Thursday, June 30, 2005
Those who do not think this split is real should consult the responses to pollster Scott Rasmussen's question last year. About two-thirds of Americans agreed that the United States is a fair and decent country. Virtually all Bush voters agreed. Kerry voters were split down the middle.Half. Half of Kerry voters. Even I wouldn't have thought the number was that high.
This is a cancer, and it's going to rip the Democratic party apart if they don't come to grips with it. The media has actually done them a disservice by covering up for them. If they had been forced to face up to this problem earlier, it wouldn't have grown to this dimension. But now they are stuck between the substantial part of their base that has been groomed to hate America and the great mass of average Americans they can't win an election without.
It's gotten too big to hide. The media can softpedal a vile hate-merchant like Michael Moore, calling him "controversial" and neglecting to mention some of his more jaw-dropping public statements, but it's hard to keep people from picking up on the contempt that underlies his message.
If Democrats were really held responsible for, say, comparing US troops to Nazis, they would learn from the experience and not do it again. But they put out a half-hearted apology, without a single member of the Democratic congressional delegation saying a word of criticism, and they're ready to "move on", not having learned a thing. How many more elections will it take before they learn... or before the Democratic party ceases to exist as a viable force?
On a related note Ace is, as usual, insightful
My post (I'll have to find it) noted that any husband who tells his wife "I kinda-sorta love you, in a way, but I hate almost all of your entire past history, and I despise your current values, but if you change all that, then I will unequivocally declare my love for you" is a guy who's looking to sleep in the garage.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
My car is somewhere down in the flats. I drove 3 hours to get out here, and then hiked up for Bushnell Peak. I was worried about clouds closing in, but decided they weren't a lightning threat. I was right. They dropped the smallest spray of rain on me, but I didn't hear a single peal of thunder all day. This is a sunny spell near the top, before the clouds you see there arrived. They looked a little more threatening than the previous wave, so I wanted to get down.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Just fresh from reading Proust, Jane Eyre seemed like the best book ever. Actual interesting and sympathetic characters who had an actual story to tell. After a bit the effect wore off and I began to see Jane Eyre as a good, but not a great, book.
It tells the story of a poor orphan girl mistreated by relatives and sent off to a threadbare school for poor girls before she becomes a governess at an isolated and eccentric household. A mystery and a love-story then ensues for about 400 pages. The story is very much 19th century England, and eventually has the obligatory improbable discovery of long-lost relatives. The one major departure the author takes from romantic forms is describing both male and female leads as physically unattractive, or at least not overtly attractive.
The writing is very deliberate and detailed. Bronte appears to want to make sure that no aspect is left undescribed and no angle uncovered. It makes for slow reading at times. It also results in a certain lack of focus to the story, with the plot meandering off in directions that don't always have a payoff. If it were up to me the 650 pages or so would have been cut down to about half that length.
The main character(Jane) is likeable and resolute. As a dramatic character, her biggest flaw is actually her lack of flaws. She changes very little over the course of the book, staying almost saintlike throughout. She is humble, resolute, hardworking, and always righteous, never giving in to temptation.
Mr. Rochester, the male protagonist and love interest(and predictably, a wealthy aristocrat), is a more complex and flawed character. Stubborn, like Jane, but moody and self-indulgent. He is, however, still an admirable character. His character development is very much about Jane's influence on him and his transformation as a result. This influence is very much one-way, for as I already said, Jane changes very little.
The major mystery that is to be resolved is somewhat anticlimactic and takes too long to develop. But, as I said, everything in this book takes longer than it should, and the force of the narrative suffers as a result. Towards the end, at least, the story develops a certain urgency and comes to a fairly satisfying conclusion.
One last thing that struck me about the book was how Christian it was. There is a great deal of discussion of doing what is right and avoiding sin. Jane acts at crucial moments based on what she thinks God wants her to do. Towards the end of the book there is an extended conflict with another character(her long-lost cousin) over what she should do with her life, the argument centering entirely on what God would want. The story arc of Mr.Rochester is of one who ignored God's will, and then found grace after being punished for his sins and repenting, the characters speaking explicitly in those terms.
I can't think of another major piece of literature that I've read that was quite so open in it's Christian themes.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
While Mr. Spurlock is often referred to as a journalist, and touts "30 Days" as a "documentary," the outcome of the show was decided before production began.Hmmm... people who worked with Michael Moore just want to produce dishonest propaganda films disguised as documentaries. Go figure.
I asked the show's executive producers--all of whom worked on "The Awful Truth With Michael Moore," a cable TV show--how this could be a documentary when they had decided the outcome in advance. Wasn't it possible that Mr. Stacy would come out seeing that there isn't Islamophobia to the extent that the Muslim community claims? Might he see that there is disturbingly strong support in the Detroit-area Islamic community for terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah--a fact regularly documented even in the normally pliant Detroit media?
No, the producers told me. "Morgan wants the show to demonstrate to America that we are Islamophobic and that 9/11's biggest victims are Muslims."
When I told Mr. Spurlock's executive producer that I felt David Stacy was, well, a moron, she replied that Imam Husham Al-Husainy, a prominent Dearborn Shia cleric, "said the same thing" and refused to continue teaching him about Islam for the show. The biggest morons, though, will be not Mr. Stacy but the critics and viewers who fall for this supersized phony "documentary."
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Gitmo is the gulag equivalent of a Ben Affleck movie: no one's seen it, but everyone has an opinion about it. Given all the rhetoric that's been spilled about this sorta-kinda-not-really Death Camp, it's time we re-examine the facts, and remind ourselves what's really at stake. Herewith a summation.From Ace
Q: What is Gitmo?
A: Contrary to what some suggest, it does not stand for "Git mo' Peking chicken for Muhammad, he wants a second portion." It stands for "Guantanamo," a facility the United States built to see if the left would ever care about human rights abuses in Cuba. The experiment has apparently been successful.
In other news
White House adviser Karl Rove should either apologize or resign for saying liberals responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes by wanting to "prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Democrats said Thursday.Yeah, those "Not in our name" guys must have just been a figment of my imagination. Or maybe not.
Sorry, some of us remember the "why do they hate us" crowd. The public "intellectuals" and academic morons, the Janeane Garafalos and Michael Moores. And these people are still with us... and they're complaining about cruel and unusual use of air-conditioning on terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.
Hey, it's not like the leadership of the Democratic party is taking part in this, right?
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
The 25-foot-tall, 17 1/2-ton treat of frozen Snapple juice melted faster than expected Tuesday, flooding Union Square in downtown Manhattan with kiwi-strawberry-flavored fluid that sent pedestrians scurrying for higher ground.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Dark, serious, completely unlike the previous Batman movies. The action scenes are a little choppy and confusing, but that is clearly not the focus of the movie, and I consider that a good thing. Characterization is mostly excellent,if shallow and implausible in places, but I think that's unavoidable in a movie about a comic book. Villains do things that don't, on reflection, seem to make much sense, and really, dressing up as a bat?
But, once you've bought into the Batman thing, it's pretty easy to buy into the rest. The movie does an excellent job of getting past the intrinsic silliness of it all and making it, and the characters, seem real. The acting is superb across the board. I particularly liked the understated creepiness of Cillian Murphy(from 28 days later). I would have expected good things from director and screenwriter Christopher Nolan, and I'm not disappointed.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
In Search of Lost Time is essentially Proust's efforts to recreate and evoke his own life by describing it in meticulous detail. This is not meant to be taken literally, however, because as I understand it, the book is only semi-autobiographical.
The first chapter is called Combray, and describes a childhood spent in a wealthy and aristocratic family in rural France. There is no plot to speak of, and the chapter is taken up with an incredibly detailed watching-the-grass-grow recitation of the inner thoughts of the narrator, a small child(presumably Proust) and every detail of family life.
As to the question of what the family does, the answer is, not much. Nobody appears to work, aside from the family servants. The family takes walks and has dinners with guests, and throughout engages in endless tedious gossip. I would say that almost all the characters, including the men, are little more than gossiping old biddies.
The second chapter is a substantial change of setting and characters. Or at least it seems so at first. From family life in rural France, the action(used in a very figurative sense) moves to the salon culture in Paris. It describes in detail the banter(or the tired exchanges that pass for it) in a fashionable salon and eventually focuses on a love affair between two of the socialites(one named Swann).
When I first started reading this chapter I welcomed the changes as a relief from the intense boredom of the first chapter. However, that relief quickly wore off as I soon grew tired of more dissipated, vapid characters. Yet again, nobody works for a living, and nobody seems to care about much of anything.
As I said before, this book has no plot to speak of. What this leaves is a series of character sketches. This would be acceptable, if only there was a single likeable, or even interesting, character in the book. There is not. In addition to this, the book is filled with authoritative sounding pseudo-philosophical statements, that are occasionally insightful, but more often pretentious and silly. Reading this book is like being at a social event with people which you despise but are forced to be polite to. And it goes on for more than 600 pages. And that's just volume one. Of seven.
If I were to come up with a parody of every negative stereotype about the French, this book would be the result. To the extent that Proust is considered to be a symbol and an example of French culture, it speaks very badly of them. I did actually meet a French girl on a train who saw the book and wondered why I was reading it. She didn't think anyone would want to read it unless they were studying it in an academic setting. I think she's right.
I will say one positive thing about the book. Proust is a masterful writer. He does a brilliant job of evoking a place, a scene, or a person in extraordinary detail. I can almost see how this has led to the acclaim that In Search of Lost Time has received. The problem is, that technical ability is only a tool for a storyteller. Without a worthwhile story to tell, it becomes a hollow and tiresome exercise, which is what this book is.
As for why I did not finish the book; I had actually intended on reading all the way to the end(of volume 1), no matter how painful. However, I left the book behind, in Zagreb I think. I don't think it was on purpose... although it could have been a desperate act of self-preservation on the part of my sub-conscious.
This went on much longer than I had first intended, I will provide a review of Jane Eyre(a much superior book) later.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Somebody asked about Frank Herbert, but he's really a 1970s writer. My colleague Becky Jacobs claims that the most recent books in the Dune franchise are actually good, but he lost me with Refrigerator Repairmen of Dune or somesuch, many years ago.-Instapundit
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Suggestion for Dean: Print your criticisms IN ALL CAPS. That will reassure those big Democratic donors THAT YOU MEAN BUSINESS!And Virginia Governor Mark Warner has some advice for the Democratic party
Warner said he experienced that sentiment personally during a trip to California, where he felt some people were condescending to him because he came from Virginia.Condescending, entitled, out-of-touch, and(in the case of chairman Dean) totally insane? Who says that isn't a recipe for electoral success?
"You little Virginia Democrat, how can you understand the great opportunities we have,' " Warner said, in characterizing their attitude. "I came out saying, `That's why America hates Democrats.'
The weather in Innsbruck never did get better, I waited around for 4 days and the clouds wouldn't go away. As a matter of fact, it snowed on me. Twice. Austria had a record of pretty much unmitigated crappy weather while I was there.
We did discern that the Burger King is the most happening place in Innsbruck late on a Wednesday night. This is why I spent Thursday night playing spades with a young couple from Ashville, North Carolina and a Kiwi.
I decided to head on and see Munich, Germany. I spent two nights there and... it kind of bored me. A very nice, clean, modern city. But very big and bustling and western. Not very exotic at all. Lots of english speaking tourists, and for that matter, english speaking Germans. I did almost get run down by bicycles repeatedly while I was there, I guess that's kind of interesting.
I did spend some time in a German beer hall, which was gigantic. They shunted us down to the basement, which is apparently where they spend the english speakers. It was about two stories down and felt like a bomb shelter. It was also huge and packed with people. They really did serve the beer in gigantic 1 liter steins. However, they shut the group down when they tried to sing. Maybe it would have been different if the Australians had been able to come up with a better song than B-I-N-G-O.
The architecture in Munich is kind of big and blocky and massive. Lots of cool old buildings, but it lacked the charm of say, Vienna. The people did seem friendlier than Austrians, although I didn't spend that much time there, so it's hard to say for sure.
I then stopped in Salzburg on my way back to Vienna. It seemed pretty cool, but fairly small and touristy. It didn't help that the weather was, again, dismal. Gray clouds and rain. I was also at the point where I just wanted to go home, so I wasn't really in the mood to enjoy it.
So I returned to Vienna, where the sun had decided to come out for a bit, finally. As I wandered aimlessly through the city in the late-afternoon light I was feeling quite a bit of fondness for it. I guess it's because it doesn't seem as busy and rushed as say, Munich. Vienna has more of a museum quality to it. It's very relaxing.
So, I have now returned home and, I think, recovered. I have to start sorting through law school paperwork and preparing for my reentry into the real world. doh.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
In the six weeks I've been gone, my lawn turned into a knee-high thicket. So in addition to the dozens of other things to deal with, I've had to mow that.
Maybe I'll get around to talking about the rest of my trip later.
Until then, here are all the pictures for Croatia.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Unfortunately, the weather was not. Lots of clouds, not much sun. It could have been worse, it only rained on the first day.
Also, most of the huts were closed, so I could not stay long in the mountains. It was remarkably difficult to get authoritative information on the huts and conditions in the Triglav National Park. There was apparently a informations center in Trenta, on the west side, but it is extremely difficult to get there without your own transportation. Most people come to the park from the east side, where lake Bled and Bohinj are. I got some information from the the tourist information center in Bled, some from the people in the Komni hut. Well, some huts are open, then I'm told that they think some other huts are open, ohhh, but these huts aren't open, but there should be a winter room you can sleep in....
It's all part of the keystone cops level of organization I've come to expect from eastern europe. Still, nice.
I then returned to Austria, which, unfortunately, is still populated by Austrians. They're not all bad, but there's a sharp difference from the Slavic countries.
Spent two nights in the little picturesque village of Heiligenblut, where the weather was, again, really quite bad. I got a little hiking in, but it would be nice to see the sun for more than two minutes at a time.
From Heiligenblut I headed for Innsbruck. Getting around in these mountain areas by public transport is a frustrating experience, to say the least. Wait an hour for the bus to Lienz. Then wait 5 hours for the bus to Kitzbuhel, where you can then connect to the train to Innsbruck. About 9 hours to travel 50 miles.
I'm in Innsbruck now, which is really beautiful. A fantastic old city surrounded by mountains. I can even see them occasionally, through the clouds...