Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Accurate Journalism at CNN

Kinda funny that accuracy by the MSM in a story involving an AR-15 is exceptional. In a story from CNN today about the shooting rampage of George E. Banks back in 1982
Banks picked up his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle on September 25, 1982, and began shooting. He killed seven children -- five of them his own, along with his three live-in girlfriends, an ex-girlfriend, her mother and a bystander in the street.
Good work, CNN.


I found this while trolling this post at The High Road. A guy shooting a pistol chambered in .600 nitro, whatever the heck that is. Thankfully he wasn't hurt. The video is as safe for work as any other video of a guy shooting a gun at a range, in case you wanted to know. The look on the guy's face after shooting the round is pricesless.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Quote of the Day

This is why I read Lileks on a daily basis
TiVo gave me “Air Force One,” which I saw but mostly forgot – what’s to remember, really? But it’s fun ... It has Harrison Ford as the President, which seems natural ... Cut to President Solo, giving a speech that puts forth a new American policy towards terrorists and terror-enabling states:
Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice. Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons. And to those who would use them, your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid.
He is also quite physically fit AND he can fly a plane. This was the sort of person Hollywood wanted for President in 1997. Then they get one, and they completely wigged out. Ah well.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Just got the 14-episode DVD set of Joss Whedon's Firefly for my birthday (thanks, Carnaby!). The show is brilliant. All's I can say is, it's only through sheer effort of will that I won't call in sick tomorrow so I can stay home and watch every single episode -- and whoever decided to cancel this show has mashed squash for brains, and should be sentenced to three hours of special treatment by Jayne.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Jack Johnson

I dig some of Jack Johnson's music. I'm a perenial guitar doodler, and his genre is near and dear. So I'm going to offer two new lyrical versions of his song "gone" for your enjoyment. First, the original first two verses and chorus:

Look at all those fancy clothes,
But these could keep us warm just like those.
And what about your soul? Is it cold?
Is it straight from the mold, and ready to be sold?

And cars and phones and diamond rings,
Bling, bling, because those are only removable things.
And what about your mind? Does it shine?
Are there things that concern you, more than your time?

Gone, going.
Gone, everything.
Gone, don't give a damn.
Gone, be the birds, when they don't wanna sing.
Gone, people, all awkward with their things,

Now my stupid version #1 written for the gun nut elites:

Look at all those fancy clothes,
But these could keep us warm just like those.
And what about your bdu? Is it cool?
Is it straight from the fold, and ready to lock and load?

And cars and phones and diamond rings,
Bling, bling, because bad guys seem to always have these things.
And what about your carbine? Does it shine?
Does your entry point concern you, most of the time?

Gone, going.
Gone, everything.
Gone, don't give a damn.
Gone, and she had, to hope for the swat team,
Gone, newbies, all akward with their slings,

And now a quickie for all of us who feel the loss of Firefly/Serenity

Look at all those crappy clothes,
But these could keep us warm just like those.
And what about Jayne's soul? Is it cold?
Is it made out of mold, and why's it so ready to be sold?

And cargo doors and hulls and engine bling,
Fling, fling, because those are only removable things.
And what about Mal's mind? For Inara does it shine?
Are there things that concern her, at any other time?

Gone, going.
Gone, everything.
Gone, don't give a damn.
Gone, be River, when she does the rever dance.
Gone, Revers, all awkward with their things,

Ok, that was dumb. But I have no shame, so there it is.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Double Standard

When the staff of the New York Press walked out in protest of not running the Danish Mohammed cartoons, the general manager responded thusly

Company response to walk out of editorial staff:

New York Press takes our responsibility to our community as a “Free Press” very seriously. We came to the same conclusion as many other responsible newspapers and media outlets that have chosen to not run the Danish cartoons. We felt the images were not critical for the editorial content to have merit, would not hinder our readers from making an informed opinion and only served to further fan the flame of a volatile situation.

Peter Polimino General Manager

New York Press
Michelle Malkin asked this before, but I'm gonna ask it again. Somebody please explain to me why not printing the images would not hinder readers from making an informed opinion (Polimino needs an editor) while at the same time explicit Abu Ghraib images absolutely must be shown in their full glory so that readers can make an informed opinion?

I think I understand. Print the Abu Ghraib images, and, no doubt, it will "fan the flame." It is intended to "fan the flame." You think you will look brave and informative for daring to print such bold images. You are aware that these images will incense Muslims, but you know you're safe -- they will take it out on someone else, like American troops.

Print the Mohammed cartoons, and, yes, absolutely, it will "fan the flame." You think you will look sensitive and responsible for choosing not to print them. You are aware that these images will incense Muslims, but this time you know that their ire will be directed at you.

I am reminded of something Einstein said about the bravery of humanist bastions during the holocaust
Being a lover of freedom...I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom, but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks.
Nothing has changed. When the target is soft, the media (and universities and Hollywood) "bravely" challenge, criticize, and denounce. Even if it costs American lives. When the target is perceived as a real threat... silence. Because they know it could cost them their lives.

Update: As Rusticus at Solarvoid points out, the Mohammed cartoon flap is manufactured. It's an excuse to poke the West in the eye. Outraged Muslims are being either completely disingenuous or completely stupid by ignoring these facts:
  1. Non-Muslims are not bound by Islamic law, so tough bananas. (Although that is certainly one of their beefs -- the whole world should be bound by Islamic law.)
  2. There are literally centuries-worth of images of Mohammed, some of which were done by Muslims.
Related: Hollywood's Unreality and Moral Cowardice

[Editor's note: I realize that there are genuinely brave seekers of truth out there in the media, universities, and Hollywood. My hat's off to them. I just wish there were more.]

Dream City


Monday, February 13, 2006

Allah the Powerful

Apparently Allah is so powerful that he can, and did, create words proclaiming himself the one true God from mere skinfolds in a newborn calf. Now that there's a bonafide miracle! Sorta reminds me of Charlotte's web. Allah is like a spider weaving a beautiful tapestry of calf skin. And, somehow (I'm going to have to meditate on this), this is supposed to be the crushing answer to the blasphemous Muhammed cartoons.

Hat-tip, as if he needs it, LGF.

So Long, Uncle Owen

Star Wars' Uncle Owen has finally become one with the force.

Update: Charles Manson for Gun Control


Charles says: Stop gun running!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Grad Skool Levity

For those of you who wonder what you missed by skipping graduate school (click to enlarge)...

Is There Common Ground?

I have a wonderful friend in the department where I work, a very tolerant and thoughtful Catholic woman whose companionship I have enjoyed for a few years now. We agree on many matters of faith, but in one regard we disagree utterly. She takes part in a community interfaith dialog group out of an honest desire to understand and unite other faiths. She is particularly interested in bridging the gap between Christians and Muslims, and while I applaud her noble intentions, I think this is ultimately doomed. She regards Islam as a religion of peace, and dismisses contradictory evidence in the same way that communists write off their failures -- it's not the religion's fault, people just do it wrong. She has feminist leanings, but when when I pointed out how patriarchal and oppressive Muslim societies are, she writes it off as a matter of taste. I have a feeling she regards my views as backwards and unenlightened, and so an invitation by her today to attend an interfaith conference focusing on the similarities between Christianity and Islam finally led me to write this letter explaining my views. (I tend not to argue with women, because it usually involves a lot of irrationality and hurt feelings -- how husbands put up with this I'll never know -- but I think my friend is different. We'll see if the friendship survives this disagreement.)


I waited a while before I sent the letter, and ended up sending a shorter, milder version (below) of the original. Still, it's been almost three days since I've heard from my friend, which is probably evidence that I should resume my former practice of not arguing with women. Well, women whose company I enjoy, anyway.


Well! Looks like I jumped to conclusions. Said friend was just very busy, and has no problem with the fact that we disagree on this. (Christian women rock!)
Over the last few years, I have read passages of the Quran and writings of its commentators, and it's amazing how similar the Quran is in some respects to the Bible. There are beautiful and fascinating passages in the Quran, and they echo many of the beliefs of Jews and Christians. I am aware that Muslims believe in the angels and accept Jesus as a prophet (but not as the Son of God). The problem arises from the ways in which Islam and Christianity diverge. There are several, but I will mention two of the most significant ones.

1) Unlike Jehovah, Allah does not love all people -- he loves only believers. There are many passages in the Quran about this. Christianity, however, holds that God loves all his children equally, whether they are believers or not. Christianity has the Golden Rule and "love thy enemy." Sadly, I have found no such counterpart in Islam. Rather, the language of the Quran is passive with respect to non-believers: Muslims are not forbidden to be kind toward non-Muslims. The language of the Bible, however, is active: Christians are commanded to love everyone, even their enemies.

2) Virtue is the highest value in Islam. By far. Freedom, one of the cornerstones of Western society, is way down the list. In my readings of Islamic commentary, one common lament is the fact that so much is "sacrificed at the altar of freedom" when stamping out improper behavior is so much more important. There is just no way that a culture that values virtue above all can be compatible with a culture that values freedom. The two are mutually exclusive.

I realize that Muslims all have their own interpretation of their faith. I have met peace-loving Muslims who are wonderful individuals. The problem is the way in which the masses interpret their faith -- that is to ask, what is the aggregate effect of that faith in the world? It only takes a sizable minority to be extremist about those beliefs for conflicts to arise, which is what we see in the world today. But what kinds of things does Islam motivate the masses to do? Well, there isn't a lot of freedom, equality, and prosperity in Islamic nations, and we don't see much contribution to the world in the way of scientific, industrial, or medical innovation. Contrast this with Christianity. Though Christians as a group are far from perfect, the overall affect of the Christian faith in the world has been very positive. For better or for worse, the only tolerable places to live in the world today are those with a Judeo-Christian heritage. You may not want to blame Islam itself for the problems in the Muslim world, but the worth of any movement has to be judged on how well it actually motivates people to do what they're supposed to. If Islam today is not being practiced as it was intended, then it is the duty of correct-thinking Muslims to take their brothers and sisters to task and do everything within their means to put the faith on the right track. People pay lip-service to this, but I am skeptical about the degree to which it is actually happening.

Actually, I will mention one more point on which Muslims and Christians diverge. My understanding of Islam is that faith alone does not warrant salvation. Muslims must also earn salvation through works. This is one of those interpretation problems, and could lead to drastic and desperate behavior by people who fear that they haven't done enough and will spend an eternity in hell. If even just a small percentage of all Muslim people in the world were to take Allah's dislike of non-believers and couple this with the need for works to save them... well, it doesn't take a leap of imagination to see how this could lead to extreme acts to get into paradise.

If you feel like it, you could ask your Muslim acquaintances about this stuff. Ask them if they believe that Allah loves everyone equally, if he loves Christians and Jews and atheists as much as he loves Muslims. Then you could ask them which is more important, for people to be free or for them to obey Allah. I would be interested to know their response.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

One More Reason Why the '60s Stunk

Maybe it's a generational thing, but I don't "get" a lot of the movies from the late '60s and early '70s. I'm a big fan of the TV series M*A*S*H, so I rented the movie -- it was unendurable. Just a lot of hullabaloo and hubbub that amounted to zilch at the end. Same with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Cat Ballou and Paint Your Wagon and Catch-22. It's just a lot of crazy stuff happening -- the kind of loony crap that amateur theater geeks love to perform, but nobody wants to watch -- and after an interminable two hours I still haven't got a clue what it was all about. Well, tonight was another world beater. I just watched The Graduate, and heck if I know what the point was except that I now understand the references in Wayne's World 2 and I never want to hear another Simon & Garfunkel song as long as I live. All I can say is, no wonder my parents are so weird, and thank God Spielberg and Lucas showed up in time to give my childhood meaning.

Carnaby Into the Fray

I submitted my own entry at the Control Arms website to compete with the geekwitha45 and David Codrea.

Mine's not quite as cool, since it's not a government figure. But still, it's cool:

Charles it is. Let's see if they accept it...

Testing Comments

Comments are now "popup" style. Testing...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Belated Birthday Wishes...

...to the late President Reagan. (How did I miss that?) He was truly a Great American.

Hollywood's Unreality and Moral Cowardice

The new Wachowski brothers film, V for Vendetta is due to be released in March, and Libertas has been following the buzz for several weeks (exclusive film review here). Though the film is based on a graphic novel dating back to the end of the Cold War era, the story has apparently been retooled as an indictment of George W. Bush's conservative Christian America, where we're only two goose-steps away from a big oppressive 1984-esque faith-based tyranny. (Did you count all the cliches?) Anyway, it's all part of the new hysteria in Hollywood -- how conservatives in America are blowing in a "chill wind" on free speech. How conservatives are the real terrorists. How dissent in this country is being crushed.

Hollywood is utterly out of step with reality. A real threat to free speech in this country -- political correctness -- is the orthodoxy of the Left. And what liberals frequently mischaracterize as a "chill wind" on free speech is actually the finest expression of it -- the freedom to criticize. Especially to criticize the twisted Leftist worldview that the extension of democracy and the liberation of a nation from one of the cruelest and most sadistic regimes in the world, regardless of what you believe our government's intentions were, amounts to an act of terrorism. In the Leftist view, Elend macht frei. And dissent? Ever wonder what it must be like for black conservatives in the political sphere? Or Christian conservatives at liberal universities?

While a lot of this chill wind and crushing of dissent stuff is meant to generate hype for films, and is therefore at least to some degree based on plain old greed, I also believe that Hollywood liberals view Bush &tc. as a real enemy, and that there is no doubt in their minds that they are doing a kind of public service by announcing their hatred for conservatives and Christians. Not to say that neither conservatives nor Christians deserve criticism (they do), but most of this hatred is based on cognitive dissonance. Furthermore, the entertainment industry is facing a far more deadly and outspoken enemy, but one that is given a free pass. Why? It's a combination of two things. Hollywood refrains from denouncing the far more egregious and myriad tramplings of human rights that occur in Islamic society -- from the poverty and tyranny to the abuses of women and gays -- because: 1) Leftist filmmakers believe that a significant portion of American society only wants to be told how horrible conservatives are, and they think it will pay off; 2) They are afraid of genuine retribution by an enemy that will silence them. Fahrenheit 9/11 notwithstanding, the box office numbers for these political screeds haven't been impressive (but filmmakers can console themselves at the five zillion awards ceremonies that the entertainment industry seems to hold for itself annually). And Hollywood's utter moral cowardice will ultimately fail to pay off, as well. One of the commenters at Libertas put it this way
[Y]ou have no free speech. Not because of GWB, but because of Muslims. Who threaten to kill anyone, anywhere, anytime, who say things they don’t like. A CARTOON sets them off to an orgy of violence, including threatening to behead the cartoonists. Just try and criticize the Prophet and see how quickly you have to flee for your life.

Hollywood is re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic in response.

Who are the terrorists? Muslims. They are REAL. They really kill people. A lot of them. Including 3,000 in the US. You might remember that. Now Iran is sponsoring a contest to make cartoons mocking the Holocaust (which Muslims deny ever happened). Now we get a film that ignores reality that people see every day (Muslims beheading screaming, pleading captives, blowing up innocents, seething with threats to kill anyone who says things they don’t like) in favor of making the West the bad guy. It’s like making an anti-Semitic film about evil Jews in France in 1943. It’s morally offensive to all decent people in the West.

What you can say about Hollywood is that they are gutless. Fearful. Afraid. Of speaking the truth that terrorism exists and it’s done by Muslims. Who have killed film-makers, translators, and threaten to kill authors, writers, cartoonists, and journalists. If you want to see the enemy of writers, artists, thinkers, and free peoples everywhere look no further than Muslims.

V was written right before the Cold War essentially ended, with fears of a US-Soviet nuclear war provoked by Reagan. The idea that MUSLIM terrorists could actually blow up London subways or bring down US skyscrapers never even occurred to [Alan] Moore when he wrote it. But the Wachowskis who are intent on depicting alternative societies (the one had a sex change operation and hangs out with a dominatrix) remain intent on siding with Muslim terrorists who they feel will kill them last. Or at least who remain “allies” opposed to the fundamental societal norms of Western Civilization and intent on destroying that civilization. “Folk Marxism” at its worst.
George Clooney isn't in chains for making Syriana or Good Night, and Good Luck. On the contrary, he's probably got a herniated disk from carrying around all of his award trophies. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon haven't been hauled away to a re-education camp. And the black helicopters still haven't come for Michael Moore. What's going on here is that Hollywood is taking on the softest target they can find. The irony is that they speak out against the tyranny of conservatives and Christians because they know there isn't any. There will be no retribution. In fact, as their swollen trophy cases and bank accounts will attest, they'll be rewarded for their "dissent." We get tired women's rights rehashes like North Country, but the last time I can remember Hollywood even alluding to the deplorable state of women's rights in Islamic countries was decades ago in Not Without My Daughter. And what about the way Hollywood liberals turned their backs on Dutch filmmaker, Theo Van Gogh? One of their own, who was silenced in the most chilling way, who dissented against a deadly opponent and paid the ultimate price. Not one word.

Some will say the silence is out of respect for Islam. This is a lie. Nobody in the entertainment mainstream cares about the sensibilities of Christians. Or, for that matter, the rest of Hollywood's array of stock villains: Republicans, white people, businesses, and men. How is it that only Islam deserves this kind of reverence? Out of fear. But, logically, this silence is an implicit declaration that radical Islam is composed of tyrannical, zealous, murderous crazies. I am not opposed to self-censorship out of genuine respect. But when it is coerced through threat of violence and/or used as an excuse to ignore grievous offenses, then it is wrong. If Hollywood wants to take a stand and quell the chill wind, they'd better figure out where it's really coming from.