Friday, June 13, 2003

John Ashcroft has reversed his order cancelling a Gay Month celebration by gay employees of the Justice Department. The NYTimes is offended that his decision still "has downgraded the event to unofficial status and wants the group to pay for it." It doesn't mention whether the employees want paid time off for this event.

Would the department pay for an employee event celebrating heterosexuality, marriage, families or womanhood? Gay rights advocates claim that they aren't demanding special rights. If that is true they shouldn't be asking for official status or financial support.

Instapundit links to a Reuters story about unrest among Iranian youth. Iran seems to be an exception to the general philosophy of Shiite Islam, which generally teaches that religious leaders and teachers should avoid serving in government, because earthly power is corrupting. Iran should serve as a an object lesson.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I must admit, I had never heard of Gambian Giant Rats. Now, they're a major health hazard, along with pet prairie dogs:
These rats can make wonderful pets. They are intelligent, social and can be very gentle if handled from an early age. They play-wrestle like domestic rats and many seem to love to be cuddled, petted and pampered. They seem attracted to shiny objects and will try to remove jewelry and watches. I've heard of one that has a stuffed toy lion it sleeps and plays with, oddly enough without chewing it to pieces like a domestic rat would. . . .

They are not pets for everyone, requiring patience and understanding of their habits. They grow to the size of a small cat and cannot be 'punished' like cats or dogs when they do something wrong, requiring more gentle means, such as tone of voice (a loud OUCH when a baby nips too hard can make them pause, much like when a rat nips another in play too hard and the nipped one SQUEAKS and moves away (or nips back, except as humans we are not equipped to do this), ending play!) and behavioral methods, working around their natural behavior.
This might be a good time for a re-release of the old film Ben.

David Brinkley and Gregory Peck have both died. I feel bad. Mostly because I had assumed they were both already dead. I hope Bob Hope has his nurse close by.

Forget it, Jake, it's Jerusalem.
Best of the Web has a nice discussion of "the cycle of violence." It's like the Wage-Price Spiral. I saw a televised interview with the guy the Israeli's tried to kill, kill Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a top leader of Hamas, and wondered why the IDF didn't storm in during the shot and haul him off to a firing squad.

We talk about escalations as though terrorism was just a bargaining strategy. Every once in a while, we should all step back and look at Israel's response to the terrorists' walking landmines and marvel at their restraint. Terrorists killed a larger percentage of Israeli citizens than we suffered on 9/11 and what did we do? Why, we were the model of restraint. We stopped overthrown the regimes of two sovereign nations and dropping JDAMs that blew up a lot of Saddam's neighbors. We still don't know if Osama and Saddam are alive or dead.

You can have a prison camp off the coast of Florida, or any of the methods used by the Soviets, Russians, Red Chinese or North Koreans, which are politely ignored by the Moderate Left. But civilized nations don't do things like launching missiles from helicopters at the leaders of illegal terrorist NGOs.

I'm catching up on the Bleats for the week. Wednesday's offering speaks for me, except I don't drink or curse. I generally don't mind that other people do. I just wish they wouldn't drink, get drunk and drive. Having never had the fine experience of a glass of wine with dinner, I don't miss it. It must be the epitome of pleasure, though, because we are willing to accept all the damage caused by people who can't stop at one or two beers or a glass of wine so that we can enjoy it.

The point I think Lileks is making, that there have to be some standards and there has to be a difference between adult fare and what we expose our children to.

Thinking about it further, I think that there is way too much "adult" labelling of material that really isn't adult either. It's an insult to maturity, much of the time, to suggest that the horny teens who flock to the current crop of B movies are adults. Since when does a mature person really waste time on dreck? Maybe we need a new rating, S for Sophomoric. Adult movies would be those like Sophie's Choice, Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's List. It's not the nudity or the language that makes it unacceptable, it's the fact that we don't want to dump the really horrible stuff of life on little people like Gnat. And there's the further point that if something is too crude and embarrassing to take a child to, what business do adults have seeing it? Of course, that implies that Blazing Saddles is out of the question. So forget that. I guess I'd say that we don't have to Disney-fy everything, in the original sense when it didn't mean Blitzkrieg marketing and tie-ins, but can't we just agree that we want to live in a Culture, instead of the Last Days of Pompeii?

The best line of the week was on C-Span2. Roy Blount opined that the film Gods and Generals should have been called "The Virginia Monologues." (rimshot)

Lileks may have inadvertently stumbled on to the secret behind North Korea's insistance on building nuclear plants:
The North Korean army, you see, had a fleet of armored hovercraft for floating over minefields, as well as rifles that shot DU rounds, and various other nifty shiny toys. What must have gone through Kim Il Jong�s runty-drunk forebrain as he watched that? Perhaps shame that he had none of these fine toys; perhaps fear as he wondered whether the West thought he did, and had developed countermeasures.
So they're trying to produce materials for making depleted Uranium ammunition. Inscrutable, baby.

From Best of the Web comes this link about a recent poll showing that Hispanics overwhelmingly support the nomination of Miquel Estrada and want the Democrats to drop their filibuster. This is a real chance for Republicans to reach out to the vast majority of the people in the Western Hemisphere, but there are too many "conservatives" who freak out over illegal immigrants. What Bush should point out is that the only reason immigration is a problem is that we have created so many welfare state programs and our courts have ruled that ilegal immigrants can't be denied access to many of them.

As a conservative, I believe in maintaining the founding principles of this nation, which do not include socialistic entitlements. I do believe in the sentiments of Emma Lazarus' poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty. I don't really mind educating the kids of illegal immigrants, if our schools could get their act together and start educating the kids of legal immigrants and citizens as well. I'd be willing to put all of our foreign aid into building schools around the world, so why not teach the kids of people who may return to their home countries and spread some enlightenment? A basic education in literacy, arithmetic and what we called Civics in my childhood would be in our own interests, provided we could get anyone in the educational establishment to teach anything positive about the United States.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I don't usually watch Dave Letterman. He seems full of contempt for himself and his medium. Last night was worth watching though. The Top Ten List was Cool Things About Having Monkeypox. I'd say that just the name "monkeypox" is pretty funny, and the fact that it was brought here by people importing rodents who then transmitted it to prairie dogs, which some people keep as pets and from whom humans contracted it. The whole scenario sounds like a Jerry Zucker movie .

The highlight of Letterman's show was Bruce Willis, though. He came out with a Chia Pet toupee, and did his own comedy bit throughout. If he wouldn't lose money on the deal, he'd be a great replacement for Letterman.

Ladies, we've got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs! The defenders of the Bastille which houses millions of American children are resorting to dishonest means to prevent development of a certification test for teachers without who haven't jumped through the professional hoops. Direct Instruction is a back to basics method that stresses drills and memorization. If practice is what makes our military so good, and it is, why shouldn't the schools use it?