Monday, October 31, 2005

GOOD NEWS: 1. Alito, yay! Am excited.

2. The final version of my short story, "Now and at the Hour," is available in the current issue of Doublethink magazine. This version is better than the one you might at some point have seen on my fiction website; moreover, I took that version down, so if you want it, Doublethink is the only place to get it. Summary: "Welcome to a future where the drugs make you think you're in West Berlin, and you can live forever if you really think you want to."

3. Tuesday is All Saints' Day. Go to church!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,
Turn this stupid blogwatch yellow! ...

Amy Welborn: "Welborn's Rule #1: When a person begins a sentence 'I'm a Catholic,' you know you have trouble on the way. When they begin a sentence 'I'm a devout Catholic,' you have disaster, guaranteed." (could not be more true.)

Cacciaguida: More on the Shakespeare Theatre's excellent Othello.

The Discernment Dilemma: "Maybe humor, definitely Faith, and hopefully Reason from the depressed mind of a suburban Catholic teen." Brings the Cacciaguida family blog stable to a robust four.

E-Pression: Make a mantis laugh!

And it's not every day that Alexander of Macedon writes to defend his (...okay, his namesake's) reputation from John Keegan's charges.

"Are you sure that's a blogwatch? ...Well, it's not very good, is it?"
Generalship is bad for people. As anyone intimate with military society knows only too well, the most reasonable of men suffuse with pomposity when stars touch their shoulders. Because 'general' is a word which literature uses to include in the same stable Alexander the Great and the dimmest Pentagon paper-pusher, perfectly well-balanced colonels begin to demand the deference due to the Diadochi when promoption carries them to the next step in rank.
--John Keegan, The Mask of Command

Friday, October 28, 2005

And Lorca the blogwatch poet they left 'til last...

Camassia: "But does the body have a vote on reality, as the mind does? In other words, if somebody insists that he's actually female and his body says otherwise, who do we listen to?" (more)

The fourth chapter of my book will wrestle with hypocrisy in Hollywood. I'm looking for two kinds of information:

1) Quotes by celebs condemning hypocrites or hypocrisy. If you send these in, please identify the source of the quotation.

2) Famous hypocrites in film. Obvious candidates include Captain Renault in Casablanca, Robert Duvall in The Apostle, and Steve Martin in Leap of Faith.

Have at it folks. My e-mail address is JEREMYAL123 -- AT -- YAHOO -- DOT -- COM.


I sent him this list: The evil preacher played by Robert Mitchum in "Night of the Hunter"; Amerigo Bonasera, the guy at the very beginning of "The Godfather Pt I" who asks the Godfather for a favor on his daughter's wedding day; Sidney Falco in "Sweet Smell of Success"; the main character in "Election"--Matthew Broderick's character; Angela Lansbury's character in "The Manchurian Candidate" count; Bialystok and Bloom, from "The Producers"; and Jimmy Stewart's character in "Rope"--a reverse hypocrite, when the rubber hits the road he isn't a Nietzschean after all but an adherent of ordinary morality.

Mark Shea: "John Paul taught that the mark of original sin was the loss of the apprehension of God as Father. When a culture is dominated by original sin and gives in to the abandonment of God, they don't get nothing--they get the apprehension of God as Master." (more)

And the Wall Street Journal on what you have to do to get into the University of California system: "'Christian Morality in American Literature' is biased. 'Feminine Perspectives in Literature' is not." (oh yeah, you know you want more)

Last--but by no means least--why did no one tell me that I NEEDED THE POGUES?! "The Sickbed of CuChulainn" may be the best drunk-rock song ever recorded, ever. They actually made me love a song called "Sally MacLennane," which should have been an impossible task. ...Like an even-better-than-the-real-thing version of my most beloved pub, my personal version of George Orwell's "Moon Under Water," Anna Liffey's in New Haven. Where the vodka tonics are always fresh and sweet, the bar girls likewise, and nobody ever has to go home.

I'm a free-born man of the U.S.A....
America, it has been said, is a country dominated by the dimension not of time--as is Europe, trammelled by its history--but of space.
--John Keegan, The Mask of Command

If anyone has any thoughts a'tall on how this quotation might relate to the differences between Death in Venice and Lolita, please email me, as it's something I'm working on right now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

YALE'S FINEST PUBLICATION has a new and exciting website.
As [Wellington] pressed on closer to the retreating enemy, one of his staff urged him not to take any more risks. 'Never mind,' he answered. 'Let them fire away. The battle's gained. My life's of no consequence now.' About 10 his progress across the battlefield brought him close to La Belle Alliance. There Blucher, reeking of gin and liniment, was waiting to throw an embrace round him. 'Mein lieber Kamerad,' he exclaimed, 'quelle affaire.' The old Prussian's few words of French were the only language they had in common.
--John Keegan, The Mask of Command

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Finder: The Rescuers. The latest installment of the "aboriginal science fiction" series; two interlocking plotlines, plus one backstory (and a twist revealed at the end), all centering on children in jeopardy. One plotline mirrors the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, with all the attendant upstairs-downstairs drama and suspicion. One plotline concerns an aboriginal woman who has, in a development her tribe would consider disastrous if they knew, given birth to twins. The first link between the two stories is geographical: The twins' mother lives on the pseudo-Lindberghs' estate, as part of an encampment that serves as a kind of tourist attraction. Jaeger, the half-aboriginal (? I think) "finder" of the title, is the second link: a member (? again, not clear on the details) of the twins' mother's tribe, and a supernaturally skilled detective who hunts for the baby's kidnapper.

So, the good stuff: The plots are both highly suspenseful. You really want to know what will happen in the kidnapping investigation, whether the twins will live, and what will happen to their mother if they do.

Once again, the book has all kinds of intriguing, rough-edged details that make the Finder world feel real. My favorite from this book is probably the television kudzu that grows all over the city. It's visually striking, and it plays to Carla Speed McNeil's themes of celebrity, the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of human culture and technology, and the image of the city as another kind of wilderness. It's funny and feels right.

McNeil's loopy, organic drawings have a lovely movement, partly a vegetable or vine-growth and partly a dance. All her characters are distinctively drawn, and their facial features provide part of the clues we (and the characters surrounding them) use to fit them into the larger cultural picture.

The not-so-much: Jaeger continues to skate on very thin ice separating him from the deadly waters of Jaeger-Sueness. I'm pretty sure he's not supposed to be wrong even once in this book (which was not true in earlier Finder books). He's way too voice-of-hard-earned-wisdom. I still really like the character, but I'm also still afraid that McNeil is slowly succumbing to his charms; that would be bad.

More importantly, I didn't get the impression that this book added up. It felt like a jumbled heap of examples of "rescuers," but that's not the same as actually saying or showing something about rescuing. Am I missing something? Why is this story being told? I don't feel like I understand rescuing, or what it's like to be forced into the role of rescuer, or cultural differences, or any of the book's other themes, better than I did before I read it.

My recommendation remains what it's been for a while: Read Finder: Sin Eater I & II. Those are awesome. If you want more after that, try Dream Sequence. Unless I'm really missing something, I'd have to put The Rescuers somewhere further down the list, which is unfortunate since it does have a compelling plot and what should have been a powerful theme.

The Pulse, vol. 2: In which, in only the second volume!!!, Marvel/Bendis/whoever forgets what the point of this series is. Why does this series exist? To tell stories about the intersection of journalism and superheroics in the Marvel Universe. This series exists to show J. Jonah Jameson vs. Jessica Jones vs. the world. This is not a series about Nick Fury's random political troubles. I guess this was part of a crossover or something? It really felt like a story that could have taken place anywhere, with any characters, totally not distinctive to Jessica or to the Daily Bugle setting. Hulk smash, man.

Rising Stars of Manga vol. 5: So I actually bought this because the winning story, "Mail Order Ninja," is written by Friend of This Blog Joshua Elder. And "MON" is fun! It's a light, fluffy story about a kid who orders a ninja by mail, and the various troubles and hijinks that ensue. Like an ice cream frog from the Good Humor man: cool, sweet, a little geeky, fun while it lasts.

The runners-up are a mixed bag. None rise to the level of "you must buy this now!", at least not for me, but some were cool and I'll keep an eye out for other work by the creators. Here's the rundown:

"Baggage," by Roald Munoz: Guy can see, and carry, the "emotional baggage" carried by others. Super-angsty premise, lightweight plot; nonetheless the drawing style is all funky and what I think they're calling "kinetic," with lots of extreme angles and other stuff that I do find fun.

"Can I Sit Here?", by George Alexopolous: Teen-angst storylet about a guy who can't work up the nerve to ask if he can sit next to the girl he sees every day at the bus stop. I actually liked this a lot. The endearing, self-deprecating humor in both the writing and the artwork really worked for me. I hated the "lady or the tiger?" cop-out ending, though. Pick an ending and stick with it, doggoneit!

"Chibi Zombies," by Ashley Cope: Uh, I don't really know what a "chibi" is. I wasn't the target audience for this. I found it icky and dull. Possibly if you know what a chibi is, chibi zombies are hilarious.

"Modus Vivendi," by Jeong Mo, Yang and Andrew Yi: Parody of destined-hero-and-destined-sword fantasy schlock. Not my thing.

"Pop Star," by T. Campbell and Amy Mebberson: Fictionalized version of Britney vs. ...uh, some other pop star, not sure who. Very cute drawings, ultimately not nearly sharp enough satire to carry the premise.

"Seed," by Morgan Luthi: Cliched but painless story of two rival sisters reconciling as they try to fix the giant robot that provides their village with its sustenance. Giant robot in the rain = fun.

"Blue Phoenix: No Quarter," by Michael Shelfer: Sub-X-Men fantasy/sci-fi cliches a-go-go. (Can I use more dashes?) Really, I did not get why this was even a runner-up.
JUS IN BELLO: Via Andrew Sullivan, how people die in U.S. custody:
An Iraqi detainee (also described as a white male) died on January 9, 2004, in Al Asad, Iraq, while being interrogated by "OGA." [= "other government agency," often, I think, CIA --Eve] He was standing, shackled to the top of a door frame with a gag in his mouth at the time he died. The cause of death was asphyxia and blunt force injuries. Notes summarizing the autopsies record the circumstances of death as "Q by OGA, gagged in standing restraint." (Facts in the autopsy report appear to match the previously reported case of Abdul Jaleel.)

* A detainee was smothered to death during an interrogation by Military Intelligence on November 26, 2003, in Al Qaim, Iraq. A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of General Mowhoush, lists "asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression" as the cause of death and cites bruises from the impact with a blunt object. New documents specifically record the circumstances of death as "Q by MI, died during interrogation."

* A detainee at Abu Ghraib Prison, captured by Navy Seal Team number seven, died on November 4, 2003, during an interrogation by Navy Seals and "OGA." A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of Manadel Al Jamadi, shows that the cause of his death was "blunt force injury complicated by compromised respiration." New documents specifically record the circumstances of death as "Q by OGA and NSWT died during interrogation."

* An Afghan civilian died from "multiple blunt force injuries to head, torso and extremities" on November 6, 2003, at a Forward Operating Base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (Facts in the autopsy report appear to match the previously reported case of Abdul Wahid.)

* A 52-year-old male Iraqi was strangled to death at the Whitehorse detainment facility on June 6, 2003, in Nasiriyah, Iraq. His autopsy also revealed bone and rib fractures, and multiple bruises on his body. (Facts in the autopsy report appear to match the previously reported case of Nagm Sadoon Hatab.)


FOIA document dump here. (Via Hit & Run.)

That's why the Bush administration is wrong about this, and why it matters.
HOW LIVEJOURNAL WAS MADE: Fun stuff, including this: "There have been glitches along the road to success. Last year, LJ crashed for two days when someone at one of the offices pushed 'a big red button' that cut power to the servers. 'They thought it opened the door to the bathroom,' sighs Fitzpatrick." (more)
But simply because Alexander chose to pursue glory within the dramatic unities of time, place and action that warfare imposes upon those who practise it, the perfection of his performance should not blind us to the harshly limited nature of his achievement. He destroyed much and created little or nothing. The Persian empire, a force for order in the ancient world, to summarize its function at its lowest, did not survive the Alexandrian conquest. Within a generation of his death, it had been torn to pieces by the quarrels of his successors, the Diadochi. The conquest itself was made at the cost of great suffering to many, not only to the Persians who opposed the Macedonian invasion but to the disparate peoples of the empires whose lives were disrupted by it and who reacted to disruption in what Alexander called insurrection and rebellion.

One of his most perceptive biographers, N.E.L. Hammond, juxtaposes with a list of his good qualities a list of his bad: 'his overweening ambition, his remorseless will, his passionate indulgence in unrestrained emotion, his readiness to kill in combat, in passion and in cold blood and to have rebellious communities destroyed. He had many of the qualities of the noble savage.' And that, perhaps, is the 'real' Alexander that the mask of his command of himself conceals. There is the nobility of self-forgetting in his life--danger forgotten, fatigue forgotten, hunger and thirst forgotten, wounds forgotten. But they were forgotten with the amnesia of savagery, to which all who opposed his will were subject. His dreadful legacy was to ennoble savagery in the name of glory and to leave a model of command that far too many men of ambition sought to act out in the centuries to come.

--John Keegan, The Mask of Command

Monday, October 24, 2005

Stop your messing around,
Better think of your blogwatch...

Balkinization: Must-read (for right and left) post on the Miers maneuvering.

MarriageDebate: Me vs. gay marriage! Series of posts starts here; includes God vs. heterosexuals; the next St. Valentines; and atheist cathedrals. I strongly suggest you read the entire series of posts first, then hit the comments-boxes for various objections and my responses. I really think that strategy is the best way to get a sense of what I'm actually arguing, even if you still disagree.

The Cornell Society for a Good Time. Via Mark Shea.

Rosa Parks, R.I.P.
Alexander, we may guess from his later reactions, guessed from their attempt to strengthen their position that they had no stomach for a fight and could be devastated if brought under physical attack. Certainly it would be the case in all his subsequent engagements that he took any improvisation of field defences as an invitation to boldness and always attacked precisely at the point the enemy had sought to make attack most difficult.
--John Keegan, The Mask of Command

Friday, October 21, 2005

BLOGS FROM IRAQ: Iraqi citizens; US soldiers; other folk. Some defunct blogs. Still a good resource. Iraq Blog Count is another one, more comprehensive and focused on Iraqis rather than just anybody blogging from Iraq. Via Oxblog.
But theatricality was at the very heart of Alexander's style of leadership, as perhaps it must be of any leadership style. Throughout the Alexander story, acts of theatre recur at regular intervals. Daily, of course, he had to make sacrifice to the gods; in Macedonian culture, only the king could perform that central religious act. Bizarre though it seems to us, therefore, his day began with his plunging of a blade into the living body of an animal and his uttering of prayer as the blood flowed. Before Gaugamela, uniquely in his whole kingship, he performed sacrifice in honour of Fear.
--John Keegan, The Mask of Command

Thursday, October 20, 2005

READ THIS BOOK OR I SHOOT THE DOG!: Two weeks ago I finished Elizabeth Marquardt's new book, Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce. You can read excerpts here. Basically, this book is amazing, and everyone should read it, right now.

The book is based on two interlocking research projects: a nationally-representative survey of 1,500 young adults, and the in-depth interviews on which the survey questions were based. She interviewed 70 young adults with at least a college degree: 35 from intact families, 35 from divorced families who had ongoing contact with both parents. By focusing on college graduates and people who had maintained relationships with both parents, she hoped to screen out most of the worst-case scenarios--she wasn't interested so much in the well-documented research showing that people whose parents divorce are at greater risk of low educational attainment, criminal involvement, etc. In the nationally-representative survey, respondents' families were divided into low-conflict intact, high-conflict intact, low-conflict divorced, and high-conflict divorced. Marquardt wanted to study how even "good divorces" affect children's moral and spiritual development: how children learn who they are, what is true, what is the right thing to do, how to understand and approach God.

What she learned is that there is, essentially, an undiscovered culture in this country: the culture of children of divorce. Their experiences, in general, differ from the experiences of children from intact families in a host of ways. They're much more likely to focus on and monitor their parents' emotions and needs from a very young age; much more likely to feel as though they were "a different person" with each parent; much more likely to have felt physically unsafe as a child. Beyond the abstractions and statistics, Marquardt really delves into how divorce is experienced--how children grow, and are strengthened by the challenges they face; but how even "resilient" children, "little adults," suffer, often very deeply.

Marquardt is very clear that she isn't saying all divorces are wrong. She isn't calling for legal changes to make divorce more difficult (at least not in this book--I don't know her position on such changes). She isn't blaming divorced parents. She has a strong relationship with her own parents, who supported her in her research, and it's clear that she loves them very much and knows that they both love her. But she does hope that by pointing out the often-hidden struggles children of divorce undergo, she will encourage more people in difficult marriages to work out their troubles and stay together.

This is a profound, moving book. A very good review is here if you need more before you spend your shekels.
President Bush faces a defining question of morality on which he has yet to receive any discernible guidance from the faith-based coalition that helped put him in office. The question: whether it is ever right for Americans to inflict cruel and degrading treatment on suspected terrorist detainees. ...

I do not know how others would advise the President theologically on these matters, but as a convinced Christian who has tried for 20 years to apply principles of evangelical faith to issues of human rights, here are three principles of a biblical worldview that seem applicable:

* The state has the authority to protect its citizens by detaining criminals and using force to restrain those who seek to destroy innocent life.

* All those whom the state detains retain the image of God and are due a standard of care required by God.

* Because the power of the state over detainees is exercised by fallen human beings, that power must be limited by clear boundaries, and individuals exercising such power must be transparently accountable.

Therefore, even if it is expedient to inflict cruelty and degradation on a prisoner during interrogation (and experts seem very much divided on this question), in my view, the moral teachings of Christ, the Torah and the Prophets do not permit it for those who bear the Imago Dei.

more (via Godspy)

My take here.
THE RIGHT TO BE WRONG: Kevin Seamus Hasson, head of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, has a new book out on the moral and metaphysical/spiritual case for religious freedom. I've read some of his speeches on which portions of the book are based, and if the book is anything like those speeches, there will be a lot of real, hardcore philosophical work being done, presented in clear and easily-grasped language. Hasson's work is deeply influenced by Pope John Paul II, especially Fides et Ratio and Veritatis Splendor, but he does not share the great pope's often Germanic writing style! Anyway, here's a small hint of what's in the book; I'm really looking forward to reading it.
Some people say they [Muslims] need a Reformation that separates mosque and state. I've argued that what they really need is a Vatican II: They need to discover within the roots of their own tradition the human truth that undergirds religious liberty: Coercing conscience is wrong, because human beings are born with an innate thirst for transcendence, a demand to search for the true and the good, and the need to express that truth in public, not just private. And that can only be done with integrity when it's done freely. That development within Islam would go a long, long way towards guaranteeing the religious freedom of people in Islamic countries. Muslims and Christians can't agree on who God is, but we can agree on who we are.

NRO: Do you think there's any real interest in this idea in Islamic countries?

Hasson: Well, I've been invited twice to make religious-liberty arguments on Al Jazeera. So yes, I know first-hand there is an enormous hunger out there, especially among young people, for a new vision about how one can build a democratic, stable, and free society without incorporating atheism into the heart of government. State-sponsored atheism is how many of them see the current church/state separation as typically promoted in the West. That's another thing we're trying to change, with this book, The Right to Be Wrong, as well as in a host of other ways at the Becket Fund.


Amazon link to the book.
MARRIAGE DEBATE: Maggie Gallagher is guest-blogging on same-sex marriage at the Volokh Conspiracy. Maggie--my new ex-boss, so if you want my resume, drop me a line!--may be the most brilliant person I've ever met. She's insightful, intellectually honest, steeped in the current research on marriage and family life, and... yeah, I could go on, but really you should just read her posts. The posts are kind of disconnected, a problem made worse by the blog-protocol of posts appearing in reverse chronological order, so I suggest that people read from the bottom up. (You can get just Maggie's posts at this link, but since a few other Volokhites have chimed in, you might not want to do it that way.) If you want more, there is an excellent debate between Maggie and Jonathan Rauch here. ...Next week, Dale Carpenter will respond to Maggie's posts, at

Here's a small tidbit from an early Maggie post:
Here's my short answer: marriage serves many private and individual purposes. But its great public purpose, the thing that justifies its existence as a unique legal status, is protecting children and society by creating sexual unions in which children are (practically) guaranteed the love and care of their own mother and father.

The vast majority of children born to married couples begin life with their own mother and fathers committed to jointly caring for them. Only a minority of children in other sexual unions (and none in same-sex unions) get this benefit.

Sex makes babies. Society needs babies. Babies need fathers as well as mothers. That's the heart of marriage as a universal human institution.

Please note: Procreation is not the definition of marriage. It is the reason for marriage's existence as a public (and yes legal) institution. People who don't have children can still really be married (just as people who aren't married can and do have babies).

But if sex between men and women did not make babies, then marriage would not be a universal human institution, or a legal status in America. Yes, many people like intimacy--is that a good reason for the government to stamp the good housekeeping seal of approval on certain intimate relationships, but not others?

KITCHEN ADVENTURE: I FIGHT TO THE FINISH...: This is very simple, but delectable and easily adaptable. I had never cooked spinach before; I cheated and used a bag of prewashed leaves. I strongly recommend cheating in this way. The alternative, apparently, involves filling your entire sink with water and spinach, and then eating the spinach that has been in your manky old sink. No thanks.

Anyway, I used: Various cloves of garlic, chopped; cheatingly prewashed spinach; olive oil; button (= plain old white) mushrooms, thickly sliced; Boursin cheese with black pepper. The Boursin is relatively pricey but utterly scrumptious: kinda crumbly, and intensely flavorful, rich and creamy and peppery-herby.

Basically, I sauteed the garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil until they were both golden. Then I added the spinach. I knew it would cook down, but didn't realize it would cook down so dramatically--next time I will use lots more spinach. You have to stir this constantly to prevent the garlic from browning, but your total saute time is only about two minutes, so it's not a big deal. When everything looked and smelled good, I dumped it in a bowl and added a big chunk of the Boursin, which melted and melded the dish together. It was rich, managing to be both homey and lustrous. I'm going to try this again with buttered spaghetti. You could probably also use it to top buttered toast, especially a thick and flavorful toasted French bread.
One of the reasons why I'm not particularly sanguine about our transhumanist future is that human ethical constraints are in large part a product of genetic coding. I do not buy the argument that rational self interest by itself provides enough basis to maintain a civilized society. Well, once biotechnology provides ways to enhance the ability to lie and the ability to feel less remorse or guilt won't some people opt to use this technology? Mightn't there even be a sort of mental arms race where people find it necessary to enhance their ability to deceive in order to protect themselves from other deceivers?

more (via Dappled Things, or maybe the Club for Growth....)
Heroic leadership--any leadership--is, like priesthood, statesmanship, even genius, a matter of externals almost as much as of internalities. The exceptional are both shown to and hidden from the mass of humankind, revealed by artifice, presented by theatre. The theatrical impulse will be strong in the successful politician, teacher, entrepreneur, athlete, or divine, and will be both expected and reinforced by the audiences to which they perform.
--John Keegan, The Mask of Command

Thursday, October 13, 2005

GOOD BASIC POINT: "Don't underestimate the ISF. While much has been made over here about the paucity of Iraqi units that are both at battallion strength and able to function independently, these figures ignore the fact that plenty of Iraqi units are quite capable of holding towns with a little Coalition support." (Cacciaguida, on his son's tour in Iraq)
MICKEY KAUS VS. UNIONS: here and here.
JUS IN BELLO: Bad news from Nephew. "'It's not that we want to go beat Iraqis, it's just that you don't want to pass a law saying beating Iraqis is bad,' a senior defense official told reporters recently." Because humans avoid abuse of power in the absence of rules prohibiting same. It's why we're so peaceful!

As a Roman Catholic, I went against Pope John Paul II in arguing for the invasion of Iraq. This was not done in a fit of nationalistic zeal. This was done after careful deliberation, with an eye toward the liberation of the Iraqi people on humanitarian grounds. However, my support of the administration, and of the Republican Party, is tempered by my faith. I cannot, in good conscience, support the use of torture against our adversaries. It is contrary to the teachings of the Church; it is contrary to my sense of what America is and should be; it is contrary to the moral precepts around which I supported the war in the first place. More importantly for you, Senator, I cannot support an American politician that would vote in favor of a policy that includes torture.

Senator Cornyn, I have been a supporter of yours in the past. I will not abandon that support based on one inflammatory article alone. However, I cannot reconcile your vote with the moral needs of our nation. Without a suitable explanation, I am afraid I will have to work against you in the next election, and thereby encourage all Catholics in Texas to do the same.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT" was a ton of fun. Ratty and I saw it this past weekend. There definitely was more adult-directed and slightly naughty humor than in previous installments, but not to an irritating or coarse extent. The final chase scene was fantastic--I thought it was as good as the train chase from The Wrong Trousers. Yes, the plot is predictable, and the anti-hunting message is tiresome. (Unintentionally amusing, though: The "humane" methods of rabbit control are lifetime imprisonment, brainwashing experiments, and a "sanctuary" that seems to ignore the fact that bunnies burrow. With these options, just shooting the little blighters seems much more sensible!) But Wallace is sweet, as always; and Gromit is put-upon, dutiful, and possessed of the world's most expressive eyebrows. Go see it!
JUS IN BELLO: By now, you already know that the Senate voted "90-9 to approve an amendment that would prohibit the use of 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment' against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held." The nine nay votes are
Wayne Allard, R-Colorado,
Christopher S. Bond, R-Missouri,
Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma,
Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi,
John Cornyn, R-Texas,
James M. Inhofe, R-Oklahoma,
Pat Roberts, R-Kansas,
Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama,
and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
Jon Corzine, D-New Jersey, didn't cast a vote.

Thomas Nephew has lots of rule-mongering on what happens now, in the House, plus suggestions on what can be done to ensure the restrictions aren't gutted.
THIS IS THE ONLY LIST I'VE RUN ACROSS with relief links for the terrible earthquake in South Asia. So obviously, I don't endorse all these organizations. But consider finding one that you can support.
They had it coming
They had it coming
They had it coming all along
I didn't blogwatch
But if I'd blogwatched
How could you tell me that I was wrong?

Hi, honey, I'm home.

HispanicPundit: Good economic articles. You know, Friedman, Bastiat, and "I, Pencil," and all that fun stuff. And Paul Krugman! Via the Club for Growth blog.

Holy Office: "Jesus Rescued in Daring Commando Raid." Plus best response I've seen to "WWJD?"

CNN/Money: "How will eminent domain be applied in the Gulf Coast?" ...Probably via Hit & Run.

The British Library has this huge, amazing Shakespeare resource page. Not just all the plays in quarto, so you can go all compare-and-contrast-y on different texts; but archival recordings of, for example, John Gielgud as Puck (?!) and John Barrymore as Richard of Gloucester. (Find the recordings by going here and clicking on the play you want to hear.) Enjoy! (via Angevin2.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

DOLPHINS SING "BATMAN" THEME. Actually I'm very anti-dolphin--those smug, smiling Hippies of the Sea--but even I have to admit that this is awesome. Via DLB.


If you want background, try this and this.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

FOOL ME ONCE, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. When it comes to detaining prisoners seized in Iraq, Afghanistan and on the other fronts of the terror war, the Pentagon's "just-trust-us" mentality continues to undercut American strategy. Thankfully, Congress is at last on the verge of doing what the administration clearly cannot: set clear standards for the treatment of detainees. ...

...[T]he Pentagon is itself currently in the midst of a drag-out fight on Capitol Hill to stop Congress from enshrining the same Army Field Manual as the uniform standard for its interrogations. The relevant legislation--proposed by Senator John McCain and supported by a who's who of retired military and intelligence officers--would go a long way toward ending the climate of confusion and uncertainty that has contributed to abuses at Bagram, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere.

In opposing the legislation, the Pentagon argues that it is not Congress's place to be arbiter of the rules for treatment of detainees, insisting that it alone should wield that power. It also warns, as spokesman Lawrence DiRita put it in a recent op-ed in USA Today, that by establishing a clear standard for interrogations, the amendment would "hamper the country's ability to readily adapt and update interrogation methods from Al Qaeda detainees who we know are trained to resist known interrogation techniques."


more (via The Corner, I think)
WHO'S YOUR DADDY? My column in the National Catholic Register:
Who are a child's parents?

It seems like a simple question--the kid's mom and dad, right? The people who made the baby.

But for decades, legal and technological changes have been reshaping families, as reproductive techniques like sperm donation, egg donation, and surrogate motherhood become far more embedded in our culture than most of us realize.

Now we have kids with two moms, four moms, or none at all.

These technologies, and the legal tangles they create, have shifted us to an understanding of family that pretends bodies don't matter, and denies children's need for their own mother and father. Here are only a few examples of how what we might call "third-party reproduction" is reshaping our culture; hundreds such stories emerge every month.


Monday, October 03, 2005

If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a bloooooooooooooooogwatch!

Amy Welborn: Really good post on seminary visitation stuff.

Flos Carmeli defends Keats's poetry and says he did have a philosophy. I dunno man, still not convinced, but have reached the limit of my own understanding of my initial claim, so perhaps should draw back....

Harriett Miers nomination stuff: Ramesh Ponnuru has a few questions. Rick Brookhiser looks on the bright side. Ninomania on the dangers both of Bush's nominations pose for those seeking to strengthen a conservative legal intellectual movement. Todd Zywicki of Los Volokh on changing the legal culture, and why Miers probably won't.

And this article alerts me to the best title ever for an academia novel: Eating People Is Wrong. Hee. The article identifies the typical subject of an academia novel as "the limits of liberalism" (or something like that--have already closed link and can't be bothered to reopen)--would be interesting to see how many campus novels from the students' perspective take the same theme. You should read The Secret History. For example. Though that's more about the limits of modernity than about the limits of liberalism specifically.