopers" (the novel and movie, among other tidbits). I'll always stand by my defense of Troopers as a classic among classics, and that it is in NO WAY "fascist" as many claim (most recently by the NY Times' Dave Itzkoff). Usually the people who claim this either haven't really read the novel, or are already prolifically anti-military (or pacifist). If the latter, they ought to consider the reason Heinlein gives for the ascendancy of Troopers' political structure: Veterans of wars were royally f***ed over by their civilian superiors enough so that eventually the vets got fed up and what began in a small town metastacized into a worldwide phenomenon. Don't you think pacifistic lefty types would be sympathetic to the plight of these veterans (but without acceding to their ultimate solution)?
Further, Heinlein states that the population enjoys all of the rights that developed world democracies enjoy today. The only "difference," such that it is, is that only veterans of federal service are permitted to vote. If you think that outrageous, consider what Heinlein counters with: The franchise has always been limited in some way. Then -- 1959, when Heinlein wrote the book -- as now, age is the main limiting factor. Colonel DuBois, in History and Moral Philosophy class, asks how this makes sense -- how is it rational to permit a 50 year old moron to vote ... but not a 14 year old genius?
I once (years ago) got into a heated debate about the whole structure of Troopers back on the SciFi Channel's bulletin board. My opponent's premise was that the governmental structure of the ST world could in no way exist -- that progress inexorably leads to greater and greater freedoms. While conceding that such a structure probably wouldn't arise, I claimed that it could arise especially given the premise of the novel. And this is what Scalzi has argued about Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades: That you have to accept the universe of the novel, not the one you live in nor what you wish the universe to be in the story. I really liked what Jim Wright had to say (in the comment section) about ST over at Scalzi's blog today (my emphasis):
As to SST’s Federal Government, I always thought that it was a reasonable construct given the back story of the novel. War destroys the world at the end of the 20th century, the only organized force (the various militaries) band together to form a new world order based on THEIR ideals of service, duty, and personal responsibility. I always saw this as a simple vehicle to tell Rico’s coming of age story, almost irrelevant to the real story. Workable in the real world or even desirable? Of course not. The comments above regarding the ex-military and their resentment of those who hadn’t served skewing the whole shebang are probably spot on, given human nature. As an aside, I’ve known people who get their back up over the novel’s trashing of the current US Bill of Rights and claim that RAH MUST HAVE BEEN A FASCIST - yet have no problem with the drill sergeant in Scalzi’s OMW trashing the USMC (just an example, John, I’m not bashing you – I loved that scene – and yes, I know it’s comparing apples and oranges).
SCIFI is defined as the “willing suspension of disbelief,” what I’ve always found funny is that people can walk right past FTL starflight, giant sentient insects, powered armor armed with personal NUKES under the discretionary control of lowest grunt (described in detail) – but wig out over “Federal Service” which was described only vaguely and from ONLY the view point of the protagonist and the military veterans who train him. I suspect that the civilian viewpoint would be vastly different – Rico’s father gives some small insight into that – but that’s an entirely different novel.
Amen. But this is what my opponent in the debate refused to acknowledge, even a little. He knew Heinlein was a fascist and anyone who even remotely agreed with ST's premise was right behind him. Baloney.
One last thing before I cease this semi-rambling post. I recall as a young teen reading an excellent "Guardians of the Galaxy" [Marvel] comic. The Guardians were comprised of genetically-tailored humans that had inhabited various planets of the solar system. Earth had been invaded by a lizard-like race called the Badoon, and the Guardians eventually led a revolt and liberation. New Guardian member Starhawk (the only non-human member) delivers the pertinent words: Humanity, now that it can travel the stars, cannot take with them their hatred that has festered while under alien domination. It will sour -- destroy -- any chances of amicable relations with friendly (or even indifferent) alien races for all time. This, unfortunately (not "unfortunately" because of the idea, but "unfortunately" because it says something about mankind) has been a plot device for many a scifi yarn -- human automatic distrust of anything alien. Forever War uses this to the hilt. Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades appear to utilize it, at least to a degree. "Babylon 5" used it. The one interesting "twist," as noted above, is Larry Niven's "The Warriors" short story which introduces his famous "Kzin" race. Humans in his universe are the ultimate welcomers, and the harsh realities of the galaxy come crashing down upon them, almost extinguishing the human race as a result; indeed, "friendly" alien intervention is ultimately what saves us.
(h/t: Phi Beta Cons.)
A spot has opened up at the Watcher's Council. If you're interested in joining, click the link for more info. And I know you're interested ... 'cause Colossus is a member!!
Joe Biden shared some inadvertent insight while attempting to jump start his presidential campaign today:
Biden warned that congressional Republicans — not Democrats — would suffer in the 2008 elections if they do not join him in speaking out against Bush and opposing troop increases in Iraq.
"Absent some profound political announcement . . . I can't imagine there being an overwhelming, even significant support for the president's position," he told reporters during a telephone conference call Tuesday.
If the violence continues two years from now, "every one of those Republican senators — and there's 21 of them up for re- election — knows that that is likely to spell his or her doom," Biden said.
So the GOP has more to lose "if the violence continues." Implicit in Joe's remarks is that Republicans have a greater incentive to win this war and minimize American causalities. It follows then that there is a greater political incentive for Democrats that the situation in Iraq continue to deteriorate. That being the case, there's precious little reason to listen to any advice Joe or his fellow D's have on the matter.
Thank you, Senator Biden, for confirming what many of us already knew.
Biden also said he believes Democrats' political vulnerability on Iraq is limited.
"I think we'll only have to accept responsibility for the war if we remain silent," he said.
Biden said he delivered this message in a recent meeting at the White House, where he told Bush: "Mr. President, this is your war."
Wow. Tough like John Kerry.
Akilah Monifa's commentary in today's Philly Inquirer titled "Kwanzaa has lessons for nearly everyone" has a couple "Cue to Stop Taking This Seriously" whoppers [thankfully] early in the article. The first is the line "But five years after Sept. 11, in this climate of religious and cultural intolerance in America, I can sympathize with Muslims here who feel like outsiders."
Sheesh. Is there anything more leftist cliché? "Climate of religious and cultural intolerance"?? What the heck country does Monifa live in? It doesn't get any more religiously and culturally tolerant on the planet than right here in the US of A, Akilah.
Second, Monifa states "Many white Americans are suspicious and fearful of Kwanzaa." And the evidence for this is ... ? And hey -- aren't we taught that racial assumptions are a bad thing?
This is followed by "Like other holidays that are celebrated predominantly by people of color - such as Ramadan, Juneteenth, Holi, Hispanic Heritage Month - Kwanzaa ought to be an opportunity for those who are unfamiliar with it to learn more. Just don't forget about all those "people of color" Hispanics in the Americas who overwhelmingly celebrate a thing called ... Christmas!
Wow, I always knew many professors were a bit looney, but this guy might take the cake:
A black professor at MIT has threatened to go on a hunger strike and "die defiantly" outside the provost's office if the university does not grant him tenure, which he said was denied because of racism.
For two years, stem cell scientist James L. Sherley has asked senior administrators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to overturn the decision by his department head not to put him forward for tenure. On Monday, he was told by provost L. Rafael Reif that the decision would stand.
"I will either see the provost resign and my hard-earned tenure granted at MIT, or I will die defiantly right outside his office," Sherley wrote in a letter he circulated this week among the MIT faculty.
Shirley said if MIT fails to take action, he'll start his hunger strike Feb. 5.
"This is the strength of my conviction that racism in (America) must end," Sherley wrote. "What better place to kill a small part of it than at a great institution like MIT."
What I find amazing is that at of all places, a guy is taking the ultimate step (suicide) at a university -- because the university practices racism?? This is almost akin to claiming that North Korea is a model democracy. Sherley offers no substantiation for his charges other than accusing "former MIT provost Robert A. Brown of making a racist remark that was reported to him by a colleague." That's it?? A supposedly racist epithet heard second-hand? OK, sure, that may not be all, but ya'd think that if a dude is planning to waste himself away he'd offer up quite a bit more evidence against MIT, right?
(h/t to Liberty and Power whose own post title I elaborated on.)
Los Amigos Invisibles, those venezolanos locos whose music I totally love, are playing in Philly on March 3rd! Why is this a big deal? 'Cause it's my birthday, natch! Could I have asked for a better present? I doubt it.
Merry Christmas, everybody. Enjoy the day!
James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, has passed away. To list his musical accomplishments would fill the entire main page of this blog. Let's just say that he was not a giant, but a behemoth in the history of music.
A personal anecdote about Brown I'll never forget: On my very first trip to Costa Rica (as a college junior studying abroad), the first movie I went to see there was "Rocky IV." You may recall that before Apollo Creed's fight with Ivan Drago, Brown led a lavish musical number ("I, live, in America...!!") ending with "I FEEL GOOD!!" The Costa Rican crowd (and the theatre was jam-packed) absolutely loved the guy, and I was sure digging this appreciation of American culture. (One thing I was always a stickler for: "Rocky IV," like all first-run movies in CR, are in English with Spanish subtitles. When Brown yelled "I feel good!" the subtitle said "Estoy bien" which translates to "I'm fine/well/good!" I've always wondered why it wasn't "Me siento bien" which directly translates to "I feel good." Ah well ...)
Rest in peace, James.
With kudos to Jonah Goldberg, he points us to a blogger who hilariously highlights some of comics master Jack Kirby's classic character poses -- just in time to work off all that holiday "cheer."
Without consulting any of my collection ... going purely by memory ... watch me prove my geekness by ID'ing all but one of the characters:
1) Ikarus of the Eternals,
2) no friggin' idea,
3) Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic,
4) The Scarlet Witch,
5) The Executioner,
7) Baron Zemo,
8) The Watcher,
10) some unknown civilian (seriously),
11) The Human Torch,
12) The Enchantress,
13) The Thing.
MSNBC's Bob Cook has his Top 10 list which includes "Rocky," "Slap Shot" and "Caddyshack." I agree wholeheartedly with his #1 pick, too: "Hoosiers." I never miss a chance to watch this flick when it comes on. I suppose it does help that I love basketball (playing it and watching college teams ... I loathe pro b-ball, however). But what other sports flicks should be on your own top ten list? Here's a few of mine that could make the cut:
Via The Guardian (UK):
An influential group of academics is demanding a change in the law to ensure scholars are given complete freedom of speech in universities, it emerged today.
More than 60 UK academics from Academics for Academic Freedom are calling for laws to be extended to ensure that academics are free to "question and test received wisdom, and to put forward unpopular opinions".
Gosh! Imagine that! At universities, no less! But "complete," surely, is a misnomer. I'm sure professors do not want the "right" to yell incitements to violence or the proverbial "yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre." Also, especially in Europe, would "question and test received wisdom," and "to put forward unpopular opinions" mean something like Holocaust denial? Surely this is "testing received wisdom" and definitely is an "unpopular opinion." But should professors be allowed to preach such in a classroom unfettered? I say unequivocally, "No."
Why? Because that would amount to educational malpractice, that's why. That the Holocaust occurred is an indisputable historical fact, well documented. To use a college classroom to espouse ridiculous [anti-Semitic] theories to the contrary is irrational.
Similarly, I'd argue the same about Andrew McIntosh, professor of thermodynamics at Leeds University who believes the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old. He also believes the theory of evolution is wrong, but that is something else entirely. Evolution, though the currently strongest theory out there that accounts for differing species and the like, can be academically disputed (though usually not very well) mainly because it is just that -- a theory. But claiming the Earth is 6,000 years old when solid scientific evidence (such as carbon dating) clearly proves otherwise is, again, malpractice.
Admittedly, it's a tough call on some issues. And, I'm not advocating silencing anybody; professors, as with anyone else, are entitled to whatever opinion they wish. But using a classroom with a captive audience to disseminate an "opinion" that is thoroughly controverted by all the facts is a different issue.
Which leads to a related issue: Should Holocaust deniers be jailed for voicing this ... opinion? David Irving was recently ordered released (reduced sentence) in Austria after serving 13 months in jail.
Irving was also on trial for saying the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews was not the work of the Nazis, but of “unknown” people who had dressed up as storm troopers, and that Adolf Hitler had in fact protected the Jews.
He was found guilty on all three denial counts by an eight-person jury.
Irving was prosecuted under an Austrian law targeting those who “deny the genocide by the National Socialists or other National Socialist crimes against humanity.”
Austria is among 11 countries that have laws against denying the Holocaust, in which some six million Jews were slaughtered by Nazi Germany, mainly in the later years of World War II.
Wow -- eleven countries. I was unaware of that. I would imagine most, if not all, of those countries are in Europe. But ... jail time for an ... opinion? Is this a dangerous precedent? Could it lead to something else? I certainly understand -- and even sympathize with -- the sentiment behind the laws as the Holocaust was European atrocity of unparalleled proportion, but shouldn't more speech be the weapon against halfwits who deny the genocide? What if the United States attempted to jail people for denying the Atlantic slave trade?
As a whole, I find the idea of using imprisonment for mere speech (again, excluding obvious instances, noted above) abhorrent. I (and Felix) have weighed in enough on the attempts to punish "incorrect" speech at American college campuses, especially regarding issues like affirmative action, diversity and preferences. I'd like to think we're being as consistent as possible.
I caught this via Instapundit. The two books that I've torn through these last couple weeks written by John Scalzi -- Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades -- are reviewed by the obviously inept Dave Itzkoff. Not Scalzi's books themselves, that is to say, but the trashing of influence (not to mention scifi great) Robert Heinlein.
The object of the trashing is Heinlein's spectacular Starship Troopers which, yet again, is dubbed "fascist" -- indeed, an endorsement of fascism. Puh-lease. Itzkoff remarkably says the novel "has not aged well, to put it mildly." Riiiiight. Amazing how some people can be so utterly clueless.
I wrote (in part) about the philosophy behind Troopers here.
Instapundit points to an essay by Spider Robinson from 1980 that, he says, lays to rest any illusion that Heinlein "endorsed fascism." One of my favorite portions:
“Heinlein is a fascist.” This is the most popular Heinlein shibboleth in fandom, particularly among the young and, of course, exclusively among the ignorant. I seldom bother to reply, but in this instance I am being paid. Dear sir or madam: kindly go to the library, look up the dictionary definition of fascism. For good measure, read the history of fascism, asking the librarian to help you with any big words. Then read the works of Robert Heinlein, as you have plainly not done yet. If out of forty-two books you can produce one shred of evidence that Heinlein—or any of his protagonists—is a fascist, I'll eat my copy of Heinlein in Dimension.
UPDATE (12:28pm on Dec. 25): Scalzi gives Colossus a mention on his blog dubbed "Whatever." Thanks, John!
This week's winners over at the Watcher's Council are:
Council Link: The Glittering Eye's Directions on Iraq: A Blogging Colloquium.
Being the fan of science fiction that I am, the issue of robot "rights" is one I've read about quite often. The Financial Times of London has chimed in on the issue, noting that
Visions of the status of robots around 2056 have emerged from one of 270 forward-looking papers sponsored by Sir David King, the UK government's chief scientist. The paper covering robots' rights was written by a UK partnership of Outsights, the management consultancy, and Ipsos Mori, the opinion research organisation.
"If we make conscious robots they would want to have rights and they probably should," said Henrik Christensen, director of the Centre of Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Probably the biggest current event dealing with robot rights is the hit SciFi Channel series "Battlestar Galactica." In it, humans on distant planets had developed a race of robots called Cylons. The Cylons eventually developed sentience, rebelled against their human masters, and eventually almost annihilated their creators. However, much remains unknown as to exactly what happened that led to the Cylons' revolt -- did the Cylons plan it out without attempting to gain certain rights? Or did the humans refuse to negotiate with the newly aware Cylons?
As noted in the article, science fiction legend Isaac Asimov widely explored the concept of self-aware robots in myriad short stories and novels. He created the "Three Laws of Robotics" which state 1) robots may not harm humans, 2) robots must obey human orders (unless it conflicts with the first law) and 3) robots must protect ther own existence (unless it conflicts with laws 1 and 2). The movie "I, Robot" starring Will Smith combined many aspects of Asimov's stories. The basic premise is that a new type of robot has become self-aware. One such model keeps "mum" about it for fear of human reprisals, but others begin planning to fight to keep their newfound "ability." Asimov's "robot novels" were sensational, notably The Robots of Dawn, The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun and Robots and Empire. In the last book, Asimov had one of his robots conceive of a "Zeroth Law" -- where the safety of humanity as a whole takes precedence over that of an individual human being. Asimov's famous R. Daneel Olivaw not only plays a key role in the novels noted, but also -- surprisingly -- ends up being a pivotal figure in the classic "Foundation" series as well.
In the small screen, "Star Trek: The Next Generation's" Data explored the sentient android concept very thoroughly. The classic second season "The Measure of a Man" has Capt. Picard defending the rights of Data as a sentient being. A Starfleet scientist wishes to disassemble Data so that the Federation can make androids commonplace. In the following season, Data himself creates an "offspring" (the actual title of the episode) -- another android which worries Starfleet (since another android created it). When a Starfleet admiral wants to remove the offspring from the Enterprise, the robot "dies," suffering the android emotional equivalent of a nervous breakdown.
"I, Robot" was also the title of the classic "Outer Limits" episode starring Leonard Nimoy. "Adam Link" is a robot who stands accused of murdering his (its) creator. After being found guilty, Link saves the life of a little girl who's almost hit by a truck. Similarly, the "Twilight Zone's" "I Sing the Body Electric" highlights a robot "grandmother" that a widower purchases for his young children. The "electric grandmother" proves her "humanity" to the family, but sadly is returned to the factory from whence she came after the children are all grown -- so she can be reassembled into another robot for another family's use.
Many are familiar with the "Matrix" movies; however, the excellent "Animatrix" is not as well known. This animated compendium features the backstory of the "Matrix" trilogy. It's quite similar to the "Battlestar Galactica" saga in that human-created machines have become self-aware and desire many, if not all, of the rights that humans have. After a period of mild conflict, an agreement is reached between the humans and the machines. The machines are essentially given their own nation in which to live freely among humanity. However, when the machines prove quite superior to humans economically, homo sapiens realize they have to do something. Their attempts to wipe out the machines fail, and the machines fight back. Obviously they're successful (see the "Matrix" flicks, natch), but even so, one can argue that they exercised empathy with their conquered creators by allowing them to live their lives inside a computer-generated fantasy.
The way in which technology is rapidly progressing, I don't think it far-fetched that by 2056 sentient robots could exist. And what indeed should be done about it? Do we attempt to destroy them? Or allow them to work among us ... and likewise grant them rights? Is it conceivable that the newly self-aware robots could use their cold logic to conclude that humanity is a danger to itself (and, thus, them) and therefore should be exterminated (a la "The Terminator")?
And the reason I ask is because just where has been that 'ol MSM (that's mainstream media) regarding the new[er] revelations about Sandy Berger -- y'know, President Clinton's national security advisor? Not nearly as vociferous and long-winded as the Plame "scandal," now, are they? I agree with Jay Nordlinger:
I think that, if Sandy Berger were a conservative Republican, the story of his misdeeds would be a really, really big deal. Do you know about his misdeeds? If Berger were a Republican, the word "Nixonian" would be making a big, big comeback — at a minimum.
I mean, come on -- what would Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermoonbat, Katie Couric and Jack Cafferty be saying about this (my emphasis):
President Clinton's national security adviser removed classified documents from the National Archives, hid them under a construction trailer and later tried to find the trash collector to retrieve them, the agency's internal watchdog said Wednesday.
"There is absolutely no way to determine if Berger swiped any of these original documents. Consequently, there is no way to ever know if the 9/11 Commission received all required materials," [Virginia Rep. Tom] Davis said.
Berger took a break to go outside without an escort while it was dark. He had taken four documents in his pockets.
"He headed toward a construction area. ... Mr. Berger looked up and down the street, up into the windows of the Archives and the DOJ (Department of Justice), and did not see anyone," the interview notes said.
He then slid the documents under a construction trailer, according to the inspector general. Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.
"He was aware of the risk he was taking," the inspector general's notes said. Berger then returned to the Archives building without fearing the documents would slip out of his pockets or that staff would notice that his pockets were bulging.
The notes said that Berger had "destroyed, cut into small pieces, three of the four documents. These were put in the trash."
After the trash had been picked up, Berger "tried to find the trash collector but had no luck," the notes said.
(Speaking of Chris Matthews, as I do final edits on this post "Hardball" is on the TV. It's halfway over and what has Matthews covered? The Joe Wilson -- Val Plame's hubby -- attorney flap [surprise!!] followed by the Iraq War followed by presidential picks in 2008. No mention of Berger after 35 minutes. I rest my case with him.)
The fact is we'll never know now just what was in the documents despite Berger's (his attorney's, actually) contention that the 9/11 Comission got all the documents it requested. Did the Clinton administration flub up dealing with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda more than is generally known? This makes Clinton's blow-up at Fox News' Chris Wallace and the former administration's complaints about that ABC miniseries quite laughable.
Locally, Maria Evans has more at the Talk of Delmarva.
(Above image courtesy Michelle Malkin.)
Alerted to the article by DE Liberal's Jason, the recent edition of Delaware Today has "10 Delacentric Blogs You've Got To See." (Free registration required.) Colossus made the "cut," so to speak, but numerous worthy blogs did not. And I actually -- and mark this down -- agree with Jason that it's an outrage! For at least pure entertainment purposes, I would have included DE Liberal on the list. And what about Dave Burris' excellent First State Politics? And for at least a good gawk at piteous layout and lamentable grammar, what about Nancy Willing's Delaware Way? And Jase and Mike Matthews are both right -- what the hell is Tom Carper's blog doing in there???
Speaking of Matthews, here's his post on the matter.
And here's DT's Colossus summary:
Bloggers: Self-proclaimed culture warriors with an ersatz ne'er-do-well attitude.
Subject matter: Politics, Delaware culture.
Description: These denizens of the "Delaware Conservative Bloggers Alliance" love taking shots at tinfoil hat-nutjob lefties and regularly unfurling a Dopey News Journal Letter of the Week. (Y'know, I like that. A lot!)
Recent excerpt: "Yet another reason to laugh hysterically at the United Nations, especially at its 'Human Rights' Council which presently includes those paragons of human rights Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Nigeria and Pakistan." (Recent? That was from September!)
Here's a surprise: Pathetic ex-president Jimmy Carter is refusing to debate the content of his new book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. The blogosphere, not to mention myriad clear-thinking individuals elsewhere, have pointed out how preposterous Carter's "book" is. (Fellow Watcher's Council member JoshuaPundit has a couple good take-downs of Carter, among others.) To gain just a glimmer of Carter's irrationality, the ex-prez believes the Palestinian situation to be worse than the apartheid in South Africa, and -- stupefyingly -- worse than the Rwandan genocide of the mid-90s.
Alan Dershowitz is the challenger to Carter of greatest statutre at the moment. Dershowitz, who shredded the iconoclastic Noam Chomsky in an Israel-Palestine debate early in the year, points out how Carter is making himself look foolish on the issue:
When Larry King referred to my review several times to challenge Carter, Carter first said I hadn't read the book and then blustered, "You know, I think it's a waste of my time and yours to quote professor Dershowitz. He's so obviously biased, Larry, and it's not worth my time to waste it on commenting on him." (He never did answer King's questions.)
The next week Carter wrote a series of op-eds bemoaning the reception his book had received. He wrote that his "most troubling experience" had been "the rejection of [his] offers to speak" at "university campuses with high Jewish enrollment." The fact is that Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz had invited Carter to come to Brandeis to debate me, and Carter refused. The reason Carter gave was this: "There is no need to for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."
As Carter knows, I've been to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, many times -- certainly more times than Carter has been there -- and I've written three books dealing with the subject of Middle Eastern history, politics, and the peace process. The real reason Carter won't debate me is that I would correct his factual errors. It's not that I know too little; it's that I know too much.
Carter claims he wrote his book to spark debate on the Israeli-Palestinian question; so, why is he refusing to participate in them? Because, as Dershowitz says, "Carter isn't brave for beating up on Israel. He's a bully. And like all school-yard bullies, underneath the tough talk and bravado, there's a nagging insecurity and a fear that one day he'll have to answer for himself in a fair fight."
Jason gave me an idea: If WDEL radio is "live and local," why not have a show that features a rotating panel of Delaware bloggers? You can put it on at 3pm -- in place of Gerry Fulcher. Such a show is guaranteed to be more interesting than him!
Waddya think? Place your vote!
I finished the excellent sci-fi novel Old Man's War this past weekend, and immediately jumped into its sequel, The Ghost Brigades. The author, John Scalzi, acknowledged many folks in the former book, among them a Ted Rall. Was this the same radical Bush/Republican hater who draws those vitriolic cartoons? I e-mailed Scalzi to find out ... and indeed my wondering was proved correct! Scalzi said that he has known Rall for a long time, and that he has many friends all across the political spectrum, among them Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds who he acknowledges in Brigades (which I didn't know until Scalzi told me).
I find much of Rall's work disgusting and distasteful, but I responded to Scalzi that this fact certainly would not prevent me from reading his (Scalzi's) novels. After all, he said he has known Rall for a long time, so obviously he knows much more about Rall -- the person -- than do I, especially since I've never even met Rall. Rall may actually be a terrific guy in the flesh. Who knows?
This got me to thinking more about my post from earlier today -- Down With Absolutes' Mike Matthews claims he has received a lot of info from people about DE State House Majority Leader Wayne Smith that claims the leader is not "very well liked." He even states "he wouldn't doubt" the info. My question would be: Based on what? Has Mike met Wayne? How many times? How well do the people who sent Mike these "parcels" know Wayne? My guess would be "not very well." Which is OK, of course. Wayne is a public figure as well as a big boy, so he can take care of himself. But he is a good acquaintance of mine -- I've known him and his family a long time -- and I know that he is a good person. You might not like his politics (hell, I've had heated debates with him) or how he runs business in the State House, but these are a separate issues. To be sure, Matthews has mostly confined his criticism of Smith to the professional realm. I would hope he keeps it that way, 'cause from my perspective, there is plenty of reason to doubt that "info" you received.
In case you didn't notice, the Delaware Conservative Bloggers Alliance (DCBA) has replaced its Delaware 2006 blog with the DCBA Blog.
Thanks to Gazizza's Paul Smith Jr. for hooking us up with a cool WordPress template!
MSNBC.com reports that "Democrat [Barack Obama] argues the case that a black candidate can win the White House."
Well, duh. The real question is, can a liberal Democrat black candidate win the White House? It sure could happen, but is Obama really the one to do it? He has virtually no political experience, and the US Senate isn't really a great place to prove one's managerial skills. The MSNBC article argues that "Obama could increase black Democratic turnout in states such as Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, and Virginia, all of which have significant black populations and all of which Bush carried in 2004." That's undoubtedly true. However, again, his politics could turn many potential [white] voters away from him and to the GOP candidate.
Right now, Obama looks great to many people ... and why not? He hasn't had to answer a single tough question from anybody and he's been allowed to spout feel-good generalisms all over the place. Just wait until he has to answer questions about specific policies, his voting record, and go through a primary. Then tell me how "great" he looks.
By far the weakest link of an otherwise upright talk radio line-up at WDEL is Gerry Fulcher. He now has his own show (due to the co. that runs the Sean Hannity show playing hardball and demanding WDEL run another syndicated offering in order to keep Hannity) from 3-4 in the afternoon. In what I believe what was his inaugural offering, Fulcher had Delaware State House Majority Leader (and perennial Fulcher nemesis) Wayne Smith on the phone to discuss whether "repressed memories" should be the sole basis on which to bring a suit and convict a person of child abuse. Granted, I'm an acquaintance of Smith, and some believe I always jump to his defense whenever someone criticizes him on a local blog, but he certainly had the upper hand in the "debate" with Fulcher yesterday.
First, Fulcher was his usual a**hole self, screaming and yelling at Smith and cutting him off before he was finished making his point(s). Amazingly, Fulcher is in favor of allowing the use of repressed memories as the sole bit of evidence against someone in a child abuse case. He chastised Smith for sponsoring an amendment which would not permit just this: It would mandate some other bit of evidence in conjunction with repressed memories. Here's the actual language of the amendment:
"No action shall be maintained under this section based upon the memory of the victim that has been recovered through psychotherapy unless there is some evidence of the corpus delicti independent of such repressed memory.”
Smith cited (or, should I say, tried to cite) instances of repressed memories utilized in false allegations against people whereupon Fulcher denounced this use of "anecdotal evidence" -- but then Fulcher went on "to bet" Smith that his anecdotal evidence would "be better" than his!!
The premise of "repressed memory" is a theory. And psychology is the most inexact of the [human body] sciences, after all. Just read a sampling of the article about RM:
"Repressed memories may or may not exist."
"There currently exists a great controversy among researchers, treating professionals, law professionals, and the general public as to whether repressed memories actually exist, and even more heated controversy over whether recovered memories are valid, especially in the absence of corroboratory evidence."
"Recovered Memory Therapy" (the process by which "repressed memories" are "recovered") was the target of hundreds of malpractice lawsuits which led to the abandonment of this technique by the year 2000. Is this what Fulcher wants -- multi-million dollar lawsuits in our small state thanks to this inexact science? Hey Ger -- ever wonder why polygraph test results are impermissible in court? They aren't even allowed in conjunction with other corraborating evidence! On the other hand, Smith's amendment grants use of repressed memory evidence ... as long as it is utilized along with some other bit of evidence.
This is just common sense -- and fair. Fulcher's attempt to make it sound like he was "tough on child abusers" (while Smith and others were "weak") came off as farcical and infantile. The fact that Fulcher at one time degenerated into a rant where he stated that "it's amazing how a big deal is made out of this while 'no one' cares about a poor black guy sitting in jail who is wrongly accused" (that Fulcher would support exclusively a sort of testimony that would add to more of this "poor black guy" obviously escaped him) establishes that he was the loser in that whole argument.
(Cross-posted at Delaware Conservative Bloggers Alliance.)
I felt like death personified, and had to make a trek to get needed meds. Thanks to this idiot, my return home lasted much longer than it should have.
(P.S. -- I merely feel like a terminal case today, not death.)
The Media Research Center's "Best of Notable Quotables" for 2006 are now ready. Some are shocking, some will make you chuckle, some will make you just shake your head. Whatever the case, it's always a fun read!
I had one of my nastiest nights in recent memory last evening -- constant coughing, nose feeling like it weighed 10 lbs., head feeling like it would split open, raging fever at around 1 a.m. (since broken) -- so of course I am home from school suffering (though feeling significantly "better" than the middle of the night). However, I awoke to good news: My application to join the Watcher's Council had been accepted! I now join a few of my fave bloggers (Rhymes With Right, Soccer Dad, Education Wonks), among others, in writing some provocative posts and choosing the best, and also choosing some of the best posts from around the blogosphere each week.
After over a month's hiatus, Campus News Confab is back with a vengeance -- four new hilarious posts about the inanity of diversity-think at American universities. Check 'em out.
Olympic ice skater Sasha Cohen, who is half Jewish, reportedly was "stunned" that a high school choir was ordered to cease singing Christmas carols for risk of offending her.
A city employee, accompanied by a police officer, approached the Rubidoux High School Madrigals at the Riverside Outdoor Ice Skating Rink just as they launched into "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and requested that the troupe stop singing, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Thursday.
The employee, special-events worker Michelle Baldwin, could not be reached for comment. City Development Director Belinda J. Graham confirmed the incident.
"This request was simply made by a staff member who was attempting to be sensitive to the celebrity guest, without considering the wider implications ... or consulting with her supervisor for guidance," Graham said in an e-mail to the newspaper.
Hilariously, Cohen had earlier taken part in a ceremonial Christmas tree lightings in California and New York.
I like this part at article's end:
To some, the incident appeared an example of excessive political correctness in the United States over the celebration of Christmas -- which some conservative commentators have characterized as a "war on Christmas."
To some?? If you can't recognize that this IS an example of excessive PC, then you're a complete cretin.
But I will agree that "War on Christmas" is a needlessly harsh term. The more appropriate phrase would be the "Campaign of Excessive Sensitivity."
Last night's "Battlestar Galactica" was the first part of the season finale (gotta wait until January 21st for the second part). "The Eye of Jupiter" features the discovery on the "algae planet" (from last week's miserable episode) of the "Eye of Jupiter," the supposed key to finding the planet Earth. Sure enough, soon after, the Cylons jump into the vicinity -- four base ships, natch. They want the Eye, too, of course. But, they know that the Galactica got there first and has people on the surface at the Eye. They can't risk anything happening to it, so they request to speak with Adama directly. They offer a deal: Give them the Eye, and the entire fleet can leave totally unmolested and won't have to worry about the Cylons ever again. The Dean Stockwell-Cylon (sorry, I can't keep track of all their show-names) then offers up Baltar as a "bonus." After that, in a neat little sequence, Col. Tigh says "Something to think about." Adama seconds with "Definitely something to think about."
The dilemma: Assure their own freedom and security ... but potentially doom the last colony of humanity (Earth)?
The human subplots were boring and irrelevant. A Sharon-Cylon copy informs Galactica's Sharon that her baby (Hera) is still alive. Sharon (or is it "Athena," now?) can't believe it, and she gets lover Helo to join her in confronting Adama and Roslin. Upon hearing the truth from Roslin, Adama walks out of the room. Puh-lease, huh? There's been enough of this sort of clandestine nonsense over the last couple seasons that every instance of people getting "pissed off" just wears completely thin now! But the REAL laugher here was Helo getting all self-righteous at the deception -- that Adama and Roslin conspired to "kill" his and Sharon's baby! Y'know what, Helo? FRAK YOU, PAL. And if Adama was any sort of leader, he'd have told exactly that to Helo. Helo -- the a**hole who prevented the chance to wipe out the Cylons for good! Spare me.
The other laugher (but to a lesser degree) was Lee (Apollo) demanding that Starbuck's husband (Anders) stay with the contingent on the surface that is supposed to protect the Eye of Jupiter from an approaching squad of Cylon centurions. Starbuck's craft was shot down by the centurions, and Anders wants to go -- alone -- to rescue her. Lee's "We can't spare you!" rang totally hollow and Lee knows damn well if the situation were reversed he'd be on the bounce going after Starbuck immediately. Again, Galactica's personnel have bucked the rules so damn often that you have to laugh when someone tries to establish rules and procedures!
What is intriguing is the dissension among the humanoid Cylons. The Dean Stockwell-Cylon is the clear "hawk" among their number, stating at one point that they should take the opportunity to "wipe the human scourge" from the universe. Number Six remains the "pacifist" of the group, while the Lucy Lawless-Cylon -- the leader -- has taken to keeping secrets which is alarming her fellow Cylons. If the show spends more time examining this intrigue, the show will regain [needed] respect, in my opinion.
Towards episode's end, the Cylons call Adama's bluff: Adama had threatened to nuke the entire planet if the Cylons attempt to grab the Eye before any deal is agreed on. Six Cylon raiders dart toward the planet's surface, whereupon Adama orders Galactica's nuclear missiles to stand ready to fire. HOOO-BOOOY! Gotta wait until mid-January, people. But my [logical, educated, no-duh] guess is that the missiles won't be fired!
One important sidenote which most likely will save the Galactica the responsibility of sacrificing the Eye: Gaeta realizes that the planet's sun is unstable ... and could go supernova at any time! Wanna bet that this is exactly what happens? (Hey, why couldn't the Cylons detect the sun's irregularities, too?)
UPDATE: Voting is closed. Thanks to all who voted. Colossus finished 8th, but a mere nine votes from nabbing sixth place.
REMEMBER -- you can vote every 24 hrs. from the same computer ... as often as you'd like from different computers! SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??
UPDATE: One of our competitors has the poop on what we're all about!
More American teenagers can name three of the Three Stooges than can name the three branches of government -- 59% to 41%. (Link.)
One of my fave bloggers, Greg of Areopagitica, is back in blogging action! Be sure to drop on by. We've [re]added him to our "Favorite Reads."
TONY SNOW: OK, before I get to that, I want to address something else. Because you and I had a conversation last week that got a whole lot of play in a lot of places, where I used the term "partisan" in describing one of your questions.
And I've thought a lot about that, and that I was wrong. So I want to apologize and tell you I'm sorry for it. (Link.)
Whoa! Now, you think that'll ever happen in reverse?? Y'think Helen Thomas would ever apologize to Snow (or anybody, for that matter) for her disrespectful tone? Still, as I said back on the 9th, I saw nothing "partisan" about Gregory's question to Snow (regarding the Iraq Study Group), but others disagreed. And, last night, there was MSNBC's Joe Scarborough -- once again eviscerating Fox's Bill O'Reilly because Bill had the temerity to criticize Gregory the day of the press room verbal altercation. Joe's reasoning? Since the White House apologized to Gregory, so should O'Reilly! Huh?
Message to Joe: When MSNBC switched you to the 9:00pm slot opposite FNC's "Hannity & Colmes," I went with you. Your show tackled (note the past tense) issues more in depth and had more intelligent guests. Not so anymore. As I also mentioned back on the 9th, your show (along with Tucker Carlson's and that of total moonbat Keith Olbermann) is now too busy taking silly potshots at the competition -- the competition which, by the way, still kicks your network's ass by a wide margin. MSNBC may be picking up more moonbat-style viewers, but I bet it's losing more centrist folk the more these inane quips continue.
Steve Spruiell feels a bit differently:
One thing's for sure: Gregory was not owed an apology. His question was designed purely as an attack, not a serious inquiry into administration policy. So given that A) Snow must know that, and B) he went on "Reliable Sources" on Sunday and defended his handling of Gregory, his about-face today was a call for a truce before things get even uglier. A sad state of affairs in the White House briefing room.
Three "experienced" climbers have been lost on Oregon's Mt. Hood leading to numerous military and civilian personnel assisting in the hunt -- and hopefully rescue -- for them. The question is: Should the climbers, if they are found, pay at least a portion of the cost of their rescue?
I say "Absolutely."
Climbing in winter is risky business, and if people want to risk it, then fine. But if you do, and you need rescue, prepare to pay the costs. Oregon has a law on the books which allows for people to be charged for rescue. They passed it in 1995 after a few college idiots got stuck on Mt. Hood, and they didn't even bring a friggin' cell phone with them.
Washington State, on the other hand, doesn't have such a law "and doesn't want one," according to Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County, Wash., sheriff's office. "We're afraid that people would not call us to rescue them soon enough because they'd fear getting a bill." To which I say, "So?" They take the risk, they pay the cost!
Still, a happy medium could be offered. Sheriffs in Oregon only implement the law "when people do really dumb things." The college kids were inexperienced and didn't take necessary equipment, and the recent "experienced" climbers undertook their sojourn close to winter when it was snowing all over the place. Both instances sure sound dumb to me.
An article in Sunday's Local section on the estate sale of former Gov. Elbert Carvel quoted Olin Vanaman of Wilmington about his excitement in purchasing 35 of the governor's decanters during the auction, including one used at Queen Elizabeth's coronation. Vanaman said he used a slang term when describing Carvel as "a big boozer," but he did not mean that the former governor was a heavy drinker. Vanaman refers to people who collect decanters as "boozers," he explained, "the same as guys who collect cars are gear-heads." No reference to drinking or the consumption of alcohol was intended in the article.
I wonder if anyone's ever referred to a retired dishwasher as a "big pot head."
Hat tip to Anna Venger for this.
1. Eggnog, Cider or Hot Chocolate?
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Set them under tree.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Colored on both.
4. Which of Santa's reindeer -- Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Donder, Blitzen, Cupid and Comet. -- are you? And why?
Blitzen, 'cause I tend to get a little "blitzed" around the holidays, natch! ;-)
5. When do you put your decorations up?
Early December. (They usually get taken down in February, too!)
6. What is your favorite Christmas dish?
Almost the same as Thanksgiving: Turkey, stuffing and sweet potato casserole.
7. Favorite Christmas memory as a child?
The anticipation of the morning of the 25th -- going downstairs to see what Santa left us!
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Kinda just figured it out.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him?
11. Snow! Love it or hate it?
Love it -- especially when it leads to a day off from school!
12. Can you ice skate?
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Los Angeles Rams football uniform, Christmas 1971.
14. What's the most important thing about Christmas to you?
I agree with Anna: Kids. (Well, in my case, just "kid.")
15. What is your favorite Christmas dessert?
Chocolate chip cookies.
16. Favorite Christmas tradition?
Merely watching the daughter opening gifts.
17. What tops your tree?
18. Which do you prefer -- GIVING OR RECEIVING?
19. What is your favorite Christmas Carol?
20. Candy Canes?
Can do without 'em.
South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson -- a Democrat -- suffered what appears to be a stroke yesterday. He is currently in critical condition.
So what does this mean? Well, since the Democrats were slated to control the senate in the next congress by a one-person margin, Johnson's condition could lead to a needed replacement. But the process by which this would happen would very most likely lead to ... a Republican substitute. South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, a Republican, gets to choose a potential successor to Johnson.
If this scenario does come about, possibly the biggest effect would be the confirmation of any other Supreme Court retirees, especially Justice John Paul Stevens. In a purely partisan battle, V.P. Dick Cheney would break any vote ties (50-50) in the senate.
Meanwhile, the moonbats over at the Democratic Underground are already spewing the conspiracy yarns. Commenter "SquireJons" wonders if it might be radiation poisoning: "Perhaps Putin called his good buddy dubya with a little friendly advice." Commenter "Cosby" seconds the sentiment, stating "I'd have him checked for radiation." "rambler_american" also agrees: "That's what I was thinking, too. I'd not put it past the bstards."
Then there's "Contrite": "I wouldn't put anything past this crew. How very convenient for them he's in a state where the Republican governor would get to name his replacement. I think the whole thing is suspicious."
"bobbie" says "Big time. He's likely getting Wellstoned. The other shoe is dropping. No way this regime is giving up power. The failed at stealing the election, too many votes, so it's plan b. Of course they'd pick a state with a republican governor."
UPDATE: Joy Behar of "The View" wonders if there's such a thing as a "man-made stroke."
WTF ... ???
Rich Lowry on the continuing mental malaise of Jimmy Carter:
Incredibly, given his media presence, Carter thinks that he is being silenced by shadowy forces. He makes this bizarre claim: “My most troubling experience has been the rejection of my offers to speak, for free, about the book on university campuses with high Jewish enrollment.” Does Carter keep track of which schools have lots of Jews? And who does he think is keeping him from speaking at them?
Excellent question. Who would keep track of something like that? Does Carter have the Nation of Islam's assistance or something?
Emphasis on the "can," courtesy of an editorial in the LA Times today. The sub-headline reads "Iran's two-day conference for revisionists can't be shrugged off given its quest for nuclear weapons."
OK, maybe I'm a bit harsh by agreeing with The Corner's Kathryn López that the word "can" is silly (Holocaust denial IS dangerous, especially by nuke wannabes like Iran) as is the "can't be shrugged off" bit since most of the op-ed is actually on target (my emphasis):
Before the summit, Iranian officials vowed that if the conference, using its doubtlessly rigorous scientific inquiry, should determine that the Holocaust indeed occurred, then Iran would at long last accept it as historical fact. We are not holding our breath. Although it's tempting to shrug off a gathering of fourth-rate intellects who seethe with contempt even for each other (did Duke discuss his theories about white racial superiority?), the conference illustrated a present and growing danger to the international community: Iran is on the path to becoming a nuclear power. Any promise to "remove" its neighbors from the map must be taken seriously. Ahmadinejad's rejection of the thousands of written and oral testimonies of Holocaust survivors, reams of scholarship, films, photographs, diaries and detailed Nazi archives has nothing to do with evidentiary standards and everything to do with playing to the extremists in his regional audience. To Ahmadinejad, attacking the legitimacy of the Holocaust allows him to attack the legitimacy of Israel, which was created by the United Nations as a result of the Holocaust. If the first act didn't happen, then the second act wasn't necessary.
But hey -- didn't Iran tell us last year that their nuke program was only designed to generate electrical power? And in that same post didn't someone inform us that the US has "far worse motives" for nuclear weapons than does Iran?
Katie Couric: "Considered one of the most charismatic leaders of the 20th century....[Fidel] Castro traveled the country cultivating his image and his revolution delivered. Campaigns stamped out illiteracy and even today, Cuba has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world."
Here's the New York Times on Pinochet vs. North Korea's Kim Il Sung:
"Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption, died yesterday at the Military Hospital of Santiago."
"Kim Il Sung, Enigmatic 'Great Leader' of North Korea for 5 Decades, Dies at 82."
"And, in recent years, there was the grandfatherly Kim Il Sung, the smiling leader seeking respect for his economically disabled nation, the man who three weeks ago embraced Jimmy Carter and used him as a conduit to President Clinton, who was not yet born when Mr. Kim was installed as North Korea's leader. It was that incarnation of Mr. Kim that led the former President to declare, with little hint of skepticism, that a 'miracle' had occurred. One of the world's most fearsome dictators actually sounded reasonable and eager to end his confrontation with the West.
"They were all images that Mr. Kim, the peasants' son who went on to become the longest-surviving Communist leader of the cold war, knew how to exploit brilliantly. When his death came early Friday morning, he had been staging a remarkable international comeback, a shadow from the old newsreels of the Korean War who thrust himself into the atomic glare of the 1990's."
Thankfully, the Washington Post came through with a balanced narrative when comparing Pinochet to Castro.
Be sure to check out Pat Fish's Kaitlyn Mae Book Blog. Pat's a resident of Georgetown, DE, and her blog has been around longer than just about any other Delawarean's.
The Wilmington News Journal rightly -- and obviously -- opines today against the complete moron that is the president of Iran:
What makes Iran's latest protests of sincerity so insulting is the low regard it holds for the civil world community. It asks that a conference questioning the legitimacy of the Nazi Holocaust it convened on Monday be taken seriously.
President Ahmadinejad has described the Holocaust as a "myth" and called for Israel to be wiped off the map.
The 67 participants from 30 countries were predominantly deniers of the World War II genocide of six million European Jews and millions of other minorities.
Holocaust denial. Is there anything more detestable?
Part of the Iraq Study Group's recommendations was that the United States should talk to Iran. I heard Gerry Fulcher on WDEL talk radio yesterday clamoring that "We talked to the Russians for years and years ... why don't we do the same with Iran, Syria and others?" First, how do you "talk" to a world leader who believes the worst atrocity of the 20th century never happened -- due mainly to his totally irrational hatred of Jews? If someone refuses to acknowledge something as concretely factual as the Holocaust, how is a reasoned discussion even possible with such a ... man?
Second, Fulcher's simplicity remains remarkable (especially since he routinely criticizes President Bush, among others, for his "simplicity"). Newsflash Ger: We talked with the Russians for years because they were our strategic and military equal. We couldn't make demands or threats to the old USSR (if something wasn't a direct obvious threat to us, unlike the Cuban Missile Crisis) since backing them up just might trigger something called "nuclear armageddon." Iran, Syria al Qaeda ... they're not even close to what the Soviet Union was. Sure, we can talk with them. But unlike with the USSR, we can make demands and threats to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ... and carry them out without threatening the planet's survival.
To a lesser degree, attempting to have a "discussion" with someone like Ahmadinejad is like attempting to "talk" to someone who virtually exclusively blames Israel for the lack of a meaningful peace in the Middle East. There are things about which to criticize the Jewish state, to be sure; however, anyone who is remotely sane will recognize that it is not Israel's dereliction for the virtual perpetual state of war in that region of the world. The facts are truly disturbing for those who continually castigate Israel, most recently (and infamously) former president Jimmy Carter. Again -- how does one have a discourse with another party ... when it is so devoid of common sense? So depleted of lucidity? So abandoned of rationality?
A continued enigma.
The Clinton administration -- tapping Princess Diana's phone conversations with an American businessman?? Without a warrant??
[The] Evening Standard reports that American intelligence agencies "were bugging Princess Diana's telephone over her relationship with a U.S. billionaire" — identified as American businessman Theodore Forstmann. That report suggests the surveillance took place over a period of some time. If that is accurate, then the story could be quite different.
Forstmann is what is known in the intelligence/legal world as a "U.S. person." If there were a conversation between him, in the United States, and Diana, outside the United States, it would resemble, at least in structure, the conversations between people in the United States and those in foreign countries that have been at the center of the controversy over what President Bush calls the terrorist-surveillance program and what Democrats call "domestic spying." (The difference, of course, would be that the Bush administration says it has listened to conversations involving people with known connections to a foreign enemy, al Qaeda; neither Diana nor Forstmann, a public-minded financier who was quite active in Republican politics, appears to fit a comparable description.)
Read the rest of Byron York's article to grasp how fully Democrats and Clinton apologists are complete hypocrites when it comes to the rationales for spying.
Chile's Augusto Pinochet has died, leaving behind a muddled legacy for the South American country. He came to power via a coup in 1973 with the assistance of the United States, deposing socialist Salvador Allende. He renounced power in 1990 and ironically ... a socialist is now president.
The Corner has had discussions today about how Pinochet's death will be covered -- as opposed to someone like Castro's, whose death certainly seems imminent. Of course, many conservatives believe Pinochet was a "beneficient dictator" ("our SOB") while goons like Castro are viewed by liberals similarly. But how will the media cover their deaths? The Corner's Tim Graham already notes the differences in the Washington Post: Pinochet is "scorned," while China's Deng Xiaoping was "mourned." The article title? "A Chilean Dictator's Darl Legacy." But Deng's headline was nothing so sinister. And unlike Pinochet's article, there was little to no mention of China's [prodigious] human rights abuses, but much about the liberalization of the Chinese economy.
Of course, Pinochet ceded power after 17 years and left Chile an economically thriving democracy. On the other hand, China, though it instituted many reforms, remains a communist authoritarian regime. And Fidel Castro remains head of state in Cuba -- since 1959 -- his country still a Marxist-Leninist basket case.
I'd like to think I've been consistent in my view that we were wrong to [actively] support the Pinochet coup, especially since Allende was democratically elected. (Evidence has surfaced over the years that communists were actively involved with Allende, -- especially Cubans since Allende was an admirer of Castro. But this doesn't change my overall view.) Being it was the height of the Cold War, concentrated CIA surveillance and intelligence (especially considering the KGB and Cuban DGI involvement) was prudent, and if Allende did indeed begin to impose totalitarian rule upon Chile then more active involvement could have been considered. But as it was, it seems to me we really betrayed our touted values of democracy and free elections.
But, I don't want to get into a protracted "what if" scenario. Just keep an eye on the MSM and watch how they report on Pinochet's demise. Rightist dictators certainly aren't "their SOBs"!
UPDATE: And then there's the New York Times courtesy of this report by Anthony Paletta:
The New York Times reports on American students attending Medical school in Cuba on Friday. Their education is free. Whatever. Some international students there are enthusiastic about their patrons:
“In my country many see Fidel Castro as a bad leader,” said Rolando Bonilla, 23, a Panamanian who is in his second year of the six-year program. “My view has changed. I now know what he represents for this country. I identify with him.”
Fátima Flores, 20, of Mexico sympathized with Mr. Castro’s government even before she was accepted for the program. “When we become doctors we can spread his influence,” she said. “Medicine is not just something scientific. It’s a way of serving the public. Look at Che.”
Chavistas everywhere! Most importantly, though, look to what the author has to say about Castro:
And some students cannot help responding to the sympathetic portrayal of Mr. Castro, whom the United States government tars as a dictator who suppresses his people.
Tars as? In contrast, what does the Times have to say about Pinochet today? “Pinochet, tarred as Dictator by leftists?” Of course not, he’s just:
Imagine Castro’s Obituary:
“Kindly Medical Benefactor Dies, Called Dictator by CIA”
Giuliani, McCain, Romney -- good luck in '08, guys! Dennis Kucinich is running for president again!!
Why? Because Nicolas Cage is going to take a break from acting.
Which is amazing in itself 'cause I don't think he's a particularly good actor in the first place. ('Though I did like him in "Valley Girl.")
Friday night's episode of "Battlestar Galactica," "Passage," was so "exciting" that I found myself flipping back and forth between it and a great indy movie I remembered from the 1980s, "The Brother From Another Planet." At this point in the series -- after the silliness of the occupation of New Caprica and especially the botched opportunity to destroy at least a substantial portion of the Cylon population -- why the hell do I care that hotshot pilot "Kat" Katraine was once a drug runner who may -- may -- have inadvertantly aided the humanoid Cylons in infiltrating the Twelve Colonies leading up to the human genocide? I mean, weren't we led to believe that it was Adama's fault for the Cylon genocidal attack because of his [failed] black ops mission?
So, sorry BSG writers -- the attempt at a human interest story about Kat proved completely futile. I was almost laughing out loud at Starbuck's moralizing to Kat about how "it's viewed as treason" to anyone who [may have] aided the robot killers. Oh, gee. Meanwhile, f***in' Helo is walking around all spit and polished and seemingly in everyone's good graces. Gosh, I mean all he did was put the kibosh on the opportunity of the war -- to wipe out the Cylons once and for all! So again ... why should I give a spit about poor Kat??
The season finale is next week. (At this point I have to say "Thank God.") There'll be a "stand-off" between the Cylons and the fleet when a potential key to finding Earth is discovered.
Anything to get us away from pointless and laughable personal insight yarns ...
NRO's Jay Nordlinger on Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's recent comments about the Constitution (my emphasis):
Acknowledging that critics had a point in saying [McCain-Feingold] violates free speech, Breyer said the limits were constitutional because [they] would make the electoral process more fair and democratic to the little guy who isn't tied to special interests. 'You don't want one person's speech, that $20 million giver, to drown out everybody else's. So if we want to give a chance to the people who have only $1 and not $20 million, maybe we have to do something to make that playing field a little more level in terms of money,' he said."
I see: So, he's interested in a level playing field? Well, the New York Times has a greater reach — much greater — than Human Events, and NPR has a much greater reach than, oh, Monica Crowley. (Besides which, NPR is taxpayer-funded.) Wanna level those playing fields, baby?
Finally, here is Breyer on Roe v. Wade: "The more the precedent has been around, the more people rely on it, the more secure it has to be."
And does the constitutional soundness of the precedent matter at all?
And I'd add: "The more the precedent has been around ..."?? Gee, what about Plessy v. Ferguson? That precedent was sure around longer than Roe.
There was a recent discussion/debate between Breyer and Justice Antonin Scalia of which I caught some excerpts. In my view, it's ... spooky how Breyer views the Constitution; just look at the brief examples above and some of the following. For example, Scalia said
"That is very easy to figure out. It's as easy as pie to figure out that the cruel and unusual punishments clause was not understood to prohibit the death penalty. That the due process clause was not understood to forbid laws against abortion."
And if people want to change things, Scalia said, they shouldn't look to the courts. "Use the legislature," Scalia said. "That's what we do in a democracy."
But, the article notes, "Breyer views the Constitution more expansively, believing justices should consider the purpose of the document and what the framers were trying to accomplish." "Under Breyer's living Constitution," another article says, "judges sometimes must be guided by more than the language of laws, if the words are ambiguous or embody a value that must be applied to specific circumstances."
This might be my favorite exchange:
Breyer says that if the only thing that matters is historical truths from the time of the Constitution, "we should have nine historians on the court." Scalia says, "It's not my burden to prove originalism is perfect. It's just my burden to prove it's better than anything else." He adds that a court of nine historians sounds better than a court of nine ethicists.
Check out what DNC Chair Howie Dean wants to do -- he wants Congress to use a little known (and used) clause in the Constitution to prevent a certified election winner from being seated in the next congress:
Republican Vern Buchanan might be the official winner in a messy Sarasota-area congressional race, but Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean says the Democratic-controlled Congress should not seat Buchanan without another election.
"Absolutely not," Dean said in a taped Political Connections interview scheduled to air Sunday on Bay News 9. "You cannot seat someone if you don't have an election that's valid."
On Wednesday, Democrat Christine Jennings said she will ask the U.S. House to take the extreme measure of conducting its own investigation into the election.
Though Jennings has filed a lawsuit asking for a revote, a little-known provision in the U.S. Constitution gives the House the final decision on who sits in its chamber.
I did some quick checking and I believe Jennings may be referring to Article I Section 5 which states (in part):
Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business ...
Which, y'know, is fine by me. 'Ya gotta do what 'ya gotta do. But consider the reaction of the Left when Republicans wanted to use a "little known proviso" in the Constitution -- in Article III specifically -- which limits the scope of judicial power. (Also see here and here -- the "Constitution Restoration Act of 2004.") Then, the New York Times called it "a radical assault on the Constitution" and the Atlanta Journal Constitution said it was "a power grab of breathtaking consequences."
Just sayin' ...
I was perusing the channels at around 9:30 Thursday evening when I came upon Joe Scarborough's show. Joe and a couple guests were discussing the latest dust-up between NBC's David Gregory and White House spokesman Tony Snow. Scraborough, being the usual even-handed person that he is, stated he saw nothing wrong with Gregory's question to Snow about the Iraq Study Group report -- to which Snow took exception, claiming Gregory framed the query in a "partisan" manner. I watched the clip, and I too saw nothing wrong -- or "partisan" -- with Gregory's question.
But MSNBC -- defending tough questions from a reporter to an administration official?? The same MSNBC (especially Keith Olbermann -- who pounced all over Fox News' Chris Wallace for "biased" questions to former president Bill Clinton a month or so ago? Hah!
I must say, though -- it's obvious that MSNBC is trying to become the liberal yin to Fox News Channel's conservative yang. Which is a shame for guys like Scarborough, who are very fair and open-minded. More and more on his show he seems like he winces at segments which take "cute" little potshots at FNC -- nitpicked portions of some of their competitions' programming. I've seen numerous segments like this on other MSNBC shows, notably Olbermann (virtually everyday) and Tucker Carlson's show, which is also surprising since he's supposed to be a conservative. Contrariwise, FNC hardly ever reciprocates from what I see. Which, actually, is wise since their ratings still clobber those of MSNBC. What FNC may do is nitpick media segments in general which may include an MSNBC bit. (FNC's "Fox & Friends" ripped David Gregory's questioning of Tony Snow the other day -- wrongly, in my opinion -- for example.)
The WNJ today has two editorials. The first, leading with the pronouncement that, "The way out of Iraq is not through the military," uses the ISG's plan to helpfully endorse defeat:
The Iraq Study Group may be credited most with ending the old debate about the win-ability of the war, and turning the United States toward dealing with the obvious facts on the ground.
Except focusing on the "obvious facts on the ground" without any clear belief in the rightness of the cause, in America's ability to win, and in the necessity of that victory is a recipe for surrender management. Of course a war can be won in ways other than by the use of the military. The North Vietnamese come to mind. The military is a our strong suit, the political win that of our enemies whose main arsenal includes relying on Western self-hate and our want of an attention span to secure our retreat. If we don't win with our military, we probably don't win at all.
Our need for a military win ties into the "win-ability" debate. It was never so much over whether we could win -- no one was suggesting the insurgents could militarily defeat America -- as it was about whether America was willing to do what was necessary to win. In declaring the "win-ability" debate over, the News Journal signals they believe that, no, America really doesn't have what it takes.
I don't know if that's true. If it is, it certainly wasn't always the case as the News Journal itself makes clear its second editorial:
Most Americans recall today is the anniversary of the bombing attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. It brought about our country's entry into World War II, the most deadly conflict ever fought. Millions of Americans fought, and hundreds of thousands died, not only to avenge Pearl Harbor but to free Europe and Asia of Nazi totalitarianism and Japanese imperialism.
Lost on the WNJ is the stark contrast between the boldness of the past-America they laud, and fecklessness of the counsel they offer America today. Two generations ago, we had the confidence to beat any enemy, were willing to pay any cost to secure victory. By contrast, on Pearl Harbor Day, 2006, our elites applaud what is, at best, an attempt to make defeat more palatable to the American public.
The voting process isn't yet set up; nevertheless, we picked up an endorsement from the excellent Publius Pundit blog!
We sincerely thank them, and, again, ask for your vote when the voting opens (sometime later this evening, according to the award homepage).
Ever wonder why Democrats always have a problem being seen as the party best suited to fight terrorism ... the "tough on crime" party if you will? Hell, even right up to the recent election Repubs polled even or just slightly behind Democrats -- even with the total chaos in Iraq and the president's approval numbers in the tank.
Case in point: James Taranto notes how a resolution was recently brought before the House of Representatives which condemned St. Denis, France for naming a street after the notorious Mumia Abu-Jamal -- killer of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner over 20 years ago. 31 reps. voted against the resolution -- all Democrats. Included in that bunch are nutjobs Cynthia McKinney, Maxine Waters, Charles Rangel and Fortney "Pete" Hillman Stark Jr.
Studies show that students exposed to greater racial and ethnic diversity in college exhibit enhanced intellectual skills. As a result, experts say improving curricula is critically important.
I, like Phi Beta Cons' Mark Bauerlein, have YET to discover one -- just one -- study which "proves" the point that ASU claims above. And believe me, I've looked (as has Hube). And I'm not talking about anecdotal studies or "research."
And here I always thought the Palestinian "humanitarian crisis" was their unwillingness to think of Jews as human.
U.N. aid groups are asking for a record $450 million to staunch a deepening Palestinian humanitarian crisis, saying Wednesday that international sanctions and Israel limits on Gaza exports have devastated the Palestinian economy.
Despite that gloomy assessment, a top minister in the Hamas-led government offered a rare upbeat economic picture Wednesday, saying increased aid from Arab countries had allowed the government to stay afloat. But independent economists and analysts said the government was still deep in crisis.
Sounds terrible. Why would the West ever impose such sanctions? Oh wait, now I remember: "Much of the economic damage stems from the international boycott that Israel and Western nations imposed on the Palestinian Authority after the militant Islamic Hamas won Parliamentary elections and took office in March." If a people freely elect a group whose self-proclaimed goal is genocide, who are we to judge? I mean, sure every other country on the planet is completely justified in frustrating American policy because we elected Bushitler, but we can't impose our Western values on others.
According to the U.N., 65 percent of Palestinians were living in poverty and 29 percent were unemployed. The Palestinian health care system was running out of medicine and on the verge of collapse, and nearly 50 percent of Palestinians did not have reliable access to food.
... Many had expected the international sanctions to force the government to moderate its views toward Israel. But nine months after taking power, Hamas refuses to accept international demands that it recognize Israel and renounce violence, and negotiations over the formation of a national unity government that could sidestep the sanctions have stalled.
Which speaks volumes of the PA's priorities: when it comes to Palestinian livelihood or Israeli deaths, Hamas is willing to sacrifice the former for the latter. Some might argue that this shows the government doesn't really represent Palestinian views, but I suspect if you asked the average Mohamed-on-the-street in Gaza, they'd be favor of more jihad. That's the mindset that has to be changed.
If the Palestinian electorate is on some level rational, then if it's made clear to them that supporting terrorists means starvation, they will be less likely to support terrorists. If they are irrational, then they need to be punished until their will to fight is broken. Either way, the only thing giving aid ensures is that Palestinians are insulated from the repercussions of their actions. This aid would simply subsidize the Palestinian war effort by preventing the hurt that's necessary to force a change in the behavior and the value system of the genocide-supporting population.
The actual voting polls have not been activated yet, but when they are be sure to vote "Colossus" if you dig our stuff (and we know you do, right? RIGHT?). We love Jeff and you probably do too -- but vote for us anyway!
Just imagine if a campus "socialist workers organization" or some other such "group" protested in between classes the American war in Iraq by laying an American flag on the street -- and then walking/jumping all over it. If I was there, I'd grin, shake my head, and merely walk away. Why? These buffoons were exercising their freedom of expression. I wouldn't like their expression (hence my walking away), but that's what, in part, makes America great -- the buffoons can trample on that flag all they wish to make their point. (The US Supreme Court has deemed burning the flag is protected speech, by the way.)
In addition, you can be sure that the college administrators at this campus would be squarely in these radicals' corner. "We must protect freedom of speech and expression, especially ideas which are repellant to most of us," they'd say. Any attempt to bring about any sort of disciplinary action would be met -- rightly -- by threats from the ACLU and who knows who else.
San Francisco State University would probably fit the above description pretty well. Except, however, that at SFSU the actual folks doing the flag stomping were college Republicans, and the flags on which they stomped were the flags of the terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah. The university's reaction in this case?
Preceding an ongoing investigation into SF State College Republican behavior, the Associated Students board unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the student group for purposely stomping on flags containing the Arabic symbol for God.
"Associated Students, Inc. deems the College Republicans' actions as contrary to university values and feel they should be held accountable by the university for their actions," the resolution says.
The Nov. 15 resolution comes on the heels of several student and student organization complaints at board meetings and the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development, or OSPLD, which has also sparked a separate investigation and assembly of a special panel to decide if the College Republicans did indeed violate the university's conduct rules.
The resolution cited a rule outlined in the university's Strategic Plan saying, "SFSU facilitates teaching, learning and work experiences among students, faculty and staff that promote equity and social justice within a respectful and safe environment."
Yes -- the College Republicans should "be held accountable for their actions" ... because, apparently, they did not behave in accordance with the [leftist] definition of "equity," "social justice" and "safe environment." (Of course, "equity" and "social justice" permit the burning of the American flag because, after all, where else but in the United States is there so little of these components?)
Perplexingly, the College Repubs' actions were met with anger at, of all places, an anti-terrorism rally. Wait -- scratch that. It is not perplexing. It's San Francisco. Hamas and Hebollah are not terrorist organizations. They're "freedom fighters" against the Zionist racists (Israel) and its chief supporter (the US). How silly of me. After all, these pieces of historical information are irrelevant, right?
The College Republicans said they will take legal action against the university if sanctions are imposed upon them, citing their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
Darn tootin'. Contact FIRE. Their track record is pretty damned good. But keep in mind it's 'Frisco. Most colleges are wary of groups like FIRE getting involved because it means negative press. Y'know, can't have being a complete hypocrite out in the media, right? But 'Frisco could probably care less about that. They most likely actually believe that there's no 1st Amendment hypocrisy involved in this matter. It's the same mode of thinking that has given us things like Critical Race Theory.
The Judeosphere has quite a bit more on this and other SFSU history.
According to David Bernstein (my emphasis):
State Department folk are undoubtedly scratching their heads over what to do about the looney anti-American leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. Here's a suggestion, only partly tongue-in-cheek: Chavez claims that his brand of populist socialism is superior to Yankee capitalism. Well, let the people vote with their feet. Venezuela has a population of approximately 25 million. How about letting any Venezuelan who can pass a basic English test and get ahold of, say, twenty thousand dollars, emigrate to the U.S.? As more and more productive Venezuelans move to the U.S., and Chavez ceases to benefit from the spike in oil prices (which can only work in the long term so long as oil prices climb), Venezuela will inevitably sink into economic straits of Chavez's model, Cuba, and become about as much of a strategic threat to the U.S. as Cuba currently is. And the U.S. will gain a few million productive and grateful citizens, happy to escape Venezuela before it becomes another Cuba. And wouldn't it be fun to watch Venezuelans line up for English classes for the chance to emigrate to The Great Imperalist Enemy?
Something to chew on.
Katie Couric in the middle of a story about spiritual films like "The Nativity Story":
"Do you worry at all that non-believers may feel excluded and diminished at a time when we're so divided about so much?"
Of course, if a conservative pundit lamented the amount of violence or sex in movies (or TV) today, liberals would speak of "artistic freedom" and state something like "if you don't like what's in the movie (or TV) don't go see it (or switch the channel)." These are sentiments with which I largely agree, by the way, but they amazingly seem to escape people like Couric when the great "evils" of religion and spirituality come up.
And don't you think the great successes of movies like "The Passion" and "The Chronicles of Narnia" just might indicate that people are craving spiritually-oriented movies ... over the usual swill of sex violence?
Two words adequately describe last night's episode of "Battlestar Galactica": It sucked.
There was a boxing tournament. Adama got the crap beat out of him, then made a much needed -- but way too late -- speech about "getting too chummy" with subordinates and all that. *Yawn* Oh, and Lee and Starbuck said "I missed you" to each other -- after they beat the living sh** out of the other. Makes sense, right?
This was probably what they dub a "money saver" episode since it took place virtually all on one set inside the Galactica. Y'know, minimal FX and all. Next week we'll see how the fleet deals with a food shortage. If the third season's track record holds true, we can probably expect Adama to OK the sharing of needed food with the humanoid Cylons. After all, can't have them starving too, right? It would "diminish" the human survivors' "humanity."
Once again, as Bruce Dickinson would say:
There's lots of coverage lately of the SCOTUS (US Supreme Court) hearing arguments from Louisville and Seattle schools defending their practice of using race to assign pupils to various schools ... for "proper diversity balance." Some, like the Chicago Sun Times' Mark Sherman, have attempted to link these cases to the historic Brown v. Board of Education which outlawed lawful school segregation. He writes:
A half century after the Supreme Court outlawed state-sponsored school segregation, five of nine justices indicated Monday that using students' race to promote diversity may run afoul of the Constitution.
But Brown had nothing to do with "diversity" and everything to do with eliminating color as a barrier to which school a student could attend. Amazingly (but, sadly, not surprisingly) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shows she doesn't get it:
''What's constitutionally required one day is constitutionally prohibited the next day? That's very odd,'' Ginsburg said, sentiments shared by her three liberal colleagues.
John Rosenberg, as usual, has plenty of enlightening analysis over at Discriminations.
UPDATE: La Shawn Barber chimes in, too.
The Jerusalem Post headlines, "US won't launch preemptive strike against Teheran." Or put another way, "Iran will develop nuclear weapons."
The senator then pounced on a member’s announcement that the club would hold its annual Christmas party at the state Department of Archives and History where members could view the original copy of the state’s Articles of Secession.
Biden asked, “Where else could I go to a Rotary Club where (for a) Christmas party the highlight is looking at the Articles?”
Biden was on a roll.
Delaware, he noted, was a “slave state that fought beside the North. That’s only because we couldn’t figure out how to get to the South. There were a couple of states in the way.”
'Cause, you know, Delawareans not only wear the stain of slavery but are also dumb as blue rocks, the latter explaining why the First State continues to re-elect Joe, and recently installed his under-qualified son as Attorney General. I think the reason Joe keeps reminding us about our slave past is to explain why the Bidens have been visited upon us: we're being punished.
Taranto asks, "Will this provoke a firestorm the way Trent Lott's comments did four years ago?" Given Joe's political affiliation and the fact that nothing came of it when he first started this routine over the summer, the answer is quite obviously, "No." I can't get too upset, though. There are so many nails in the coffin of Joe Biden's presidential (or Secretary of State) dreams that any more would just be redundant.
9/11 conspiracy "professor" Craig T. Furlong just can't stand it. He can't stand it that even a pathetic, small niche blog like Colossus calls him on his bullsh, er, um, nonsense. So, he continues to comment ... that we're all stupid for not accepting what he "knows."
I mean, who else would use the name "Uatu" on a major politics blog, and how many other political bloggers (like me) would actually know who the hell he's talking about -- without even reading the whole post?
Check out this bull-excrement (h/t to Wicked Thoughts):
The next time you're stacking a pastrami hero, better make sure McDonald's isn't watching - they're trying to claim rights on how to make a sandwich.
McDonald's filed a staggering 55-page patent application in Europe and the United States claiming "intellectual property rights" on how to slap together a deli sandwich.
The legal brief rambles on about the "simultaneous toasting of a bread component" and inserting condiments into the works with a "sandwich delivery tool." (Source.)
Thankfully (I think), Lawrence Smith-Higgins of the British Patent Office explains "McDonald's or anyone else cannot get retrospective exclusive rights to making a sandwich." You'd think McD's lawyers would realize this. But, to coin a cliché, stranger things have happened, eh?
If McD's somehow pulls this off, check what'll follow:
UPDATE (Dec. 5 at 6:53pm): Jeff the Baptist has done a "quick read" of the patent and says I'm (the sources are, actually) overreacting. He's probably right.
... because I only caught the last half hour of it last night. Why? This was on, and it featured the 1999 St. Louis Rams.
I get a lump in my throat every time I watch a story about that season!
Don't wanna say "Christmas Season" follies for fear of "offending" anybody. Ha ha.
Seriously, this time of year brings out the worst in people, both those that take "offense" at anything said or done that has a "Christmas" overtone, and those who make too much of a big deal when stores (or people) may opt to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Today's entry takes us to Warwick, N.Y. where Santa Claus raised the ire of one parent because the jolly old man is ... a "religious figure":
A Christmas-themed event to raise money at a public elementary school in Warwick, N.Y., has been altered to accommodate a parent's complaints that the program would illegally spotlight a "religious" figure - Santa Claus.
"Breakfast With Santa" has since been changed to "Winter Wonderland Breakfast," and -- in an effort to be inclusive of all beliefs -- the bearded one will now be joined at the Dec. 9 event by Frosty the Snowman.
Organizers made the changes after one parent charged that she and others in the community were offended that the Parent Teacher Association at the Sanfordville Elementary School was sponsoring a program geared toward one religion.
I'm always amused at how school officials will kowtow to the complaints of one parent, especially on a gripe as superficial as this. I bet that if this had been a fundraiser that featured a guy dressed as a big dreidel or something, the school would be designating it as an exercise in multiculturalism and tolerance. And, if someone complained about that, the school would tell them just this. And the school would be correct.
In the words of one Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?" This hypersensitivity detrius has gotta cease.
I've been fascinated by this "theory" since first encountering it in college (surprise!). Right Wing News has a blurb about it today:
Whites tend not to recognize that race has little meaning without reference to the power structures that have historically supported and are currently supporting white domination. Whites see whiteness as the norm, an absence of race. Along with whiteness come privileges that are invisible to whites. Instead of seeing privilege resulting from the historical domination of whites in this country as the source of our success, whites interpret any benefits we receive as reward for individual merit and hard work. In fact, the myth of the "American Dream" has imbued in white Americans a sense of entitlement. The myth tells us that so long as we work hard, we deserve to and will succeed unless obstacles are placed in our way. By the same token, whites consider racism and discrimination as evils committed by other individuals, not something that whites are responsible for as a group. Race discrimination is defined in Title VII disparate treatment theory as individual action resulting from a conscious intent to harm. This definition furthers the perpetrator's perspective by assigning guilt to one individual employer and alleviating most whites of responsibility for systemic means that reinforce racism and white privilege.
Not only does this ... theory automatically toss all white people into the "racist" pot (and hence, how is this not racism itself?), another thing it does (not mentioned here) is that it seeks to limit the First Amendment (my emphasis):
The inherent power imbalance in the legal system and in racial hegemony means that such racist speech by the racial majority member cannot be countered by "more speech" by the racial minority member, as is the usual recommendation in the case. The whole "I may not like what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, and counter it with my own free speech in vengeful disagreement" thing.
In other words, since whites are the majority in the country, their speech should be restricted when it comes to "hateful" (always a subjective nightmare, that) speech because minorities -- merely because of their status as minorities -- cannot legitimately overcome the majorities' "hurtful" speech. Got it?
And why do you think so many American campuses have instituted (or attempted to institute) their [in]famous speech codes? Well, because, CRT (Critical Race Theory) and the modern multicultural/diversity-philic university go hand in hand, natch! But thankfully, many of these moronic speech codes haven't fared well when challenged, but that sure hasn't stopped deans and radical professors from continued trying. For instance, a group dubbed the "Transnational Racial Justice Initiative" contends
"...there is a clear difference between free speech, which many nations value, and speech with the purpose of inciting violence against individuals or groups based on their race. Such 'hate speech' should not receive any legal protection as it does in the United States. The right to live free of violence and intimidation should certainly outweigh any 'right' to speech that threatens the safety of others and incites violence"
The problem with this view, as I'm sure you can figure out, is just what is "hate speech"? If someone says "Affirmative action sucks," do they get cuffed and fined? After all, a white person saying this "has more power" than any minority and hence is demonstrating his majoritarian institutional racism, right? And check out what Mari Matsuda, author of the book Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendment says:
"Too often victims of hate speech find themselves without the words to articulate what they see, feel, and know. In the absence of theory and analysis that give them a diagnosis and a name for the injury they have suffered, they internalize the injury done to them and are rendered silent in the face of continuing injury"
Isn't that cool? Without the Matsuda's of the academic world to give us this grand theory (CRT), the "victims" of "hate speech" just can't "grasp" what it is that has been "done" to them when someone may utter an idiotic epithet -- or even a challenge to a political hot-button issue. But they now have the CRT, and now they don't have to take it anymore! All that's required is a complete overhaul of First Amendment law and history, so that those "internalized injuries" no longer have to continue unabated!
Who? Just one of the most influential comicbook artists ever, that's who. Dave helped bring back a Marvel comics title from the brink of cancellation -- you might have heard of it. It's called "The X-Men."
Back in mid-70s, The X-Men was languishing in reprints -- until writer Len Wein and artist Dave came out with Giant-Size X-Men #1, and the rest, as they say, is history. Characters such as Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler (all featured prominently in the "X-Men" movies) became famous under Len and Dave (and a few issues later under the writing of Chris Claremont). Wolverine was already an invented character at the time of Giant-Size X-Men #1, but it wasn't until he joined the mutant team that his popularity soared. Storm and Nightcrawler, not to mention Colossus (no relation to us!) on the other hand, were created by Wein and Cockrum.
Unfortunately, Dave got no royalties from the "X-Men" movies. That's the way it was back in those days at Marvel (and DC). It was "work for hire," meaning that anything you created while working for the comics giants became their property. They were obligated to pay you nothing other than what you were contracted for. For instance, co-creator of Spiderman, Steve Ditko, didn't get paid any royalties from the Spidey movies (as far as I know, that is). This has since changed, as creators got miffed at the millions the cos. were making off of their creations. For instance, one of the featured villains in Spiderman 3 -- Venom -- was created by David Micheline, (below, right) and in a conversation I had with him years ago he informed me that he received "a very small fraction of a percent" royalty from anything Venom-related that was sold. The key, David says, is that the creation usually must be in a "feature" role. Thus, he says (in response to a recent e-mail from me) he probably won't get anything from "Spidey 3" since Venom is not a "feature" character -- this time out. But if he is in "Spidey 4," then David could be seeing some cash!
David, by the way, was also a writer of my favorite character, Iron Man, along with partner Bob Layton (who drew the "Micheline Iron Man" pic you see here). They are considered the Golden Avenger's premier creative team of all time. Ask any Iron Fan.
Douglas Fish of Bear is our third winner this week courtesy of the following diatribe:
Police surround and kill an unarmed ex-Marine. Where is the outcry? Police shoot and kill a mentally defective citizen in a park. Where is the outcry?
Police routinely close major transportation routes for hours for incidents. Why does the public put up with it, and why is that necessary?
Our police have reached the point where every notable incident must result in a major response when a few common-sense measures would resolve many issues. Are they not trained properly?
It appears that police are out of control. A final irritant is the claim they can't discuss what is "under investigation." They can't even tell us what the rules of investigation are.
Let's get some new leaders in charge of storm troopers.
"Where is the outcry"? Are you serious? This is all the News Journal covered in the days following those incidents. In actuality, potential police brutality incidents get a TON of "outcry" coverage, especially when guys like Al Sharpton get involved (see New York, recently). At least Doug has the sense to say "It appears" that police are out of control. Because they are not. It's just that when they make a mistake, injury or death can result and obviously that's is a big deal -- so it gets more news coverage. But what's out of control is Doug's hyperbole.
As for Doug's "final irritant," maybe he ought to read this News Journal op-ed from today. Can we say "turnabout is fair play"? Maybe that's a bit harsh. But calling police "storm troopers" definitely is harsh. And dopey.