Sunday, July 31, 2005

Carnivale Jersiano

The Carnival of the NJ Bloggers (v. 11.0) is up and running over at Smadanek. Fun, informative, and good for your c'hi! Big ups to Ken for his creativity this week - fine work.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Movie Tag

As promised earlier, here are a few of my favorite flicks. (And no, that one's not on the list!) But first, a word on my judging criteria:

1/ First impressions - it's not a question of getting me hooked instantly; I will give a slow-starting film a fair chance. ("Batman Begins" is a good recent example.) But if I don't like the movie right off, chances are that it won't grow on me.

2/ Replay value - some movies don't repay closer scrutiny. If I wouldn't consider owning the DVD, or if it doesn't make me stop while I channel surf, you won't find it here.

3/ Mission accomplished - get where you want to go. I give more credit to a lowbrow comedy that makes me laugh than I give to a highbrow drama that bores me to tears. And if you're trying to overcome the limitations of the genre, DO IT. In movies, better a standup double than the last out at third. (But if you can make it to third, don't be lazy and jog into second.)

4/ Entertain me - duuuhhhh. But a movie's a movie. I don't mind learning Life's Lessons from a movie, but that can't be the point; it would be like serving empty clamshells for dinner to protest overfishing. Some guests won't care, and even those that do will care far more about going hungry to satisfy your ego. Even having to say it means too many clamshells at the movies.

Here are many of the flicks that make the cut, in no particular order:

Amadeus - might as well start with grown-up movies.
The Manchurian Candidate (original) - magnificent suspense.
Willy Wonka - enough so that I drop references in my posts.
Mary Poppins - great enough to overcome Dick Van Dyke's mangled-Cockney accent. I got the soundtrack on vinyl when I was nine, starting a lifelong addiction to film music.
The Incredibles - should have been Best Picture, 2004. Wasn't even nominated.
Spirited Away
Slap Shot/ Caddyshack - 1 and 1a in screwball movies (sports division). Believe it or not I've never seen "Bad News Bears", but I already know that the remake Never Happened.
Ben Hur/ The Ten Commandments - I read Exodus and still hear Charlton Heston's voice.
Dumbo - the nine twunda o' de univoise! Early Disney at its best.
Raising Arizona - a gem. The chase scene send-up is pure brilliance.
The Blues Brothers - perhaps the Coens had the end of this movie in mind for that chase scene? Great in any case. "I hate Illinois Nazis."
Holy Grail - much like Blues Brothers, didn't quite run through the tape full speed. That's sort of like complaining, after seven courses, that the cherry on your sundae has too long a stem.
Terminator 2 - stands out more than the original in my mind.
Goldfinger - all the Connery Bonds are good (even "Never Say Never Again" - you get to see Rowan Atkinson!), but this has the best villain, best henchman, and best exchange:
-- > "Do you expect me to talk?"
-- > "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die."
The Longest Day - the connection is Gert Froebe, whose accent was so thick that they overdubbed him when he played Auric Goldfinger - and did it so well that I saw the movie five times but never noticed it until I saw a "making of" feature.
The Bourne Identity - they don't make clever action thrillers like this too often.
Lord of the Rings - the third did win Best Picture, and it wasn't the best of the three.
A Man for All Seasons - Oscars in '66 for Paul Scofield and Best Picture. Quotable as all get out.
Airplane/ the Naked Gun - 1 and 1a in screwball comedies (standard division). When that guy slid into second and got mauled by the tiger, I totally lost it.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off - I think he's a righteous dude. Good enough to overcome its cast of 30-year old "teenagers." *

Mystery Science Theater 3000 - yes, they cut a movie. One of my favorites. If there's a TV tag you know what's top of the list...
Raiders of the Lost Ark - buckle me swashes, laddies! It's got it all: world-weary hero, comic relief, a great wingman, dastardly French dude, and Nazis. Come to think of it, that pretty much makes it a remake of this:
Casablanca - but with fewer special effects.
The first Star Wars trilogy - only Harrison Ford could be both Han and Indy.
Breakfast Club - the most realistic teenagers ever put on film. Caught Estevez, Ringwald, and Nelson at the absolute apex of their careers.

Yes, I know I left stuff out. In some cases I haven't seen them, in others you're already bored; and besides, there wasn't really the room to spare. I mean, it's a list of 31 films - one a night for a solid month. That'll keep you. If you want three more months, consult The Barking Spider, Joel of ChezJoel, and (bonus!) the Coalition of the Swilling.

* PS - finding out this gave me a queer turn (item #4). I'll be making Luke/Leia jokes for the next three weeks. "Do you have a kiss for Daddee?" Heheheheheh.

Three updates

First - thanks to all who asked about the PC. A few days before it arrived, there was other, more serious news to worry about, as my grandfather went in for surgery. I'm pleased to report that for the past ten days he's shown steady improvement: up and walking, no more post-op fever, sound heart and lungs.

Second - thanks to all who also checked out the sci-fi quiz. Not many noticed the alt-tags for the pix; I post them very infrequently and forgot to warn everyone that I like to sneak a little something extra for. (Consider it the world's cheapest Easter Egg.) The folks who put it together were pretty sharp. They also considered incomplete submissions - check out what you get when you turn in a blank quiz. (Hint - there was much rejoicing.)

Third - curse you, Muley! Now I have to come up with favorite movies. This will take a lot of time, but I'll be a good sport and get to it tonight. (The bright side is that I get to tag three people myself when I'm done. Tremble, ye mortals.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

May the Blog be with you

Came across one of the eventy-jillion Web quizzes, "What [blank] are you?" (In this case, what Sci-Fi character are you?) Though I hold but amphibious status in the TTLB rankings, my results in this quiz were somewhat more luminous:

When live in Jersey you do, look as good you will not!

Then again, he couldn't take the Emperor when the chips were down. Depressing. Most depressing. So I went back and swapped out the one answer I hemmed and hawed about, and I got this:

Hm, should we take the Falcon or the Enterprise for this mission?

So I'm stuck with the ears and the green blood, I guess. But gimme that lightsaber - there's no way I'm putting up with McCoy's crap any longer.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Winner of the non-contest

There were a few good nominees for the Name the Computer Non-Contest.

* Mr. Bingley: "maggot." I kind of liked, except for the thought of how to feed it. The only raw material on hand are the innards of the War Horse. It seemed rather cannibalistic.

* Another friend was in the lead with "Alphonse," a Fullmetal Alchemist in-joke. Like Al, the new PC is larger than its older brother. This was a working title while I pondered.

* Joel of ChezJoel had a great suggestion! He didn't want to steal my thunder, he said, so he never shared it, leaving me to guess. I'm afraid I'm not nearly clever enough to figure it out for sure, though I have a couple of thoughts.

* Stacy, who is Not a Desperate Housewife (really!), voted "none of the above." Must be a guy thing, she thought. Maybe it's just a me thing. (PS - link, sadly, not safe for work.)

As befits the NCNC, however, the winner didn't even enter. Come on down, Ms. Sister - the new PC is hereby christened Diptera.

Carnival gets Instatagged

We got linked! Mighty Instapundit has taken notice of the Carnival and sent some traffic to our humble state. For those who like their blogs on the Jersey side, get hep and follow through at the Bad Hair Blog.

Speaking of carnivals, this weekend several friends and I stopped by the Carnevale Italiano, held every year in North Brunswick. We went on fireworks Saturday and got a great show; it's impressive how the Grucci folks work. The show was well-paced, and showed off a variety of both sights and sounds: some rockets left no visible trail and blossomed in sudden reds and greens; others shrilled, leaving a glowing-white wake capped by brilliant color. There was an underlayer of roman candles surmounted by crackling red bursts, a series of strobe-light bright rockets that made us reach back for the sunglasses, and a finale with several concussive fireworks whose explosions were felt in the chest, as if channeled through a subwoofer.

I wish I could link you, but neither the Carnevale nor its sponsor, the Italian-American Social Club of North Brunswick, have a web presence. (The Grucci schedule didn't list the event either; this is quite odd. I will uncover more if I can.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Do you feel a draft?

Pittsburgh found the Golden Ticket and will have the first pick in next week's NHL Entry Draft.

The grand and glorious jackpot is prospect Sidney Crosby, whose impeccable hockey name is backed by some serious credentials.* He's nearly as strong a prospect as his new teammate and owner, Pittsburgh's previous first-overall pick, Mr. Mario Lemeiux; he even has his own fan site.** (Not bad for 17 years old, eh?)

The rumor back in '84 was that the Penguins tanked to finish last and grab Super Mario with the first pick - nor would you blame them. (In '83-'84 they finished 16-58-6.) But the possibility led both the NHL and NBA to have annual lotteries to determine the draft order of the non-playoff teams. Because of the late unpleasantness, every team had a shot at the brass ring this time around, even the "defending" champion, Tampa Bay. (That still doesn't look right in print.) Pittsburgh is in, and they need the help on and off the ice.

America's Hockey Team is in the middle of the pack, #15, one notch above where they grabbed up Petteri Nokelainen in '04. (Now that's a world-class hockey name.) The Rangers are #16. Heheheheheh.

* I got this link courtesy the invaluable Hockey Database. They also have a link to purchase vintage jerseys. I've been drooling for an old Isles roadie. I settled for the new PC.*** There's always Christmas...

** Click with caution. Believe it or not, Sid's been inspiring fan fiction. Most of it is dreadful. All of it is creepy beyond compare. I mean, I'm a goalie and a writer - I could quite easily pen some half-baked trash about stoning Crosby on a penalty shot to win Olympic gold for the USA against Canada, but it would be A/ spectacularly unrealistic and B/ disrespectful to a great talent and a great game.

You may think I'm being a little harsh on the webmistress of the Crosby site (a girl with a fan crush on a hot young athlete, what were the odds?), and you'd be right. If she must indulge, I must give one bit of well-meant advice. Miss, if you say "for the love of God in Heaven, please make sure you USE the spell + grammar check," and threaten to edit other people's work accordingly, you must not give us such grammatical howlers as demonstrated here.

*** A separate post will follow with the official name of the new rig. Who guessed right? The suspense is terrible - I hope it will last...

The world's first Friendly Fisk

Lileks...James Lileks.

The man is his own Q - he pulls out
an ordinary-looking Bleat that starts with the late James Doohan; he finishes with artwork from the adorable Gnat. (It's not just you, the watercolor is wonderful.)

But in a tight place, he flicks out a little link and there's
Screedness to the rescue.

This week’s Entertainment Weekly has an article on Richard Linklater, who has made a remake of “the subversive baseball classic,” “The Bad News Bears.” Yes, the subversive classic. I like some of Linklater’s stuff – “School of Rock” is just a great fun movie – but I get tired of ideas like these: “The director, 44, sees his younger self in the movie’s junior badasses, underdogs, and latchkey kids, and wanted to make the rare studio movie that celebrates losers.”

Personally, I think that for EW, "subversive" and "classic" is a redundancy. It's part of the larger trend to regard controversy as inherently virtuous: edgy, irreverent, and unorthodox are tossed around as terms of praise rather than descriptives. Besides all this... rare movie that celebrates losers? This is a REMAKE of a movie that celebrates losers. By my count it's the third such remake in the past four months, counting "Dukes of Hazzard" and "the Longest Yard".

Ever since Brando, all you have to do is say “he’s a rebel” and people nod approvingly. Ah, the rebel. We need those! But a rebel against what? Yes, I know: whaddya got, the stupidest answer in the history of movies. Well, we have rule of law, food inspection, penicillin, and building codes. Okay, if that’s all you got, I’m rebellin’ against that. What if the kids rebel against rebellion? Or loserhood?

'Cuz that's what all the cool kids are rebelling against.

He goes on. The thread has that consistent theme - many of our cultural bellweathers have been steadily working to coarsen, to outrage, and to scandalize. And why not? Popular culture is lazy. It settles. Actual accomplishment, on the other hand, requires effort. It's work to come up with a good idea and see it through. It's hard to come up with a persuasive argument that makes sense. And of course, the rewards are not always apparent - the idea may be slow to find an audience, and the argument may not convince until reinforced years later. It's quicker to grab attention with bawd and spectacle, or to lob insults.

Well, who are you to be better than everyone else? Who are you to say that word is bad? Lighten up, pops. And so on.

The self-contradiction of the italicized sentiment is so startling that it's easy to overlook. The very same short-sighted keepin' in realists who resent you for "being better than everyone else" are, in fact, responsible for it - you are above them only because they are purposely lowering themselves. And they resent the reminder of what they would be if they could be bothered to make even a minimal effort.

Unfortunately, the wholesome desire to better oneself in manners, education, and virtue usually takes up a lot of time in practice, leaving the field of professional entertainment to those whose schedules tend to be less cluttered.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Good news from FLA

You'll recall that I'd mentioned a possible guest column. It turns out that I don't have to run that post because the man himself has returned. While you read you can try to guess which items I had been planning to run under the Spider's byline.

But of course the best news from FLA has to do with family. I learned over the weekend that my grandfather had been admitted for some surgery after a routine checkup showed growths. The doctors feared that he would have to lose a kidney, besides the possibility of the actual growths being cancerous.

It's too soon to tell on the biopsies, but it turns out that Grandpa came through it wonderfully. He only lost a bit of the kidney, and was so improved that he left ICU today, three days sooner than planned. Mom reports that he was well enough to flirt with nurses Monday night; the doctors say that it looks like the growth was benign based on what they saw during the procedure. Updates to come.

On top of all this, the PC Stork is en route to the Hive, so this may be the last post I need to file remotely. I should get a card for the librarians. In the meantime, I need to cook up a too-clever-by-half name for my new pride and joy. (Perhaps I should wait until it actually gives me some pride and joy?)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Acting all corporationally

In the Bleat today, James Lileks had occasion to do some Googling about the founders of Sears, Roebuck, and Company.

Since I don't work with Paul Harvey, it was up to me to get the rest of the story, so I followed his link and checked out the other founders of Sears, and
learned about an extraordinary man:

After World War I, Sears was in dire financial shape and Rosenwald brought Sears back from the brink of bankruptcy by pledging some $21 million of his personal fortune, in cash, stock and other assets to rescue the company.
And what did Julius Rosenwald do after helping to save the livelihood of all of the employees?

After Rosenwald stepped down as Sears president in 1924, he devoted most of his time to philanthropy. Over the course of his life, he donated millions of dollars to public schools, colleges and universities, museums, Jewish charities and black institutions. Of all his philanthropic efforts, Rosenwald was most famous for the more than 5,000 "Rosenwald schools" he established throughout the South for poor, rural black youth, and the 4,000 libraries he added to existing schools. The network of new public schools subsequently employed more than 14,000 teachers.

And he just kept going. The Foundation he formed was designed to exhaust its funding, and paid off the last of its assets in 1948. The company itself, as of last year, employed 247,000. Even if Mr. Rosenwald had done nothing else, those quarter-million people owe him.

Contrast that with, say, Live 8. The big thing about Live 8 was to get the First World to forgive the debt of the Third World - by raising awareness, but not by actually allowing anyone to
raise actual money. (Bob Geldof went from "So let's start giving" to "Don't give me that do goody-good bs.") The connection from Pink Floyd performing live to Robert Mugabe is unclear, although I can think of a connection from Mugabe to Rosenwald - the first gorged himself on stolen riches from his own people, and the second poured out his fortune to enrich others. The solution to Africa's problems is raise up more Rosenwalds and fewer Mugabes.

(Musically, Live 8 was somewhat of a dud as well. Floyd looked old - not aged, but old, stale, a museum piece. In one sense, however, they were a leg up on the Who, in that Floyd's bassist and drummer aren't dead. Watching Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend, I had the thought that surely, they knew how to get in touch with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and play a bunch of arenas - the Whootles World Tour! I'm totally getting a t-shirt, man...)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Here, there, and everywhere

Mmmm.... half-day off....

Suzette of
Cripes, Suzette! was almost right. She sent me an email suggesting that my library sessions would be smoother if I gave the gift of crullers to the librarians. It turns out people like crullers, but regretfully decline them because of the unholy trinity of carbs, sugar, and fat. That leaves me with a half-dozen slowly-ossifying crullers and a cup of joe I can't drink while I'm in the library.

But ah, the wonders of the web!

ITEM - like roaches slowly crawling back into the room, the "blame the West" crowd comes out to say "
we were asking for it." Mr. Adams is particularly fun there, claiming in his national news column that all the stuff he's talking about won't be reported. It makes one wonder why he bothered, except that it was an opportunity to whack the anglo piƱata.

At Tim Blair's place, someone called 'cuckoo' drew a great parallel:

My lefty friends, peace be upon them, all talk about terrorists the way primitives talk about their gods... If you do something to offend the Terror God, he will blow up your skyscrapers and undergrounds, and even though you don’t know what your tribe did to offend him, be sure of one thing: it was your tribe’s fault.
That's the idea - terrorism is inscrutable and implacable, and you must listen to me, the shaman, to quell his anger. This probably involves human sacrifice, and as shaman, I already serve him, so let's get to volunteering, chaps! What Mr. Adams and his fellow geniuses fail to grasp is that in all such cultures, one has to keep sacrificing fresh victims, and it does nothing to address the real problem - your sacrifices are meant to tell the Terror God that your tribe belongs to him.

Some people are quite sick of this. I'm more inclined to believe Hammorabi, blogging from the first row, aisle seat, than I am to believe Mr. Adams' dispatches from the bar of the lobby.

update, 7:45 pm - 'cuckoo' strikes again:
Every time [Australian PM] Howard fronts the ABC/SBS, some punk-ass kid is demanding he “rule out” something or other. Why don’t they front a few imams for a change and demand they “rule out” one of their congregation turning into a human grenade?

Someone get that man (?) a blog!...

ITEM - Pop-up ads are a pain in the patoot, but there's something that tickles me about loading up a Sports Illustrated page and seeing nothing but ads for ESPN's Espy Awards show. Even more ticklish is the magazine apparently giving out spoilers for their own broadcast by saying that certain people have already won awards.

ITEM - I said it before, and I'll say it again: Joel, thanks for using the word "debarked." True wordsmithing is a joy. And while I'm at it, thanks for the kind words about Crappy New Jersey™. Check out the other posts, too, folks, as Joel has been posting frequently of late.

ITEM - a friend shared with me that she'd stopped reading for a while. I thought it was lack of new content, but she said that she felt I was just griping too much.

Me, gripe? Well, yeah, I guess. About the Met bullpen. About frustrations and daily miniature annoyances. About tinpot busybodies and terror apologists. The world is gripeable. I think this is just poor choice of subject matter on my part. I'm not genius enough for glowing essays on how lucky I am. But if I don't say so enough, I am, indeed very grateful for my life. I have great friends and a wonderful family. I spent two hours on the phone with my brother just yesterday, gabbing about everything. (He's doing well - just got a raise at work - thanks for asking.) If I complain, it's not from thinking that the world owes me better, but from frustration that some people have it worse, and they ought not to.

ITEM - progress on the PC front... Dell will be shipping in a week, or so they say. I ought to have my own rig by the 25th. Or so they say. It's odd, but while I was saving, and figuring out what I wanted, and how much I was willing to spend for it, I was fine. But now I've actually spent the money and can do nothing but wait - and it's getting to me. Part of my mind can't help thinking, I cut them a check, they should hand me a box. I have to remind myself that it's not so bad - I can't work on my writing but I can still read, surf the web, and occasionally read my email.

ITEM - I've been lucky to be included in the Jersey Carnival of Blogs (see the button at the bottom of my right-side bar). Last week's cleverly-constructed roundup is here; next week, Sluggo forgoes his nap to host. The full schedule is here. [PS - you guys misspelled my name. =)]

More later, including the first-ever guest column in Hive history...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hoo-Rah, Iraqi style

Some info, via Tim Blair, about the men who rescued Douglas Wood after 47 days of captivity.

What's Arabic for Semper Fi?

Game On!

After a week's worth of miserable news and grouchy posts it's nice to be able to say this: Hockey's back, baby. My unscientific guess is 93 days to opening face-off (That would be Oct. 14th.) Praise the Lord and pass the puck!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fiddling while Europe burns

updated 7/12, about 1:30 - it turns out that one of the links I used below was to a message board, not a translated article as I thought. The comments began to fill in, and some were simply unincludable, so I nixed the link. Suffice it to say that Norwegians are definitely not rolling in the aisles, immigrant or native.

Mr. Bingley has a question, sadly rhetorical, about what really matters to the EU. [PS - nice sidebar on the page right next to the headline, eh?] His post is here (and trackback here, if it works).

Given how things are working out in some places in Europe, that reduction in noise pollution may just be the silence of the tomb. (Remind me again, Mr. Steyn, about the fertility rates of post-Christian Europe?) Whoever remains may add to the "solution" by avoiding marauding immigrant gangs (not just a European problem, BTW), waiting politely for the fate of those who speak out.

Not that this story seems any better. Norwegians are just rolling in the aisles, aren't they? Good on you for becoming as shallow as the infidels, I guess, but I pray God spares you any familiarity with the treatment of those who fail to live up to the strictest standards of comportment. The indigenous folks might talk, but it's your own family members who may actually decide to do something - and you are one of seven children (and thus we come full circle). Keep your doors locked.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The will to fight

Bear with me, folks - I have a few disparate things to pull together in a short space.

The proximate cause is yesterday's terror bombing of London. National Review's Victor David Hanson
wrote a fine piece on it for today's online content, and he noted something that needs greater airing:
It is not that we don't believe in Western values as much as we don't even know what they are anymore. The London bombings were only a reification of what goes on daily with impunity blocks away in the mosques and Islamist schools of London.
His point? Everyone understood the difference between Nazis and Germans, but we seem unwilling to do so with suicidists and Moslems. We shrink back from honest appraisals because we feel that others will mistake us; but the stakes are too high to worry about that right now.

While I was mulling that I thought about a debate I'd had, off and on, with moral relativism, the thought that truth is wholly subjective. (A lot of it
is here, and here again.) As one friend described it, there are many ways up the mountain. He himself is no relativist, but I was forced to ask myself a question in reply to what he said: are a multitude of paths merely a better way to get lost on one? Is it not much more probable that, given more paths, that one might find oneself heading down the mountain, while fooling oneself with the thought that you're still pretty high up? We may have six trails to choose from, but some may well be far harder than others.

That's when my mind seized on the strange parallel - we are, by and large as a culture, grown quite unwilling to distinguish good from evil, both for enemies without and within, in both physical and spiritual war.

I suppose it's much to do with wanting friends, and avoiding unpleasant confrontations. These are valuable impulses, but like any mere impulse, it needs balancing with other impulses. The impulse to just get along is so ascendant that the equally-valuable survival instinct, the one that makes us fight for our lives, is dulled. If that's all, then there's hope - we can always be roused, can be shaken out of our stupor.

But some people claim to have moved beyond all that - it's "judgmental" to say that something is better, or preferable, or more desirable. In fact, some go so far as to say that not only are some things not better than others, they aren't really different at all. Just like with Nazis and Germans, there is a distinction that is not being grasped here - the monumental difference between sin and sinner.

This sort of confusion has led Derbyshire to
fear that we haven't the stomach for the current outer fight against terrorists. I hope he's wrong; at least, I hope that, having lost it, we can find the stomach again. But there's no doubt that we've been spoiled by our current material state. Our grandfathers fought, grim-handed and uncompromising, against tyrants and conquerors - but they weren't the only ones. Those left behind suffered rationing and rolling blackouts. Millions worked the factories and fields. And all of this followed the long economic hardships of the Depression. Basically, those 16 years of their lives sucked out loud. They came out of it and built a prosperity unmatched in human history; the rest of us, born into the world they died for, show no taste for a similar struggle to preserve it.

"Stomach" and "taste" are really the perfect words for it - instinct words. The elites, in essence, are turning up their over-refined noses at such common, visceral notions. They show the same scorn towards anything concrete: evil in the world or evil in the human heart. They seem to think that simply being sad and sympathetic will save one's soul, as well as the world at large.

The saints tell of another way - a Christ who didn't excuse, but died to show both justice and mercy; soldiers from His lands who fight to liberate, not conquer; leaders who call on His name, who send aid to any suffering land, and succor any suffering people. Perfect? Hells no, but much worth fighting for, much as He himself died for us while we were yet sinners. It is no coincidence at all that a society "moving beyond" His teachings finds itself suddenly reluctant to act on them. That they claim to do so out of love and compassion is bitterly ironic.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Here are our choices

Great Britain - f*** yeah!
In the face of the terrible cruelty of saboteurs who prey on the innocent, all replies boil down to two options:

1. We can obey elite opinion and execute (in every sense of the word) an elegant belly-up;

2. We can shout defiance.

Up with Number Two, thanks very much. More Wellington, and less of this clueless git, that's what's wanted now. ("Random violence"? Dipwad.) Click this link and you will see a staggering amount of f-bombs, but for this extraordinary occasion, I make no apologies. In fact, add your own choice words. This is no time for a simpering head-tilt.

I wonder, does her sympathy extend to those killed in London today? Or Madrid in March, 2004? Or everyone kidnapped and beheaded in between? As my Dad used to say, "I know you're sorry - now apologize."

(w/t to Muley for the flag! Also, please check for more reax at the heavy hitters, especially Michelle Malkin and Powerline; and from Not a Desperate Housewife, whose Union Jack waves. And may she ever. Nice touch, Stacy.)

Liberty is still worth it

updated, 1:15 pm - welcome to those who've come over from Muley's World and the Coalition of the Swilling. Mr. Bingley has run into some of the predictable nitwittery in reply to this monstrous deed. His summation is perfect: "It really is beyond words, except for these: He's on the other side."

Tim Blair is gathering coverage of the attack, as well as the reactions.

updated again, 5:27 pm - I wonder if these bastards had anything to do with this. (w/t to the Corner)

New York, Paris, Madrid, and Moscow can now officially be glad not to be hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics. London has been bombed; so far fatalities are estimated anywhere from two to forty, and the injury list is 300 and climbing.

It's a slam dunk that this attack was planned well in advance. It was large-scale and high-profile. It also fits the pattern of all of these operations: it isn't aimed at the military capability of the West, but its morale. The terrorists aren't trying to win the war, they're trying to get the West to quit, and especially in the light of a significant segment of the West already disfavoring the war effort.

Really, they've been doing this for as long as I can remember. We think the war started on September 11, 2001, but that's just when we realized it. The war started long before, at least as far back as Iran seizing American hostages during the Carter administration. Then there was the Marine barracks in Beruit in 1983, various hijackings of airplanes and ocean liners, the World Trade Center in 1993, Khobar Towers, and the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. These are people with even longer memories than this, still yammering about jihad and the Crusades and losing Andalucia back to the Spanish the year Columbus sailed for the New World.

I heard about this on the radio this morning. The substitute morning guy on 101.5-FM was asking people if, after hearing this, they felt safer than they did a year ago.

Absolutely the wrong question. This isn't really about safety, it's about liberty. (The British didn't oppose Hitler because they thought the Blitz would be safer.) The question is, are we going to remain a free people, or are we going to sit back and wait until much of the West is subsumed in a new caliphate? From fear, will we allow tyranny to thrive?

I don't have the stomach, this close to the event, to wander around the usual sites to hear about Chimpy Bushitler and His Halliburton Oil Mongers, but I will make an observation - such rantings are relics of the past 25 years, as outlined above. Some people are used to appearances over substance: they care how our actions make us look, rather than the action itself. The recent kvetching about the Quran at Guatanamo Bay and Dick Durban's inanities really highlighted it for me, as a sitting senator called his own government's soldiers a pack of Nazis. (It wasn't quite as bad a a sitting senator campaigning for president on a 20-year record of doing much the same, but still...) Neither of these worthies notice that Gitmo is the freest square milage on the entire island of Cuba. Five hundred yards from its borders you can be thrown in jail for such crimes as starting a library or wanting to stand in a free election.

It's really not complicated. The West holds that liberty is paramount. It is a powerful good in itself, and leads to the possibility of the maximum human progress and happiness. If you happen to aspire to holding men in harness to your own desires, this idea is intimidating - you don't want your own people to suspect that there's better out there for them - and you will be the enemy of anyone, anywhere, that holds that idea. And anyone with a true friend knows that sometimes, having that friend causes trouble. In school one is bullied for liking an unpopular kid; at work one is snubbed for keeping the wrong company. Throughout history, prophets are killed for speaking God's will, and champions of the oppressed share their suffering, and patriots die in war. Standing with the lowly and trying to raise them gets one jailed, beaten, and assassinated. And so loving the world to send One's only Son gets the Son tortured and killed by those He came to save.

Yet He came. He didn't cut and run, either, when it came to the point. For the West to cut and run in the face of the current atrocity is to dishonor those who were killed; it is as much as to say that we hope their lives will buy us a nicer brand of slavery, that their blood is an acceptable price for our security. I'm glad to see that our leaders want no part of such a shameful bargain.

Again, I know that some people say that our own soldiers are victims, much like those in the Twin Towers or the London Underground stations. Such a statement is high fatuity. Mere death doesn't make one a victim. Some will be killed in action, but they know this going in, and any soldier I've ever known or heard of would rather it not be his comrades or his loved ones instead. Contrast this to the suicidists who carry out attacks for our enemies, and you'll see the difference. Soldiers are sent to fight, not to die. They do it for the freedom of others, and not for the wholly selfish motive of eternal nookie in the sky. The jihadist has the same failing as his enablers in the media - his bravery is appearance over substance; since he considers his life to be someone else's property, it's easy for him to be careless with it. He literally has nothing to fight for since he isn't free to begin with. It's the fanaticism of the doomed.

That's how I know, ultimately, that the West is in the right here. If successful, even our enemies will profit; they will no longer be slaves and subjects, but free people. We must not waver where we stand, even if we aren't standing on the front line.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Food, tunes, and bloggers

You know you're in for a good time when the invitation reads, in so many words, "Live from the bassist's backyard." And indeed I had that good a time, hanging out and listening to the Anderson Council bounce along. (You can get a third-party testimonial about the band right here.) And to continue the audiatory good times, I was rocking this CD all day at work today. God bless America, and let freedom ring! (SOUND WARNING for that link!)

As befits July 4th weekend, I hung together rather than separately, with excellent companions: Joel of ChezJoel, who live-blogged the bbq/concert, and Dawn Eden, who patrolled with camera. The conversations were suitably wide-ranging, when we weren't chowing down on burgers and "Happy Mouth." (I'll save you a trip to Google - Happy Mouth is a dessert: flour-based and sesame-seed coated, not that sweet, served in crunchy, bite-sized hunks. In fact, "happy mouth, dessert" returns Joel's page as number three!)

Pictures are under development - of the band, not the dessert. (If you really like, go to the Hong Kong Supermarket on Route 18 in East Brunswick and buy a tin. You won't be sorry.) In the meantime, I'm scouting deals for the new PC, and if anyone spies anything I ought to see, please let me know via the comments - I want to quit mooching off friends and kindly librarians as soon as I can.