Doctor Who: The Price of Involvement

Filed under:Reviews,Television — posted by Anwyn on July 31, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

Warning: Written in emotional aftermath.

Warning x2: Huge **SPOILERS** for Doctor Who S2 below the jump. (more…)

The Reward of Appeasement

Filed under:Church of Liberalism,It's the Jihad — posted by Anwyn on July 30, 2006 @ 9:14 pm

Biting the hand that tries to feed them. Do you think these attacks will open the U.N.’s eyes to the idea that nothing they can give these people will stop their aggression?

Nah. Me either.

Ann Althouse, in speaking of a scathing article about Rice, hits the nail on the heads of the appeasement crowd:

If the U.S. or Israel does something violent, you speak only in terms of your horror and righteous anger that we have killed people. If our enemies do something violent, you call attention to their understandable frustration and outrage and our role in making them feel that way.

There is astonishing arrogance in this kind of excusing away everything these violent people do. The excusers are saying, in essence, “They’re too [stupid, emotionally undevloped, take your pick] to understand that what they’re doing is unacceptable.” This is the compassionate left? “You’re too dumb to know that this isn’t the way to go about getting what you want, so we’ll just pat you on the head, give it to you, and send you on your merry way.”

Parents of toddlers know better than this. If I were to treat my son this way, he would grow up thinking he could throw a screaming fit and get whatever he wants.

I guess I should revise: Good parents of toddlers know better than this. It’s about time the U.N. learned it too. Looks like these attackers are giving the U.N. one hell of a screaming fit. We’ll see what they learn.

Great Sock Puppets in History

Filed under:Blogging,History — posted by Anwyn on July 28, 2006 @ 12:36 am

Okay, I have only one. And it actually wasn’t a sock puppet.

But in honor of Patterico’s definitive history of Greenwald’s sock puppets and the hard work of Ace of Spades and others in bringing it to light, I will unfold the tale, garnered from the pages of David McCullough’s John Adams.

In the spring of 1791, John Adams was Vice President and Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State. There was a blog war–okay, okay, a book and pamphlet war–between Edmund Burke, author of Reflections on the French Revolution, and Thomas Paine, who countered with The Rights of Man. John Adams was being savaged in the press as a “monarchist” because he favored a strong executive branch–gosh, where have I heard that before?–and Jefferson was going with the flow. Receiving an advance copy of The Rights of Man, Jefferson sent it to a printer with a note endorsing it as an antidote to “the political heresies that have sprung up among us.” The “heresies” he meant were Adams’s supposed endorsement of an American monarchy. (Adams endorsed nothing of the kind.) Stung and hurt by his friend’s public betrayal, Adams took a vacation to his home in Massachusetts.

Letters began appearing in a Boston paper, published under the name “Publicola,” that attacked The Rights of Man and took Jefferson strictly to task for referring to opposing political opinions as “heresies.” Gosh, where have I heard that before?

I have always understood, sir, that the citizens of these States were possessed of a full and entire freedom of opinion upon all subjects civil as well as religious … and the only political tenet which they could stigmatize with the name of heresy would be that which should attempt to impose an opinion upon their understandings, upon the single principle of authority.

The letter writer was not John Adams, as was at first widely assumed. Instead it was his son, John Quincy Adams. And when I say “his son,” I don’t mean “boyfriend who lived in the house with him and would probably take dictation.” John Quincy was a grown man with his own law practice by this time. But the fur was in the fire after that. Jefferson wrote to Adams implying that it never would have been a public fight if not for “Publicola” and implying that Adams was the letter writer (“Never in his life, Jefferson added,” writes McCullough, “had he written anything for newspapers anonymously or under a pseudonym, and he never intended to.”) McCullough adds that Jefferson knew, at the time of writing the letter, that “Publicola” was John Quincy.

Adams answered with a restrained and, all things considered, gracious missive that sought to air out the troubles, but did not “out” (to use the modern parlance) his son as “Publicola.” Jefferson, however, unwilling to accept any responsibility for sparking the problem, wrote back insisting again that the trouble was all due to “Publicola” and denied, dishonestly, that he had meant Adams when he pinned??Adams’s views with the label of “heresies.”

Adams, as McCullough says, “let the matter drop.”

So we see that it was a serious matter to be accused of sock-puppetry as far back as the founding days of our nation. Though Jefferson behaved like a boob, I have to say that John Quincy’s actions, though??well intended??and deftly executed, probably hurt Adams’s??credibility more than they helped, not to mention John Quincy’s own. Writing hoping to affect people’s opinions of the incident, the fact that he was Adams’s son would have been an important disclosure, and it would have been far more honorable to write under his own name, especially as it became known almost immediately who “Publicola” really was. But the pseudonym was enough for Jefferson to hide behind when he??leveled his disgustingly dishonest,??though veiled, accusation at John Adams.

Some commenters on this Greenwald flap have been quick to moan about “moving on” and stop making accusations, etc. “Can’t we all get along” schtick. But I’ve learned in my relatively short time roaming the blogosphere that the impact of what you say depends in great measure on who you are. Commenters and minnow-bloggers, like yours truly, get known at the??whale-blogs they comment on. I’ve learned what kinds of opinions to expect from many of my fellow commenters; I know whom I can count on for agreement, who will bait, who will disagree civilly, and who will go off-topic and off-the-deep-end crazy. It’s important in instant communication to have a symbol in your mind for the person you’re dealing with, even though you wouldn’t recognize them if they walked down the street in front of you, and that’s why sock puppets are so serious that whale-bloggers will take a week to sort out the hows, whys and wherefores. And rightly so. This should all be a part of a blogger’s record.

I started reading Patterico??more or less regularly at about the time he broke the Hiltzik??story. People who are hoping to shape the debate cannot be allowed to do so unfairly by going on somebody’s blog and lashing them under a fake name, then going back to their own blog and exclaiming, “Hey! So-and-so’s getting their ass handed to them by a commenter!” meaning themselves. By the same token, using fake names to inflate the number of your admirers shakes human nature into wondering, “Is this a crowd I should line up with? After all this guy seems to have a lot of supporters.” It’s dishonest. It’s a disservice to readers on any side of any issue, who form their opinions in part based on the past record of the person giving the analysis. It’s sad and pathetic, too. It should stop.

And What Did You Think We’re Fighting For?

Filed under:It's the Jihad — posted by Anwyn on July 27, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

Via Mike Lief??comes a chilling look at aplausible futureby author Dan Simmons, whose work I will be checking out after reading this.

Athens failed in Syracuse–and doomed their democracy–not because they fought in the wrong place and at the wrong time, but because they weren’t ruthless enough. … I come from a place and time where your grandchildren and hundreds of millions of other dhimmi are compelled to write ‘pbuh’ after the Prophet’s name. They wear gold crosses and gold Stars of David sewn onto their clothing. The Nazis didn’t invent the wearing of the Star of David … the marking and setting apart of the Jews in society. Muslims did that centuries ago in they lands they conquered, European and otherwise. They will refine it and update it, not toward the more merciful, in the lands they occupy through the decades ahead of you.

It’s plausible, if the United States cannot hold its resolve.

Here’s the kicker:

“How, we wonder in my time,” he said softly, “can you ignore the better part of a billion people who say aloud that they are willing to kill your children? … or condone and celebrate the killing of them? And ignore them as they act on what they say? We do not understand you.”

How can people ignore this? Because it’s not happening here, not since 9/11/01. And why is it not happening here? Does anybody really believe that the jihadis figured, “Oh, well, we made our point in the States; we’re done over there.” I don’t. They haven’t pulled anything off because they’ve been prevented and because they don’t seem to get smarter, better funded, or better organized. For now.

You should read the whole thing. It’s harrowing.

Raising Chamberlain’s Kids

Filed under:Children's Books,Church of Liberalism,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on July 26, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

Today’s installment of the ongoing object lesson, Read Your Kids’ Books Before They Do, is the Little Golden Book Tawny Scrawny Lion, by Kathryn Jackson. If Chamberlain had had half the appeasement chops with Hitler that Our Hero, the rabbit, has with the lion in this story, Poland would have been begging for Hitler to cross the borders and annex it, because Germany would have been just so much sweetness and light.

Synopsis: Hungry lion terrorizes (eats) animals. Animals, desperate for ceasefire (ceasedigestion), send rabbit out for diplomatic mission (dinner) with lion. Rabbit invites lion for dinner (carrot stew, we’re told) at his home, where there will be a big bunch of other rabbits (lightbulb over lion’s head). Lion goes home with rabbit, who stops on the way for fish to put in the carrot stew. Rabbits feed lion to bursting with fishy carrot stew, then all gather ’round the cookfire to sing the cautionary tale of “Little Bunny Foo-Foo.” Big animals stand in awe of little rabbit’s diplomacy skills (continued possession of tasty innards).

What bothers me most about this book is not the analogy itself (although that in itself is pacifistic rant enough) but the deceptive nature of it. Because it uses animals, the tale finds itself in distress right at the start: lions are carnivores. Thus their “terrorism” can’t even be compared to that of humans, as to eat animals is necessary to lions’ survival and just a part of their nature. No carrot stew in the world will sustain a lion, and the book admits this–the rabbit has to put meat in the stew. Fish. Fish being, you know, other animals, which for the purposes of this book are not considered to be on an even footing with the rest of the animals, who can talk, make fire, use liberal philosophy to save themselves from digestion, etc.

So the appeasement of the lion really becomes an all-too-human tale: the big animals offer up OH, the rabbit, in hopes that the lion will leave them alone long enough for them to effect an escape, while the rabbit has to offer up fish, though the book hopes you will not notice its apples-and-oranges treatment of the fish with respect to the other animals. I wonder, in such an obvious fantasy tale, why they didn’t just leave it at the carrot stew. Isn’t it a liberal’s fondest dream that troublemakers at all levels can be satisfied with something other than their goal? If that were true of the current conflict in the Middle East, there wouldn’t be a conflict in the Middle East, because somebody would have found out long ago what would satisfy jihadists other than the deaths of Jews and other infidels and given it to them. Instead, liberals are left with offering them Jews (fish), hoping they will then overlook the rest of us infidels.

Sadly for liberals, Neville Chamberlain, and the author of this book, it just doesn’t work that way.

Blockheads at Melissa & Doug

Filed under:Toys, Children's — posted by Anwyn @ 7:14 pm

I was long on the lookout for some really good wooden blocks. You know, the??classic kind??with the letters in colors on two sides and other stuff on the other sides. Specifically, I wanted ones with pictures that matched the letters. These aren’t them.

Unfortunately I didn’t catch the cognitive dissonance of these blocks until I got them home. I let my son play with them for a while anyway, as he was already learning his letters through other means and I didn’t think these blocks would necessarily affect him. Within the last two days I caught him saying something like “A is for duck” (paraphrased because I can’t remember which wrong block he was actually parsing). Blocks are now removed from toy rotation, I’m on the lookout for a new set, and an email has gone to the manufacturer to ask, basically, what they were thinking.

Notice in the link this reviewer:

It doesn’t bother me that the block letters don’t match the subsequent pictures displayed on each cube; I like the freestyle approach.

I trust she will appreciate the freestyle approach just as much when her son’s teacher is sending home notes about his poor reading. But wait, she goes on:

I also don’t plan for him to play with these for the rest of his life; I figure by the time he’s really learning his letters and sounds he’ll have moved on to more challenging toys. So my current expectation for these little blocks is being met.

Her son was one at the time she wrote this. My son is nearly three and still enjoys stacking and knocking down the blocks, has learned his letters, is starting in on the sounds letters make, and was starting to be misled by the “freestyle” approach to phonics. It’s nice that the blocks fulfill her objectives now, but wouldn’t it be a bit nicer if she didn’t have to be on the watch to remove them from the rotation when her son does begin learning his letters? That’s really the question: in a product with both letters and pictures, so ideally suited to link one to the other, why would you put a stumbling block (har!) in the kids’ way by deliberately making letters and pictures not match?

And just for grins, there’s one more wrinkle to the story: a very few of the blocks do have matching pictures and letters, and a few others have letters and pictures that could match if you stretch a bit. The “A” block has an apple (but an “N” and a dog for its other picture-letter set); the “L” block has a leaf (but a “Y” and a pretzel for its other set). The “B” block has a cow, which I can stretch to “bovine,” but the other set is “O” and a pineapple.

But by far my favorite block is the one containing the picture of an elephant. Its letters? “E”–and “R.”

Crucified Upside-Down

Filed under:Bumper Stickers — posted by Anwyn on July 25, 2006 @ 7:52 pm

This isn’t really as significant as the title makes it sound. Just weird. A bumper sticker I saw today that blared “Impeach Bush,” which at least is clear, emphatic, and non-dissembling, was in a passenger window rather than on the bumper or back area of the car, was wedged in rather than stuck on, and was … upside-down. I wondered if that was some kind of code to others with BDS, or … what?

Raising Green Kids

Filed under:Children's Books,Church of Liberalism,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on July 24, 2006 @ 10:47 pm

I have found that when choosing children’s books, it’s wisest to read them first. Failure to do this found me reading to my son about the leftist environmental agenda before I realized it.

In a box of books my mother had picked up for her grandson, I found Milo and the Magical Stones by Marcus Pfister, author of The Rainbow Fish. I had skimmed the latter book once and remembered, basically, “Tiny sparkling fish saves the day!” so I thought we’d give the mouse and the magic rocks a try. The book started out innocuously enough with a clan of mice who made the best of bad winter weather on their little rocky island, but I knew we were in trouble when Our Hero, Milo, discovered the magical glowing rock that would bring light and warmth to the cold dark winter. My parental antennae twitched up to “red alert” when we reached a division in the book between “the happy ending” and “the sad ending.” A self-proclaimed sad ending–in a children’s book!–could only be the harbinger of some self-righteous, condescending liberal agenda.

Not wanting to cut the book off in the middle, a move my son would not have understood or appreciated, I gamely shoveled through the happy ending, in which each mouse takes only one of the glowing rocks and then laboriously decorates a plain, garden-variety rock to–this is my favorite part–“give back to the island,” from which all the rocks originally came.

Need I spell out the sad ending? Failure to “give back to the island” caused the island to literally implode, killing all the mice except Our Hero and his Wise and Ancient Advisor. (Killing all the mice–I must say it again–in a children’s book!) OH and WAA were left to mourn the stupidity and greed of their dead comrades in perfect self-righteous solemnity.

If I want my son colored green, I’ll give him his paints but not his smock. Plenty of children’s books with agendas at least have the courtesy to put the agenda on the cover.

USA Today: Apple Has the Potential to Become Food

Filed under:Abortion — posted by Anwyn @ 3:24 pm

…but only if you eat it.

That is the gist of the argument for embryonic stem cell research, as it has always been the argument for abortion on demand. But the inescapable fact is that (to borrow a phrase from friends) a developing embryo is the same biological entity now that it will be after forty weeks of gestation.

These microscopic clusters of cells aren’t life as most people think of it. They have the potential to become human only if they are successfully implanted in a woman’s uterus.

Your apple is food whether you choose to eat it or not. If it sits on the counter and eventually rots, that will be due to your neglect, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t nourishing food while it was healthy. Human beings develop from embryos. Whether they are implanted or not does not change their fundamental human nature. Like the apple does not stop being food until it’s spoiling, the human embryo does not stop being human life until it’s dead.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace