Thursday, December 25, 2003

2003 Movie Picks

Theater Best:
The Pianist
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
About Schmidt
The Station Agent

Theater Worst:
Lost In Translation
Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Love Actually
Matrix: Revolutions
Bruce Almighty

DVD Best:
The Rookie
Son of the Bride
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Blue (Kieslowski)
Last Orders
Go Tigers!
Session 9
Led Zeppelin

Honorable Mention for Artistic Achievement: Russian Ark

DVD Worst:
The Life of David Gale
Far From Heaven
The Big Hit
Ghost Ship
Exit Wounds

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Our annual gleaning of the Media Research Center's Notable Quotes:

60 Minutes

Andy Rooney, evidencing his growing senility:

“We should change our attitude toward the United Nations. There has to be some power in the world superior to our own....We should not have attacked Iraq without the okay of the United Nations....Now we have to live with that mistake. We’re living with it, and too many of our guys are dying with it.”

[October 12, 2003]
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Billionaire Malthusian Ted Turner surveys the future and conjures a nuclear winter and worldwide halitosis:

“I’d say the chances are about 50-50 that humanity will be extinct or nearly extinct within 50 years. Weapons of mass destruction, disease, I mean this global warming is scaring the living daylights out of me.”

[September 29, 2003]
This Week

When George Stephanopoulos wants to know how the freest country on earth should proceed against terrorist aggression he looks no further than malcontent bench-warmer Moammar Qaddafi:

“What would you advise the United States to do today to fight al-Qaeda?...What would be the wise course for the United States to follow now in Iraq?”

[August 3, 2003]
National Press Foundation

Some three months before the Jayson Blair controversy starts the fraudulent journalism dominos toppling at the New York Times, Howell Raines parades equal amounts of self-esteem and crippling myopia before an adoring audience:

“Our greatest accomplishment as a profession is the development since World War II of a news reporting craft that is truly non-partisan, and non-ideological, and that strives to be independent of undue commercial or governmental influence....“It is that legacy we must protect with our diligent stewardship. To do so means we must be aware of the energetic effort that is now underway to convince our readers that we are ideologues. It is an exercise of, in disinformation, of alarming proportions, this attempt to convince the audience of the world’s most ideology-free newspapers that they’re being subjected to agenda-driven news reflecting a liberal bias. I don’t believe our viewers and readers will be, in the long-run, misled by those who advocate biased journalism.”

[February 20, 2003]

Monday, December 08, 2003

In the mid '90s agnostic scholar Charles Murray (LOSING GROUND, THE BELL CURVE, WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A LIBERTARIAN) sought to lay bare the first cause of human achievement in history and found something surprising: the role of Christianity in great accomplishment. His study is now complete and the book is called HUMAN ACCOMPLISHMENT: THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE IN THE ARTS AND SCIENCES 800 B.C. TO 1950 and was excerpted in the October/November issues of The American Enterprise magazine. He writes, "The conclusions I came to are far from original with me, but they have not been fashionable for some decades, so I should state them explicitly: The Greeks laid the foundation for Western achievement in the arts and sciences. But it was the transmutation of that intellectual foundation by Christianity that gave modern Europe its impetus and that pushed European accomplishment so far ahead of all other cultures around the world. I will add that I reach this conclusion not out of personal religious conviction but as an agnostic who became persuaded by Christianity's transforming role by my reading of the historical record...Christianity empowers and energizes individuals as no other philosophy or religion ever did before."

Thomas Sowell agrees with his thesis and praises his work, while this UPI interview soberly probes Mr. Murray's intent and conclusions. What follows are links to two full-length essays no longer available online, preserved here for posterity:

Charles Murray’s All-Stars by Terry Teachout from Commentary magazine
A Cultural Scorecard Says West Is Ahead By Emily Eakin from The New York Times

Thursday, November 27, 2003

President's Thanksgiving Message
Proclamation by the President: Thanksgiving Day, 2003

Each year on Thanksgiving, we gather with family and friends to thank God for the many blessings He has given us, and we ask God to continue to guide and watch over our country.

Almost 400 years ago, after surviving their first winter at Plymouth, the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest feast to give thanks. George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War. Since that time, our citizens have paused to express thanks for the bounty of blessings we enjoy and to spend time with family and friends. In want or in plenty, in times of challenge or times of calm, we always have reasons to be thankful.

America is a land of abundance, prosperity, and hope. We must never take for granted the things that make our country great: a firm foundation of freedom, justice, and equality; a belief in democracy and the rule of law; and our fundamental rights to gather, speak, and worship freely.

These liberties do not come without cost. Throughout history, many have sacrificed to preserve our freedoms and to defend peace around the world. Today, the brave men and women of our military continue this noble tradition. These heroes and their loved ones have the gratitude of our Nation.

On this day, we also remember those less fortunate among us. They are our neighbors and our fellow citizens, and we are committed to reaching out to them and to all of those in need in our communities.

This Thanksgiving, we again give thanks for all of our blessings and for the freedoms we enjoy every day. Our Founders thanked the Almighty and humbly sought His wisdom and blessing. May we always live by that same trust, and may God continue to watch over and bless the United States of America.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 27, 2003, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage Americans to gather in their homes, places of worship, and community centers to share the spirit of understanding and prayer and to reinforce ties of family and community.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-eighth.


Thursday, November 20, 2003

From NewsMax comes a slice of Americana, served hypocrite style:

"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno on Jesse Jackson's holier-than-thou attitude toward radio king Rush Limbaugh:

"Jesse Jackson attacked Rush Limbaugh regarding Rush's drug addiction after he came out against drugs, that Rush can’t have it both ways. You know, like being a 'minister' while nailing your secretary."

Jackson is a minister? What church?

Monday, November 10, 2003

Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has finally come clean with precisely what he thinks of Mel Gibson's movie THE PASSION OF CHRIST and finds Mr. Gibson "infected" with anti-Semitic views. And he doesn't stop there. He also admits to believing that Passion plays about the crucifixion of Christ have historically reinforced notions of collective Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus. In a fit of logical fallacy (guilt by association) Foxman cited Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's praise of a Passion play from the 1930s to illustrate his point. He then rolled out the unfounded chestnut that even discussing the crucifixion of Christ in Church services has had a deleterious effect on Jews worldwide, claiming that "hate crimes [against Jews] go up Easter week worldwide" because in many Christian churches, "the sermon is given about the passion (the suffering of Christ)." Lastly, Mr. Foxman distastefully conflates his own paranoid thoughts about this motion picture with the ethnic genocide of the Jews during WWII: "After [the] Holocaust, I don't have the luxury to keep quiet about concerns about anti-Semitism."

To paraphrase a Catholic theologian, If you find the Gospels anti-Semitic, Mr. Foxman, you will find this film anti-Semitic.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Old Story, News To Me

Last week while listening to NPR report on the Senate passage of the partial-birth abortion bill the national announcer introduced the segment with a smidge of Orwellian Newspeak. He stated that abortion language is too loaded and in the interest of neutrality, clarity and objectivity NPR has a standard of referring to pro-life as "anti-abortion activists" or "abortion foes/opponents" and pro-choice as "abortion rights proponents or advocates." Huh? Apparently clarity means something different to NPR than it is commonly accepted because labeling one group as "anti" and "foes" and "opponents" while labeling the other as "rights proponents" and "advocates" is to weight common language. In a simple Google search I found this policy officially stated by one Peggy Girshman, deputy managing editor of NPR News, during the time of Roe v. Wade's 30th anniversary.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Religious tensions continue to run high in the public square as protests continue over the comments of Gen. William Boykin that "the enemy [in the war on terror] is a guy named Satan", President Bush's celebration of Ramadan and the Malaysian Prime Minister's assertion that "the Jews rule this world by proxy." Professor Daniel Pipes weighed in with his prescient chronicle of modern anti-Semitism in the Arab world, while also providing a rebuke for the Bush administration's' perceived religious relativism.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

In hate the sinner news, Rush Limbaugh's revelation of drug addiction has given the bovine intelligentsia occasion to sate their schadenfreude impulse. It began with Evan Thomas's Newsweek hit piece and continued to Jonathan Alter and CNN's Aaron Brown with Al Franken ... Joe Conason ... Guardian ... Ed Asner ... only to be chided by ... Jonah Goldberg ... John Podhoretz ... Brent Bozell ... Ann Coulter

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

In the venerable Globe and Mail, Mr. Donald Akenson reveals his crackpot enthusiasms regarding hermeneutics between hits on a hookah. Treating the reading public like an apple-cheeked schoolboy he uses two recent movies (Mel Gibson's THE PASSION and Garth Drabinsky's THE GOSPEL OF JOHN) to take umbrage with monotheism's claim of exclusivity. Two days later Professor Bruce Waltke published this brilliant op-ed rebuttal and "in sum," says "Akenson's scholarship is poor, his tone is grating and his arguments bogus."

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Film director Elia Kazan has passed away at the age of 94, giving opportunity for talking heads to again peddle gimcrack about his role in the House Un-American Activities of 1952. Allan Ryskind sets the record straight on Why 'Controversy' Dogged Kazan.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Barbra Streisand finally catches up to the rest of the discerning public and confesses "My music bores me," ushering in a new dawn of non-medical treatment for insomnia.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

WORLD September 13, 2003: QuickTakes: What book has 75,606 pages, which no one has read completely but its contents cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars? The answer is the Federal Register, which lists the rules and regulations that businesses and citizens of the United States must follow. The Cato Institute, in a study called 'The Ten Thousand Commandments,' reports that the register continues to grow under the Bush administration, with federal agencies issuing 4,167 new rules last year. (The unreadable book had merely 74,258 pages in the final year of the Clinton administration.) The estimated cost of all of these arcane rules to businesses and their customers: $860 billion, or five times the current projected budget deficit."

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

By insinuating marchers as en masse Clampetts - with all the accoutrements of geophagy and incest - Jeffrey Gettleman continues to tarnish the good name of New York Times journalists:

New York Times | 08/20/2003 | Hundreds vow to block removal of Ten Commandments monument:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - "They came streaming in from all directions, wearing their crosses and Confederate T-shirts, carrying their dog-eared Bibles, bottles of water and Power Bars, as though laid in for a siege."

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Mr. Nicholas Kristof, of the increasingly satirizable New York Times, discourses on religion and laments the fall of Christian intellectualism and good, old-fashioned heresy:

"The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time...My grandfather was fairly typical of his generation: A devout and active Presbyterian elder, he nonetheless believed firmly in evolution and regarded the Virgin Birth as a pious legend. Those kinds of mainline Christians are vanishing, replaced by evangelicals [and] the result is a gulf not only between America and the rest of the industrialized world, but a growing split at home as well. One of the most poisonous divides is the one between intellectual and religious America."

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Leftist Dictator Idi Amin Dada Oumee Kicks The Oxygen Habit

Speaking from a dilapidated hut and sporting last year's fashion in nose bones, the brother of the deceased recalls his "gifted" sibling and claims his murderous regime a group hallucination concocted by his enemies. Unfortunately, the rest of his historical revisions were cut short when the reporter in question fled the dwelling because of a stench he described as "body odor that could bend a crowbar."

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Robert Ostergard confidently sniffs the air and divines the now fetid scent of Tail Gunner Joe, only to end up releasing salty, protein-rich fluid from his lacrimal apparatus, contorting his facial muscles, and breaking into heaving sobs:

Ostergard said the implications arising from [Daniel] Pipes' work [regarding monitoring of Middle East studies on campuses] are far-reaching and similar to McCarthyism.

"It's chilling," Ostergard said. "This fallout is something I've never, ever expected. To actually base public criticism on one course and one speaker is really a witchhunt."

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Proof positive once again that there are subversives at work in the bowels of the Republic's journals of record, this time in the graphics department of The Christian Science Monitor, conspiring to domestic terrorism via indigestion and inadvertently endorsing the three-martini breakfast.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Quote of the day:

“I want this world not to have meaning, because it frees me to my own erotic and my own political pursuits.” – Aldous Huxley

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Another exposé of the burger Bolshevik and indefatigable schadenfreude, Michael Moore:

Shame on You, Mr. Moore, Shame on You!

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Monday, May 12, 2003

The brilliant Bob Tyrrell (for whom this blog is indebted vis-à-vis inspiration) files this anamnesis on the equally brilliant writer, Malcolm Muggeridge. St. Mugg - his post-conversion cognomen- would have been 100 this year and not a time too soon to reflect on his life.

R. Emmett Tyrell Remembers St. Mugg

Malcolm Muggeridge Centenary

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Can hate be a virtue? How applicable is it to Jewish theology? In the article The Virtue of Hate, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik flamboyantly uses the word as dual purpose for both hyperbole (interest) and then polemic (exposition) in a wonderfully fascinating comparative religion piece.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Quote of the day:

"The greatest artists, saints, philosophers and, until quite recent times, scientists, through the Christian centuries, . . . have all assumed that the New Testament promise of eternal life is valid, and that the great drama of the Incarnation which embodies it, is indeed the master-drama of our existence. To suppose that these distinguished believers were all credulous fools whose folly and credulity in holding such beliefs has now been finally exposed, would seem to me untenable; and anyway I'd rather be wrong with Dante and Shakespeare and Milton, with Augustine of Hippo and Francis of Assisi, with Dr. Johnson, Blake and Dostoevsky than right with Voltaire, Rousseau, the Huxleys, Herbert Spencer, H.G. Wells and Bernard Shaw." - Malcolm Muggeridge

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Afraid of giving "ammunition" to the pro-life movement, N.O.W. publicly complained about the double-murder charge in the Laci Peterson case, proving once again the macabre nature of the extreme pro-abortion lobby.

N.O.W. Objects To Murder Charge Against Laci's Baby

Friday, April 04, 2003

Shame On You American-Hating Liberals

September 11, 2002
Tony Parsons

One year ago, the world witnessed a unique kind of broadcasting - the mass murder of thousands, live on television. As a lesson in the pitiless cruelty of the human race, September 11 was up there with Pol Pot's Mountain of Skulls in Cambodia, or the skeletal bodies stacked like garbage in the Nazi concentration camps. An unspeakable act so cruel, so calculated and so utterly merciless that surely the world could agree on one thing-nobody deserves this fate. Surely there could be consensus: The victims were truly innocent, the perpetrators truly evil.

But to the world's eternal shame, 9/11 is increasingly seen as America's comeuppance. Incredibly, anti-Americanism has increased over the last year.

There has always been a simmering resentment to the USA in this country [England]; too loud, too rich, too full of themselves, and so much happier than Europeans--but it has become an epidemic. And that seems incredible to me. More than that, it turns my stomach.

America is this country's greatest friend and our staunchest ally. We are bonded to the US by culture, language and blood. A little over half a century ago, around half a million Americans died for our freedoms, as well as their own. Have we forgotten so soon? And exactly a year ago, thousands of ordinary men, women and children--not just Americans, but from dozens of countries--were butchered by a small group of religious fanatics. Are we so quick to betray these victims? What touched the heart about those who died in the Twin Towers and on the planes, was that we recognized them. Young fathers and mothers, somebody's son and somebody's daughter, husbands, wives and children, some unborn. And these people brought it on themselves?

Their nation is to blame for their meticulously planned slaughter?

These days you don't have to be some dust-encrusted nut job in Kabul or Karachi or Finsbury Park to see America as the Great Satan. The anti-American alliance is made up of self-loathing liberals who blame the Americans for every ill in the Third World, and conservatives suffering from power-envy, bitter that the world's only superpower can do what it likes without having to ask permission. The truth is that America has behaved with enormous restraint since September 11.

Remember... remember... remember... the gut-wrenching tapes of weeping men phoning their wives to say, "I love you," before they were burned alive.

Remember those people leaping to their deaths from the top of burning skyscrapers. Remember the hundreds of firemen buried alive. Remember the smiling face of that beautiful little girl who was on one of the planes with her mum. Remember... remember...

And realize that America has never retaliated for 9/11 in anything like the way it could have.

So a few Al-Qaeda tourists got locked up without a trial in Camp X-ray?

Pass the Kleenex. So some Afghan wedding receptions were shot up after they merrily fired their semiautomatics in a sky full of American planes? A shame but maybe next time they should stick to confetti. AMERICA could have turned a large chunk of the world into a parking lot. That it didn't is a sign of strength. American voices are already being raised against attacking Iraq--that's what a democracy is for.

How many in the Islamic world will have a minute's silence for the slaughtered innocents of 9/11? How many Islamic leaders will have the guts to say that the mass murder of 9/11 was an abomination? When the news of

9/11 broke on the West Bank, those freedom-loving Palestinians were dancing in the street. America watched all of that--and America didn't push the button. We should thank the stars that America is the most powerful nation in the world. I still find it incredible that 9/11 did not provoke all-out war. Not a "war on terrorism." A real war.

The fundamentalist dudes are talking about "opening the gates of hell" if America attacks Iraq. Well, America could have opened the gates of hell like you wouldn't believe. The US is the most militarily powerful nation that ever strode the face of the earth. The campaign in Afghanistan may have been less than perfect and the planned war on Iraq may be misconceived.

But don't blame America for not bringing peace and light to these wretched countries. How many democracies are there in the Middle East, or in the Muslim world? You can count them on the fingers of one hand - assuming you haven't had any chopped off for minor shoplifting. I love America, yet America is hated. I guess that makes me Bush's poodle. But I would rather be a dog in New York City than a Prince in Riyadh.

Above all, America is hated because it is what every country wants to be, rich, free, strong, open, optimistic. Not ground down by the past, or religion, or some caste system. America is the best friend this country ever had and we should start remembering that. Or do you really think the USA is the root of all evil? Tell it to the loved ones of the men and women who leaped to their death from the burning towers. Tell it to the nursing mothers whose husbands died on one of the hijacked planes, or were ripped apart in a collapsing skyscraper. And tell it to the hundreds of young widows whose husbands worked for the New York Fire Department.

To our shame, George Bush gets a worse press than Saddam Hussein. Once we were told that Saddam gassed the Kurds, tortured his own people and set up rape-camps in Kuwait.

Remember... remember... September 11th. One of the greatest atrocities in human history was committed against America. No, do more than remember:

Never forget.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

For the folks who like an extra dollop of crazy in their coffee here is a serving of comments from America's finest, our celebrities:

Celebrities on War and Politics

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Hirsute peace demonstrator and Mensa member Jody Mason determinedly strode into downtown Olympia and chained himself to what he thought was a Federal building to protest the U.S. war in Iraq. Several hours later employees of the Washington State Grange asked what he was doing and informed him that he'd chained himself to the wrong building.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Quote of the day:

"Of all the disputations and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness--These finest props of duties of men and citizens...And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on the minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience, both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." - George Washington's farewell address

Sunday, March 16, 2003

From 1787, in reference to the Athenian republic, Scots historian Alexander Tyler presents a theory prescient to the American experiment:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years."
He saw this pattern emerge: "These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage."
Some fifty years after Hollywood stalwarts like James Stewart, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda, William Wyler, Kirk Douglas and Mel Brooks donned the service uniform of the U.S. military, current trouper's denigrate their honor with simple-minded shibboleths.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Quote of the day:

"Neither of the two fundamental axioms of Darwin's macroevolutionary theory - the concept of the continuity of nature, that is the functional continuum of all life forms linking all species together and ultimately leading back to a primeval cell, and the belief that all the adaptive design of life has resulted from a blind random process - have been validated by one single empirical discovery or scientific advance since 1859. Despite more than a century of intensive effort on the part of evolutionary biologists, the major objections raised by Darwin's critics such as Agassiz, Pictet, Bronn and Richard Owen have not been met. The mind must still fill up the 'large blanks' that Darwin acknowledged in his letter to Asa Gray." - Michael Denton

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Professional warbler Dave Matthews has joined the invertebrate ranks of entertainers to question the U.S. policy on Iraq, crying (and no doubt smelling) foul, and let's go a whopper in the process:

"The only real threat from Saddam Hussein is to his neighbors and none of them support a U.S. invasion."

Friday, January 31, 2003

Bards Of The World Unite: under the banner of the peace quill world poets take an opportunity for a multinational group hug with friends, allowing that they have any friends left. In other news, U.S. Secretary of Defense, and nominated Introvert Of The Year, Donald Rumsfeld, apologizes for calling the milquetoast French and Germans an Axis of Weasel.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

NY Newsday

Hillbilly butterhog cum Senator, the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton inveighs against current foreign policy:

"Our people remain vulnerable...We have relied on a myth of homeland security -- a myth written in rhetoric, inadequate resources and a new bureaucracy...The truth is we are not prepared...and our approach to securing our nation is haphazard at best.”

Saturday, January 25, 2003

German's highest elected official sees "growing support" for the European anti-war position, while the Financial Times notes his party's slide into a historic low in support amongst voters.

Châteaux Appeasement, reservations desk, Chancellor Schröder speaking.

Monday, January 20, 2003

If feminism's core moral idea is that women are equal to men in rights and dignity, why isn't the West's sisterhood doing more to help their Islamic constituents?

Why Feminism Is AWOL on Islam

Friday, January 17, 2003

Nietzche: 'God Is Dead' — Nitschke: 'Care To Join Him?'

Pro-death advocate from Down Under, Dr. Philip Nitschke, has developed an "exit bag" where a person places the bag over his head, pulls a drawstring, and suffocates, receiving apparent inspiration from warnings on plastic pillow sheaths.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Yahoo! News

Fraulein Sheryl Crow, Sun-Tzu of her generation, waxes wise about war and leads my mind to wander about what karmic retributions will befall the heroin gaunt Ms. Crow for her aural crimes:

"I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Yahoo! News

North Korea, a proud member of the Axis of Evil, dispatches this truculent epistle from an underground bunker where they horde American food shipments and gaily karaoke Judy Garland records:

"The claim that we admitted developing nuclear weapons is an invention fabricated by the U.S. with sinister intentions...[and] if the United States evades its responsibility and challenges us, we'll turn the citadel of imperialists into a sea of fire."
The Common Review

Here we find E.O. Wilson, founder of sociobiology, in the throes of brain fever and nattering like an insufferable fool regarding the definition of philosophy and the extents of scientific inquiry:

Modern champions of science, however, increasingly emboldened by its triumphs, particularly in biology, have no such qualms about claiming the ground once occupied by religion. For Wilson, science is the via media to saving the planet from ecological extinction. He shares with [C.P.] Snow the Enlightenment belief that salvation will come from the triumph of the scientific method. He regards the humanities and the social sciences in their present incarnation as largely irrelevant mystifications of their subject matter. "Philosophy, the contemplation of the unknown, is a shrinking dominion," Wilson writes in Consilience. "We have the common goal of turning as much philosophy as possible into science."

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Quote of the day:

"The new rebel is a Skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything." - G.K. Chesterton

Monday, January 06, 2003

That evil exists is obvious to even the most casual observer, as my father used to say, and as a subject has attained topic du jour status in post 9-11 commentary. Epicurus famously asked "What is the cause of evil" and though he doesn't engage that question, Christopher Hitchens recently wrote a thoughtful, though ultimately disappointing, essay defending the use of the word as "the best negative superlative that we possess".