Wednesday, September 29, 2004 catches CBS in another shameless deception.

"In a story that was a textbook example of shoddy and biased reporting, CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger used:
Debunked internet hoax emails
Michael Moore-esque editing
An unlabeled interest group member
to scare elderly 'Evening' viewers into believing that the U.S. government is poised to resume the draft."

The Volokh Conspiracy posts

a withering factual expose' of the moral idiocy of the mainline Protestant Church.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

FBI failing to translate audio intercepts

"The FBI has failed to translate nearly 500,000 hours of audio intercepts tied to ongoing terrorism and espionage cases since the September 11 attacks, despite huge budgetary and manpower increases, according to a government report yesterday. "

"The audit attributed the FBI's backlog to an insufficient number of linguists, as well as limitations in the bureau's translation information-technology systems."

Apparently even the FBI can't win the war against evil without a bigger OPS team.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Steve Hays doing his own blogging research on the War

Steve Hays does some detailed work to respond to a article by a Christian religious leader with regard to the Church's stance on the Iraq war.

"Thus far, your article consists in a string of assertions instead of arguments. However, you go on to cite some statistics, the purpose of which is, I gather, to bolster your case. You say that at least 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, along with more that 900 American soldiers, and that ‘thousands more have been wounded and maimed on both sides of the conflict.’'

Both sides'? The last sentence is fascinating for what it reveals about your ethical center of gravity. Are you insinuating some sort of moral equivalence between American soldiers and suicide bombers?On the one hand, we have American soldiers are risking their lives to defend the civilian populace; on the other hand, we have a terrorist network that is targeting the civilian populace. The death of American soldiers is tragic, but that is really beside the point.

In any war, soldiers are killed. Even just-war criteria war take that much for granted. In addition, Catholic moral theology operates with the double-effect principle. Collateral damage may be an inevitable and licit side-effect of a just war. If you don’t agree with this, don’t invoke just-war theory in the first place.

You then say that ‘justifications proposed by the president and other leaders have proven false: no weapons of mass destruction, no involvement by Iraq in the 9-11 attacks or in sponsoring al-Qaida.’But there are numerous errors in this summary:

i) When or where did the president or any of his war cabinet ever propose an Iraq/9-11 link as a justification for the war? Can you produce a single hyperlink (emphasis mine) to any speech or interview or press conference in which the war was predicated on such a connection?You seem to be parroting a popular urban legend about the causus belli. Maybe you need to go back and check your sources.

ii) I’d add that if you read the Congressional war resolution, the causus belli is broader than WMD or al-Qaida. So, on the one hand, you’ve oversimplified the official causus belli while, on the other hand, you’ve intruded a gratuitous justification (an Iraq/9-11) link which was no part of the official causus belli.

I have to wonder if this is the quality of scholarship you bring to your NT writings. It is your habit not to consult primary source data before you go to press?

iii) We need to draw an elementary distinction between being right and being in the right or having the right. We must often make important decisions based on insufficient evidence. Life confronts us with forced options, as Williams James has said. But the moral warrant for a particular action does not depend on our being right.

I see a man breaking into a house. I call the cops. It turns out that the man was not a house-burglar, but the homeowner, who had locked himself out of his own home. Was I right to call the cops? No. Was I in the right to call the cops? Yes.A suspect brandishes a toy gun and points it at a policeman. From a distance, the toy gun looks like the real deal. The policeman shoots him dead. Was the policeman right? No. Was the policeman in the right? Yes.The most that we can expect of a president is not that he be right, but that he be reasonable, acting on the best evidence at hand, and opting for the most likely rather than least likely interpretation of the evidence.The salient question is not whether Bush was right, but whether he had the right to act on what he thought he knew.

What was the state of prewar intel? Just off the top-of-my head, I'm able to come up with the following:

a) In his biography (American Soldier), Tommy Franks says he was told by both King Abdullah and Hosni Mubarak that Saddam had WMD. So that was the state of Arab intel.

b) Bob Woodward, in his new book (Plan of Attack), quotes George Tenant as assuring Bush that Saddam had WMD. So that was the state of CIA intel.

c) Lord Bulter’s report reaffirms the finding of MI-6 that Saddam was trying to acquire yellowcake from Africa. So that was the state of British intel.

d) Putin warned Bush of planned Iraqi attacks on the mainland. So that was the state of KGB intel.

e) Former UNSCOM inspectors like David Kay and Richard Butler, in various prewar interviews, assured the public that Iraq had WMD. So that was the state of UN intel. BTW, I even heard Hans Blix, on Hardball, express his surprise that we didn’t find WMD in Iraq. He also admitted that inspectors could never have done their job as long as Saddam was calling the shots.

f) Iraqi defectors, such as a nuclear scientist, gave many prewar interviews affirming a WDM program.

So that was the state of Iraqi intel.Even assuming that all this turns out to have been false, would it not have been recklessly irresponsible of Bush to disregard all this information? Is it your position that a commander-in-chief, after escalating attacks on American interests abroad under his predecessor, and culminating in the attack under his own watch on 9/11, should disregard the information he was being fed by his own DCI, by MI-6, by the KGB, by Arab leaders, as well as former UNSCOM inspectors and Iraqi defectors? It is better to be right than wrong, but as I say, we often have no choice in life but to act on the basis of inadequate information, for both action and inaction carry potential and unforeseeable consequences.

Relative risk assessments are made all the time in various walks of life, by drug companies, insurance companies, by gov't when issuing a mandatory evacuation orders in case of a tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, wildfire, &c., or when it quarantines a carrier or infected population group to prevent an epidemic or pandemic; when the military decides to vaccinate its servicemen, when it devises a battle plan, &c. "

And Steve doesn't even work for CBS. Read the whole spankin thing. It's in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2.


This is why the Blogosphere exists, and why Instapundit is a must read.

Winning the war on Terrorism?

From The Belmont Club comes this revelation:

"Experts believe the retraction came about because Hamas does not want to be seen as another al-Qaida.

"Hamas' hesitation is evidence that the cellular structure of militant Islamism, meant to provide immunity against counterintelligence is also exacting a high strategic price. The decentralized command and control structure which freed cells to choose their own targets also allowed them to make their own enemies. And make enemies they did. Attacking the United States, seizing the Indian Parlaiment House, blowing up discos in Bali, smashing trains in Madrid and beheading people of every nationality has had the practical effect of multiplying the foes of radical Islam and enabled President Bush to build a global coalition against it. While it has arrogated to itself the power to ignore every civilized limit, Islamic terrorism itself is ironically dependent on their maintenance. Asymmetric warfare relies on being able to do what your enemy is forbidden. Terrorism, being militarily weak, relied upon legal restraints, inviolate borders and traditional respect for noncombatants and holy places to provide the shelter that concrete could not. Khalil lived in an unguarded compound in Damascus, in an ordinary residential neighborhood, free to plot the deaths of Jewish civilians. His armor was neither neither Kevlar nor steel but the certainty -- until now -- that Israel would not attack him across an "international" border. Hama's eagerness to limit the response to Israel proper betrays a growing fear that borders no longer provide sanctuaries."

It seems to me from this passage that the Bush Doctrine has struck fear into the hearts of terrorists, forcing them to be very careful not attack or appear to attack the U.S. directly. Now you might respond that the U.S. has flouted International Law to achieve this. Let's face it, we didn't take over Germany or Japan after WWII and the U.S. is not interested in becoming an empire. We just want to stop another 9-11, or Beslan, or Bali, or you name the murderous Islamo-fascist terror horror of the month. And it seems like Bush's willingness to strike out at terrorists and those who aid them has made even Hamas think twice about even the appearance of terror against the United States. All I can say is, "4 more years".

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Flash:Men, Women More Different Than Thought

My Way News: "It turns out that major illnesses like heart disease and lung cancer are influenced by gender and that perhaps treatments for women ought to be slightly different from the approach used for men.
These discoveries are part of a quiet but revolutionary change infiltrating U.S. medicine as a growing number of scientists realize there's more to women's health than just the anatomy that makes them female, and that the same diseases often affect men and women in different ways.
'Women are different than men, not only psychologically (but) physiologically, and I think we need to understand those differences,' says Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association."

Slowly, but surely we wind our way back to this: Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The modern project to show that gender is socially constructed is so badly discredited that the only place foolish and isolated enough to still believe it is your local college campus. Only a secular approach to humanity could ignore what most of human history has assumed: Men and Women are fundamentally different. For more research start here.

If your skeptical, read As Nature Made Him : The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. It will break your heart, and make you angry.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Women Driving the 2004 Presidential Campaign

"What happened? Karen Hughes. The true genius behind the Bush success is not Karl Rove; she�s a suburban working mom in sensible shoes. It was clear from the start that Team Bush realized that the old, white, male face of the Republican Party was a recipe for losing those crucial suburban women in the swing states who are socially progressive and fiscally conservative. As long as the face of Republicanism was that of Newt Gingrich, ready to talk about women soldiers getting gynecological infections in foxholes, the GOP would face a Democratic hegemony, to paraphrase Rove, for the next twenty years.
So they devised a deliberate strategy that went unnoticed by Democratic strategists, most of whom are white guys over 50: to showcase a moderate, mainstream feminist makeover for the Bush brand. Everyone fell for it, including the press. Bush�s speeches are routinely cast before the eye, I am convinced, of Karen Hughes, who spins tax cuts as a boon to women entrepreneurs, like the one Laura Bush mentioned in her convention speech (Carmella Chaifos, �the only woman to own a tow-truck company in all of Iowa�). The fallen heroes of Iraq are �moms and dads.� Afghanistan was the first time U.S. troops were deployed for a feminist goal, �so Afghan girls could go to school.�"

Whatever you believe politically, this story is an interesting perspective on avoiding "same-sex" leadership when trying to build a compelling vision for an organization. It turns out that men and women are different and bring fundamentally different perspectives. Ignoring that fact is a classic blunder for any organization.

The New York Times :Truth Be Told, the Vietnam Crossfire Hurts Kerry More

"'Every American now knows that there's something really screwy about George Bush and the National Guard, and they know that John Kerry was not the war hero we thought he was,' said Douglas Brinkley, the historian and author of a friendly biography of Mr. Kerry's war years, acknowledging that Mr. Kerry's opponents had succeeded in raising questions about his service. "

Too bad for Kerry that he built his credentials for being President on his 4 months in Viet Nam.

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

This movie evokes the same experience as viewing a painting in a museum. It is quiet and unencumbered with distraction. It provokes contemplation and reflection. But most of all it is compelling to the eye. Almost every scene of this film is crafted with the color, proportion and detail of a fine painting. It is marvelous to look at, but as one would look at a sunset or glassy sea.

Roger Ebert says it well:
"Tracy Chevalier's novel speculating about the painting has now been filmed by Peter Webber, who casts Scarlett Johansson as the girl and Colin Firth as Vermeer. I can think of many ways the film could have gone wrong, but it goes right, because it doesn't cook up melodrama and romantic intrigue but tells a
story that's content with its simplicity. The painting is contemplative, reflective, subdued, and the film must be, too: We don't want lurid revelations breaking into its mood."

The depth of this movie is primarily visual. And for that it is worth the time and effort to penetrate it's slow pace. But it's characters have the subtle familiarity of real people. So while the movie is pure fiction, it is compelling fiction, though very small in it's dramatic arc.

My Rating: Big Screen

Wimbledon (2004)

Normally I wouldn't see a movie like this on the big screen but circumstances materialized creating a kind of perfect storm. The McWife and I got out last night for the first time in a long time. We got out late and rushed to the movie theatre. We didn't know what was playing, so after scanning the movies that had already started I narrowed it down to Resident Evil: Apocalypse and of course, Wimbledon.

My wife is not keen on any move that has 'evil' in the title and she just took up tennis so I resisted my urge to veto any movie and ponied up darn near 20 bones to see Wimbledon.

If you've seen The Karate Kid then you've seen Wimbledon. Except the part of Mr. Miyagi is played by a nubile Kirsten Dunst. Actually a better comparison would be to For the Love of the Game. (come to think of it, Tin Cup and Bull Durham follow essentially the same storyline) Except this one is about Tennis and not baseball.

I heard from a screenwriter that there are two reasons that movies are rejected by Hollywood executives: 1) That movie has been done before. 2) That movie isn't like anything we've ever seen. So in order to get a movie made, your pitch has to show how your movie idea is just like some other movie that made big money, only different.

So Wimbledon follows in the great tradition of feel good, shallow, sports related romance movies. And if that's what your into then you'll enjoy Wimbledon. Or if you're into tennis you might enjoy it (or hate it because it's not realistic enough). Some of the tennis sequences are surprising in their camera work and choreography. Let's face it, I know what I hate and I didn't hate this movie. Shallow yes but still a bit fun to splash around in.

My Rating: On The Plane

Thursday, September 23, 2004

A detailed review of The Da Vinci Code

by Craig Blomberg at Denver Seminary.

"The most important word in this entire book is the noun in the subtitle; this is a 'novel'-a work of fiction. That is important to remember, especially after the statements on page 1, which move the work slightly into the arena of historical fiction, but only slightly. It is true that there are such organizations as the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei. It is true that the author has worked hard to describe accurately the contemporary European locations, including city layouts, buildings, and artwork, in which the plot is set. The statement that 'all descriptions of . . . documents. . .in this novel are accurate' is, however, highly inaccurate!"

Dennis Prager has put it something like this: Anyone whose faith in Christ is shaken by the Da Vinci Code, must not have a solid intellectual foundation for their faith.

Building with wood is eco-friendly?

"the environmental impact of fabricating building materials and actually constructing a home is more intense than most people realize. And while the industry has slowly moved away from wood, the use of dead trees may actually be better (well, less bad) than other products and techniques."

Isn't that interesting: (via Boing Boing)

Terror and Victory: A Major Victory in the Middle East

"The doom-mongers were wrong. Period. Just as they were wrong when they predicted disaster in Afghanistan. Just as they were wrong when they predicted disaster in Iraq the first time around. Just as they were wrong when they (although it was mostly Republicans this time) predicted disaster in Kosovo. "

important data for evaluating the war on Islamo-fascist terrorism. (via Instapundit)

Public schools no place for teachers' kids.

"More than 25 percent of public school teachers in Washington and Baltimore send their children to private schools, a new study reports. "

Sheesh! And people call Christians hypocrites. I'm sure glad teacher's unions oppose vouchers. We wouldn't want poor kids sucking up all those private school seats.

Read the whole spankin' thing.

Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart apologizes after remark about 'killing' gay men.

"A complaint was filed with a Canadian broadcasting group, and Swaggart said his Baton Rouge-based Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has received complaints from gay groups over the remarks made on the Sept. 12 telecast. "

I only wish it read this way: Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has received complaints from Christian groups over the remarks made.

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

was exquisite. I want to watch it again tomorrow night before I give a full response.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Getting Things Done

is the book that is changing and has changed my life. David Allen's insights on the nature of "knowledge work" and how to cope with it are very helpful. For the first time in my life my desk is not a disaster and my inbox is manageable. My wife can't believe it. And I've been that way now for more than just a few months. Buy it, read it, and then buy the Outlook plug in on Allen's web site and you'll be cleansing your inbox in no time.

Are you a Liberal?

This is a great diagnostic tool to discover where you fall on the political spectrum. Dennis Prager is one of the clearest minds in public life.

"It is my belief that about half of the Americans who call themselves liberal do not hold the great majority of positions held by mainstream liberal institutions such as the New York Times editorial page, People for the American Way, and the
liberal wing of the Democratic Party. So here is a test of this thesis to be given to anyone who believes he or she is a liberal. If you feel I have omitted a liberal position or have unfairly characterized any of them here, please email
me. This is still a work in progress.

Thank you,
Dennis Prager

You say you are a liberal.

Do you believe the following?

Standards for admissions to universities, fire departments, etc. should be lowered for people of color.

Bilingual education for children of immigrants, rather than immersion in English, is good for them and for America.

Murderers should never be put to death.

During the Cold War, America should have adopted a nuclear arms freeze.

Colleges should not allow ROTC programs.

It was wrong to wage war against Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War.

Poor parents should not be allowed to have vouchers to send their children to private schools.

It is good that trial lawyers and teachers unions are
the two biggest contributors to the Democratic Party.

Marriage should be redefined from male-female to any two people.

A married couple should not have more of a right to adopt a child than two men or two women.

The Boy Scouts should not be allowed to use parks or any other public places and should be prohibited from using churches and synagogues for their meetings.

The present high tax rates are good.

Speech codes on college campuses are good and American values.

The Israelis and Palestinians are morally equivalent.

The United Nations is a moral force for good in the world, and therefore America should be subservient to it and such international institutions as a world court.

It is good that colleges have dropped hundreds of men's sports
teams in order to meet gender-based quotas.

No abortions can be labeled immoral.

Restaurants should be prohibited by law from allowing customers to choose between a smoking and a non-smoking section.

High schools should make condoms available to students and teach them how to use them.

Racial profiling for terrorists is wrong -- a white American grandmother should as likely be searched as a Saudi young male.

Racism and poverty -- not a lack of fathers and a crisis of values -- are the primary causes of violent crime in the inner city.

It is wrong and unconstitutional for students to be told,
"God bless you" at their graduation.

No culture is morally superior to any other.

Those are all liberal positions. How many of them do you hold?

From Imago Dei: Is This a Women's Rights Issue?

"'There's pressure from my in-laws � we have to have a son.' So Mrs. Singh, 32, went with her mother-in-law to a suburban clinic and had the fetus aborted."

This is Pro-Choice right?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Joe Carter brings just condemnation of Jimmy Swaggart.

The TV preacher shows himself to have forgotten the weightier matters of the law. His comments are evil and should be called such by all who follow Christ.

A Letter Home

This email posted by Hugh Hewitt:

Dear sir: I'm a marine mom from Helena, Montana. My son (____) is in Iraq right now. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one still supporting the mission over there after all these negative reports hit the airwaves. John Kerry just adds fuel to the negative fire! It makes me crazy to listen to him talk. He just doesn't get it! You just summed up my sentiments of this whole operation. I thank you for helping me stay strong in the continued "fight" at home to keep the troops morale high by standing by them. I absolutely agree with everything you say by what ____has written in his letters. He said that he has a huge respect for the Iraqi National Guard because they are trying so hard to make a better life for the Iraqi people. He also told me not to listen to news reports that the Iraqi people don't like them. He said even the places they've gone where most people didn't like them to begin with, they gained their respect by the time they were done there. After the people watched them standing back and getting shot at as they guarded the Iraqi's while rebuilding hospitals and schools. He said the people start to realize what the USA stands for. They are not there to be aggressive, they are there to show them how to stand up for themselves. He said there's been many times they've been shot at and they don't shoot back unless absolutely necessary just to build the trust of the people and the ING. They take orders from the ING in those situations and he said the ING is starting to feel some confidence in themselves. His quiet humor amazes me. He said "Sometimes it's a little nerve wracking hoping their aim has gotten better..... but it all seems to work out and is worth it to see the ING gaining confidence in themselves" He said it's been an amazing process. ____was sent to Najaf in August and was helping tranport troops (both marines and ING) to the Mosque in his Amphibious Assault Vehicle. The storming of the mosque was called off at the last minute, but ____said he was impressed with how hard the Americans and Iraqis worked together. He told me it was something he can't even describe and that I will never even imagine and that if we back down now the Iraqis would be totally devastated and never trust us again.
On a final note: I am always amazed at the lack of whining of you marines! The only thing ____has complained of is missing the upcoming Monday Night Football game between his beloved Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins....ha! Anyway, I appreciate articles like yours! Keep em coming!
________- Helena, Montana
Proud Mom of CPL _______, Camp Lejeune
24th MEU"

Monday, September 20, 2004

CBS News Concludes It Was Misled on National Guard Memos, Network Officials Say

Gee, aren't they admitting that they have "misled us into war" against the President's credibility.
"After days of expressing confidence about the documents used in a '60 Minutes'' report that raised new questions about President Bush's National Guard service, CBS News officials have grave doubts about the authenticity of the material,
network officials said last night."

Really I'm just practicing how to send pictures to a blog. Still it was unspeakably beautiful in Maine. Posted by Hello

I spent some time thinking on this trail. Posted by Hello

From my recent trip to Maine. Posted by Hello

Sting Lyrics from the song Dead Man's Rope

sound like a coversion to Christianity:

"Now I'm suspended between my darkest fears and dearest hope
Yes I've been walking, now I'm hanging from a dead man's rope
With Hell below me, and Heaven in the sky above
I've been walking, I've been walking away from Jesus' love

Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away in anger, walk away in pain
Walk away from life itself, walk into the rain

All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
I'm just hanging here in space

The shadows fall
Around my bed
When the hand of an angel,
The hand of an angel is reaching down above my head

All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
Now I'm walking in his grace
I'm walking in his footsteps
Walking in his footsteps,
Walking in his footsteps

All the days of my life I will walk with you
All the days of my life I will talk with you
All the days of my life I will share with you
All the days of my life I will bear with you"

I'll have to do more research on this. My good friend Nick told me that Sting had some very interesting things to say on his Sacred Love album. He was right.

Update: This is an interesting post on biblical imagery in pop music.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

All the good things they never tell you about today's Iraq

is an article by the incomparable Mark Steyn (via Hugh Hewitt).

"In Sudan, the civilised world is (so far) doing everything to conform with the UN charter, which means waiting till everyone's been killed and then issuing a strong statement expressing grave concern.

As for Iraq, the UN system designed to constrain Saddam was instead enriching him, through the Oil-for-Food programme, and enabling him to subsidise terrorism. Given that the Oil-for-Fraud programme was run directly out of Kofi Annan's office, the Secretary-General ought to have the decency to recognise that he had his chance with Iraq, he blew it, and a period of silence from him would now be welcome."
I'm not sure why anyone should trust the U.N. with geo-political questions. Read the whole thing.

"This story is fictional, but not false."

An interesting statement in light of recent Rathergate revelations. At least Dennis Prager didn't claim to have a memo that proved Jimmy Carter made this speech.

A Fahrenheit Response

"A conservative grass-roots group and a leading Hollywood Republican are teaming up to deliver a rejoinder to "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore's controversial anti-Bush film."

Speaking of non-leftist voices in Hollywood: Roger L. Simon

A Post on Drunk College Students

in which Randy Balko quotes:

"Middlebury College President John M. McCardell, Jr., in yesterday's New York Times:
To lawmakers: the 21-year-old drinking age is bad social policy and terrible law. It is astonishing that college students have thus far acquiesced in so egregious an abridgment of the age of majority. Unfortunately, this acquiescence has taken the form of binge drinking. Campuses have become, depending on the enthusiasm of local law enforcement, either arms of the law or
havens from the law."

This seems pretty relevant in light of two apparently alcohol related deaths at CU and CSU. Although the CU case is still pending autopsy.

Then there is this story: Survey of 1,000 males shows having 24 drinks in one sitting is not uncommon.

When I've worked with college students in Spain they have informed me because there is no drinking age, binge drinking is only done by the very young. Binge drinking has a stigma associated with the immature or the pathetic alchoholic. All of this makes me wonder if prohibition related to student drinking is not making the problem worse.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

I'm watching this tonight. I heard it was good.

Trouble in Wisconsin

John Kerry is in big trouble with Cheeseheads in Packer country. Read the details.

Arrogance from Dominance

This article argues that F.A. Hayek’s central claims are confirmed by blogging:

“We've all heard critics of the Internet claim that, because no one "controls" it, no one can control it from disseminating the most outrageous rumors and conspiracies. A similar critique was leveled at Hayek's arguments about markets: Sure, markets (spontaneous systems) can deliver food at reasonable prices, but advertising and marketing often mislead people about which foods they should buy.

This traditional criticism of the internet has now been aimed
at the blogosphere and is embodied by big journalists like Jonathan Klein who, while defending the CBS story to The Weekly Standard remarked, "You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at
'60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing." Klein misses the point that it's not whether you can trust some guy in his pajamas, but whether you can trust a spontaneous system of thousands of guys in their pajamas trading information and imparting small, sometimes deceivingly insignificant, bits of information.”

The reason CBS is in such a world of hurt is that they have too much “control”. CBS and much of the Mainstream Media (or MSM) are dominated by those who are politically left of center (usually far left of center). This means that it is easy for everyone in the CBS news room to buy into and then disseminate “the most outrageous rumors and conspiracies”. Bloggers like Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, Instapundit and all who have brought down CBS are so valuable because they are the philosophical and fact-checking control on arrogant news organization that think that everyone who disagrees with them is either a bigot or ill-informed. How else can one explain the obvious bias that is apparent to anyone who is not left of center? The Rathergate story (or Danron scandal) is only today’s glaring evidence of bias.

This kind of arrogance and philosophical lockstep is even more the case on the college campuses of America; and their end will be the same. I can see the day when student bloggers will digitally record the ridicule and disinformation they hear from leftist professors. It will then be posted on the Internet for the world to know and respond. At least then there can be real debate; not just a middle aged PhD beating up on an 18 year old. Similarly even an 18 year old in “pajamas” could check facts, think straight and know that Dan Rather has stopped being a journalist; and then start a blog.

More Blog Power

Differences in Documents that one would think even a high school journalism student in pajamas could spot. (via Instapundit)

Shadow of the Vampire

is a depraved film. I mean that philosophically. It is a vivid picture of the vast distance between art and morality (a concept I first learned from Dennis Prager). Appropriately set in the German culture of the 1920’s, the film depicts people at the height of art and education who are shockingly amoral. This mirrors the most educated and artistically advanced culture on the planet in the early 20th century, which produced the gas chambers and ovens of “The Final Solution”.

The depravity of Shadow of the Vampire lies in its characters. Each one stares apathetically or voyeuristically as innocents are slaughtered for the sake of ‘art’. The values (or lack there of) of German culture at that time are the necessary backdrop for the premise of the movie to work. You have to believe in a shared culture of amorality to believe the eerie moral degeneracy in this movie. For instance, one could not have made a similar film if the cultural backdrop was Depression era Mississippi, as in O Brother Where Art Thou. The irony is that the Coen Brothers depict a simple, almost backward culture in Mississippi in roughly the same era as the one in Vampire. Yet this poor, uneducated, uncultured (at least from the perspective of Europe) culture, would be outraged and horrified by the evil that is coolly accepted in Vampire. Art, education, and culture devoid of morality is not progress, it is primitive.

The beguiling nature of great art fools us into equating it with human greatness. Great art is about perception. A microscope or a telescope can provide super-human perception, but we do not revere the microscope, though we may marvel at its insights. So I marvel at the insight of great artists but I must be careful not to confuse insight with virtue.

True greatness is measured by morality. To do what is good and true and therefore beautiful is so difficult, and so rare, that it merits praise and reverence far above the achievement of the great artist. The greatest artist is the one who perceives clearly the difference between evil and good portrays both with such realism that humanity perceives the difference and is able to choose between them. The vision of the film is artful and clearly depicts evil, but no good exists within the film throw its evil into bold relief.

Perhaps the film is an allegory of the immorality of Europe, plunging the world into two world wars and sucking the blood from the young promise of democracy. It is difficult to say definitively. As an illustration of amoral artistry, it will remain in my memory for some time.

My Rating: Rentable

Fight Club (1999)

This is the most important men’s movie of the post-modern era. This movie asks all the right questions about the impact of modern life on men. It shows us the dehumanized “wimp” and the dehumanizing “jerk” (the twin excesses of male nature) and points to a vision of manhood that is a middle way that harmonizes the best virtue of both. Fight Club is absolutely indispensable for any responsible understanding of American masculinity after 1988.

My rating: Own it.

Old School

is terrible

My Rating: Don't waste your time or money.

Blog Power

What Blogs Have Wrought is an recent record of the emerging power of blogs. (via Instapundit)

Sweden's sick leave payments skyrocket

This article amazes me. Is Sweden really this naive?

The McRyanMac Movie Review Rating System

Because I value the time spent watching films and the money spent paying for them, my rating system will help you decide how I would spend both with regard to each film.

My rating system also is heavily weighted to the moral and philosophical value of the story. I believe human beings are hard wired for stories. Movies with little plot or frivolous goals do not rate well. I do not consider comedy a frivolous goal. But even comedy has a moral component and the best are in story form (which is why I’ve never liked slapstick).


Own it:
Movies of such surpassing greatness that multiple viewings are required to fully appreciate their mastery.

Big Screen:
Movies that are worth paying the bucks to see in the theatre. In fact these movies lose their experiential power if not seen in theatre mode.

Movies that are definitely worth seeing.

On the Plane:
Movies that you might watch if you are on a plane and your not tired and have nothing else pressing or interesting to do.

Don’t waste your time or money:
You get the picture.

A Good Name...

Hugh Hewitt quotes a famous "case study" at Harvard Business School on how Johnson & Johnson managed and preserved their brand even though poison was found in their Extra-strength Tylenol:
"This was unusual for a large corporation facing a crisis. In many other similar cases, companies had put themselves first, and ended up doing more damage to their reputations than if they had immediately taken responsibility for the crisis."

By contrast Hugh explains how CBS is squandering their brand:

“For reasons unfathomable to outsiders, the Board of Directors of Viacom is watching the brand value burn to the ground without lifting a finger to stop it. This isn't about a one week ratings fade. It is about setting free an entire generation of news viewers to sample other networks and develop new habits.

The events of the past week may be taught in business schools for decades to come as the companion to the Tylenol case study: How to destroy a brand it took nearly 90 years to establish. The roped and doped network; all because there isn't one person above Rather with the guts to speak
the truth?”

Trust is a commodity that has value beyond all others.

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold. (Whole Chapter: Proverbs 22 In context: Proverbs 22:1-2)

This truth is enduring, almost eternal. Yet why would any organization risk the trust that is the foundation of all value that the organization has? It’s either arrogance or incompetence. Either CBS has forgotten that it’s in the trust business or they have become so arrogant that they believe that they can go public with obviously fraudulent information and not be noticed or called to account..

This has implications for any ‘trust’ profession. The traditional professions of Medicine, Law, and Clergy have historically created guilds or other self-policing methods to attain high standards. Journalism has no such track record other than the guild of public opinion and blogging allows the public to project their collective opinion quickly and forcefully. Clearly clergy, whether you call it the Church, Ministry, or Religion, have suffered a decline in the ability to self-police and attain high standards of integrity. CBS should be cautionary tale that generations of integrity can be squandered in a single day.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Brazil (1985)

is a movie that I have heard of for years but have never seen (mostly because it came out when I was in High School). I watched it a few days ago and I was struck by a couple of things.

First, the notion of technology being the most dehumanizing challenge of the future seems hollow after 9-11. Evil is the enduring human problem. Brazil presents a world where "the system" is the enemy but people are trapped in and by the the system and only partially culpable for the evil they perpetuate. 9-11 and Beslan, indeed Islamo-fascist terrorism world wide, reminds us that technology is only a tool. It may shape our choices but the choice to stab a child or fly a plane into a building is something that technology does not cause. In this way the modern world, or post-modern world, has been cast backward, or reminded of the ancient struggle between good and evil as the central issue of humanity. The True, the Good, and the Beautiful have been rediscovered as falsehood, evil and horror have shattered our sophisticated denial of absolutes.

Second, Brazil remains a film of powerful images that illustrate that technology does not necessarily lead to a 'better' world. Technology that is used wisely and morally may benefit mankind but that assumes such things as Wisdom and Morality exist. Still Brazil remains a disturbing reminder of the pitfalls of 'progress'.

I found the scenes regarding plastic surgery to be particularly profound and disturbing. These scenes were the most prophetic.

Another scene deftly illustrates what a command and control culture looks like.

My Rating: rentable

Polygamy. Coming Soon...

Steyn on Polygamy is another triumph for this compelling voice.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Are we safer 3 years after September 11...

This article has excellent perspective on the real progress that has been made in the war on terrorism. Beslan showed us that there is a world wide, primitive culture of death that must be confronted by civilization. This is a war. The fundamental dividing line in civilization at this point in time seems to be those who believe there is a war, those who don't, and which side of the war you are on.

Dan Rather makes stunning new allegations...

not related to the forged memos: First stunning allegation; and the second stunning reversal.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Brainwashing 101

This is the title of a provocative new documentary on the leftist repression of free speech on college campuses. It reflects very poorly on Bucknell, Cal Poly SLO and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. You can watch it online. The feature length film is coming in 2005.

The bug

Ok I've got the blogging bug again and the time to scratch the itch. This inspired me:

"But all fun aside, I think there are some important lessons for Big Media -- and for everyone else -- in the rise of the blogosphere. They stem from the fact that bloggers operate on the Internet, where arguments from authority are difficult since nobody knows whether you're a dog.

In short, it's the difference between high-trust and low-trust environments. The world of Big Media used to be a high-trust environment. You read something in the paper, or
heard something from Dan Rather, and you figured it was probably true. You didn't ask to hear all the background, because it wouldn't fit in a newspaper story, much less in the highly truncated TV-news format anyway, and because you
assumed that they had done the necessary legwork. (Had they? I'm not sure. It's not clear whether standards have fallen since, or whether the curtain has simply been pulled open on the Mighty Oz. But they had names, and familiar faces, so
you usually believed them even when you had your doubts.)

The Internet, on the other hand, is a low-trust environment. Ironically, that probably makes it more trustworthy.
That's because, while arguments from authority are hard on
the Internet, substantiating arguments is easy, thanks to the miracle of hyperlinks. And, where things aren't linkable, you can post actual images. You can spell out your thinking, and you can back it up with lots of facts, which people then (thanks to Google, et al.) find it easy to check. And the links mean that you can do that without cluttering up your narrative too much, usually, something that's impossible on TV and nearly so in a newspaper.

(This is actually a lot like the world lawyers live in -- nobody trusts us enough to take our word for, well, much of anything, so we back things up with lots of footnotes, citations, and exhibits. Legal citation systems are even like a primitive form of hypertext, really, one that's been around for six or eight hundred years. But I digress -- except that this perhaps explains why so many lawyers take naturally to blogging).
You can also refine your arguments, updating -- and even
abandoning them -- in realtime as new facts or arguments appear. It's part of the deal.

This also means admitting when you're wrong. And that's another difference. When you're a blogger, you present ideas and arguments, and see how they do. You have a reputation, and it matters, but the reputation is for playing it straight with the facts you present, not necessarily the conclusions you reach. And a big part of the reputation's component involves being willing to admit you're wrong when you present wrong facts, and to make a quick and prominent correction.

When you're a news anchor, you're not just putting your
arguments on the line -- you're putting yourself on the line. Dan Rather has a problem with that. For journalists of his generation, admitting an error means admitting that you've violated people's trust. For bloggers, admitting an error
means you've missed something, and now you're going to set it right.

What people in the legacy media need to ask themselves is, which approach is more likely to retain credibility over time? I think I know the answer. I think Dan Rather does, too."

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt makes an interesting point, which is that the smaller blogs -- because they're mostly read by friends and acquaintances of the bloggers -- may actually operate in a high-trust environment: "Sure, a few hundred blogs seem to
own a large share of the traffic, as N.Z.Bear's rankings by traffic shows. But there are tens of thousands of blogs each racking up unique visitors. If those blogs in the tail pick up a meme --say, "Dan Rather is a doddering fool and CBS is covering up for him"-- its spread across the universe of people using the web
for information gathering is huge and almost instantaneous. And irreversible because a friend or colleague of Rick is much more likely to believe his analysis because he knows and trusts Rick than . . . Some knucklehead from CBS who is attempting to dismiss Rick as a pajama-wearing loon."

Finally, a succinct explanation of why web logs (Blogs) are quickly replacing other news sources as the place to get facts and perspective. I think embedded in this argument is a model for how to influence a campus with as much power as the campus newspaper. Perhaps we see the future.

Interesting Stuff