Whose Fault?

Filed under:9/11,Jerks,Television — posted by Anwyn on December 28, 2006 @ 6:40 pm

Allah got a Christmas wish answered when The View re-aired James Brolin coming thiiis close to espousing truthernut conspiracies. To me, the link is less important for that than for this quote of Brolin’s:

We were Americans. Now we’re split and arguing. So whose fault is that, and what’s going wrong, and think about the issues.

The main trouble with people like Brolin, and it gives rise to their willingness to swallow crap like 9/11 truthernut salad, is that they know absolutely no history and nothing whatsoever about human nature. Splits and arguments among Americans, nasty ones about heavy, anguishing issues, date right back to 1776 and the argument over whether we should even become Americans or not.

This is not new. It is not new to our era. There is vicious infighting over every major issue that comes our way, and we are pushed to the point of being “all Americans” only when the evil of the day and its danger to us are so clearly delineated that even the doviest among us can clearly see the choice between fighting and being subjugated, as in WWII, presumably the start date of that elusive “we were Americans” period Brolin burbled about. It’s all well and good to say now that Britain had no right to rule us and the Revolution was correct even at the price, but it wasn’t so clear at the time. Ditto the preservation of the Union, 1861-1865, ditto the 1930s run-up to WWII. Evils are frequently not so clearly delineated as Hitler was eventually revealed to be. People of Brolin’s ilk would apparently prefer that nothing controversial were done until a few millions had been shoveled into furnaces so that they would not have to whine about splits and arguments at home. Or they would rather find the evil at home, spreading the monstrous idea that the freely elected president of a modern republic killed 3K of his own citizens, than believe that either saving or stopping anybody outside our borders could be worth those 3K lives twice over.

It’s your fault, Brolin. It’s your fault for lacking even basic realism, any common decency, or a smidge more than the “little learning” that we’ve always been warned is so dangerous. Pick up a book like Modern Times or John Adams and then tell me whose fault it is. You prig.

Cross-posted at Electric Venom.

Christmas List–The Good Kind

Filed under:Cool — posted by Anwyn on December 24, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

Anwyn’s Note: Originally posted at Electric Venom but accidentally deleted in a database wipeout. Reposted here.

A little Christmas fun before I get to VK’s meme: in the spirit of Electric Venom, I’ll trot out my version of The List — the good list. The really good list. So good that it would never contain a Scotch-swilling comedian or a full-on-himself reality TV judge — which is to say, my list could take Kate’s list to the woodshed. My boys are talented, funny, smart, and lest we forget, hotter than Georgia asphalt in July. In order from longest-lived on the list to brand new, here they are:

… with just a brief caveat to Kate: she seems to have men she can list based on something other than their public persona, at least a few of them. And at least one of them she’s actually sat down for a conversation with, turning my little LotR heart green with envy. I freely admit I know very little about the personalities/tastes/lives of any of my guys. Four of them are actors, and I’d be superhuman if the characters I’ve seen them play didn’t factor in to my liking for them. C’est la vie. This list isn’t about reality. Much. I’d like to think, though, that factoring in their characters makes it less about looks and more about whatever aspects of their personalities *do* emerge through their characters. For what that’s worth.

1. Matthew Perry. He’s the longest-running current denizen of the list; I’ve been in love since Chandler first began doing that “rock — hard place — me” schtick he does so well. He’s gorgeous, funny as hell, and pulls off that cynical, defense-is-the-best-offense hiding a hurt, bewildered 20/30-something better than almost anyone. And, wonder of wonders, he’s now got a character who’s not Chandler — and is finally starting to ramp up as Aaron Sorkin gets over himself and returns to writing a good show rather than a weekly rant. Go, Matthew, go!

2. Josh Charles. He was the sweet stalkerish type in Dead Poets Society but grew up with a vengeance in the short-lived Sports Night. More work for him, please, Hollywood. He’s the reason I’m planning on hitting an Orioles game one of these days.

3. Nathan Fillion. Don’t know Nathan Fillion? Go Netflix yourself some Firefly DVDs posthaste, and don’t let anybody tell you “The new Han Solo.” He is so not. He’s a live wire, the profanity-spewing trickster of the set, the kind of good-hearted actor who will cross the street from a premiere to sign autographs and show up at a convention that was cancelled, out of concern for disappointing his fans. Last seen guesting on Lost. May it be a taste of bigger things to come.

4. *Cough*Allahpundit*cough*. Yeah, I know, I’m too old to be getting internet crushes sight-unseen and conversation-all-but-unhad, but what can I say: cynicism, brains, insight, humor, and that Chandleresque “been burned, afraid of fire” air add up to the kind of boy I can’t stay away from. Now you know, Xrlq, my big defense was all a smokescreen for my little crush. I’ll even overlook his fanboy hangup on the most overrated band in history.

5. I don’t have a number five. Really. I thought about all my current favorite shows and none of the guys measured up to the above four, although some of them might and I don’t put them on just because I have sort of a thing against putting married guys on the list if I know they’re married. (Remember, this list isn’t about rationality, either.) So I’ll give this slot as Honorable Mention to the first man who ever was on the list: Harrison Ford. The one and only Captain Solo and Henry Jones, Jr. Too old for me, sadly, but he’s also got that whole Wyoming-rancher-private-pilot thing going. He’s actually landed before at the airport in Indiana where I used to take my flight lessons. Not, of course, while I was there. Still love him!

That’s the list. Too late for Santa’s notice?

Tagged by a Christmas Light

Filed under:Miscellaneous — posted by Anwyn @ 8:10 pm

Venomous Kate tagged me with a meme–first one for this blog. Rite of passage, or something.

The player (me) must list 3 things that I would love to get for Christmas. Then I must list 3 things that I definitely do not want to get for Christmas. Then I tag 5 friends and list their names. The one I tag needs to write on their blogs about their Christmas wishes then tag 5 more people. They must also clarify all the rules. When you tag someone you need to leave a comment that says “you’’ve been Christmas tagged!” in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

Here goes:

Three things I’d love to get for Christmas:

1. A first edition of Dorothy Sayers’s The Nine Tailors.

2. A trip to England. Not the best timing for that, alas, but hey, as long as they’re not yet under sharia, I’ve got time.

3. Something off this list. Preferably #4.

Three things I don’t want for Christmas:

1. Anything Tolkien. Honestly, I’m a little burnt out at the moment.

2. Jewelry. I have a toddler, which means I have plenty of jewelry I never wear!

3. Anything off this list. My taste in men and Kate’s don’t overlap … much. :)

It’s almost Christmas Day on the East Coast, so in lieu of tagging people with the meme, I’ll just wish a heartfelt Merry Christmas to some of my favorite bloggers, several of whom are the reason I’m blogging along right now: Xrlq, See-Dubya, Patterico, Karol, Allah, and Mike Lief. And, of course, my intrepid hostess at Electric Venom: Kate. Merry Christmas, folks, and a very happy New Year.

Studio 60: It’s Alive

Filed under:Television — posted by Anwyn @ 7:02 pm

I’ve been justifiably hard on Studio 60 since its premiere, and I slogged through episode after episode yelling at the TV, grumbling after it was over, and hoping the next episode would pull up. Aaron Sorkin finally proved, with December 4th’s “The Christmas Show,” that he’s still got it. An episode with all the snap of the best of Sports Night, a taste of some of the worthier political posturing of The West Wing, and a dash of (gasp) character development. I finally realized that’s been the problem all along–the characters exist merely to rant about Sorkin’s political opinions, much like a multi-million dollar human version of the blogs Sorkin seems to hate. In “The Christmas Show,” though, he actually seemed to allow the characters to let down and develop some on their own, even unbending enough to acknowledge that the opinion of an anonymous consumer could be a reasonably important thing in the marketplace of television and movies. Romantic subplots were advanced, something I always like to see, Jack the Hardass Executive became a sympathetic human being, and Jordan the Female Executive is going to be dealing with a pregnancy and child. It always concerns me when shows take up motherhood as a theme, but it beats most of the alternative ways of addressing the possibility of pregnancy for a single woman on TV. I’ll take it.

So, Merry Christmas to the cast and crew of Studio 60; Merry Christmas, Mr. Sorkin, from a quasi-anonymous blogger. I’m looking forward to your New Year. Finally.


Filed under:Authors,Religion — posted by Anwyn on December 11, 2006 @ 10:58 am

Dawn Eden promotes the soul-deep virtues of chastity — in the New York Times!

Via See-Dubya, who dares to think that because Dawn actually is “born again” considers herself to have had a “born-again experience” that it’s okay for the Times to call her “born-again ^ Christian” rather than “Catholic.”

Cross-posted at Electric Venom.

Edited to remove potentially frightening literal implications of “born again.”

What the Hell Heaven?

Filed under:Church of Liberalism,Religion — posted by Anwyn on December 8, 2006 @ 10:56 pm

This is really ticking me off. Allah’s got it posted but doesn’t think it’s nearly as serious as I do: “The ribbing is gentle, but it’s still surprising to see this kind of religious stereotyping in an ad. Even if it is intramural.” Just watch:

It’s not gentle, Allahbabe. It’s self-loathing masked as the snottiest of self-righteousness and superiority. “See, teeming masses of Christian fear and loathing so great that you deny yourselves the simple pleasures of ‘Christmas’? We’re not to be feared! We have no rules that you must follow that might take you out of your comfortable lifestyle! You can wear jeans to church! It’s all good!” I don’t have a problem with the jeans. I have a problem with the stereotyping, which is laughably wrong, and with the doctrinal implications, which are lamentably watery.

Let’s assume for a moment that their stereotypes are correct, that buttoned-down man is the one who carries his Bible, listens to whatever passes for [younger, Christianer] Amy Grant and Cynthia Clawson and Keith Green these days (I wouldn’t know, I don’t listen), and wears those stupid fracking WWJD things–and memo to Community Christian Church, those bracelets were popular eight years ago. I haven’t seen them around in a good long time.

But I digress. Let’s assume the portrayals are correct. Suit Guy is annoying as hell, but at least he’s armed, and yes, the Word of God is referred to as a sword. Jeans Guy follows Christ … how? The same way you’d follow a diet? “Yeah, I follow Atkins, but man, I just had to have that Krispy Kreme after lunch today. Hee hee.” He doesn’t seem to need a guide; he just follows Christ in how he lives his life. Swell. Will we see him dying on a cross any time soon? At least most people know that’s what Christ did; Jeans Guy seems to be carrying all he needs to live a “Christ-following” life around in his own head, so hey, no need for those pesky rulebooks and ethics studies and … oh yeah, “morality plays.” Whatever the hell those are. Seriously. Suit Guy may be insecure enough that he feels he has to flash his religion to the world, but is it safe to assume he secretly doesn’t take it as seriously as Jeans Guy for that reason? Of course not.

Now let’s get to the truth: that the stereotypes are way off. On the contrary, it’s the newer, “seeker” Christians, the ones who fancy themselves sooo hip, as if they are the first to discover how cool Christianity can be if you only lighten up a little, who are more likely to walk around with the books in their hands, the music in their ears, and WWJD in their mouths. You put “WWJD,” “God led me to see ____,” and “This is where God wants me” into a sack one of those seekers is carrying around and just see which falls out first. Or if it’s not a seeker, it’ll be an older Christian trying desperately to remake Christianity over into something that won’t frighten the young fry away. They talk the most talk, try to grab the most non-Christians by the elbow, and try to shake the hands of the most visitors to the church. The problem is, it’s not just going to be the Bible they’re walking around with. Koran … Purpose-Driven Strife … God’s Politics … to Suit Guy’s books and superiority, they add wide-eyed enthusiasm and Jeans Guy’s non-judgy perspective. It’s the worst of both worlds. It’s all good … as long as you can say God led you there. Most of the older Christians I know are more of the “don’t pray on street corners” variety. They carry their Bibles … because they need to read what the pastor’s referring to when he speaks.

Apparently being a “Christ follower” means you get to pick and choose and live however you happen see Christ as living. Unfortunately being a Christian takes a bit more guts and commitment than that, even if it means disdain from others. (Newsflash: it always has meant that!) Too bad Community Christian Church doesn’t seem to want to man up.

Three Degrees of Secretary Gates

Filed under:Cool,It's My Life — posted by Anwyn on December 6, 2006 @ 11:28 pm

A good friend of mine did graduate work at Texas A&M, her husband received his PhD there, and their daughter graduated last spring. Their daughter played soccer for the school. At a match, my friend met and became friendly with Mrs. Robert Gates, wife of the outgoing president of Texas A&M and incoming U.S Secretary of Defense.

My friend has Mrs. Gates’s number in her cell phone. Kinda cool, no?

What Goes Unreported?

Filed under:It's My Life,It's the Jihad,Priorities — posted by Anwyn @ 9:52 pm

In the wake of the Flying Imams, SeeDubya is concerned about similar incidents going unreported. He quotes Brent Bozell on an airline arrest he witnessed and describes his own harrowing experience on a plane that had an engine fire on takeoff. Though obviously SeeDub’s right that the airline has no incentive to report a fire in the engine to the media, I think they’re in something of a cleft stick regarding incidents like the one Bozell saw: they fear lawsuits, but at the same time, knowing that they’re playing it safe would reassure a lot of average travellers that the airlines and law enforcment won’t allow anybody, imams or no, to get away with the equivalent of screaming “WORLD TRADE CENTER!” on a crowded jetliner. In addition, I think the public deserves to know the outcome of these cases–are the people arrested? Imprisoned? For how long? Do they lead to potential terrorist networks? Are they joyriders looking to see how far they can push?

More than a month ago, my first cousin, a sturdy North Carolina boy, was on his way home from basic training with the U.S. Air Force. He was wearing his uniform. In the Atlanta airport, he was accosted and attacked by a man of unidentified foreign origin, screaming at him in a language my cousin didn’t recognize. The man grabbed for my cousin’s uniform ribbons and threw them on the floor as well as assaulting him physically. Cousin–did I mention he was returning from basic training?–put attacker on the floor fairly quickly; security appeared and accepted at face value cousin’s account of the attack (possibly with assistance from witnesses). They collected the attacker and left. And that was it. They didn’t take my cousin’s name or ask him for a statement; to my knowledge there was no follow-up. I called the Atlanta airport and Atlanta PD to see if I could find out anything, but I’m a rank novice at acting like press; I left a message in the airport’s PR office that wasn’t returned and got a bit of a runaround from the PD. I let it drop. I didn’t blog it at the time because I hadn’t spoken to anybody in Atlanta.

I’d sure like to know what happened to that person who attacked a U.S. serviceman in a public airport for no other reason than that he is a serviceman. Perhaps our friend the prosecutor can tell us if charges can be pressed without a statement from the victim or from witnesses. I know where I’d bet my money.

Update: In the interest of strict accuracy, I should note I was mistaken about my cousin’s point of origin–he was not returning from basic training, but from specialist training. Sorry for the error.

How Big is the Moon?

Filed under:Children's Books,It's My Life,Mothering — posted by Anwyn @ 9:26 pm

The Bean (age three, at the moment) has a book by James Thurber (!) called Many Moons. In it, the court jester finds that the princess can easily be given what she wants–the moon–because she is deceived as to its nature. Though I’m not sure the moral is sound–it might be psychologically healthier to modify our wishes to things that are within our grasp, but surely not under deception–it’s a cute book and won the Caldecott Medal for illustrations by Louis Slobodkin.

Tonight in the car, The Bean was entranced by the moon, talking about how it was following us home (it was) and how much he loves the moon (he does) and how much the moon loves him (it does). I asked him how big the moon is, thinking he would give the answer of the Princess Lenore from his book: just a little smaller than his thumbnail. Instead his answer surprised me: “It’s big enough.”

RIP James Kim

Filed under:Sad — posted by Anwyn @ 1:38 pm

My sympathy and thoughts are with Kati Kim, her two daughters, and all of James Kim’s family. Mr. Kim’s body has been found in the wilderness in mountainous southern Oregon, four days after he left his stranded family in their car to find help, two days after his wife and daughters were rescued.

Any Lewis Fans in the Crowd?

Filed under:Authors,Cool — posted by Anwyn on December 5, 2006 @ 10:20 pm

I’ve long loved C.S. Lewis, though as I get older I gradually see that he is not the be-all, end-all fountain of Christian wisdom I may have believed while I was growing up. A book written by one of my college professors, Dr. John Beversluis, is being updated and will be reissued next year, and I await it eagerly. It purports to show that Lewis failed in his attempted rational defense of Christianity. Lewis’s premise was that nobody should accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him it doesn’t make sense. Beversluis’s book promises to show that it doesn’t.

Victor Reppert at Dangerous Idea notes the upcoming release and both reasonably anticipates arguing Beversluis’s points and also reminds us that if Beversluis isn’t 100 percent right, at least he’s “a good antidote” to anybody who’s willing to wrap themselves in wholesale Lewis. But he’s wrong about Beversluis as “consummate Lewis-basher.”

How do I know without reading the book? And why do I so eagerly await a book that purports to show that one of my childhood heroes failed in the object of his writings? Simply this: in college I took a class from John Beversluis, on C.S. Lewis. He did not use his own book as a teaching tool in the course (I didn’t know the book existed until last month), I didn’t know he was an agnostic rather than a Christian until many weeks into the course, and I think it was in private conversation that he revealed this, rather than in class. In other words, he set out to teach a course on C.S. Lewis, and Lewis was what he taught–not Beversluis. In this academic climate, that’s somewhat remarkable, and in addition, it makes me far more receptive to what he has to say about Lewis–now that I’m aware of the book, now that Dr. Beversluis is retired–than I would have been as a wide-eyed undergrad.

Update: Speaking of wide-eyed undergrads, I wrote like one last night when I attributed the opinion of Beversluis as “Lewis-basher” to Victor Reppert. He was observing that many people think of Beversluis that way, not that he himself does. He observes below in the comments that he doesn’t share that opinion of Beversluis but that passages in Beversluis’s book can come across that way. Apologies and welcome, Victor.

Required Reading from Xrlq

Filed under:History,Politics — posted by Anwyn @ 9:53 pm

On Dennis Prager:

…[Prager would] be hard pressed to name a single Western European country that does have a document similar to the U.S. Constitution. With prime ministers selected by Parliament and presidents serving largely ceremonial roles, the separation of powers as we know it is virtually unheard of. With no pesky First Amendment to worry about, states run television and radio, David Irving rots in prison simply for being an a-hole, and hate crime laws apply to what every American would consider protected free speech.

Quoting Prager:

What has made America unique is the combination of Enlightenment ideas with our underlying Judeo-Christian values.

How does that make us unique? We inherited both “Judeo-Christianity” and the Enlightenment from Europe. If a tradition of either hard-core religious tests of office or ceremonial deism is all it’s cracked up to be, then Europe has us beat hands-down. At the risk of sounding a bit too Prag-ish myself, I cannot name any Western European country that does not have a “Judeo-Christian” tradition combined with Enlightenment ideas.

So Long and Thanks

Filed under:Sad — posted by Anwyn on December 4, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

Mike Lief has a sweet account of the last flight of the C-130E. I know that the technology needs to be updated–in fact I get angry when it doesn’t seem to be updated fast enough for safety, as in the case of the shuttle fleet–but it’s still sad to see the old birds go. A description of the new 130J is here, with diagrams and specs here. It frankly surprises me they’re still building turboprop engines rather than going all jet, but that’s a total outsider’s surprise, as I’m the farthest thing from a technology expert imaginable. Mike makes a good point about the crews: no more navigator or flight engineer. They’ll have only the two pilots and a loadmaster. At least they’ll still have some company, but I’d imagine camaraderie and one-upsmanship with the navs and engineers will be missed.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace