Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Recently Chris Murphy the Democrat looking to unseat Republican Nancy Johnson in Connecticut's 5th congressional district this November, has been running an attack ad against Johnson declaring she's complicit with the oil companies in the high price of gasoline. The ad shows Murphy in front of a pump with prices $3.50 and up. Good image, except that gas is under $2.50 a gallon. When did he make that add? July? Nice timing numbnuts.
Monday, September 25, 2006
William Faulkner was born today September 25, 1897 in Albany Mississippi. A self described "failed poet" who became one of the pillars of 20th century American literature. I have read three of his books; As I lay Dying, Sanctuary and Absalom, Absalom, so I'm far from an expert on his work. His stream of consciousness and point of view narration may seem common today, but were groundbreaking in his time. My favorite example of this comes from As I Lay Dying, Vardaman's Chapter, which through years of patient and protracted study I have managed to memorize: "My mother is a fish." There it is in all it's simple beauty, the whole Vardaman chapter. Sanctuary must have been wildly controversial at the time because even today it still seems kind of seedy. It concerns the kidnap and rape of a college girl by a dysfunctional bootlegger named Popeye. It has been rumored that Faulkner wanted a best seller and knew that the salacious subject matter of Sanctuary would make it sell well. He was right.
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
My friend from college and his band "Common Thrill" are looking to sign with a record label, small or large. It's a tough row to hoe with all the boy bands and Britney wannabees being the all the rage at the moment. Take a listen to them and let me know what you think.
Be sure to listen to "Like It Is" my current favorite
Saturday, September 23, 2006
... "President Bush can talk about his national security plan and foreign policy all day long," said an unnamed RNC spokesman, "But no one makes a more compelling case than the duo of Mahmoud and Hugo. We want to make sure every American has an opportunity to hear these important world leaders."
The Republican source said sponsoring the pre-election Ahmadinejad-Chavez speaking tour was also a way of "reaching across the aisle to help our colleagues in the Democrat party to get their message out, so the American voter can make an informed decision."
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Back when I was in the military on TDY in some God forsaken place and homesick for New England, I would read drugstore paperbacks by Stephen King. Despite the fact that today if King were to vomit alphabet soup someone would publish it, I think he's a vastly underrated author. Sure he's sold a few books, but I don't think he gets the recognition he deserves for the quality of his writing. To me his best book is Different Seasons, whence the movies Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption and The Summer of Corruption come from. The are four stories to match the four seasons, each very different in tone and subject, none can rightly be called horror. If you haven't read King that might be a good place to start. In 25 years King will start to get the critical acclaim I believe he deserves, kind of like what happened to Phillip K. Dick towards the end of his life. I have old P.K. Dick paperbacks with cigarette adds in the middle of them, now the same stories are sold in glossy large format collector's editions. At least Stephen King sold enough books that he didn't have to eat ground horse meat like P.K. Dick.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The Song of Wandering Aengus
By W.B. Yeats
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
... My Iranian parents fled tyranny and oppression. I know and appreciate deeply the sanctuary America has offered. Only in this country could a person such as I have had the life, liberty and opportunity that I have had. No one needs to remind me of this--I know it every single day. I know, too, as does everyone involved in the production, that we kept uppermost in our minds the need for due diligence in the delivery of this history. Fact-checkers and lawyers scrutinized every detail, every line, every scene. There were hundreds of pages of annotations. We were informed by multiple advisers and interviews with people involved in the events--and books, including in a most important way the 9/11 Commission Report.
It would have been good to be able to report due diligence on the part of those who judged the film, the ones who held forth on it before watching a moment of it...
Yeah, well you know how it is, Mr. Nowrasteh. Synthetic outrage is one of those narcissistic pleasures you just can't expect the "Clintonistas" to pass up.
The funniest of them was Sandy Berger. First of all, why does anybody even listen to him? The man should be in jail. Secondly, if he's so concerned that we get the story right, it's a real good idea to not go around stealing and then destroying records from the National Archives.
As for the film, if you didn't see it, you missed something very good. The Clinton admin didn't look very impressive. That's be cause they WEREN'T. W's admin also dropped the ball. The film showed that too. The difference is, W has been getting his share of the blame all along. Until now Clinton's sorry record hasn't recieved nearly as much scrutiny.
Monday, September 18, 2006
After scrounging around the house and viewing endless unmarked CDs I finally found the only photograph I have of my great, great grandfather Thomas L. Jones. We believe this photograph was taken just before his death 92 years ago.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
This is one of those increasingly rare Hollywood films where story, acting, pacing and character make the film as opposed to the flavor of the month pseudo talent and CGI. I could not disagree with Sean Penn more on almost every real life issue, but there's no denying the man can act. In this flick he plays a Secret Service agent trying to get to the bottom of skulduggery at the United Nations. Nicole Kidman is The Interpreter who may have unwittingly overheard something that puts her square in the middle of it. Penn looks worn an aged, no makeup that, he should probably lay off the booze and the butts. Kidman was excellent in this role. Her hair is always in her face before her eyes as if she were hiding. The effect is interesting because it draws you into her as if to understand her, similar to what Penn's character must have felt. For some reason she always surprises me with how good she is.
Since this film has been out awhile, I might risk a bit of a plot spoiler. One thing that I really appreciated is that Penn and Kidman's characters didn't hop into bed at first opportunity. It seems silly to have to point this out, but it would have ruined any credibility they tried to develop. I liked their relationship, how it came to be and what it meant to them.
Candor, after all, can get one killed, exiled, or ostracized—whether a Danish cartoonist, a Dutch filmmaker, a Wall Street Journal reporter, or a British-Indian novelist. So here, ill and in her seventies, returned Ms. Fallaci one last time to take up the hammer and tongs against radical Islam—a diminutive woman of the Left and self-proclaimed atheist who wrote more bravely on behalf of her civilization than have most who are hale, males, conservatives, or Christians.
And Benedict XVI:
And what are we to make of poor Benedict XVI, the scholastic, who, in a disastrous display of public sensitivity, makes the telling point, that Christianity, in its long evolution to the present, has learned to forsake violence, and to defend its faith through appeals to reason—and thus can offer its own experience in the current crisis of Islam. And by quoting from the emperor rhetorician Manuel Paleologus—whose desperate efforts at strengthening the Morea and the Isthmus at Corinth a generation before that awful Tuesday, May 29, 1453 all came to naught—the Pope failed to grasp that under the tenets of radical Islam of the modern age, context means little, intent nothing, learning less than zero. If a sentence, indeed a mere phrase can be taken out of context, twisted, manipulated to show an absence of deference to Islam, furor ensues, death threats follow, assassins load their belts—even as the New York Times or the Guardian issues its sanctimonious apologies in the hope that the crocodile will eat them last.
Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. In 200 years if there is a Western tradition that's alive and thriving it will be in no small part because of people like VDH who understand the past and recognize the threat of the present.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Over at Tom Maguire's blog, Bumperstickerist comments on the "Evil that is Bush" to explain why he's a Bush partisan. He concludes with this observation: "Seriously, if the Left can't defeat the Evil that is Bush, how the hell can they be trusted to defeat actual Evil?" Good question.
Friday, September 15, 2006
A deputy leader of Turkey's 'moderate' Islamic party has said that, following those remarks in Germany, the Pope will go down in history "in the same category as leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini." Oddly, in this selection of history's monsters, Salid Kapusuz declined to throw in the names of any of those responsible for the slaughter of the Armenians during World War One. I wonder why that was. Putting that issue to one side, before the Pope responds in detail to the criticism of his speech from the political and religious leadership in Islamic countries, he might consider making a few remarks about the way that Christians are treated, say, by the Turkish authorities (admittedly improving, but there's a quite a way to go), or, Pakistan (where the parliament has condemned Benedict's speech), or Egypt (lets talk about the plight of the Copts), well, I think you get my point...
Meanwhile, writing in the Guardian, the newspaper's religious affairs writer adds this:
"Benedict's offence, of course, was recklessly to quote this 600 year-old expression of the point of view of a medieval Middle Eastern potentate. He didn't endorse it, didn't say that it was his own view, attributed it in context. And is now told that he has "aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world". Most of which, probably, had never heard of Manuel II Paleologue before this morning. Perhaps the pope should be careful of bringing such subversive ancient texts to light. On the other hand, if you cannot, as part of a lengthy and profound academic lecture, cite a 600 year-old text for fear of stirring the aggravation of noisy politicians half way around the world, what CAN you do? We might as well all retreat into obscurantism. And keep our mouths shut, for otherwise, who knows who we might offend. And if, as a result of the outrage, some Catholics get killed or their churches burned down by offended scholars and textual exegesists it might be thought that Manuel's original point had rather been made."
Sad news, columnist and author Oriana Fallaci has died. Read this piece on her legal troubles in Italy:
In her case, the religion deemed vilified is Islam, and the vilification was perpetrated, apparently, in a book she wrote last year--and which has sold many more than a million copies all over Europe--called "The Force of Reason." Its astringent thesis is that the Old Continent is on the verge of becoming a dominion of Islam, and that the people of the West have surrendered themselves fecklessly to the "sons of Allah." So in a nutshell, Oriana Fallaci faces up to two years' imprisonment for her beliefs--which is one reason why she has chosen to stay put in New York. Let us give thanks for the First Amendment.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
This amazingly prescient warning comes a little late to those of you who may have been paying attention. I can only hope we get serious about port security, immigration, intelligence gathering and national defense before one of those pesky mushroom clouds reminds us of how masturbatory our national deliberations can be. Remember 5 years and 1 week ago our conversation concerned Gary Condit and the Social Security Lock Box. As bad as 9/11 was, history may show it to be a gentle introduction to the next global conflict, I hope not but we'll see.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Recently, in a curious turn of events, Jersey City, New Jersey honored my great grandfather Thomas L. Jones by adding his name to a plaque of fallen fireman in City Hall. We don't know too much about Thomas Jones as he was killed this week 92 years ago. We do know he was educated in Dublin by the Christian Brothers and emigrated from Ireland to the New York Metro area around the turn of the century. He wasn't a fireman in the hook and ladder sense of the word, he was a Telegraph Lineman who died when he fell several stories from a ladder while working underground. I've often wondered if my great grandfather was Irish at all with a name like Thomas Jones and we have a picture of him and he has the dark good looks of a Welshman. Attempts at a fuller exploration of who he was and where he came from are hampered by the near ubiquity of both his first and last names. It's odd to think that he died 11 years before my father was born and now my father is the oldest member of our greater family which consists of at least four generations. The Hoffman side of the family has been here for years, when my father's brother John died, he was the seventh generation interred at our family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
The first of these urges originates within the Moslems' own sphere. The Moslems remember the power with which once they not only ruled their own domains but also overpowered half of Europe, yet they are painfully aware of their present economic, cultural, and military impoverishment. Thus a terrific internal pressure is building up in their collective thinking. The Moslems intend, by any means possible, to regain political independence and to reap the profits of their own resources, which in recent times and up to the present have been surrendered to the exploitation of foreigners who could provide capital investments. The area, in short, has an inferiority complex, and its activities are thus as unpredictable as those of any individual so motivated.
You should, of course, read the whole thing. Thanks to The Corner at NRO online for the link.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Over the next few days shock was replaced by anger, anger by rage. I remember there was supposed be this candle lighting thing where everyone observes a moment of silence and lights a candle. I thought la-ti-fucking-da, won't this show these bastards we mean business. On Friday the 14th my boss sent out a memo to everyone saying something to the effect that what America needed was for everyone to get back to work and for us to write mortgages. What an asshole! The ops manager still hadn't heard from her only brother, another loan officer hadn't heard from his college roommate and best man, Stephen was still missing and many other coworkers had similar stories. Later I would find out that other loan officer's best man worked at Cantor Fitzgerald with my cousin, he was killed too.
Over the weeks and months that followed things began to change for me. Susan Sontag's writing in the New Yorker, while never something I enjoyed, began to enrage me. Susan, is it too much to fucking ask to bury the dead before you blame them and excuse their murderers? I cancelled our subscription, which is something you might want to do too if you like the magazine because they still keep sending enticements at ever decreasing prices. I think a year's subscription at this point costs $1.37.
We went to a memorial service for my cousin in October at the church where he was an alter boy in Forrest Hills. All funerals suck, this one more than most. I remember thinking how ironic, my uncle and his wife had 13 children, 8 boys and 5 girls, none served in the military. My parents had 8 children 4 of each and 3/4 of the boys had served in the military and not a scratch on them. It also seemed ironic to me that Stephen should be killed in WTC because I always associated the WTC with him and his twin brother Gregory. Truth be told, as an adult I didn't see or speak with the Long Island Hoffmans all that much, the unavoidable separation that time and having a family of your own brings. As a kid I'd hang out with cousins at their place in Forrest Hills and go to Rockaway Playland, Rockaway and Jones Beach. They were building the WTC then and I remember the "twins" as we used to call them being all excited about the Twin Towers in their back yard.
On the way home from Stephens memorial service we got lost and my nephew got out at a fire station to ask directions. Since we were lost I have no idea where this station was, but it had about 4800 pounds of flowers in front of it. My nephew, a cop, said that the fireman who gave us directions told him they had lost over half their crew. As we drove across the Whitestone Bridge, I believe, my brother put in an Andrea Bocelli CD, the one that they used to play on the Sopranos all the time. There was still smoke visible over the southern end of Manhattan and the conspicuous absence of the towers was hard to ignore.
They say 9/11 changed everything. I'm not sure that's entirely true, but there have been many changes. It was five years ago today that I became a news junkie. Online, on T.V. even in print when absolutely necessary, I'm hooked on what's going on the world. While on vacation I find it uncomfortable to be out of touch with the world.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
There's a story on yahoo news about how the restrictions on carry on luggage are hurting musicians who travel internationally. I can feel there pain, who in their right mind would feel comfortable about checking a priceless Stradivarius? Did you know that depending on the airline, if they lose your bag they only have to pay you $250? A normal bag with a shaving kitt, two outfits, two pairs of shoes, a sweater or two and a couple of books is worth way more than $250. It's not all bad news though:
It is not only high art which is suffering -- a spokesman for Scotland's oldest bagpipe teaching college said tourism could be hit as the regulations deter pipers from the United States and Canada from coming to competitions.
Since 9/11 and the subsequent security provisions put in place, many on the left have pissed and moaned about the death of free speech and the crushing of dissent. I noticed this myself when our librarians were arrested and our local newspaper editors had to have their op ed pieces screened by government censors. Actually none of that has happened nor will it ever happen, I hope, but there does seem to be a group of people who would like to restrict what you and I see on TV. I refer of course to the Clintonistas who all have their panties in knot over the ABC show The Path to 9/11. It's one thing not agree with something, it's quite another to try to prevent it's airing. This behavior isn't limited to uber liberals. Often times there are right wing groups who want one program or another canned because they find the content offensive or disagreeable. The difference is that the evangelical homeschooler angered over Janet Jackson's nipple "slip" during that pointless half time show doesn't drive around in a car festooned with bumper stickers demanding unfettered free speech. Can't the left see that free speech is for everyone? Even those who make schlocky made for TV movies. Can you imagine the caterwauling if equivalent former Republican Administration figures pitched this sort of hissy fit over Fahrenheit 9/11? The hypocrisy of the left knows no limit.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I'll offer my opinion on this matter from an admittedly uninformed perspective, I did not and will probably never watch Katie Couric or any other overpaid talking head spew the news on CBS. Why? I find perky and misleading unacceptable accouterments to news delivery. The web is so much better at delivering news that I need to know, i.e. not Suri Cruise. One can read a news story, fact check it, see what others are saying about it and get the other side of the story without commercials or mindless, cheerful banter. Some lament that the day of network news has come and gone. I think that despite the fragmenting influence of multiple news sources, nearly infinite sources help to keep everyone honest.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
I just saw a promo for Flyboys a movie about the Lafayette Escadrille Squadron during WWI. I can't wait to see this movie and I can only be disappointed by it, like I was for Gladiator which looked so damn promising in the promos but ended up kinda lame. I love WWI fighter aircraft and movies about them. I try to get out to the Olde Rhinebeck Aerdrome as much as possible where they dogfight restored and reproduction WWI aircraft and will fly you around in an old biplane.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Some have made comparisons between Steve Irwin's tragic death and the untimely death of that fruitcake the Grizzly Man. In a word: No, not at all. Irwin always stressed the danger and unpredictability of the animals he worked with and while he pushed the envelope of safety to make watchable T.V. I don't think anyone could rightly call him reckless. What happened to him is exceedingly rare. If he had been stung anywhere but the heart, he would still be alive.
I always liked Irwin, his enthusiasm was infectious. He has done more for Salty Crocs than anyone else, that along with his children will be his legacy.
They have a section on there web site regarding war, terrorism and justice. It seems they are against two of them and big believers in the United Nations to bring about the third. For awhile I thought they were serious until I read all that UN crap.
Believing that international justice requires the participation of all peoples, we endorse the United Nations and its related bodies and the International Court of Justice as the best instruments now in existence to achieve a world of justice and law.
Fair enough. We all need something to believe in, the Methodists have chosen the UN. Regarding terrorism there is the mandatory genuflection before the alter of causes of terrorism and some other curious items:
(1) examine critically the causes of terrorism, including national and international involvement;
(2) firmly support the United Nations as an agency for conflict resolution and as a viable alternative to resorting to war and/or terrorism;
(3) stand against terrorist acts in the forms of retaliation or capital punishment;
(4) urge the President of the United States to repudiate violence and the killing and victimizing of innocent people;
(5) oppose the use of indiscriminate military force to combat terrorism, especially where the use of such force results in casualties among noncombatant citizens who are not themselves perpetrators of terrorist acts, and urge support of United Nations Resolution 40-61, which addresses international cooperation regarding terrorist acts;
(6) condemn the use of extremist tactics that resort to violence within our own domestic society as an expression of ideological differences, racism, and anti-Semitism;
(7) direct the General Board of Church and Society to formulate a study to show how to deal with acts of terrorism that we face as a society and give direction as to how the church and annual conferences’ leaders and members can and should respond; and
(8) continue to support the U.S. ban on assault rifles, as they are the weapons of choice by individuals and organizations implementing terrorist activities both at home and abroad.
WTF? Animist and Christians are raped, murdered and sold into slavery because of there race and creed everyday in Darfur. Half a mile of sky scraper lies destroyed in lower Manhattan with thousands cremated within them and these dim wits focus on The President and assault rifles? That whirring sound you hear is John Wesley spinning in his grave. If I offend any Methodists out there, I'm sorry it's nothing personal it's just that since Tuesday September 11, 2001 I have very little tolerance for masturbatory bullshit posing as serious thought.
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