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“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
— Thucydides

“A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”
— Jean-François Revel

Christopher Hitchens on Faith

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wise words from the mind of Christopher Hitchens, from the closing of the "Holier Than Thou" episode of Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!" (Season 3):

“Faith is the surrender of the mind. It's the surrender of reason. It's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It's our need to believe, to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the virtues, of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.”

A French Filmmaker on Islam vs. the West

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Via Pajamas Media, a video clip of comments by filmmaker Pierre Rehov at this year's Liberty Film Festival, regarding what may yet be in store in the fight against radical Islam:

I'm going to give you my honest opinion. I think we are on the edge of World War III. This is no longer between Israel and the Palestinians. This is between Islam and the West.

I hope he's wrong. I fear he may be right.

The Return of Bill Whittle

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Bill Whittle is back with another characteristically on-point essay: "Seeing the Unseen, Part 1":

I cannot think of a single example where appeasement giving in to an aggressive adversary in the hope that it will convince them to become peaceful themselves has provided any lasting peace or security. I can say in complete honesty that I look forward to hearing of any historical example that shows it does.

What I do see are barbarian forces closing in and sacking Rome because the Romans no longer had the will to defend themselves. Payments of tribute to the barbarian hordes only funded the creation of larger and better-armed hordes. The depredations of Viking Raiders throughout Northern Europe produced much in the way of ransom payments. The more ransom that was paid, the more aggressive and warlike the Vikings became. Why? Because it was working, thats why. And why not? Bluster costs nothing. If you can scare a person into giving you his hard-earned wealth, and suffer no loss in return, well then you my friend have hit the Vandal Jackpot. On the other hand, if you are, say, the Barbary Pirates, raiding and looting and having a grand time of it all, and across the world sits a Jefferson you know, Mr. Liberty and Restraint who has decided he has had enough and sends out an actual Navy to track these bastards down and sink them all… well, suddenly raiding and piracy is not such a lucrative occupation. So, contrary to doomsayers throughout history, the destruction of the Barbary Pirates did not result in the recruitment of more Pirates. The destruction of the Barbary Pirates resulted in the destruction of the Barbary Pirates.

And it is just so with terrorism. When the results of terrorism do the terrorist more harm than good, terrorism will go away. We need to harm these terrorists, not reward them, if we ever expect to see the end of them.

As always with Bill's work, I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Bush: A uniter, not a divider!

Friday, October 27, 2006


All sins are pardonable, apparently, so long as one is sufficiently anti-Bush. It's a religion that transcends religious divisions. Bush: A uniter, not a divider!

Richard Dawkins on the Penn Jillette Show

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thanks to the, science and technology of podcasts, I just finished listening to yesterday's especially great Penn Jillette Show, featuring extraordinary guest Richard Dawkins and several callers in discussions of atheism, morality, science and reason, in the context of Dawkins' new book “The God Delusion.

You can download the 10/25 podcast episode from or at

I especially like the concept of these flyers that were designed as part of the book's promotional campaign (I can't find a good permalink to the source, but at the moment they're here):

Man, if that doesn't hit home.

Had I known that Dawkins was going to be a guest on the show, the question I'd have most liked to ask him would probably have been about the anti-rationalist “postmodernism” that seems to so dominate and hobble discourse in the humanities nowadays (at least here in the U.S.), and whether he sees it as yet another of the secular “vacuum-fillers” that tend to displace religiosity when it wanes, or perhaps sees it in some other way. Is it cause for worry, as some have asserted and as I tend to feel, or is it more of a passing intellectual fad whose ill effects are primarily limited to obscure, insular niches of academia and intellectualism?

Dawkins' observation regarding this sort of ideological vacuum-filling phenomenon reminds me of a passage from Michael Crichton's insightful 2003 talk “Environmentalism as Religion”:

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday---these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don't want to talk anybody out of them, as I don't want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don't want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can't talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.

It does seem to me, largely to my dismay, that there are underlying motivators toward what one might loosey call “religious” behavior in the human mind (in particular I'm thinking of the harmful fundamentalist aspects of that), that tend to allow for any number of other substitute ideologies to take the place of what we think of formally as “religion” when religion itself is not as prevalent. (Certainly there seem to be plenty of people who adhere to political ideologies with unbending fundamentalist fervor, which seems to me to fall into that category.)

No Excuses for Terror

Sunday, October 1, 2006

“No Excuses for Terror” -- a superb, must-watch BBC program by David Aaronovitch.

Thanks to my friend jcr for pointing out that I need to do a better job of keeping up with Little Green Footballs! And to David at Harry's Place for pointing this out and getting it on LGF's radar!

Great Podcasts This Week

Saturday, September 23, 2006

So many interesting events and great podcast episodes lately, so little time to blog about them... Following are notes about and links to a few from this past week that I especially recommend...

Penn Jillette did a real good show last Monday, September 18th, regarding the Pope's recent comments and the violent fallout from them. Here's a direct download link from

As an agnostic, it's pretty rare that I find myself paying any attention to what the Pope says, or feeling the need to take up his defense. But man have I felt sympathy for the guy in the very tall hat this past week. Though he seemingly did so inadvertently, in the course of quoting a historic work during a lecture to an academic audience, he's ended up saying something that I think very much needed to be said, in a way that very few in the West have had the courage to do. As I said here before, in an earlier post titled “Wanting to believe”, I don't know what it is about the apparent corellation between Islam and violent extremism. But there's apparently something to the connection that we need to better understand and can't allow ourselves to be intimidated out of talking about openly. The response from radical Islam this week, unfortunately, only served to illustrate the Pope's point.

I always look forward to Pajamas Media's consistently good “Blog Week in Review” podcast, adeptly hosted by Austin Bay and with Instapundit Glenn Reynolds as a frequent guest, and this week's talk with Mark Steyn about Mark's book “America Alone” was especially good.

Some particularly good moments from Mark:

[@ +19:00] Our whole way of forming the world view of tomorrow's citizens is by raising them in this rather, kind of fluffy non-judgmental cocoon. You know, I find it very interesting in American schools, I've got three young children in grade school. And they go on and on about self-esteem, you know, every individual has to have self-esteem. Self-esteem is very important. I went to an English boys' school where the object was, on the first day of term, to have every last ounce of self-esteem hammered out of you by the end of the first week. So it's an entirely different system to me. But my kids, they're taught all the time self esteem, self esteem's critically important. Well what about societal self-esteem? You know, what about saying that the society that you live in, the inheritance of that society is actually important and worth valuing too. And I think we don't do a very good job of that, and I think it poses a great question mark in the end over the long term future of that.


[@ +22:00] I think a lot of [that kind of] doom-mongering sells precisely because, in a sense, it is so unreal that it doesn't require any serious effort from you. You know, Al Gore is going around saying that, because of Earth's "excessive consumption" at the moment, it's put Earth "out of balance" with the rest of the universe. Well, you know, I don't know how he's measured that. But the fact of the matter is, if you pose that as the problem it is so unreal, that there is almost nothing you could do that would have any effect on it. So it becomes, in effect, a simple way of demonstrating your moral virtue to no purpose whatsoever. And there seems to be a streak in the psyche of kind of post-nationalist, post-modern man that would rather do that than actually attend to the hard practical problems that need dealing with now. The more pie-in-the-sky the problem is, the more universal and intergalactic it is, the more it seems to appeal to a particular disposition these days.


[@ +29:00] I think America really needs to think seriously about what allies it has, real allies it has, and do its best to shore them up. I'm immensely heartened whenever you go to Australia, because one of the most heartwarming features about Australia is you don't just get to talk sense with the right there, but there's a remarkable number of people who would identify themselves on the left in Australia who talk an awful lot of sense on this issue too. And I think America and Australia both understand ... what it is about. It's not about racism. It's not about being anti-immigration. But it's about understanding the importance of assimilating immigrants when they come here, and the only way you can do that is to have something they can assimilate with, which is a large part of the problem in Europe. Even if you wanted to assimilate with modern Dutch identity, what would it be? What would you do? And in America, whatever the problems here, there isn't the same problem with just huge, millions and millions of alienated immigrants that they have in most of Europe now.

I'm looking forward to reading Mark's book.

Another very interesting podcast this week was the September 19 Sanity Squad podcast, "A Religion of the Perpetually Paranoid", hosted as usual by neo-neocon, with commentators Dr. Sanity, Shrinkwrapped, and Siggy. One particular comment by Dr. Sanity at about 18 minutes into the discussion especially caught my attention, as it connected with my own concerns about worrisome alliances of thought that we've seen forming:

There is a very interesting intellectual connection. There's a book now that is apparently a bestseller in Turkey, which is one of the more moderate Muslim states, and it is called "Attack on the Pope". This is already a bestseller, this was a bestseller and existed before the pope ever made any comments, which predicts that Pope Benedict will be assassinated in Istanbul, which he is apparently scheduled to visit. There is also a movie, as you well know, about President Bush, "Assasination of the President", that just won an award at a Canadian film festival, that shows the assassination of a sitting United States president. And I think that it is not a coincidence that these two things exist in both ... and are celebrated in the intellectual halls of the Left, and in the intellectual (such as it is) aspect of Islam. There is something very strange going on in the world today, and ... the underlying thing is a lot of rage, and anger, and hatred that is coming out in this kind of format.

Last but not least, don't miss the Glenn & Helen's 9/18 interview with Jim Geraghty, which is chock full of insights that Democrats seeking election would be wise to pay attention to.

9/11 Observances, Part 2

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Some further thoughts that I drafted a couple of days ago and have been mulling over a bit more.

In large part, what's been on my mind lately is assessing where we are and how we're faring, five years after the 9/11 attacks, and where we need to be going from here. Although overall I have tended to be an optimist, I must say my general feeling on the topic at this point in time is not especially optimistic.

On the upside, there is little question in my mind that, if we in the West possess the necessary resolve, we are every bit capable of defeating al Qaeda and similarly-minded jihadist groups. As Christopher Hitchens said on the Hugh Hewitt Show last June 27th:

In the long run, I'm perfectly certain of victory over these people. And I think in some ways it's impossible for them to win. They're too backward, they're too stupid. Their ideology is self-destructive as well as destructive. It's literally suicidal.

Mind you, I do think it's vitally important that we take very seriously the implications of the harm that jihadists clearly intend to do us should they again acquire the necessary means, and that we actively work to dismantle terror organizations and thwart their plans. As I've said before, however, I've come to be still more worried about our own state of mind than about any form of physical violence that al Qaeda and its brethren have in store for us. I sincerely hope I'm wrong about the significance of this, but it leaves me with a sinking feeling that I just can't seem to shake.

Among other things I keep asking myself: Why oh why, five years later, haven't we rebuilt at Ground Zero yet? In my previous post, I quoted James Lileks' recent comments on the matter:

If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don’t. And we don’t seem interested in asking why.

I think architect Sherri Tracinski had it right in her July 2002 op-ed: rebuilding is an imperative for the health and survivial of our civilization.

During the war of 1812, when the British burned the Presidential Mansion, what did we do? We rebuilt the mansion, repainted the charred exterior, and called it the White House.

In the 1850s, when a fire burned the Capitol building, plans were made to rebuild it, but soon the country was split apart by the Civil War. Yet it was during the war, with limited funds and limited workers, that the Capitol was rebuilt and enlarged using the latest modern materials. During a conflict that threatened to rip the nation in two, the rebuilding of the Capitol demonstrated Lincoln's confidence that we would succeed in preserving the Union.

Today, however, America's reaction is increasingly one of passivity and resignation. We flounder in a half-hearted war because we're afraid we might suffer casualties—or worse, we're afraid we might inflict them on the enemy. We plead with our allies and our enemies for permission to invade Iraq. And when the World Trade Center site is cleared, we propose a half-hearted building campaign. We accept a slow suicide.

I want very much to see us rebuild where the Twin Towers once stood, as a symbolic affirmation of our confidence in ourselves and our will to go on. There's a plan in the works and a timeline. But in the five years since the 9/11 attacks, I've begun to wonder how serious we are about it and whether it's really going to happen.

Dragging our feet on rebuilding where the towers stood is one thing. What troubles me more deeply still is the accidental alliance of worldviews that seems to have occurred, between the Islamic fundamentalists who condemn and seek to eradicate the lifestyles of Western “infidels”, and those among the domestic left who criticize and abhor our way of life no less harshly, while unhesitatingly aligning themselves with whomever happens to be speaking out against the United States this week or the next, from theocrats such as Ahmadinejad to deeply antiliberal Latin-American thugs such as Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. The choice of foreign figures with whom America's domestic and foreign critics ally themselves is in fact often quite revealing.

It is repeatedly alleged that our purported objective of spreading democracy and liberty is mere pretext for more nefarious goals. Yet at times it seems to me that the greatest fear of all for some is that fostering liberal democracy just might be our actual goal, and that, worse yet, we might actually succeed at it. To be sure, American-style liberal capitalist democracy is a competitor for mindshare in the world's marketplace of governing ideas. And to some, its continued spread is just about the worst possible thing that can happen, and they seem genuinely and perhaps unsurprisingly eager to see us fail in this endeavor. The overlap between those who wish to see the United States back down and those to whom the popularization of characteristically American values and ideas about governance is abhorrent is substantial, and readily visible at any of the major anti-war protest rallys that have been held in recent years. This exhibition, which is running contemporaneously with the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the day we were deeply wounded in a way that no one has ever wounded us before, is likewise typical of the monolithic attitude and synergy of these ideas one sees in the contemporary art world. Its heroically dissenting participants are going out on a limb to express their resistance to both war and the “globalization of consumerist capitalism.” No mention of Saddam's torture chambers or mass graves to be found in such venues, nor of the liberation of women from Taliban-enforced Sharia in Afghanistan. Just gloom and self-loathing and all the necessary ingredients of suicide for the West.

At the same time that such apparent synergies of thought and their potential consequences give me a chill, I worry also about our own credulity. Whether through careful study or by accident (and I'm finding myself increasingly inclined to believe the former) jihadists and their allies seem to be playing the American left's sympathies with great virtuosity. They appear to have learned precisely the right language to use, so deftly exercising (as Ahmadinejad has in recent statements) key hot-button terms like “imperialism”, “oppression”, “hegemony”, and so forth in their rhetoric, in evidently rather successful attempts to build sympathy and justifications for their actions, that you'd almost think they had honed such skills in American universities.

It positively baffles me that people who exercise so much skepticism in dissecting and criticizing the (certainly far from perfect) actions of our own leadership seem to apply so little of that skepticism to the statements and intentions of those who openly, vocally, and clearly seek our destruction. Americans and others who credit our government with all manner of capacity for deception, vicious motives, and malfeasance, seem stunningly credulous when it comes to the rhetoric of the jihadists and their international sympathizers, and eager to believe their assertions that it's all our fault. I think there's some truth to the notion that this kind of conclusion is actually appealing and comforting to some people in a rather counterintuitive way: because if it's all our fault, instead of the being result of circumstances, actors, and ideologies beyond our control, then in theory we can make it stop. Maybe sometimes it is just less frightening to blame the parent than to confront a world of potentially grave danger and uncertainty. Unfortunately, a consequence of this kind of thinking is that in the place of assertive action, its adherents are demanding the kind of denial, appeasement, and perpetually apologetic multiculturalist pandering that, while arguably harmless enough pre-9/11, I fear can now be the end of us if we allow it to be.

So where does that all leave us? In a significant amount of danger and with a lot of serious assessment and repair work to do, I'm afraid. But it's work we absolutely need to do, I believe, because our future depends on the outcome.

As Bill Whittle phrased it in in the introduction to his 2005 essay “Sanctuary”:*

What’s worse than crawling under your beloved house and seeing the foundation's rotten with decades of termite damage?

NOT crawling under your beloved house and seeing the foundation's rotten with decades of termite damage.

Having suicidal theocratic zealots for enemies is one challenge. But if this civilization of ours is to survive, I think we need most of all to begin seriously examining some of our own seemingly suicidal tendencies and getting our house in order. We need to fully confront, understand, and treat this cancerous, deeply misguided self-loathing before it's too late.

Later in “Sanctuary”, Bill wrote:

I used to wonder why civilizations fell. No longer. I see it now before my eyes, every day. Civilizations do not fall because the Barbarians storm the walls. The forces of civilization are far too powerful, and those of barbarism far too weak, for that to happen.

Civilizations fall because the people inside the Sanctuary throw open the gates.

The most crucial battle to be fought, in the fight for this magnificent, life-affirming, fragile civilization of ours, is the battle to win hearts and minds — beginning, most importantly of all, with our own. If we fail in that endeavor, all may well be lost. But if we can find it within us to succeed, then I believe no enemy from without, however vicious and determined, can long endanger this outpost of sanity and decency that so many of us are so fortunate to call home.

* UPDATE 2009-09-08: Sadly, “Sanctuary” appears to have been a casualty of Bill's move to I've updated the above links to point to where the essay should be -- and, I hold out hope, will be someday -- but for now the text of it is missing in action, and can only be found in the print edition of Bill's excellent “Silent America” essay collection (which I can't possibly recommend highly enough).

9/11 Observances

Monday, September 11, 2006

I'm here, as promised. I'm starting out by catching up on the past couple days of Instapundit, and the consistently good stuff that Glenn finds and links to. I'll be listening to today's Penn Jillette Show later, via the podcast, and I've got “Building on Ground Zero” and the first episode of “The Path to 9/11” on the TiVo. So much good stuff to read already, I'm hoping I can manage to leave some time to do a little writing myself.

Meghan Cox Gurdon:

The cruelty and implacability of the Islamic terrorists has made ordinary life seem fragile not in such a way that you appreciate each passing golden moment, but in a way that jolts you awake at night with strangled thoughts of whether everything you know and love will be taken away. But worse is finding that in this situation where, like our grandparents, we do face an obvious, common, and determined enemy, there is such self-loathing amongst our countrymen. When I hear people phoning C-SPAN to explain that 9/11 was an “inside job” by the Bush administration, or that the United States is to blame for “stirring up a hornet’s nest,” when the swarm was already upon us, it seems to me that national unity is impossible. Of all September 11th’s grim legacies, this seems to me the saddest.

Yes indeed.

James Lileks:

If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don’t. And we don’t seem interested in asking why.

Mark Steyn:

In theory, if you’d wanted to construct an enemy least likely to appeal to the progressive Left, wife-beating gay-bashing theocrats would surely be it. But Islamism turned out to be the ne plus ultra of multiculti diversity-celebration — for what more demonstrates the boundlessness of one’s “tolerance” than by tolerating the intolerant. The Europeans’ fetishization of the Palestinians — whereby the more depraved the suicide bombers are the more brutalized they must have been by the Israelis — has, in effect, been globalized.

Also courtesy of Glenn, moving articles by Michael Ledeen, Ed Cone, and Kenneth Anderson.

More coming here soon I hope.

Soon, Time Again to Reflect

Saturday, September 9, 2006

I'm taking a day off from work next Monday, and plan to spend the day reading blog editorials and memorial posts as I've done in recent years, reflecting, thinking, and hopefully also writing a bit here.

I've been finding much insightful discussion and commentary on Pajamas Media's excellent Blog Week in Review podcast (one of three podcasts I currently listen to regularly, together with the Glenn and Helen Show and Penn Jillette Show), and am looking forward to listening to the September 8th edition, whose topic is the fifth anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks. I'm also currently midway through watching last year's Discovery Channel documentary “The Flight That Fought Back,” which I hope to finish later today.

It is vitally important to me that we take the intent and consequences of the September 11th, 2001 attacks seriously, and summon all the will we have to work for the survival and health of this magnificent, precious civilization of ours. I must say I feel deeply worried about our evident lack of cultural confidence, by our seeming desire to believe the seductive idea that there is no danger, and by the attacks' apparent lack of impact on certain Americans' scornful, derisive, and to me seemingly suicidal pre-9/11 rhetoric toward contemporary American culture and Western civilization.

What Bill Whittle said on the subject in January goes for me: “When it comes to cultural suicide, I'm aginn' it.” We seem to be gazing pathetically at our navels when we ought to be clapping like furies. I only hope that we will come to realize what's gone wrong in time to reverse this worrisome state of affairs.

Best wishes folks. More again soon.

Anousheh Ansari to become first female space tourist

Saturday, September 2, 2006

This story has been deservedly getting a good deal of attention lately. Thirty-nine-year-old Iranian-American success story Anousheh Ansari, who with her family sponsored the Ansari X-Prize competition that Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne team won in 2004, is about to become the world's first female space tourist on September 18th — something it's exceedingly unlikely she'd ever have been able to achieve in her native Iran, due not only to technical and economic limitations, but to cultural restrictions on the choices available to women as well.

The front page of the X-Prize Foundation website says Ansari will be blogging the experience from space.

Good for her, I say, and good for this new era of space travel that we've begun to see unfold. Three cheers for freedom, science, and the human spirit of adventure!

UPDATE 9-16: Anousheh's weblog can be found at

Pamela Bone: "Muslim sisters need our help"

Friday, August 25, 2006

A deeply-bowed, indebted tip of the hat to Instapundit for pointing this article out.  It is without a doubt one of the best pieces of work I have had the good fortune of reading in a long while, and I'm so glad not to have missed it.  By all means, please do "read the whole thing" as Glenn suggests!

IN Tehran in June, several thousand people held a peaceful demonstration calling for legal changes that would give a woman's testimony in court equal value to a man's. The demonstrators, most of them women, were attacked with tear gas and beaten with batons by men and women from Iran's State Security Forces, according to Amnesty International.

Iranian women may not travel without their husband's permission but they are allowed to wield a truncheon against other women.

Do you think women in Western countries marched in solidarity with the Iranian women demonstrators? Of course not. Do you think there are posters and graffiti at universities condemning the Iranian President? Of course not. You know, without needing to go there, that any graffiti at universities will be condemning George W. Bush, not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (I concede Bush is easier to spell.)

You know, before you get there, that at the Melbourne Writers Festival starting this weekend the principal hate figures are going to be Bush and John Howard. You know there will be many sympathetic references to David Hicks but probably none to Ashraf Kolhari, an Iranian mother of four who has been in jail for five years for allegedly having sex outside marriage and, until last week, who was under sentence of death by stoning.

Thank goddess, as they used to say: a few Western feminists have begun to wonder why women who once marched for women's rights are marching alongside people who would take away even the most basic of those rights.

It has bothered me for a long while now that Western feminists seem to have been largely and conspicuously silent on issues of women's rights in the Muslim world, and on the subject of precious advances in that arena that have been made and ought to continue to be made in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.  Ironically, such feminists have often chosen to instead focus their ire on the very country and culture whose efforts have made most of those recent liberating advances possible.  It does seem to me that Western feminism has taken a passive and obedient back seat to multiculturalism's demand that we pander to notions of cultural equivalence, which I find has worrisome implications for women elsewhere in the world and for the future success of freedom at large.  I sincerely hope we'll start to hear more from corageous, independent-minded feminists like Pamela.

Great stuff recently enjoyed and not to be missed

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bill Whittle is back at the presses again with latest essays, "Rafts" and "The Web of Trust". As usual, I found both to be stirring and right on target. I'm greatly looking forward to watching his new book project, "An American Civilization", take shape.

Glenn and Helen have another great podcast interview/discussion up with Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan. Springing off from the recent news regarding the British terror busts and Israel-Lebanon/Hezbollah conflict, they discuss data gathering technology and the balance between privacy concerns vs. antiterrorism efforts, cycles of Islamic fundamentalism, and prospects for the region. Truly great stuff, as always seems to be the case when they get Jim and Austin on the show. Don't miss it!

Back in the game?

Things finally having let up a bit in my work life, it looks like I may actually be able to set aside some time to start blogging here again. — I certainly hope so! After starting this project a little over a year ago, I've still got plenty of ideas queued up and ready to write about, and have been looking forward to getting back to it. I don't have a particular schedule in mind yet, but will try to start writing and posting again as I can find moments in which to do so. I've been enjoying lots of good reading and listening material lately, so may start with a bit of "linkblogging". Stay tuned!

Happy Birthday, Old Friend.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

This 4th of July weekend has found me busy working hard, but by the same token happily working away at something that I love dearly and am expending the time and effort on of my own free will. I wouldn't have it any other way. Today's a day for celebration though, and I'll be putting the work aside for a bit to enjoy some BBQ and fireworks.

As I penned in my journal a couple of years ago:

Give me all the risks
that go with being free.
I'll gladly take the lot
as the price of liberty.

Happy Birthday, Old Friend. And Thank You for the life I feel so fortunate to get to live.

Penn Jillette: My Kind of Nutty Wack-Job

Thursday, May 4, 2006

I've gone and gotten hooked on Penn Jillette's weekday radio show recently, thanks to the podcast that enables me to catch it out here in the Bay Area at times when I can manage to listen. In addition to being frequently hilarious, Penn very often has interesting things to talk about and insightful things to say about them. To borrow terms in which Penn frequently describes himself: He's my kind of nutty libertarian atheist wack-job.

Monday's episode regarding the pro-immigrant / "Day Without Immigrants" rallies held around the U.S. was especially good, and Penn managed to express almost verbatim what I've been thinking on the subject.

Open up the borders entirely. Let anyone in. In order to do that -- in order to let anyone in -- you have to stop running a socialist country.

Given sufficient attention to security concerns, I'm all in favor of there being a reasonable legitimate means for immigrants to enter the U.S. and petition for and obtain citizenship. It's been said so often as to have become a cliché, but it's an accurate one: We truly are a nation of immigrants -- and who are we, once in the "club", to shut the doors? Immigrants, on balance, contribute far more to this country than they take, and I think we should welcome anyone who wants to come here and contribute to and be a part of this way of life we've defined with open arms (though unlike some advocates of open immigration I think it's reasonable to expect immigrants to assimilate to some extent). It should come as no surprise, however, that this desire for openness to immigration comes into conflict with the desire many people have for our government to guarantee citizens a growing array of social service provisions. Having the latter only lends fuel to the otherwise specious counter-argument that immigrants are a net drain on resources and here to take more than they give back.

On a related note: Given that there appears to be a fair amount of overlap between those who advocate on behalf of immigrants and the folks who continually insist that the U.S. is such a dreadful place to have to live, I can't help but wonder how such people proceess the fact that there are so many people who want so desperately to come here and live in this supposed cornucopia of crises that they routinely endure great hardships and take great risks in order to do so. Do they simply think these people have been misled about the promise of America?

Seems like if it was that big a disappointment, word would eventually get around and the immigrants would stop coming in droves. And yet, they keep coming. Fancy that.

"Fascist", you say?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Courtesy once again of Glenn Reynolds' aptitude for picking up on the best stuff on the net, my attention has been brought to something brilliant I'd hate to have missed:

"Vodkapundit" Stephen Green hits the nail right on the head:

President Bush isn’t a fascist, and I can prove it.

We’ve seen what American bookstores and publications and universities do when confronted with real fascists: they knuckle under. You might not be able to find those Danish cartoons anyplace respectable, but you’ll sure find lots of anti-Bush stuff.

Ipso facto, America is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Started "An Army of Davids"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Looks like I'm back on the air, following some technical trouble Blogger was having yesterday that apparently caused my blog, along with numerous others, to temporary vanish...

My copy of Glenn Reynolds' "An Army of Davids" arrived yesterday and I've just cracked it open this evening and am enjoying so far. One notable quote that's caught my attention:

"The secret to success in big business and politics in the twenty-first century, I think, will involve figuring out a way to capitalize on the phenomenon of lots of people doing what they want to do, rather than -- as in previous centuries -- figuring out ways to make lots of people do what you want them to do." (p. 21)

I certainly hope he's right!

More Warnings from Al-Qaeda

Monday, March 13, 2006

...courtesy of Instapundit. Something new to be concerned about, or just more of the same desperate theatrical posturing and attempts to incite divisions among Americans?

Meryl Yourish comments: "Sounds to me like they just got last season’s 24 on DVD."

Indeed. Sounds like they're scraping the bottom of the idea barrel. I hope they haven't also been watching Battlestar Galactica and building poorly-founded expectations that they'll drive us to some kind of pathetic navel-gazing self-doubt about our right to exist... Even a single attack of the magnitude they allude to would, I feel confident, put an end to such idle pursuits and galvanize Americans' will to hunt down Al Qaeda and its brethren and unequivocally destroy their ability to ever do such things again -- something the 9/11 attacks only partially succeeded in doing. But I certainly hope that any such attempts will be successfully thwarted, and we'll therefore never get to find out.

Oscars, Shmoscars

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Glenn Reynolds says he won't be watching the Oscars this year. I'm not planning to go out of my way to watch them either. I've had my fill of Hollywood's cultural cynicism and misguided activism in recent years, thank you very much. So many better things to do with one's time...

UPDATE Sunday 3/5: The Manolo is liveblogging the Oscars, with guestbloggers Stephen Green, Gay Patriot, Roger Simon, et. al. Hilarious stuff! OK, so I've got the show on in the background now so I can at least get the jokes. So sue me...

I'm still around!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

...and still unrepentant! :-)

I lost touch with the blogosphere during a holiday vacation week away from frequent Internet access, and have yet to catch up on reading my favorite blogs, much less posting here. (The accumulation of interesting stuff to read really does become a daunting virtual "pile" in short order!) But I do hope to pick this up and get the momentum going again before too long... Until I make the time to start writing substantive posts, I may slip into "linkblogging" and short-post mode for a little while...

Among other happy discoveries, I've been greatly enjoying the recently launched "Glenn and Helen Show" podcast, put together by Instapundit Glenn Reynolds and his wife Dr. Helen. I've been a big fan of Glenn's widely read (to say the least) blog, and he brings the same refreshingly level-headed and inquisitive approach to the podcasts that comes through in his prolific posting. The interesting topics and interviewees have been plentiful. Don't miss the lastest episode: another conferene-call interview with the ever-engaging, thought-provoking informative and irreverent Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan. Available (free) via the iTunes Music Store, Yahoo, and wherever fine podcasts are aggregated...! Listen and enjoy!