Thursday, May 25
Bruce Bawer talks about his book:
I was also shocked to hear people refer to immigrants' European-born children as "second-generation immigrants". And their children were "third-generation immigrants". This summed up an incredibly dramatic difference in the ways Americans and Europeans thought about immigrants. My father's parents were Polish, but never in my life had it occurred to me to think of myself as a third-generation immigrant or of my father as a second-generation immigrant. The idea was ludicrous. We were Americans, period.My father's parents were Polish. My father was born in England, but lived most of his life in Australia. I'm Australian, period.
Read the whole thing, depressing though it may be.
(Via Roger L. Simon)
Sunday, May 21
Michael Novak, foaming at the mouth over at National Review Online:
The professor Hanks plays makes plain that he believes that Jesus is only a manÃ¢â‚¬â€a man and that's all. A great moral teacher, perhaps, but only a man.Sorry Michael, but this is complete tripe.
That, of course, is the one thing that the Jesus himself does not allow us to believe. If Jesus is only a man, he is no great moral teacher. He is on the contrary a fraud, a pretender, a horrible spendthrift with his own life and the lives of his apostlesÃ¢â‚¬â€all twelve of whom met a martyrdom like his, some of them crucified, all of them most brutally killed without the utterance of a single recantation. If He was not the Son of God, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, he was either a mountebank or a lunatic, and deserves our contempt, not our praise. His every moral teaching would be vitiated by its radical emptiness and fraudulence.
One of the very meanings of being secular today, of course, is to believe that Jesus was exactly all these thingsÃ¢â‚¬â€a lunatic or a fraud and, more important than anything else, no more than a man.
Secularism necessarily implies that Jesus is not the son of God, because it involves a lack of belief in gods.
All the rest is your own construction.
So The Da Vinci Code will not exactly be stating any new thesis that secular people don't already accept. What it may succeed in doing, however, is to make dramatically manifest the silliness, madness, and love of illusion in what being secular means, at least to these film makers. It is for this reason, perhaps, that so many secular critics have found this movie repellent. Although it seeks to mock Christians and Jews, it actually makes a purely secular view seem absolutely batty.(My emphasis.)
That there are secularist moonbats around is an uncontestable fact. But attributing their faults to secularism itself is as false as attributing Pat Robertson's faults to Christianity at large. More so, if anything.
Having said all that, it does sound like the film* is a steaming mound of hyena offal.
* The Da Vinci Code.
Saturday, May 20
I started watching Sasami: Mahou Shoujo Club, which is a spin-off of a spin-off of a spin-off of Tenchi Muyo. But it may contain Pixy Misa, so I need to at least give it a go. It hasn't been fansubbed yet; I'm watching it in the original Klingon. But then I did that with Magical Girl Pretty Sammy too, and back then I knew even less Japa - uh, Klingon - than I do now.
Okay, so we have Sasami, who is more or less recognisable, and Washuu and Ryo-ohki, who are the same as ever, and Mihoshi... We'll come back to Mihoshi.
I didn't have high hopes for this series, because the character designs made the show look like it was targeted at six-year-old girls. As it turns out, appearances can be deceiving.
Here we are in the first episode, and one of the boys in Sasami's class has done the old mirror-on-the-shoe trick so he can look up Miho-sensei's skirt. Sasami's girlfriends think this is a typical stupid boy trick, but Sasami thinks it's kind of neat.
The kicker is, when Mihoshi turns up, she's not wearing a skirt. I don't mean she's wearing slacks, I mean she's wearing a skirt, except not.
Which lead to a certain amount of re-evaluation of my guess as to the show's target audience.
At about that point I ran out of .avi, because I stupidly turned off my notebook while copying the file, so I will have to report back with more thoughts and screen caps.
Secondly, there's this: more...
Sunday, May 14
Apparently there's some "Are YOU A Liberal" test roaming around the blogosphere. Picked it up at Insty's:
1) Repeal the estate tax repeal: No. All it does is force people to restructure their finances. Estate taxes are transaction fees, not taxes as such, and excessive transaction fees simply lead to shifts in transactions. The proposal to charge substantial fees for wire transfers to Mexico is idiotic for precisely the same reason.
2) Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI: No. Ask for a raise if you think you've earned it.
3) Universal health care: Define it. Australia has universal health care, more or less, and it hasn't run our economy into the ground yet. But if your life isn't at risk right this minute, you could be waiting quite a while for that operation.
4) Increase CAFE standards: Stamp out Starbucks! I have no idea what this is.
5) Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice: Mostly, yes. Not that I think abortion is a good thing, but education is.
6) Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code: Simplifying the tax code is going to make it less "progressive". Which would be a good thing, in my opinion. Wipe out income tax entirely and replace it with a flat value-added tax. No exemptions. Carrots are cheap enough as it is.
7) Kill faith-based funding: Drag it out behind the barn and kill it with an axe, just like P. J. O'Rourke did the Omnibus Farm Bill. Apply funding based on effectiveness alone. If the Salvation Army gets the job done, I don't have a problem with them getting some of my tax money. They already get some of my non-tax money anyway.
Reduce corporate giveaways: Yep. Simply reduce corporate taxes across the board and they won't be necessary any more. All they do is distort the market.
9) Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan: Axe.
10) Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions: I'll defer to Insty on this, who says the question is based on a false premise.
11) Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana: Yes. And again, Glenn notes that where we need strong legislation is on antibiotics, not recreational pharmaceuticals.
12) Paper ballots: We have those, and redistribution of preferences, and we get our election results back within hours. Except when strange things happen and the Fishing Party of Queensland ends up deciding the balance of power of the Federal Senate.
13) Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies: Mmmno. On the whole, I'm inclined to say cut taxes, and let families pay for it. Dear government, butt out!!!
14) Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes: No, whatever that is. Abolish it instead.
15) Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens: No. Just nullify all laws involving marriage. You want to marry your pot plant? Whatever. You've married a decendent of George Washington? Don't care.
16) Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration: I seem to recall thinking that it was a bad idea, but not the details, so pass.
The questions seem to be of two varieties: The most prevalent is Do you live in economic fairyland, where the magic power of the State to print money removes all personal responsibility?, and the second is Do you like drugs? Drugs are great; I don't think my life has ever depended on them, but my quality of life is quite reliant on dexchlorpheniramine and the occasional dose of ibuprofen. But if you answered positively to question one, you may be a little too devoted to question two. I'm just sayiing...
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