Sunday, August 31, 2008
Also, remember, these are fluorescent bulbs. So your house will soon be bathed in the beautiful, soft light of your office's mail room (unless you spring for the "full-spectrum" fluorescents at about $12 a pop). And you may not be able to throw those mercury-laden shards in your trash can, but will have to drive every broken bulb to a dump or pick-up point. (And everyone will conscientiously do that so there's no risk of mercury contamination to the ground water, right?) And many won't work with dimmer switches or rheostats. And there's a delay between throwing the switch and getting any light.
Moreover, lest this seem like an act of selfless "green" virtue on the government's behalf, who were the major backers? Sure, the environmental lobby but also…GE and other lightbulb makers. Hmm, that seems strange. Oh wait, turns out the profit margin on a $3 bulb is way fatter than that on a 20¢ bulb. Taking your money and giving it to other people. That's what modern government's about, apparently.
Maybe the Gormogons should start buying up tens of thousands of incandescents and dealing them on the black market after 2012...
Ok, with that weak reference to Luke Perry's fine acting skills in The Fifth Element, I wanted to rant about CFLs. That is Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs. Did you know that 400 senators and representatives voted last December to ban incandescent lightbulbs by 2012. Did you know that by passing that law our elected representatives have chosen the $3 per lightbulb CFLs as the only choice for consumers rather than the $0.20 regular bulbs? Are you aware that the claim of extended lifetimes on these new bulbs come with some caveats? First, they have to remain on for prolonged periods of time. If they are turned on/off for only short periods, say 5-10 minutes, then their lifetimes are reduced to the same as incandescent bulbs. Think about the short usage rooms in your house - the bathroom (better bring some reading materials), a closet, the garage, outdoor motion detectors, etc. Second, it is "up to" 10,000 hours. That doesn't mean that you'll get 10,000 hours.
There are other things to consider - there is quite the multistep process to clean up a broken bulb according to the EPA, there are few recycling centers (however, Home Depot apparently will take the old ones), and incandescent bulbs near 100% efficiency. In moderate to cool climates where the energy that isn't converted to light is converted to heat and directly contributes to the building or home's heating.
It is too bad that we're "allowing" our government to represent us like this. Shouldn't we as consumers have the ability to choose? Shouldn't I be able to put the regular bulbs in short duty-cycle locations and put CFLs where they would do better? Hey, free market economy, that sounds like a great idea.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Article 1The U.S. jumps through a hundred hoops to remove a fascist psycho who'd invaded two of his neighbors and threatened more, gassing his own citizens for fun, and all we get is flack from them. Now, Russia begins dismembering Georgia, and all we hear from Turtle Bay are crickets chirping in the night.
The Purposes of the United Nations are:
To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace; [...]
The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.
The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations
Useless effing Natterers.
The author's correct to cite Atatürk's policy of neutrality (“Yurtta sulh, cihanda sulh.”) as a long-standing guidepost of Turkish diplomacy, but in the recent past, particularly with regard to the Soviet Union, Turks have recognized that peace in the world is better served by taking sides against an aggressor. Whether their calculus (rightly or wrongly) will lead them to reassess current policy of relative equidistance vis-à-vis the U.S., Iran, and Russia (as well as their enormous natural-gas ties to the last).
We'll see. Si vis pacem… Or, I guess, barış istiyorsan, savaşa hazır ol.
Friday, August 29, 2008
The democrats will learn someday that being petty, complaining about everything under the sun, and labeling everyone isn't a winning strategy. After the McCain campaign aired the congratulatory ad, the Obama camp first responded to the naming of Gov Palin as the GOP VP candidate with this:
“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s just more of the same.” [Obama spokesman Bill Burton].Now, only after feeling the heat for their poor response issued this statement:
"We send our congratulations to Gov. Sarah Palin and her family on her designation as the Republican nominee for vice president. It is yet another encouraging sign that old barriers are falling in our politics. While we obviously have differences over how best to lead this country forward, Gov. Palin is an admirable person and will add a compelling new voice to this campaign."And they want to be leaders of this great country? Nice way of demonstrating their ability to lead and deal with opposition. I can't wait to hear their diplomacy. I think it's becoming more and more clear that the Obama/Biden campaign is one of little substance and a lot of show. Look at the staging on Thursday night in Denver. It's all contrived. Obama preached he's for change, so he picks a Senator who has been in DC politics for 35+ years. Palin went to Iraq as governor of Alaska visiting Alaskan National Guard troops that were deployed...and Obama, well he finally went. The democrats will offer up grandiose ideas with no substance, just like the last 2 years of the self-described "most open, honest and ethical Congress" has. It's more of the democrat do-what-we-say, not-what-we-do and we know what's good for you. I'm sure we'll hear more of their favorite attack target: "Chimpy McHilterburton" because they can't run against the people actually in the race, they are too focused on their hatred of George W. Bush. And you know where hatred leads: "...hate leads to suffering" [Yoda].
Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post pens a story that 'Puter wishes he could write about his local school district. And, best of all, Mr. Pearlstein gets it. Unions benefit the teachers, not the students, and in fact impede education.
Ms. Rhee has gone to the bargaining table with a proposal to end lifetime tenure and seniority based pay. Predictably, the union hates the idea, and has stalled negotiation. However, the tables are turning.
'Puter is stunned, having witnessed firsthand the absolute dysfunction of the D.C. government under Mayor -for-Life Marion Barry, but the City Council and Mayor Adrian Fenty (D-DC) support her quest to fundamentally change teachers' work terms.
National unions are watching this closely and fear that this may be their Waterloo. 'Puter says it's about danged time.
Godspeed, Ms. Rhee. 'Puter wishes you the mad skillz of local D.C. hero Jhoon Rhee in your quest to beat down the unions. As yet unborn D.C. public school students wish you well in your quest to ensure that they will finally receive an education on par with those the best local suburban systems can offer.
Via With Leather, America's Idiots-Getting-Injured Leader®.
Everyone knows the more obvious specifics. Vatican II said Gregorian chant should assume primary place but instead we got pop tunes more suitable for a children's playground than Mass. We were told that nothing would change about the liturgy unless it was absolutely necessary, and instead with got liturgical revolution. With it came an upending of doctrine, morals, and the faith itself, with the inevitable draining of monasteries, convents, and seminaries.
More on "the spirit of Summorum Pontificiarum" here.
• She's young (44), offsetting the McCain-old-guy issue to a degree.
• She's got more executive experience than McCain, Obama, and Biden combined.
• She cleaned up the corrupt Alaska Republican party. Serious reformer cred.
• You can't get much more "outsider" than Alaska.
• She's a woman (see right), which might peel off some die-hard bitter Hillary fans.
• She just gave birth to her fifth child, who's got Down Syndrome, knowing that he had it. Pro-lifers will walk through fire for her, helping to shore up McCain's conservative base in a big way.
• Biden's debating style is largely neutralized against a young woman, as he's basically got two modes, "schmooze" and "attack dog," which are going to come off either looking condescending or nasty, respectively, further alienating voters sensitive to the treatment of women.
• She's an established conservationist and a huge booster of domestic oil drilling, especially in ANWR and elsewhere in Alaska, and she makes that argument more credibly than anyone else around.
• Her main disadvantage—relative inexperience—pales next to Obama's, or it can be spun as "Hey, at least she's on the bottom of the ticket." If the Obama people have any sense, they won't bring it up. (She's got almost
• There was some mini-scandal in Alaska recently tied, I think, to her brother, but I want to say she was shown to be totally uninvolved.
• She sets up a very credible GOP succession story for 2012 or 2016 against Hillary—executive experience as governor, foreign policy acquired as Veep. And she's young and likable.
• Plus, lots of bennies for various groups: lifetime NRA member (gun nuts), self-described "hockey mom" (married women), point guard on her high-school basketball team and hockey player (jocks), and uh, really good-looking (men and the Sapphic-American community).
Photo via Dirty Harry's Place
'Puter thinks Gov. Palin is a strong, but not perfect, pick. She'll remind moderate Democrat women that Sen. Clinton is nowhere to be seen on their ticket. Palin reminds social and fiscal conservatives that there is hope for a new generation of pro-life and fiscally responsible candidates.
On the down side, she blunts Sen. McCain's ability to attack Sen. Obama's lack of experience, though the appropriate response is that Gov. Palin has more experience than Sen. Obama. And, 'Puter is unsure of Palin's debating skills, which may come in handy against the fact-stretching, plagiarising Sen. Biden.
The "I've Got A Crush on Obama" New York Times, of course, offers the in depth analysis that Gov. Sarah Palin = Dan Quayle. It's a subtle comparison, but it's there.
In two separate family discussions over the last week, GorT has put forward the idea of Sarah Palin (pictured) as the best choice for McCain's VP. It appears this morning that it has been proven true. It is my opinion that this is a great pick. She's young, a non-Washington DC insider, Pro-Life, a mother of 5 and a "hockey mom". All three of us here are big hockey fans, so maybe the last point seals the deal. She's cut thru a lot of the crap that politicians have been abusing lately (a big axe of mine to grind): she got rid of the private jet that former governor's used to travel and has been taking commercial airlines and driving herself around. She's significantly reduced (maybe eliminated) that the protection detail assigned to the governor. And if nothing else, she went into labor with her fifth child somewhere in the lower-48 and took a plane home to deliver the child in Alaska. She's been through a lot and weathered it all. I think she is a very viable candidate.
Behold Mark Crimmins, ex-president of Iowa Central Community College (affectionately known as Thirteenth Grade), got caught pouring beer down a hot coed's throat. 'Puter's more disturbed that Crimmins has such poor taste in beer. If you're going to lose your job, man, at least be drinking something good, not the ungodly Coors Light. Try Custom Brewcrafter's Wee Heavy Winter Ale. At 8.1% alcohol content, it'll keep you nice and warm as you're passed out in the Upstate snow.
Hopefully with a couple of hot coeds.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I was doing some light surfing today and came across this article. I've been to TR Island - it's very enjoyable. I've been to many national parks and forests that are here largely in part to President Teddy Roosevelt. He was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in bringing the Japanese and Russians together to negotiate the end of the Russo-Japanese War. As pointed out in the article, he was a conservationist not a preservationist. This is in stark contrast to the, as a friend of mine likes to call it, "Big Environment" movement. Compare the complete lack of accomplishments by former VP Gore (also a Nobel Prize winner) vs. what Roosevelt accomplished. Maybe we need some "Big Stick" types back.
I'm a big fan of telling people and the government to get out of the way of innovation. There is so much that can be accomplished when the bureaucrats don't throw up roadblocks. Therefore, I present these two articles on the possibilities of FTL (Faster Than Light) travel not being too far off in the future. The first is from two physicists at Baylor and the second I'm excerpting below as the original seems to have gone offline:
AN EXTRAORDINARY "hyperspace" engine that could make interstellar space travel a reality by flying into other dimensions is being investigated by the United States government.
The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a report in today's New Scientist magazine.
The theoretical engine works by creating an intense magnetic field that, according to ideas first developed by the late scientist Burkhard Heim in the 1950s, would produce a gravitational field and result in thrust for a spacecraft.
Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would slip into a different dimension, where the speed of light is faster, allowing incredible speeds to be reached. Switching off the magnetic field would result in the engine reappearing in our current dimension.
Parenthetically, when it comes to Joe Biden, although the Œcumenical Volgi is no fan of most of his politics, the one time the Notorious ŒV and Sen. Biden were in the same room and even said hello, the Volgi was quite charmed by the man, even if he was rather baffled by the stream-of-consciousness goofiness the senator seemed compelled to emit. I don't think I could bring myself to vote for him, but if I had to pick a pol to watch a football game with, Biden would be a great choice (I suspect Bill Clinton would be too, as long as Mrs. ŒV wasn't home).
In the meantime, unless you're in Canada, let me suggest the Franchi SPAS-12 as the ultimate home-defense gun (even if it'll run you a ridiculous amount of money). Not only can you rack the first round into the chamber with that sound that should turn even the most hardened home invader's bowels to tapioca, but you can fold the stock (shorter; handier), and then, should things get ugly, you can fire it semi-automatically without pausing to rack the slide between shots (effective rate of fire is about four rounds a second).
UPDATE: The Puter mentions staggering loads. For home-defense, load your first round with rock salt, the second with magnum double-ought buckshot.
Too damn cool. "These are the days of miracles and wonders," as Paul Simon once sang.
About danged time. According to The Gun Shots, a blog over at Outdoor Life, folks in New Orleans are taking their hurricane preparedness a little more seriously this time around.
While the AR-15 is a fine weapon (particularly if you customize it with the Hello Kitty paint job pictured), 'Puter agrees with the commenter who says that a pump action 12 gauge is far more effective for home defense. A .223 load is great at distance, but you'll be at short range and you want something idiot-proof. After all, you're not going to be shooting at looters coming down the street, you're going to be taking them on inside your home.
The sound of a pump action shotgun cycling a round is unmistakable. If you're doing something you oughtn't, the sound will make your blood run cold, and your pants run brown. Get one of these and stagger your loads. 'Puter prefers a slug load followed by buckshot and then alternate, but whatever works best for you.
Obama thinks government is not getting a "reasonable share" of oil companies' profits, which in 2007 were, as a percentage of revenues (8.3 percent), below those of US manufacturing generally (8.9 percent). Exxon Mobil pays almost as much in corporate taxes to various governments as the bottom 50 percent of American earners pay in income taxes. Exxon Mobil does make $1,400 a second in profits - hear the sharp intakes of breath from liberals with pursed lips - but pays $4,000 a second in taxes and $15,000 a second in operating costs.
What's the takeaway here, 'Puter? Well, here goes. ExxonMobil pays more taxes each year than everyone in the United States making $32,000 or less pays in federal income tax. The oil industry's per dollar profits are less than half the profits of the pharmaceutical/biotech and banking industries. Even food service and telecom have a higher profit margin. ExxonMobil makes so much money because it invests and spends so much money.
Based on Will's column, ExxonMobil spends 10 times as much on operating costs than it makes in profit. It pays over 2.5 times more in taxes than it makes in profits.
What does ExxonMobil spend its money on? Well, how about salaries, for a start? ExxonMobil employs nearly 81,000 people world wide, including 30,000 folks right here at home. Some are management, some engineers, some blue collar folks. All make a decent living. Those here feed, shelter and clothe their families with their hard-earned ExxonMobil paychecks. And they pay taxes. A cap on earnings would cause any reasonable company to look to conserve funds, generally resulting in hiring freezes or layoffs.
Liberals want to take money from ExxonMobil and redistribute it to the poor. In reality, they'll be taking money out of the pockets of ExxonMobil's employees and shareholders to fund their Marxist income redistribution schemes. And who owns ExxonMobil stock? Many mutual funds and state pension plans, that's who. Enjoy your dwindling retirement savings, America, courtesy of the liberal Democrats.
So, next time wild-eyed liberals start spouting about Big Oil and its windfall profits, set them straight. Facts have an annoying way of silencing the foolish.
Schneider should take Ms. Phillips into his janitor's closet and beat some sense into her with his keys-on-a-retractable-chain.
And Valerie Bertinelli was hot. Even Eddie Van Halen thought so. And he rocks.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
No one whould worry though, because the rights of the teacher supersede the rights of the kids not to be psychologically traumatized. Not to mention our union contract requires it. We've thoughtfully provided psychologists and counselors to steer your children through this disturbing experience.
Rant done. 'Puter's back. Bless the poor teacher who thinks he/she needs to reassign genders, but c'mon, school board. How about giving the teacher a year off with pay to transition and then bringing the teacher back with his/her new sex? Teacher's happy. Kids are not traumatized. Union can't complain. Everyone wins.
To quote the insufficient, meaningless excuse schools give us when they raise our property taxes: "Don't worry. It's for the children."
Democrats have lost their collective minds, putting out the notion that white people are racist if they choose not to vote for Sen. Obama. You know the website Stuff White People Like? Well, I can tell you what'd be number one on the list of Stuff White People Hate, and that'd be being falsely accused of racism. Think moderate Democrats and Independents have been hard to sway to this point? Just wait until they figure out that Democrats think they're racist AND stupid. The idea that the only reason a white person would vote against Sen. Obama (racism) is racist in and of itself. Apparently, to the Democrats, anyone who doesn't vote for Sen. Obama is the second coming of Bull Connor.
Just in case the Democrats' message people are reading this blog, here's a list of a few of the reasons 'Puter can't bring himself to vote for Sen. Obama. Note that Sen. Obama's half-blackness is not among them.
(1) Obama is friends with domestic terrorists, dedicated to destroying the United States.
(2) Obama's tax policy is Marxist income redistribution, thinly veiled.
(3) Obama supports leaving babies to die, not merely abortion.
(4) Michelle Obama hates the United States
(5) Obama thinks the United States should negotiate with evil
(6) Obama lacks experience
Need 'Puter go on? But, 'Puter guesses that really, despite many legitimate reasons not to vote for Sen. Obama, 'Puter is fooling himself. 'Puter must just hate black people.
It couldn't be that Sen. Obama is not a good candidate, and the Democrats bought into his cult of personality and are now having buyers' remorse. Nah. Racism explains everything, and neatly fits the Democrat world view that whitey is racist.
To say that the current Democrat position belittles the tragedy of American racism and the bravery of those who fought against it (pictured) understates the matter significantly.
This columnist provides more evidence that Russian aggression in Georgia may be producing a re-thinking of foreign policy in Turkey that can only be welcome to NATO, America, and the West. Turkey is potentially one of the few large, capable states in the Black Sea region with the ability to materially assist in checking Russian expansionism. However, the AKP's foreign policy has been all over the map—now trying to improve relations with Iran, now trying to appease the EU, generally following (if not cultivating) anti-American popular attitudes—showing the typical drift of a state unable to prioritize its interests.
Now, there's only so far Turkey will likely go in the short term, given that Russia supplies most of its natural gas, but as this article I pointed you to last night suggests, the Republic has a range of national interests adversely affected from Russian expansionism around the Black Sea, making them a natural ally in a coalition containing a rogue Bear. Serious people in the U.S. and Turkish governments should be sitting down and discussing how we can help rebuild our formerly strong relationship.
Taking a page from Ronald Reagan, the democrats are banking on the inspiration hope message that Obama delivers. The problem is, that Reagan backed it up with policies and programs that delivered results (i.e. tax cuts, facing down Communism in partnership with other democracies, etc.). Obama hasn't outlined anything like that. Instead it's "tomorrow will be better" when taxes are raised and the government still faces budget shortfalls (both because of the poor tax policy and because the pork will still be in the budget), when the government controls your healthcare, when public schools teach our children under bigger unions, when you pay more for products because companies will be taxed for profits or required to put in place measures to address the unproven global warming scare, when gas prices remain high because the 7 or 8 cents profit on a $4 gallon of gas is just way too much (especially when those companies with that profit are investing heavily into cleaner gas and alternative energy). Can you feel the sarcasm yet? John McCain doesn't thrill me either, but in the words of Patrick O'Brien, "don't you know...you have to pick the lesser of two weevils".
Some side observations:
“A key tool that the Soviet Union used to keep its empire together, was pitting ethnic groups against one another.”This is correct and even understated. Soviet "nationalities" policy was anything but the internationalist, cosmopolitan brotherhood of man that you'd expect Communism to deliver (And Mao's Han empire is no different). Instead, it was careful to distinguish (and invent) distinctions between various peoples (most of whose histories had to have violence done to them to fit into the Marxist paradigm of history), then treat them as different units. Divide et impera, kids. A great example of this is how each Turkic republic was given borders which encompassed large numbers of other "nationalities" in order to keep their ethno-political homogeneity low. Also, despite the fact that Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Türkmen, et al., are closely related Turkic languages without substantial differences in phonology, they each received a slightly different Cyrillic alphabet in order to widen distinctions between groups and to diminish anyone's ability to make a pan-Turanian appeal.
They didn't try it in Central Asia because basically all the presidents of the newly independent countries were the former heads of the communist parties and they said we're still following your line, Kremlin, we haven't changed very much.This gets to the heart of Russia's approach to the world under the Putinshchina. The post-Soviet dictators of Central Asia—now that Türkmenbashi is dead, and with the possible exception of Karimov on certain things—are the perfect partners for Russia's strongman-gangster government, as they make no bones about their states being much more than bagmen for the elites who run it. This is why Kazakhstan, e.g., poses no ideological threat to Russia.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, among others, has claimed that there's a new era of ideological competition and development models in the world. That's not true. Authoritarianism is not an idea, but a technique; and the Mafia has long perfected the "development model" of getting rich by keeping productive people scared and skimming dough. Georgia, Ukraine, the Baltics, Moldova, etc., do, however threaten Russia—but not in the way its apologists argue. NATO's "provocations" are not military. Russians can look at European militaries as well as anyone else (better, in fact) and know that Czech tanks aren't going to be driving for Bryansk. The citizens of Leningrad aren't losing sleep because ofterror at the thought of the Letto-Estonian Menace.
What keeps Putin and the siloviki up at night however is the thought, what if we lose control of this thing? And neighboring countries going democratic might give the Russian people provocative ideas. And the russkii narod is the real object of all Russian rulers' fears. Best case: palatial spread in Cyprus where all the expropriated money is anyway. Worst case: lamppost, rope.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
So while all the talking heads blather on about the DNC in Denver, I thought I'd do a little reading. Luckily, I found this OpEd piece by a personal favorite, Dr. Thomas Sowell (a remarkable man). He raises a good point - why can parents using little resources (many freely available on the internet) can home school their children and out-perform publicly paid teachers in institutions expending over $10,000 per child per year on education. Good question. Of course, the TV just panned to a supporter at the DNC with a hat reading, "Trust teachers, not test scores". Uh huh. Maybe they should do some more reading of Dr. Sowell....maybe this piece?
Meanwhile in an unnamed location, some skateboarders are still trying to use failure-analysis software to figure out what went wrong with their brilliant plans here. Perhaps one day, science will give us some insight.
(via With Leather)
What can 'Puter get for that?
And, do I have to report the sweet, sweet monkey-luvvin' as payment in kind on my 1040? Just like the IRS to mess up a perfectly good transaction.
Archbishop Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. recently castigated Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for her comments on Meet the Press that misrepresented Church teaching as to when life begins.
Archbishop Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver took down presumptive Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) for his pro-abortion position. Archbishop Chaput went so far as to state that Sen. Biden should not present himself for Communion.
Much of this is "inside baseball" for those who are not Catholic. However, whether or not you agree with the Church's position on abortion, the Church's position on the issue is clear. Abortion is never acceptable under any circumstances. If Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Biden do not wish to follow the Church's teachings, they are free not to do so. However, as the Archbishops remind us, they are not entitled to present themselves as Catholics and mislead the faithful as to the Church's true positions.
Would that more Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops would uphold Church teachings in their flocks.
UPDATE: Edward Cardinal Egan, of the Archdiocese of New York, joins his fellow prelates condemning Rep. Pelosi's dissemination of her erroneous interpretations of Church teaching on abortion. Are you paying attention, Archbishop Niederauer of Rep. Pelosi's home Archdiocese of San Francisco?
Monday, August 25, 2008
With the economic powerhouses of Detroit and the State of Michigan (it's the one that sort of looks like a mitten) absolutely lighting up the world, I'm surprised that Michiganders Gov. Granholm (D-MI) and Mayor Kilpatrick (D-MI, and likely to soon be a convicted felon) aren't headlining at the Democratic National Convention.
Today, there is a lady on her cell phone outside his window, weeping, and dabbing her overly-made up eyes with a tissue. Best part? The lady has wrapped herself in a Spiderman fleece throw.
I am also regularly treated to seeing a gentleman who actually drives a vehicle with an "I [heart] My Wife" bumper sticker. Hey, buddy. Maybe if you drive that car long enough, you'll start to believe you love your wife, and your wife will give you your cojones back.
There has been a naked women in the communal ladies' room applying her makeup. Also, we've discovered used pregnancy tests (positive, of course) left on the restroom counter. It's a pleasant discussion to have with one's landlord, trust 'Puter. "Uhh, Landlord? Do you think you might be able to keep the sluts working next door out of the restrooms, please? Or at least make them clean up after themselves."
You stay classy, debt collectors!
Maybe a new generation of Democrat leaders, seeing the horrendous impact of what unthinking cooperation with teachers' unions has wrought on children, is taking a second look. Go get 'em.
Aside from the sameness in sartorial style, the two men's political philosophies seem to be equally devoid of content. Both are political neophytes. Both are media darlings. And both are men into whose utterances others read depth that does not exist.
Sen. Obama has given us such helpful guideposts as "We are the ones we've been waiting for." and "We are the change that we seek." This one's a beaut, too: "If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress."
Chance gave us such gems as "[a]s long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden." And the memorable "I like to watch." Also, "There will be growth in the spring."
And, similarly, both have fooled many people. But not all. Chance's co-worker Louise, knowing Chance's origins, saw through the media love affair and delivered the following Rev. Jeremiah Wright like, Bush-bashing rant.
It's for sure a white man's world in America. Look here: I raised that boy since he was the size of a piss-ant. And I'll say right now, he never learned to read and write. No, sir. Had no brains at all. Was stuffed with rice pudding between th' ears. Shortchanged by the Lord, and dumb as a jackass. Look at him now! Yes, sir, all you've gotta be is white in America, to get whatever you want. Gobbledy-gook!
The only difference appears to be that Chance may have been the Messiah, walking on water at the end of the film, but Sen. Obama's clearly not.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
We Europeans seem to have forgotten our history. There were other times when we have stood by while a militaristic European power insisted that it had the right to intervene wherever it wanted to advance the interests of those who claimed shared ethnicity from the Baltics to the Caucasus. [...]
It will be business pretty much as usual as Europeans prepare cheerfully in the years ahead for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, just up the road from the Russian missiles and tanks on Georgian soil. Meanwhile, Europeans will continue to talk about their crucial role in world affairs. [...]
Because, says veteran China watcher Gordon Chang here, the most likely result of China's Olympic succès d'estime is going to lead to a more draconian police state at home, deep-freeze any reform ideas, and put the PRC's post-2006 aggressive foreign policy on 'roids.
St. Francis Xavier & Our Lady of Shéshān, ora pro nobis.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
George Lucas, I've held on the evidence of Star Wars and Raiders, is a Great Hack. An inspired genius, of sorts, when it comes to throwaway pulp material. But, like almost all hacks, he'd rather be an artiste. And that's where the trouble came in. Once it all had to Mean Something, he resorted to all sorts of schematic and philosophical junk that was as out of place in his weightless, zippy worlds as a tarantula on a slice of angelfood (to borrow from a serious writer masquerading as a hack). In a perfect world, Lucas would have been cranking out lots of lower-budget Indy sequels, adapting the Phantom, Shadow, and Flash Gordon, and inventing his own new heroes of different ages and places. Instead, isolated from reality by the enormous amount of money he earned by (among other things) presciently retaining the merchandising rights to Star Wars, he sat around like an egomaniacal college sophomore, filling notebooks with Deep Thoughts and working them into his movies. And the leaden demi-profundities crushed the crystalline cleverness. (Then again, at least he never put that sentence in a movie. Still, I'll take it over "Duhhhh, I hate sand.") The single moment of wit recalling the wry, humane humor of Star Wars in The Phantom Menace was the Tusken Raiders taking potshots at the pod racers. And that's where I got off.
Anyway, some years ago, I was very gratified to come across the following article by the late Richard Grenier (who wrote a very funny novel in addition to his journalism), in which he recounted his contemporary notes of Lucas's speaking about Star Wars, which jibed perfectly with my childhood memories—that it was just a fun homage to the old serials of Buster Crabbe, et al.—which I'd begun to doubt over the years with Lucas's insistence that it was an epic plot cycle conceived ab initio in nine parts. With apologizes that Blogger doesn't easily provide for cuts to hide it behind, your Volgi presents it here for your edification and perhaps discernment of the the seeds of Lucas's pretension. Art movies? Like THX 1138? (Is the Volgi alone in always being amused that the cops' motorcycles sound exactly like TIE Fighters?)
*For those who came in late: 孔夫子 means Confucius, the given name of your Œcumenical Volgi (pictured above right).
January 17-19, 1997
Is ‘Star Wars’ the movie of doom?
By Richard Grenier
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Is it the end? Are we doomed? Ever since the super-blockbuster series “Star Wars” was unleashed upon the world 20 years ago, have we been on the downward slope? Has it been all cheap thrills? Big money? No plot? No common sense? Was “Star Wars” the movie that destroyed Hollywood? Will the film’s technically revamped version to be released next week sound Hollywood’s final death knell? Or will Newsweek, which performed a magnificent mea culpa over Paula Jones just last week, owe us another mea culpa?
As I write, after all, a Hollywood movie leads the box office listing of every city of the known world. How about Shanghai? In Shanghai, Chinese movies really die, but Hollywood movies go through the roof.
As a rough rule of thumb, routine American movies used to make their money back in the U.S., while action movies went wild abroad, grossing double what they grossed at home. It’s often thought that the buying up of Hollywood studios by giant companies has created a profit consciousness the studios never had before. But from my experience Hollywood studios have always loved money—much as any successful company. And when film studio executives scrutinized their account sheets in this new age, and saw the money brought in by blockbuster action movies, they felt a stirring of the soul, and the industry entered a whole new phase.
In the last decade, the cost of making a movie went up and up—$20 million, $40 million, $80 million—but as long as the films brought in enough money to cover the outlay, flowers bloomed and birds sang in the trees.
But film company executives soon found that “Star Wars,” along with “Jaws,” had locked Hollywood into a real blockbuster mentality. Production figures that used to terrify executives did so no longer and they began swinging for the fences at every pitch. The small, modestly profitable film was out of the game. Moreover, along with the blockbuster action film that could easily gross $200 million, there developed a parallel industry in products carrying the film’s logo—toys, lunch boxes, soundtrack albums—that could bring in many millions more.
“’Star Wars’ irrevocably altered Hollywood esthetics,” pronounced Newsweek. “What [George] Lucas inaugurated was the triumph of kineticism over content, action over plot, comic-book simplicity over real-life complexity, and special effects over all. Lucas took his tempo from adolescent metabolism, and it was impossible to turn back the clock after that. And the jolts of adrenaline have been coming in ever faster intervals.“ ”‘Star Wars’ was the end of “one of the most fertile and exciting eras in the history of Hollywood filmmaking,” wrote Newsweek, apparently referring to the 1960s and early 1970s. But now “Star Wars” and its progeny have gone and ruined it all.
Now I personally don’t remember “The Great Spider Invasion,“ ”The Singing Nun,“ ”The Pom Pom Girls,” or “The Crater Lake Monster”—all made at the height of this fertile and exciting era of Hollywood filmmaking. But I’ve a feeling that they were absolute clinkers. In the present decadent era, on the other hand, in just this past year, we’ve had “The English Patient” and Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Were these films still immersed in what Newsweek considers the post-“Star Wars” “depths of adolescent metabolism”? For that matter, just what is “adolescent metabolism?” A judgment like that requires some thought.
Whatever it is, it’s sold countless videocassette versions, best-selling Bantam novelizations, $4 billion in “Star Wars” merchandise, and is responsible for 963 sites on the World Wide Web, fan clubs, and innumerable collectibles. And this from a movie for which its author had no great hopes. Mr. Lucas has changed his account a bit since the series’ stupefying success, but I’ve the tape of an interview he gave on the eve of the first film’s opening on Memorial Day, 1977.
“Star Wars” had no real story, he said then, but was a mere “composite” of all the action comic-books he’d read as a child. It was a brainless “kid” movie, he confessed modestly. He just hoped it would be successful enough so he could live off the proceeds of a “Star Wars” series made specifically for children while he made small-audience art movies, which were more to his taste. He confessed shyly that he felt he had no gift for mass entertainment—which is an interesting attitude coming from a man whose “Star Wars” trilogy has by now taken in worldwide no less than $1.3 billion. “Star Wars” is the most lucrative Hollywood franchise since Snow White moved in with the Seven Dwarfs, and beginning on January 31 vast mobs of youngsters are expected to line up at movie houses across the country—youngsters some of whom weren’t even born at the time of the picture’s initial release.
The deep thinkers of Hollywood don’t all agree as to the meaning of the phenomenal success of “Star Wars,” by the way. Steven Spielberg (”Indiana Jones,“ ”Schindler’s List”), quite a successful mass movie director in his own right, feels that the appearance of “Star Wars” was “a seminal moment when the entire film industry instantly changed,” recognizing “the value of childhood.” But George Lucas, rising above his comic book beginnings, now says he’s “spent a great deal of time looking at history, philosophy, and mythology, and about how those relate to the breakdown of a democracy and the rise of a dictator.”
So you see how it is in America? You start making movies for kids and the next thing you know you’re a major political thinker.
Published January 17 - 19, 1997, in The Washington Times
Copyright ©1997 News World Communications, Inc.
As mentioned earlier, GorT and family went to the see Star Wars: The Clone Wars in the theater. My seven-year old son is fixated on Star Wars. As readers will probably learn over time here, I'm rather easy on most movies. I'm all for a little escapism. I tend to enjoy (at least to some degree) about any movie for which I'm willing to plunk down money.
The best description that I was able to come up with is that it's animated bad acting. Seriously. My wife and I checked our watches several times. There isn't much of a story and most of it is an extended battle scene. Not necessarily a bad thing, but here, yes. Maybe as short, Saturday morning cartoons, the Clone Wars would be good. As a almost-two-hour feature film - not so much.
I won't spoil the movie plot (if you want to call it that) here, but Ziro "Truman Capote" Hutt, Jabba the Hutt's "Hutt-let", and the repeated Obi-Wan being one-step behind Skywalker got really old, really fast. To use a Gormogon inside joke: "This movie really sucked". It's got an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Wow, I'm almost thinking I should have thrown a bone to my daughters and picked "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" over this movie. And I'm a big animation fan.
Finally, when will Lucas come out and admit (at least publicly on record) that the original Star Wars (don't give me that "New Hope" crap) was the only one that he had planned originally and the rest he scraped together....and scraped pretty low as the series went on (in release order). Let me hit the high points (or low points) that truly crapped all over the series: "Luke, I'm your father", Ewoks, Midichlorians, Hayden, Portman, Jar Jar Binks, Ziro the Hutt, etc. etc.
He should have ended at the first one before the Joseph Campbell crap went to his head. This is a great article on it especially when you read through the comments as well. And yes, the commenter is correct that if you want to see a good SciFi series that stuck to good stories, decent dialog and interesting character, take a look at Whedon's Serenity/Firefly.
Now we see that Russia has hunkered down in Poti, Georgia's port on the Black Sea. 'Puter's betting that Russia's hedging its bets by finding itself another Black Sea port. Russia's going to claim that it needs to occupy the port as part of its self-declared peacekeeping role in South Ossetia. Keeping supply routes open, preventing the Georgian Navy from launching a pre-emptive strike on Russia's peacekeepers, the excuse doesn't matter. Of course, Russia will assure the West, it will respect Georgian autonomy. Just right up until the point Russia won't.
'Puter's usually wrong about this stuff. This time 'Puter really hopes he's wrong.
An article in Time (dateline -- Beijing (Peking, for you old timers)) is calling for the Olympics to dump two women-only sports: rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming. Ms. Beech aptly states in reference to synchronized swimming that "effort — and a discreet set of nose-clips — doesn't make it worthy of being an Olympic sport." 'Puter couldn't agree more.
In fact 'Puter has said so. Could it be that Ms. Beech has been secretly reading The Gormogons' takes on Sport v. Desperate Cry For Help? It would seem so.
Regardless of whether Ms. Beech came by her conclusion honestly, or totally Bidened The Gormogons (if you link to us, Ms. Hannah Beech of Time, all is forgiven), we extend a hearty "welcome to the party" to her. Anything that contributes to the removal of judged "sports" from the Olympics is good by us.
After all, Sen. Biden once referred to Sen. Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Not exactly post racial rhetoric. Sen. Biden also said that Sen. Obama is "not yet ready for the presidency." Could this be any easier for the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Attack Machine?
Remember the Super Bass-O-Matic '76 from the old SNL skit? Well, Sen. Biden's the real deal: a Super Gaffe-O-Matic '08. Maybe Sen. McCain (R-AZ) can roll out Gov. Jindal (R-LA) to answer Sen. Biden's observation that "you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."
Additionally, and not a small thing, Sen. Biden is a serial plagiarist. Sen. Biden admitted to plagiarism while in law school at Syracuse. Also, in 1987 while running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Biden lifted wholesale portions of British politician Neil Kinnock's writing.
Biden's from Delaware, too. Not exactly a swing state these days, nor an electoral vote powerhouse.
On the upside for Sen. Obama, Sen. Biden is experienced in foreign affairs and has been on the national stage for many years. This may help plug the perceived experience gap in Sen. Obama's resume.
Lord knows Sen. Obama needed a veep pick who had ANY sort of experience whatsoever, particularly in foreign policy. In theory Sen. Biden doesn't seem to be the best veep pick Sen. Obama could have made, but in reality Sen. Biden may have been Sen. Obama's only pick. The Democrat selection pool was a mile wide and an inch deep, full of unserious people with dangerous "solutions" to America's current difficulties.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Is for "nollij."*
'Puter has four simple choices for his boys when they reach 18: (1) state school; (2) scholarship; (3) Marine Corps; (4) priesthood. And not necessarily in that order.
Now, thank goodness, the fine Cornhusker State has given me a fifth option.
*A Nebraska joke the fine Missourians used to tell.
John Steele Gordon, blogging on Commentary online, noting this editorial from the New York Times, has this to say about Medicare. They're both correct.
The NYT is correct that Medicare is a horrible bureaucracy that wastes money because they have zero incentive to do otherwise, and then covers up its malfeasance/nonfeasance when called to account.
Mr. Gordon is even correct-er when he follows the NYT's position to its logical conclusion. Namely, given that the government has shown itself incapable of running an efficient health care program for those over 65, why should we expect that the government is capable of running health care for everyone? Take that, Democrats!
Next time a scrungy Obamanik tries to convince you that government run healthcare is good for what ails you, ask him this question. Name one thing the government can do better than private industry. Be prepared for a deafening silence.
This is the funniest piece of satire I've read in a while. Why? Because the Notorious ŒV has met a whole bunch of these guys—with Obama signs—on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin.
"I couldn't be prouder of all of you wonderful young indy rock assholes," said Axlerod [sic] at a swearing-in ceremony at the campaign's official training center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "You represent our party's finest, the best of best -- you are our Douchebag Delta Force."Illustration from Justin's Blog
Mandatory reading. More important for Americans in the long run than Georgia, Russia, or Pakistan.
(I'll leave Ghetto P to draw its connections to the plague of stripper/hooker-teachers of which he's today's Jacob Riisian scourge.)
UPDATE: Fr. Neuhaus's observations here are not unrelated to the history Bottom documents.
First, America must avoid the temptation to personalize foreign policy. […]He concludes, wisely:
Second, Washington needs to realistically temper its expectations of what any Pakistani government, at least in the short to intermediate term, can be expected to deliver. […]
Third, if American interests in South Asia cannot be dependent on the vicissitudes of domestic Pakistani politics, then… [India,] Pakistan’s larger, more stable, democratic neighbor might be "an answer to some of our major geopolitical problems." […]
Fourth, the United States must undertake to prioritize the competing policy interests which it has, somewhat counterproductively, tried to pursue simultaneously up to now. […]
Hence the most important objective to be pursued by the United States and its allies in their dealings with Islamabad in the coming months will be containing the effects of the centrifugal momentum currently ripping Pakistan apart as a nation-state while waiting for the deluge in Musharraf’s wake to recede.*I'd make a "what is to be done" joke, but I don't know how to say что делать? in Urdu—oh, wait…sweet, sweet Wikipedia says Kiâ karnâ châhiay: کیا کرنا چاہئے). Consider that your free fact of the day.
Conclusive? Hardly. Possibly chimerical? Sure. But... maybe...
And remember, for all our pusillanimity relative to Sa‘ad ed-Din Ibrahim, etc., the erection of a decent, popularly sovereign Arab state with some stability would be the most important act in the Middle East since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire—and an unambiguously positive one.
Our latest entrant? Meet Ms. Autumn Leathers. Seriously. That's not even her stage name down at the Klassy Kat, where she dances for the Canadian Ballet.
And, as an added bonus, Ms. Leathers is from Frostburg, Maryland, home of Frostburg State University, and just within chaw-spittin' range of Pennsyltucky in the scenic Maryland panhandle!
Reg Weaver, call your office.
This entire episode seems to be a tempest in a teapot. The feddle gubbamint is not required to affirmatively enable you to exercise your Constitutional rights, it simply can't prevent you from doing so. If the gubbamint were so required, 'Puter would be screaming that Congress did not appropriate sufficient funds to provide each American a firearm of his own. To defend the First Amendment, does Congress have to fund radio programs so extreme viewpoints can reach a listening audience, despite the fact that the programs would not otherwise be commercially viable? Oh, wait, nevermind.
Planned Parenthood's argument seems to be that because there is a Constitutional right to have an abortion, the federal government must provide you with the means to exercise this right, even to the extent of requiring other people to assist you in getting an abortion, against their will. 'Puter's fairly certain that there's an Amendment to the United States Constitution that prevents this, but that's for another discussion.
'Puter recalls back in the days just before he turned 18, then the legal drinking age in many states, the feddle gubbamint decided to tie federal highway funding to states' adoption of a 21 year old drinking age. States howled, but the feds replied that the states could keep their drinking age, but they just wouldn't get any highway funding. A relatively uncontroversial proposition.
These regulations are the same. Health care providers are free to continue to require all employees to participate in abortions, they just won't get any federal money. A pro-abortion employer can simply refuse the federal money, and continue on its merry way, just as the states could have forgone the federal highway funds. The fact that most if not all will not forgo the federal funds does not change the Constitutionality of the government's act.
If these regulations had involved anything other than the hot-button issue of abortion, they'd have been uncontroversial. And shame on the press for not pointing that out.