Reasonable Nuts

Sometimes nuts. Always reasonable. We are REASONABLE NUTS.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Confidence or resignation?

Queen Spoo sent me the link to an interesting commentary by Michael Medved. The crux of the biscuit is his assertion that the public response of Christians to entertainment media which are antithetical or antagonistic toward Christian values is quiet these days, because it is a mature movement. That is to say that Christians have grown in their tactics so as to not descend into the traps supposedly set for them by their antagonists.
This new confidence on the part of conservative Christians highlights the vast gulf between this nation's religious conservatives and the vulnerability and hysteria of Islamist militants in the rest of the world. Widespread rhetorical and real-world violence in response to rude caricatures in an obscure Danish newspaper doesn't express religious strength or zeal but reflects, rather, an underlying sense of powerlessness and desperation.
But is it really confidence through maturity... or the ambivalence of resignation?

Did not! Did too! Did not! Did too!

Do you agree with Buckley or do you think he is unrealistic in his, um, realism?
It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.

Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.

He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.

Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.

Highlander in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies

My sister sent me a link to this very entertaining site, wherein (in)famous films are re-enacted in 30 seconds by cartoon rabbits. "It's a Wonderful Life" is my favorite.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Enlightening Quote of the Day

Sex is the mysticism of materialism. We are to die in the spirit to be reborn in the flesh, rather than the other way around.


--Malcolm Muggeridge

Aslan v. Hobbes

E.J. Park sets up a good contrast between the fictional characters "Aslan" and "Hobbes", even if the title of his piece (A Tale of Two Kitties) is insufferable (in that "I wish I thought of it first!" sort-of way). Park gets to the point:
Of course, this article is not really about Aslan at all. It is about the Lion behind the lion. For it is one thing to commercialize fictitious kitties; it is quite another to commercialize the way of God.
Indeed.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Disturbing Quote of the Day

"It's like a little boy dragging a dead cat around by the tail. After a while the thrill wears off."

--California-Based Republican Consultant Wayne Johnson


Via Reuters.

The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week--2/25/2006

The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week is

Engineering

In general, it can be stated that a scientist builds in order to learn, but an engineer learns in order to build.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A good reason for a trip to Amsterdam?

If my wife weren't pregnant, I'd strongly consider entering her in the Glamour Stiletto Run in the Netherlands. She's something of a natural in this sexiest of footwear.

And the 13 Grand top prize would certainly go a long way toward the home remodeling.

Maybe next year.

How about Svalbard?

I've been ruminating on "the ports deal" for a few days, withholding judgment until I had more facts. It turns out that facts were never quite necessary. Rather, as I'm learning, all I had to do is see what prominent Democrats are saying and then think the opposite.

OK, that oversimplifies it. Facts are necessary - very necessary - and that's my point: to today's Democrat, facts are unnecessary. Charles Krauthammer, fact-maven that he is, makes this clear:
Democrats loudly denounce any thought of racial profiling. But when that same Arab, attired in business suit and MBA, and with a good record running ports in 15 countries, buys P&O, Democrats howl at the very idea of allowing Arabs to run our ports. (Republicans are howling too, but they don't grandstand on the issue of racial profiling.)

On this, the Democrats are rank hypocrites. But even hypocrites can be right. There is a problem. And the problem is not just the obvious one that an Arab-run company, heavily staffed with Arab employees, is more likely to be infiltrated by terrorists who might want to smuggle an awful weapon into our ports. But that would probably require some cooperation from the operating company. And neither the company nor the government of the UAE, which has been pro-American and a reasonably good ally in the war on terror, has any such record.
The fact that some Republicans are up in arms as well indicates one of two things: either they are posturing, wanting to get on the politically expedient side of the issue, or they are sadly as reactionary (read: knee-jerk) as Democrats.

But I think nearly everyone, Krauthammer included, is missing the (even) bigger picture. The United States is hardly the sovereign nation we imagine it to be. It is interwoven into the fabric of the global economy to a degree most will never realize. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Chinese microelectronics either embedded in or in support of American weaponry and defense. China is our friend, right?

  • Building on the above, Wal-Mart is mostly a happy middle-American front on a Chinese back office. Think of the things you buy today, if not at Wal-Mart, still expecting Wal-Mart pricing. Could you survive financially if suddenly these items were all 30-100% more expensive, which is easily what they'd be if made without the benefit of cheap labor and preferential governmental treatment.
  • Every dollar in your pocket (presuming there are some) is backed by something. What is it? It is not gold, nor is it silver. It is debt. And lately, it is largely not even American debt. It is Asian, Middle Eastern, and European debt. So, whereas there was a day you could conceivably exhange your dollars for something fungible, now if you were to attempt to do so, all you'd get is a bill from a foreign entity - perhaps a payment plan, if you've good credit.

Because of this fact of global interconnectedness, the sort of insulation some of us desire - at least through our words - is long gone. Hello? The United Nations itself sits in one of our most sensitive locales, New York City. Want to get serious about security at home? Put the UN on an island in the middle of the ocean - Bermuda, perhaps.

No, too nice a locale. How about Svalbard? The Norwegians, good socialists that they are, would love to be home to the UN and it would be a great way to develop frigid Svalbard.

A very small (Molvanian) world

So yesterday I posted a comment on Protagonist's post re: the Hippo Noodles song, about a humorous "video" I found on the same site: "Elektronik Supersonik". As I watched the video tonight to completion, I heard the line "Long live Molvania", which led me to investigate. Sure enough, the "video" was taken from Molvania.com, the online promotional site for the great fake travel guide "Molvania"... one of my favorite books of 2004.

What a very small world.

A very small (Molvanian) world.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Walken 2008?

Is actor Christopher Walken really running for President of the United States in 2008? I have to admit, I thought the site I ran across today was farce. But each successive page proved more informational, culminating in a platform.

A read of the platform yields at least one typo and the ethos of a frustrated citizen who has not (yet) completely thought through his positions. Those positions appear predominantly reactionary and arrived at via emotions, such as with the statements concerning gun control and (presumably fetal) stem cell research.

That said, I do concur with at least three general themes of the platform: that confidence in leadership is at an all-time low, that special interests have far too much power over politics, and that the tax code is a mess.

Yet electing an actor to preside over such quagmires is only slightly more preferable than choosing a lawyer (no offense, Protagonist).

All in all, it would seem Walken is a centrist populist.

And... now that I've done a little research (which I could have done FIRST)...

It would seem it was a farce after all. That was Snopes' take. Here's WND's:
The big question, of course: Is "Walken for President" for real? According to one source, the entire campaign, including registration of multiple Web domain names, is an elaborate hoax being perpetrated by members of the General Mayhem forums, one of the largest message boards on the Internet.
Yet I'm surprised it hasn't been shut down. Either Walken is unaware or unconcerned.

Fun, then disturbing

At first, this is a little fun. And then, at the very moment you realize the subject is completely unresponsive (i.e. dead), well then, you click "close window" very quickly, turn off the PC, and take a walk.

Sometimes it's wise to listen to the voices...

... in your head.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hippo Noodles!

Life got you down? Then sing the Hippo Noodles Song!

Iowa is the new India

From the mind that brought you Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, and other feel-good productions of the 80s and 90s, David Lynch is available for a weekend together with you at the prestigious Maharishi University of Management in, of all places, Iowa.

What a coincidence it is that the university is in the hometown of 3-time Natural Law Party presidential candidate, John Hagelin. What a very small world!

Hagelin has since moved on to the U.S. Peace Government, which I think fits right in-line with the current Bush administration's agenda. Or not.

Oh look - there's Lynch's mug on the home page of the U.S. Peace thingy website - and it's the same shot as on the university website. I wonder if they know about all these coincidences.

... or that Iowa and India both start with the letter "I" and end with the letter "A".

OK, I'm finished.

---

UPDATE #1: Visit DavidLynch.com and click the link for "Daily Weather Report". What a hoot!

---

UPDATE #2: I notice that the website USPeasGovernment.org is available (as in, "Visualize Whirled Peas")

Glacial melting or advancement?

While the nattering naybobs are concerned with global warming and hence glacial melting, Lance Burri is concerned in a great screed re: the encroaching glacier that is government:
Maybe this is melodramatic, but I worry about the American habit of self-dependence. We’re slowly and surely depending more and more on all the little things our government does for us, or will do, would do, could do if we asked long and hard enough.

We're only negotiating the price

The facts of a report issued by Dresdner Bank are the unfortunate details of man's wicked heart:
That is perhaps the most damning aspect of the study: Even Dresdner top managers who had no love for the Nazis exploited the war unscrupulously (and often kept their jobs after the war). While it was true that the Nazis exerted massive pressure on German businesses to cooperate with the regime, they did not need to do so as zealously as Dresdner.
I had a friend in college who railed now and then against a certain German auto builder due to, as he said, their manufacture of some substantial part of the crematoriums used at concentration camps during World War II. Is there such a thing as a duty on the part of capitalist entities to not only come clean about such involvements, but to consider liquidating all assets and ceasing operations?

It's a question I imagine only gets posed (typically in the form of a virulent demand) on the political Left. I think the answer is in that word: capitalist.

Capitalism is neither good nor evil. It, like the Internet, is merely a force-multiplier. It is in the hearts of men that words like good and evil have bearing. Many (most?) men in their actions, under much less than duress, will naturally slide (free-fall?) toward what may empirically be called "evil", if the opportunity for great material gain exists. That's a grand charge, but is eminently supportable. Yet, I leave you to find that support elsewhere; there's plenty.

There's an old joke that goes something like:

Man: "Would you sleep with me for $100 million?"
Woman: "Certainly!"
Man: "Then would you sleep with me for $10 million?"
Woman: "I suppose."
Man: "Would you then sleep with me for $10?"
Woman: "Certainly not! What sort of lady do you think I am?"
Man: "We've already determined what sort of lady you are; we're only negotiating the price."

The truth is, all of us are, on some level, only negotiating price.

Speaking for myself, in my early 20s I once stated that my price was $3 million. I deduced this price by estimating a desire at the time for $150,000 annually, which $3 million invested at a mere 5% interest would provide, without consuming the principal. That would be the price at which I would risk jail or otherwise. If I could not have a reasonable chance of succeeding in achieving a $3 million score in one fell swoop, I would not compromise my values. I hardly realized that in making such a statement, I had already compromised those values.

My values today are very different. I may still have a price, but the rationale behind it is motivated by other factors; I might compromise certain principles in order to maintain others. I would not steal $10, let alone $10 million, for personal material gain, but I very well might in order to save the lives of the innocent, especially my wife or child. I would deal with my punishment.

This is still capitalism, but upon which sits my personal values. This is where capitalism has had its greatest moral successes, operating within the framework of a high degree of shared morality on the part of a society. It has also had its greatest moral failures where it has operated outside such a principled moral framework, such as in the case of Dresdner Bank in the lead-up to and during World War II.

What can Dresdner do to free itself of the stigma of its past? This may not be possible. But as long as free men, guided by their own values, continue to invest their assets with the company, the question will remain.

~-~


UPDATE (2006.02.23): Published also at Op-Eds.com: We're Only Negotiating The Price

I may never again have to get off my arse...

... now that this product has been created.

Just kidding, honey. I'll get back to finishing the kitchen just as soon as I click "Publish Post".

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Want to go hunting?

Anheuser-Busch to (finally) distribute beer!

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc (BUD) has announced that after over a century of manufacturing and distributing a beer-like liquid product called "Budweiser", it will finally begin marketing and distributing beer.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Tonight on TV: The Wheel of Fourtune

Canadian Blogger Damian Penny chimes in on Apprentice Overload. He blames NBC, but I think the problem is industry-wide.

Call me a grizzled old man in my mid-20s, but am I the only one who doesn't know when TV shows come on anymore? It seems like the networks, along with cable channels, scramble their lineup so bad that finding someone good to watch on TV any given night is like spinning a roulette table.

  • "My Name Is Earl", absolutely love the one show I saw, but haven't seen NBCs lineup ever since.

  • "The Apprentice", have only seen the tail-end of the same two shows they reaired about 14 times on CNBC one month.

  • "24", Absolutely loved the end of last season. The problem is that I saw "last season" only today on an A&E marathon ("3:00 am to 7:00am"). Otherwise, I'm never watching TV when they're showing it.

  • "Nip/Tuck", caught some episodes late in the season, but never saw the earlier episodes. The show completely disappears from the F/X lineup for months at a time, like football season.

  • "Monk", if this is such a excellent, groundbreaking show, then why does USA only air it at 2:00am on friday night!

  • Since when has every other show on cable TV become a Law and Order rerun? I'm a lawyer, and even I can't stand this show. Is there some rule in the New York State Bar that, when you start to practice criminal law, you're never allowed to see a bright pretty color ever again in your life?

    When I was a kid, and there was a sit-com I was interested in, I always knew what time and channel it was on. Maybe I watch less TV now that I'm older, or because the internet has taken over my media habits. For all people involved, it would seem that planning to watch one show at one time on one channel is a thing of the past.

  • Sunday, February 19, 2006

    The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week--2/19/2006

    The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week is

    Hormesis

    Hormesis . . . is the term for generally-favorable biological responses to low exposures to toxins and other stressors.


    A good argument against the Anti-Smoking Nazis, both now and then, both literal and figurative.

    Friday, February 17, 2006

    Fun Facts about Texas Politics

  • The Governor of Texas is Rick Perry.

  • Rick Perry was Lieutenant Governor of Texas before George W. Bush resigned as Governor of Texas to serve as President of the United States. Perry thereupon assumed the office of Governor.

  • Governor Perry is running for reelection. His main opponent is Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. Strayhorn is not a Democrat, but an avowed lifelong Republican running as an Independent. (The main bone of contention between the two appears to be education spending.)

  • Strayhorn's has also gone by the names "Carole Keeton Rylander" and "Carole Keeton McClellan".

  • "Carole Keeton McClellan" is the mother of Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary for President Bush.

  • President Bush, through the statements of Press Secretary McClellan, has declared neutrality in the upcoming Texas Governor's election.

  • In all fairness, the Texas Lieutenant Governor is elected independently from the governor, so Perry wasn't exactly "Bush's Lieutenant Governor". Still, Scott McClellan has appears to have a big conflict of interest. He may have to resign soon as press secretary. Now that the Cheney hunting accident kerfluffle appears to be dying down, expect soon for the White House Press Corps to be goading Bush and McClellan about this. Oh, and one more thing:

  • Did I mention that Kinky Friedman is polling at 9% against Perry and Strayhorn?

  • My goat-boy can beat your platapus-man!

    Here's a helpful site: raising the public awareness of the scourge that is the human-animal hybrid.

    Slow on the draw, part 2

    Dustin Hawkins posts a piece at Townhall.com, the premise of which I wrote about a few days ago.

    This is the 2nd time this has happened in recent weeks.

    Where is my check?

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Philosophy belongs down the hall

    The good father has some very good points:
    ... I actually agree with him that ID should not be taught as modern science.

    Before you throw the Good Book at me, let’s agree on what we mean by modern science and what we mean by intelligent design. Unlike thinkers of ages past, who intertwined gracefully some elements of philosophy with the natural sciences, today we prefer — for reasons of method — to separate one from the other. In these categories, the competence of modern science accepts only what we can observe and measure (empirical evidence). Questions like, “What’s the essence of it?” and “What’s it for?” are sent down the hall to the philosophy department. And that’s fair.

    Intelligent design theory asks just that type of “down the hall” question. Its proponents claim that a good scientist can’t look at the complexity of the human eye without asking himself, “How did that happen?,” and responding with the answer, “I don’t know, but I do know that it didn’t just happen; there must be intelligence behind that design.” The affirmation is quite logical, but the evidence would be philosophical, not empirical, and for that reason it belongs down the hall.
    And also...
    You would think this reasonable principle would be valid for everyone. Not so. Judge Jones wrote that ID was “a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory.” An alternative to what? Ask your children or grandchildren what they are taught in their public school about the origin of human beings. They may say “evolution,” but it’s more than that. They are being taught a very unscientific theory called Neo-Darwinism, the belief that there is NO purpose or intelligence behind life forms, that it’s all random. Where’s the empirical evidence for that? As a matter of fact, it’s impossible to prove, either scientifically or otherwise. It too should go down the hall.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Richmond highest in Fortune 500 companies per capita

    And to the six Fortune 500 companies headquartered here, we add a seventh:
    The company, now based in Stamford, Conn., will join six other Fortune 500 companies based here. It is 267th on the list of the nation's largest corporations, ranked by annual revenue.
    This is at least one reason why the greater Richmond metropolitan area is listed as 6th in Fortune's ranking of regions expecting continued real estate growth in the next several years.

    100% - 16% - 79% = 5%

    On the heels of Protagonist's entry the other day regarding 16% of Americans, I am reminded of this story concerning another 79% of Americans. That leaves a mere 5% of Americans who are undoubtedly Reasonable Nuts.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Don't fall for the "support the troops, but not the war" lie

    Ask Paul Hackett if Democrats, against the war, "support the troops".
    Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran and popular Democratic candidate in Ohio's closely watched Senate contest, said yesterday that he was dropping out of the race and leaving politics altogether as a result of pressure from party leaders.

    Mr. Hackett said Senators Charles E. Schumer of New York and Harry Reid of Nevada, the same party leaders who he said persuaded him last August to enter the Senate race, had pushed him to step aside so that Representative Sherrod Brown, a longtime member of Congress, could take on Senator Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent.
    and...
    "This is an extremely disappointing decision that I feel has been forced on me," said Mr. Hackett, whose announcement comes two days before the state's filing deadline for candidates. He said he was outraged to learn that party leaders were calling his donors and asking them to stop giving and said he would not enter the Second District Congressional race.

    "For me, this is a second betrayal," Mr. Hackett said. "First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me."

    Mr. Hackett was the first Iraq war veteran to seek national office, and the decision to steer him away from the Senate race has surprised those who see him as a symbol for Democrats who oppose the war but want to appear strong on national security.

    Science-Fact

    Minority Report was not a great movie. However, it was excellent in at least one respect: many of the technologies presented as mainstream were in fact quite possible and practical. Stickster has posted about one, sort-of an interactive touch screen on acid, crack, and methamphetamines. Not that I'd know anything about that.

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    No comment necessary

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    Study: 16% of Americans Are Paranoid Dumbasses

    According to a recent Rasmussen poll, one-out-of-six Americans believe that the Federal Goverment has wiretapped their phones.

    Look Mabel, I know that rumor you heard about Tina in the church choir sleeping around on her husband with the mailman might be juicy gossip, but I doubt it's going to raise a red flag at the Homeland Security Department.

    These poll result are even more asinine when you consider that most people predominately use cell phones, and that literal "wiretapping" is quickly becoming obsolete.

    The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week--2/12/2006

    The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week is

    Bicameral Mind Theory

    Jaynes asserts that until the times written about in Homer's Iliad, humans did not have the "interior monologue" that is characteristic of consciousness as most people experience it today. Jaynes believes that the bicameral mental commands were at some point believed to be issued by "gods"—so often recorded in ancient myths, legends and historical accounts—were in fact emanating from individuals' own mind.


    Intriguing, but largely erroneous. Especially erroneous were Jaynes' theories of the Old Testament: He claims that Khabiru a Sanskrit term for wandering nomads, were the origins of the Hebrew people. Wrong. The Hebrew word for Hebrew is "Ebri", which clearly has nothing in common with the Sanskrit word.

    Nevertheless, Jaynes raised some interesting ideas. Having read The Iliad in the original Greek, I'm willing to accept the theory that it is the product of mental illness. Syntax in the epic is not disorganized; it's non-existent. It's quite possible that what we'd call insanity was much more common in pre-historic/ancient times than now.

    On second thought, considering that most of our ranking politicans are popularity-obsessed megalomanics, that there've been declarations of global jihad because of cartoons published 3000 miles away, and that there's no stop to anti-empirical proclamations that giving money to poor people will solve poverty, what we'd call insanity may just be "business as usual" for the human race in any age.

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    I don't see Molvania on this list

    Here's a collection of places you might wish to skip on your next vacation: Forbes' list of the most corrupt countries.

    Phew! I just looked over the list and I am happy to report our planned holiday in Molvania is still a go!

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Phelps: a modern Hitler?

    Mark D. Tooley has a brief but meaty piece on one of the most perverted souls on the planet, "Pastor" Fred Phelps. "Pastor" in this case is a misnomer - a misappropriation on the part of Phelps of a word meant to indicate the responsibility one undertakes in the spiritual shepherding of a group of souls. If anything, he's a false teacher, albeit a wolf in wolf's clothing in this case.
    Media have commonly described Phelps as a "Baptist pastor" and "anti-gay activist," with the implication that he was simply a more aggressive component of the Religious Right. Nation magazine included Phelps in a profile about the "The Radical Right After 9/11."

    Phelps celebrated the 9/11 attacks and the more recent al-Qaeda strikes in London as the just recompense of Western decadence. He supported Saddam Hussein and has been appreciative to Fidel Castro. Phelps is probably more appropriately described in psychiatric than political terms. But his political roots are in the Democratic Party, having run for office in Kansas five times, and actively supported Al Gore in 1988 and 1992 before turning against him.
    What strikes me about piece is the similarity of error on the part of the public conscience to associate Phelps with the Right Wing as it did with Hitler, who is popularly thought of as a Right Wing Fascist. In reality, he was a Left Wing Authoritarian.

    Few seem to know that Hitler was an animal rights enthusiast, an interest typically well within the domain of the left. I do not mean "animal lover", of which there are conservatives also; rather, I mean that sort of person who values the lives of animals over those of humans, either in his words or actions. Recall that Nazi is short for "National Socialist". People remember the "National" (fascist) part, yet not the "Socialist" (Left Wing). Some disagree with the position that Hitler was a Leftist. It's a good debate. Where do you fall?

    Regardless, Phelps is a nut - and a very unreasonable one at that.

    Interesting idea. Great proof of concept. Completely useless.

    This post is off-topic (matters of public discourse, that would be), but I could not help sharing this most salient synopsis of this contraption:
    Interesting idea. Great proof of concept. Completely useless.

    Some Europeans get it

    Some Europeans, in this case a prominent Swede, understand some of the serious threats we (as a planet) face:
    John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is one of two Americans who have been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

    Last year, Democrats and a few Republicans refused to confirm Bolton to the U.N. post, forcing President Bush to resort to a recess appointment.

    Bolton and Kenneth R. Timmerman were formally nominated by Sweden's former deputy prime minister Per Ahlmark, for playing a major role in exposing Iran's secret plans to develop nuclear weapons.
    Is the U.S. arrogant in its preemptime posturing? I don't think arrogant is the right word. Arrogance is a hollow self-assuredness, hollow because it is compromised by any meaningful level of perceived responsibility. If the U.S. were bouncing around the globe, razing regimes with no moral conviction of responsibility to not only its own citizens, but those of the nation harboring the regime - or the rest of the world - then I would call it arrogance.

    Sensitivity is wonderful. As a people, we should be concerned with the perception of our own people and that of others. But we cannot allow perception to dictate our actions when serious threats face us. What is possibly most frustrating to those of us in the U.S. and elsewhere - those of us who SEE credible threats clearly emerging - what is most mind-numbingly frustrating is the reluctance of our news media to give us the benefit of the doubt (we're all Americans, right?) and go after the truth in a fearless manner - no matter where it might lead.

    Most people today - no matter where - have a worldview that includes an outcome - and they will fight to the death, it would seem, to maintain that outcome, regardless of silly concerns such as truth.

    Solzhenitsyn returns, on Russian TV

    Solzhenitsyn returns, on Russian TV
    By Steven Lee Myers The New York Times

    THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2006

    MOSCOW A grandfatherly figure, his bearded face wrinkled into a smile, peers down from billboards around town. It is surprise enough that the man is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the once-exiled writer, Nobel Prize winner and, of late, octogenarian scold. It is even more so that the billboards advertise his adaptation being broadcast - on state television, no less - of one of his fiercely anti-Soviet novels, "The First Circle."
    My wife bought me The Gulag Archipelago for Christmas, which I both admit to really desiring to read and having not done so (yet). Solzhenitsyn is a hero of mine, nonetheless. I've read excerpts of the book and several of his essays. His soul runs very -- very -- deep, on the level of a Pascal or a Dostoyevsky (perhaps more appropriately). He's one of those sorts I do not personally know, yet feel indebted to. These are one in about, what would you say?, several million?

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    "To Boldly Campaign Where No One Has Campaigned Before"

    See anything wrong with this article:

    Boxer urges Sheehan to not challenge Feinstein

    The answer is here.

    You can make the argument that the rule is obsolete, but the headline is still very awkward to read, especially with the lack of capitalization. It sticks out like a sore thumb to any discerning reader.

    Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds

    I just can't believe it. The federal gov't spent $415 million wisely and actually came to conclusions that are spot-on accurate and what has driven many of us (myself included) to avoid the low-fat way-of-eating like the plague.
    Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds
    By GINA KOLATA

    The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect.

    The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today.

    "These studies are revolutionary," said Dr. Jules Hirsch, physician in chief emeritus at Rockefeller University in New York City, who has spent a lifetime studying the effects of diets on weight and health. "They should put a stop to this era of thinking that we have all the information we need to change the whole national diet and make everybody healthy."

    The study, published in today's issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, was not just an ordinary study, said Dr. Michael Thun, who directs epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society. It was so large and so expensive, Dr. Thun said, that it was "the Rolls-Royce of studies." As such, he added, it is likely to be the final word.

    Don't be afraid of extremes

    Erik Lokkesmoe has some good points -- 10 of them to be exact -- regarding the approach conservatives take to art. Here is Mistake #10:
    We like safe art. Soggy may be a better term. Easy to digest. Nothing that causes heartburn. Do we really want art that never challenges our convictions, wrestles with our beliefs, or questions our faith? Let’s not forget: beauty is hardly safe, truth is never tame, goodness is anything but trite. Author Franky Schaeffer said it best : “The arts ask hard questions. Art incinerates polyester/velvet dreams of inner healing and cheap grace. Art hurts, slaps, and defines. Art is interested in truth: in bad words spoken by bad people, in good words spoken by good people, in sin and goodness, in life, sex, birth, color, texture, death, love, hate, nature, man, religion, music, God, fire, water, and air. Art tears down, builds up, and redefines. Art is uncomfortable” Finally, and most profoundly, he writes: “Good art (which, among other things, means truth-telling art) is good in itself, even when it is about bad things.”
    So, is he an ankle-biting critic of critics or a wise seer of things largely unseen?

    In the late 90s, when I waded (dove) into the Christian subculture, I was quite frankly shocked at the disparity between what was AOK (Art, Ostensibly Known) by the larger culture and the "art" which bore the CRAP (Christian Republican Art Product) seal of approval. I found it hard to reconcile the 2 via my aesthetic sensibilities. What I found worse, however, were the attitudes of some I met within that subculture. Often, they tolerated lower-quality music, films, and other artforms simply because of that CRAP stamp on the packaging. Some would even acknowledge the inferior quality of the art, but aver a commitment to the CRAP. In their view, if a Christian is to listen to XTC, then the members of XTC should not only convert to Christianity, but start singing about Christ in glowing terms (unlikely).

    In some regards, as new media have appeared and the cost of production has dropped, better quality art from conservatives and Christians has appeared. But this has uniquely been a consequence of the grassroots (bottom-up) modality Lokkesmoe mentions in his piece. Big budgets have not been associated with quality art - but I do not think this is unique to conservative or Christian ventures (read: Titanic).

    The recent film, "The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe" had a much publicized undercurrent of Christian themes and was generally a pleasure to experience. It was indeed art. But it left me wanting more -- not more of the same -- but more from the film (art) itself. Having read the book, I felt the supernatural powers of the Witch needed more of a *POP*. The lure of the Turkish Delight was not well linked to the bent lure of sin, as Lewis made it in the book. There needed to be a hunger in Edmund's eyes that there was not. The film was a little too afraid of extremes to be great art, which is a shame, as Lewis' book is great art. But then Lewis at his best was unafraid of extremes.

    My prescription for better art in conservative circles: don't be afraid of extremes, recognizing them both in art and -- yourself.

    Or, as Pascal put it in his Pensees:
    Greatness and wretchedness.--Wretchedness being deduced from greatness, and greatness from wretchedness, some have inferred man's wretchedness all the more because they have taken his greatness as a proof of it, and others have inferred his greatness with all the more force, because they have inferred it from his very wretchedness. All that the one party has been able to say in proof of his greatness has only served as an argument of his wretchedness to the others, because the greater our fall, the more wretched we are, and vice versa. The one party is brought back to the other in an endless circle, it being certain that, in proportion as men possess light, they discover both the greatness and the wretchedness of man. In a word, man knows that he is wretched. He is therefore wretched, because be is so; but he is really great because he knows it.

    This twofold nature of man is so evident that some have thought that we had two souls. A single subject seemed to them incapable of such sudden variations from unmeasured presumption to a dreadful dejection of heart.

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    The Big Question

    Thomas Sowell asks the question of the day, week, month, year, and decade:
    Looking back at the history of tragic times often reveals that many -- or most -- of the people of those times were often preoccupied with things that look trivial, or even pathetic, in view of the catastrophe looming over them. Will later generations looking back at our times see a similar blindness, and even frivolousness, in the face of mortal dangers?

    The State of Conservatism

    Michael Barone, eternally optimistic, reminds us why conservatism is steadily marching forward.

    Let's just hope the fiscal conservatives make inroads as well.

    What we believe

    Creed
    by Steve Turner


    We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin.
    We believe everything is OK
    as long as you don't hurt anyone,
    to the best of your definition of hurt,
    and to the best of your knowledge.

    We believe in sex before during
    and after marriage.
    We believe in the therapy of sin.
    We believe that adultery is fun.
    We believe that sodomy's OK
    We believe that taboos are taboo.

    We believe that everything's getting better
    despite evidence to the contrary.
    The evidence must be investigated.
    You can prove anything with evidence.

    We believe there's something in horoscopes,
    UFO's and bent spoons;
    Jesus was a good man just like Buddha
    Mohammed and ourselves.
    He was a good moral teacher although we think
    his good morals were bad.

    We believe that all religions are basically the same,
    at least the one that we read was.
    They all believe in love and goodness.
    They only differ on matters of
    creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.

    We believe that after death comes The Nothing
    because when you ask the dead what happens
    they say Nothing.
    If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
    then it's compulsory heaven for all
    excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin and Genghis Khan.

    We believe in Masters and Johnson.
    What's selected is average.
    What's average is normal.
    What's normal is good.

    We believe in total disarmament.
    We believe there are direct links between
    warfare and bloodshed.
    Americans should beat their guns into tractors
    and the Russians would be sure to follow.

    We believe that man is essentially good.
    It's only his behaviour that lets him down.
    This is the fault of society.
    Society is the fault of conditions.
    Conditions are the fault of society.

    We believe that each man must find the truth
    that is right for him.
    Reality will adapt accordingly.
    The universe will readjust. History will alter.
    We believe that there is no absolute truth
    excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

    We believe in the rejection of creeds.

    If chance be
    the Father of all flesh,
    disaster is his rainbow in the sky
    and when you hear

    State of Emergency!
    Sniper Kills Ten!
    Troops on Rampage!
    Whites go Looting!
    Bomb Blasts School!

    It is but the sound of man
    worshipping his maker.
    Steve Turner, (English journalist), "Creed," his satirical poem on the modern mind. Taken from Ravi Zacharias’ book Can Man live Without God? Pages 42-44

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Enjoying a woman

    My lovely wife completely understands this. And I, as her fortunate husband, do not have to wait 17 years to discover this about her.

    There's nothing more pleasant for a man than the company of a woman who enjoys being a woman.

    Cartoons v. Piss X, Part Deux

    Rocco DiPoppo has a story at FrontPageMag.com echoing the exact same contrast I made the other day: The Cartoons of Muhammad v. "Piss Christ", namely the reactions that ensued. Said DiPoppo:
    Though some criticisms of Piss Christ, and the man who created it, were intemperate, Serrano's art was never forced underground, nor was his life seriously threatened, nor was he forced into hiding a la Salman Rushdie or placed in protective custody. Violence-prone packs of Christians did not roam the streets of Paris, or London, or Frankfurt, or Madrid, or New York calling for the head of Piss Christ's creator.
    You're a Reasonable Nut, Rocco!

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    Democrats Peeved at Kerry's Filibuster Move

    I think this commentary by Newsmax pretty much explains a lot, without much of my own commentary:

    Democrats Peeved at Kerry's Filibuster Move
    Sen. John Kerry's call for a filibuster of Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination left plenty of Democrats steaming - and Republicans smiling.

    Before the Senate vote on the nomination, Democrats had agreed that they didn't have enough votes to sustain a filibuster, and they knew that Americans supported Alito by a margin of 2-1.
    But then Kerry "got his marching orders from the New York Times and the left-wing blog Daily Kos" and called for a filibuster, New York Post's Washington Bureau Chief Deborah Orin writes.
    The vote against the filibuster was 72-25, with just 25 Democrats joining Kerry.

    "Worst yet, plenty of Democrats who did vote for the filibuster ... left little doubt that they were livid at Kerry's stunt, since it turned into a dream come true for Bush political guru [Karl] Rove," Orin reports. The Democratic fiasco is the latest example of how Kerry, Al Gore and the "left wing of the blogosphere are all yanking the Democratic Party hard to the left, instead of the center (where most of the votes are)," Orin writes.

    Kerry's move was thought to have particularly vexed Sen. Hillary Clinton. She voted for the filibuster to appease the liberal activists who decide Democratic primaries. But that vote further enables the GOP to characterize the likely 2008 presidential candidate as out of the mainstream. Clinton didn't speak in favor of the filibuster.

    Republicans were also pleased that liberal blogsters were vowing to seek revenge against the "traitors" in the Democratic Party who opposed the filibuster, according to Orin. "The liberals in the party are marching like lemmings into the sea gain," complained a longtime Democratic activist. "Sometimes I think the left wing is turning into a cult. It just doesn't allow for disagreement. If you disagree, you're a traitor."

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week--2/5/2006

    The Wikipedia Watchword of the Week is

    Shigeru Miyamoto

    He is creator of the Donkey Kong, Mario, Legend of Zelda, and Pikmin video game series for Nintendo. He is one of the world's most celebrated game designers and is often called one of the fathers of the modern video game.


    This humble little man, whom barely anyone has ever heard off, has probably made more children happy than anyone else in the world today.

    Breaking: Death of Parody at Hands of Hamas Militants

    Quick Quiz:

    The below headline is from:

    (A) A February 2006 article in the Washington Post.

    or

    (B) A March 1997 article in The Onion.

    HEBRON, WEST BANK—In an emotionally charged press conference Monday, crazed Palestinian gunman Faisal al Hamad expressed frustration over the stereotyping of his people.

    Faisal al Hamad, seen here shrieking anti-U.S. slogans, says that "not every crazed Palestinian gunman is exactly alike."

    "As a crazed Palestinian gunman, I feel hurt by the negative portrayal of my people in the media," said al Hamad, 31, a Hebron-area terrorist maniac. "None of us should have to live with stereotyping and ignorance."


    Answer here.

    Hat Tip to Instapundit.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Unka Nutty's Comparative Worldviews Lesson o' the Day

    Hey kids! Unka Nutty here, to give you a short lesson in comparative worldviews! Ready? Great! Let's go!

    Case #1:
    GAZA CITY — Armed militants angered by a cartoon drawing of the Prophet Muhammad published in European newspapers surrounded EU offices in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kidnap foreigners as outrage over the caricatures spread across the Islamic world.

    More than 300 students demonstrated in Pakistan, chanting "Death to France!" and "Death to Denmark!" — two of the countries where newspapers published the drawings. Other protests were held in Syria and Lebanon.


    Case #2:
    Piss Christ is a controversial photograph by the artist Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine. Some have suggested that the glass may also contain the artist's blood.

    The piece caused a scandal when it was exhibited in 1987, with detractors accusing Serrano of blasphemy and others raising this as a major issue of artistic freedom. On the floor of the United States Senate, Senators Al D'Amato and Jesse Helms expressed outrage that Serrano's work was underwritten by the taxpayer-financed National Endowment for the Arts.

    Serrano produced other similar works to much less controversy; Madonna and Child II (1989), for example, in which the subject is similarly submerged in urine, is not nearly so well known as "Piss Christ".
    So kids, in case #1, cartoons of an esteemed religious figure are printed in various newspapers and those offended physically threaten to kidnap people who are merely of the same nationality - continent even - as the publishers. In case #2, a plastic likeness of another esteemed religious figure is submerged in the "artist's" urine and photographed. He does so at least in part with government assistance. Those he offends threaten... wait for it... here it comes...

    debate.

    That said, kids, none of the Reasonable Nuts think it in the best interests of anyone to seek to offend another based on any reason, let alone a difference in religion. After all, it just isn't...

    Christian.

    Boehner's the one - or is he?

    Ohio congressman John Boehner (not to be confused with Boner Stabone from the TV show Growing Pains, left) was elected house majority leader, replacing Tom DeLay (actually, replacing Roy Blunt, who was standing in for DeLay). I wrote earlier about AZ congressman John Shadegg and how I deemed him the wisest choice. Some of congress (40) agreed (or I should perhaps say I agreed with 40 members of congress). I'll be looking for a breakdown of who voted for whom and will pass that along. My guess is that the 40 will include my favorites, who tend to be more toward the maverick side of the Republican Party. These are the sort who speak their mind and are not likely to go against strongly held principles for the very reason they HAVE strongly held principles.

    Said another way, they are (likely) less your typical politician and more a citizen legislator. Of course, I won't know until I see the breakdown.

    In the meantime, here is a reasonably good interview with Boehner, in which the congressman sounds like the heir apparent to Newt Gingrich's strategies. In fact, he along with Gingrich, was responsible in large part for the 1994 "Republican revolution". This may be a good thing or a bad thing. Gingrich is so very tainted with personal issues as to be little more than an ankle-biting pundit these days. And I wonder if Boehner still has remnants of the fire of the mid 90s... which is why Shadegg looked like the fresh alternative.

    "... get back to your roots."

    From the Left Coast Report:
    Kanye West is under fire because of February's Rolling Stone cover.

    Wearing a crown of thorns with blood running down his face, the rapper posed as Jesus Christ for the cover shot.

    Inside the publication, Ray West, a sociology professor and former Black Panther, takes his son to task.

    Evidently Kanye's father disapproves of the degrading lyrics in his son's songs.

    "I've stated to him very clearly that he needs to move beyond the negative language and the 'n****r' statements," Papa West explained to Rolling Stone.

    Sounding similar to Bill Cosby, Kanye's father continued, "It's alright to say 'b***h' and 'm***er f***er' on the corner, but when you start operating on a different level you can't talk like that. Fine, you're trying to get some street acceptance. Now that you got that, get back to your roots."

    Sounding a familiar parental refrain, he finished up with the statement, "You know that's not where you came from. You know that's not how you were raised."
    The Reasonable Nuts wonder what it might be like for a well-adored subset of the popularati to independently, yet simultaneously, break ranks with the morally amorphous and aver some natural or supernatural truths - that is, what might be if some of the publicly amorphous gelled into something of substance.

    Said another way, what if it were cool to be conservative?

    Mmm... The Reasonable Nuts have been uncool for so long - and have known the GAAC (Generally Accepted As Cool) to be such nincompoops - that a sudden reversal of fortune might drive us off the deep end and reflexively into liberalism. Gasp.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    "Then you are an idiot."

    Cindy Sheehan wasn't the only one arrested for protesting at the State of the Union address last night:
    Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Florida — chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee — was removed from the gallery because she was wearing a T-shirt that read, "Support the Troops — Defending Our Freedom."

    She was sitting about six rows from first lady Laura Bush and asked to leave. She argued with police in the hallway outside the House chamber.

    "They said I was protesting," she told the St. Petersburg Times. "I said, "Read my shirt, it is not a protest.' They said, 'We consider that a protest.' I said, 'Then you are an idiot."'

    Review: 1990 Pontiac 6000LE

    Here's the most interesting car review you'll ever read.

    To one activist gay, add one conservative Christian caricature; hilarity ensues!

    NEW YORK — Britney Spears will guest star on an episode of "Will & Grace," NBC announced Tuesday.

    The pop star will appear as a Christian conservative sidekick to Sean Hayes' character, Jack, who hosts his own talk show, on the April 13 episode, the network said.

    Jack's fictional network, Out TV, is bought by a Christian TV network, leading to Spears contributing a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's."