is that you get to state the blindingly obvious.
28 February, 2009
Dr. Shermer is a very, very patient man. While I don’t think his “jew” question served him well, the rest of this is a stunning look at the obstinate, compartmentalized thinking it takes to be a young-earth creationist.
For someone in the movie business I don’t blog about movies much. Odd, that.
Today I’m recommending The Orphanage (El Orfanato) as not only one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen, but one of the best films, period. I rented it from Blockbuster to watch as part of a research project I have, and decided to pay the extra ten bucks to keep it. Here’s why:
It’s got one of the most amazingly solid scripts I’ve ever seen. Nothing is wasted. That means that every detail, even many that seem inconsequential at first, has a reason and a payoff. The characters are well-drawn. In fact, this is a character-driven piece, which is pretty amazing for a genre film. That’s great writing.
It is scary. I mean really scary. But it is not a slasher film, and there is practically no gore. This is more in the line of The Haunting or The Uninvited in that it’s a psychological game, not a visceral one. One of the most chilling scenes involves little more than a well-operated camera and clever blocking. If you’ve seen it, all I have to say is “Un, dos, tres. Toca la pared” (One, two, three. Knock on the wall) and I’ve given you chills. That’s great direction.
It’s moving. Days after watching it, just replaying the climactic scene of discovery in my head rips my guts out. What made the experience of watching it, even the second time, so engaging and satisfying is that I was completely emotionally involved with the characters. I was terrified, and I was in love. That’s great movie making.
The ending is an emotional rollercoaster that reliably makes me cry. Heck, I’m getting choked up just thinking about it now. And remember: this is a horror movie I’m talking about.
The director, J. A. Bayona, turns out to be a very young man who, previous to this, had only shot music videos. That would normally be a recipe for disaster, but his direction is restrained and mature. If this movie wasn’t a fluke, and I certainly hope it’s not, expect great things from this guy.
Another surprise, for me, was learning that Geraldine Chaplin speaks Spanish. She, like everybody else, is superbly cast in this film.
Gather your heart meds and a box of Kleenex and enjoy a great ghost story.
26 February, 2009
John Derbyshire with good thoughts to chew on: How Radio Wrecks the Right.
With reasons for gratitude duly noted, are there some downsides to conservative talk radio? Taking the conservative project as a whole—limited government, fiscal prudence, equality under law, personal liberty, patriotism, realism abroad—has talk radio helped or hurt? All those good things are plainly off the table for the next four years at least, a prospect that conservatives can only view with anguish. Did the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Savages, and Ingrahams lead us to this sorry state of affairs?
They surely did. At the very least, by yoking themselves to the clueless George W. Bush and his free-spending administration, they helped create the great debt bubble that has now burst so spectacularly. The big names, too, were all uncritical of the decade-long (at least) efforts to “build democracy” in no-account nations with politically primitive populations. Sean Hannity called the Iraq War a “massive success,” and in January 2008 deemed the U.S. economy “phenomenal.”
Derb has found some thoughts from Terry Teachout on the subject of the Middlebrow Moment.
If the technicalities of the latest “security” proposal from the paranoid jackboots at the TSA seem hard to follow, this should make it very clear.
This is not a big plane, and the idea that when it’s in private operation it should face the same security as a commercial airplane is laughable. Do we need to screen all five passengers that are traveling together from the same company? Should we not let them on with a knife just because they’re on a plane instead of anywhere else? Please. . . . This would put another dagger in the heart of general aviation, an industry that has already taken more than its share of pain this year.
A good take down here by Larry Herzberg.
The strongest objection relates to the fallacy of the man who was dealt a Royal Flush and said, since the odds are so great against being dealt this hand I must not have it.
If Earth, the universe, and the laws of physics seem fine-tuned for our existence it’s because we are a product of the earth, the universe and the laws of physics. Life does exist and, as a commenter above points out, winning the lottery is not a proof of the existence of any god.
Gosh, I sure hope the government does everything it can to lower the purchasing price of the dollar! It sure worked swell last time!
25 February, 2009
Are you ready for Mark Gormley?
You only think you’re ready for Mark Gormley.
24 February, 2009
Everything the media tried to pin on Sarah Palin, Jindal actually did: he promoted and signed a creationism bill (with help from the Discovery Institute), he took part in an amateur exorcism and claimed it cured a woman of cancer, and possibly worst of all, he pals around with people on the extreme edges of fundamentalist Christianity, and at least one person who has associated with outright neo-Nazis: Bobby Jindal’s Creationism and Alliance with David Barton.
Watch this video and ask yourself if you could vote for the guy. There has just got to be a Republican candidate out there who doesn’t believe in fairy tales. Where is he and/or she?
Repercussions from rule changes at Too Stupid for Arbys continue to roll in. They’ll cripple the utility of business jets (which are not, no matter what some gasbag congressman tells you, a luxury), and needlessly hinder even small aircraft. Note how this moron tries to spin it:
“There are just some folks who think their plane is like their car and they shouldn’t be bothered. The fact is, it is not our choice to determine whether these are all good people. It’s a security requirement. Like those on the commercial side who understand they have to go through security and have their bags checked whether it is carry-on or checked. We’re trying to make it as convenient as we possibly can.”
All because of a non-existent threat.
23 February, 2009
22 February, 2009
I’ve been agitating for years for the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment.
Severing senators from state legislatures, which could monitor and even instruct them, made them more susceptible to influence by nationally organized interest groups based in Washington. Many of those groups, who preferred one-stop shopping in Washington to currying favors in all the state capitals, campaigned for the 17th Amendment. So did urban political machines, which were then organizing an uninformed electorate swollen by immigrants. Alliances between such interests and senators led to a lengthening of the senators’ tenures.
The Framers gave the three political components of the federal government (the House, Senate and presidency) different electors (the people, the state legislatures and the electoral college as originally intended) to reinforce the principle of separation of powers, by which government is checked and balanced.
Would love to trash the Sixteenth as well, but one thing at a time.
21 February, 2009
I think that with this we can say that Stalinist-style posters have been fully co-opted and de-fanged.
16 February, 2009
But it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Saudi Arabia has just had its own St. Valentine’s Day Massacre — a bloodless one that brings hope of much-needed reform. On February 14, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah carried out a sweeping shake up of his cabinet and government. He replaced several of the government’s top Wahhabi ideologues with others thought to be more religiously tolerant, reform-minded, and with close working ties to the king.
Anything that puts fewer Wahhabi in charge of anything – or which just makes for fewer Wahhabi – is a good thing.
Obama is not a Marxist. Even though everything he said during the campaign and in his voting record was completely consistent with being one, Marxism is not what’s happening now.
Instead, it’s a different flavor of tyranny.
But that’s not socialism. Socialism rests on a firm theoretical bedrock: the abolition of private property. I haven’t heard anyone this side of Barney Frank calling for any such thing. What is happening now–and Newsweek is honest enough to say so down in the body of the article–is an expansion of the state’s role, an increase in public/private joint ventures and partnerships, and much more state regulation of business. Yes, it’s very “European,” and some of the Europeans even call it “social democracy,” but it isn’t.
It’s fascism. Nobody calls it by its proper name, for two basic reasons: first, because “fascism” has long since lost its actual, historical, content; it’s been a pure epithet for many decades. Lots of the people writing about current events like what Obama et. al. are doing, and wouldn’t want to stigmatize it with that “f” epithet.
Let’s see if the Messiah can make the planes run on time.
Update: (and bumped)
Ledeen has posted Part II: American Tyranny
The economics of the current expansion of state power in America are, as I said, “fascist,” but the politics are not. We are not witnessing “American Fascism on the march.” Fascism was a war ideology and grew out of the terrible slaughter of the First World War. Fascism hailed the men who fought and prevailed on the battlefield, and wrapped itself in the well-established rhetoric of European nationalism, which does not exist in America and never has. Our liberties are indeed threatened, but by a tyranny of a very different sort.
Most of us imagine the transformation of a free society to a tyrannical state in Hollywood terms, as a melodramatic act of violence like a military coup or an armed insurrection. Tocqueville knows better. He foresees a slow death of freedom. The power of the centralized government will gradually expand, meddling in every area of our lives until, like a lobster in a slowly heated pot, we are cooked without ever realizing what has happened. The ultimate horror of Tocqueville’s vision is that we will welcome it, and even convince ourselves that we control it.
There is no single dramatic event in Tocqueville’s scenario, no storming of the Bastille, no assault on the Winter Palace, no March on Rome, no Kristallnacht. We are to be immobilized, Gulliver-like, by myriad rules and regulations, annoying little restrictions that become more and more binding until they eventually paralyze us.
The dimwits at Too Stupid for Arby’s are trying to act on a rule pushed out the door by the lame-duck Bush administration which would screw up general aviation based on someone’s fevered imagination of something that might happen.
The AOPA has set up a Member Action Center to explain what’s wrong and link to ways to send feedback to the TSA.
Update (and bumped):
In Alaska the rule could paralyze the state and turn DC3′s into scrap metal.
A tidbit from today’s Patriot Post:
As friend of The Patriot, Matthew Spaulding, a Heritage Foundation scholar, reminds: “Although it was celebrated as early as 1778, and by the early 19th Century was second only to the Fourth of July as a patriotic holiday, Congress did not officially recognize Washington’s Birthday as a national holiday until 1870. The Monday Holiday Law in 1968 — applied to executive branch departments and agencies by Richard Nixon’s Executive Order 11582 in 1971 — moved the holiday from February 22 to the third Monday in February. Section 6103 of Title 5, United States Code, currently designates that legal federal holiday as ‘Washington’s Birthday.’ Contrary to popular opinion, no action by Congress or order by any President has changed ‘Washington’s Birthday’ to ‘Presidents’ Day’.”
Another myth busted, by George!
15 February, 2009
It’s so hard to find someone who doesn’t eventually disappoint. A decade or so ago I read some Ann Coulter books and found them well-researched, lively polemics. She was very careful about her facts. Maybe it was because she was writing about her area of specialty: Constitutional Law.
Now, sad to say, she’s gotten weird and sloppy. In her new book she spends three pages defending the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) as not being white-supremacist racists.
The CCC, Coulter opines, is “a conservative group” that has unfairly been branded as racist “because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group.” “There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation,” she says. “Apart from some aggressive reporting on black-on-white crimes — the very crimes that are aggressively hidden by the establishment media — there is little on the CCC website suggesting” that the group is racist. Indeed, its main failing is “containing members who had belonged to a segregationist group thirty years earlier.”
Coulter could hardly be more wrong. And even if she can’t find time to read beyond a page of the CCC’s website, she really ought to know — after all, the organization where she frequently speaks, the Conservative Political Action Committee, has publicly banned the CCC from its annual gathering because it is racist. Also in the late 1990s, Jim Nicholson, then-chairman of the Republican National Committee, asked GOP members to stay away from the CCC because of its “racist and nationalist views.”
No evidence? It took me all of about a minute on their web page to find several examples of racism. That’s not counting the ads for “White Pride” tee shirts.
I can already tell that eyebrows have been raised by my linking to the Southern Policy Law Center. Yes, I know they’re a bunch of left-wing liars. But this time they aren’t lying.
Let’s quote straight from the CCC’s statement of principles, the first of which is on very shaky First Amendment and historical grounds. Skipping that and heading straight to the racism:
(2) We believe the United States is a European country and that Americans are part of the European people. We believe that the United States derives from and is an integral part of European civilization and the European people and that the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character. We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime. We believe that illegal immigration must be stopped, if necessary by military force and placing troops on our national borders; that illegal aliens must be returned to their own countries; and that legal immigration must be severely restricted or halted through appropriate changes in our laws and policies. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called “affirmative action” and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.
(6) The traditional family is the basic unit of human society. We believe in the traditional family as the basic unit of human society and morality, and we oppose all efforts by the state and other powers to weaken the structure of the American family through toleration of sexual licentiousness, homosexuality and other perversions, mixture of the races, pornography in all forms, and subversion of the authority of parents.
(8) Cultural, national, and racial integrity. We support the cultural and national heritage of the United States and the race and civilization of which it is a part, as well as the expression and celebration of the legitimate subcultures and ethnic and regional identities of our people. We oppose all efforts to discredit, “debunk,” denigrate, ridicule, subvert, or express disrespect for that heritage. We believe public monuments and symbols should reflect the real heritage of our people, and not a politically convenient, inaccurate, insulting, or fictitious heritage.
Is it just me, or does the text in bold look just a tad racist?
First Ben Stein, now Ann Coulter. I used to respect Ron Paul until it turned out he was the crazy uncle of congress. I wrote in Alan Keyes for president back before he started getting a little looney. It’s not that I expect anybody to be perfect. But why do so many people I admire end up barking at the moon?
This is rich. A UC web site points out the obvious truth that there is no inherent dichotomy between evolution and religion and what does one idiot creationist teacher do?
Sue on the basis that the statement is unconstitutional, of course! Oh, and here’s that myth again:
The Web site, “Understanding Evolution,” is supported by government funds and violates the constitutional separation of church and state, according to the suit by Jeanne Caldwell.
Folks, go read the constitution. There is no such thing in it as the separation of church and state. It does, however prohibit congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise of one.
As John Derbyshire pointed out, the opposite of science is not religion. The opposite of science is wishful thinking. And in the face of the ever-growing mountains of evidence for evolution, fighting it is simply wishful thinking. One can no more deny it today than people could rationally deny the Round Earth Theory by the 1800′s.
Young-earth creationists are in pain at that. But if your religion can’t withstand the truth it ain’t much of a religion.
Yes, The Annointed One is going to improve America’s reputation in the rest of the world! He’ll start by prostrating himself, and us, while making His first press interview to our enemies, and then later insult our allies by insisting they take back a bust of Winston Churchill!
Back during the campaign a coworker pointedly informed me that because Obama had edited the Harvard Law Review (where he authored exactly zero articles) He was “fucking brilliant”.
Yeah, right. He’s an arrogant, incompetent little man, no matter how tall He is. “Jimmy Carter on speed.”
But don’t worry. It’s not like He will get us involved in racist, anti-semitic foreign conferences or anything.
14 February, 2009
As a teen, and into my twenties, I used a shortwave radio to listen to WWV and set my watch. To this day it bothers me to find a clock more than 5 seconds off. So imagine my excitement at learning that clocks may be coming which are so accurate that the time of day can depend on how high up the wall they’re mounted.
Mind-boggling as such effects are, they are apparently not detrimental to our well-being. For optical clocks, they could be. To tell the time consistently, all clocks need to be at a known height relative to Earth’s “geoid”, an imaginary surface that links points at which the gravitational field has the same strength. But the height of this geoid varies over time at any given place by up to 20 centimetres, because of effects such as tectonic movements, glacial melting and changes in ocean levels, and varying atmospheric pressure. Changes of that magnitude could wreak havoc with any attempt to establish a global time standard at an accuracy of 1 part in 1018 or better.
but these images are amazing any time of year.
(This post was empty before. Second time this weekend something weird has happened with WordPress. I hope that’s going to be fixed with the code change they’re talking about.)
Nice looking couple, huh?
He’s a real pillar of the community. Even picked up an award from CAIR.
Oh. Did I mention that he is under arrest for chopping his wife’s head off?
Funny. Neither did much of the press.
13 February, 2009
you aren’t paying f•••ing attention.
We need a constitutional ammendment requiring that all legislation in congress be read aloud, and that any member wishing to vote on said legislation must be in attendance, and awake, for the entire time. It should be read aloud by someone in opposition to the bill. That way it’ll get read accurately as long as one of the supporters is paying attention.
This is outrageous.
Or perhaps you’d rather be depressed than angry.