Friday, March 31, 2006

The Unforgivable Sin: America?

After having 3 of their members freed from terrorists in Iraq (a fourth was beheaded last month), the "Christian Peacemaker Teams" couldn't bring themselves to acknowledge the sinners who made the rescue possible. The following theological commentary is fascinating.
OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "But if the CPT is going to 'love our enemies,' the least it could do is thank them. The statement does not acknowledge that the hostages were rescued by U.S. and British servicemen, or indeed that they were rescued at all; it refers mysteriously to their having been 'released,' as if the kidnappers themselves had decided to let them go.

This seems to run deeper than a case of simple ingratitude. There is a whole strange worldview at work here--a theology, if you will. We don't claim to understand it fully, but it seems to equate America as the root of all evil and America's adversaries as Edenic creatures--innocents who know not good or evil and thus bear no culpability for their bad actions.

If we have this right, it follows that the CPT Christians see themselves, by virtue of their faith, as being forgiven for being American, or for being from another nation that America has corrupted. This is why they cannot be grateful to, or forgiving of, America: For them that would amount to thanking or forgiving sin itself."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Why the LA Times is losing revenue.

Gran Marcha--Gran Backlash! By Mickey Kaus: "From what I saw, this statement is false."

'Marriage Is for White People'

Washington Post: "'That's wonderful!' I told my class. 'I think I'll invite some couples in to talk about being married and rearing children.'

'Oh, no,' objected one student. 'We're not interested in the part about marriage. Only about how to be good fathers.'

And that's when the other boy chimed in, speaking as if the words left a nasty taste in his mouth: 'Marriage is for white people.'"

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Quagmire update...

Power Line: Speaking of taboo: "U.S. deaths in Iraq have declined every month since October 2005. In March they are down sharply. Projecting based on data through March 25, the count should be about one-third of what it was in October. If the MSM is reporting this, I'm not aware of it."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

How the mighty have fallen...

The American Thinker: "Harvard fired its president and published anti-Semitic claptrap, Yale invites the Goebbels of the Taliban to be a student, and Columbia has a Middle Eastern Studies department where Jewish students complain of harassment, and has accepted money from Libyan dictator Ghadafi and hosted a speech (via television) in which he called for the overthrow of democracy.

Now, Columbia University President Lee Bolinger (formerly the head of the University of Michigan) finds himself facing serious ethical questions, with implications for the corruption of the judicial system. "

Welcome to Yale

On The Fence Films :: Blog: "Yesterday, Director Evan Coyne Maloney was on the Yale campus hoping to interview administrators and allow them to give a fuller accounting of their decision to admit an ex-Taliban official with very little previous education to the hallowed halls of one of America's elite universities.

Things didn't go so well."

Friday, March 24, 2006

A throwback to the olden days...

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "Who's the Boss?
'After being surprised by her husband's role in the Dubai ports deal, Sen. Hillary Clinton has insisted that Bill Clinton give her 'final say' over what he says and does, well-placed sources said,' New York's Daily News reports:

The former President agreed to give his wife a veto to avoid his habit of making controversial headlines that could hurt her chances of returning to the White House, multiple sources told the Daily News.

'He knows it's Hillary's time now,' said an adviser close to both Clintons who expects to play a key role in her likely 2008 presidential campaign.

Now perhaps this is more gossip than news, but can you imagine the outcry if, when Bill Clinton held office and Hillary didn't, someone had floated the story that he had demanded a 'veto' over her public statements?

C'mon, Bill, don't just stay home and bake cookies! Be a man, for heaven's sake!"

This is bad. "She and her husband, preacher Matthew Winkler, were an ideal couple, congregants said.

But that image was shattered on Friday, when, according to police, Mary Winkler confessed to killing her husband."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Brokeback Yale

Penraker: Thou Shalt Not Debate Public Issues at Yale: "Yale has now refused to put on a once-planned debate over the presence at Yale of Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi - the former Taliban. John Fund reports:
The union's vice president had invited me, along with Yale alumnus and Army veteran Flagg Youngblood, to debate both military recruitment and the Rahmatullah case, on campus March 29. But when he brought the proposal to the executive board, it was rejected.

"No matter how carefully we frame this debate, it would inevitably turn into a trial of a fellow student and his personal life and beliefs,"

But Rahmatullah is not just some student from the Midwest who stumbled onto campus, he is a former Minister for the Taliban.

And it gets weirder and weirder: Listen to the ideologically blinded view of this student- she has been taught, like many students these days, to utterly ignore evil, and excuse it at any cost. She will trot forth a multitude of platitudes to justify having someone who is a practiced liar and sworn enemy of the United States at her school. But no doubt she would never countenance the presence of an American racist, or sexist, or homophobe. But somehow when a racist, sexist homophobic foreigner comes along, whose redeeming feature seems to be that he represents something that is implacably opposed to the United States - well then, he become instantly forgivable. He becomes a correctable, huggable, misguided youth. There is a lot of "our little brown brother" in her statements:

When I asked her if any of the revelations about Mr. Rahmatullah's past disturb her, she said that "while he has made some mistakes," she trusts that university officials had "investigated things" and satisfied themselves about him. She noted that Mr. Rahmatullah was "very, very young" when he had been a Taliban official, and said that "it's not like the Taliban attacked this country."

No, they only actively hosted and encouraged Al-Qaeda within their borders so that IT could attack the U.S. They publicly executed women for trivial matters. They imprisoned anyone who tried to practice a non-Muslim religion. They made Hindus wear yellow emblems to mark them publicly. They refused to let girls go to school. They blew up religious statues. They prevented the playing of music. Homosexuals were killed by making walls fall on them."

I wonder what Rahmatullah's review of Brokeback would be. Please read the whole thing, and then pray for the Northeast.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pie Update: Lemon Meringue

My ode to pie was well received, at least by my Dad.

Since then I have had a delightful mixed berry by from Costco. Costco always has great pies and they are as big as a tire.

I am currently working on a lemon meringue pie from Perkins. It's not close to a favorite and my family hates it.

I've recently been informed of some new pie intelligence. Apparently, Maine is famous for a unique strain of wild blueberries, making Maine Wild Blueberry Pie a conquest that lies in my future.

And it turns out, my immediate future. Our house is finally selling and we will move to Boston at the end of May.


Another CCC and DaVinci

Jesus Decoded is a web site where a different CCC addresses The DaVinci Code


Michelle Malkin: A CHRISTIAN ON TRIAL: "Abdul Rahman, 40, was arrested last month, accused of converting to Christianity. Under Afghanistan's new constitution, minority religious rights are protected but Muslims are still subject to strict Islamic laws. And so, officially, Muslim-born Rahman is charged with rejecting Islam and not for practicing Christianity.

Appearing in court earlier this week Rahman insisted he should not be considered an infidel, but admitted he is a Christian. He says he still believes in the almighty Allah, but cannot say for sure who God really is. 'I am,' he says, 'a Christian and I believe in Jesus Christ.'"

Marriage Rights?

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "Here Comes the Bride. Lock Her Up.
Lisa Clark, a 37-year-old Georgia woman with a month-old son, has been sentenced to nine months in jail--for having sex with her husband. The problem, as the Associated Press reports, is that the husband is 15:

Clark was arrested in November on charges of statutory rape, child molestation and enticing a minor. A few days before her arrest, she married the boy under a 1962 Georgia law that allows children of any age to get married if the bride-to-be is pregnant.

This just goes to show that you can't rely on made-up constitutional rights. The so-called right to privacy, established in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), is premised, as Justice William O. Douglas wrote in the court's opinion, on the inviolability of 'the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms.' Apparently this doesn't apply if the marriage is solemnized pursuant to a screwy law."

You decide.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Anatomy of a rumble

I hope this doesn't seem self serving. I am just glad there are folks with time to carry on the conversation.

Triablogue: "A few days ago I asked Ryan McReynolds to a link a movie review of his to Triablogue. Ryan is the founder of Triablogue, as well as a long-time employee of Campus Crusade for Christ.

Ryan had reviewed Brokeback Mountain. Many Christians have condemned the movie unseen because of its liberal agenda. Likewise, many liberals have praised the movie unseen because of its liberal agenda.

Ryan is a Christian who'’s actually seen the movie. And the point of his review is that, whatever its agenda, the movie unwittingly deconstructs its own message.

Now, I figured that if anyone would be offended by the review, it might be Christians who missed the point of what Ryan was saying.

The film doesn't intentionally present a Christian worldview. Rather, it ends up presenting a Christian worldview in spite of itself.

And, as a matter of fact, his review did trigger a very negative reaction. Mind you, Triablogue is no stranger to controversy, so that'’s fine with me.

As it turns out, though, all the hue and cry came, not from the Evangelical community, but from a weblog linked to The Secular Outpost, which is an arm of The Secular Web.

And it'’s very instructive to see how unbelievers behave when their back is to the wall. They began by attacking Ryan'’s review. Then they turned to something I had written."

Read the whole thing so you can enjoy one of the most eloquent and profound explanations of the Church that you will ever read.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

Saw this last night and I was amazed.

This movie is a mixture of all that is good and evil in people. It feels totally original yet it is a mixture of many other things: Crash, Unforgiven, Magnolia, The Sopranos, and many others.

Hopefully you can tell from the list above that it is R rated for a reason. There is much grit in this film. It is disturbing and comforting. Sexual and chaste. Unforgettable and regrettable. Horrifying and edifying. It has so many interesting and original elements that it is truly difficult to sum up. Justice and Mercy. Death and Life. Purpose and aimlessness. Redemption and condemnation. Murder and healing. Freedom and bondage. Heaven and Hell.

I'm not kidding. It's all in there.

The plot has the same multi-layered, unfolding pace of The Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile. It is truly a great story.

Yet it ends like most modern art films, about 10 minutes to soon. It has no answers, no truths, no final resolution, only a resolution. It could have been one of the greatest Westerns of all time, but that would require an eschatology of meaning and transcendent purpose. Instead the film settles for being great, with a post-modern ending in futility, revealing humanity.

The characters in this film are truly unforgettable. Barry Pepper was great in 25th Hour and Saving Private Ryan but he is amazing in this film. The whole cast is perfect.

If you live in the Denver area, tonight may be the last night that you can see this film on the big screen.

Go see it!

It may sound strange but this film is so intimate and detailed, that it really would lose power on a small screen.

My Rating: Big Screen

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Just and Justifier

Eric Swanson: Joanna Meyer Comes Over: "Joanna said, 'God sees us like Simon but treats us like Paula.'"

For those of you who know, you know.

Icarus and violence against Gays

Icarus Poe said in the comments section of this post:

"Could you perhaps supply me with one or two examples of "Islamofascist"-on-gay violence in this country?"

I'm glad you asked. The first issue to consider is that in this country (USA) violence against homosexuals is rightly criminal and punishable by law. This means that violence against gays by Islamofascists is probably secret. I don't have any offhand examples in this country.

But ask yourself this, what countries criminalize homosexuality? Here's an article that gives you many examples. It takes about 5 seconds to find this stuff.

But why go all the way back to last year? Here's an issue as fresh as today's headlines:

What would you say if you found out that one of the murderers of Matthew Shepard was given a special exception to attend an elite Ivy League school? Couldn't happen? Well not if you're a cowboy from Wyoming, but if you are an Islamofascist it's the Yale you say: Click here for fresh evidence.

Here's a lengthy presentation to the UN about Taliban violence against gays. This is just one example of the policies of the "administration" that this Yale student used to represent:

The two, Abdul Sami, 18, and Bismillah, 22, residents of Herat province,
were placed beside a wall of dried mud which was bulldozed upon them.
They had been detained four months earlier accused of sodomy and
sentenced by a Shari'a court to death by
crushing a wall upon them.

News of the execution was carried by the official Taliban Radio Voice of
Shari'a, which stated:

"Shari'a-prescribed punishment has been administered to two sodomites
[in] Herat Province. Bakhtar Information Agency informed us [two men]
who had been arrested by security officials on charges of committing
sodomy were publicly punished for their deeds in the city of Herat
today. The cases of the accused were investigated by the public
prosecution office of Herat Province where the accused confessed to
their crimes without duress or torture. Following the completion of the
investigation the cases were sent for judicial decision by primary,
appeal and discernment courts which passed their verdicts. Having
received the assent of His Eminence Amirol Momenin, the judicial
decision was administered at a stadium in the city of Herat today."

These evils are just the ones that can be proven. Imagine life under the Taliban for homosexuals.

Icarus, you and I both know that there's a cowboy in the White House that won't be invited to speak at Yale anytime soon. But Islamofascists are welcome?

One would expect artists in Hollywood and elsewhere to be speaking out about such things, and using their art to the same end.

I'm a fan of Ang Lee but I'm still waiting for a filmmaker with the courage to take on this kind of oppression. Of course Ang Lee won't receive a death sentence from cowboys in Wyoming or Texas, which is why making a film about Islamofascist-on-gay violence would be far more "courageous".

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Your comments are welcome...

I haven't blogged today because I've been answering comments on this post.

By some miracle I turned on comment moderation just in time to catch some inappropriate stuff. I don't know what the person was thinking. I work with college students. It's very hard to shock me.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Let's be honest.. except on campus.

Cruel, cruel Summers: "Chew on that for a bit, why don’t you: blunt speaking (candor? honesty? impassioned defense of ideals?) leads to trouble in academe. Instead, “sensitivity,” or, to use the more loaded word, “tolerance”—the primary directive being to hurt no feelings (unless the feelings are those of the ruling / oppressor class, who by definition can’t be materially injured, given their position of social power)—is the new ideal. Which leads, almost invariably, to an insulated cult of homogeneity, where disagreement is discouraged because, well, it can be so very unpleasant. “Consultation,” in the sense Piereson uses it here, is akin to the UN (and European) idea of consensus: gone are the days of defiant individualism (at least, pre-tenure); instead, departments—particularly in the Humanities—are run on group agreements that have the effect of officially watering down the beliefs of intellectual outliers."

Google Moon

Google Moon - Lunar Landing Sites: "Welcome to Google Moon"
Zoom in all the way to see the detailed face of the lunar surface.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A modern day Rosa Parks

Video of a woman, with more courage than George Clooney. More courage than Michael Moore. More courage than Kanye West. More courage than Ellen Degeneres. More courage than Tom Brady. More courage than me.

She is the descendant of Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and each of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

She has signed her own death warrant with large letters and bright red ink.

The heart of a lion.

You owe it to her and all that is civilized in this world, to take a moment and watch and listen.

The New Tolerance

Cathy Seipp: "A FRIEND of mine took his daughter to visit the famous City Lights in San Francisco, explaining that this store is important because years ago it sold books no other store would - even, perhaps especially, books whose ideas many people found offensive. So, though my friend is no Ward Churchill fan, he didn't really mind the prominent display of books by the guy who famously called 9/11 victims 'little Eichmanns.'

But it did occur to him that perhaps the long-delayed English translation of Oriana Fallaci's new book, 'The Force of Reason,' might finally be available, and that, because Fallaci's militant stance against Islamic militants offends so many people a store committed to selling banned books would be the perfect place to buy it. So he asked a clerk if the new Fallaci book was in yet.

'No,' snapped the clerk. 'We don't carry books by fascists.'"
For the times, they are a-changin'.

If a terrorist calls in a forest...

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "'The Sept. 11 hijackers made dozens of telephone calls to Saudi Arabia and Syria in the months before the attacks, according to a classified report from the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel,' the Chicago Tribune reports:

According to the report, 206 international telephone calls were known to have been made by the leaders of the hijacking plot after they arrived in the United States--including 29 to Germany, 32 to Saudi Arabia and 66 to Syria.

These are calls between al Qaeda terrorists and their associates, in which one side of the call is in the U.S. and the other is in another country--that is, just the kind of call the National Security Agency listened to under the terrorist surveillance program. Had such a program existed in 2001, it might have prevented 9/11--but if some journalists and Democrats are scandalized now, imagine how they would have howled in outrage if 9/11 hadn't happened."

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Academy Award speech we should have heard by Dennis Prager - Mar 7, 2006

Dennis Prager - Mar 7, 2006: "At the same time, I also want to apologize to these troops for my profession not having made even one motion picture about any of the heroic American fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq. This country is fighting a war, Hollywood. You may think this war is unwise, waged under mistaken, or even false, pretenses. And as an actor in Hollywood, you are overwhelmingly likely to hate this commander in chief. But even the men and women of Hollywood must recognize that America is fighting the worst people of our time, people who hurt every group Hollywood claims to care about -- minorities, women, gays -- people who engage in the sins Hollywood most professes to oppose -- intolerance and violence -- far more than anyone else on the planet.

In another era, when what many have labeled 'the greatest generation' fought the German Nazis and the Japanese fascists, Hollywood made movie after movie depicting that great war and our great warriors. And Hollywood showed freedom's enemies as the cruel and vicious people they were. We have not produced one film yet depicting this war in positive terms or one depicting this generation's enemies of freedom as the cruel and vicious people they are.

In fact, the only nominated film about people who slaughter children at discos, blow up weddings, and bomb pizzerias and buses filled with men, women and children is one that attempts to show these murderers in God's name as complex human beings. Just imagine how the Academy would have reacted 60 years ago to a film depicting Nazi murderers as complex human beings. We have descended far."

Read the whole thing.

Among the coolest things I've ever seen...

Impact Lab - Amazing 3D Sidewalk Art Photos

Click the link, scroll down, and be amazed.

And the Oscar goes to.....

FemmeFantastic: And the Oscar goes to.....: "A bunch of whining pimps? Did I hear that correctly?"

Katrina Relief not included in the Da Vinci Code

A report from the front lines of the battle for humanity. It's not clear how this plays into the global conspiracy to suppress the Divine Feminine:

"I just finished touring "Camp Premier," the FEMA work camp in St. Bernard's Parish in New Orleans with Franklin Graham and the report they gave us on the Campus Crusade student volunteers and those of Samaritan's Purse was heartwarming. We went to meet some of the 800 Crusade workers, primarily from NC State, Bowling Green, and Michigan and Franklin was able to thank and encourage them. The camp is the most impressive thing I have ever seen related to disaster relief. Some 2,000 volunteers are there working in 10-person teams "gutting" out homes at the rate of one every day and a half. They will do 500 homes a week out of this single camp.

The head man told us how he could not do this work without the Christian kids and organizations. It was a great testimony to see and hear about the critical role that Crusade, Samaritan's Purse, NAMB, and others are playing here. In fact, it struck me today, that without the church of Jesus Christ, there would be very little taking place here in New Orleans.

The mayor of nearby Gretna recently told Franklin, "in the weeks after the storm, I didn't see one FEMA truck, I didn't see one Red Cross vehicle, but I saw church buses from Iowa, and Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Without the church, we would not have had any help at all."

Franklin and Billy are here this week for a Celebration of Hope, Saturday and Sunday in the New Orleans Arena. Today, they both toured the Lower 9th Ward. Words cannot describe the scene, even today. But I was so proud of Campus Crusade and wanted to encourage you with this report. God is being lifted high by you all and others down here. Well done."
I haven't seen any cartoons about this here either.

Faster, Higher, Stronger...Hoth?

Yahoo! News: "Shane Igoe has a solution for what ails the
Winter Olympics: Hoth.

As in the sixth planet of the Hoth universe. As in the icy land where Luke Skywalker nearly froze his tauntauns off. As in the completely make-believe Star Wars world.

'That's sort of the catch,' concedes Igoe on the last point.

Details aside, Igoe has launched a campaign to make Hoth the host planet for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The mock effort comes complete with a Website,, an online petition, and, in a twist, a serious intent. "

Lucas is making a movie of this effort: Star Wars Episode VII: Revenge of the Nerds

Easter: God meeting our need for proof.

Acts 1:3 To them he presented himself alive after his suffering by many decisive proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

16 Blocks (2006)

16 Blocks (2006)

Saw this tonight. I'm making a concerted effort to blog on a movie right after I see it. As if...

16 blocks is a story of redemption, and I'm a sucker for those.

Bruce Willis plays a role that is familiar to anyone who has seen Die Hard, but his time he has a more interesting objective.

He must get Mos Def 16 blocks to testify in court. Mos Def is the best part of this film. He is a fine actor and this role proves it. I've not seen him in much but I loved his brief role in Monster's Ball. In this movie he is quirky, engaging and sympathetic.

David Morse is also in the film and he's pretty classic. I can't decide whether I like him better as a bad guy (as in this film and others like Extreme Measures, which a great moral conflict film) or as a good guy (as in Contact). He's got great presence, even if he plays the same bad/good guy in every film.

The movie has a sweetness born of redemption. People can change. If you believe this you will enjoy this movie. If you don't you will think it is silly.

There are some silly plot twists or rather far fetched devices to move the story forward.

It's not the best film in the world but it has noble themes and interesting dialogue, and these are a few of my favorite things.

My Rating: Rentable

Thursday, March 09, 2006

One more way Men and Women are different...

CND: UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women: "The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was made in a classic 'aha' moment shared by two women scientists who were talking one day in a lab at UCLA. There was this joke that when the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own. I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her the data from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were onto something.

The women cleared their schedules and started meeting with one scientist after another from various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor discovered that by not including women in stress research, scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress differently than men has significant implications for our health."

Good Man?

Don Surber: Abortion Rights For Men: "A 25-year-old computer programmer is ready to file suit to block a child support order to pay for a daughter he does not want. The National Center for Men plans to use the suit to establish that men, too, can choose whether they want to become parents."

Goose and Gander, enjoying the spoils of narcissism.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why Jon Stewart isn't funny

Why Jon Stewart isn't funny - The Boston Globe: "Meet Joshua Goldberg, a fictional composite of the typical apostle of ''The Daily Show.' Born in Newton, Goldberg attended Newton South High School where he played an integral role in securing the school's debate championship. His 3.8 grade point average and impressive array of extracurricular activities earned him a scholarship to Vassar, where he majored in political science and joined a Jewish fraternity. Throughout his formal education, Goldberg stayed up-to-date on national politics through nightly coverage on ''The Daily Show' and even led a petition to protest the genocide in Darfur.

Many of Stewart's die-hard supporters might use this persona as proof that ''The Daily Show' engages disillusioned viewers who otherwise could not be reached. This argument, however, fails to consider the ultimate career path of Josh Goldberg: Upon graduation in 2004, he accepted a prestigious job as an analyst at Morgan Stanley. Although he no longer follows Washington's daily political squabbles, Goldberg gives a significant annual contribution to the Democratic Party.

The tragedy of this portrait is not that investment banking corrupts young souls (although one could argue otherwise), but rather that the students who abandon politics out of a naive self-consciousness often represent our country's most idealistic minds. Stewart's daily dose of political parody characterized by asinine alliteration leads to a ''holier than art thou' attitude toward our national leaders. People who possess the wit, intelligence, and self-awareness of viewers of ''The Daily Show' would never choose to enter the political fray full of ''buffoons and idiots.' Content to remain perched atop their Olympian ivory towers, these bright leaders head straight for the private sector."
This guy can't win for losing. He spends years ragging on the Bush Administration and he gets his chops busted from the left for doing it.

I've always thought that Stewart's comedy is funnier to the ignorant. I think he has great timing but he trades on a lack of information, or in other words the MSM.

I must say that I gained respect for Stewart at the Oscars. Instead of playing to the crowd assembled there by continuing his usual scoffing of GWB, he made fun of Hollywood.

I don't think he'll be invited back. But I actually hope he is. Here's to you Jon. At least your an equal opportunity punk.

The Big Truth

Confederate Yankee: The Big Truth: "Officials did not expect a breach of the levees before Hurricane Katrina, and still thought they'd dodged a bullet almost six hours after the storm made landfall.

That's the Big Truth of what was expected of the New Orleans levees, and the Big Truth about ten words that some opportunists would conflate into a disaster all their own."
Reporting of Hurricane Katrina has shaken my faith in the ability to believe anything that I read in a newspaper. Without links to primary sources (like blogs or footnotes) why should I believe anything on TV news or in a newspaper. Even when they have the source material (as in the story above) they still mess it up. It's like their trying to get it wrong. At least in one direction.

Remember, it's not news unless it hurts GWB.

Capote (2005)

Capote (2005)

This is another one that I saw weeks ago but have failed to post on.

I found this a very interesting film. Set in a color palette that seems black and white in the memory, and having almost no soundtrack, Capote feels like a desolate barren landscape, of the soul.

From one angle Capote is a crime drama with a bit of mystery for those who do not know the story of the brutal murders that inspired Capote's "In Cold Blood". From another angle the film is a character study of tragic flaws reminiscent of Oedipus or Hamlet.

Capote is portrayed in counterpoint to a brutal murderer and both are found to be intelligent, educated, amoral narcissists. Whether this judgment is too harsh can certainly be debated but this is not the story of savory characters.

The film is very engaging. It unfolds quietly, like a thief preparing to steal your neighbor's car in the early morning hours. You would stop it at all costs if you could but if you can't you are compelled to watch.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is a truly fine actor. I've admired his work and as I look over his filmography I have many fond memories of his roles in Cold Mountain, 25th Hour, Punch-Drunk Love, State and Main and even Patch Adams. His performance in Magnolia is one for the ages.

Capote is a great performance as well, but his character is not a sympathetic figure, which I admit is evidence of a great portrayal.

Definitely worth seeing if you like intelligent character studies.

My Rating: Rentable

Brokeback China

More on the relationship of Chinese culture to Brokeback Mountain:
Entertainment News Article | "BEIJING (Hollywood Reporter) - 'Oscar honour brings joy to Chinese' read a front-page headline of Tuesday's China Daily, after 'Brokeback Mountain' director Ang Lee became what the state-run paper called 'the glory of Chinese cinematic talent.'

But Lee's film about romance between two men -- which made him the first Asian to win the best director Oscar -- is not likely to screen in China, industry critics say, and has turned the Taiwan-born filmmaker into something of a political football.

'China's a socialist country and, like in the Soviet Union before us, many subjects cannot break through in this system,' said Cui Zi'en, an openly gay filmmaker and professor at the Beijing Film Academy."

History, The Academy, Truth and Freedom of Speech

Deborah Lipstadt: "I fought this man's libel charge against me for six years. For over three months I had to silently sit in court in London listening to him say the most horrible things about Jews, people of color and survivors. He made fun of those who talked about gas chambers and sneered at survivors' accounts of what they endured. He was full of bluster about how he was going to demolish the myth of the Holocaust.

Quietly and meticulously, relying on the stellar work of a dream team of historians, we showed that every one -- not many, not most, but all -- of David Irving's claims were complete rot. They were based on lies, distortions and fabrications. They were, as the prominent historian Richard Evans and the leader of our research team, said, ``A tissue of lies.'"

A strong statement of the importance of freedom of speech follows. Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Job Secuity Update

What Colleges Forget to Teach by Robert P. George, City Journal Winter 2006: "I’ll be the first to admit that the situation is dire. I sympathize when critics throw up their hands in despair. I sometimes feel that way myself. Darkness often prevails in places where the light of learning should shine. I often trade horror stories with my friend Hadley Arkes, a distinguished scholar of jurisprudence and political theory at Amherst. On one occasion, I explained that the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton was sponsoring a viciously anti-Catholic art exhibit—one that it would never even permit were some favored faith or cause, such as Islam or gay rights, its target. Every year, some outrage along these lines seems to prove that anti-Catholicism really is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals, though anyone familiar with academic life today knows that anti-Semitism itself is making a run at being the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals.

Professor Arkes listened sympathetically and said, “Things have gotten pretty bad here at Amherst, too: we’ve granted tenure in political science to a guy promoting a theory explaining the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush by reference to his alleged homoerotic attraction to Ronald Reagan.” “Well,” I replied, “Princeton has topped that. We’ve given a distinguished chair in bioethics to a fellow who insists that eating animals is morally wrong, but that killing newborn human infants can be a perfectly moral choice.” (This professor has since gone on to say that there would be nothing wrong with a society in which large numbers of children were conceived, born, and then killed in infancy to obtain transplantable organs.)

And so we go back and forth with each other, in a macabre game of one-upmanship."

Campus Crusade?

Mary Kathrine Ham: "An Iran-born recent grad of the University of North Carolina drives a rented SUV into a crowd of students in a popular campus gathering place, hitting nine and injuring six.

He calls 911 (audio of call, here) and tells the dispatcher why he did it: 'Really, it's to punish the United States government for its actions around the world.'

On his way to his hearing, he is asked by a reporter if he was trying to kill people. He answers very calmly, 'yes.'

In his hearing, he declares that he will represent himself with the help of Allah and that he is thankful for the opportunity to 'spread the will of Allah.'"

I'm glad this didn't displace the coverage of the Academy Awards because I was thrilled to see so many courageous films rejecting intolerance by Republicans (Good Night, Good Luck), Red States (Brokeback Mountain), and white people (Crash).

Who says Hollywood is out of touch? Except of course, George Clooney.

Word and Deed, Again and Again

Word and Deed, Again and Again - Christianity Today Magazine: "The collaboration between Christian groups has impressed Pass Christian's politicians. Christians represent 95 percent of relief volunteers, said Lou Rizzardi, Pass Christian's Ward 1 alderman who coordinates them.

'Faith-based organizations come in here much more organized, ready to go to work,' Rizzardi said. 'They don't ask for anything.' Mennonites re-roofed Trinity Church, an Episcopal congregation. The Assemblies of God donated a huge tent to shelter Crusade volunteers. Pass Christian's largest volunteer presence is Campus Crusade. Of Todd's efforts to mobilize manpower, Rizzardi said, 'I don't know what I would have done without him.'

Crusade volunteers mucked out Trinity's sanctuary and cemetery. They salvaged chunks of stained glass windows and bottles of Communion wine. They also unearthed Trinity's Communion 'breadbox' that vanished in Hurricane Camille of 1969.

At any given time, up to 300 Crusade volunteers are working. About 4,000 have become involved through Crusade recruitment and word of mouth. Crusade welcomes whosoever will: male or female, young adults, retirees, church groups of mixed ages, and their non-Christian friends. Some have returned to help.

Crusade volunteers share the gospel with every family they help. Nonbelievers are far more receptive to the message after seeing faith in action."

Jew Tortured, Times Fiddles by Stefan Kanfer

City Journal: "Five years ago, New York Times readers were shocked to read an indictment of the paper by one of its chief editors, Max Frankel. Entitled “Turning Away from the Holocaust,” the article looked back to the genocide of World War II, noting that “only six times in nearly six years did the Times’s front page mention Jews as Hitler’s unique target for total annihilation.”

Frankel continued, “No article about the Jews’ plight ever qualified as the Times’s leading story of the day, or as a major event of a week or year. The ordinary reader of its pages could hardly be blamed for failing to comprehend the enormity of the Nazis’ crime.”

Alas, despite honorable sympathies for victims in Uganda, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo, the same evasions and willful myopia still afflict the paper when it comes to crimes against Jews."

City Journal has become a frequent stop for me.

Autistic teen's hoop heroics hook Hollywood - Video - Autistic teen's hoop heroics hook Hollywood:

If you haven't seen this, get the Kleenex and watch it.

This particular segment was so moving that Steve Levy, the ESPN guy who did the voice over, couldn't watch it without weeping so he turned away and waited till after the broadcast to watch it for the first time.

Brand: Good to Great and the Social Sector

Eric posted a review of this way before I had a chance to. Issue five is key in my view.

Eric Swanson: Good to Great and the Social Sector: "Issue five: Turning the flywheel--building momentum by building the brand
"By focusing on your Hedgehog concept, you build results. Those results, in turn, attract resources and commitment, which you use to build a strong organization. That strong organization then delivers even better results, which attracts greater resources and commitment, which builds a stronger organization, which enables even better results. People want to feel the excitement of being involved in something that just flat out works. When they begin to see tangible results--when they can feel the flywheel beginning to build speed--that's when most people line up to throw their shoulders against the wheel and push. This is the power of the flywheel. Success breeds support and commitment, which breeds even greater success, which breeds more support and commitment--round and around the flywheel goes. People like to support winners!" p. 23

[Now I found this particularly interesting] "I find it puzzling how people who clearly understand the idea of investing in great companies run by the right people often fail t carry the same logic over to the social sectors. In lace of the 'fair-price exchange' of the free market model, those who fund the social sectors can bring an assumption of 'fair exchange' that is highly dysfunctional: if we give you money, we are entitled to tell you how to use that money, since it was a gift..., not a fair-price exchange. Put another way, social sector funding often favors 'time telling'--focusing on a specific program or restricted gift, often the brainchild of a charismatic visionary leader. But building a great organization requires a shift to 'clock building'--shaping a strong, self-sustaining organization that can prosper beyond any single programmatic idea or visionary leader. Restricted giving misses a fundamental point: to make the greatest impact on society requires first and foremost a great organization, not a single program. If an institution has a focused Hedgehog Concept and a disciplined organization that delivers exceptional results, the best thing supporters can do is to give resources that enables the institution's leaders to do their work the best way they know how. Get out of the way, and let them build a clock!" p. 24"

Collins recommends this book to understand the importance of brands: Managing Brand Equity: David A. Aaker

Not just wrong, but wrong.

This is why I can't stand the MainSteam news Media.

I have to pray that this kind of thing doesn't make be bitter each day because there is enough of it to ruin any day ending in "y".

Monday, March 06, 2006

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Brokeback Mountain (2005): "Tagline: Love Is A Force Of Nature "

I consider it a professional duty to be aware of the issues of importance on the college campus. No issue seems more difficult than that of homosexuality and gender.

So I had to see Brokeback Mountain.

I actually saw this weeks ago but have been derelict on posting my thoughts. The passing of the Academy Awards and the end of a long road trip have made this moment a possibility.

What I saw was a surprise.

Nowhere in the film was the happy go lucky air of just another "alternative lifestyle", so often portrayed on TV sitcoms like "Will and Grace". This film is a very sad portrayal of the desperate need of the human soul for intimacy.

I'm frankly surprised that Ang Lee hasn't been taken to task by the gay community for directing such a negative account of homosexuality.

Ironically, if you read respectable Christian authors like Mike Haley and others, you hear them say that homosexuality is usually a result of a failure to bond with a Father:

"But growing up as a kid, Dr. Nicolosi talks about the importance of the disidentification with the feminine and the identification with the masculine. That didnĂ‚’t happen for me in my life. What happened was, my dad, his way of making me a man was that he thought that he was going to push me in areas of sports that I wasnĂ‚’t interested in and then when I would get frustrated, he would do such things as call me Michelle, call me his third daughter, different instances like that. So times with my father became very painful. So the disidentification process with the feminine never occurred because times of being with my dad and being involved in masculinity were times of pain. So that never happened for me. "

What does Ang Lee portray in this film? Two men who were emotionally rejected by their fathers. Fathers have great power to shape their children's lives for good or ill. Bitter and angry men are misery to their children. It's interesting that those that I hear addressing this issue with regard to homosexuality are Christians who call fathers to love their children with kindness and understanding.

The two men in this film have absolutely no healthy male relationships, except when they meet each other and spend the summer alone together in the wilderness. Not surprisingly, two young, virile, emotionally distant men when placed completely alone together in the same tent for months at a time strike out at each other for connection. This is hardly an endorsement of homosexuality as a normal lifestyle choice.

The relationship that they share is classically male (don't tell anyone at Harvard): primarily sexual, few words, rough bordering on violence, and of course lacking monogamous commitment. It would be difficult to summarize male sexual nature more succintly. These are real men. They have normal human hearts that are meant to experience intimacy with others. What is abnormal or at least unhealthy is the environment in which they are functioning.

This is why their relationship functions like an addiction. Jack and Ennis are fixated on one another. This is a result of their inability to experience anything close to intimacy with any other person in their lives. The famous line, "God, I wish I knew how to quit you!" is more than a coincidence in my estimation, it is a summary of the central conflict of the film. Men who cannot experience intimacy in non-sexual ways will confuse sex for intimacy and become trapped in a cycle of sexual addiction, seeking intimacy but gaining only "special access" to another through gratification.

Addictions arise from a deep need that is not being met in a healthy way and therefore is met in an unhealthy way and leads to a cycle of guilt, shame, and further acting out. This has nothing specifically to do with sexuality. Addictions come in all shapes and sizes but they are all related to the ineffective satisfaction of the needs of the human heart.

I spoke with a friend last week who spent more than 5 years living in China and we talked about he possibility of Ang Lee's interest in this film being related to similar societal issues in his home country. Emotionally distant men, a culturally opressive society, men living in close quarters, few women; all of these could be said of China. One wonders if rural America is really the target of Lee's creative agenda in this film.

Does anyone believe that the homosexual relationship portrayed in the film was healthy? I'm sure many will blame it on the homophobic pressure of a narrow minded society. Yet it seems unlikely that the men in the film would have lived happily ever after if they had been able to fully pursue their relationship. In the film, their marriages failed for many reasons that were unrelated to their sexual needs. And the one thing that we each take into every relationship is ourselves. Only someone with an adolescent view of love could look at their relationship and predict long term viability.

The one sliver of redemption comes as Ennis realizes that he must stop neglecting his own daughter the way his own father neglected him.

This movie is a very sad portrayal of human beings groping for real connection with others, finding little hope and ultimately ending tragedy.

I think it's popularity in Hollywood and elite circles stems from a misunderstanding of human sexuality and an ignorance of the real source of opression against homosexuals in today's world. Whatever the sins of rural America against homosexuals may be, the greatest threat of violence against gays at this moment in history is the threat of Islamic Fascism. Making a film to address that reality would require artistic and moral courage that Hollywood knows not of. I don't believe I have ever seen a tribute to Theo Van Gogh at the Academy Awards and suspect I never will. That might cause trouble.

The film is very good, but not great and not the Best Picture, but you know that already.

My Rating: Rentable

Friday, March 03, 2006

Teacher's Bush remarks investigated - Teacher's Bush remarks investigated - Mar 3, 2006: "Sophomore Sean Allen recorded about 20 minutes of Bennish's class during a February 1 discussion about Bush's State of the Union speech and gave the recording to his father, who complained to the principal, Amole said.

'After listening to the tape, it's evident the comments in the class were inappropriate. There were not adequate opportunities for opposing points of view,' she said."

I knew this was going to happen sooner or later.

Interesting Stuff