Tuesday, January 24, 2006

True Heroism

Ever seen (or read) "Band of Brothers"? Remember Lt. Spiers?

This guy is as close to a son in the spirit as it's possible to get. It's men like him who should be all over the front pages of America, and yet his exact opposites are the ones who get all the press. It's an outrage.

I think there should be a rule that for every American casualty reported, the media should be required to report two good things that happened. They should also report what the soldier was doing when he was killed. If we had reporting like that, morale in the home stands would be a lot better than it is at present, and morale on the field would absolutely skyrocket. How would you like it if the only news about your company was about how many people got fired that week? You could be producing breakthrough medical technology that saved hundreds of lives every day, but if no one ever heard about it, the public would just say "Oh, yeah, that company. Aren't they the ones that always fire people?"

Think about it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Uh . . . about that whole 'rising temperatures' thing . . .

In yet another sobering example of global warming, temperatures across Europe . . .

plummeted.

So far, more than 100 people have died from accidents or from the cold alone, and people are struggling to stay warm due to shortages of oil and dangerous travel conditions. It's like summer in France a few years ago, only in reverse.

I think the next time someone tells me about global warming, I'm going to laugh in their face.

Words of Wisdom

From a webcomic I like to read:

"It's just as true today as it was when I started adventuring: 'When in doubt, set something on fire.'"
Truer words were never spoken. *cue maniacal laughter*

What it really reminds me of is the old writer's axiom: "If you've written yourself into an impossible corner, have someone burst in with a gun." Heh heh heh.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Criminal rights and civil wrongs

On MLK day, it behooves us all to consider what it took to get our nation to where it is today. It's also worth taking a look at what's keeping us here instead of letting us put the stick forward and drive.

The blog Done With Mirrors has an excellent (but long) essay about America's fascination with the civil rights struggle of the '50s, '60s and '70s. The essay begins with an interesting assertion:

Almost half a century after the event, many people are still familiar with the Little Rock desegregation picture of a neatly dressed young black girl walking to school with a white girl following her, her face twisted into a mask of spitting hatred, shouting, "nigger, nigger, nigger!" Americans who weren't even alive then have seen it in their school textbooks and on PBS specials. How many have seen the photo taken years later, by the same photographer, of the same two women, now matronly? They are chatting cordially on the high school steps about mutual friends. Apologies, on the one hand, and forgiveness, on the other, have long since been exchanged. They embraced, and they live together in the same city.

Both pictures are true. It says something that we cling to the earlier one.
Boy, does it ever. A while back, I read something (I'm pretty sure it was a blog post somewhere) making the assertion that people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton don't, deep down, really want true racial equality. Real racial equality, you see, means that race is not an issue at all. And if race isn't an issue, then people like JJ and the Rev will suddenly become Not Important. Somehow, I doubt that they want this.

I will be the first to admit: I'm sometimes unsure of how to act around black people. But it's not because they're black: it's because they're angry. I know and work with plenty of black people who, if everyone was the same shade of grey, wouldn't stand out at all from anyone else (and I mean that in a good way). But I do have a problem with these angry young men who see a white person and think "Oppressor." At the risk of angering a lot of people, I'm going to come right out and say what I've been thinking for a long time: if you want equality, you've got to come halfway. I am not about to kowtow and treat you differently just because you're a different color than me. If I treat you better because you're black, then by default I'm treating white people, Asians, Hispanics, etc. worse. I. Will. Not. Go. There.

I believe, like Dr. King said, in relating to people according to their character and not their color. An example: Mexican men tend to make me nervous. However, this is not because they're Mexican, but because they look at me like a piece of prime rib at the butcher's shop. In the same vein, young black men make me nervous not because they're black but because they dress like thugs, act like hoodlums and seem ready to jump down my throat at the slightest hint of an imagined insult. You wanna hear something interesting? White guys who act like that make me just as nervous. I don't mean wiggers--they just make me laugh. I mean the guys who walk around with a chip on their shoulder the size of Wisconsin, getting stinking drunk and walking down the street smashing things. They scare the bejabbers out of me. You know what? I'm white and they're white, but I have nothing in common with them. I do not judge people by the color of their skin.

And I know, I know: I'm a middle-class white girl; what do I know about hardship and prejudice? The short answer is that I know more than you would think to look at me. I've been put down for my beliefs, both directly and indirectly, more times than I care to count. But be that as it may, I know a lot just from observation. If someone is keeping you down about anything--race, religion, whatever--and you want to get out from underneath that, then you have got to do the work. We've deinstitutionalized segregation and made racial discrimination a crime. Now, it's up to all of us to make sure that our individual characters are able to handle freedom. If you grew up in poverty, then I don't care what color you are: No one is going to do the work for you. They're your bootstraps. You have to do the pulling. And if someone won't meet you halfway, if someone tries to put up barriers, then go the rest of the way yourself! Break through the frikkin' wall! Nobody likes a whiner, and whining that it's not your fault you can't succeed is the worst sort of whining of all. If we focused more on teaching people to be emotionally mature and fully functional, this country would skyrocket into a new era of success, equality and benevolence. But as long as the race-baiters (and I'm looking at you, Al Sharpton) keep blaming "The Man" for their peoples' problems, we will not have equality. I don't buy it that racism kept you where you are. If you've had three kids with three different women and haven't ever held a job for more than four months, and if your last job was stamping lisence plates in the county jail, then I don't want to hear you blame white people for your problems. Get some help, go talk to a clergyman or something, but for God's sake, man, do something to help yourself! I will not be an enabler anymore!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Toll the bell, please.

Let us now take this moment to remove our hats, bow our heads and grieve, for just a moment, the tragic end to the Colts' post-season hopes. 21 to 18 . . . it just ain't right.

Actually, the person I feel the most gut empathy for right now is Mike Vanderjagt (or however you spell it). He won't be able to show his face in public for weeks.

Time to root for the Bears, I suppose. Or the Broncos. I like them 'cause they stomped all over the Patriots. Neener.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Ultimate Betrayal

The first articles I read about Steven Spielberg's new film "Munich" were in Time Magazine, which ran three articles on it in one issue, all of them glowing with praise for the sensitivity and delicacy with which Speilberg handled his subject.

Then I read Charles Krauthammer's review in the WaPo. It painted quite a different story. It seems that in his quest to be delicate and sensitive, Steven forgot which side he was supposed to be on. According to the review, the movie effectively promotes the Palestinian cause at the Israelis' expense, thereby turning Speilberg into an even more macabre Cindy-Sheehan peace-mom type, using the Israeli wrestling team to promote the cause of their very murderers. In the old days, they called that treason, and it merited nothing less than death.

Munich is, I suppose (I haven't actually seen it) a prime example of the popular theme that taking action, of any kind, is wrong, and you're a horrible person if it doesn't send you into all sorts of fits of self-loathing and doubt. You know what? If I want to see that, I'll go read X-Men or something. No, better yet: I'll visit the UN. Before we invaded Iraq, there had been seventeen UN resolutions threatening all sorts of punishments, including the dreaded strongly-worded letter. But they were all paper tigers: no one was willing to actually do anything about it. No one wanted to bell the cat. I am sick and tired of people pussy-footing around, wondering if their actions take them down to their enemy's level. I've got a news flash for you: in the grand scheme of things, I don't think we (the Western world) could sink to their (the Islamists) level if we had three years, a set of step-by-step instructions and a government grant to fund the whole effort. It's just too fundamental; the differences in our societies are so drastic that it would take decades for us to sink to the level of barbarity shown in the hostage videos and the bus bombings and the planes full of innocent people being flown into buildings full of innocent people.

The downside of this is that there are people--people in charge--so afraid of sinking that far that they're willing to avoid all action that might possibly take us down that path. Actions like, you know, giving Ahmad scented soap even though we know he's allergic and it breaks him out in hives. God, the barbarity. We're so awful, we'd better just stop fighting. The sooner we lie back and stop resisting, the sooner it'll all be over and our women can get sized for burkas. Yeah.

Well, I'm not buying it. I can't afford to. If the powers that be want to totally emasculate our society, my puny little efforts can't stop them. I'm just one person, and frankly, I'm not that important. But I can go all Barbara Fretchie up on yo, and if it ever comes down to it, I fully intend to do just that. And with any luck, I'll have a strong, virile masculine specimine by my side, ready to lay down his life for what he believes in. I've had it with the Spielbergs of this world. Viva la Resistance! Up with Real Men!

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Quandry and a Question

What, exactly, is one supposed to do when one of one's favorite professors reveals herself on her brand-new blog to be a condescending liberal moonbat? I could link back to her, but I'm not going to--I don't want to endanger my standing in her class at this point. And I should point out that all last semester, she never once let her politics enter into her teaching. I really had no clue (though I had reason to suspect) that she was anything but a reasonable thinker. But here's the money quote from her first (and so far only) entry:

"It's more evident than ever that the idea of a "liberal media" is part of the vast right-wing mythology that the obnoxiously conservative national media has actively fostered. It's the stupid population that allowed the media to help foster that myth that scares me."
She also makes reference to the "mythological left-wing educational conspiracy."

Let's examine this, shall we? She blows off the idea (correctly) that there is an organized conspiracy in education, but also insinuates that there is an actual conspiracy on the right to control the media (which, believe me, there isn't--or at least, I haven't been told about it yet). I think it's safe to say that the non-moonbats on both sides agree that there aren't any overarching conspiracies on either side: the left doesn't sit around smoking pot and wondering how to corrupt our kids, and neither does the right (replace the pot with brandy for full effect). Now, I'm not going to use this post to rant about the left; I'm going to use it to rant about moonbats.

Samizdata defines a moonbat as "Someone on the extreme edge of whatever their -ism happens to be." In this case, it refers to someone who sees conspiracies where their are none, and attributes to malice what can be explained by other, less nefarious causes. I have very little patience with people who see the other side as a monolith instead of people capable of independent, rational thought. Granted, I'm guilty of thinking this way myself on some things, but I'm trying to train myself out of it. The sooner you see the other side as individual people with individual reasons for their thoughts and behavior, the easier it becomes to analyze and live with said other side. Even if the other side is actively involved in murder and mayhem (like the Islamists, for instance), it helps to think of them as individuals.

Of course, if they're shooting at you or your loved ones, I think it's perfectly within the bounds of decency not to think of them as individuals. Happy fun time is all well and good, but if lives are on the line, even indirectly, lines need to be drawn. And then crossed.

Post edited at 1:35 a.m., 15 Jan. 2006.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Quote of the day

From Vodkapundit, during a particularly good Fisking of a German article: The best definition of socialism that I've ever found.

"So far, we've seen that Drissner is a socialist – concerned with the poor so long as they mind their place."
That's it in a nutshell. I've always found it ironic that the real "brains" (note the ironic quotes) behind socialism and communism were rich enough that they'd probably never spent a day as an actual laborer. To them, the proletariat was a great unwashed mass that didn't realize it was being exploited and needed to be told what to do. Well, excuse me for not falling in line, but that's just plain insulting. These are grown men and women we're talking about here, not children. This attitude even worms into our public school system, but that's a rant for another day.

The other thing that really burns my toast about the "overthrow the capitalists" crowd is that, because they tend to be pretty well off (go to a protest and ask people how much they paid for their shoes and you'll see what I mean), so they naturally assume that whatever upheavals rock the lower classes, they will be relatively unscathed. Well, I got news for you: that's not how this world of ours works. Those shoes you're wearing? That imported beer you're drinking? Those funky pseudo-ethnic wooden beads you wove into your dreadlocks? Those were all provided by sellers. The sellers, in turn, bought them from providers, who bought them from producers. Now, let's suppose that the head of the producing company is suddenly strung up from the lamppost in a bloody coup. The workers then take over the factory. But wait! What's this? Why, suddenly the provider loses confidence in this company. It's too unstable for his liking. He stops buying shoes from them to provide to the stores. The stores, in the meantime, lose sales for lack of merchandise and are forced to either find a more expensive provider or go out of business. Either way, people lose their jobs. When they lose their jobs, they can no longer put as much money back into the economy, forcing other people to lose their jobs and put even less money back into the economy. Pretty soon, you've got a depression on your hands, and we all know what that leads to.

I guess my whole point is that I don't like it when people who don't understand the basic principles of economics try to tell other people what best to do with their money. If Ikea (see the Fisking linked above) wants to see people a decent, dignified meal for cheap so they don't have to go to the soup kitchen, then what's the problem? Ikea makes money, the people don't have to spend as much money on food (leaving it for other things), and everybody's happy (except, apparently, the author of the article). Maybe it's because I'm a greeeeedy capitalist, but I just don't see the problem.

And for the record, yes, I know that capitalism has its problems, but if you'll notice, those problems really only crop up when the bosses start treating their workers as commodities, not people.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A short essay about gun control

This has been knocking around in my head for a couple days and I wanted to get it out into the ether.

Let's imagine that you're a peasant in a pre-feudal village in Mercia (which was on the eastern coast of modern-day England). You live in a hut with a lovely ocean view, and you run a small farm with your wife and seven kids. You're living the life. Then, one day, ominous square sails appear on the horizon. Vikings!

You and your neighbors scramble to prepare yourselves. Because you all have swords, you put up a pretty good resistance to the invading horde, managing to convince them that the cost-benefit ratio of pillaging your village isn't high enough to be worth their trouble. They pack up and go, leaving a few of theirs and a few of yours dead on the beach. Everyone is sad that these good Mercians died, but they died in defense of their homes and families so everyone gives them a good funeral and takes care of their widows, orphans, etc. The dead mens' sons pick up their fathers' fallen swords and begin practicing, readying themselves to stand against the Vikings, should they come again. Which they will. Because they're Vikings.

Anyway.

A village about a quarter-mile up the beach from yours experienced a similar incident on the same day, being caught in the same invasion. However, their reaction is quite different: they see that 90% of the murders in their community were stemmed from sword-related violence. Bemoaning this fact, the villagers decide to ban swords, restricting their ownership to a select few (say, three) whose job it is to protect the village (which has a population of about 100). This makes everyone feel safer, and the dead villagers and Vikings are mourned together in a ceremony combining both Mercian and Viking traditions. (Your village just dug a hole, pushed the Vikings in and piled rocks over the top. No sense wasting fuel on a pyre for those barbarians.)

Well, after a few months of peace, those ominous sails appear on the horizon again. Your village, alerted by the watchman you set up after the first attack, arms itself and sets up defenses on the beach. The berserkers charge in, swords swinging, and meet much the same result as they encountered the first time. Up the beach, however, it's a tragically different story. The designated defenders, caught off guard because no one was watching the horizon, barely have time to grab their swords and run to the beach. The Vikings steamroll over them and sweep into the unprotected village, meeting little resistance from the unarmed villagers.

Now, an exercise in critical thinking. On their next trip to Mercia, which village do you think the Vikings will attack, and which one will they leave alone?

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."--The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Cross-file under "Creepy", "Bad Idea," and "666"

Yeah, I know that RFID chips are the wave of the future. Yeah, I know that they're soooo much more convenient. Yeah, I know that they're supposedly this great, wonderful thing. But I don't like them. I never have. References to Revelations aside, the whole idea gives me the willies.

Besides, it only strengthens my point that the more you digitize everything, the worse the problems are when something goes wrong. Remember the New York blackout in August a couple years ago? No one could get into their hotel rooms because they all had keycard locks.

I guess what it all boils down to is that, although I love using computers and I think they're a wonderful tool, I can't totally trust something that I can't fix with a phillips screwdriver and a few good whacks with a hammer.

Joanna loves the vroom-vroom

As if the '05 Mustang wasn't enough, now I have to try and contain my drool over this. If we could just get Ford to continue the Thunderbird, we'd have it made.

Mmm. T-bird. Vrooooom.

UPDATE: This car is pretty darn cool, too, but I can't stop imagining pedestrians speared on the front of it. "Get out of the crosswalk, quick! He's coming!"

UPDATE II: Thank God. After all these years, they've finally made a Camaro that's more than halfway interesting. Yay!

UPDATE III: Stop it! I can't take any more!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Equipment check--One okay!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Regular posting will resume this weekend (or thereabouts).

That is all.