Monday, October 31, 2005

Trick or Treat

My sister just left to take my niece trick or treating. Every year at this time, I make the same observatio: we spend 364 days a year telling our kids there is no such thing as a free lunch, then comes Halloween when they learn there is a free lunch, and it is 95% sugar. With that in mind, I thought this was hilarious:

She better come back with some Milky Way minis in that bag of hers, too....
My Favorite Horror Films

I am a film buff. After working in the family video store for four years, I have had the opportunity to acquire an obscene amount of movies easily. I like all kinds, from classic epics to screwball comedies an most anything in between. But my absolute, pig rolling in mud favorites are from the sci fi and horror genres. I don’t care much for cheapo slasher flicks, but I do o love a good dive under the bed movie every now and then. In honor of Halloween, here are my favorites:

1. Creepshow-- I’ve written about this one twice already this week. Scroll down a bit if you haven’t read the posts already.

2. Frankenstein--The original with Boris Karloff has never been improved upon. He portrays the monster perfectly as a creature who never asked to be created, is hated and feared, and doesn’t understand the damage he innocently causes. This film is all about bigotry, alienation, and the difficulties of being unable to fit in. Quite enlightened for 1931.

3. Dracula--The original with Bela Legosi. “Children of the night. What music they make.” I can’t tell you how that phrase spooked the heck out of me as a wee lad. The eerily feel of there being no soundtrack just adds to the scary feel rather than detracting like you’d think it would. Another element that sent chills up my spine was Renfield, a character who states at one point, with lament, that he is doomed to Hell for all the innocent blood he has shed I never have determined why that chilled me so much, but it still does every time I hear it.

4. Scream--the best horror film of the last decade. It takes every cliché and turns them on their ears, because the killer is an obsessed horror fan. Lots of twists and turns as to the identity of the killer--can you believe we think it might be The Fonz?--makes this a good time viewing.

5. Night of the Hunter--Robert Mitchum chases two kids who now the whereabouts of his former cellmates butred loot. The movie is told like a nightmare: chase sequences, falling, and narrow escapes--all the kind that make you jump immediately awake. Unfortunately, you can’t wake up from this one, and I love that fact.

6. Alien--A gross, but mesmerizing movie. It is the most claustrophobic film I have ever seen. With the setting of cold, lonely outer space--well, no one can hear you scream.

7. The Phantom of the Opera--I like the original 1925 version with the master, Lon Chaney. Hollywood historians still don’t know how he pulled off many of his makeup jobs. Even if you haven’t seen this version, you have seen the part in which his mask is ripped off while he is playing the organ. Plus, to me, silent horror films have an extra spooky feel to them.

8. Se7en--”What’s in the box?” You don’t really want to know, Detective Mills.

9. The Silence of the Lambs--The award winning horror film of all time. It doesn’t truly fit into the genre well, but try to forget some of the horrific images you see onscreen. This movie will stick with you for a long time.

10. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari--Another silent film, this is widely considered the first horror movie ever. The tale is told from the perspective of an insane young man, therefore all the sets are crooked and everything is warped. It is one of the most upsetting things I have ever seen.
It's Not Sykes

It is Samuel Alito. Color me pleased. Alito is famous for his dissent in Casey, the case which reaffirmed Roe. That is going to cause Democrats to have conniptions. Bush announced the nomination at 8:00. By 8:01 pro choice judicial activist groups were mobilizing. There is going to be a fairly bloody battle, assuming Alito is not as polished as Roberts. I’m not insulting Alito by that remark. It is just that Roberts was an exceptionally skilled nominee and I, as of yet, have not seen enough out of Alito to cast judgment on how he’ll do in the confirmation hearings.

Alito has earned the nickname “Scalito” because of his similarities to Justice Scalia. The gents at Southern Appeal are happy; the biggest Scalia fan I know is cautiously optimistic. The so called Gang of 14 may tell the tale of how brutal the confirmation is going to go. I’m betting they are going to be fractured over it. The more conservative members will support Alito, while Arlen Specter is going to trot out his “super duper” precedent again, probably getting the same result with Alito he did with Roberts. I expect Democrat opposition to be more brutal this time around, as alito has a paper trail regarding abortion that tilts heavily towards him failing the litmus test for “enlightenment.” He’ll be confirmed, barring some scandalous revelation which both the leftist interest groups and the mainstream media are digging feverishly for as we speak. It won’t be 78-22--in fact, it may be 52-48--but he will be confirmed.

I’m wondering whether Bush id still angry over Miers. Specifically, is he angry enough to not bother giving full support to Alito? Bush strikes me as a “take my ball and go home” kind of guy when he doesn’t get what he wants. Perhaps he is trying to mend fences here, realizing that he needs his base’s support in order to get anything done. We may have seen the start of a new Bush Administration here. Bush currently has no major policy initiatives out there. His social security privatization plan fizzled and he frankly hasn’t offered us anything else at all. Bush may be nominating Alito as a way of united himself with ideological conservatives again as a way of garnering their enthusiastic support for further policy initiatives. We shall see. Probably too much to hope for in our cultural climate.

If I may end on a pessimistic note, while Bush is seemingly solidifying a conservative SCOTUS for a generation, I’d wager that justice Kennedy will become a reliably liberal vote. I still expect as a strict constructionist to be disappointed more often than not by future rulings.
Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The West Wing--"The Al Smith Dinner"

This week we are back to the Santos-Vinick campaign after last week’s detour at the White House. The episode centered on abortion once again. This time we get a littler deeper and discover what Hollywood liberals think a principled stance on abortion is. Yep, it’s exactly what you think it is. There were two side stories: one about Bailey taking over Toby’s job and the other about Donna joining the Santos campaign. Neither piqued much interest.

A independent group begins airing an ad claiming Santos is for unlimited abortions. The writers are meaning for this to be the reverse of the Swiftboat Veteran ads attacking John Kerry’s Vietnam War service. Santos isn’t happy, as he isn’t for unlimited abortions--which turns out to be news to everyone on his campaign, as they all think partial birth abortions are hunky dory. Vinick is having trouble with the ad as well. He is pro choice just like Santos and thinks it is an unfair attack. His advisors assure him he will alienate the social conservatives if he denounces the ad. You will recall that although Vinick is a Republican, he despises conservatives. Yes, he did sweep the Southern primaries. Obviously Aaron Sorkin left some mushrooms in his office for the current writing staff to eat, lick, smoke or however the heck you get high off hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Thus begins a battle over principles. Vinick thinks the GOP needs to move left and support abortion because the conservative wing is “What’s wrong with this party.” Santos agrees that choice is a great thing but--hold the phone--he believes life begins at conception. When he tells his VP this, Leo is floored. Not so much a “I didn’t realize you felt that way” as “How can you possibly feel that way?” here we have the Hollywood leftist ideal conservatives are evil and freedom of choice is way more important than the sanctity of life. At no point is it good to oppose abortion, even if you believe the second a cell splits, it’s life.

Both candidates agree to a debate set for next episode and also agree not to discuss abortion publically, even though they are both about to speak to a crowd of Catholic charities at the Al Amith Dinner. Because, you know, forget the Christians and what they are looking for in thei presidential candidates. This is pure political fantasy by writers who haven’t spent a day watching a real campaign.

Frankly, the abortion debate was still interesting, if no reason than to realize there are folks out there who feel this way. Luckily, they are turning off this show in droves so as not to be indoctrinated. The ratings have fallen from 9 million in the season premier to 7 million last week. If it keeps going like that, by may I’ll be writing these reviews just to see my own words in print.

Rating *** out of 5
Who is Your Ideal SCOTUS Pick?

U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, appointed by
G.W. Bush, born 1949
Judge Brown's nomination to the federal bench from
the California Supreme Court was dislodged when
the "Gang of Fourteen" decided not to
filibuster people anymore. Don't think the
same thing would happen if she were elevated to
SCOTUS! Think Clarence Thomas!

New World Man presents: My favorite candidate for the Supreme Court
brought to you by Quizilla

Via: Idle Mendacity

I'd nominate her if I could. Don't be surprised if Bush announces his pick tomorrow and it's Wisconsin Supreme Count Justice Diane Sykes.
American Malaise

Michael has rounded up a few blog posts regarding the feeling of general malaise that appears to be plaguing the country. One of my posts from last month made it into the cabal, so I feel like I should elaborate further. Many times when I write posts such as that, I am projecting a certain bitterness and pessimism from my own life towards a broader spectrum. It makes for decent apocalyptic writing writing, but with further inspection, my old Political Science roots emerge and I can take a more reasonable approach to things. As one should always begin at the beginning, the source of this new malaise is the latest column by Peggy Noonan.

With all due respect to Ms. Noonan, who is a beautiful writer, and her fans, she has devolved to little more than an apologist for Bush. What she wrote last week sounds much like a 22 year old who has just graduated college after spending four years on daddy’s money, whooping it up in bars, chasing dumb jocks, and hanging out with her sorority sisters. Now she has to use that degree I elementary education to pay her rent. Gone are the bars and boyfriends. Here to stay is the task of poty training half your first grade class in between teaching them to read. To be more precise, Bush isn’t Reagan, and she isn’t happy about it.

Noonan goes on to say that the times are so hard that it is too much for one man to take. Well, I’ll agree we have had a hard five years. In that time, we have had an lection deacle in 2000, a flight crew held hostage in China, the USS Cole attacked, 9/11, a stumbling economy, corporate corruption, a war in Iraq, natural disasters that have wiped out cities, and top level officials committing felonies. All that sounds awful, and it is, but it isn’t the end of America. As I am no apologist for the Bush Administration, I will say it hasn’t helped matters. Virtually everyone one of the events has been handled ineptly by this president. (Yes, USS Cole attack occurred when Clinton was a lame duck, but Bush took no action upon taking office regarding the incident.) Noonan is blaming the events rather than the source for the incompetence--Bush. It is buyer’s remorse. Recall that Noonan look a leave of absence from the Wall Street Journal in order to work for his 2004 campaign.

Despite all that, Noonan has hit on a valid point, although she does not realize it. American history has moved in cycles. There have been three distinct eras, the end of each being marked by national trauma. Interestingly enough, there is exactly 72 years between each: from the ratification of the Constitution (1789) to the outbreak of the Civil War (1861), from the outbreak of the Civil War (1861) to Roosevelt's First Hundred Days (1933):, and rom the Hundred Days (1933) to the next presidential inauguration (2005). We are now in the transition period before the birth of a new era. Births are, of course, painful experiences.

The pain comes from the idea that America’s required changes to a new era may mean it will no longer be the top dog. If that is true, so be it. The rest of the world doesn’t want our leadership anyway. In this next era, will we have to immerse ourselves as a integral part of the global economy. As much wealth as the united states has, it does does not make the top ten in comparison of rates of growth. The United states is shifting from an induxtrial economy to a service one, and will quickly assume the role of the 19th century European powers.

In the 19th century, Europe exploited American cheap labor to manufacture its goods. It grew our economy into the monolith it is today. No country grows within the investment of foreign capital, and the emerging countries of the world--particularly Asia--require us to invest in them. It sounds obvious, but it does mean a huge fundamental change in American foreign policy. Primarily, it means a shift from the ideological alliances of the Cold War to economic ones.

We’ve seen shades of it already. One of the motivations for the democratic reform of the Middle East is to modernize the region to provide even more emerging industry for American investment. In truth, this is no war for oil, although oil money will provide the capital for building the economies. Roughly only 5% of American oil usage originates from the Middle East. We coul shut ourselves off completely from Middle Eastern oil and do just fine. It would be an adjustment, but the current “dependence” on oil is media manufactured.

This is not so fo other world powers, most importantly China. Our relations with China are going to be the biggest change in this new era. The Chinese depend much more on Middle Eastern oil, and are eying us warily as we now sit on top of the second largest oil reserve in the world. Our future--and the future of the 21st century--lies with China. That means undr no circumstances are we fg\oing to risk war with them. The economic ties are too important.

I grant you folks will argue with me on this one, but I do not believe China is a communist country anymore. It may still have some old school Maoists at the top, but they many Chinese have gotten a taste of what making money is like, and they want to keep the gravy train rolling. Yes, it is a clowed and abusive society. Yes, in a idealistic sense we should be standing shoulder to shoulder with Taiwan. We cannot and will, however.

There is currently an uneasy agreement between China and Taiwan. As long as Taiwan holds out the possibility of reunification, China will keep its saber rattling merely as a face saving gesture. The problem is that Taiwan likes to assert its own sovereignty. Taiwan should realize--as should Cold War minded Americans--that we will choose economics over ideology should that dispute come to blows.

There’s the rub of ou American malaise. Sometimes in the futre, we are going to have to play second fiddle. Sometimes, we are not going to throw our weight around in every part of the world we deem necessary. Sometimes, we are going to have to take on military actions to restore order to countries for our own economic well being and other times we are going to ignore hostile actions taken by countries for the same reason. In short, if you thought the almighty dollar ruled us before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Does this mean America will lose its soul? Eventually, yes, if we haven’t already. In a purely secular sense, greed is good. Greed motivates, and greed leads to the satisfaction of needs. Perhaps America will be a beacon of light and a harbinger of freedom in the 21st century, perhaps not. I think our best days are behind us, but that does not mean we will disappear. I do think we are going to take a backseat to China, for better or worse.

Take heart, there are two x factors involved in the Chinese equation. One is the 2008 Olympics. Every time a dictatorship hosts the Olympics, it falls within nine years. Think Germany in 1936 and the Soviet Union in 1980. Second, and perhaps most importantly, more evangelical Christians attend church services in mainland China than in all of western Europe, despite the high risk of persecution, imprisonment, and torture. There is a great chance that as China takes the lead in the world it will be blessed by God.
No Surprise There

Anyone who has seen From Dusk 'Til Dawn will attest to this:
You're Seth Gecko, you bastard.
Fun at the Titty Twister.

Which B-Movie Badass Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Up from the Ashes

For slmost sixty years, the ruins of the Dresden Frauenkirche lay untouched, as a memorial to the Allied bombardment in February 1945 that devastated the city. Over the past decade, the church has been painstakingly rebuilt, with assistance from former enemies. Today it was reconsecrated.

I talk about so much gloom, doom, death, and destruction it is nice to catch a breather and realize things like this happen, too. Old enemies become allies for a higher cause. Take a moment to revel in such things before the shooting starts again, won't you?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sharp Edges

Today is something of a milestone. It would be a my mother’s 59th birthday had she not taken her own life. That was nearly three years ago. At some point, events like a parent’s death fade of into a passing memory on days you would normally celebrate when they were still alive. Maybe it is because time heal all wounds. Maybe it is because as you get older and lose that youthful sense of idealism in which loss is not inevitable. Perhaps it is just because no one aroud you cares, so why should you? I can’t critique that last possibility. When I hear 10,000 people have died in a Bangladesh flood, it doesn’t tear me up nearly as much as when my cat died. You’re the same way. Do you really peruse the obituaries with a different attitude than the comics? I doubt it.

I’ve been open about our tumultuous, often abusive relationship. I figure I don’t have anything to lose now by revealing it. I’m not so ure it even burns me anymore so much as it is a metaphor for the futility of what has been a highly Sisyphean life. I spent a number of years making excuses for her to others, dragging her passed out into bed, cleaning up vomit and blood--often off myself, all while enduring verbal and emotional abuse that would have landed weaker folks in therapy for years. I’m not sure why I did it, particularly after the hypocrisy of divorcing my father over his habitual drinking. They were both bound and determined to kill themselves. My father only made it halfway; mother didn’t succeed until a year or so after I finally left home.

Sharp edges. They are everywhere. There’s nothing you can do about them but brace yourself as they slice into you over and over again. I guess we all end up battle scarred and world weary at the end of the road. The only difference is that some keep on walking the path even when we don’t want to anymore.
Metro-Personality Type

#################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################################### #################################### color=#AAAAAA>################
Your personality type is RCOEI
You are reserved, moderately calm, organized, moderately egocentric, and intellectual, and may prefer a city which matches those traits.

The largest representation of your personality type can be found in the these U.S. cities: Salt Lake City, Washington DC, Austin, Denver, Portland/Salem, Reno, Greensboro, Tucson, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Raleigh/Durham, Greenville/Spartanburg and these international countries/regions Czech Republic, Croatia, Russia, China, Romania, Brazil, Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland, Israel, Poland, Taiwan, France, Caribbean, Guam, Mexico

What Places In The World Match Your Personality?
City Reviews at

Friday, October 28, 2005

From the "Speak of the Devil" Department

After writing a few days ago of how Creepshow is my favorite horror movie, this afternoon, the Sci Fi Channel aired it as part of its 13 Days of Halloween promotion. I had no choice but to watch it yet again.

This time around, I noticed how the movie is such a product of its time. Creepshow was released in 1982 at the tailend of the big hair and bellborttoms era. Everyone looks like they just stepped out of Studio 54. In my favorite segment, "Something to Tide You Over," Leslie Neilson buries Ted Danson up to his neck on the shoreline and sets up a clunker VCR to watch Danson slowly drown as the tide comes in. Today, it would be a webcam. another thought sprang to mind regarding Danson. In the segment, he had stolen money from Neilson. At around the same time, Danson was a guest star on Magnum PI in which he was trying to kill a blind heiress to get her money. He was killed in that episode by falling off a yacht and being chopped up by the rotor. It goes to show that if Danson is going to steal from soe rich man/woman, he needs to avoid the water. Maybe he should consider a career change--like running a bar in Boston.

That is still my favorite segment, but "The Crate" was much better than I remembered. Adrienne Barbeau is the alltime greatest screamqueen and she plays the witchy ex-wife role to the hilt everytime she gets the chance. There's just something incredibly scary about a monster who's trapped in a crate the entire time so you never get to see it, yet it reeks havoc regardless.

As a comic book collecto, i must admit I cringe at viewing the way the Creepshow Comic was treated. Nowadays that thing would be in a polythylene bag with a back board, kept vertically filed in a darkroom, and at a temperature of no more than 72 degrees. don't those folks know anything about panelology? Sheesh. it pains me.
Who Would be Your Stargate: Atlantis Buddy?
John is your SGA buddy!
Sheppard: Get ready to tackle complex tactical
situations and fight off many, many wraith. If
you lived on Atlantis, you'd be spending most
of your time alongside the newly promoted Lt.
Colonel John Sheppard.

Who would be your best Stargate Atlantis buddy?
brought to you by Quizilla
While It's Still Relevant
Thelma Todd

New Victorian has found his niche posting famous woman classier than i have been saddled with. Today he has featured one of my all time favorites, the lovely Thelma Todd.

Known as the Ice Cream Blonde, Thelma was born in Laurance, Massachusetts in 1905. Thelma wanted to be a schoolteacher and eventually became one, but at her mother's insistance, ebtered a number of beauty contests along the way. She won the Miss Massachusetts beauty contest with her stunning good looks in 1925. Her win afforded her a chance to compete in the Miss america pageant. She did not win, but was discovered by a talent scout who fered to pt her in the movies.

Thelma made an incredible 120 movies in her short career. I am a fan of vaudeville humor, so my first encounters with her were in the two Marx brothers films, Monkey Business and Horsefeathers. Her final film is one of my favorites, Laurel and
Hardy's The Bohemian Girl.

As glamorous as she was, Thelma seemed to be the quiet, yet shrewd type. She all but retired from film to open her own nightclub catering to the Hollywood crowd, Thelma Todd's Hollywood Cafe. Details get murky at this point, but rumors are gangsters tried to force Thelma to sell the cafe, but she continually refused. Thelma thereby made enemies out of some very nasty people. On the morning of December 16, 1935, Thelma was found dead in her garage. her death was ruled a suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning. She was only thirty years old.

Many feel that it was actually muder. Speculation is that her alleged boyfriend, gangster Lucky Luciano, had her killed. Others suggest her live in fellow, Roland West, locked her in the garage to keep her from going out again. Neither has been confirmed by investigation. The notoioualy corrupt LAPD treated the incident as an open and shut case. Whether there was some sort of cover up or just sloppy policework remains a mystery. It seems the idea of a tainted LAPD extends far beyond any fantasies of framing OJ Simpson. Indeed, the LAPD "incompetence" plays heavily in the deaths of the rich and famous, from George "Superman" Reeves to The Black Dahlia murder. I can't recommend the novels of James Ellroy highly enough for anyone fascinated by Hollywood crime I the 1940's.

Thelma sticks with me so much because I remember her for being in such light hearted funny films. I didn't know her final fate until many years after i had seen them. It became one of those shocking contrasts that hit you right between the eyes. I still try to remeber her her as the lovely bohemian girl that foiled laurel and Hardy. Thanks, Robert, for reminding me of one of my old favorites.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Apprentice, Week Six

Tonight’s episode was advertised as a boardroom first. I was curious to see how much of that was hype. The creators of this show have an incredible knack of hyping episodes almost to the point of dishonesty. I can report this was indeed a first, but not as shocking as advertised. The boardroom was an unusual massacre.

The task this week was to establish a marketing event to boost sales for a sporting goods store. Because Capital Edge has been so brutalized in recent events, there was a reorganization. Excel established a gold theme in their store. They put up a putting green to keep kids occupied while parents shopped. It was a roaring success. Sales increased 74% over normal levels. Capital Edge chose a baseball theme. They put up a batting vage in the center of the store which shoved all sales rack out of the way so customers couldn’t get to them easily. The batting cage became the event. Rather than shop, the kids played baseball. Sales actually dropped 34% from the regular average.

This was the worst defeat any team has had on the show. It was also the worst bickering in the boardroom. Everyone blamed everybody else for the loss. In truth, the whole affair was gross incompetence from all but three of the seven members of the team. Here’s where we get into the boardroom first: Trump fired all four of the bickering members. Yep, this is apparently going to be a very short season.

For anyone still watching the major disasters: Marcus was traded as being an ineffective team member, and his new team isn’t thrilled with him, either. Not that they don’t like him. They just don’t get his far out demeanor. I can relate. Clay, the gay guy, was also traded and immediately had his weekly hissy fit. I can’t wait to see him fired. Hopefully he’ll cry and threaten to “slap you silly, Mr. Trump.” it should be interesting now that the membership is shrinking so fast. We should get to the cut throat nitty gritty very quickly.

I am going through withdrawals over Kristi being fired. Her former teamates were still taking potshots at her at the beginning of tonight's episode. I learned through the grapevine that Kristi is a single mom. I did not know that, but it continues on with my theme of unknowingly being attracted to girls who have kids. Interesting, since i don't relate well tookids. I wonder if I can sense a maternal instinct and just not be consciously aware of it?
Lincoln Walking By His Tomb in Illinois
Miers Aftermath

I am downright giddy about Miers’ withdrawal. I have more class than to gloat about it anymore than I did in my last post, but I do have few thoughts on the aftermath after hearing from some news organizations and a few politicians. Some of it is absurd. Some of it might be troublesome.

First, I heard Sen. Shumer refer to archconservatives like Sen. Lindesy Graham were skeptical of Miers. Graham? Archconservative? BWAH HAHAHAHA! No seriously, Sen. Shumer. South Carolina’s biggest mistake since Gov. “Diamond” Jim Hodges is as wishy washy as they come. Here’s hoping Rep Joe Wilson challenges him in the primaries in 2008 before Lt. Gov. Ardre “Baby Doc” Bauer asks his daddy to buy the seat for him instead.

Second, the idea that the Miers’ nomination was a ruse by Karl Rove to get a more conservative nominee later is an absurdity liberal fantasy. Seriously, do leftists really think Rove is that Machiavellian? Is he Beelzebub or Azeroth in an Italian suit, sent to prepare the Earth to be plunged into the underworld? By all accounts, Bush went against his advisors on this one. He thought he had given his base enough so they’d let him slip his buddy in for a plum job. He was wrong and everyone around him knew it beforehand.

Fouh, the one thing Bush hates more than anything else in the world is being told he’s wrong. I am sure he has had a tantrum over this. His tantrum may result in two bad scenarios. One, he’ll ram through another buddy of his just to show he can or two, he’ll nominate some hard right nominee the base likes and say, “Here you go. You get him confirmed, ingrates.” There will be a hard road ahead either way.

Finally, I think about Sandra Day O’Connor. She wants to retire to spend time with her ailing husband before it is too late. I don’t like O’Connor’s jurisprudence. In fact, I think her opinion in Casey v. Planned Parenthood is the most pathetic piece of legal reasoning in the history of the American judicial system because she had a chance to annihilate Roe with a sound legal argument and made a metaphysical one instead. Because folks wanted abortion legal, they shrugged and declared it brilliant. Despite that, I am miffed that she is being buffeted about my the Bush Administration’s machinations. Nominate someone confirmable for O’Conor’s seat and let the poor woman go home! It wouldn't surprise me at all if she doesn't just throw her hands up in the air and quit. I wouldn't blame her if she did.
All Together Now:

Sha na na na,
Na na na,
Hey, hey, hey,
Good bye.

Have a nice trip back into obscurity, Ms. Miers.

On a more serious note, this has been plotted a while. Miers says she is withdrawing to protect intenal White House documents, thereby protecting the president and the good of the country. She looks good, like she's taking it on the chin for Bush. He looks good, like it wasn't his idea to can her. It is all quite the public relations move.

i'm sure Bush has had a tantrum over this. He probably wants to ram Alberto Gonzales though just to tick eveeryone off. Here's hoping he refuses again and we get Jones, Owens, Luttig, Garza, or--dare I dream?--Janice Rogers Brown.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Faith & Personal Relationships

I have been in something of a crisis of faith in the last few months. It hasn’t been an intellectual doubt--I know God exists--but rather one of emotional doubt. More succinctly, I have been wondering exactly what makes a Christian a Christian. After spending much of my life immersed in theology and surrounded by Christians of one stripe or another, I’ve still never examined the issue. It has only been within the last four years that working through those thoughts has seemed important to me. I have been involved in this discussion through e-mail with Michael for quite a while now. Much of that is too personal to recount here, but I have drawn a few conclusions that I would like to put up here rather than clog up his inbox any further. I think it iss appropriate, as I have been rather brutal as of late discussing Christianity in general and a few incident in the recent past in specific.

In the broadest sense, my recent troublesome thoughts have centered on the fact that I was surrounded by a good many Christians that I just simply did not like. Everyone meets those types in their lives. Usually it’s a handful of folks here and there that you get miffed at and then quickly forget about. What I am referring to here is being totally, completely surrounded by unpleasant Christians, in a closed environment, for years at a time. I am speaking of Regent university as the source of my angst.

I have a few caveats. First, I am not making a blanket condemnation. I had a small number of close nit friends I liked, a whole bunch I tolerated, and a sizeable minority I wished had a permanent itch they couldn’t reach. I’ve had that everywhere I’ve ever spent a considerable amount of time, so I can’t say that has a whole lot to do with religious leanings. Second, a fe alumni link here, as does my former Constitutional Law professor. My stat tracker tells me that a number of other alumni and administrators visit here from time to time, and I can tell that some who wish to remain anonymous have me boo marked on their browsers assuming I’ll never know it. Perhaps they are hoping I will eventually name names. I’m not going to do that here. Finally, I am going to honestly criticize Regent, not out of a sense of meanness or having an axe to grind, but of genuine, thoughtful contemplation. I welcome anyone to come out of hiding through the comments or e-mail to respond.

Let me begin this rambling monstrosity with a concept I now realize I have thrown around too lightly in the past: a personal relationship with Christ. I’ve described myself a having one, even though I couldn’t define it for the life of me. That’s what happens when you get too comfortable as a Christian. You forget what it means to be one. It isn’t a matter of going to church on Sunday to compare outfits or singing the loudest at choir practice, In a less cynical sense, it is not about how many times you pray, what you pray about, or how many people you have shared the Gospel with, either. Those are, I think, what Jesus refers to as laying up treasures for yourself in heaven. These are things James refers to when he says faith without work is dead. He doesn’t mean charity in the altruistic sense of the word--while that is a good thing-- he means that not working on your personal faith can kill it. One who has a true, healthy faith with do good works out of a Christ-like sense of duty and not to make himself look good in the eyes of other people. Feeding your faith is a very personal thing and, at least in my case, a very quiet, private one.

Shortly before I left Regent, I went to a Mexican restaurant with a friend who confided in me that her faith was weak before coming to Regent. She decided to accept admission there because she wanted to be closer to God. She said she’d accomplished that. I didn’t--and don’t--doubt her sincerity in that. I came to regent, not looking to get closer to God, but to find some peace among Christians after a tumultuous few years a family squabbles, career setbacks, and pooor health issues. I expected some comfort and camaraderie. I did not get it, but I should not have gone expecting it, either. I didn’t look at my past relationship with Christ for what I was seeking. I looked for it in other people, something which I am no good at.

Personal failures and character flaws have lead to a lot of trouble and misunderstandings. I cab be arrogant, abrasive, anti social, cynical, combative, defensive, and mean spirited if I consider you an “ill-defined “bad person.’ I can rationalize every single one of these flaws at any given moment. I’d like to think I still have a sense of fair play and decency in my actions, but I honestly know where I am rough around the edges. I have no problem admitting any of these things. I do so now as full disclosure so you’ll understand that I am fully prepared to accept blame in any nasty things that I have been involved in, socially, personally, and spiritually. I am no angel pointing fingers at everyone else for my spiritual struggles dating back to any point in my life, particularly in recent years.

All that said, I have come to the conclusion that my spirual health--my personal relationship with Christ--has been stronger when I have been in secular environments, where I expect people to behave badly, than in Christian environments, where I hold them to a higher standard in which they fail to reach time and time again. It is the sinful nature of both groups both times. We all have one. Mine is huge, yet I had some expectation that the rest of the Christians I was around had a rein on theirs. Not so, and what’s worse, when Christians are in a closed, secluded environment, they behave very, very badly.

I have never been in an environment as closed off as Regent was. I had always been in a place which was for the most part secular. Yes, I did go to a Christian school for elementary and high school. The faculty was devout, but it was the only private school in town and the weathier parents sent their kids there not out of some sense of Christian duty, but to keep them out of the trouble they’d find in public school. I can’t tell you the number of devout kids who showed for a few months and were then taken out to be home schooled by disappointed parents. I don’t suppose I have to explain what the University of South Carolina was like spiritually, do I?

In those environments, I fostered a quiet spiritual relationship with Christ. It was a praying in the closet type of thing. Unbeknownst to me, that was helping me build up my faith. It was the works that was keeping my faith alive. The comfort of being in a place where you can let your spiritual guard down can cause your faith to stagnate. That, in my opinion, is what happened to many of my classmates. They grew up in colse knit Christian families, went to tiny Christian schools, and had it pounded in them from early on about the evils of secular society. That prompted them to form closed off enclaves in which they were suspicious of those who had come from secular environments. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating here: if you went to a secular college, you were not considered a real Christian until you presented compelling evidence to the contrary.

Such an attitude created an us v. them atmosphere that was hard to deal with. My classmates were judgmental, personally, intrusive, and hypocritical. Some were even abusive, probably because of their sheltered ness. The specifics of that aren’t relevant here but that didn’t make it hurt any less for me, considering I was reling from outside circumstances to begin with. It was at this piint that I seriously began questioning what it mans to be a Christian. The main point I wrestled with is why would I want to go to heaven I these are the kind of people I will have to spend eternity with?

It has taken me a while to realize that what I found distasteful was their sinful natures, something they found just as distasteful in me. In heaven, those will be gone. I don’t imagine there will be regret in heaven, but I am sure we will realize our anonymities have been the result of those sinful natures. I wasn’t accdtomed to be surrounded by a closed enclave of Christians that supposedly support one another. I was an outsider, and treated accordingly. I wasn’t the only one.

This is where my honest criticism of Regent comes in. I think a Christian law school is a antastic idea in theory but poor practically. Regent has to conform to ABA standards in order to remain accredited. That means they cannot discriminate at al and it leads to trouble. A Catholic knows not to apply to Bob Jones University. He knows his theology is not welcome there and neither is he. The line is not so clear at Regent. The enclave I spoke of above can actually be divided into much smaller ones, generally unified by a distrust of nonChristians, but broken up by a dislike for different denominations. In the broadest sense, there was a big Catholic-Protestant divide. A catholic student could very well wind up with a Southern Baptist professor who literally thinks and acts like the student is a hellbound apostate and there is nothing he can do but sit there and take it. There was also a charismatic v. everyone else divide which was small but growing as I left. Some of the conflicts I witnessed were brutal, not just over theological grounds, but behavioral and sexuality as well. It was all enough for someone wel rounded in Chirsitian theology begin losing faith in what inate good fruit that Christianity is supposed to produce. That is exactly what it did to me.

My subsequent circumstances didn‘t help much. I said above that I have encountered disagreeable Christians before. Normally, I have shrugged them off as bad apples and moved on. I would have done so here, too, if my health hadn‘t fallen apart. It caused me to wonder if poor health wasn‘t a punishment from God, particularly because it was drilled in me by the Pentecostals who surrounded me that everything has some direct Godly purpose. You see, if my former classmates were prospering, but I am not, then they are spiritually better than I am, and I need to examine that. I confess that thought rolled around my head for months, particularly because of how so many of my classmates turned their noses up at me. I know I have flaws--I’ve admitted that above--but with their rotten behavior, surely they are not better Christians who should sit in judgment of me?

To work through this problem, I had to analyze two concepts. First, exactly how much of a hand days God take in day-to-day life? I honesty think very little. I believe he left us the Holy Apirit--with whom that personal relationship is established--in lieu of direct cntact. Inded, this is a world in which darkness and sin are in control. It’s not that god forsakes us. It’s not that way at all. But I think if he intervened too much, one would view Him as a Santa Claus fulfilling all your wishes. Instead, I think instead that childlike faith that is so important comes from being buffeted my sin and bad times, because you have that faith that at the end of the road, Someone will be there to take you home. Stering through life, not really sure of when you are being protected and when you are being slapped down makes you more reflective, and being more reflective makes you realize that you are a child dependant on God.

Which leads me to the second concept: does God punish us on Earth? I was of two minds about this. First, I readil accept that the emotional and the spiritual can effect the physical. Depression and pessimism can shorten you life, so there is no reason to think sin won’t do the same thing. That’s not necessarily a direct punishment from God, but a symptom of our fall from grace. In that sense, it happens to everyone, and there is probably no significance to it. Secondly, if I may toss out a Southerism here, children are like dogs, if you slap them around enough, they’ll start to think they did something to deserve it. I can’t see a benevolent God misleading one of His followers that way. Jesus told us that following him was not going to be easy. We were going to have to take up a heavy cross and follow him. It is going to be an unfair life of hardship and frankly, since it is our fault we are separated from God and Jesus had to sacrifice himself, why shouldn’t it be? That goes for all Christians, so I don’t see how I am being punished with poor health.

The bible says the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Someone’s sweet old grandmother suffers for years with cancer while Josef Stalin dies quietly one night. That casts doubt on there being any sort of direct justice these days. I think it is all after we die. We are being guided by some calamities, yes, but I am not so sure we are being punished. I think instead the pain we feel helps u to let go of this world and embrace the next. This realixation is why I am tempted (bad word choice, I know) to say too much comfort in Christianity is a bad thing. It leads to a complacency that can cause observers to lose their faith, like I almost did.

What does all this mean? for you, maybe nothing. I’ve taken all this on faith in my personal relationship with Christ, which I have already noted has been doubted by a number of folks in recent years. That is fine with me. An inherent aspect of having faith in something is the realization you could be wrong. I still shift between melancholy and distraught over what my life has become. I think that is natural in my circumstances. But I have not shaken my fist at God and denied Him. I have asked honestly why and I have gone through bouts of anger, but have never given up on my faith. It has been a struggle to bypass the poor behavior of other Christian who seem to be rewarded nonetheless while I suffer, yet having faith that at some point, it will all come out to balance. The bad part is that I have plenty of time to relive my memories and renew doubts all over again. I suppose doubt is an aspect of faith, so that is normal. It is tough to analyze yourself, particularly when you realize your life is probably winding down, either realistically or just shrinking in scope and experience. The answers are not always pleasant. I guess that’s why few do it, and instead congregate among the likeminded, right or wrong, for reasurance they are on the straight and narrow. I don’t have that luxury, never did, and never will. I wonder if that makes me more or less fortunate?
My Lost Theory

There won’t be another Lost episode until November 9, but I’d like to join the chorus of fans who are tossing out theories on what exactly is going on in lieu of an episode review. Knowing that J. J. Abram is a longtime fan of comic books--he wrote the first draft for Superman Returns--and that several of the Lost writing staff got there start writing comics, I think it is entirely possible they’d be aware of the story I’m about to talk about and neither would I be surprised if some of these elements turn out to be true. But first, some background.

Marvel Comics was experiencing a boom in the early 1990’s. A relaunch of Spiderman sold 3 million copies and a similar X-Men relaunch sold 8 million. The company was making money hand over fist based largely on the work of six or seven artists. These artists were earning a standard salary with no royalties. It occurred to them that they could band together to form their own company, hold all the copyrights to the characters they create, and keep all publishing and merchandizing profits for themselves. That is precisely what they did, forming Image Comics.

It was gangbusters for a while until several factors intervened. First was a lack of writing talent. Pretty pictures don’t tell a compelling story. Second was a lack of business skills. Artistic types are often poor with practical skills. A few artists dropped off the map, while others soared. Todd McFarlane, who created Spawn, became wealthy enough to buy his own toy company. You may recall he was the one who purchased mark McGwire’s record breaking homerun ball for $ 3 million a few years ago. The ones who weren’t so lucky in business were still hot artists, so they hatched a plan. They were going to come back to Marvel for a year and “reimagine” a bunch of characters. It was going to be a big event call Heroes Reborn. In order to preserve regular continuity, Marvel used a big crossover storyline in order to segue into Heroes Reborn.

In this storyline, there was a major villain named Onslaught. Or heroes figured out a way to defeat him, but it was going to be a catastrophic suicide run. The heroes decided they had no real choice but to sacrifice themselves. The fantastic four were among the characters ready to sacrifice themselves. Two members of that team have a young son, around eight years old. The boy has some ambiguous powers that writers have played around with over the years without totally defining them. It has been a running story element that he is probably the most powerful being on Earth, yet to young and immature to understand his potential. The best way to describe it is that he can create and warp reality. He realized that his parents and a number of other heroes are about to die. At the split second they should have died, Franklin wiskied them away--unbeknownst to him--to a new reality he created. This was the heroes Reborn Universe. It was a place the Image artists could play around with the characters and bring them back to regular reality when they were done.

In this reality, their lives were completely different, yet they did not remember their real lives and selves. At the end of Heroes Reborn, they were brought back to reality by Franklin when a being called Galactus, who feeds off the energy of planets, tried to destroy their Earth. Can this idea be fit into the ,I>Lost reality? I think so.

Walt is franklin. He has some special powers they’ve hinted at. He seems able to control animals at least and apparently has some premonitions about the bad things that happen on the island. Could it be because he created the island? When the plane started to break up, Walt could have created the island and brought some passengers of Flight 815 with him there. Such a place--and all the characters’ experiences--would have to be something a ten year ol child could relate to. I think they do. Walt has daddy issues. Think about how many other characters do: Jack, Sawyer, Locke, Shannon, Jin, and probably others as we dig deeper into the flashbacks. What else would a ten year old boy like? Dogs, monsters, pirate ships, cops and robbers like Kate, and secret passageways like the hatch. Even the attention that has been paid to the Apollo candy bars is a clue. What kid doesn’t like candy? If a child were going to run away, wouldn’t he take his teddy bear with him? That’s what the adult Desmond did, just like having a child’s mindset, even though it was perfectly reasonable to him.

Events would have to relate to events that a child could relate to. Fairy tale like events, such as Hurley becoming rich overnight, Locke regaining his ability to walk, Sarah being miraculously healed, jin and sun falling in love at first sight to fulfill prophecy, and Sayid, a soldier going to America to find his lost love. All of these elements are things a child would relate to bedtime stories and the like. Walt could have given them these memories as part of their new “reality.”

Like Franklin, Waly doesn’t understand his powers and can’t control them. In other words, bad elements have crept in just like in Heroes Reborn. Walt couldn’t put his finger on it, but he knew opening the hatch was bad, probably because he created it. As the show progresses, I think we will see more of Walt’s inadvertent creation. I’m almost certain not putting in those numbers in the computer will lead to a doomsday scenarion like the coming of Galactus in Heroes reborn.

How does this fit in with the Dharma Corporation? I’ll bet walt’s mother worked for them somehow. That would put it in Walt’s mind. He probably views it as a huge corporation with a hand in everything, hence the Dharma logo everywhere and on everything. Another thing he must relate to are car accidents. Michael, Kate, Sarah, Loke, and Shannon’s father have all been in one to one degree or another, and it is the same brown car every time that causes the accident. Characters constantly recur, like the lotto girl announcing Hurley’s win was an associate of Sawyer’s, Sawyer was in the same jail house as Boone, Locke has the same boss at the box factory as Hurley had at the chicken restaurant, and Shannon’s father was in the hospital when Jack decided to save Sarah instead. There are probably many others, but this seems like the narrow happenings of a child’s world.

That’s my theory. It is not a dream of Walt’s, nor is it a virtual reality. It is a total reality created by Walt. What do you think?
Waltzing Matilda

Evan 'Darby' Allan, the last of Australia's 330,770 World War 1 veterans, was buried with full state honours. At the time of World War I, Australia had a population of 5 million. The country suffered 60,000 dead and 200,000 total wounded. That accounts for 1 in 83 Australians dead and 1 in 25 wounded in that completely pointless war.

Since college, I have been of the mind that calling that conflict a world war is a misnomer. It was, more than anythging else, a European war. There might be a certain romance to the notion that so many Australian boys signed up to fight for king and country, but odds are they were 17, poor, are thirsting for adventure. They got more than they bargained for at Gallipoli.

(This goes for the American Doughboys as well, in my opinion.)

For an Australian view on the county's involvement in the Great War, raad the lyrics to Eric Bogle's "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

For this crowd? Naaahhhh.
The Astros Don't Care About Black People

No, actually that's not true. But the Astros are the first World Series team without a black player since the 1953 New York Yankees. I can't tell you I give one whit about quotas on anything, much less sports teams, but this fact seems to have raised some eyebrows among the politically correct crowd. I don't think it is deliberate racism. The Astros would put an 84 year old one armed, cross-eyed lesbian from Borneo on the team if she could bat .314 and was a goof glovewoman up the middle. Thirteen percent of the US population is black. Nine percent of baseball is. That's close enough, methinks.

Joe Morgan disagrees with me:
'In this country, baseball has become an aristocratic sport,' said Morgan, speaking at a media event to spotlight tomorrow’s opening of the Hall of Fame exhibit at the Oakland Museum. 'I live in Danville, and 12-year-old kids have batting instructors. What black inner-city kid is going to have a batting instructor?'"
Here's a link to the rest of that article.

Those inner city kids don't have basketball instructors, either, but those kids are phenomenal players. I don't think it is a problem that they are choosing nets over bats. I wouldn't call it an aristocratic sport, either. Consider that 25% of the MLB rosters today are from poor Latin America countries. America's game isn't the domain of the upper class, caucasioan players. It's democratic, and for everyone who wants to play.

So is it unusual for the Astros to be an all white team? No. The chance that a random player is non-black is 91%, so the chance that 25 such players are all non-black is (91%)^25, which is about 9.5%. So the chance that an individual team has a black player would be 90.5%; which means that, given 30 teams, the chance that all of them would have at least one black player is (90.5%)^30, or about 5%. So with 9% of players black and distributed randomly around the league, there's a 95% chance of there being one all-non-black team.

Can we discuss real problems now?

I have not been feeling well as of late. It’s nothing diagnosable apparently--just the blahs of wearing out. I have pretty much slept since Friday. I have only gotten up intermittently to stare out the dining room window into darkness or overcast gloom, whichever happens to be present, and scarf down whatever soft food I’m currently in the mood for. There isn’t much on TV I’ve been in the mood for. I’ve done some more writing on a few projects here and there to pass the time. Buddy, it does pass slowly.

It has been unusually cold the past few days along with it being gloomy. It has dipped down into the 30’s at night and in the early mornings. Normally, we have t-shirt weather well into November. With the hurricanes, earthquakes, and the tsunami, it shouldn’t surprise me that the weather has gone mad. The last time I was fit to regularly leave the house this time of year, I was in Virginia. This is much better weather than October there. I recall cold, icy rain and an ocean wind that would cut right through you. It fit in pretty well with the frigid, vutting people I had to deal with those three years. There is continuity, if nothing else.

There hasn’t been enough interesting news for me to muster any effort to post. Indictments may be oming down for Karl Rove or Scooter Libby. Big deal. After the Harriet Miers betrayal, I couldn’t care less what happens to this White House. If we’re lucky, Cindy Sheehan really will chain herself to the fence like the attention whore she is. If we are even luckier, a raven will come by every day and pluck out her liver. It will grow back every night, so the process can be repeated until Veteran’s Day when Sheehan will get the opportunity to meet some real heroes. The best part about that? They will treat her kindly--much more so than she deserves.

Every last one of my predictions for the MLB playoffs fell through. Actually, they were dead wrong. I don’t really care about the Astros or the White Sox, but after Game One, a White Sox fan slapped Craig Bigggio’s wife, apparently thinking this was the NBA. At least he didn’t kill her and stuff her in his trunk. That would have been too NFL. Ozzi Guillen, who has been in the US for over a decade but still can’t speak a lick of English, promised to go Venezuelan barrio on the guy’s butt if they’d bring him to the dugout. I admire that, but since White Sox fans apparently have a bunch of thugs amongst them, I’m pulling for the Astros.

What irritates me is that the White Sox are on the verge of sweeping the Astros and winning their first Woorld Series in 80 something years. Like with the Red Sox, we are going to have an entire year of fair weather doofuses wearing White sox gear and swearing they’ve been devoted fans all along while crowing this has finally been the year they’ve been waiting for. Gag me with a spoon, will you?

The Iraqis have a new constitution; Rosa Parks died. For every good, there is bad. It is all about balance and symmetry, or so I am told. Life seems a bit lopsided in the negative side, in my humblest of opinion. That most assuredly means I’ll have more angst to report later. See you then.

I'm going to have to switch my older photos from being posted on Photobucket over to Blogger. I hope you horny little devils are happy. Because I am such a sweetheart, here's what you all are looking for:

In reversed order, just to mess with your minds.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The West Wing--"Here Today"

I’ve been watching TWW for the past season and a half mostly out of a fascination over the presidential campaign the show is running. Emphasis has shifted from the original cast to the two candidates on the campaign trail with only an episode here and there devoted to the old cast. I have little to no attachment to the old cast and am pretty blah when it comes to these installments. Last night’s episode featured the departure of Communications Director Toby Zeigler. Longtime fans are upset at the character’s treatment. I’ll get to that momentarily.

The episode deals with the aftermath of Toby revealing to CJ that he was the leak regarding the space shuttle program. The bulk of the episode deals with Toby’s grilling by White House Counsel Babish, played by a favorite actor of mine, Oliver Platt. No one plays an obnoxious jackass quite like Platt. Truth be told, I thought that bit got boring because it rran overlong. Just how many denials do we have to hear from Toby? Two commercial breaks worth, apparently. The part that has fans up in arms is the final scene. Toby is brought before Bartlet and offers his resignation. Bartlet refuses, saying he has to fire Toby for cause. The president than proceeds to uncharacteristically chew Toby out for his acting morally superior. That is true. Toby has been the most pompous and judgmental character on the show, but I don’t think he deserved that. Bartlet’s parting shot: “When you walk out that door, some people are going to think you are a hero. I am not one of them.” Ouch. Thanks for 7 ½ years of devotion, Toby.

There was a B and a C story, neither of which were the slightest bit interesting. Bartlet’s daughter is getting married. Actually, she’s racing the stork, which the Bartlets, being politicians and Catholics in that order, aren’t happy. The other story is Josh Lyman firing 45 members of the Santos campaign--probably setting up his aide de camp, Donna’s return to the show. Speaking of returns, Will Bailey is taking over Toby’s job after failing to get Vice President “Bingo” Bob Russell to democratic nomination. Way to recycle cheaper actors.

I didn’t go much for this episode. The NASA leak wasn’t very compelling to begin with and frankly, the Bartlet White house is running out of steam. It’s the Santos and Vinick Show now, and we will get back to that next week. I will admit watching Toby’s grilling gave me twinges of pain about my lost legal career. That’s bound to cast a negative shadow over my opinion of the episode.

Rating: ** out of 5
Ruthless? Moi?

King Edward I
You scored 61 Wisdom, 81 Tactics, 55 Guts, and 47 Ruthlessness!

Or rather, King Edward the Longshanks if you've seen Braveheart. You,
like Edward, are incredibly smart and shrewd, but you win at any
costs.... William Wallace died at his hands after a fierce Scottish
rebellion against his reign. Despite his reputation though, Longshanks
had the best interests of his people at heart. But God help you if you
got on his bad side.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 43% on Unorthodox
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 84% on Tactics
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 51% on Guts
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 49% on Ruthlessness
Link: The Which Historic General Are You Test written by dasnyds on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
Listen to the Sound of Silence

I haven't posted in a while for various reasons I won't get into and I will continue to sparsely update for heaven knows how long. I don't want to get into it, honestly. Later, I will post a few words on last night's The West Wing episode just for the sake of continuity and I am going to take an online quiz to satisfy the curiosity of a faithful reader. Otherwise, I'll post when I post.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Zombies March on Madison

What do they want? Equal rights for the undead and affordable access to brains.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Miers Withdrawal Watch

I believe we are on the countdown for Harriet Miers’ nomination to the supreme Court to be withdrawn. Captain’s Quarters sums up the growing problems Miers is facing beyond her obvious lack of qualifications. Earlier this week there were bipartisan accusations of her inability to answer questions regarding judicial issues she would be likely to face on the SCOTUS. When both parties are declaring a candidate incompetent, that spells disaster. Senate republicans in particular are in revolt, and quietly suggesting the White House withdraw Miers from consideration. The president, as usual, refused.

I don’t recall write offhand who wrote it, but earlier I ran across an article which said that if Bush were the captain of the Titanic, he’d hit a second iceberg just to prove he meant to ghit the first one. It is not uusual for someone in power to not admit mistakes. Indeed, one of the major functions of advisors and Cabinet officials is to fall on their swords and deflect blame from the president. But Bush has abused this privilege to an extreme like no other. He is bound and determined to appoint his cronies to positions of power and screw the consequences. I am convinced the only reason Gonzales isn’t the nominee is because he absolutely refused based on his association with drafting much of the policy the SCOTUS will be examining in the next few years.

One good part about all this is that Democrats are still ineffectively flapping in the wind. With the GOP stepping up the criticism of Miers, the Democrats look like just another voice in the choir. That will change, mind you, if Miers is withdrawn. Bush will have to nominate a conservative to win back his base’s support. Such a confirmation will be incredibly bloody.

Miers could stroll out anytime now and withdraw herself “for the good of the country” or because she “misses Texas” and save face for the White House. I don’t know that will happen, or if Bush stands by her until she gets eaten alive at the confirmation hearing. Either way, I guarantee you that Justice O’Connor will still be on the SCOTUS come January.

TTLB Ecosystem: I oppose the Miers nomination.
Creepshow to Be Remade

Woo hoo! Warner Brothers has commissioned a remake of Creepshow, the 1982 classic horror flick written by Stephen King and directed by George Romero. Creepshow is my all time favorite horror film. The movie is an anthology of tales featured in a comic book like the old E. C. Comics line from the 1950’s which prompted the creation of the Comics Code Authority to self censor content too strong for the kiddies. Naturally, I couldn’t stay away from either the movie or the comics. Finding an E.C. comic in investment grade condition was tough, but if you had some in your collection, you had arrived as a panelogist. That’s a comic book collector, for the uninitiated folks.

I was very young when I first saw the movie. I have since seen it a dozen more times, and it has held up as I’ve gotten older. It’s not just the youthful wonder of remembering something as being better than it actually was. That thing creeped me out for the longest time. Even after I watch it not, several of the stories will stick with me for days, sometimes weeks.

My favorite is the one featuring Leslie Neilson and Ted Danson. It featured two classic fears: claustrophobia and drowning. In it, Neilson ganis revenge on Danson by burying him up to his neck on a private beach and leaving him there for the tide to come in. Here’s the thing--if you don’t panic, the water will eventually shift enough sand for you to pull yourself out. That is not an easy thing to do, however, with water crashing over yor head and submerging you thematically neilson has buried damson’s girlfriend the same way further down the beach. They both panic too quickly and drown. But they both come back later for their revenge. I never quite looked at a day at the beach the same again.

The stories in the original weren’t connected in any way--neither were the old E. C. comics--but the ones in this new version will be. It’s going to lose something not having King and Romero attached, but I hope it does keep up the theme of using relatively big name actors (for the time, anyway) as characters. The original had Neilson, Danson, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Stephen King himself, and a host of others. Hopefully this one can break the chain of all those teenie bopper flicks of the late 1990’s. You see, those were too easy to make. You took some kids from Party of Five, a few from Dawson’s Creek, and thing some from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then you created some genric killer with a gimmick. You had yourself a movie. Let’s see something wih a little more pizzazz, like Scream, another favorite of mine. Time will tell.
Taunting the Taliban

By now you have heard the story of US soldiers in Afghanistan burning Taliban fighters in violation of Islamic law and taunting the living fighters about it. A lot of conservative commentators aren't touching this one out of politically correct concerns. I don't think that is especially necessary. Nasty things happen in war, and this sort of thing has a long history even with american forces:
"Before World War I, U.S. General "Blackjack" Pershing put down an Islamic insurgent movement in the Philippines by having 50 captured Islamic fundamentalist terrorists tied to posts for execution by firing squad. In full view of all 50, Pershing had his men slaughter two pigs. Pershing's men next dipped their bullets in the pigs blood, making sure the horrified terrorists watched. Blackjack's men shot 49 of these terrorists, dumped their bodies in a common grave and covered them with pig parts. The 50th terrorist was let go."
That story is something of an often told urban legend. For one, pershing was hunting Pancho Villa in Mexico just prior to World War I, although i do believe he spent time in the Philippines as well. British forces were accused of the same thing, leading to the Sepoy Rebellion in India.

Regardless, this is a legitimate tactic in a war propted by religion, in this case Islanm. if Muslims want to start a holy war, i don't think they can complain when their religion is used against them. War is hell, but if we are going to fight one, we have got to fight to win.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Apprentice, Week Five

Trump fired Kristi! I am officially in mourning. She was tough! She was Southern! She sure wuz purty, too. Geez, I knew Trump had put a target on that cute little back of hers after she lost the first task as project manager, but this time around the loss wasn’t really her fault. It was largely a personality clash with the current project manger, Jennifer, who wasn’t even present for the last few hours of the task. Mercy, mercy me.

The task was to create a parade float to promote the new movie, Zathura. As a side note, the plot of tZathura sounds suspiciously similar to David Gerrold’s novel, Jumping Off the Planet, but that is either an odd coencidence or a matter for federal court. Good luck, Mr. Gerrold. Anyway, the guys created a float detailing the entire experience of the movie and hit on the most important part--getting the name out there in the public’s mind. The poor girl’s couldn’t get the scale right for their models and mispronounced the title of the movie a half dozen times during the presentation.

The bulk of their problem was bickering between everyone and Kristi. I’ll admit, she’s bossy and opinionated, but the incompetence in design and errors in presentation were all Jennifer’s fault. But like I said above, Kristi had a target on her back and Trump was going to get rid of her the first chance he got. Jennifer, in all her futility, lives to see another day.

The best part was after the boardroom as Jennifer tries to be conciliatory to Kristi, who promptly tells her to shut up and keep that fake crap to herself. I love this woman. I really do. She’s like the female version of me. Where has she been all my life? Maybe I should have gone to law school in Georgia after all. Siigh. Too late now. Ah, Kristi, I hardly knew ye.

How could you not luv that? Cute, yet looks like she could chew a box of nails and spit them back out at you.
Do You Notice That Aroma?

It is the very distinctive scent of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' goose cooking.
Jimmy Buffett & Martina McBride--"Trip Around the Sun"

Wherein my philosophy of life is summed up in 2 minutes and 42 seconds.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lost--"...and Found"

Lost is getting back to the habit it established late last season of having a filler episode followed by weeks of repeats. At least the next episode that comes in November promises to be a monumental one. Somehow I just feel the Doomed character we’ve learned about this week just can’t really be the one who dies. We’ll see in time. This episode centers on Sun and Michael. Sun has lost her wedding ring, which as far as she knows now I the only remaining connection she will ever have with her husband Jin. Michael escapes from the Tail survivors and runs off into the jungle to look for the kidnapped Walt. Jin heads out after him.

That’s pretty much it. Nothing too shocking occurs, and there’s no real additions to the overall arc. Several Castaways bond with Sun while she desperately searches for her ring, including hurley, locke, and Kate. Jin and the Nigerian fellow bond while hot on Michael’s trail. They eventually catch up with him but not before nearly being discovered by the Others. We only catch a glimpse of them from our heroes POV in their hiding place, but they have the appearance of being out of time and place. Almost tribal--except for the teddy bear one of them is dragging. I don’t recall Walt having a teddy bear. I wonder what’s up with that?

Sun eventually finds her ring. It fell off when she was burying the messages in a bottle Claire foud last episode. Kate discovers one of the messages is to her from Sawyer. Awwww. It sounded like he just wrote the lyrics to “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” by Boys II men, but it’s the thought that counts. In the flashbacks, Jin gets a job at a hotel owned by a guy courting Dun--or at least that is what she thinks. She’s falling for him, but he has his eye on an American girl he met at Harvard. He hasn’t told his parents, but he is going to move to the US and marry her. Sun storms out and bumps into Jin the doorman. It’s love at first sight.

Like I said, thids was a filler episode, but it was a decent bit of characterization. A quiet moment before Novembers sweeps cranks things up. One tidbit--the body seen all over the net purported to be Desmond was not. it was one of the Tail survivors who ran into the others. Yet another spoiler down.

Rating: ** out of 5
The Madness of Ayn Rand

I mentioned in my post a few days ago regarding my warming up to Christopher hitchens that you should fear not--I still despise Ayn Rand. My dislike for her dates back to college when a Philosophy TA and I clashed over the idea of virtue of selfishness. Philosophy graduate students grab onto silly ideas and brandish them about as a sign of their intellectualism, as such ideas are uncommon amongst the commonweal. i imagine other grad students do the same, probably mostly among my fellow Political Science majors. But the Political science grad students are aiming for professorships that are relatively low paying. they've got to stay somewhat mainstream in order to receive consulting fees and research grants from elected officials and thinktanks. The Philosophy students have no such problem.

Anyway, I could go on and on about Rand, but the short of it is her attitude towards Christian ideals. Yes, she hates Christians period as she considers them ignorant and worthless. i've spent my entire life around God's followers and and I, too have no use for many of them. But that's a post for another time, assuming lightning doesn't trike me in the interim. what irks me about Rand is her critique of Christian ideals as they should be learned and practiced. for instance, love thy neighbor as thyself and if a man take your cloak, give him your shirt also. That's a tough one, granted, and most Christians can't handle it. Rand, however, misses it by a country mile:
What is the morality of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to live for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.
Not to mention:
Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: "No." Altruism says: "Yes."
And this little nugget o' wisdom:
Now there is one word -- a single word -- which can blast the morality of altruism out of existence and which it cannot withstand -- the word: "Why?" Why must man live for the sake of others? Why must he be a sacrificial animal? Why is that the good? There is no earthly reason for it -- and, ladies and gentlemen, in the whole history of philosophy no earthly reason has ever been given.
Yes, this is a woman worth ignoring.
Powerball Madness

The country is abuzz over the $340 million Powerball lottery up for grabs. I for one, am not. Three hundred and forty million smackers is a handy ead of dough, I’ll grant you, but I have a problem with the lottery. I know it may offend some readers--judging by my e-mail, that isn’t anything new--but I consider the lottery to be a morally offensive tax on the stupid. At the very least, it is a morally offensive tax on people who can’t do math.

We have a lottery here in South Carolina. The money goes towards education. Specifically, it funds a scholarship for any high school senior with a 3.0 grade average to attend an instate school. It was implemented after I graduated, but I believe it gives a grand a year to eligible students while in college. What this boilds down to is the poorest people in South Carolina, those that can least afford to waste money gambling, and will never set foot on a college campus, are funding the educations of upper and middle class kids. I’m being idealistic, but that sounds enormously unfair.

You won’t hear any criticism about it, though. It sounds like a nefarious plot by conservatives to screw over the poor while giving a benefit to the wealthy. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. The democrats established the lottery in its usual plan to throw even more money into the sinking ship that is the South Carolina educational system while Republicans opposed it on the moral grounds I outlined above. This may be a red state, but greed and democrats won the day.

Once a state starts a lottery, it is a tempting pot of ready made cash to abuse. Florida, for one, designed its lottery to fund elder care interests and wound up building new prisons with it instead. Hawaii has had one of the largest political scandals on recod with its land trust managers. We are talking sex, drugs, and rock & roll all over Oahu and beyond. It is only a matter of time before the same thing happens here. Not that anyone cares, mind you. They are too busy thinking the 1 in 145 million odds in winning are worth the social decay.