Thursday, November 29, 2007

2008 Election

Sorry for the light blogging, but nothing in the current news cycle has perked my blogsickle. Most of the news lately concerns the 2008 elections, which I could not care less about at this point. Hillary Clinton has no serious opposition on the Democrat side which barring a full blown dead man or a live girl scenario pretty much hands her the nomination. With that understood, I don’t care who the Republicans nominate because I have already decided to vote for him, her or it. Democratic grandees would do well to ponder how many Americans have conducted this simple calculus, not that the Dems have many other viable options.

Great Quote

"We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable." — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Lifted shamelessly from Futility Closet.

6000 Sunnis Join Lost Cause

HAWIJA, Iraq - Nearly 6,000 Sunni Arab residents joined a security pact with American forces Wednesday in what U.S. officers described as a critical step in plugging the remaining escape routes for extremists flushed from former strongholds.

The new alliance — called the single largest volunteer mobilization since the war began — covers the "last gateway" for groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq seeking new havens in northern Iraq, U.S. military officials said.

U.S. commanders have tried to build a ring around insurgents who fled military offensives launched earlier this year in the western Anbar province and later into Baghdad and surrounding areas. In many places, the U.S.-led battles were given key help from tribal militias — mainly Sunnis — that had turned against al-Qaida and other groups.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Movie Review: No Country For Old Men

No Country For Old Men is perhaps the best film of Joel and Ethan Coen, it's certainly the most accomplished. From the terse but brilliant dialogue to the sparse and beautiful landscapes of West Texas, they captured Cormac McCarthy's blood soaked cat and mouse story as perfectly as humanly possible. Faint praise I know.
All the actors are brilliant, none more so than Tommy Lee Jones in a role he was born, then aged to perfection, to play. While the story may be deemed an action/crime drama, it is in the silence of Jones' world weary eyes that we see what the author, and the film makers want us to see. A world unfit for men of a certain age and ethos. A world of murder, drugs and money, bereft of honor and decency. A world where a nearly unstoppable sociopath uses a pneumatic hammer to slaughter his victims.
I must admit, I'm not real familiar with Javier Bardem. In No Country For Old Men he plays a villain no one is likely to ever forget in a riveting performance as he becomes death personified. One might criticize this character for lack of a back story, but that's kind of the point. You could wright a back story the length of Remembrance of Things Past about this guy and never get one bit closer to understanding why he does the things he does.
Bottom line, don't miss it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Achieving Energy Victory

Robert Zubrin maps out the way for us to get off the "petroleum standard". The essay is adapted from his new book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil.
...U.S. energy policy for the last three decades has been a scandal. The time has come for change. To liberate ourselves from the threat of foreign economic domination, to destroy the economic power of the terrorists’ financiers, and to give ourselves the free hand necessary to deal forcefully with them, we must devalue their resources and increase the value of our own. We can do this by taking the world off the petroleum standard and putting it on an alcohol standard...
It's a fairly long article but well worth your time.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gettysburg November 19, 1863

I knew I had Lincoln on the brain for a reason, today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What "With malice toward none; with charity for all" Means

Many visitors come to this blog trying to find out what Lincoln meant by "with malice toward none; with charity for all", probably for a school assignment. Instead they find filthy duck jokes, pedestrian baseball observations and lame reviews. So in an attempt to do one decent thing, here are my thoughts on what Lincoln meant by "with malice toward none; with charity for all".

"With malice toward none; with charity for all" comes near the end of Lincoln's second inaugural address where he was preparing the nation for peace and reconstruction of the war ravaged Confederate states. The country had just endured four years of war where over 600,000 Americans had been killed and countless others crippled for life. The phrase "with malice toward none" reminds people that the war will soon be over and to look upon their fellow man with forgiveness and love, not malice or hate. The phrase "with charity for all" means that we are to love our fellow man so "that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away." Lincoln agonized over the nation's injuries as well as profound personal loss during the previous four years and thought that the war was God's judgement for the evils of slavery:

Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-men’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”
To Lincoln the antidote to slavery is emancipation, the antidote to war is peace and the antidote to malice is charity for all.

Britain Seeks New Motto

Apparently tradition rich Britain has no motto. Who knew? Now the sort of people who dabble in screwing up perfectly good things are hard at work trying to noodle up one. Here are some suggestions for my British cousins:

  • We're Polite So You Don't Have to Be
  • Hope and Gloria and Non-Stop Paparazzi Royal Coverage
  • We Put The Nanny in The Nanny State
  • Screw With Us and We'll Call America On You
  • We'll Defend All Faiths But Our Own
  • Paddy Go Home!
  • Dieu et mon douleur dans la famille d'├óne
  • For what's His name and what's left
  • Dentist Please Apply Within
  • Arthur, William, Richard, Charles and Winston Spin in Their Graves
  • Margaret Thatcher Last PM With The Yarbles to Govern
  • We Civilized the World, Now Look at Us
  • Home of Hogwarts

Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson

As the more clever among you may have noticed, I have a great fondness for Abraham Lincoln. My wife being the dear heart that she is, bought me Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson for Christmas or my birthday last December, and wham - bam, just like that, I picked it up and read it 11 months later. What a great read, particularly for you non-history types. Swanson writes with a light, very readable style that brings immediacy and familiarity to a time and place most of us can only imagine. He incorporates many primary sources in the form of actual quotes from the various parties involved and meticulously documents a tumultuous period in our Republic's history.

Since high school I have maintained a Jeopardy! contestant's knowledge of the Civil War and Lincoln's assassination. What I didn't realize and what this book brings out so well is how immediate everything was. Basically poor Honest Abe was finally able see a day when the war could reasonably be expected to end. Abraham and Mary Todd were just beginning to come out of the depression from losing their beloved boy Willie who died at age ten three years before. They go for a carriage ride and a play as couple and some hate filled bastard shoots him in the head from behind.

Swanson brings up an interesting "what if ?". Lincoln was six foot four and probably the toughest man to ever be president. Booth was five foot seven or eight and soft as the proverbial shite. Had Boothe's one shot muzzle loading derringer failed, even though Booth still had a Bowie knife back up, Lincoln would have wrung his scrawny rebel neck. If only.

Songs I'm Kinda Ashamed Of, But Still Like

I hate to admit it, but I have some very questionable music on my computer. By questionable, I mean that if you were playing it your car and car load of your peers pulled up next to you, you would turn it down out of shame. A linktastic list is called for:
  1. Korgis - Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime.
  2. Sarah Brightman - Captain Nemo
  3. Nick Gilder - Hot Child in The City
  4. The Bangles - A Hazy Shade of Winter
  5. Tiffany - I Think We're Alone Now
  6. Sheena Easton - You Could Have Been With Me
  7. Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch - Good Vibrations Dexter had a Marky Mark tape at the UConn Veteran Center back in 91 or 92, we defaced it by superimposing Dexter's school ID card over Marky Mark. Good times. Good times.
  8. New York Groove-Ace Frehley
  9. Bad English - When I See You Smile
  10. Olivia Newton-John - A Little More Love

EXTRA CREDIT The Smiths - Girlfriend in a Coma and/or Reel Around the Fountain

Of course there are many, many more. I think this list gives you, my gentle reader, a good idea of the aural depravities I sometimes indulge in.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Barry Bonds Indicted for Perjury

HA HA! It couldn't happen to a nicer jerk. I'd love to see the prosecutor offer him a deal: come clean and admit everything you did and no prison time. You will be banned for life from baseball and any records you have will be expunged. Do you think he would take it? I bet he wouldn't, but he might as well because win or lose in court his baseball pooch is screwed.

Santas warned 'ho ho ho' offensive to women

Truth is always stranger and funnier than fiction:

SYDNEY (AFP) - Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.

Read the whole insipid thing.

A-Fraud Going Back To The Yankees?

A-Rod and The Evil Empire Empire may ink a ten year $275 million deal. Excellent! The Bombers have the money to sign Mr. June, let them have him. No one is worth that sort of money, except poor Lou Gehrig and he's dead.

Happy Holidays!

Seasons Greetings! It's that time of year again where we bend over backwards to avoid oppressing the frail peoples of the earth with our series of all powerful , (and culture destroying) holiday celebrations. Our nation's retailers sensitive to the plight of the culturally challenged have taken positive, yea affirmative, action. Lowes now calls the horridly oppressive tree a "family tree".

To whit and in an effort to further make bland our world, I have taken it upon myself to re-identify some culturally insensitive icons:

This is not a Kwanzaa tableau. Note the corn, the menorah and the harvest motif. Corn is indigenous to America, the menorah is a Hebrew thing and Kwanzaa is celebrated in late December through early January, so it'd be plain ridiculous to have a harvest motif so late in the year. No, this is merely a students exercise in still life photography. I could be wrong though.

Here it is the burning cross, if you will, of the holiday season, the dreaded Christmas tree. Lowes' idea to call it a "family tree" is plainly discriminatory to those without, you know, a family. So I propose we call it "Winter Time Illuminated Fir Decoration". It's no worse than many other political correct euphemisms I can think of.

Despite the banner proclaiming "Happy Thanksgiving" I'd suggest that this is nothing more than some beloved childhood icons indulging in some plain old fashioned cannibalism. Don't knock it, their culture is every bit as valid as yours, probably much more so. Cannibalism is open to everyone, Deist, atheist, agnostic what have you. The only thing you need is a body, some fava beans and nice chiaaaanti.

Some might think this is a menorah used to celebrate an ancient Maccabean victory over the Seleucids. With all that's still going on in that region, do we still need to remember every single year who our friends and enemies are and were? No. This is the 21st century and we all need to reduce, recycle and reuse. This is nothing more than a seven holder candelabra to keep away the darkness during the bleak winter months.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In Cold Blood

Today in 1959 the Clutter family was murdered in Holcomb Kansas by Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith.

We remember this sad event because Truman Capote and Harper Lee went to Holcomb and interviewed anyone who would talk to them, resulting in Capote's exquisite In Cold Blood six years later. WMTN recommends it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Josh Beckett Was Robbed

CC Sabathia is a great pitcher, but he's no Josh Beckett. The way those pasty, needledicked sportswriters stiffed Beckett like this is a crime. Despite the disappointment, I bet getting sized for your second World Series Ring takes some of the sting away.
I speak out of my butt, in anger. In reality, CC Sabathia is every bit as deserving of the CY Young Award as Beckett. If I were truly impartial, I'd probably vote for Sabathia as well.

Ill Advised

Do you ever, in the course of your daily routine, stumble upon something you want for no good reason? In fact the thing may be kinda stupid or ill advised, but you go ahead and get it anyway? I never do that.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dustin Pedroia: AL Rookie of the Year

Congratulations to the diminutive Boston favorite.

In The Valley Of The Wolves

If you have any interest in wolves, and let's face it, who doesn't? You should make it a point to watch Nature's In The Valley Of The Wolves on PBS.

One of the most fascinating sequences, at least for me, was when a new pack of wolves took over the valley and began to let the other animals there know that there was a new boss in town. The first victim was a male coyote who had the temerity to try to snack at one of the wolf pack's carcass'. The old wolf pack would have just chased him off, the new wolf pack chased him down and ripped him to pieces. Don't let anyone tell you that war is a man made invention, this was the purest act of war I have ever seen. Von Clausewitz would have been proud.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Cross is Raised in Baghdad

Michael Yon sends an email to Glenn Reynolds.

Thanks and Praise: I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome.

A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from "Chosen" Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.

The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. "Thank you, thank you," the people were saying. One man said, "Thank you for peace." Another man, a Muslim, said "All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother." The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers.

See also Michelle Malkin and Wretchard at The Belmont Club

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Curt Schilling Will Be Back

It looks like the Sox and Schilling have come to terms on a one year deal that will allow Schilling to retire as Red Sox. Outstanding. I'll go out on a limb here and predict that Schilling will go out with a bang. I think he's so competitive that he'll look at this year as an opportunity to cement his already ridiculous numbers and so he'll bust his butt to make things happen.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mixed Bag of Rants and Uninformed Opinions

  • Barry Bonds feels picked on, poor baby. In a way he's right. Millions of people abuse all sorts of illicit substance every hour of every day and don't receive the scrutiny Bonds does. But most of them haven't broken any long standing sports records either.
  • I watched a football game on Sunday. Apparently the New England Patriots are a pretty good team and they defeated the Colts, who are also supposed to be pretty good, but not as good as the Pats. Two questions, when did the Colts leave Baltimore and why do they call it football when they almost always use their hands?
  • A-Rod wants to go to the Red Sox. Screw him, let him go to to the Dodgers or any other team stupid enough to pay him on his quest for individual achievement.
  • Scott Kazmir of the hapless Devil Rays may be available, he'd look good in Boston grey.
  • The Hollywood writers are going on strike, and still the earth revolves around the sun.
  • The Blasters are great band with an even better name.
  • Johan Santana might be available as well. I hear he's a pretty good pitcher.
  • Who said this: I want to be very, very clear, however: I understand and agree with the analysis of the problem. There is an imminent threat. It manifested itself on 9/11. It's real and grave. It is as serious a threat as Stalinism and National Socialism were. Let's not pretend it isn't. BONO High Light to read.
  • UCONN Football is ranked in the top twenty, who'd of thunk it?
  • Nicole Atkins impressed the hell out of me on Letterman. I can't remember the last time that happened. I'd like to think she'll be the next big thing, but she's far too unique and perhaps too "real" for pop diva stardom. Give her listen by clicking on the record, top right. Dollars to doughnuts she'll be in a David Lynch film before it's all over.
  • I saw Apocalypto again. What an impressive movie. I can't wait for the Broadway musical version to come out, I am so there.
  • Four Days until No Country For Old Men, speaking of being so somewhere. Make sure you see it, freindo, and be sure to bring the more squeamish members of your family. I'm sure they'll thank you for it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

William Butler Yeats: Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees-
Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

No Country For Old Men Opens November 9, 2007

Cormac McCarthy and the Coens? The only thing better would be if Sam Peckinpah directed Blood Meridian, but since he died in 1984 this will more than do.