Saturday, March 10, 2007

300: the video game

Just a fun flick for what it was...a glorified video game. It was, though, the first movie I've watched in digital. Not sure my 47 year old eyes could really tell a difference.

Sin City is the only other movie I've seen using these techniques and 300 is certainly better than that. These techniques are very interesting but they have not yet been mastered.

If one is looking for Herodotus or Gates of Fire, he will be disappointed. Still, I did have tears in my eyes at the end.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Re: Walter Reed

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D on the scandal and its bigger meaning in today's JWR:

"In this sense, the Walter Reed situation is symbolic of a much deeper dilemma. Governance no longer even tries to solve problems. It has become, instead, a self-referent, self-sustaining monster that consumes more and more of the nation's wealth and future while giving back less and less. And the American people put up with it and refuse to consider alternatives. "

Pleading guilty when guilty

Fox asked Garrison whether he wanted to plead not guilty.
"No, your honor," said Garrison, 26, who appeared in court dressed in a brown pinstriped suit, dark purple tie and lavender shirt.
Defense attorney Harland Braun broke in: "Mr. Garrison feels a deep sense of responsibility. ... The real issue is the level of culpability."
Braun said Garrison "doesn't feel comfortable" with a not guilty plea.
"He is going to be accepting responsibility for his conduct; the only question is the level of responsibility," the lawyer repeated.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Coulter 3

Ok, she can be a little funny:

The Republican former House Whip Tom DeLay is currently under indictment for a minor campaign finance violation. Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle had to empanel six grand juries before he could find one to indict DeLay on these pathetic charges -- and this is in Austin, Texas (the Upper West Side with better-looking people).

The New F-word and Old N-word

Bruce Thornton on the word police and hyper-sensitivity:

The other glaring problem with this obsession with hurt feelings is that it is politically selected, just like those phony claims of “diversity,” which usually means creating a multicolored herd of the politically like-minded. Just about every university in this country insults the beliefs of Christians, Republicans, athletes, white males, and conservatives on a daily basis. Anti-Semitism, thinly camouflaged as “anti-Zionism,” is indulged constantly. The culture of white Southerners is mocked and demonized with glee. No one pays attention to complaints about this insensitivity. Nor should he (apologies to any women offended by my sexist use of the masculine pronoun). Part of being an adult is learning to deal with a world in which you, your beliefs, and your feelings are no more important than anybody else’s. What’s objectionable is the double standard and the censorship, particularly glaring in a university, supposedly the bastion of free speech and free thought, no matter whose ideological or political ox is gored (apologies to any oxen who are offended by this metaphor).

Most importantly, however, this obsession with individual feelings is incompatible with democratic freedom. A political system that allows large numbers of citizens to participate in public debate is necessarily raucous, insulting, and often vulgar. Just look at ancient Athens, where the level of political invective and insult makes our political campaigns sound like a Jane Austen novel. That’s why elitist snobs like Plato disliked democracy. When you give average people free speech, the debate is going to be rough and tough. If you want to participate, you have to be able to take it. The only alternative is some sort of control by an elite that always ends up stifling the expression of ideas and serving a narrow political interest — exactly what we see today in our universities and media. I learned this lesson the few years I was condemned to my university’s Academic Senate. As soon as the debate on an issue started getting close to the truth, someone would jump up and start squealing about “civility,” and nothing useful happened.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


When does LJ get the flu?

Paul Johnson today at JWR

I just love the perspective of historians. One should really read the whole thing but here are the first three paragraphs:

America is the reluctant sheriff of a wild world that sometimes seems mired in wrongdoing. The UN has nothing to offer in the way of enforcing laws and dispensing justice, other than spouting pious oratory and initiating feeble missions that usually do more harm than good. NATO plays a limited role, as in Afghanistan, but tends to reflect the timidity (and cowardice) of Continental Europe. Britain and a few other nations such as Australia are willing to follow America's lead but are too weak to act on their own.

That leaves the U.S. to shoulder the responsibility. Otherwise — what? Is brute force to replace the rule of law in the world because there's no one to enforce it? I wish some of those who constantly criticize America's efforts and the judgment of President Bush would ask themselves this simple question: Would you really like to live in a world where the U.S. sits idly by and lets things happen?

Life in such a world would be like the bestial existence described in Thomas Hobbes' great work, Leviathan. If people "live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man." In that lawless state there will be "continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

Re: Coulter Part Deux

LJ wrote, "It doesn’t matter whether he or Ms. Coulter don’t think it is – if someone is offended, its offensive."

Not sure you really mean that. If someone is offended, it's offensive to that person. But that person may be unreasonable.

Re: Coulter

In my schoolyard we used to plead, "Why are you upset about being called a 'bundle of sticks?'"

Ann Coulter - Part II

So I was driving to work Monday morning and instead of listening to a sports talk station as I normally do, I’m listening to Mike Gallagher. He is doing a 15-20 minute diatribe about not only Ms. Coulters’ statement, but the reaction and response by “fellow conservatives”. First, he is blasting away at Laura Ingram, Hugh Hewitt, Bill Bennett and some other woman whose name I don’t know. Saying that they “have turned on her” and “unlike Ann Coulter, who isn’t afraid to attack liberals, they seem to wagging their fingers at her and telling her bad girl, bad girl.” He applauds Ms. Coulter for her statements and in fact, doesn’t seem to think there was anything wrong about what she said. Again, echoing the sentiment that the term used wasn’t meant as an anti-gay slander, but as a “schoolyard” insult. That it was a joke – a joke that everyone in the room understood because they laughed. He went on and on about how it wasn’t offensive, that it wasn’t derogatory anyway since Edwards isn’t gay.

What I found amusing during this rant was that he kept saying that “the word”, “the term”, the “slang word” she used wasn’t offensive. Yet…he would never say it. Why not, if it isn’t offensive? If he agreed that it was meant in a “schoolyard taunt” manner, why didn’t he say the word? If the word isn’t offensive, if it was “a joke” or “part of a joke”, why not repeat the joke? Probably because he knows she crossed the line and the term IS offensive. It doesn’t matter whether he or Ms. Coulter don’t think it is – if someone is offended, its offensive.

Of course, he concludes by saying that even if it WERE offensive, “liberals” having been calling “conservatives” and “republicans” worse. Why is OK for them to say offensive things, but not “conservatives”? Great argument. Instead of trying to get both sides to get out of the gutter, to stop the hate-speak and attack-dog journalism, so we can get some intelligent debate and discussion on issues and policy, he takes the position of a child caught in the act of doing something wrong who says…”well, THEY did it first”.

Just another reminder why I gave up on talk radio. Why I thought anything had changed is beyond me. I’m going to stick to sports scores and sports talk…until I get sick of hearing about how the Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl.

Re: pleading ''not guilty" when guilty

The Jewish Ethicist on "Can I plead innocent if I did it?" Conclusion: Yes, unless it's big:

"If there is a high-profile case where a "not guilty" plea would create an impression of contempt for the law, then there would be special value in coming clean in court and accepting the prescribed punishment. Not long ago a prominent member of one North American Jewish community pleaded guilty to wrongdoing partly for this reason. And psychologically, the acknowledgment implicit in a guilty plea can sometimes be a helpful step in repentance and reconciliation with the community. But these considerations are hardly relevant for a relatively anonymous individual who has been charged with a minor crime."

ht: SJJ

Re: Bart Whitaker took the stand

I distinguish between making one's plea and testifying. The former being the system and the latter being the very definition of bearing false witness.

Lileks on Walter Reed

"As many have pointed out, there's a shining example of a government-run hospital already: Walter Reed. Imagine that example replicated across the land. Then again, imagine if the government was the defendant in every single medical malpractice case in the land.

If nothing else, we'd get tort reform."

Re: Walter Reed

Similar thoughts at Jawa.

Bart Whitaker took the stand

yesterday in the punishment phase of his trial, having been found guilty of capital murder. He admitted he was the mastermind of the plot to kill his family. I'm not a criminal lawyer, but it seems to be an odd strategy. On the other hand, if the options are life in prison or the death penalty, what does he have to lose by testifying?

But had he pled guilty, wouldn't that have precluded the prosecutor from putting on a parade of witnesses to testify about this plot and other plots in the past? Maybe not. Did Whitaker think he might be found not guilty? "Felcman asked Whitaker why he did not plead guilty to begin with and what would have happened if the jury found him not guilty. 'I didn't think that was possible,' Whitaker said."

Whitaker claims "he is a different person now and has found God."

Does a Christian who knows he is guilty as charged have an obligation to so plead? Is a "not guilty" plea a lie, or just invoking one's rights in a system that requires the prosecution to put on and prove its case?

And what about that last speeding ticket I got where I pled not guilty, hoping the cop wouldn't show at trial (he didn't), and forcing the judge to dismiss the case?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ann Coulter - Part I

As I was doing research for a much longer post I'm planning to make about Ms. Coulter, I ran across this quote from her appearance Monday night on "Hannity and Colmes":

"Faggot isn't offensive to gays; it has nothing to do with gays," Coulter said on 'Hannity and Colmes' Monday night. "It's a schoolyard taunt meaning 'wuss,' and unless you're telling me that John Edwards is gay, it was not applied to a gay person."

Perhaps I'm not as intelligent as Ms. Coulter, so I might not understand what she is saying. What it looks like she is saying (to me) is that the term isn't offensive nor does it even apply to the group most of us think it applies to. But, since Edwards isn't gay, it wasn't applied to a gay person.

But, Ms. Coulter, you just said that the term has nothing to do with gays, nor is it offensive to gays, so why add the qualifier..."and unless you're telling me John Edwards is gay, it was not applied to a gay person." So....if John Edwards were gay, it would have been applied to a gay person. But, that wouldn't be a big deal, because (1) the term has nothing to do with gays and (2) even if it did, it isn't offensive to gays. The qualifier makes it appear (again to me) that she really doesn't believe the first part of her quote and is defending her use of the term by saying, since he isn't gay, it can't be offensive. So does that mean that if he were gay, it would be offensive? That is the impression I'm getting, even though she contradicts that by the first part of the quote.

I'm so confused. And, how can a non-gay person say what is or isn't offensive to a gay person? Can I say what is or isn't offensive to women? To minorities?

Re: Walter Reed

Boortz had the same thought here:

While they're cleaning up this mess at Walter Reed ... here's what you need to know. This treatment that was being delivered to our injured soldiers is the future of your health care. This is what you, if you're somewhat young, and most certainly your children have to deal with as the United States moves inexorably toward socialized medicine. Government health care.


It's coming ... and it's going to be ugly as hell. The long waits for simple diagnostic tests that have become commonplace in Canada will become the norm here. It may come to the point ... most likely it will come to the point that you will be assigned to a doctor just as your child is assigned to a school. Remember Hillarycare? Under that system if you decided to take your own money and go hire your own doctor outside of the Hillarycare scheme (somewhat like taking your child out of a government school and putting him in a private school) you could be charged with a crime. It may be necessary to adopt that policy again after people discover what a disaster their precious "universal health care" is going to be.

Walter Reed

Hasn't the Veterans' Administration been a mess for a long time? I've deposed lots of veterans about their medical conditions over the last twenty years and it seems that the nearly universal sentiment is that one avoids the VA if at all possible. Isn't this a prime example of the federal government getting involved with and screwing up medical care, and if so, isn't it an argument against any sort of government-sponsored or administrated health care plan?

Monday, March 05, 2007

RE: Thune neck deep in pork

A reader writes:

Don't always believe what you're reading. Thune didn't sneak anything by anybody behind any closed doors. There were all kinds of hearings. Here's a link. Sure its to a railroad site supporting DM&E, but from there you can link to any number of congressionals or other info that will FACTUALLY set the record straight as to when and where the hearings took place. If you made a campaign contribution to John Thune it was money well spent.

Me: I'm less concerned about the behind closed doors aspect of this than Thune's connection to DM&E. I probably would have served my reader better by being more diligent with my quotes. I don't regret my contribution to Thune, yet...but the pork has got to stop as do the connections.

Thune neck deep in pork...

Novak on Thune:

The Federal Railroad Administration handed a rare victory to the American taxpayer last week by denying a questionable $2.33 billion loan application by the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DM&E) Railroad. What makes this news of special interest is the paramount role Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota played in boosting the loan. Here is a cautionary tale of political life in Washington and how it corrupts.

Legislative changes that made the loan possible were guided through Congress behind closed doors by Thune. But the assessment that DM&E is a poor credit risk was shared by Thune's fellow conservative senators -- Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina -- who took the extraordinary step of advocating rejection of a colleague's pet project. Making matters worse, Thune is a former paid lobbyist for the South Dakota-based railroad and has received political contributions from the company's executives.

And I sent money to this guy?