Click a little to help Alphonso Monkey deal with TEMPTATION and the dilemma of post-Kantian ethics. (Okay, it's not really post-Kantian. I just heard Steven Hayward say that on the Northern Alliance Radio Network yesterday.)
Regarding the calls for the "ree-cooos-al" of Jamie Gorelick, 911 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey, said, "People ought to stay out of our business."
I actually heard the tape of Kean's comments on some right wing shock jock's show. I'm wondering if I'm the only one who noted the hint of Elmer Fudd in his timbre and diction. I know a lot of folks have been calling Kean an elitist, but I find it hard to hear snootiness in the tone of a guy who wants the rest of us to be vewy vewy qwi-yet...
I remember once when Lileks was on the radio he was asked to give some background on what blogs are. He began by detailing the early days. Back when they were still called weblogs and before people started taking advantage of these new-fangled hyperlinks, news and politics were fairly removed from these online diaries. He admitted that these blogs were typically very introspective and often less than interesting. As an example of a post representative of the times, Lileks offered:
Ate ramen noodles.
Went back to bed.
I've always remembered that paradigm. I'm tempted every now and again to post something very much like it. My entry today is equally as engaging by modern affecting-the-news-cycle blog standards, and perhaps even more accurately described as navel-gazing. Only these days my navel ain't as deep.
Yep, I'm shamelessly congratulating myself with a "hey, lookit me!" post
Here is the Chicago Tribune's story about Air America's troubles in L.A. and Chicago. It doesn't add much of anything to Drudge's report from yesterday. The president of Multicultural Radio, owner of the L.A. and Chicago stations, says Air America owes him more than $1 million. Air America says Multicultural Radio acted "disgracefully" by pulling the plug so abruptly. As if defaulting on a seven-figure payment isn't disgraceful in its own right.
Today is "Buy A Gun Day". I join the hundred or so other bloggers participating in this stunt and encourage all of you to buy at least one gun today.* I'd like to buy a new shotgun myself, but, alas, our hefty refund is paying for a new couch and chair for our living room, which I suppose can be used for cover.
Thank you, mortgage interest deduction! And thank you, Bush tax cut!
*Laws in your state may vary.
As an added bonus, the guy who posted this corrected wire story was clearly drunk at the time: Heavy Social Drinkers Show Brain Damage: U.S. Study. I had something else to say about this piece, but I had to refill my glass and forgot...
Was that punchline too obvious? Must be the booze...
Funny, it just so happens that I'm in the market for a new rail gun and mechaskin robotic armor. Who knew they were just a click or two away?
(Hat tip: The Corner.)
Can we please have a hiatus from terms like "un-American", "anti-American", "treason", "traitor", "unpatriotic", as well as the positive(-ish) terms like "patriot", "patriotic", etc. Let's face it, Ann Coulter ruined the language for all of us. Most of these terms are thrown around so lightly as to be worse than meaningless - they mean the worst things they could possibly mean while at the same time applying to the most inclusive group possible. Equivocation abounds.
An example: Let's talk about the words "treason" and "traitor", since Ms. Coulter is so happy to fling them around willy-nilly. The American Heritage Dictionary, as quoted at Dictionary.com includes this phrase in its primary definition of treason, "...especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies." Pretty bad stuff. They hang folks for stuff like that. A traitor is someone you hang because he is a spy for the other side. Someone you hang because they gave away troop positions to the enemy. There's nothing worse than a traitor. [spits] Judas was a traitor. Benedict Arnold was a traitor.
But when you hear the term bandied about on the radio, they like to use this phrase as a definition for treason: "giving aid and comfort to the enemy". And then they use the loosest possible definition for the words "giving", "aid", "comfort", and "enemy", in such a way that anyone who publicly voices opposition to the war is a traitor. "They're going to play that on al-Jazeera tonight and the terrorists are going to be encouraged to keep fighting."
And by continuing to use these "loaded" words in such broad ways, we're unable to distinguish between the kind of traitors who we execute and the kind of "traitors" who just don't like what their government is doing. It's Newspeak, and it completely undermines meaningful discourse and, therefore, democracy.
So let's stop. FInd another word - something meaningful, useful, and less emotionally charged.
Uh, oh. I may have been a bit optimistic about Air America's prospects. Drudge is reporting that the fledgling liberal radio network is having cash flow problems after only two weeks on the air, and that Franken, et. al., have lost their L.A. and Chicago affiliates as a result. Naturally, the Air America people are a bit peeved. Be on the lookout for a Chicago Tribune story soon. I... uh, I'm sure everything will work out fine. As soon as the lawyers sort it out. Heh.
(Hat tip: Luke Duke.)
Update: Well, more of an afterthought, really. If Air America goes out of business before the end of the year, it will be the biggest flame-out since Vince McMahon went into the football racket a couple of years ago. But I will predict here and now that the network's demise will be seen as conclusive proof that there ain't no such thing as a "liberal media." Wasn't it Chuck D who said "don't believe the hype"?
Dateline: Phoenix, AZ
With some reluctance, Gov. Janet Napolitano signed a bill Tuesday that extends Arizona's last call for alcoholic beverages to 2 a.m. from 1 a.m. and closing times to 2:30 a.m. from 1:15 a.m. ... Stores also will be able to sell alcohol until 2 a.m.
Perhaps now Arizonans will see more of the Coalition of the Swilling visiting.
From the same article:
...she signed the bill on the same day legislators moved closer to passing a bill that would allow people to carry guns into restaurants that serve alcohol.
Then we might find Mitch Berg tagging along on Lileks' next visit to Scottsdale.
I actually think this bill isn't the tragic idea that many's knee-jerk reactions would leave them convinced of. If Mitch doesn't take the opportunity to explain why this is a fine idea, I'll try to tackle it soon. But you may have to remind me.
I've been reading and listening to Christopher Hitchens quite a bit lately. One of several lefties-turned-hawk since the WTC disaster, Hitchens has a knack for saying things without bothering to be concerned if it will hurt someone's feelings. A week or two ago, he was interviewed by Dennis Miller, and said several things that really made me think. The gist of three points:
First, we should stop calling this a "War on Terror" and call it a "War on Jihad". This was most profound, and his reasoning was clear: You should know who your enemies are. "Jihad" is such a meaningless term to most of us when we hear it used in the press, so we often forget it means "holy war". Any group who has declared Jihad on the United States has declared war. If any country actually came out and "declared war" on the United States, and followed that up with a clear aggressive action would be flattened by our military, and without hesitation. If Yasser Arafat actually used the phrase "The Palestinian Authority declares war on the United States of America", we would rightly march and/or fly right into Gaza and the West Bank (with Israel's permission, of course) and flatten every Palestinian Authority compound and capture or kill Arafat ourselves. So why don't we treat the term Jihad as the declaration of war that it is? Hard to say.
The term also makes it clear that we are at war with Islamo-fascism and all groups that embrace its tenets. After all, we're not REALLY in a war against "terror of all sorts". We could give a rat's arse what the IRA are up to these days. England does, somewhat, but the IRA has not declared the drunken Irish equivalent of Jihad against the U.S. I think in President Bush's news conference yesterday he ALMOST said this, but the administration's hesitation to identify our enemies clearly as Jihadists is quite frustrating. Honestly, I believe this is because the administration wants to be free to tyrannize other "enemies, foreign and domestic" as its whims allow without having to justify its actions. Anybody who is doing anything unsavory can be labeled "un-American" or "terrorist" depending on how the government wants to spin it.
But they SHOULD have to explain why they might want to, let's say, take action against North Korea, and they should not be permitted to just wrap it up in the same "War on Terror" rhetoric. Additionally, Congress should take its constitutional responsibility seriously and enumerate the nations and/or organizations we have declared war against. Al-Qaeda, certainly. Other nations and organizations who have declared Jihad against us, sure. Did Saddam Hussein declare Jihad against the U.S. BEFORE we threatened to invade them? I haven't found the quote yet. Everything I've seen so far suggests that all such declarations were made in response to our threats to invade, bomb, or otherwise show aggression toward Iraq directly. If you've got a good news link that suggests otherwise, please send it to the e-mail address in the top corner of our weblog.
Okay, I've gotten away from Hitchens's points. Where was I? Point Two: We should make it clear to the lands we invade that they have been conquered. It seems contrary to our insecurities about being perceived as an "Imperial power", but in truth, it's the fairest and most honest thing to do. We're (trying to) run the show in Iraq, but we're trying to make everyone believe that we just came in to surgically extract a horrible dictator and let Iraq be governed by the "will of the people". But we don't REALLY want that. Rather, we want Iraq to be a democratic republic, whether its people want it or not. If what they want right now is an Islamic Theocracy, that is not going to do. Let's be honest, and speak the truth about our intentions: We want to stabilize the region and plant democracy in more Islamic dictatorships. To do this, we are invading Iraq. Conquering Iraq. Ruling Iraq. Pacifying Iraq.
Most of these Middle-East nations did not get to go through the Reformation and the Enlightenment. As a result, they have no ingrained concept of individual rights, the separation of church and state, or any other Democratic ideal - even though 1000 years before it was Islam which introduced some of these concepts to Europe. It takes decades to ingrain these concepts, and you've got to start with the education of the children. The Islamo-Fascists know this. They grind subservience and Jihadism into their children from day one. The Communists knew this. We USED to know this, but somehow we imagine that Freedom is a mystical force that fights for itself in every man's psyche as soon as a horrible oppressive state power is removed.
Hitchens's third point, and one that caused me to reflect on my own perceptions of our actions, was that (per point one) we were at war (with al-Qaeda at least) LONG before September 11, 2001. We just failed to realize it. Jihad had been declared. Attacks had been made, including at least one (the first WTC bombing) on our soil. But we were oblivious to the fact we were at war. The September 11 pilots entered the country, trained, and eventually booked passage under their REAL NAMES. They were, in Hitchens's words, "laughing at us".
So let's stop screwing around with this "War on Terror" language and start telling the truth. We're at war with al-Qaeda and other nations and groups who have declared Jihad on the U.S. We have conquered Iraq and aren't leaving until it's pacified. Make Congress do its job in determining where we should fight, rather than leaving it to the Executive Branch, which should be ENFORCING foreign policy, not making it. And tell the truth, so the electorate can know what they're voting for in November.
Ed at the indispensible MonkeyWatch notes that Jane Goodall is abusing the human primate's power of speech.
OK, I'm a geek. I liked this Lord of the Rings parody site.
But, hey, I'm not really a geek because a) this site has been around for a long time and I just found it and, b) I never actually finished reading the LOTR books, although I did read the entire Harvard Lampoon Bored of the Rings. All 160 pages of it.
I love iTunes, but it DESPERATELY needs a means of sorting the library by more than one column.
In no particular order:
I was a huge Watergate geek in high school, and I've read most of Dean's stuff. I'm convinced he's a weasel, and I have little patience for conspiracy theories, but I have a feeling there would be a lot to mock in it. Would it be worth the effort, though? I'm supposed to get a review copy, so I guess we'll find out soon enough.
Everybody's talking about it, and it's apparently selling like gangbusters, but who's actually read it? I have a feeling Clarke's book is the political equivalent of A Brief History of Time. I'm suspicious of the hype on both sides, and I'm curious to compare and contrast Clarke's analysis with Angelo Codevilla's.
Everything I know about Shostakovich, I learned from Terry Teachout. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration. It is impossible to hear Shostakovich's music and not consider the conditions under which it was written. That's a problem, and a debate with a very long and acrimonious history. But if I'm going to read this book, shouldn't I first read David Cairns's two-volume biography of Berlioz and Henry-Louis de la Grange's three volumes on Mahler that have been sitting neglected on my shelves for so long? Maybe so. Maybe so.
My friend Matt Robinson introduced me to Fischer's novels several years ago with The Thought Gang, a very funny book about an alcoholic philosopher who decides to take up a life of crime. I quickly devoured his other books, and with the exception of his first novel, Under the Frog, I've liked them all. I suspect I'll enjoy his latest book, just as soon as I get around to buying it. Also, it will fill my fiction quota for the year.
And that's just the recent stuff.
I'm in the book review business. Dozens of books cross my desk every week. I read a lot, and not just booksnewspapers, magazines, blogs. Normally, I have one or two non-work-related books going at any given time. I wish I could read more.
Everybody likes to write about what they're reading. Several very fine weblogs are devoted to that project, and I enjoy looking at them as much as the next fellow. But with so much to read nowadays, one must learn to discriminate. Knowing what not to read is almost as important as knowing what you should read. Life is too short to waste one's time on dreck.
For example, as important as the Korean penensula is to the geopolitical interests of the United States, and as appealling as the title may be, I won't be reading Kim Jong Il's Our Socialism Centered on the Masses Shall Not Perish now or ever. I'm taking a pass on this one, too. And this one. And this one. And definitely this one. And everything published by Llewelyn. I could go on. Believe me.
A friend passed along this link, accompanied by the message: "Click on one of the seven deadly sins and read anonymous confessions... Strangely intriguing. I may have something to contribute." Spend a few minutes reading through it, and you see what he means. I couldn't help but notice, however, a certain something lacking in most of these "confessions": contrition.
My own confession: I have lusted in my heart, but God has forgiven me. Also, I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. And I'm real sorry about it. Mostly.
I saw the same thing on the Montykins blog.
Strict adherence to rules:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
My results: Mac OS X In A Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference by Jason McIntosh, Chuck Toporek & Chris Stone: "Your home folder's icon now appears in the Dock."
Nearest "real" book: Dare To Be True: Living in the Freedom of Complete Honesty by Mark D. Roberts: "With the apostle Paul my heart proclaims, 'Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods!' (Romans 11:33)."
Here's the deal:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
My results: The American Language: Supplement Two, by H.L. Mencken (which just arrived this morning!): "James was no phonologist, and it was apparent that his notion of speechways of his native land was picked up, not by direct observation, but by a study of the barbarisms credited to Americans in the English comic papers, e.g., popper, vaniller, vurry, Amurrica, tullegram, and even Philadulphia."
Check out the lead paragraph from this article about the Miss USA winner:
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A fast-food loving beauty queen from Missouri who has two master's degrees and once wrestled a greased pig in a mud pit was crowned Miss USA 2004.
That's quite arousing, I must say. She's hot, she's hungry, she's smart, and she's - uh - let's call it, "willing to experiment."
Notice how InstaPundit has been so swayed by our blog that he has abandoned the “3-column” format and switched to the superb “2-columns with posts on the left” format that we embraced.
The tasteful use of Yellow in his color scheme cannot be far behind.
To find an affiliate and show times, go here.
We've been chattering offline about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ today, and the email exchange between some of us Monkeys began to stray near blog-post territory. So I've rolled it all together and published it as the "extended entry" of this post.
In an effort to make clear who wrote what, I'm keeping with our painful but popular "worst color scheme in the history of the internet" theme. Look upon the text at your own peril.
I saw "The Passion of the Christ" on Friday. I'm not quite sure what I think about it. I fear I may have been overexposed to the hype.
My thoughts exactly, even after seeing it a second time.
I still laugh when I hear the box office totals. "More money than God," I think..
(Suddenly I'm writing like Jackie Mason, no? "Hey ant...")
My mom wants to see it, so I may go again with her. It's an interesting movie, a thought-provoking movie, and a disturbing movie. But I don't think it's a great movie.
Yeah, I think it's more "important" than "great". When I heard all of the folks calling in to Hewitt's show to talk about how profoundly they were affected by it, I did kind of ask myself, "Did we watch the same movie?"
But my pastor had a very good point a month or so ago: For whatever reason, everybody has some kind of opinion about the movie, which makes it a fantastic topic of conversation and a way to legitimately discuss THE issue of historical Christianity - the atoning death and resurrection of Christ.
Anyway, it held no big surprises for me, nor was I "affected" much by the movie. I enjoyed several small parts
With the help of John Pohoretz, the guys at Power Line articulate a reasonable perspective on the PDB kerfuffle.
(Hat tip: F-Rock)
Well, something's changed. I don't know what's happened, but I seem to have passed some boundary. It certainly wasn't intentional. The first thing happened Friday when one of Dennis Prager's callers asked him about the theme music for the weekly Happiness Hour segment. Both the caller and I would have sworn it was The Ventures. And we would have been wrong. Sure the tune is peppy and a bit more saccharin than most Ventures stuff, but not all of their tracks are wave-cutting burners. I love the song. Behind its melodic surfy guitar one hears a background of hipster-lounge percussion and an organ reminiscent of something Feathers McGraw's radio might have churned out in The Wrong Trousers. Hearing its first few opening measures (which I got used to over summer break) can be a day-making highlight for me. As if that weren't dorky enough, it turns out the song is called Apples and Bananas, and it's by one Mr. Lawrence Welk!
I still haven't quite come to terms with this discovery. My wife and I fell in love over Nat King Cole and many assorted "standards" that were from before our time, but I'd always kept Lawrence Welk relegated to a campy corner of ironic Polka. (Speaking of Polka, Matthew Hoy pointed out that "Weird Al" Yankovic lost his parents in a house fire last week.)
A snip of the song can be heard here. It appears to be from somewhere near the middle or end of the tune, which loses a good bit of the strong guitar melody, and displays much more of the signature Welk sound than the opening bars reveal. Hearing this sample, one can probably only think, "well, duh - of course it's Lawrence Welk." I can't find a clip of the beginning. You'll have to trust me. Or think me more a nerd than I may really be. Big woop. That's a risk that I'm clearly not daunted by. Read on.
The second thing happened late last night. After a horrible fit of channel flipping, something caught my eye: women in 19th century get-ups... practicing archery. Hmm. Flip some more channels. Nothing on. Back to Ladies' Archery. For a minute it was like Howard's End meets Samurai Jack. But then I notice that the dialogue's really pretty clever; the old man seems like the sort of pleasant odd coot that I'd like to grow into one day... The dialogue keeps me for another scene, and from an exterior to an interior. Then the hooks are in. I'm caught. My wife joins me and declines the offer of free reign over the remote. Soon she's hooked too.
After a while we realized that we were watching PBS. But soon we discovered that to see the conclusion of the story that we were following closely, we'd have to tune in for the next episode... of [cue music] Masterpiece Theater [yes, you should have read that in a halting pretentious accent]. We looked at one another with genuine surprise. I mean, we had watched Monsterpeice Theater, hosted by Alistair Cookie before, but never the original. When we mentioned it to some friends this afternoon, they just exclaimed, "You're old." I don't exactly know why. I don't feel old for reading classics. I guess I just classify Masterpiece Theater with tapioca and Louis Rukeyser; they're for old people.
I should note that having explored the MT website, I'm impressed with the idea of having access to essays and commentary on the original books and their adaptations. I doubt I'll change my opinion of tapioca, but I think I may be dropping my prejudice against Masterpiece Theater. In a perfect world we would have this kind of support material for many more programs and DVD's.
The show we were watching turned out to be Daniel Deronda (click for a glimpse of the archery), an adaption of a novel by George Eliot (a "George" of the George Sand variety - her real name was Mary Ann Evans). In deciding whether or not to go out of my way to catch the story's resolution, I checked out the author's bio. Funny how so many things come back to doctrine. [Huh?]
Well, her bio mentioned that Evans renounced the Evangelical Protestant faith in which she was raised. I thought that interesting, since it also mentions that she first came to be published by translating works on Christianity. The bio describes one, David Friedrich Strauss's Das Leben Jesu, ["The Life of Jesus Critically Examined," 1846], as simply "one of the most influential books on religious thought in England at the time." I'd say that's an understatement. Now, without getting into the issue of Election, I think it's worth noting that Evans's falling away from the faith was accompanied by her work on books that could only be described as hallmarks of Higher Criticism -- the 19th century equivalent (progenitors?) of today's Jesus Seminar folks.
Will this affect my decision to seek out or pass on the conclusion of Daniel Deronda? Probably not, but it will be in my mind as I watch how the author portrays the Christians in the story. This may come into play, as the plot involves issues of how Jews were received in English society at the time.
Okay, that's all. It's been a long time since I've had a sugar high like the one I allowed myself today. Hope you all had a blessed and fondly memorable Easter, or "Resurrection Day."
The Prof himself isn't the only one making excellent observations on the Professor Bainbridge blog. I found this courtroom interrogation tactic (which a Bainbridge reader caught Ben-Veniste using) awfully sneaky.
It's an old (and cheap) trick in litigation to ask a compound question, which is improper and to which an objection will be sustained. If defending counsel is asleep at the switch, the witness may not be quick enough to see both questions or will forget the first question by the time she finishes answering the second.
The idea is to make the first question the damaging one and the second question one which the witness is likely to know and answer in an affirmative way, either by saying yes or by providing or confirming the information. Witnesses will almost always answer the last question first because it is recent and because it is one they can answer affirmatively. Most witnesses will either forget or bobble the first and damaging question.
The question before me now is: do I share it with the Rhetoric students at my school? I guess I'll have to, so they'll be wary of it in upcoming debates.
Oh, and for InfMonk David, I should mention this Bainbridge pointed out this story that's not only about Australian wines, Cuban cigars, Japanese chef Kazu, and a world class butcher, but also includes the word "Monkey" (but not as a food item).
Some cheap Mexican candies may have a little bit o' lead in 'em. MMmmm... lead....
Perhaps this explains a lot about about our friend Godfrey.
Everybody's talking about the Belmont Club blog, and for good reason. A few years ago, I saw an episode of Frontline that I'll never forget. It was on the genocide in Rwanda. Right along side the horrific and hellish footage of machetes in use (through long zoom lenses) and rivers actually flowing with the physical remains of mass slaughter (no, not just blood), were the captured images of the U.N. troops packing up and
leaving abandoning those Rwandans who had flocked to them for security. The faces and pleas of those left behind, and the interviews of the very, very few who survived the impending slaughter expressed utter disillusionment in the troops that had once offered the promise of protection bugging out without a shot fired once the innocents had been effectively assembled into one easily-surrounded mass. They were left with little more than sticks and rocks to defend themselves. In those particular circumstances, it would have been better for those Rwandans if the U.N. forces had never come at all.
After being nothing more than a passing line in a speech or list of shortcomings here or there for several years, the incident and details of the pull-out have finally come to my attention. Belmont Club author Wretchard provides a telling quotation from the U.N. general who was in command of the affair, and some comments that should not be missed.
I don't buy the general's assertion of responsibility. I surely don't claim to know how the overall situation should have been approached. But I do know that once troops were put in there, an obligation was incurred.
More than anything that's happened in the Balkans or in the Middle or Far East, the genocide in Rwanda makes me sigh sadly and dismissively almost any time I hear someone recite the post-Holocaust mantra, "We will never forget."
To what end?
For families, yes, I can understand. But for western culture, I must ask, "To what end?"
I must thank Mark D. Roberts for pointing out an updated version of a document that I had read and found so interesting several months ago. Roberts posted it a week or two ago. I thought I'd take the occassion of Good Friday to put it back up for folks to see.
Alex F. Metherell (MD, PhD) provides "A Review from a Biomedical Engineering Perspective" on the Biblical account and Gibson's cinematic portrayal of the flogging, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. I only have the document in .pdf format, which is fine, as it really shouldn't be viewed without its accompanying photographs, diagrams, and their captions. Even if you don't think you'll read the whole thing, take a minute to check out the archeological photos in it. I found them engaging.
Beyond how Jesus died, Mark Roberts touches on why, having recently provided a summary of his series on What Was the Message of Jesus? Is it exhaustive? Of course not. Is the whole series exhaustive? Still, no. But hopefully, reading the summary or the series will drive you to the actual Bible. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to talk with a professing believer about what it means to repent and to have Jesus as one's saviour and one's lord.
Folks in the Phoenix area might want to join me today, Sunday, and beyond at East Valley Bible Church. Perhaps the other church-going Monkeys will mention where they live and the churches they attend in comments to this post.
UPDATE II: Joe Carter's Good Friday post doesn't start as one. It's really. Worth. Reading.