Friday, December 29, 2006

Death of a Tyrant

Iraqi's executed Saddam Hussein. Good Riddance. Josh Trevino as posted over a Hugh Hewitt's site an very good bit about the execution of tyrants from the perspective of someone who is against the death penalty. It so perfectly encapsulates my thoughts I will excerpt it here:
In America, our criminal law as inherited from England -- and specifically embodied in the concept of the "King's peace" -- is not meant to provide direct recompense to a victim, or an indirect victim, by means of the suffering of the criminal. Those victims must draw whatever solace they may from the state's punishment, as inflicted on the state's behalf. Pace Michael Dukakis, would I feel differently if, say, my wife were subjected to outrage and death? Of course: that is the human condition, and that is why we disallow direct personal vengeance in favor of a system of law. Thus, though it is easy to defend a policy of life in peacetime, if done without acknowledgment of, and compassion for, the anguish of those hurt by the criminal, it is reduced to mere moral posturing: an exercise in self-righteousness done not for the sake of justice, but for the sake of oneself. That is the calculation, attendant to the fate of the "ordinary" criminal.

And then there is Saddam Hussein.

It must be admitted that the killing of Saddam Huseein is a confounding event for an opponent of the death penalty like me. The ranks of those wholly meriting the final moments of agony, the fear of eternal horror, and the dread of God's justice are -- with respect to my Calvinist friends! -- small, but he is assuredly among them. There can be no sympathy for him as he struggles his last at the end of a rope: indeed, he will even then be in sublime comfort set against the twisting agony of the Kurdish children he gassed. There can be no regret for his lost potential, as he fully expressed it in his creation of a hideous police-state that consumed its children and ravaged its land. Nor can be sorrow for his circumstance, as he was master of his fate in his long decades of absolute power -- the only free man in Iraq -- and used his freedom to choose death and misery in full. The thing that will be done to him -- his execution -- is intrinsically wrong. But the things that he will feel as a result, in those final moments and beyond, will be right. Most victims of the gallows may be said to earn their fates: Saddam Hussein may be said to have chosen it.

And last:
For our own sakes, we hope for a merciful God, who will forgive even the worst among us. For Saddam Hussein's sake, we hope for a just God, whose face he never sees, obscured as it is by the visages of his countless victims.


Now I am not a math whiz and do not claim such pretensions but this little snippet was too good to pass up:
In Britain, post-Christmas shopping causes a frenzy like the one on our Black Friday. Yet when British customers hit the stores this week, they got a form of help (as yet) unheard of here: Teams of government workers were sent to show consumers how to do bargain-hunting math. A Dec. 27 Reuters report says that Britain's Department of Education and Skills assembled the helpers because 14.9 million U.K. adults may not be numerate enough to figure out the price of an item marked 20% off. In busy shopping areas, the government is also providing 200,000 sales calculators--to help citizens plumb the mysteries of pitches like "buy one, get one half price."

So Socialized edumacation is a failure, enough of a failure that basic math passes folks by. Two, Tony Blair's Nanny State steps in so people should be kept from puzzling it out on their own. Three, stores in Britain can't seem to figure out what the outlet malls and grocery stores have, here in the US: a discount conversion sign on clothing racks or shelf tags showing the old and discounted prices with percent saved.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

In the Words of Krusty the Klown: "So, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Kwazy Kwanza, a tip-top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan"

I am tempted to send a greeting card with those sentiments to a Gitmo Detainee if for no other reson than to confound CAIR and get a chuckle from the intelligence guy screening the detainee's mail:
The 400 or so detainees at Joint Task Force detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have received approximately 500 holiday greeting cards, said Army Col. Lora Tucker, a spokeswoman for the prison.

brahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the cards being sent to the detainees could be for the Eid ul-Adha holiday, which begins Dec. 30, but the tradition of card exchanges is nowhere nearly as established in the Muslim faith as it is in the Christian faith, especially in the United States.

"If the message is religiously appropriate in terms of being an actual greeting card, if that's what they're intended to do, then that's one thing," Hooper said.

But "if there's an orchestrated effort to somehow proselytize the detainees, I think that would be inappropriate in that they are in a captive situation."

Santa pressures you into converting, we all know this. What the hey does "religiously appropriate in terms of being an actual greeting card" mean? I get that he thinks that any card explictly religious in a non Islamic way is not OK. Jeez Louise though a card is a card whether it has a religious message or not. It's not like a rifle or rusty knife is being held on them and the prisoners have to convert or die.

Getting undergarments in a bunch over a card is humorless in the extreme. Happily, the detainees are not being subject to the humiliations of the scantily clad women who are visiting to cheer the Marines there:
Tucker said that troops stationed at Guantanamo Bay are in no danger of forgetting what holiday it is on Monday: Candy canes are adorning ship ramps at the naval station; pontoon and private boats put on a military-style light show outside the naval base earlier this week; and a number of VIPs have made their way to Gitmo, including actor Gary Sinise, who played "Lt. Dan Taylor" in the movie "Forrest Gump."

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders also have stopped by.

Three Articles

NRO has three articles of interest today. First is Cathy Seipp on Narnia and His Dark Materials:
Pullman’s a rip-roaring storyteller in the grand tradition of British fantasy-adventure writers Jules Verne and H. G. Wells and H. Rider Haggard, but his characters seem mostly wheeled out of a dusty prop closet; his “Texan” balloon pilot Lee Scoresby, for instance, is no more like a real Texan than Tiger Lily in Peter Pan is like a real Indian. Lewis’s fantasy characters, on the other hand, always have some dryly comical human trait that remind even the youngest readers of real people.

Second is Peter Suderman on Children of Men, the movie based on PD James' excellent book.
The movie is based on a novel by P. D. James, but like so many book-to-film adaptations, it bears only a loose resemblance to the source material, and it suffers for it. James, a former British civil servant with an intimate understanding of the workings of British bureaucracy, imbued her book with a sense of wintry resignation and a fine-grained interiority. The end was coming, but this was cause mainly for reflective sadness, not bedlam.

She foresaw a post-birth landscape in which the British government had stepped in to preserve the dignity and stability of its people — or at least its citizens — offering them tasteful suicide ceremonies, managing infrastructure preservation, and restricting immigration so as not to allow outsiders to freeload on British resources. In her futuristic Britain, calm and tradition would prevail. True, the country’s youths had a wild, riotous streak, and would sometimes wreak havoc, but this was mostly taken in stride. As she saw it, the British people would approach the death of civilization with typical reserve, doing their final duties with diligence and minimal uproar. Her book speculated not only on what society would do in the face of biological calamity, but what individuals might think and feel.

Cuarón, on the other hand, is all external. His future Britain crackles with chaos as society breaks down in its final days. The state has tried to preserve order, and has had more success than have other nations, but for the most part, chaos reigns. Terrorism is rampant. Immigrants are herded into cages and treated like animals. The country has devolved into a militaristic police state. James’s book gave humanity a quiet death; Cuarón’s movie forces the race to expire in violent tumult.

The third is Thomas Hibbs' Christmas Wish:
What do I want for Christmas? A contractual agreement between M. Night Shyamalan and Mel Gibson to make their next five films together. Collaborators on Signs, Shyamalan and Gibson together have, in the midst of a craven Hollywood culture that idolizes superficial novelty, the rare ability to deliver the unusual and the truly novel. It is interesting and instructive that their independence is intimately connected to their preoccupation with the big questions about human existence and with possible spiritual responses to those questions. But they also suffer from certain deficiencies — Shyamalan from increasingly impoverished plots and Gibson, aside from his offensive rants, from an inordinate reliance on explicit violence.
Sounds good.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Cheer

Thanks to the good offices of Allahpundit at Hot Air I can share one of my favorite Christmas specials with you: Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas. Enjoy!

Update: I love You Tube sometimes.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rome Season 2

Season two of Rome begins in January and I am looking forward to it. Here is a link to a three minute teaser, The embedding has been disabled so you'll have to click the link.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Funny and Sad

at the same time:

Be Seeing You

It was bound to happen:
AMC will air a remake of the trippy 1968 TV series The Prisoner, with a storyline similar to that of the original series, which starred Patrick McGoohan, who also was creator, producer, writer and director, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The original series aired on CBS 1967-'68.

The new series will follow a man who finds himself inexplicably trapped in "the Village," with no memory of how he arrived. All of the inhabitants are identified by number instead of name, have no memory of a previous existence or outside civilization and are under constant surveillance. The man, Number Six, sets out to discover the truth behind the Village, why he's there and how he can escape.

Production on the hourlong series is scheduled to begin in the spring for a worldwide premiere targeted for January 2008.

The number of episodes is yet to be determined, but it will be a minimum of six or eight.

AMC also has acquired rights to the original Prisoner and will air those episodes around the time of the new series' launch, along with films in the same genre as the show.

Yeah but when are they going to air Patrick McGoohan's truely hair raising stuff: Doctor Syn; Alias the Scarecrow?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dough Boy

I have always found the Pillsbury Dough Boy to be creepy. The pupilless blue eyes, inane smile and the giggle edged with psychopathic hysteria conspire to stand my hair on end. I am not alone:
He was part of an advertising team that birthed the Pillsbury Doughboy, an ingeniously conceived icon whose implications are best not considered. (What separates him from the other dough? Self-awareness, upright stance, a modicum of shame [he clothes his head and neck] and an easy, ingratiating rapport with the meat-giants who feast on his kin. What was his goal, exactly? Perhaps he wanted to shape our conceptions of dough – not what it was, but what it could be. Perhaps – and more likely, really – he had found himself come to life, realized that a horrible life of experimentation and confinement awaited, and deftly disarmed the Meat Giants by tempting them with delicious biscuits and sugar-drenched rolls. We can only imagine him alone at night, his day’s work done, trying to shape dough into the form of a companion, and breathing into its mouth. Failure; every time, failure. He wept small clear perfect tears, and they tasted like beer.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Is the End Nigh?

Hands off my dictionary Rachel Ray!
Today, on Rachael Ray’s talk show, Erin McKean, editor of Oxford American Dictionaries, showed up to present Ray with a framed certificate of recognition. As she explained to Ray, “Because of you, we are putting EVOO in the next edition of the Oxford American College Dictionary.” The entry will read: “EVOO: abbr. extra-virgin olive oil.”

Yet another chip in the Rachel Ray annoys me more than convicted criminal Martha Stewart. I can't see that without reading eee-vu. Fad-tastic.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Kid Movies

I just watched Barbie Nutcracker with the Muralist and have been amazed again at the strength of the Barbie movies. While it certainly is not the Baryshnikov masterpiece, it is a great version. Barbie (as Clara) is persistent, honorable and self reliant and brave. Not a bad set virtues to showcase. Plus Tim Curry voices the Rat King, which is delicious.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Geek Check

I know, I know, as if my header tag didn't give it away (via Glenn):

Like Capt. Mal Reynolds stumbling in after a bar fight, the short-lived but much beloved sci-fi series Firefly will soon make an unexpected return, not as a TV show, but as a massively multiplayer online game.

I have never played a MMORPG before but if I did I might start here.
The "Browncoats," as Firefly's most devoted fans are known, have been campaigning to bring the show back almost since the moment it was canceled in late 2002. Now they'll get their wish, albeit in a new form.

"We see virtual worlds as an extraordinarily promising new entertainment medium," said Adam Kline, Fox Licensing's vice president of media enterprises in an e-mail. "We believe Multiverse can deliver an experience that will remain true to the original series, while enabling a whole new level of personal involvement for fans."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Saint Paul?

I put a plea out to all magazines and newspapers: If these are the remains of Saint Paul, can we please go easy on the "shocking" story of Saint Paul? Can you focus on his explosive energy and not allegations of mysoginy? Why is is that biblical figures are portrayed as hypocrites not humans? Moses was a murderer, King David was a lecher, James, brother of Jesus, was controlling and biased against gentiles beyond reason. If it were not for Paul, we might not be here enjoying the fruits of a civilied country.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tres Amazonian

Via Glenn Reynolds, from USA Today:
Before long, "user-generated content" won't refer only to media, but to just about anything: user-generated jeans, user-generated sports cars, user-generated breakfast meats.

This is because setting up a company that designs, makes and globally sells physical products could become almost as easy as starting a blog — and the repercussions would be earthshaking.

That's the future CEO Jeff Bezos hopes to set in motion with the company's new direction. If you tease out Bezos' plan, you get to a point where a high school cheerleader sitting at home with a laptop could theoretically harness computing power, design capabilities, manufacturing and distribution from around the world, and make and market a cute little pink hot rod that would compete against General Motors.

Just what GM's board wants to hear about now, huh?

Did I mention the Dear Husband begins work with Amazon after January first?

Friday, December 01, 2006

And the Four Year Old Wept

If you have never heard of the Wiggles, then you have no contact with the under six crowd. The Wiggles are the Aussie invasion, clean cut, full of boundless energy and catchy songs, which will not get out of your head. Alas, Greg Page, the Yellow Wiggle is leaving the group due to illness.
Greg Page, 34, said in a statement that the disorder orthostatic intolerance, which causes dizziness, fatigue and nausea, had left him debilitated.

He said it was not life-threatening but "it means I'll no longer be able to sing and dance as I want to".

The condition is related to blood pressure and has affected Page's balance, breathing and co-ordination at unpredictable times and with varying severity, according to a statement on the band's website.

Page withdrew from the group's US tour in June after suffering from fainting spells and lethargy.

The Wiggles concerts are exhausting to watch, so much energy radiates from the stage. Imagine an arena filled with clapping, wriggling tots singing songs at the top of their lungs.

The Wiggles were Australia's top-earning entertainers last year, ahead of AC/DC and Nicole Kidman.

We'll miss ye Greg, yellow Wiggle, but I'll be glad to skip the creepy puppet version of ya. Havenu Shalom Alachem.