Reality TV for sheep
Animal rights activists in Croatia have blasted a new reality show on the web where viewers vote on which sheep to save from slaughter.
In the show, shown on www.stado.org, seven sheep in a house in Zagreb are filmed non-stop as famous writers come in and read their works to them.
Viewers then vote on which of the sheep is thrown out of the house. After the 'eviction' the sheep has to be 'adopted' by a viewer or it is sent straight to the slaughterhouse.
From Find Articles.com:
"Search millions of articles from leading academic, industry and general interest publications. We give you free access to information you can trust, from a collection you'll only find here."
From H.L. Mencken's suggestions for dealing with errant Public Officials [From the American Mercury, 1924 June, pp. 156-159. Reprinted with an introduction in A Mencken Crestomathy (NY: Vintage Books, c1949, 1982), pp. 384-388.]:
...Say a citizen today becomes convinced that a certain judge is a jackass—that his legal learning is defective, his sense of justice atrophied, and his conduct of cases before him tyrannical and against decency. As things stand, it is impossible to do anything about it. A judge cannot be impeached on the mere ground that he is a jackass; the process is far too costly and cumbersome, and there are too many judges liable to the charge. Nor is anything to be gained from denouncing him publicly and urging all good citizens to vote against him when he comes up for re-election, for his term may run for ten or fifteen years, and even if it expires tomorrow and he is defeated the chances are good that his successor will be quite as bad, and maybe even worse. Moreover, if he is a Federal judge he never comes up for re-election at all, for once he has been appointed by the President of the United States, on the advice of his more influential clients and with the consent of their agents in the Senate, he is safe until he is so far gone in senility that he has to be propped up on the bench with pillows.
But now imagine any citizen free to approach him in open court and pull his nose. Or even, in aggravated cases, to cut off his ears, throw him out of the window, or knock him in the head with an axe. How vastly more attentive he would be to his duties! How diligently he would apply himself to the study of the law! How careful he would be about the rights of litigants before him! How polite and suave he would become! For judges, like all the rest of us, are vain fellows: they do not enjoy having their noses pulled. The ignominy resident in the operation would not be abated by the subsequent trial of the puller, even if he should be convicted and jailed. The fact would still be brilliantly remembered that at least one citizen had deemed the judge sufficiently a malefactor to punish him publicly, and to risk going to jail for it. A dozen such episodes, and the career of any judge would be ruined and his heart broken, even though the jails bulged with his critics. He could not maintain his air of aloof dignity on the bench; even his catchpolls would snicker at him behind their hands, especially if he showed a cauliflower ear, a black eye or a scar over his bald head. Moreover, soon or late some citizen who had at him would be acquitted by a petit jury, and then, obviously, he would have to retire. It might be provided by law, indeed, that he should be compelled to retire in that case—that an acquittal would automatically vacate the office of the offending jobholder.
Intellectual Takeout explains:
College campuses should be a place where the free exchange of ideas is encouraged and celebrated. During their college experience, students deserve to be presented with a diversity of ideas. A balanced education-one that teaches the student how to think, not what to think-requires it.
Unfortunately, in far too many college classrooms, professors present students only a very narrow spectrum of liberal ideas. One recent study found that a startling 72 percent of professors identify themselves as being liberal, while only 15 percent identify themselves as being conservative. In a survey of students at 50 top U.S. colleges and universities, 48 percent said "presentations on political issues seem totally one-sided." Taken together, the surveys show that the "totally one-sided" presentations are primarily liberal.
It is clear that a lack of intellectual diversity on our college campuses is an ongoing problem, but the majority of students lack the tools needed to confront this imbalance or are just afraid to stand up and challenge the people who hand out their grades.
That's why IntellectualTakeout.com, a project of Center of the American Experiment's FACT: Foundations for Active Conservative Thinking program, is designed to help students respond to the ideological imbalance on their campuses.
And they moved to Tennessee:
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, founded in 1995, is the nation's single natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered African and Asian elephants. It operates on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee - 85 miles southwest of Nashville.
The Elephant Sanctuary exists for two reasons:
To provide a haven for old, sick or needy elephants in a setting of green pastures, old-growth forests, spring-fed ponds and a heated barn for cold winter nights.
To provide education about the crisis facing these social, sensitive, passionately intense, playful, complex, exceedingly intelligent and endangered creatures.
Martha Behind Bars.
Well. That didn't take long, did it? She's barely out from behind bars, and here's her Biopic. Gee, I'd love to watch, but I have to get the kids to bed, and I'm taping the season opener of Desperate Housewives:
Martha Behind Bars (2005)
CBS Sep 25 08:00pm
Movies, 120 Mins.
(Rated NR) (Y)
Convicted of obstruction of justice, Martha Stewart serves five months in prison, then five months of house arrest.
Cast: Cybill Shepherd, Gale Howard , Sabine Singh, Jonathan Higgins, Alan C Peterson, David Alpay, Julie Khaner, Lori Hallier, Jackie Burroughs, Alec McClure, Deborah Tennant, Robert Verlaque, Kyra Harper, Karen LeBlanc, Karen Robinson, Soo Garay, Zoie Palmer, Hazel Gorin , Christina Collins, Noam Jenkins.
Director(s): Eric Bross.
Producer(s): Tom Patricia, Frank Siracusa.
Writer(s): Charlie Bohl.
I just learned that when one's two and a half year-old daughter disappears into the back bedroom for a short while, and then things get vewy, vewy quiet, it doesn't necessarily mean that she's gotten a tampon and is stirring it an open container of Carmex, and is then smearing it into her hair - but it could happen. I'm just sayin'.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
1) - I have been trying for several months to buy an MP3 player. I have one, but it's a couple of years old, has very limited storage space, and the earphone jack is shorting out. I have tried to find something for no more than $100, that has some degree of integration with my Mac (like my old one does), that will allow the user to browse and play folders on the device itself, and that allows for use of expansion modules.
I have now purchased five units from four different manufacturers, and have found each of them defective or deficient to some degree or other. Each has lacked essential features, or failed to work altogether, and all have had poor integration with the Mac, although each was advertised as being Mac-compatible. I have returned them all.
The first was $70 Walmart-branded unit (locked up when disconnected from computer, would not recognize expansion card, had to be reset by removing battery, firmware update caused problems).
The second was a $40 Memorex unit from Target (would not recognize folders on the device, froze up after three plays, could not be reset).
The third was an $80 RCA unit from Walmart (worked fine with internal memory only, would not recognize external card, would not recognize folders).
The fourth was an $80 Memorex unit from Target (worked great with internal memory only, recognized folders just fine, but would not play folders or see contents on expansion card).
And the fifth was a $90 RIO unit from Best Buy (expansion card worked great, full integration with MAC and expansion card, but would not allow playlists to be created on Mac, would play ID tags in alpha order only but not in album track order).
I have now spent dozens of hours researching, buying and returning MP3 devices that don't work as advertised, or simply don't work at all. So, you ask, why don't I just buy an iPod?
Well, price, to start with. The only iPod in my desired price range is the Shuffle. Although it is priced right, it has no display or expansion capability. There's more: even though I use a Mac, I have alot of files ripped as WMA format - WMA is half the size of equal-quality MP3 - and the iPod won't play them. And I want something that uses flash memory, which only the new iPod has.
Thing is, it shouldn't be that hard to for some savvy manufacturer to deliver a solid-state/flash-memory device for around $100 that has basic features like SD card expandibility, proper ID tag processing, folder browing capability, etc. WTH, I'd even pay up to $150 if someone would simply deliver a fully Mac-compliant device. The irony is that Apple has been so wildly successful with its iPods that it has something like 80% of the online music sales and player market in both the Mac and Windows arena. It makes it hard for anyone to make a product to compete for a market share as small as Apple's, especially since Apple has such a great product line out.
In the meantime, I am increasingly frustrated with my inability to lay hands on a decent new player, and my old one is dying by the day. I am soon going to be left with having to use tape or CD/MP3 players, each of which has its own drawbacks.
2) - I was headed into work late yesterday when I drove past a yard sale. I love such things, and always arrive with a mental list of several items that I'm on the look-out for: most recently I have been wanting to find a slide projector. My parents bequeathed the next generation a legacy of thousands of slides, and I have possibly a thousand or more of my own. My old slide projector broke some time ago, and I've been hoping to stumble on one at a decent price.
I walked through the sale yesterday, but found nothing of interest until, as I was leaving, I glanced down at a box that had just been placed out for sale: it was a new-looking Kodak Ektagraphic III. It wasn't priced. I asked the lady how much she wanted for it, to which she replied that she had no idea, and told me she'd entertain any reasonable amount. I offered her five dollars - thinking it was utterly unreasonable on my part - but she replied that we had a deal. I was delighted. I paid her, picked up the box by the top flaps and carried it to my car. Big mistake.
The botom of the box wasn't taped together, and when I was no more than three car-lengths from my Buick, it opened down, spilling my newly-purchased Slide Projector to the concrete. I cursed my misfortune, and picked up the unit from the ground. Nothing appeared broken, but I was sure something must have cracked or snapped inside. I was utterly astonished when I got home that night to find that not only had nothing broken, but that it worked like a charm.
The lesson here, then? Perhaps I need to start looking for MP3 players at Garage Sales - and drop them.
Before the next MOB gathering, please review the following document.
DRINKERS FAULT-FINDING GUIDE
Symptom : Drinking fails to give satisfaction and
taste; shirt front is wet.
Fault : Mouth not open when drinking or glass
being applied to wrong part of face.
Solution: Buy another pint and practice in front
of a mirror. Continue with as many
pints as necessary until drinking
technique is perfect.
Symptom : Drinking fails to give satisfaction
and taste; beer unusually pale and
Fault : Glass is empty.
Solution: Find someone who will buy you another
Symptom : Feet cold and wet.
Fault : Glass being held at incorrect angle.
Solution: Turn glass so that open end is pointing
Symptom : Feet warm and wet.
Fault : Loss of self-control.
Solution: Go and stand beside nearest dog - After
a while complain to its owner about its
lack of house training.
Symptom : Bar blurred.
Fault : You are looking through the bottom of
your empty glass.
Solution: Find someone who will buy you another
Symptom : Bar swaying.
Fault : Air turbulence unusually high - maybe
due to darts match in progress.
Solution: Insert broom handle down back of jacket.
Symptom : Bar moving.
Fault : You are being carried out.
Solution: Find out if you are being taken to
another bar - if not complain loudly
that you are being hi-jacked.
Symptom : The opposite wall is covered in ceiling
tiles and has a flourescent strip across
Fault : You have fallen over backwards.
Solution: If glass is still full, and no one is
standing on your drinking arm, stay put.
If not, get someone to lift you up and
lash you to the bar.
Symptom : Everything has gone dim and you have a
mouth full of teeth and dog-ends.
Fault : You have fallen over forwards.
Solution: Same as for falling over backwards.
Symptom : You have woken up to find your bed cold,
hard and wet. You cannot see your
bedroom walls or ceiling.
Fault : You have spent the night in the gutter.
Solution: Check your watch to see if its opening
time - if not treat yourself to a lie in.
Symptom : Everything has gone dim.
Fault : The pub is closing.
Solution: PANIC !!!!!!!!!
Well, that just about covers it. Just know when to say when. And don't drink and drive.
Twice the Speed and No Speedos: Opera Reaches One Million Downloads in Two Days
Oslo, Norway - September 22, 2005
More than one million people have downloaded the Opera browser in the two days since Opera announced it was dropping the ad banner and going completely free.
The download rate doubles the previous record reached in April when the company released Opera 8. According to server logs, a majority of downloads came from Internet Explorer users.
"The success of our free browser proves the world is ready for a fresh option," said a dry and landlocked Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera Software. "I'm most excited about the hundreds of thousands of new users who have discovered the speed, security and usability of our browser for the first time."
The New Fusionism
Copyright (c) 2005 First Things 154 (June/July 2005): 32-26.
Social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, libertarians, agrarians, communitarians, foreign-policy hawks—who can figure them out? Neocons and theocons and paleocons, to say nothing of soccer-mom Republicans, country-club Republicans, and just plain, garden-variety Republicans: If you read much political commentary, it must seem as though there are more ways to sort conservatives in America than there are actual conservatives to be sorted.
And what about the issues for which these different conservatives care? Abortion, tax cuts, school vouchers, judicial overreach, the government’s bloated budget, bioethics, homosexual marriage, the creation of democracies in the Middle East, federalism, immigration, the restoration of religion in the public square—on and on. They bear no more than the vaguest family resemblance: second or third cousins, shirt-tail kin at best.
Back during the Cold War, conservatives could all be counted upon at least to share an opposition to communism, while various writers—from Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to Russell Kirk and Michael Oakeshott—sought something resembling a unifying theory through the rich pages of Adam Smith’s economics and the deep prose of Edmund Burke’s traditionalism.
What now remains? Hardly a single concern is common to everyone labeled a conservative, and the chance of finding a meaningful pattern in the Right’s political muddle appears hopelessly remote. It’s true that nearly every conservative ended up voting for George Bush for president in 2004. Even the paleoconservatives opposed to intervention in Iraq finally seemed to admit, for the most part, that the alternative of an openly liberal administration under John Kerry was unendurable. But only in the fevered imaginings of the far Left—or in the speeches of Democratic party activists looking to score partisan jabs—does all this really cohere. Conservatism in America is neither a well-defined political party nor a well-formed political theory. It’s a crack-up waiting to happen.
I was fixing supper tonight while the girls were in the tub when the emergency sirens went off outside. I got the kids out of the bath and into their jammies, then hustled them into the basement. When I saw on the news that there was a tornado warning for our area over the next hour, I grabbed supper, and we ate it downstairs. We had nothing more than alot of rain around our part of town, but in the northwest metro area, it seems that tornados and 80 mph winds knocked down some homes, plus there was flooding around the metro. Anyway, we're all safe, but I can hear the sump pump is getting a workout. In the end, it was quite a weather display for the first day of Fall.
I started this blog on September 20th, 2004, after having kept a very private friends-only Livejournal for a couple of years. I liked alot of Livejournal's features, but wanted to start anew, with a new blog and a new online identity, so I decided to give Blogger a try.
In the past year I've met alot of nice people, made a friend or two, and have even gotten linked once or twice by some of the bigger names in the Blogosphere. It's been a fun and interesting ride.
So, to all the teeming dozens who read Blogizdat on a regular basis, please accept my heartfelt thank-you for making it part of your world. Although I think I would do this blog the same way if I had only one reader or ten thousand, knowing that there are others who read it makes the whole thing even more enjoyable for me.
In closing, please take a moment to read the very post that started all this, quoting - what else? - something by the Sage Of Baltimore, Henry Louis Mencken.
|And, before you leave, be sure to stop over and ask Homer for a piece of cake:|
Won't they just go away?
Kerry, Edwards see chance for change after Katrina.
I bought a copy of September 11, 2001 this past weekend, a collection of full-page reproductions of the front pages of over a hundred newspapers from around the country and the globe, all reporting the news of the 9/11 attacks against the United States. I strongly recommend the book, but if you cannot find it, September 11 News seeks to accomplish much of the same, on the web. Give a look.
I made the mistake the other night of listening of Janine Gawdawfulho's AAR show, The Majority Report, and after a few minutes I realized what I was hearing: nothing more than an R-rated version of the tantrums my two year-old regularly throws. Unlike her colleague Al Franken - who's just as wrong as she is on most everything, but who has a modicum of comedic timing - Ms. G's only real apparent gift is the ability to engage in a kind of on-air verbal diarrhea. In the few short minutes I listened, she said the damndest things. She heaved, hollered, ranted, raved, sighed, moaned, and screeched. She accused anyone and everyone who disagrees with her of being mentally deficient. She was vulger, and she was crass. At one point - apropos of nothing - she even threw into the mix that John Ashcroft is a douche-bag and a prick. (Yes, she did.) The only humorous point of the show came when the Divine Ms. G sputtered and coughed for a moment, and - when she regained her composure - muttered something about her gum having gone down her windpipe, and about her not being able to speak and chew gum at the same time. Well. It was the lone sensible pronouncement she'd made the whole evening. The only thing that would have made it an even more perfect-radio-moment would have been to have been able to hear the sound of her audience's reaction: - cue crickets here -
(If you think you can stomach it, there are audio archives of The Majority Report here. And while I don't have the ratings for The Majority Report, be sure to check out the overall AAR ratings.)
As usual, you can blame Doug for this:
69 % Nerd, 43% Geek, 69% Dork
For The Record:
A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd and Dork, earning you the coveted title of: Tri-Lamb Material.
The classic, "80's" nerd, you are what most people think of when they think "nerd," largely due to 80's movies like Revenge of the Nerds and TV shows like Head of the Class. You're exceptionally bright and smart, and partly because of that have never quite fit in with your peers or social groups. Perhaps you're realized, or will someday, that it is possible to retain all of the things that you like about being brilliant and still make peace with the social cliques around you. Or maybe you won't--it's really not necessary. As the brothers of Lambda Lambda Lambda discovered, you're fine just the way you are and can take pride in that. I mean, who wants to be like Ogre, right!?
Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Love & Sexuality
Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST
My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender
You scored higher than 68% on nerdiness
You scored higher than 74% on geekosity
You scored higher than 99% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid
And they're having a sale:
"The Half Price Books 20% Off Sale - Join us at Half Price Books from Thursday, September 15 through Sunday, September 18 for our 20% Off Sale! Save an extra 20% off our already low prices on books, music, movies and more, all weekend long. [find a store]"
Christopher Hitchens "debates" a demagogue.
BY KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
Friday, September 16, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT
If I had to choose two words to sum up the overwhelming impression left by this week's raucous "debate" over the Iraq war between polemicist Christopher Hitchens and British MP George Galloway, I'd have to choose the ones that came straight from Mr. Hitchens's mouth: "sinister piffle." Mr. Hitchens was of course referring to everything Mr. Galloway had said up to that point, a verbal burble that unfortunately defined too much of the evening.
The activist crowds had been salivating over this event for weeks. Two Brits, both famed for their oratorical skills, meeting in New York for a death match over bombs and dictators. One, Mr. Hitchens, a former Trotskyist and staunch supporter of the war, in part on the grounds that it rid the region of a demonic autocrat. The other, Mr. Galloway, a thuggish Scotsman who in May had won media plaudits for berating the U.S. Senate for the Iraq invasion. And just to make it that much juicier, two men who openly despise each other, frequently hurling personal insults ("popinjay," "drink-sodden," "vulgar") both in person and in print.
I received this today at my blog email address this AM. It's nice to know someone cares enough about me to give me this opportunity, but, gosh and golly, I think I'll pass. (I altered the email address and the weblink to keep the bots from tracking back here.):
Name: Dele Belgore
Subject: Next of kin to Late Mr. Frederick
Date: 16th September 2005
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Before I start, I must first apologize for this unsolicited mail to you. I am also aware that this is certainly an unconventional approach to start arelationship, but I believe as time goes on, you will realize the need for my actions. I am Barrister Dele Belgore, I'm the Personal Financial Attorney to Mr. Frederick, a national of your country, who used to work with Chevron Nigeria Ltd(CNL).
On the 24 April 2004 21:51 hrs, my client who is Chevron subcontractor including five other people were attacked and killed by the river pirates of the Niger Delta, including one other US oilman, in an attack on workers inspecting abandoned wells in southern Nigeria's strife-torn Niger Delta, Since then I have made several enquiries to your embassy to locate any of my clients extended relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful. After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to trace his relatives over the Internet, to locate any member of his family but of no avail, hence I contacted through the help of my cousin that works in the AMERICAN CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE, planning and industry.
(Please visit the homepage for more update.
I have contacted you to assist in repatriating the money that belongs to my client before they get confiscated or declared serviceable by the bank where these huge deposits were lodged. Particularly, the Bank where the deceased had an account valued at about $10.4 million dollars has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have the account confiscated within the next 21 official working days. Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over A year now I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased since you are from the same country and bear the same last name, so that the proceeds of this account valued at $10.4 million dollars can be paidto you and then you and me can share the money. 62% to me and 30% to you, while 8% should be for expenses or tax as your government may require, I have the certificate of deposit that can be used to back up any claim we may make.
All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us see this dealt through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. Please get in touch with through my Personal email Address. email@example.com
Barrister Dele Belgore
Private Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NB: PLEASE NOTE THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU ARE NOT RELATED TO MY LATECLIENT; THE FUND WILL STILL BE PAID TO YOU, SINCE I AM PRESENTING YOU AS HISNEXT OF KIN.
I was tagged for this by Jezzy, and when Jezzy commands, all must obey.
7 Things I Plan To Do Before I Die
1) I would like to watch my daughters graduate and get married - but not on the same day.
2) Read a majority of the books in my personal library (1000's).
3) Buy an electric guitar with a small amp and learn to play a lick.
4) Conquer my fear and loathing of travel long enough to take my girls to South America and South Africa.
5) See U2 in concert again.
6) Get over my fear of public speaking.
7) Have a few days off.
7 Things I Cannot Do
2) Play sports.
3) Focus on anything for more than a few minutes.
4) Drink alcohol.
5) Play guitar as well as I'd like.
6) Swim any more than a dog-paddle.
7) Get over the social anxiety that has plagued me since I was a child.
7 Things That Attract me to the same or opposite sex
(Forget the same, I'm going with opposite sex, here, Jez. That's all I'm saying.)
1) Boosts my ego.
3) Makes me laugh.
5) Pretty face.
6) In-shape body.
7) Nice legs.
7 Things I Say Most Often
4) No, really.
5) Whuht the hay.
6) You're serious.
7 Celebrity Crushes
(Again, I'm going with the ladies here, Jez. And, dang, Shirley Manson didn't make the cut, but she still gets an honorable mention right here.)
1) Angelina Jolie
2) Jessica Alba
3) Jennifer Aniston
4) Lauren Graham
5) Elizabeth Vargas
6) Mandy Moore
7) Catherine Zeta-Jones
I'm not tagging anyone else for this, but if you want to have a go at it on your own blog, leave me a comment here so I can check out your answers.
Past Music Mondays:
|Music Monday - #01||Music Monday - #11|
|Music Monday - #02||Music Monday - #12|
|Music Monday - #03||Music Monday - #13|
|Music Monday - #04||Music Monday - #14|
|Music Monday - #05||Music Monday - #15|
|Music Monday - #06||Music Monday - #16|
|Music Monday - #07||Music Monday - #17|
|Music Monday - #08||Music Monday - #18|
|Music Monday - #09||Music Monday - #19|
|Music Monday - #10||Music Monday - #20|
I had wondered if fatherhood - and losing his anger-laced and low-rated AAR morning show - would have made Saint Nick a bit more mellow; made him a little less cocksure in his pronouncements; made him a bit more prone to perceive reality in a the light of reason; made him understand better how the world is put together; made him spout less nonsense when scribbling in his coloring books. Silly me.
I was eating my bowl of Cheerios in front of the TV this AM when six year-old daughter number one AE wandered in to give Dear Old Dad a good-morning hug. As she peered around me to view the weather map on the screen, she commented that she might want to be a weather forecaster when she grows up. Then again, she added, she's pretty well decided she wants to be famous scientist, except for those days when she feels too 'delicate' - yes, that was the word she used - to be a scientist, and then she thinks she would like be a ballerina, just like Angelina.
Well. Whatever her little heart desires, I say.
Starting Your Own Blog: How to Choose the Right Blogging Tool for You.
(If you already keep a blog, the article will mean very little to you, but you've just recently stumbled down the blogging rabbit-hole and landed here - and want to know what some basics - it's worth a read.)
I posted the following in 2003 to a Livejournal I was maintaining at the time, and posted it here for the first time this past July 7. I republish it here today, without further comment:
In reflecting on the second anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks on the United States I have been reading through several books about the event.
One such book is an oral history of the experiences of several survivors. It's been horrifying for me to relive the tragedy, even if only by proxy, and more than a thousand miles away from where the events took place. Through the words of those who lived that hellish day I'm reminded of the conflagration, the destruction, and most of all, of those several hundred who jumped from the heights of the towers, to their certain deaths. And through it I have relived the horror and helplessness that all civilized people felt, as we watched the towers come down.
Two years later I'm still a bit numb. I wasn't in New York City or Washington that day. I didn't personally know anyone who experienced any of it. I merely watched it all on TV. But on some level I experienced the shock and awe of that day in Real Time, along with the hundreds of millions of others around the world.
There has not been a day go by since that I have not thought about what occurred. I am unable to walk through my downtown without looking up at the skyscrapers and wondering how I'd react if a plane plowed into one of them. And I find myself holding my breath for a moment when a plane passes overhead. Even tonight, as I walked across downtown, a jet airliner passed low above me and I froze for a moment.
And yet for a significant portion of my fellow citizens, life goes on as if nothing happened that fateful day. Worse still, many of them feel the attacks were deserved, that we brought it on ourselves, that we had it coming, that what happened that day served us right.
They - mostly so-called liberals - view what happened as a wake-up call to America, that we must mend our ways vis-a-vis the rest of the world. They claim they love their country, yet they wet themselves in their anxious zeal to blame the United States for every evil in the world.
The night after the WTC attacks a friend made the case that the conflagration in New York was a result of the inequity in the distribution of the world's wealth and resources, that it was a result of American arrogance in its dealings with the third world, that it was the result of the frustration of the powerless in the face of the powerful. No, no, no, she said, she wasn't blaming the victim. After all, it was a victim who'd attacked us.
I was stunned. I was speaking with someone who has a post-graduate degree from a major American University, who ostensibly has a high IQ and is well-read and well-traveled. What could explain her obstinate and rank ignorance, and foolish pronouncements?
All my life I've been amazed at how different people can look at the same sets of facts and come to such radically different conclusions about them. I suppose it comes down to what Dr. Thomas Sowell has called a Vision, a set of bliefs about reality that each of us holds in our heads. We choose how to interpret the facts that come to us by how those facts fit into our Vision.
Truth is, the Leftist Vision of life on this tired planet - and I no longer use the term 'liberal' to refer to most leftists, as they are quite often far removed from anything resembling liberal - cannot account for evil. All the Isms of the left are incapable of understanding the true nature of evil.
Yes, I know there are many so-called liberals who are decent people, and are quite engaging on a one-to-one basis. But they are nearly every one, however, confused and wrong on the subject of evil. While many of them would rightly deny they are socialists or communists, their Vision differs very little from that of their more radical brothers and sisters.
In that Vision, evil, as such, does not truly exist, except in the lives of those who disagree with them. They maintain that when people do evil things - things that most of us might call evil - it's because those persons are under-nourished, or under-appreciated, or un-educated, or lacking some other creature comfort.
Bless their hearts, they do offer solutions. Socialists suggest that a centralized government will be able to efficiently and effectively solve the problems that vex us. Communists/Marxists claim that abolishing the free movement of capital will liberate men and women to be better persons. What is needed, they propose, one and all, is that the government provide this or that for the betterment of society. Ultimately, through programs and education, a different sort of human being will emerge.
The fundamental problem with that Vision is that it doesn't square with reality. Certainly poverty and hunger can grind an individual down. But there are many who are well-fed who engage in heinous crimes, and there are plenty of poor and down-trodden who do not. In fact, there is a little evil in all of us, and it is only by diligence, and grace, and the restraining power of the law that we keep it in check.
The events that transpired on 9/11 happened because evil people committed evil acts. They did not fly airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon because they were under-privileged. Most of the leaders of the 9/11 plot were from well-to-do families, and had received good educations.
The jihidistas did what they did that day because they gave themselves over to evil. They became evil, they were evil, and they committed acts that were heinously evil. When faced with such monstrous evil, civilized peoples can only offer one response: the evil - and those who commit it - must be excised, like a cancerous tumor must be removed from the body.
Those who would commit such acts must be sought out and either detained permanently, or killed. Justice - and the majority of the population that would prefer to live in peace - demands it. That is why we are fighting the war on terror. And this is what the majority of leftists cannot - or will not - ever understand.
We pursued Al Quaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan to deny terrorists a base of operations. We invaded Iraq to put out of business a terrible regime that was hell-bent on sponsoring terror throughout the Middle East, Europe and in the United States. And, if we are unable to use diplomacy to reach a peaceful solution elsewhere, we may yet invade North Korea, Iran and Syria, as they too are sponsors of terror, one and all.
Yet many well-meaning and decent people do not understand this. Like those who wished to appease Hitler, they believe wishful thinking will suffice in this conflict. They march in their Birkenstocks, waving Peace flags and chanting slogans at the gates of power. And they really believe they will make a difference. And they are most decidedly wrong.
I recently had a conversation with a friend, a Brazilian Lutheran minister of German extraction. He is currently living in Switzerland and works in the office of Interfaith Issues of the Worldwide league of Lutherans. He was in town, rang me up and we got together for coffee.
After we'd caught up on how each others' families were doing, our conversation turned to the war and US occupation in Iraq, and to the European view of how the United States is handling world affairs. He pointed out that Europeans are terrified of the US being what they perceive as an out-of-control International Cowboy, taking upon itself the responsibility of policing the world. He shared their concern.
I pointed out to the good Reverend that (in my never-to-be-humble opinion) whether they favored the War in Iraq or not, most Americans want nothing to do with running the world. They want to be left alone, just as they did in the years prior to both World Wars of the 20th century. Americans by and large naively want to ignore the rest of the world, not rule it. (Though I think that's nearly as dangerous, by the way.)
What Europeans - many of whom have living memory of the devastation of war on their own continent - cannot grasp is that the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 were unlike anything that has ever happened on American soil.
Yes, far more people died in the American Civil War than did on 09/11. And I'm not ignoring the atrocities that were committed by the US, in this country, against the Native Americans and African Slaves.
But no other single act of violence has killed as many people in this country at one time, and at no time has another group or nation ever had such an ability to attack us on our own shores. We have for centuries felt ourselves invulnerable to attack. No more.
We were attacked in the heart of New York City. Nearly 3000 people died in one of the most horrific acts of terrorism in the history of modern times. The event changed the psychology of our nation, and it changed how we must respond to terrorism.
We will not allow such atrocities to happen unanswered. The evil people who sponsor and commit such horrific acts must either be captured and detained, or killed. Such bullies cannot not be allowed to continue to terrorize the global neighborhood.
New attacks will likely come - we can't prevent them all - in the US, and I fear, in the heart of Europe, as well. What's more, many of the very Europeans who detest us so for taking the War On Terror to the jihadistas will likely be targets of jihad themselves, in the not-too-distant future.
The jihadistas will strike in novel and ingenious ways against American interests, here and in other countries. And when they do, we will again bring the fight to the organizations and countries that promote, sponsor and condone such behavior, again and again, and again, and again, until those who would do such things are eradicated, or until they lay down their arms.
It is useless to maintain the fiction that such people can be reasoned with. Trying to understand them is of no consequence. Nor is it possible to engage constructively their leftist defenders in the media, or the blogosphere. In all cases, whether rhetorically, at the ballot box or on the battlefield, those who commit and defend such acts must be defeated, utterly. That is the great call to the civilized peoples of this generation around the globe. And, in the end, I must believe that the forces of evil will not prevail.
No point to this vignette, really, but here goes: I was on hold for a phone call today for several minutes, and while I was made to wait, I was a bit taken aback by the sounds of a Muzak-like rendition of Elvis Costello's "Every Day I Write The Book," wafting through the phone earpiece. Sheesh. Now that's just wrong. Couldn't they at least have played "Veronica or "My Aim Is True?"