Friday, January 06, 2006

The right's answer to Molly Ivins.

Why does anybody bother to report Pat Robertson's lame pronouncements. At least the other nuts are leaders of nations. But he's nothing but a false prophet.

I'm watching Star Wars - The Revenge of the Sith

It really loses a lot from being shrunk to the dimensions of a television screen. The pay-for-view didn't have a letterbox option. Without the visual impact of the wide screen, the dialog and plot reek even worse than they did in the theater. The scenes with Annakin Skywalker are really awful. He has to be as thick as a brick, or the audience does, for this to make any sense. Everyone seems so surprised to discover that Palpatine is a Sith Lord, but that's about as believeable as Clark Kent's associates failure to notice his resemblence to Superman.

Mark Steyn said it best. George Lucas takes good actors and makes them wooden and unconvincing. It's a sad way for him to end this saga which began so fresh and exciting.

I also watched the March of the Penguins and Madagascar on pay-for-view. They had the virtue of being new to me, but I could imagine how much more impact they would have had on a wide screen.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The international human right to own weapons?

Glenn Reynolds is touting the right to keep and bear arms as the next universal human right. I'm less than impressed. It's a legalistic argument, which makes legal and superficial sense, especially for Americans, but everybody already has a natural right to self-defense. That isn't the problem. Most of them can't afford firearms and ammo and wouldn't know how to use them if they could. The problem is that most people don't have the Jacksonian ethos of standing up to tyranny, or even crime. They'll generally put up with a lot of oppression rather than fight for themselves, even as bad as Stalin, Hitler or Saddam.

It's not that I'm not sympathetic to his point. As a Mormon, I believe that God honors the right to defend one's rights. It's in the Book of Mormon to fight in defense of one's life, family, religion and freedoms.

I've been reading Born Fighting by James Webb, and if he's right, the Scots-Irish strain responsible for a lot of America's pugnacious populism, is part of the British-Scottish-Irish heritage we of the English speaking world have received. We have the imperial impulse of the British, but the weakness for lost causes of the Scots and Scots-Irish. Anyhow, people without that heritage have a difficult time understanding their rights the way we do. I hadn't realized before how unusual this characteristic is. Americans fight over their individual rights the way Russians fight for Mother Russia or Germans for the Fatherland, but neither of them have the kind of hatred for dictators that Americans do. You can't just tell them they have this right. Most Iraqis had guns in their homes, but what good are they without the will to use them in defense of individual rights. The terrorists are motivated by the idea of jihad and martyrdom, not establishing individual rights or freedom for Muslims.

There's also the problem of the arms race. When every Tom, Dick and Harry has an AK-47, those with more soldiers, ammo and RPGs still can oppress the rest and deny them their other rights. Too often guns give one a sense of power that can turn one into a bully, if one doesn't see them as a guarantee of one's individual safety, but rather as something to swing around.

Reynolds' peice is really most valuable as an argument for the futility of the fatuous liberal faith in international organizations like the U.N. and the E.U. courts to deal with genocide and war criminals. In the end, force must be met with force, not diplomacy and not with appeasement. Nobody is afraid to violate international laws, because they don't really fear that they will ever be enforced. It's only when other nations stand up to creeps like Milosevic and Saddam that they can be brought to justice. The U.N. just doesn't cut it, no matter how much lip service twits like John Kerry pay to it.

If it works, the first ship should be

christened the USS Roddenberry.

Hmm. Why is it "christened?" Where are the ACLU and the language police? It might be "baptized," but that means immersed, and that would only be desirable in the case of a submarine, and bad luck for a surface vessel.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Simple numbers

This piece by Mark Steyn reminds me of all the anti-Mormons in Utah who keep getting deranged over the size of LDS families. We're growing, they're not.

Go Lynn Swan!

He's running for Governor in Pennsylvania.

Man, it takes something like this to get Hugh Hewitt, or having to eat crow for predicting a loss, to say anything nice about USC. I never cared much about USC or The Ohio State University, but Hugh is turning me into a USC fan and a Michigan rooter, with his ragging on the former and boasting about the latter. No worries, though. Hugh's knowledge of football is similar to his taste in music and his mastery of old movies.

Usually I root for the underdog, but I don't see one in the Rose Bowl.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Bad move, Bill.

Microsoft has pulled a Chinese blogger's website. So much for commitment to human rights. You gotta have market share in Asia if you want to keep up your philanthropy.

Rescue and Death

The remaining 12 miners in West Virginia have been found alive.

Just before Christmas in 1984, 24 miners in the Wilberg Mine near my home were killed by carbon monoxide when a fire started from an overheated belt drive or bearing. One of them was my neighbor. The owners of the mine, Utah Power and Light Co., ended up settling for $22 million. After seeing what happened, I have no respect for either MSHA or the union. Neither one seemed to care about the safety shortcuts that were taken by the mining company running the operation. The phones inside the mine had been allowed to go dead. There was no exit path on the side away from the fire.

A missionary from Utah has been shot and killed in Virginia. His companion was shot in the neck, but will survive. He was 21 years old, three months away from the end of his mission. My 28 year old nephew was killed in a snow mobile accident last February. I can't believe that either one just puffed out of existence. It would violate some kind of natural law, just as life itself seems to work against the Second Law of thermodynamics, that nature tends toward entropy. It would just be too senseless for something as marvelous as a human personality and intelligence to develop just to be dissolved again. We speak about infinite numbers of universes, everything coming from a big bang, quantum superpositioning, etc. Nothing seems unbelievable anymore.

Update: I learned this morning that the story about the miners being found which I heard on a local TV news show turned out to be wrong. They've been found but all were killed. I wondered when I heard that they had survived, how they'd made it for so long. Those rebreathers and safety kits are only good for hours. Unless they found a pocket of good air and walled themselves in, it would have been a miracle.
This is so sad. Coalmining communities live with dread of things like this. South Central Utah has a number of coal mines, and we know the fear and the grief. I pray for the families of those miners in West Virginia that they may receive peace and hope.

Fresh squeezed.

The Orange Bowl game is in triple overtime. The kickers for Penn State and Florida State have both missed field goal after field goal. It's ad in for Penn State. The game is over four hours old. It's like the one Seattle won earlier against the Giants when New York couldn't make a field goal.

Nope, Penn State decided to run another play and made a first down. It's first and ten from the 13. Florida State had its chance in the third overtime.

The Nitney Lions are going to try a final kick now. Kelly made it. Finally. I think if I were at the game, I'd be tempted to just curl up, sleep there and leave in the morning.

The coaches are 76 (Bowden) and 79 (Paterno) years old. I think they were too tired to care much at the end.

Penn State finishes No. 3 in the nation behind USC and or . Defeated once in the season.

White man speak with forked tongue.

I don't know exactly which concerns me more, that Indians are continuing to be defrauded by palefaces or that they have $20 million to spend on lobbying Congress. Either way, someone is getting scalped.

Do Indian tribes in Nevada make anything on their casinos? Are they denied equal protection because they live in a state where gambling is nothing special?

The Goshute Tribe in Western Utah on the Skull Valley Reservation is trying to create a nuclear waste depository, which the State is fighting tooth and nail. Tribes everywhere else seem to be making big bucks off the vices of the white man. It just don't seem fair.

How out of it is Network News?

Last night, ABC's Nightline promised "Murtha like you've never heard him before!" I didn't watch. I mean, Murtha? Who cares about what he has to say?

Then it dawned on me. The blogosphere is like a market for news. It has already taken Murtha into account and discounted his value. He's so last week.

I heard recently a description of a young pro quarterback describing how things had "slowed down" for him, meaning that he was no longer overwhelmed by everything going on around him on the field. Reality hadn't slowed down, but his perceptions had speeded up. He was noticing more, learning what his coachs had been telling him, many of the things he had been thinking about were becoming automatic, freeing his mind for other things.

Reading blogs has done something similar for me. I often watch the evening news now and it sounds like yesterday's news, because I've heard it discussed on talk radio during the day and read comments about it on the web.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Why is this Bush's fault?

The RCP Blog assesses why some of Bush's proposals foundered in Congress. It seems to me that this is more the fault of Republicans in Congress than Bush's. Frist will not go down as one of the effective majority leaders in history. Ultimately, it's a problem for Republican voters. We elected five vote majority and found that it included too many RINOs, and ADD sufferers, like those in the "gang of 14" who dither and put their relations with the Democrats ahead of the need to govern.

NYTimes invents new concept in political journalism

Call it stonewaffling.
They don't want to say why they held the story on the NSA wiretaps for a year.