Anne Wilson



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Tuesday, April 30, 2002

We *already* have the technology: Nuclear desalination uses power from a nuclear reactor to convert sea water to fresh drinking water. What's not to like?
Hell House on the Frontier:

What to think about the PBS "Survivor" knock-off, Frontier House? This three-night video whinathon is based on a five-month wilderness adventure game played by a cast of kvetchers who pretended to be colonizing the 1883 Montana prairie from June to November in 2001.

One thing worried me about this production. Did the kids in the game really go hungry when food ran low? I don't care what happened in the real world of 1883; I recognize that children in families did starve on the prairie, but that was then, this is now.

Ironically, if modern neo-Amish isolationists' kids were living an 1883 lifestyle and were deemed "undernourished" by some concerned citizen, the parents would be hotlined in a flash.

The families didn't hunt! It was understandable - hunting laws prevented it and they probably would have all killed themselves anyway. However, people in that time and place needed to hunt if they weren't butchering livestock. They couldn't have sustained their level of work without the calories. Our heroes finally did get a taste of mule deer helpfully shot by a Cherokee, but they didn't get to dig in until they heard a little sermon first. (There is no hunting season for Cherokee, apparently.)

The interventions by the "men behind the curtain" piled absurdity on top of absurdity. First, the teenage girls confess to sneaking in mascara and shampoo - serious infraction of "the rules." Oh, poor angels. Then we get a couple close shots of their bed in the claim shanty, and it looks like they have poufy polyester pillows.

The horse teams that took the groups over their two day (instead of 3-4 month) journey to get to their claim stake were handled by wranglers, so that "no horses were harmed, etc." The animal handlers were there probably to keep the horses from kicking these rubes in the head out of sheer disgust.

The "California cutie pies" had the most manpower but the least will, drive, and organization to use it effectively. (Daddy in real life was an executive for an engineering company.) Finally a team of carpenters was called in to "help" them finish their log cabin.

Then they all get outhouses built for them - presumably PBS didn't want a cholera outbreak on their hands.

The women kept shedding their clothes: first to go were the corsets, then the shirtwaists, until they were essentially down to their underwear. It looked like that boudoir scene from "Oklahoma!" In the real good old days they'd have been horsewhipped for indecency.

Will I watch it again tonight? Probably... just to see how bad it can get.

Tick, tock... Women's fertility begins to slip sooner than previously expected. Some older woman advice for college-age girls who might actually want to get married & have children someday:

--> Go to school where the boys are. These 70% women liberal arts colleges with $25,000 per annum tuition are for the birds. If you have to major in English literature or elementary education, do it at an in-state school that's mostly hi-tech, and get a part-time job in the physics or engineering department.

.--> Live simply and stay out of debt. Forgo the trips to Cancun, expensive car or apartment, credit card bills.

--> Be nice, instead of a witch with a b. Men respond to kindness, a self-confident sense of humor, and someone who doesn't talk about herself all the time.

--> Especially avoid the college "pseudo-marriage" like the plague. Shacking up with him from sophomore to senior year means that while he's "gained experience," you've lost three precious years. While you were playing house with Mr. Free and Easy, you weren't meeting all those nice guys in college you could have married.

A helpful reader sends me a list of "gnostic films." I don't buy the interpretation of Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder as "gnostic" - instead, I saw it as a "decade" of purgatory first experienced and then transcended as a Vietnam soldier is victimized and ultimately killed in a terrible medical experiment gone wrong.

He also reminds me that The Truman Show also counts as a "fiercely incarnational film." Of course it is.
Texas, Bush Republicans shill for Saudis as they launch another of their endless PR propaganda campaigns to convince Americans that they're really not the Second Evil Empire. I would like to drop collaborator and former Bush Sr. adviser Judy Smith into the mutilated, abayah-ed, confined, polygamized, silenced body of a Saudi woman for a week, so she would understand the evil she supports.

Monday, April 29, 2002

Making the blog rounds 3: Goliard wants us to be multiculturally sensitive to the Saudis. Next time they visit we can:
--> Refrain from having either men or women drive in their presence;
--> Forbid them from bringing any religious materials into our country;
--> Publicly call for their enslavement and destruction.

They should feel right at home...
Making the blog rounds 2: Dr. Weevil muses on why Palestinian suicide bombings are like child sacrifices to Moloch; why capitalism *is* economics, and blogger analogies.
Making the blog rounds 1: How is the Burgess Shale like World War III? USS Clueless wants to know.
"Gonna wash that priest right outta my hair..." Rod Dreher hits another one out of the park with Cardinal Egan's latest. This is even better than his last big risk management strategy of considering priests "independent contractors" to avoid liability.
The parents were seduced first when priestly predators targeted children. One prime target: children of stressed-out single moms. Another one: children of the devout.

"Kids from devout families are less apt to tell anyone about the abuse ... Even if the kid does tell, the parents are less apt to believe him or call a lawyer to challenge the church."

Too close to home, I guess. Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu decries "Israeli apartheid" - where is his outrage over the ethnic cleansing of white farmers in Zimbabwe?

If the whites are too politically incorrect to touch, how about some outrage over looting of Asian small businessmen in Zimbabwe at the hands of the same thugs who came for the white farmers?
There are a few heroes in the media: From one of the opening sequences of Babylon 5, "It was the year everything changed." Indeed it was.

Seven cable television outlets have *refused* to run Saudi Arabian propaganda ads. They are: A&E, AMC, Bravo, History Channel, Lifetime, USA Network and The Weather Channel. They deserve thank-you notes.

One network executive said, "This network ended up walking away from a buy that was worth approximately $300,000 to $400,000..."

Meanwhile, the Saudis still intend to spend $10,000,000 on ads telling Americans that they're really not the Second Evil Empire Striking Back.
The lighter-than-air ones of Iowa are floating their own currency, the Raam.
Six year old to blame for his own abuse: says Cardinal Law in his defense document in a lawsuit involving the boy's accused abuser Fr. Paul Shanley. Defenders of Law claim this is just boilerplate legal language. Some suggestions deserve a smack with a plate across the boiler.

Another '70s archi-icon bites the dust: Buckminster Fuller's dome is rotting on the Southern Illinois Carbondale campus, and the university, hit by low enrollments and budget cuts, doesn't want to pitch in. Apparently even Fuller and his wife preferred traditional houses most of the time.
Private-for-profit school trembles: From today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Wildwood Day School opened a few years ago in an upscale area of West St. Louis County served mostly by the highly-lauded Rockwood School District. It is run for profit by Aramark Education Resources, whose corporate parent is the food and laundry-service giant.

Private for-profit schools were supposed to revolutionize the private-school scene and provide some serious competition for public schools. It's not clear that private-for-profit schools will succeed in a market with good public schools and a host of cheaper private alternatives like church schools and homeschooling. Especially in a downturn economy.

Wildwood suffers from low enrollment - only 82 elementary students in a $4.5 million dollar building carrying about $230,000 of annual mortgage debt alone. Their annual insurance bill is $12,000. Because it is for-profit, Wildwood is also responsible for about $4,000 annual real-estate taxes.

Eighty-two children at $7,800 per student means only about $640,000 income from tuition. Since they are a young school, they probably have little or no endowment. Also, apparently not all children pay full tuition. This probably leaves nowhere near enough to pay staff salaries, benefits, utilities, maintenance, upkeep, housekeeping, etc.

I wonder if this for-profit private schools aren't a "last century" model from the hypertensive late '90s, when stocks would never go down, the bubble would never burst, and people would spend five digits per year on private education at the drop of a hat.

No doubt some will think that vouchers are a "solution" to the lack of competitiveness of private-for-profit schools, but to me it seems like vouchers would only end up subsidizing a business model that's dubious to start with.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Give me that old woman-free airspace... A real smarty pants writes about what *should* have happened when the Saudis requested airspace and airports free of female contamination:

"Hello, Saudi Two, this is Houston," says the warm if crackly contralto over the radio. "Picking you up on our screens now. We notice unidentified in your flight path. Suggest you change Z trajectory 90 degrees and accelerate...."

Thank you to Rod Dreher of NRO's The Corner for liking Judith as much as I do. As the Good News Bible says about her:

"The Book of Judith depicts a time when the Jewish nation was about to be crushed by an enemy army. Judith, the heroine of the story, is a deeply religious widow who observes all the requirements of the Law of Moses. She depends on God to help her complete the dramatic rescue of the nation by killing [enemy general] Holofernes."

Read Judith's story here.

Thanks also to Rod for his tireless exposure of "peace-loving jihadist" malfeasance and Catholic sex scandal cover-ups.
Antipodes Rule! Christian counter-culture Aussie blogger Martin Roth says nice things about this humble real-estate - thanks, Martin!

Some of the best films hail from Australia. Time for the first Official List. One of these days I'll get a real domain and put up all my movie lists. These are Aussie films I've seen and liked (not inclusive, of course.)

Tim 1979, Michael Pate
Supposedly Mel Gibson's film debut. Older woman falls in love with hunky mildly mentally retarded gardener (Mel, of course, cuter than two buttons) and wants to marry him. Family goes spastic.

Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975, Peter Weir
Schoolgirls disappear on an outing in the country. Spoooky...

Mad Max 1979, George Miller
Needs no introduction.

Bliss 1985, Ray Lawrence
Also belongs in the "Afterlife movies" list.

Until the End of the World 1991, Wim Wenders (co-written by Aussie Peter Carey.)
It has that haunting, rootless quality of Aussie films. Dystopic futuristic sci-fi but don't worry about the plot: just let the odd mood overtake you.

Resistance 1992, Hugh Keays-Byrne
Dystopic Mad-Max-esque adventure thriller with surprising depth and character.

The Castle 1997, Rob Sitch
What a man's home is, until the guvmint wants it.

Dark City 1998, Alex Proyas
In the same vein as and in some ways better than The Matrix.

Anyone wanting a 1400+ long list of Australian movies can go to Internet Movie Database and do Power Search by country.

Saturday, April 27, 2002

What's on the bookshelf: In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World it Made by Norman Cantor. He has a breezy readable style that softens a grim subject without diminishing its seriousness. He also has the interesting that anthrax as well as the bubonic plague germ were responsible for the devastating pestilence. Since there were so many cattle, Cantor thinks that pestilence would have spread more quickly to the interiors of England and Europe than if rats alone had been the source.

Then today Yahoo News tells us that just a single gene separates a relatively mild form of the plague germ from a serious illness. One wonders if another gene mutation at that site could have resulted in the "super-plague" that wiped out a third to half of Europe's population in the 14th century.
Light Up the Reactors: If one curses the darkness (especially the darkness of US dependence upon Saudi oil), one should also periodically light a candle.

How about a resurrection of nuclear power plants? How about hybrid gas-electric vehicles that get 80 mpg? How about more drilling in ANWR, and off the CA and TX coasts?

How about trying to cut 10-15% out of our own petroleum usage, not out of "love for mother earth," but to prove to ourselves that it can be done, and that we really don't *need* Saudi oil?

Some of the "green" suggestions made over the years are good ones. Why not add bicycle paths when new roads or highways are built? Why not run light-rail on existing but unused track? Why not fund cross-continental high speed passenger rail that stops in major airports with their light-rail and car-rental connections, *not* in depopulated downtowns? Why not mandate the building of sidewalks in new subdivisions?

When we buy Saudi oil we are directly supporting every abuse of Saudi society - against women; against men who hate the lack of freedom; against those Saudis denied freedom of religion and of conscience. None of these changes will hurt us, and some benefit us widely.
Will he or won't he? That's the question about Cardinal Law's June 5 deposition in a civil suit over Boston clergy sex scandals. The Boston Herald tells us:

"Attorney Roderick MacLeish, who represents at least one Shanley victim, said he has 'papers ready to be filed in the event that we do not get assurances that the cardinal intends to appear for his deposition.' "

As the Tellytubbies say when they drop their custard, "Uh, oh..."

Arabs rejected women air traffic controllers when they flew into Texas airports when Crown Prince Abdullah and his entourage visited President Bush's Texas ranch this week. The request was made along three stops: Waco, Houston, and Fort Worth.

At least Houston had the guts to refuse this vile and bigoted demand. In Waco, however, reports:

"An advance group of Saudi Arabians went in and talked to the airport manager and told him they did not want any females on the ramp and also said there should not be any females talking to the airplane ... The request was honored."

The FAA and US State Department deny it. Right.

Perhaps the craven Neville Chamberlains of the State Department need to go back and re-read their own material on the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. Their cluelessness and naivete allows them to conveniently forget that this treatment is exactly what the jihadists have in mind for *all* women everywhere.

Friday, April 26, 2002

NPR Yiddish broadcast draws hate mail. Why should we be surprised? The Palestinians right now are the cause of the minute for the US liberallati.
"Enslave their women:" The National Review turns up a Saudi Information Agency rock, and look what crawled out. Paragon of religious virtue Shaikh Saad Al-Buraik is on the Saudi government payroll, and says:

Muslim Brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy neither compassion on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don't you enslave their women? Why don't you wage jihad? Why don't you pillage them?

As I recall, Judith ran into a fellow named Holofernes with somewhat similar ideas, and he found that Jewish women were not to be trifled with.

Cardinal Law's Deposition Appointment: Actually, there's no reason for Cardinal Law to have to miss his scheduled deposition. Surely some district attorney in the Boston area can explain to a local judge why it is very, very important that Cardinal Law keep this appointment before he flies off to Rome for good. Surely his passports (US, Vatican, whatever) can be kept in safekeeping for him until it's over.
More "moral equivalence" unmasked: VodkaPundit delivers a "very public spanking" today to a reader who equated the US's moral foibles with those of the jihadist world: (Sorry, the links vanished in a puff of logic...)

The US gave you Gloria Steinem and Camille Paglia.

Saudi Arabia gives you the abaya.

The US gave you the constitutional republic.

Saudi Arabia gives you sharia.

The US gave you freedom of -- and from -- religion.

Saudi Arabia presents never-ending jihad.

Free press/al-Jazeera. Gay civil unions (and someday marriage)/gay executions. Sexual revolution/female genital mutilation. NAFTA/OPEC. Free elections/Idle rich royalty. Democrats vs Republicans/Political parties are outlawed. Supports democracy in the Holy Land/Pays bounties for suicide bombers.

Need I go on? Do you get it yet?

Even if Stephen Green's correspondent didn't "get it," I sure do.

What's up, guys? The Midwest Conservative Journal quite rightly begins to wonder about the integrity of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's staunchly liberal credentials. First they criticized pernicious European anti-Semitism. Then they called for the dispersal of fog at the Vatican. Today they chastise NOW for continuing the RICO suits against anti-abortion protesters. MCJ says, If their editorial page follows its usual pattern, they'll come up with something boneheaded in a day or two, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
So many blogs, so little time: Just started reading asparagirl. I'm sure you all know her already. She's from NYC and is dead right on Israel.
Cardinal Law goes to Rome, for good: Cardinal Law is to report to the Vatican in June for reassignment there. Very convenient - he'll miss the summer fallout from today's Fr. Paul Shanley blackmail revelations, possibly a scheduled deposition, any grand juries that get convened, and maybe even a RICO suit.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Why getting rid of permanent celibacy will help with the "gay priest problem:" This is why changing the celibacy rule would reduce the number of homosexuals in the Catholic priesthood. Catholic readers: I'm not telling you how your church should be run, but just pointing out how changing the rule would probably help.

First off, nothing would change immediately. The Catholic seminaries, from what writers like Rod Dreher and Michael Rose (author of "Goodbye, Good Men") have been saying, are full of homosexuals, and many are apparently in charge of selecting seminarians.

Look at it this way. The male population as a whole is about 98% straight. Sooner or later, far more straight men are going to enter seminaries than gay ones if these straight men are married or can get married at some point. If a seminary IS dominated by straight men, sooner or later the gays will lose interest, because the LAST people they want to hang around with are a bunch of boring, paunchy, unattractive straight men. They will move onto greener pastures and *slowly* move out of the Catholic priesthood.

The Catholic Church can jump-start this process by *immediately* admitting to the priesthood those men who are already ordained as permanent deacons (many of whom are married.) These "provisional priests" could continue the extra seminary education required, while "apprenticing" in some way so as to make the full transition into the active priesthood.
Le Pen's Lament: "Why do they hate me?" he asks the Spectator.

Some of what Le Pen says makes sense - for instance, I've wanted to know myself what would happen if England or France decided to pull out of the EU. "What are they going to do if we want to leave the EU? Send in the Wehrmacht?" Le Pen asks. Good question, with no clear answer.

Perhaps Le Pen needs to say more nice things in public about Jews, firmly condemn the Muslim attacks against Jews and their religious sites, and explain clearly why his immigration policies will help *solve* the problem of these anti-Semitic attacks.
Why so few babies? The "population implosion" in the developed world has finally gotten the attention of the United Nations. While the overall fertility rate in the US is about 2.1 children per woman, the white birth rate is about 1.4, which puts it on par with Japan and most European countries. This birth dearth in the US is partially a consequence of the widely differing quality of US public schools. Since the vast majority of middle-class Americans send their children to public schools, public school quality is going to be a significant factor in family size for many.

Middle-class Americans face a difficult Hobson's choice. Housing prices in the US correlate directly with the quality of school systems. Young middle-class couples must choose between a cheaper house in a poor school district, or a far more expensive house in a better school district. Most young professionals go for the better school district, but pay the price in high mortgage costs and a smaller family size.

Meanwhile, even private schools relocate to areas with more expensive housing markets, because the tuition payers are to be found in wealthier neighborhoods. Inner-city Catholic parish schools rarely have waiting lists, but far-flung suburban ones often do. Thus parents combine high mortgage costs with tuition payments. Young families get locked into a cycle of deep debt, working mothers, and small families.

There isn't an easy answer. The best strategy perhaps is for young couples to buy "marginal" houses in the best school districts they can afford, rather than large expensive houses. Since it costs the same in taxes to send four children to public school as it does one, and since smaller houses mean smaller taxes anyway, it makes more sense to downsize materially and have another child or two.
The Free Press in Action: The NYTimes and Hartford Courant (CT) ask judges to unseal CT Catholic Church documents on clergy abuse of minors. Diocesan officials protest, claiming "no healing purpose" is being served, and all they're interested in is "reconciliation." Put the documents in PDF format on newspaper websites and let the readers decide.
US Cardinals: Too little, too late: It took two days of meetings in Rome for US cardinals to leave out the most important parts. There is no acknowledgment of episcopal cover-ups. There is no directive to turn clergy abusers of minors over to the civil authorities. There is a ridiculous distinction made between "notorious, serial abusers" and those who maybe just abuse once, or twice, or who abuse repeatedly but don't "cause a scandal."

I never thought I'd live to see the day I agreed with a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial, but appropriately the Post called it a "several dozen strikes and you're out" policy.

It's now up to US citizens, regardless of religion. Prosecutors have to be fair but thorough in pursuing cases. (No more Amirault or McMartin Preschool witch hunts!) Lay Catholics whose children are abused *must* go directly to prosecutors and bypass clergy and bishops. False accusers should be prosecuted themselves. Reporters must continue to turn over rocks and sue for release of documents that never should have been sealed in the first place. Judges must rule for openness and an end to secrecy and cover-ups.

Finally, the Catholic Church must understand that the days of ecclesiastical courts are long gone; that the US is a society built on the rule of law and the sound principle of "equal justice under law."

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

No moral equivalency: Maggie Gallagher blames the recent Supreme Court decision on child pornography for why the US "seems threatening" to African and Asian societies. Sorry, Maggie: while child pornography even without real actors is immoral and disgusting, forced prostitution of 8-year olds in Thailand, or baby rape in S. Africa to "cure" AIDs, or the horrors of women's lives under jihadist Islam are far, far worse.

We *do* threaten these societies - but not for the reasons Gallagher thinks. We threaten them because where American influence truly penetrates, the "purdah party" is over, and this threatens the medieval minds who like these barbaric practices.

American conservatives need to get a perspective. Criticize the immorality in our society by all means, but don't bring in the developing world as any kinds of poster child for superior morality.
The Crusade for Moorish Dignity continues apace at the Black Panther 35-year reunion. Writer Dan Flynn got kicked out but still managed to file this report.
European Anti-Semitism: It's got to be a function of the "ghetto legacy." Here in the US Jews were never relegated to ghettoes as they were for centuries in Europe and Western Russia. Orthodox Jews might have segregated themselves in certain neighborhoods so as to walk to synagogue on the Sabbath, and Jews in general might have preferred certain neighborhoods, but in general most US Jews never had the experience of being segregated *by law.*

Jews were confined to ghettoes in Europe for specifically religious reasons and both Catholics and Protestants were guilty of it. Its legacy is pernicious, and Eurosocialism is powerless to overcome its effects. In fact, socialism makes it *worse* because socialism is based on sloth, resentment, envy, and an "entitlement" mentality that persecutes individual initiative and success.

Those who suffer under socialism blame everything but the economic system itself. Instead they blame those who manage to succeed despite socialism's handicaps, and the legacy of anti-Semitism provides justification for their resentment.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

"Imagine a boot stamping upon a human face ... forever." So says the inquisitor O'Brien in George Orwell's dystopic-future novel 1984. In this NYTimes story about slavery in the Sudan (registration required), the face is humanity's and the boot is jihadist Islam. Where is the stateman to follow Ronald Reagan, who can name this new Evil Empire?
Letters: I'm starting to get some; what fun! If I print a response which catches my eye, it will by default be anonymous as in "A reader writes..."
Poster Boy for Immigration Restrictions: If Zacarias Moussaoui hadn't existed, the French anti-immigration nationalists would have had to invent him. Back in January NRO's Rich Lowry cogently stated why Moussaoui was a walking advertisement for military tribunals, and today's Wall Street Journal confirms it by describing Moussaoui's courtroom antics. His trial is his personal soapbox.

French Jews may decry Le Pen's candidacy, but immigrants like Moussaoui are a prime reason why Le Pen, while he may pose no substantial threat to Chirac, will definitely control the terms of the French immigration debate. French Jews will hopefully look at the Moussaoui trial and anti-Semitic attacks in France, put 2 + 2 together, and realize that unrestrained Islamic immigration poses a substantial threat to them.

To Russia, With Love: President Bush is slated to visit Russia next month, and talks on cutting both countries' nuclear arsenals continue apace.

Why we are allied with the corrupt Saudi Arabians and not more closely aligned with the constitutional republic of Russia is beyond me. It seems that as a nation we would want to support Russia in developing its infrastructure, especially in establishing property rights and a social climate favorable to business investment. Why buy Saudi or Venezuelan oil when we can buy Russian?
The Scandal in a nutshell: Diocese of Saginaw, MI priest John Hammer told his parish this past weekend that he had molested an altar boy 16 years before in Ohio. One parishioner said, "He shouldn't be prosecuted now." Another said that "parishioners should vote" on what to do with Fr. Hammer. Hugs were exchanged all around after Mass.

Saginaw shepherd Bp. Ken Untener "wants to hear from Hammer's parishioners before deciding his future" according to the Diocesan Office of Church Ministries. Stephen Brady of Roman Catholic Faithful calls Bishop Untener one of a group of "notorious pro-homosexual bishops."

Monday, April 22, 2002

Hold the cheers for French right-wingers: I'm not rejoicing yet, because according to the NYTimes (registration required) Chirac challenger Le Pen thinks the Holocaust was only a minor "detail of history." From what I've read, the French right-wing has a nasty streak of anti-Semitism and Holocaust revisionism/denial. Unfortunately in Europe there doesn't seem to be any such thing as a conservative position that is both *centrist* and pro-Israel.
"Probably the most immoral country in the Western hemisphere," says St. Patrick's Cathedral Msgr. Eugene Clark about the US because of our general social tolerance of homosexuality.

Really. So we are more immoral than Colombia, where drug lords routinely assassinate judges and make the rule of law virtually impossible. More immoral than Mexico, with its almost-entirely corrupt police force & judiciary and its de facto invasion of the US with illegal immigrants. More immoral than the Communist governments of Venezuela or Cuba.

Then Msgr. Clark goes on to say that we are probably also the most immoral "maybe [in] the larger circle because of the entertainment we suffer..." Right. Do we really compare in degree of evil to the sex trade of 8 year olds in Thailand, the fundamentalist Islamic jihads against women, or baby rape and polygamy in Africa?

Don't get me wrong - I don't condone pornographic or near-pornographic entertainment. But Msgr. Clark needs to get a perspective.

Go visit this blog because Kevin James's favorite TV series is The Prisoner. Be seeing you...
Recently on the VCR was Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings. I recall endless floods of Bakshi-bashing when this film came out, mostly either from fanboys who wanted a fundamentalistically literal film rendition (a "Tolkien movie" vs. a "director's movie,") or people disturbed by Bakshi's idiosyncratic animation techniques, especially the use of rotoscoped animation using live actors.

You know what? After 24 years, it's really not a bad film. In fact, in some ways I liked it better than Peter Jackson's recent live-action interpretation. Before you reach for the rocks and start yelling heretic, hear me out.

What looked like odd or disturbing animation in 1978 looks good today, especially if one has watched anime in between and gotten accustomed to abstract cartooning that requires that the viewer actually bring something to the film rather than being spoon-fed.

I liked the aerial shots of the battle scenes, where the orcs run and sing their war songs, and the Rohan horsemen sweep across the plain. It's what Kurosawa would have done had he filmed Teutonic warriors rather than medieval Japanese daimyo at war. Several times it occurred to me, "I've seen this kind of treatment before - in Kagemusha or 47 Ronin." While Jackson overwhelms us with hundreds of square acres of digitized orcs, Bakshi gives us the riders across the plain, and the tension of a face-off, and the thrill of a cavalry rescue coming over the hill.

Bakshi was far truer to the Germanic roots of the story than Jackson. Older reviews mocked the horned helmets, etc. but it was obvious from Bakshi's vision that the men were Teutonic tribesmen and warrior kings.

Bakshi does a better job with the women, too, and he doesn't waste time on the Arwen/Aragorn romance. Galadriel is not a romantic, ethereal figure in Bakshi, and I found her renunciation of the Ring's power more convincing than Cate Blanchett's.

While the wide action scenes have an anime or Japanese-cinema feel, the intimate and personal scenes contain dynamic acting and expression. The Jackson characters are stiff and unexpressive, but Bakshi's animated characters touch, stroke, caress, shove, poke, and are physical and have weight. This is exactly what you'd expect in an Iron Age society of rough and tumble men.

So in short a revisit of Bakshi's under-appreciated version is probably overdue.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

Malaysia bans bikinis and wants women to have their own swimming pools. AP reports this as "weird news" but we should know the jihadist pattern by now. My note to Singapore: Keep building those A-4SU Super Skyhawks, guys, because you're probably going to need them.

Saturday, April 20, 2002

Is it really about celibacy? Occasionally the point is made that non-Catholics have nothing to say about The Scandal. Non-Catholics don't "have to shut up" about this, however, because a fundamental tenet of Catholicism is that its sexual morality is based on the natural law and applies to *everyone,* whether they believe it does or not. So if Catholics claim that it is supposed to apply to everyone, then everyone is entitled to have an opinion.

Periodically I read on various news sites that "Those priests who don't want celibacy should become Episcopalians." Ironically, there are more *married* former Episcopal priests in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church (which does NOT normally ordain married men) than there are in the Eastern Rite Catholic churches in the US (who DO normally ordain married men.) So Episcopalian and Lutheran pastors who convert to Catholicism certainly have a valid question as to why celibacy is required for some priests within the Latin Rite but not others.

Finally, I don't see this as an issue of sexuality or celibacy so much as a question of power. In this society, men generally do not have power over women outside of the purely physical. In fact, a woman having an affair with a priest in this culture wields power over him because she can blackmail him. By contrast, you see concubinage involving priests in places like Mexico and S. America where the position of women is more degraded. In the US, adult men DO have power over teenagers and I believe that's one reason you see the sexual pursuit of teens by some priests. It gives these weak, cowardly, and sexually immature men someone to feel superior to, and someone whom they can "lord it over."

Is it live, or is it the Onion? The US Ambassador to Bulungi is recalled on suspicion of making the country up. The self-proclaimed emperor of the West Africa Moorish Unity Federation of the World has set up a cozy Third World enclave in his embassy in an abandoned Atlanta school. You decide ... After channeling my inner John Kennedy Toole, I'm going to send off a contribution to the Crusade for Moorish Dignity.
Bolder than even the Nazis are the Arabs who continuously call for the extermination of Jews and of Israel, as Ben Stein points this out in this month's print edition of American Spectator. Even the Nazis, Stein says, felt compelled to commit genocide behind closed doors and out of the sight of the world community. But Arabs shout openly for the elimination of Jews and practically no one turns around anymore when they hear it. The silence and lack of denunciation by the rest of the world is interpreted once again as consent.

Friday, April 19, 2002

An Internet with fewer links... Unimaginable, but that's what the Eurosocialists would like to inflict on the wired world. Apparently a Danish newspaper trade group asked for a ban on "deep linking" to websites. "Deep linking" bypasses the front page and sends readers directly to pages deeper within the site.

One objector to "deep linking" claimed that "[others] may experience something different from what I intended when I established my website." Well, there's a solution for that: don't put things on your website that are going to embarrass you, and leave the rest of us alone to direct our readers wherever on the 'net we wish.
Time to amend the Constitution: The Immigration and Naturalization Service has belatedly gotten around to looking for 300,000+ illegal immigrants who were supposed to leave the country when their visas expired, but didn't. A recent sweep netted some Lebanese immigrants who, ironically, were Maronite Catholics seeking refuge from Muslim persecution.

What makes this situation difficult is that many potential deportees have underage children who are US citizens. Deporting these children along with their parents violates their rights as US citizens, and keeping them here while deporting the parents violates their natural rights. It's time to amend the US Constitution so that children born here of illegal immigrant parents are *not* automatically granted US citizenship, but instead have the citizenship of their mother.
Thanks, Amy Welborn! It was very kind of her to mention "another blog by a woman with kids." She continues to write on The Scandal and points to an interesting article on how Catholic canon law treats the sporadic sexual abuse of minors versus priests getting into long-term relationships with women.

From Richard Ostling's article: "Experts generally agree that canon law treats sex between clergy and adult women as a more serious offense than the molesting of minors..."

Thursday, April 18, 2002

"Genocide bomber:" My military friend writes: "The term we need to use is obvious: Genocide Bombers. Their aim, politics, outlook, and desires are purely Nazi, with the added flavor of 72 virgins waiting for them when they get to the other side."
Womanly Whinefest: Maureen Dowd blames the lack of marriage partners for over-35 women on men and their inability to deal with women supposedly "smarter" than they are.

Poor Maureen. She hasn't learned that God is forgiving but Nature isn't. He made it so that women were at the peak of their fertility *and* attractiveness between about 16 and 25. At those ages they are also the most docile. C'est la vie; c'est la guerre.

What people forget is that those assets which make it difficult for 35+ women to marry for the first time also make us excellent social commentators, gadflies, and Termagants At Large whose stinging tongues puncture pomposities. The perimenopausal traits everyone decries are probably there for a reason.

What reason, one wonders? Between 16 and 25 we most easily get the babies, but that's not the end of the story. We also have to raise them, and when one's children are out of the sweet cuddly toddler and preschool phase, one needs a watchful eye, a strong personality, a sharp tongue, and a good, biting sense of humor. We also tolerate nonsense far less than before.

Whether it was a Paleolithic mother negotiating for the "best match" for her daughters with the neighboring tribe, or the modern mother negotiating with a school to keep her children out of objectionable sex education, the traits of the middle-aged woman have their uses and are not to be despised. But they do make it impossible to pretend to be a 20-year old in the "marriage market" when one is 45.
Bye-bye, Ally... Finally Fox gets around to cancelling that smut-ridden, smarmy, self-pitying whinefest of a TV series, Ally McBeal. Even if Ally *had* gotten married, she'd probably have been an obnoxious Tom Wolfe-ian "social x-ray" and would have been completely miserable anyway.
What's on the bookshelf: John Crowley's The Translator. Crowley has taken time away from his elaborate gnostic meisterworks (like Little, Big) to softly brush us across the face with a more realistic romantic narrative about an undergraduate student who falls in love with her Russian exile poetry teacher. To say any more would deprive you of the same delight and wonder I experienced at the denouement, and which makes the re-reading even more enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

What's on the CD player? Josh Groban. Mmmmm....
"I know, teacher! I know!" The Minneapolis Star-Tribune tells us that executives benefit more from reading the classics (Shakespeare or the Bible or presidential speeches from previous centuries) than from feel-good "effective management" pablum.

Well, I have a perfectly novel idea of my own: I'll bet that approach works really well for children in schools, too! Homeschoolers have been doing this for years, as have some private schools and even occasionally good public school districts. Perhaps it's time for the rest of the nation to catch up.

Educational reformers: my hand is raised over here, so call on me. Instead of wasting students' and teachers' time with yet another standardized test to "improve reading," how about giving the kids age-appropriate classics? What point is there to reading if you read only boring "reading comprehension practice" packets, "modern realistic fiction" slop, or "victim literature?"
Midwest Conservative Journal: Fellow Episcopalian and Red Zone denizen Chris Johnson of MCJ has an impressive bloglist and has been very encouraging toward "the new girl." Check out his domain name! Wonder if CJ has seen Ang Lee's Ride With the Devil, filmed in Western Missouri?
Holy Blogs of Obligation, Batman! I love Catholic writer Amy Welborn's bloglist title on her In Between Naps (Mine, Not the Baby's) site. She has had some punchy and pungent comments about The Scandals, as well as gentle and amusing renditions of the trials and joys of motherhood, and although I don't know her personally she's been a blogging inspiration.
Federal Court Strikes Blow Against Racism: A federal court struck down Seattle's racially biased high school admissions policy, which gave students free choice of high schools within the district - unless they were whites who chose incorrectly by picking a school with too many whites in it. The court quoted the Supreme Court of the United States when it said that "distinctions made between citizens solely because of their ancestry are 'odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality.' "
Return of the King: Heartening news out of Afghanistan heralds the return of former king Mohammed Zaher Shah to the country which exiled him in a coup shortly before the 1980 Soviet invasion. Shah comes back to Afghanistan not to rule as king but preside over a governing council as a "symbol" of his country. That's my idea of a proper king or queen - a harmless and toothless figurehead who can nonetheless inspire love and loyalty.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

What's on the CD player right now: The soundtrack to Wim Wender's Faraway, So Close. Nick Cave's cuts are my favorite, especially the title song and "Cassiel's Song." An interesting bit of Nick Cave trivia I learned from some music magazine I read in the bookstore: he is a Louis Wain collector. Apparently the Edwardian cat artist whose representations grew increasingly abstract as his mental state deteriorated has come back into favor.
Virtual child pornography? The Supreme Court ruled that virtual child pornography (animated or computer-generated pornographic images of children that don't involve real victims) is constitutionally protected. Meanwhile, in Germany, prosecutors look into charging a jihadist Muslim father who went to a demonstration with fake explosives wrapped around his little daughter's waist. By the US Supreme Court's reasoning, the Germans have nothing to complain about - after all, they were just *virtual* explosives...
Butt-ugly Bauhaus boxes were going out of fashion, we *thought* - until the Pritzker committee awarded its "Nobel Prize of architecture" to Australian Glenn Murcutt. Nothing dies as hard as the last century's fashions.
They've got a lot of nerve... According to the National Post, Germany has offered to send peace-keeping troops to monitor some kind of "cease-fire" between Israelis and Palestinians. The Post called the offer "bizarre" and the Israelis are not amused, either.

Who do the Germans think they are? First they want to stop arm sales to Israel, and then they want to put armed men on Israeli soil? The Germans should go fix their OWN problems, like the rising tide of Neo-nazism, attacks on Jews and synagogues within Germany, high unemployment, and out-of-control Muslim terrorist cells, and leave the Israelis to fix theirs.

Monday, April 15, 2002

Wolfowitz booed, Gephardt cheered: President Bush's #2 Defense Secretary was booed at the pro-Israel rally in Washington DC today when he said that "innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying as well." Meanwhile my dearest own Congressman Dick Gephardt hawkishly proclaimed, "We will stand with Israel." Another Republican opportunity to unseat Gephardt slips away as he racks up points in the propaganda war...
I've got news for you, people... The NYTimes (registration required) tells us that parishioners in the heart of Red Zone Evansville, IN welcome Fr. Jean Vogler, who "wasn't hurting anyone else" with his child pornography addiction because "there were no children crying to their parents." Uh, excuse me... where do these bastions of forgiveness think child pornography comes from? It doesn't take more than two brain cells firing at one time to understand that an *abused child* is in front of the camera. Where's the concern for the victims?
Something really stupid once in a while never hurt anyone. When the children were young, we got ahold of a book on spontaneous human combustion. The pictures were horrific and I was in my overprotective new mother phase, so I got rid of it. (My husband has never let me live it down.) The book mentioned spontaneous animal combustion, too, which was strange enough, but the weirdest of all comes from Ananova today - spontaneous plant combustion.
My Nostalgia Buffer Overfloweth: The Toronto National Post reports that Canada-boomers yearn for the lovely simplicity of the 19th century. Oh, please. Let's look at what the 19th century had in the States that we don't:
- Either no anesthesia for surgery, or very limited anesthesia.
- No antibiotics.
- Cholera and TB epidemics.
- Infant mortality & maternal mortality rates that would be considered horrendous today.
- Severe pollution from burning coal & horse manure on streets in major cities.
- Widespread problems with orphans whose parents died of the various epidemics & high maternal mortality.
- A life expectancy in the high 40s.
- Child labor as young as 5 or 6.

I wouldn't say "the nineteenth century has much to teach us." In my observation, there are largely two types of "conservatives:" Those who yearn for the past, and those who look to the future. I count myself firmly in the latter camp.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

How To Jump-Start an Economy: It's not your father's Soviet Union anymore. First the Russians kick OPEC in the teeth by refusing to play along with the Oil Price Protection Racket. Then they institute a flat-rate income tax of 13%. Tax revenues have shot up 47%. This is how you go from a shaky second-world economy to a first-world one. The Russian system still has too many complications and paperwork, but US legislators, take notice.
Too many high school students are unprepared for college, according to the Orlando Sentinel. What's not said here is that in decades past most of these students would have long since dropped out of high school and would instead be working.

The education establishment believes that dropping out should be discouraged, but in reality too many students are *not* dropping out. Compulsory attendance should end at 14, not 16-18 as it already is in most states. States should fund high school educations, but those uninterested in either behaving or academically working should not be allowed to stay.
The sex scandals in the Roman Catholic Church still wind on, with every day bringing new revelations and new degrees of cover-up as reported in the Boston Globe and other papers nationally. One question that has come up periodically is why the problem seems to have become so acute in Catholicism, although these abuses do occur in other religious groups. (For instance, a teacher at an Islamic religious school in St. Louis was just convicted of sexually abusing students there, according to the 4/14/02 St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)

Some of the difference, I think, has to do with how Catholicism itself is structured. Lay Catholics do not pick their priests, their bishops, or the Pope. I mention this *not* to criticize how Catholics organize themselves; it's just a personal observation of mine that when people feel responsible *and* feel that they have the authority to act, they do so. This is true in almost any organizational situation. What I observe here is what psychologists call "learned helplessness."

In either liberal or conservative Protestant churches there are both *accountability* and *responsibility* - sometimes there seems almost too much of it! There really isn't anywhere to hide, and that's why when you do hear stories of Protestant ministers or lay workers going off the rails, it's almost always accompanied by "Charges were filed against..." and the stories are fresh, not 20-30 years old. A vestry or church governing board can turn a pastor, employee, or volunteer in so fast because in a legal sense the governing board is often responsible, or at least partially so (as opposed to a sole corporation bishop), and in a personal sense they "picked him" (or at least had a large hand in it) and thus they feel both accountable and responsible.

It also goes a long way to explain the length of the news cycle on this story. The Boston Globe and other newspapers are pursuing this story with an almost unheard-of degree of energy because out of everyone involved, they feel *the least degree* of "learned helplessness." They're doing what they do best - turning over rocks; getting courts to unseal records; getting ahold of e-mails that were never supposed to see the light of day. They're the ones "making facts."

Friday, April 12, 2002

MAD in the Middle East? A friend with wide historical knowledge and military expertise writes:

"The answer to this--resulting in the immediate and indefinite postponing of Armageddon--is simple.

All it would take would be a signed public and nuclear alliance between the United States and Israel, with MAD [Mutual Assured Destruction] applied to the entire Arab world with the US picking up in its nuclear response where Israel leaves off.

The Islamic world will not risk losing Mecca, much less every other city with a population over ten thousand, to kill the Jews.

MAD doesn't work in the present circumstance because the Arabs think that the Israelis only have 20 or 50 or 100 bombs. 'They'd lose everything, but we'd only lose a part of everything,' goes the Jihadist insanity.

They would be deterred if they knew they'd be met with retaliation from a world power with 30,000 nuclear weapons.

Thus: immediate and ugly peace."

Moo-ing Towards Armageddon? I liked Rod Dreher's recent National Review Online column on the "perfect red heifer", but it should be pointed out that our *government* as well was bending over backwards in Sept-Nov 2001 to point out that "this isn't a religious war but a war against terrorism." It wasn't all the fault of the "liberal media." I understand the propaganda value and immediate short-term gains from that position, but I think our people were and are being psychologically manipulated to serve elaborate political ends not necessarily to our advantage. As far as the Muslim radicals are concerned, it *is* about religion, especially where Temple Mount is concerned.

Ron Rosenbaum in the New York Observer has an interesting commentary on Philip Roth's fictional conception of "The Second Holocaust," with its overly optimistic view of a Europe welcoming Jews fleeing extermination in the Middle East.

The "Second Holocaust" as I see it will be a two-pronged military operation, with the first front occurring in the Middle East itself, as Arab nations directly attack Israel and try to destroy her entirely. The second front will range from Luton through Marseilles to Berlin, where anti-Semitic mobs harass and attack Jews in the hearts of European cities.

Where will we in the US stand as a "Second Holocaust" plays out in Israel and Europe? Will we drop the ball on Jewish immigration as we did in 1933-1938? Would we seriously give refugee status to several million Jews? These questions must be considered, because events refuse to wait for our consideration.

Europe needs to also look at something else concerning "The Second Holocaust." To the Nazis, it mattered not one whit whether a Jew was "assimilated" or Hasidic; complete atheist or devout believer. Christians in Europe are registered with their state churches, so that European countries have many "official" Christians but few serious ones. But to those making jihad, it matters not one whit whether a European or British Christian is merely "registered" or a believer - as Philip Roth channelled through Rosenbaum points out.

Introductions are in order. I'm a wife and mother living in the epicenter of the Red Zone. Hopefully this late adaptor climbing aboard the blogging bandwagon will serve as "iron sharpening iron" for you through these commentaries.