Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Obama and “reviving historical stereotypes”

March 28, 2008

Read Richard John Neuhaus’s commentary on Obama’s Philadelphia “race speech.” A snippet:

Conceding to him the best of intentions, Senator Obama has inadvertently launched an exercise in the demeaning of black America that is, in consequence, very ugly. Whites are invited to make their peace with the fact that these are the children of Stepin Fetchit and Amos and Andy who have replaced humor with the shuffle of political extremism but are still entertaining the country by doing their black thing. Cut them some slack. Lighten up.
[. . .]
By reviving historic stereotypes, Senator Obama’s speech and the uses to which it is being put has dealt a severe blow to race relations in America. It is giving a big boost to what someone has rightly called the soft bigotry of low expectations.

I myself read the whole speech, and watched about 10 minutes of it. I was impressed. But I think Neuhaus has some good points. Still, it might be good to have Obama in the White House, if for no other reason than (as Neuhaus says), “a black president would put a stake through the heart of liberal guilt-mongering about our putatively racist society.” Amen to that.


Ahmadinejad at Columbia

September 26, 2007

Are you all following this story? The nutcake president of Iran was invited to speak on the campus of Columbia University, an invitation promoted by the nutcake president of Columbia, Lee Bollinger. Commentary on this tragically stupid move is ubiquitous online, but here is an excerpt from one of the denunciations.

Friends, please take 60 seconds to read this and let me know what you think. I agree with the point about it being unacceptable to treat genocide as a topic of legitimate debate, but am not so sure about the call to abandon Columbia. I’d think rather the goal should be to renew it by gradually injecting it with common sense, in the form of new professors and new students who are attracted to it precisely because they do not conform to the currently-prevailing views. You can still get a good education there, after all, while not agreeing with the administration’s politics (and looniness).

Toronto’s as gay as it gets

June 21, 2007

No, really: that’s their new tourism campaign. I kid you not.

Article here.
I’d be pissed off if I were an American sailor. Apparently it’s okay to stereotype now, too? Pink makes my head hurt . . .

Obit: G.B. Tennyson

June 14, 2007

One of my UCLA English professors has died in a house fire. I learned this while searching for information on Owen Barfield, whose Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry I’m currently rereading.

I found the news over at David Lavery’s Barfield website. Tennyson was a specialist in Victorian literature and a pioneer in Barfield studies; and at the time I was his student, had recently completed a documentary on Barfield (“Owen Barfield: Man and Meaning”), part of which we watched in class. That was 1996 and Barfield was 98 years old.

Strangely, there’s not a word of Tennyson’s passing on the UCLA English department’s website, and I couldn’t find anything about it anywhere else online, either. I have good memories of his C.S. Lewis class: his expertise on the subject of Lewis’s life and writings, primarily, but also the “magic wand” he would bring to class—a clear tube filled with glitter and a clear, semi-viscous liquid. I think he used its powers mainly to get us to be quiet at the beginning of class—a feat accomplished by tapping it repeatedly on the table. The final exam was also memorable: we were to complete a narrative/analytical essay on Lewis by simply writing single words into blank spaces. E.g., “Lewis was born in the year ____.”

Lavery has written up a nice bio of Tennyson. R.I.P.

Does Esfandiari’s plight affect the validity of Krugman’s judgment?

May 28, 2007

Paul Krugman writes today in the New York Times TimesSelect area:

Here’s the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.

When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of “Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda” wants to “bring down the West,” he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.

And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn’t in Iraq, will “follow us home” if we leave, he should be laughed at.


Michael Moore’s “Sicko” undermines favorite Leftist myths

May 27, 2007

The Cannes Film Festival took place last week, with Michael Moore’s new film showing, out of competition, on May 19th. It’s called “Sicko” and in it, according to the Cannes site, “the filmmaker investigates the flaws in the American health care system.”

Looking cool in CannesHe does this, according to Anthony DePalma of the New York Times, by taking “a handful of sick Americans to Cuba for treatment in the course of the film”. Based on Cannes and the NY Times, you would think this movie is about medicine. But the fact that these “sick Americans” are actually World Trade Center first-responders, “heroes of 9/11”, as the LA Times puts it, shows the political motivation behind the film. (They are called “fist responders” on the front page of I suppose that means they swing first and ask questions later.) Says one of the men who was offered a trip to Cuba only to be “stiffed” by Moore:

“What he [Moore] wanted to do is shove it up George W’s rear end that 9/11 heroes had to go to a communist country to get adequate health care,” said McCormack, who suffers from chronic respiratory illness.


One million demonstrate in Rome; NY Times looks other way

May 14, 2007

My point here is simple and obvious: the news media are dominated by Leftists. Consider the following cases.

Saturday was “Family Day” in Rome—a demonstration in defense of traditional family values against the ever-increasing demands of homosexuals. Estimates for the number of pro-family demonstrators range from several hundred thousand, up to 1.7 million. A huge event by any standard.

And yesterday the World Congress of Families concluded in Warsaw, Poland. This was a three-day event which calls itself “the world’s largest conference of pro-family leaders and grass roots activists.” Thousands of pro-family leaders and governmental ministers from 60 countries participated.

Yet—amazingly? expectedly?—not a single word of this appears to have been reported by the New York Times. I could be wrong on this, but searching for key words such as “Family Day” and “Lateran” (the rally being convened at St. John Lateran Square) turned up ZERO hits at A search on “World Congress of Families” also turned up nothing, even though this is the fourth such Congress, with previous meetings held in Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), and Mexico City (2004). Apparently the Times has ignored them all.

The same goes for Unless I’m searching incorrectly, neither of these “news” outlets considers either of these events newsworthy. (The NY Times did run a full-length report on Leonard Nimoy’s photographs of obese nude women, however. And CNN is rightfully famous for its coverage of such “news” as its current Top Story: “Olympic bomber taunts victims from prison”.)

The LA Times and the BBC reported on Family Day (though neither noticed the World Congress of Families). However, this is not to say that they acknowledged the strength of the pro-family forces in Italy. The BBC ends its piece by lamenting that gay couples are still not getting equal rights, and claims that

Recent polls showed that most Catholics in Italy are in favour of changes to the legislation despite Church opposition.

Interesting, then, that a MILLION of them should turn out in person to demonstrate against the very legislation that “recent polls” claim they support! One really has to believe strongly in something to actually go and participate in person.

Read more about Family Day at the WDTPRS blog, written by an American priest living in Rome. Here is one of his pictures of the pro-family crowd (click for larger picture).
family day crowd

NASA rethinking (sex and) death for Mars mission

May 2, 2007

The link to this article reads, “NASA rethinking sex and death for Mars mission.” However, get to the article, and the headline mentions only death: “NASA rethinking death in mission to Mars.”

But just when you thought you’d been baited and switched, comes this section:

One topic that is evidently too hot to handle: How do you cope with sexual desire among healthy young men and women during a mission years long?

Sex is not mentioned in the document and has long been almost a taboo topic at NASA. Williams said the question of sex in space is not a matter of crew health but a behavioral issue that will have to be taken up by others at NASA.

Ha: “too hot to handle” . . . yeah, the NASA prudes don’t dare touch that one. Too busy with their pocket protectors and slide rules, I guess.

Walker Percy includes a lengthy section in Lost in the Cosmos dedicated to the problems of manning a long-term space mission. Do you choose the Burt Reynolds/Shirley MacLaine type crew? The inseparable, middle-aged homebody lesbians? The San Fran homos? Or the lapsed Catholic/militant feminist crew? Great fun.

I took a poll of undergraduates and they overwhelmingly favored the lesbian crew. Why? Because Percy said they were “excellent astronauts” and “highly cultivated.” However, being a good astronaut, a poet, and a historian may not help with the ultimate goal of the mission, which is to establish relations with ETIs (Extra Terrestrial Intelligences). The lesbians might not be the best choice if you want a crew able to accurately represent the majority of the human race. I say go with the lapsed Catholic . . . at least he’ll probably call a spade a spade when he’s dragged before the alien tribunal.

Where’s Savannah State in this article?

May 2, 2007

The NY Times has a piece on the increasing popularity of religion among university students. What causes this newfound interest, which, according to a guy from Harvard, is at its highest pitch in 100 years?

They offer a few reasons: the increased prominence of the “religious right” in politics (a term I find ridiculous); realizing after 9/11 that religion influences world affairs; uncertainty about the war in Iraq. So far, they’re interested in it because it affects politics. Not very convincing to me, though surely some students’ interest is best described in these terms. Towards the end they note that perhaps some students come to religion because it answers some questions that secularism can’t.

But I’d like to see a companion piece to this, pointing out that the orthodoxy on campus is still by and large anti-Christian. I don’t know all the facts about the Commissioned II Love case at Savannah State University, but it seems very clear that there’s some anti-Christian bias at work on the part of the administration. Unless C2L is as horrific as some of its critics accuse it of being (see the numerous comments at my earlier entry on this topic), you’d have to be committed to suppressing Christians to say that their foot-washing ceremony is “hazing”.

I tried to find new information on the C2L case the other day, but nothing seems to be publicly available beyond what I posted in March.

The Rosslyn Motet

May 1, 2007

CNN reports that a musical score has been decoded from carvings in the arches of Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel apparently shows up in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, though I wouldn’t know anything about that, having only been able to read to page 145 before I just couldn’t take any more. Don’t get me started.

But Rosslyn Chapel is awesome. And it doesn’t surprise me that it holds encoded mysteries: the Renaissance was a great age of numerology, arithmology, allegory, and all types of esoteric symbolism.

One quotation seems to criticize the music, and deserves some elucidation:

Simon Beattie of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust said he was delighted to have the mystery finally solved, and was intrigued by the music itself.

“It’s not something you would want to put on in the car and listen to, but it’s certainly an interesting piece of music,” he said. “It’s got a good mediaeval sound to it.”

What they don’t mention here is that in the Middle Ages, in order for music to be considered “beautiful,” it did not need to actually sound good to the ear. Now, they probably don’t mention this because it takes many books to fully describe the aesthetics of the Middle Ages, but in a nutshell, mathematics was considered one basis for beauty. The Rosslyn music is based on Pythagorean intervals and proportions—ideas which were transmitted from the ancient Greeks through Galen, Vitruvius, Augustine, and Boethius. Boethius saw music as essentially mathematical, and this was a very typical medieval approach (so says Umberto Eco in Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages, page 30).

In the case of the Rosslyn “composer,” all that mattered seems to have been that the numbers were “true”—they had to jive with “numerical beauty.” Strange notion to us today, but that’s how it was.

Over at the website of the tune’s discoverer, we get a good dose of Dan Brown-ness:

Why would anyone want to hide music? Could it be threatening or dangerous to someone or something? Unless it was very special piece that contained magical, harmonic and resonant properties that resonated in sympathy with spiritual beliefs. Was this music ‘outlawed’ by the Catholic church for some reason?

Yeah, it was probably the music-hating Catholic church that forced this piece to be carved in stone rather than written down on paper.

Come on. Just stop, please.

But do visit the site and watch the video—fascinating!