Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The College Catechism, and my new interest

I am learning my limitations.

I am learning that I can't stay up all night without feeling seriously ill the next day (this is where my post this morning came from).

I am learning that I do, in fact, have to use discernment when consuming media. It's no different than food. There's good and bad, and they will affect my well-being accordingly.

I am learning that no matter how much of a roll I'm on, whatever I'm writing is not worth more than a good night's sleep. I can make notes and pick it up again in the morning. It's just an idea. It will come again. Besides, it'll probably come out better if I write it when I'm more awake.

In other news, I think I found a new favorite short film: blur's "Rockfish". For those who can't/won't click through, it's a CGI short about a guy who goes fishing in a planet's crust and catches something a little bigger than he was expecting. I wouldn't say they're quite the next Pixar (although their shorts are consistently nominated for Oscars), but a feature-length version of "Rockfish" comes out next year, so I guess we'll find out then. I, for one, can't wait to see how they do it. There's just something about the story of a guy out fishing with his dog-whatsit-alien thing that makes me smile. There's not a single line of dialogue in the whole short -- who's he gonna talk to? The whatsit? -- but the action is riveting. I have to remind myself that the film is nearly nine minutes long. As a storyteller myself, I can appreciate the skill it takes to hold the viewer's attention using nothing but images. It's like telling a story on paper using only dialogue. Everything has to be conveyed through a single method, and it takes real talent to effectively get a message across that way. So yay for Rockfish!

Confuscious say . . . ew.

In keeping with my recent "bleed all over the screen" trend, I would like offer the following observation: Sometimes, when you don't know how to get out of your misery, the best thing you can do is to go ahead and throw up.

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's true!

If a tree falls . . .

Via Isaac Schrodinger.

For the record, I'm abstinent

In my inbox, in the subject line:

It seems you want to have sexx longer, but without any results.
Um. Not like it matters right now, but isn't that why the condom was invented?

Tagging the Ivory Tower

Michael Kinsley -- a man who has time and again been caught in journalistic fraud (either by him or those under him) -- had the nerve to write an article lamenting the decline of the newspaper.

I don't lament it, for what it's worth. I don't even think it's declining. I think the higher-ups are finally realizing that they've always been in the gutter. Kinsley even lays out in the first few paragraphs why the Internet is superior to the tangible newspaper:

Damp or encased in plastic bags, or both, and planted in the bushes outside where it's cold, full of news that is cold too because it has been sitting around for hours, the home-delivered newspaper is an archaic object. Who needs it? You can sit down at your laptop and enjoy that same newspaper or any other newspaper in the world. Or you can skip the newspapers and go to some site that makes the news more entertaining or politically simpatico. And where do these wannabes get most of their information? From newspapers, of course. But that is mere irony. It doesn't pay the cost of a Baghdad bureau.
Ironic, indeed. Allow me to point out that blogs got big in large part because the news of the old guard was stale and full of holes. Who wants day-old bread when there's a new loaf coming out of the oven every five minutes? And in so many flavors, too!

Kinsley begins with this gem:

Meanwhile, there is the blog terror: people are getting their understanding of the world from random lunatics riffing in their underwear, rather than professional journalists with standards and passports.
If the man can't be bothered to do his research (We blog in pajamas, hello-o), then why should I read the rest of what he has to say? But this one's really my favorite:
So are we doomed to get our news from some acned 12-year-old in his parents' basement recycling rumors from the Internet echo chamber? Not necessarily.
Most of the biggest bloggers out there -- Glenn Reynolds, for example -- are educated professionals. I myself tend not to favor a blogger with my attention if they resort to spastic, breathless screeds more often than calm, reasoned arguments.

But the really astounding thing about this article is Kinsley's staggering arrogance and condescension. Oh, the readers don't know good news from bad! Oh, the readers need our gentle hand to guide them! Oh, the elites are the last hope of mankind! It's exactly this sort of attitude that drives people away from traditional news outlets. Bloggers may live in echo chambers, but at least the controllers give the reader a little credit in the brains department.

And later? The "me to you" model of news gathering--a professional reporter, attuned to the fine distinctions between "off the record" and "deep background," prizing factual accuracy in the narrowest sense--may well give way to some kind of "us to us" communitarian arrangement of the sort that thrives on the Internet. But there is room between the New York Times and myleftarmpit.com for new forms that liberate journalism from its encrusted conceits while preserving its standards, like accuracy.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha *wheeze* ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Oh, sorry, was he serious? I couldn't tell that he was serious. But this is a perfect example of that hubris that says "You didn't go to journalism school, so you can't tell a fact from an opinion from a hole in the ground. Let me guide you to enlightenment." Pthbthbthb. I think TV news has had more of a hand in dumbing down the population than any other media, with the possible exception of MTV. Think about it: instead of laying out cold, hard facts in a rational sequence, TV news tries to manipulate our emotions by juxtaposing words, images and music for effect. Watch the evening national news -- any network will do -- if you don't believe me. Watch with an eye for musical cues, for use of graphics and images and for word choice. You'll be shocked. This isn't to say that print can't be misused in the same way. It most certainly can. But with print you can stop, go back, compare paragraph A to paragraph B and see if they match. Even with TiVo, this is close to impossible with television if you don't have ready access to a second screen.

What I always come back to in these arguments is the time frame for error correction. In traditional media, if an average citizen notices an error in a report, there is little to no chance that their protests will be noticed by anyone. Even if the media outlet publishes a correction, they do so quietly and at a later date. Turnaround time is measured in days and weeks. In the blogosphere, when an average citizen notices an error, he can immediately email the blogger who posted it, the bloggers who commented on it and bloggers who will work to expose it. Turnaround time for corrections is measured in hours -- usually fewer than 24. Reactions are swift and the backlash is harsh and unforgiving. Your side may back you up, but more often than not (at least in the dextrophere) it will tear you apart for your failure. It's vicious, to be sure, but it also provides an incredible accountability system. Blogs may be an echo chamber, but the reverb can be lethal. Old Media, on the other hand, tend to cushion itself. In the oft-referenced Rathergate scandal, blogs first called BS less than a day after the story first broke. It took major newspapers twelve days to publish anything about it.

I don't think blogs have dragged newspapers down; I think the newspapers have always been at this level. A hundred years ago, journalism was a trade, not a profession. It was sordid, it was messy and it took a particular relish in the fact. Now, it's been "elevated" to this ivory-tower status and it despises getting its hands dirty. When it does, like in war reporting, it makes a big deal out of it. "Look at me! I'm down here in the mud! I identify with you common folk!" No, you don't. You think you're better because you took a few classes at Columbia. Well, I've got news for you: that sort of thinking inevitably results in revolution. All it takes is for a few people to tighten their bathrobes, blow the crumbs out of their keyboards and say "Wait a minute! Quit trying to tell me what to think!"

And given the number of people willing to do this, revolution might be closer than Kinsley thinks.

Friday, September 22, 2006

My prediction came true

It's now twenty 'til one and I've seen four and a half pages out of eight. I gathered from the chatter in the newsroom that somebody (not me) royally dropped the ball and screwed everybody up, so that may be why we're still here half an hour past deadline and nowhere near the end. One of these days I'm going to live-blog my work night, stories, pages and all. That could be interesting.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Oh, for Pete's sake . . .

If an individual was this paranoid, he'd be on serious medication. So how come when it's a whole group, they get a pass? Via Isaac Schrodinger, who needs all the eyballs he can get looking at his site. He's an ex-Muslim trying to gain asylum in Canada so he doesn't get sent back to Pakistan. If he goes back to Pakistan, they'll probably execute him for apostasy. So head on over and read his story if you get the time. This man is literally fighting for his life.

Condolezza Rice . . .

. . . is heading to the Middle East for peace talks. She gets the "Good Luck With That" award, and its corollary, the "I Admire Your Optimism" plaque.

Why so much bloggage tonight? Because I've got nothing else to do and it's the only thing keeping me from going absolutely crazy. Slowwwwww news day today. Absolutely nothing coming in. I've been here for 2.5 hours and I've edited four stories and seen one page. One! It's all going to come at a rush at the end, and in the meantime I'm in copy edit limbo. I can't edit the stories until the writers are done with them, and I can't edit the pages until the designers are done with them, but the designers can't do their thing until I'm done with the stories. What this adds up to is that I won't get to bed until at least 2:00 tonight. And my ears don't work! I'm not having a good day!

Okay, enough whining. I have much to be thankful for. I have a (relatively) healthy body that works right most of the time, I have a roof over my head and a bed to go home to, I have hot running water and a working refrigerator full of cheap, nutritious food. I have ready access to acres of information on nearly any subject I could think of, and I have the liberty to take all of this for granted because I can't imagine it being taken away from me. I can imagine life without it, but there's a disconnect between that and my life because it's so far out there that I can't comprehend it. So much would have to come down for my life to be truly disrupted that I literally have to stretch to think about it. Annnnnnnd now I'm pontificating about it. I have no life. All I know how to do is talk on a Web site and blather about things I've only thought halfway through. What would happen if somebody really did find my blog and like it enough to keep reading, and maybe even to link to me? I don't know if I could handle that, honestly. I'm so bad about updating that I'd probably crash and burn after about two weeks and that would be the end of it. What on earth is it that makes me do that?

Teh Funnay

Inspired by this site, I've decided to combat the depressing stories in my lit class by ultra-condensing them. Remember: I'm a (wannabee) professional writer. Don't try this at home.

Alice Munro's "The Beggar Maid": ultra-condensed version.

Rose: I don't know who I am and I don't like where I came from.

Patrick: Me too. I mean, me neither. Is that okay? I want to elevate you. Let's have a dysfunctional relationship.

They do.

Rose: I finally know who I am and I like myself, but we're divorced and you hate me. Great.

The End.

Oh yeah. There's a reason so many writers killed themselves. Although, have you ever noticed that Ernest Hemingway and C.S. Lewis were from the same "lost" generation? Lewis even saw wayyyy more action in war than Hemingway ever did, but he went on to be one of the most inspiring writers of all time. Hemingway, on the other hand, got wounded two months in and ended up shooting himself. Odd, that.

Another lanced boil about my sister.

I went and saw my sister today because Sunday's my birthday and she wanted to give me my birthday present. She was always included in everything I did -- it wasn't healthy, but it was close and now that I'm healthy I want nothing more than for her to be healthy too so we can do things together again. The good part is, I think she misses me. The card said something about "Come see us sometime!" and she invited me to her apartment to watch a movie or whatever. I arrived wanting to punch her in the head. I left sad. She's not welcome at my apartment until she comes back to reality.

She gave me a cookbook where probably 40-50 percent of the recipies are for fish, pork or shellfish. I've never liked fish and I don't eat the other two. She knows this. She used to, anyway. She said, "I know you like to cook, and it has funny stuff in it," and then proceeded to relate an anecdote from the book that was amusing at best, but not even that the way she told it. She used to have incredible comedic timing. Now she halts and stops just like he does.

It wasn't anything I would have picked out for myself, and that's what hurts the most. She was always so good at choosing gifts that the other person would have picked out on their own. One year all she gave me was a necklace, but it was an awesome necklace -- it looked "questy," we agreed -- and I loved it. I didn't even have the guts to wear it for a couple years, but it's still one of my favorite pieces of jewelry, and not just because she gave it to me. It truly fits my personality. And then last year she gave me towels and a jar of body polish. It's the sort of thing you give to a cousin that you see twice a year and don't really know that well. This year it was the cookbook. The worst part is, I've resorted to doing the same thing to her because I don't know her anymore. I couldn't tell you her favorite food or her favorite color or anything. I can tell you that she's practically a Gnostic and that she's into things like researching the so-called "lost" books of the Bible (which were excluded for a reason, let me tell you!), but I'll be damned if I'm going to play into that facet of her life. And I do mean Damned.

The worst part was when she asked me what I was doing for the weekend, and I had to exclude some things that I'm doing with the rest of my family because honestly, I didn't want her along. I don't know; I may call her and tell her because I'm sick of the hole in the conversation. I'll talk to somebody about it and get some advice, of course, but it just hurts so bad to leave her out. This is that edge I talked about earlier this week on my other blog. It's that pain in my gut that misses her and wants her back so badly that I'd lay across railroad tracks if it meant she'd come back to herself. And of course there's nothing I can do -- nothing I'm supposed to do -- at this point except wait. Wait on the Lord, the scripture says, listen to His voice. They that wait upon the Lord will have peace, sweet peace.

In the book "Hind's Feet on High Places," the Shepherd takes Much Afraid through the Valley of Loss on her way to the peaks where her heart will be renewed. She finds that he walks with her through the valley, and though she seems farther from her heart's desire than ever, she is oddly peaceful and comforted by his presence. I have to hold on to that. I know I sound like a one-track record by now, but it's the only thing I can really talk about at this point. There's nothing to do for a wound like this but drain it. There are moments when I resort to other activities to dull the pain, but I know that's not the right thing to do and I always regret it. I need to stay close to God. Instead of packing the hole in my chest full of artificial stuffing, I need to let Him fill it from within, from the back and the bottom with His comfort and His presence. They always say not to use salves on punture wounds. I guess that goes double when the hole goes right through your heart.

I wanted to tell her that I'll come to her apartment when she comes back to reality. Maybe I need to make her come to me instead.

He's still not welcome, though.

Interesting

I had my hearing tested this morning, and I found out that I have a problem with my acoustic reflex: Namely, I don't have one. At all. They tested my middle ear and my inner ear, and my inner ear showed significantly better results than my middle ear, so I don't think there's any neural damage, but I'm at a loss to determine where the lack of a relfex came from. I've always been susceptible to middle ear infections (I'm getting over a mild one right now), and the woman who did the tests said that sometimes the middle ear can become (for lack of a better word) corroded by constant infection, so that may be it. Also, there was an incident a year or two ago where I was editing audio and a "beep" sound got blasted through my headphones at top volume. It was so loud and sharp it literally made me feel ill, a lot like the feeling you get when something pokes you in the middle of a big, sore bruise. I didn't think to mention it this morning, although I probably should have. Anyway, the good news is that aside from the lack of an acoustic reflex, my hearing is within the normal adult range and (barring accidents) shouldn't be a problem for a good long while.

Anyway, that's my story. I think I'll tell it at parties.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

A theory and a rant -- it's a twofer!

I have a theory that if you laid out Christianity and Islam on two timelines and then lined up their starting points, Islam now would line up pretty close with when Martin Luther did his thing. I have to do some more research on this, namely on the exact dates and what exactly the parallels are, but I have a hunch that Islam is coming to the brink of its Reformation. The question is, which way will it go? Expect a longer, more in-depth analysis of this later this week at The Scenic Route.

In the meantime, watch this video and see if your blood doesn't boil. For those who can't click through, here's the gist of the video: Theo Van Gogh was a the Dutch filmmaker who made a film critical of Islam. This got him killed. The murderer stabbed him in the street and pinned a 7-page manifesto to his chest with the knife. He was later convicted and jailed. In the time since the murder, Theo's 13-year-old son has been repeatedly harrassed and attacked by Islamists, both in the street and at school. According to the video, the Dutch police have done jack squat to protect him. Naturally, the video only presents one side of the story, but its use of family photos and details leave me with little doubt as to its veracity. Keep in mind, this is in Holland, one of the most "tolerant" nations on the planet. They're so tolerant that (again, according to the video) children can no longer display the Dutch flag on their clothing at school.

I'll be brutally honest: tolerance is good in small doses, but if you let it trump common sense you'll tolerate yourself right out of existence. My opinion: tolerance is used as a cheap replacement for respect, much like self-esteem and self-respect. Tolerate is what you do with the noisy toddler on the bus. Respect is what you give to adults, even if you disagree with them. Respect means that either party can call a spade a spade without getting killed or blackballed. Respect means that you stand up for yourself. Tolerance just ends up with people backing down for fear of hurting the other guy's feelings.

The mutual-respect model requires both parties to be mature, thinking adults. All the tolerance model requires is a sense of injury or grievance that one party can blame on the other, at which point the other must apologize and never mention the offending thing again. It's a lousy system. I'm not a fan of tolerance.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

If you've ever wondered why Americans make so much fun of the French, well, here's why:

Compare this (just the top pic, although the bottom one's pretty funny too) to this.

QED.

My other blog has a nicer color scheme.

An actual post is up at The Scenic Route. I don't know if it's truly 500 words because I'm working on a Mac and all it has it TextEdit and TextEdit doesn't have a word count feature and I'm too tired and brain-dead to count all the words myself. Besides, I'm sick. But it's there, and that's got to count for something. I'm going to try to work now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

[Insert placeholder text here]

This is to let everyone know that I'm going to start posting again at The Scenic Route just as soon as I'm rested enough to put together a complete sentence. Also, there's not going to be anything here today. I'm barely able to do my regular work, let alone anything extra. Apologies. I wanna go to bed.

Monday, September 11, 2006

On the anniversary

This is the part where I'm supposed to say something profound or write a 500-word essay about what this day means to me and how we've all been changed by it, or something.

I'm not going to.

You see, something like this - for me, anyway - is like a scab. It's old, it's healing, and it's already been drained of all the pus and nastiness that could have gotten infected. The bandage was stuck to it, so after it got changed this morning, I was a little sore. But it'll scar if I keep bothering it. The best thing for it - and for me - is to leave it alone. I'll rub some cream in it to keep it soft, and I'll be gentle with it until it closes up again. But I'm not going to probe the depths of the wound, because that's been done. I know what's in there, and what isn't. I know what caused it. And it's going to sit in my chest like a rock for a few days, but after that I'll be back to myself again.

The time for grief is over.

The time for grim determination is only beginning.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

They don't have a smiley for "banging my head on my desk"

In my last post, I fisked a letter from the DNC claiming that the ABC miniseries "Path to 9/11" was biased and innacurate in its portrayal of democrats [Welcome to our world . . . - ed.]. The letter encouraged the recipients to lobby ABC and Disney to change the movie.

Well, they caved.

This especially bugs me because of these paragraphs from the article:

After a screening of the first episode in Washington last week, some audience members attacked the film’s depiction of the Clinton administration’s pursuit of Osama bin Laden. Among those unhappy was Richard Ben-Veniste, an attorney and member of the 9/11 commission whom some conservatives have dismissed as a Democratic attack dog. Richard A. Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar, has criticized the movie for suggesting that the Clinton administration was in a position to capture Bin Laden in 1998 but canceled the mission at the last minute.

After much discussion, ABC executives and the producers toned down, but did not eliminate entirely, a scene that involved Clinton’s national security advisor, Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, declining to give the order to kill Bin Laden, according to a person involved with the film who declined to be identified because of the sensitivities involved.
Okay, for one thing, they were worried about Sandy Berger looking bad? This is the guy who got caught stuffing classified documents down his ever-loving trousers at the National Archives. It's hard to make a guy like that look halfway decent, let alone good. Besides,

Okay, "Hotel Yorba" just came on iTunes. Hang on.

Okay, I'm back. It's impossible to be negative while that song's playing. As I was saying, the other thing that interests me is the way the Democrat's reaction connects some dots. They've been screaming for years that 9/11 was nobody's fault but GW Bush's, and that any attempt to place some of the blame on the previous administration was unjustified. Never mind that of the ten years before 9/11, Clinton was in office for eight -- Clinton and his cronies were in no way responsible for the gaping, gap-toothed hole in the New York City skyline.

Anyway.

There are lots of dots to connect in this whole sordid mess, but I want to focus on just one. The Dems' behavior isn't too surprising, if you think about it: If you just spent the last five years complaining about how something was someone else's fault, you'd protest when it turned out you were culpable too. But what really interests me is the quality of their reaction. If you tell the Republicans that something is their fault, they'll say "Nuh uh," and then give you a list of reasons why. If they don't have reasons, they'll go looking until they find them. If you tell the Democrats that something is their fault, they'll say "Nuh uh," and give you a list of reasons why you shouldn't say that it is. The Republicans use debate to silence their critics; the Democrats use duct tape.

UPDATE: It just gets better and better and better (first update). And by better, I mean worse.

A jolly good fisking in the right old tradition

ABC is planning to air a documentary miniseries called "The Path to 9/11." I haven't paid much attention to it because frankly, I don't want to be reminded. But it seems that the Democratic National Committee feels the same way--except they're sending letters to people asking them to petition ABC not to show the series. I couldn't resist going over it.

Now, before I begin, I would ask you to please remember that I haven't done any research on the miniseries itself, so I'm merely evaluating the letter based on my current knowledge of history and my training as a journalist and critical thinker.

Right. Let's begin. I particularly liked this section:

The ABC television network — a cog in the Walt Disney empire [Boogie boogie boogie! - ed.]— unleashed a promotional blitz in the last week for a new “docudrama” called “The Path to 9/11”. ABC has thrown its corporate might behind the two-night production, and bills it as a public service: a TV event, to quote the ABC tagline, “based on the 9/11 Commission Report”.
Okay, so far so good (relatively speaking). But check out this next gem:
That’s false. “The Path to 9/11” is actually a bald-faced attempt to slander Democrats and revise history right before Americans vote in a major election.
It's all about you, isn't it? But I thought it was all about oil.

All about yoil?

The miniseries, which was put together by right-wing conservative writers, relies on the old GOP playbook of using terrorism to scare Americans. “The Path to 9/11” mocks the truth and dishonors the memory of 9/11 victims to serve a cheap, callous political agenda [Paging Ted Rall. Paging Mr. Rall. Please pick up the white courtesy phone. - ed.]. It irresponsibly misrepresents the facts and completely distorts the truth.
Pot, meet kettle. Besides, if this miniseries is such a Republican-driven hit piece, wouldn't that fact have been all over the media by now?
Richard Clarke — the counterterrorism czar for the Clinton administration, now himself a consultant to ABC News — describes a key scene in “The Path to 9/11” as “180 degrees from what happened.” In the scene, a CIA field agent places a phone call to get the go ahead to kill Osama Bin Laden, then in his sights, only to have a senior Clinton administration official refuse and hang up the phone. Sandy Berger, President Clinton’s National Security Advisor, called the same scene “a total fabrication. It did not happen.” And Roger Cressey, a top Bush and Clinton counterterrorism official, said it was “something straight out of Disney and fantasyland. It’s factually wrong. And that’s shameful.”
Given that at least two of the three people cited here are discredited political hacks, I'm not in the mood to give this paragraph much notice.
Another scene revives the old right-wing myth that press reporting made it impossible to track Osama bin Laden, accusing the Washington Post of blowing the secret that American intelligence tracked his satellite phone calls. In reality, responsibility for that blunder — contrary to “The Path to 9/11” — rests with none other than the arch-conservative Washington Times.
I remember the fuss over this, but I don't remember which paper blew the lid off it. But since when is press interference in anti-terrorism activity a "right-wing myth"? Is the entire New York Times just a figment of my imagination? Moving on:
The former National Security Council head of counterterrorism says that President Clinton “approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda,” and the 9/11 report says the CIA had full authority from President Clinton to strike Bin Laden. Yet chief “Path to 9/11” scriptwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh, a friend of Rush Limbaugh, says the miniseries shows how President Clinton had “frequent opportunities in the ‘90s to stop Bin Laden in his tracks — but lacked the will to do so.”
Sudan offered to serve ObL up on a platter, and Clinton turned them down. Besides, if I was editing this paragraph for the newspaper, I'd make the reporter provide a name for the first person quoted here.
This is a picture of bias — a conservative attempt to rewrite the history of September 11 to blame Democrats, just in time for the election.
Oh, here we go again.
ABC is trying to use of the airwaves — airwaves owned by you and me, and loaned to broadcasters as a public trust — to slander Democrats and sell a slanderous, irresponsible fraud to the American people, and they’re shamefully doing it just weeks away from Election Day.
Change the network and the party, and you've got the CBS memo scandal--except in that case, there was a provable concerted effort to discredit someone. Here, we got a few hyperventilated objections and the flimsiest chain of evidence I've seen in months.
The Walt Disney Corporation could have given Americans an honest look at September 11. Instead, the company abandoned its duty to the truth — and embraced the fiction known as “The Path to 9/11.”
Well, it is Disney. I just hope they don't cave to public pressure and cut the scene where the rainbow bears save everyone. And they'd better leave the songs in, or so help me, there'll be hell to pay.
ABC/Disney must face an accountability moment [Ooh! Buzzword bingo! Bingo! - ed.]. You can ratchet up the pressure on ABC by sending your own letter to Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger — tell him to keep this propaganda off their air.
"Their" air? You just said it was "our" air. Trading internal consistency for emotional punch isn't the way to win the thinking man to your side.

A lot of assertions were made in this letter, and most of them were backed up with insufficient evidence or came from questionable sources. I don't like it when someone (on either side) tries to get me worked up about something by appealing to my emotions and baser instincts (which is why I don't watch the news). But the most telling thing about this letter, I think, is this early paragraph:

This story is breaking quickly. The bias of the “docudrama” only became known when ABC began circulating previews recently. Less than two weeks ago, 9/11 Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste confronted a lead writer of “The Path to 9/11” after watching the first half of the miniseries at a screening, but most of what we know amounts to bits and pieces because ABC chose to screen the miniseries to conservative bloggers and right-wing media outlets exclusively. Almost none of the Democrats portrayed in the film have even been asked for their thoughts.
Before they go into detail on why they're unhappy--before the accusations start flying--they admit that they haven't actually seen the series. They say that one member of the 9/11 Commission saw half of it and confronted a head writer, but they don't say what it was about (or even who he is, apart from his name). They also don't give any citation that the confrontation actually took place. All we have is their word on it.

Any thinking person will tell you that to judge a product based on scanty information is irresponsible. Logic dictates that before making a decision, one must weigh all the pertinent facts, do one's research and try to filter out one's biases. The DNC seems to have failed on all these counts. I give them a check minus.

"Yoil." I crack myself up.

Update: this guy makes a good point that I danced around but couldn't quite figure out in the above post. That's why I love the blogosphere. (Be sure to read the comments. Good debate there.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chickenhawks

A certain lefty blogger recently made the claim that those on the right who call for war are not just chickenhawks, we're downright chicken. The reasoning he gives for this is that we call for a fight against the Islamists because we're scared.

I took umbrage at this claim. I promptly put it back, because it wasn't mine, but I kept my sense of "Wha--buh--you--that--gah!" that nestled somewhere above my diaphragm when I tried to read the article. Instead of swiping more umbrage off someone else's desk, I decided to write an essay-length rebuttal to the idea. I believe this rebuttal can best be explained with a playground analogy.

You're at school. You're in about third grade, and you're doing pretty good. Then one day on the playground, Big Billy (who got held back a year and hates everybody because of it) decides you're going down. On Monday, he pounds you to a pulp and leaves you lying in the mulch under the monkey bars. You get up, dust yourself off, and go to the nurse for a quick patch job. When you get back to the playground, you realize that you are now scared of Big Billy.

Now, you have two options before you. The first option is to spend recess inside for the rest of the year, or even to suck up to BB in the hopes that he'll only beat up the other kids and leave you alone. The other option is to confront him, which will most likely result in another pounding and a second trip to the nurse. As the mercurochrome starts to sting in your scrapes, Option A looks more and more attractive.

Then you notice that Billy is picking on another kid over by the curly slide.

Despite the fact that you don't want the complete set of Batman bandaids displayed on your legs, you head across the playground. "Hey!" you say, poking Billy in the chest. "Knock it off!"

When you get back from the nurse a second time, you finally wise up. Instead of going after Billy again yourself, you find a fifth-grader who lives on your block and have him go after Billy. Smart, right? Definitely not chicken.

Were this argument about any other kind of conflict--were the enemy not such a political minefield--it would be obvious to even the most casual observer that the chickens are the people who claim that the threat does not exist. These are the people who tell their kids to just give the bully their lunch money so they don't get hurt. I've got news for them: If you want to stop a malevolent force, there is going to be risk involved. People are going to get hurt. It's just a fact of this fallen world. But to claim that fighting back is evidence of cowardice? I like word puzzles, but even I can't wrap my head around that one. That's like saying that agreeing to undergo treatment means that you've given in to the disease. If I'm hiding under my desk when I write this, it's only to avoid the shrapnel.

Am I afraid of my enemy? Well, honestly, no--my faith in Jesus takes care of that. But I do think that fighting back is the only way to keep them from taking everything I love and destroying it. Just because I'm not fighting physically doesn't mean I'm a chicken. I'm a hawk.

A note: Although I like to use playground analogies, I was homeschooled so I never spent much time on the playground. I just think that's funny.

Just for kicks

Here's a music video where the band in question gets to do what everyone wanted to do when they were a kid: namely, play on treadmills and not get yelled at: OK Go in "Here It Goes Again".

The song's not half-bad, either.