My new favorite quote
“We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” - C.S. Lewis
Brought to me attention by The Sober Sophomore.
“We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” - C.S. Lewis
Brought to me attention by The Sober Sophomore.
There's a movie coming to a cineplex near you in a few weeks, an independent film that is based on an acclaimed novel and that received all kinds of accolades at the Sundance Film Festival. So will it be a interesting and involving documentary like March of the Penguins? An intelligent and twisty detective story like Brick? An offbeat but funny character comedy like Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang? A sweet, unconventional love story like Once?
Not so much.
Nothing in the world of Hollywood is quite so thrilling as "exploring complex themes" and "crossing boundaries" and "breaking taboos". For instance, Philadelphia and Brokeback Mountain "explored" the "complex theme" of living a homosexual lifestyle in a heterosexual society, and the resistance encountered by those who "cross societal boundaries" and "break the taboo" against it. Or, despite the fact that most middle-class Americans find living in the suburbs attractive (for safety for their family, access to better schools, and having more space), Hollywood loves to repeatedly "explore the complex theme" of how the suburbanites are all living repressed, depressing, hypocritical, and vacuous lives, and need deliverance in the form of "crossing boundaries" and "breaking the taboos" of their awful society.
Apparently tired of telling the movie-going public about how soul-crushing suburbia is or about the oppression of homosexuals, writer/director Alan Ball's new film Towelhead aims to break another taboo and explore the complex issue of......
Yes, you read that right.
In a Question & Answer session following a screening of his upcoming release, Ball said of child rape, “Society wants us to believe that’s a soul destroying event, I don’t believe that.” In Towelhead, to quote Ball, the “experience makes [the victim] stronger.”
Yes, you read that right, too.
Here's a synopsis from one of the attendees of the screening:
Set somewhere in Texas at the height of the first Gulf War, Towelhead has no real story. It’s a two-hour series of quick scenes obsessing over Jasira’s sexual, physical, emotional, and racial abuse at the hands of everyone but the two thoughtful hippies who live next door. When not being abused, Jasira, in a series of provocative scenes focusing on her bare, mini-skirted legs, enjoys a sexual awakening giving herself orgasms while looking at pictures of naked women in porn magazines.
The film opens on Jasira wearing only a bra and panties. Shaving cream’s smeared on her thighs so mom’s boyfriend can shave her pubic area. Jasira understands what’s happening, and as with all the sexual abuse she’ll face, there’s a part of her that obviously enjoys it. Later, another character will shave her … without her wearing panties.
Upon discovering what happened, Mom, a crucifix wearing Christian, doesn’t toss the boyfriend, she blames Jasira and ships her off to Texas to live with her father Rifat, a Lebanese born American who works for NASA and hates Saddam. It’s made clear to us immediately that Rifat is not a Muslim, but also a Christian. It’s made clear just before he smacks Jasira harshly across the face for dressing provocatively.
At school none of the Texas “rubes” can pronounce Jasira’s name correctly, not even her teachers. Instead, the students call her “sand nigger” and “diaper head.”
After school Jasira babysits for Zack Vuosos, the ten year old boy next door who calls her “towelhead” and introduces her to the sex magazines. Mr. Vuoso ritually flies the American flag by day, takes it down and folds it by night, and with little effort seduces a willing Jasira.
The first sexual encounter between Vuosa and Jasira occurs in the foyer of her home...later, he’ll full-on rape her, but not until after we’re treated to a striptease presented and photographed like something right out of late night Cinemax.
As the film progresses, moves on from Vuosa to a boy only a few years older than she is (still, she's 13 and the boy is 16-17). She’s empowered sexually (at 13) and the film ends on what’s meant to be a triumphant note when she decides on a relationship with him. When it’s all over, not only is her soul intact but she suffered no emotional or psychological damage whatsoever. In the end, after all she’s been through, she seems completely unchanged. Again, to quote Ball, her experiences "made her stronger."
So statuatory rape and/or forced rape is not only NOT a “soul-destroying event”, but it actually makes the victim stronger? I guess all those Catholic priests are off the hook then, huh?
Chritianity: Hate the sin (pedophilia), love the sinner (priests).
Hollywood: Love the sin (pedophilia), hate the sinner (priests).
(And yes, I am aware that less than 1% of Catholic priests were involved in these cases. I just don’t think Hollywood will show the victims of their abuse as “stronger” for it, do you?)
So let’s see how the movie did on the “Hollywood point-of-view” checklist:
Mom blames daughter for sex with Mom’s boyfriend
Christians as wrong-headed: Check
Texas “rubes”…call her “sand nigger” and “diaper head.”
Red-staters as racists: Check
It’s made clear [that her father is a Christian] just before he smacks Jasira harshly across the face...
Christians as abusive: Check
....for dressing provocatively
Male Christians unable to deal with daughter's sexuality: Check
Mr. Vuoso (Eckhart) ritually flies the American flag by day, takes it down and folds it by night, and with little effort seduces a willing Jasira.
Patriotic person is really a pervert: Check
…sexual, physical, emotional, and racial abuse at the hands of everyone but the two thoughtful hippies who live next door
Hippies good, red-staters and/or Christians bad: Check
Later, he’ll full on rape her, but not until after we’re treated to a striptease...
Sexualization of teenager presented as “empowering”: Check
In the end, after all she’s been through, she seems completely unchanged...
Sex, especially involving minors, has no consequences: Check
Throw in a couple of secular humanist European lesbians and some commentary on how George Bush has ruined the world, and this movie would have been Hollywood nirvana. Somewhere in Hollywood, someone is asking "Where are the secular humanist European lesbians when we need them?"
Now to answer a couple of questions I'm sure you're having:Q: Who in the world was this movie made for?
1. Director and studio release a film with a vile, offensive, and morally repugnant message.
2. Anyone with even an ounce of common sense and a smidgen of ability to tell right from wrong is aghast.
3. Director and studio smugly pat themselves on back for being “daring” and “being able to explore a complex issue”, unlike the “simple” people described in #2.
4. Culturally conservative pundits and religious pundits (and, to make matters worse, Catholic Defense League’s Bill Donohue*) go ballistic. Some call for boycott and/or protest against director and studio.
5. Director and studio cry “Censorship!” and “First Amendment” and “Free Speech!”**. They claim the exalted status of victimhood.
6. Director and studio are featured on the covers of Time, Newsweek, and Entertainment Weekly, all of which stress the director and studio’s “daring to explore a complex issue”.
7. Director can now can claim the coveted “controversial” tag for himself, as in “Controversial director Alan Ball…”. Studio has every director on the planet wanting to work for them, since there is apparently no topic off-limits in regards to their decisions on which films to green-light.
Result: Director wins. Studio wins.
* - Mr. Donohue is often correct in his statements, but he a) plays directly into the hands of those he opposes by publicly making a stink, and b) can be so abrasive that he alienates even those who agree with him.
** - Of course, neither private citizens boycotting a product nor privately owned theaters refusing to show a film are a violation of First Amendment rights. Hollywood is filled with a lot of “intellectuals” who “believe in the Constitution”, but whom have apparently never actually read it.
Many spiritually advanced people I know identify Obama as a Lightworker, the rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.
Before living in the “physical universe,” you had a much broader focus and you had a few or no limitations. You decided that you wished to experience physicality. You made decisions determining what you would do in the physical life, the type of surprises you would experience, the things you would learn, and how your life would unfold.
You had much more freedom, much less limitation — a broader and more inclusive perception — when you made those decisions.
Trust yourself. You knew what you were doing.
The environment you are in, the friends you hang around with, the television shows that you watch, the joy or lack of joy you perceive; all those things together largely determine the type of person that you are.
The vibrations you perceive is what you are. What you are determines the vibrations you perceive. It works both ways.
Pick and choose. You have free-will. Choose the environments that most represent the type of person you want to be.
Who you are is the sum total of all the vibrations you are aware of — yes, all those vibrations as a whole; as if you took those vibrations, put them all in one container, and then stirred the whole lot until they were well blended. The result of the blending is who you are.
I'm not sure what Chinese words this restaurateur fed to the translation software used to generate the giant sign hanging over the entrance, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't: TRANSLATE SERVER ERROR. Ah, the special problems of translations into other languages.
Of course, English is a particularly tricky language, and there have been numerous reported instances of signs in other countries where the message ended up being not quite was intended. Here are a few examples from a pretty good list:
In a Nairobi restaurant:
CUSTOMERS WHO FIND OUR WAITRESSES RUDE OUGHT TO SEE THE MANAGER.
In a Bangkok temple:
IT IS FORBIDDEN TO ENTER A WOMAN EVEN A FOREIGNER IF DRESSED AS A MAN.
On the menu in a Swiss restaurant:
OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.
In a Copenhagen airline ticket office:
WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
From a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo:
WHEN PASSENGER OF FOOT HEAVE IN SIGHT, TOOTLE THE HORN. TRUMPET HIM MELODIOUSLY AT FIRST, BUT IF HE STILL OBSTACLES YOUR PASSAGE THEN TOOTLE HIM WITH VIGOR.
Here are a couple that the above list doesn’t contain, but are somewhat noteworthy:
Donkey Kong was an extremely popular arcade game released by Nintendo in 1981, and it achieved a couple of milestones: it was Nintendo’s breakout hit in America, and it was the first video game to feature a plot.
The eponymous Donkey Kong is the game's de facto villain. He is the pet of a carpenter named Jumpman (a name chosen for its similarity to "Walkman" and "Pac-Man"; the character was later renamed Mario, and made a plumber, not a carpenter). The carpenter mistreats the ape, so Donkey Kong escapes and kidnaps Jumpman/Mario's girlfriend, originally known as the Lady, but later named Pauline. The player must take the role of Jumpman/Mario and rescue the girl.
The game opens with a gorilla climbing a pair of ladders to the top of a construction site. He sets the Lady/Pauline down and stamps his feet, causing the steel beams to change shape. He then moves to his final perch and sneers. This brief animation sets the scene and adds background to the gameplay, a first for video games. Upon reaching the end of the stage, another cut scene begins. A heart appears between Jumpman/Mario and the Lady/Pauline, but Donkey Kong grabs the woman and climbs higher, causing the heart to break. The narrative concludes when Jumpman/Mario reaches the end of the final stage. He and the Lady/Pauline are reunited, and a short intermission plays. The game then starts over at a higher level of difficulty.
But where did the name "Donkey Kong" come from? According to the game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, the game was originally called "Dumb Monkey" (in Japanese), but Nintendo wanted to target the North American market, so an English title was necessary. "Kong" was common Japanese slang for "gorilla", and he claims he was told that "Donkey" meant stupid and/or stubborn. Hence, “Donkey Kong”.
"All Your Base Are Belong To Us"
The phrase stems from a 1991 adaptation of Toaplan's "Zero Wing" shoot-'em-up arcade game for the Sega Genesis game console. In the Sega version, to expand on the game's plot, an introductory cut scene was added to the game. Due to the rush to release the game in European and North American markets, this introductory scene was translated to English from Japanese rather hastily - and therefore, poorly - resulting in dialogue such as "Somebody set up us the bomb", "All your base are belong to us", and "You have no chance to survive make your time." The introduction does not appear in the arcade version.
Let us not forget, though, that American companies trying to introduce products in non-English speaking countries have had their problems, too. Here’s my personal favorite:
Coca-Cola in China
When Coca-Cola first entered the Chinese market in 1928, it had no official representation of its name in Mandarin. It needed to find four Chinese characters whose pronunciations approximated the sounds "ko-ka-ko-la" without producing a nonsensical or adverse meaning when strung together as a written phrase (Written Chinese employs about 40,000 different characters, of which about 200 are pronounced with sounds that could be used in forming the name "ko-ka-ko-la"). While Coca-Cola was searching for a satisfactory combination of symbols to represent their name, Chinese shopkeepers created signs that combined characters whose pronunciations formed the string "ko-ka-ko-la", but they did so with no regard for the meanings of the written phrases they formed in doing so. The character for wax, pronounced "la," was used in many of these signs, resulting in strings that sounded like "ko-ka-ko-la" when pronounced but conveyed nonsensical meanings such as "female horse fastened with wax," "wax-flattened mare," or "bite the wax tadpole" when read.
Coca-Cola had to avoid using many of the 200 symbols available for forming "ko-ka-ko-la" because of their meanings, including all of the characters pronounced "la". They compromised by opting for the character lê, meaning "joy," and approximately pronounced as "ler." The final transliteration of "Coca-Cola" was "K’o Kou K’o Lê", translated as "to allow the mouth to be able to rejoice," but it acceptably represented the concept of "something palatable from which one receives pleasure". It was the real thing, with no wax tadpoles or female horses, and Coca-Cola registered it as its Chinese trademark in 1928.
I shall now drive somewhere for lunch; if traffic is bad, I may have to tootle someone with vigor.
To anyone who may wonder, Tom and I are on the same page about finishing the job in Iraq, especially since, in my view, the war in Iraq and the completion of our objectives there are about much more than Iraq.
I was against the war before it began, for the simple reason that I didn’t think that democracy could be imposed on a country from the outside. I, like most world leaders and intelligence agencies, believed that Saddam Hussien had WMDs, but I didn’t believe that he was stupid enough to use them in such a way as to provoke the U.S. into military action. Whatever Iraq’s ties to or support of terrorist organizations, I didn’t think direct military action was the answer. Lest anyone think I was some kind of dove, I had no problem at all with the idea of covert military operations. Hey, terrorists: you want to fight dirty? Fine. We’ll show you dirty.
However, the moment the U.S. military engaged Iraq, my war opposition ended, for the very simple reason that to continue to oppose the war while our troops were fighting it would only hurt our military. The objective was stated: a) depose Saddam and b) provide whatever assistance was needed to enable Iraq to establish itself as a constitutional republic. A) was achieved rather easily, as the scale of world military strength resembles Olympic softball: there’s a huge gulf separating the U.S. from everyone else. B) got bogged down for a number of reasons. How America would react became a test of a president, a military, and a nation.
There were loud and repeated calls, from primarily the left but also the right, to abandon Iraq. The most offensive of these calls, in my view, came from those who claimed that they were doing so out of love and concern for our soldiers. Not only did I not really believe them, but I thought that it showed a profound misunderstanding of the military personnel mindset. As I understand it, to a military man (or woman), the most important thing – even more important than preserving your own life - is to do your duty and accomplish your mission. Casualties, both dead and wounded, will occur; however, if the mission is accomplished, the soldier feels he can rest at peace, and that whatever sacrifice was made was worth it. From that standpoint, to leave Iraq before the mission was accomplished – which would constitute failure to accomplish that mission – would be devastating to the U.S. military. The lives lost and sacrifices made would have been for nothing. Not to mention the devastation it would cause to the Iraqi people. For both these reasons, I felt it was the moral obligation of the U.S. to stay in Iraq until the mission was accomplished.
To President Bush’s credit, he stuck to his commitment to Iraq, but he also was willing to alter strategy and shake up the military’s leadership to turn the tide of the war in our favor. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why General David Patraeus was not named Time magazine's "Man of the Year" for 2007, given what his leadership and expertise in counter-insurgency enabled the U.S. military to do, which was to kick Al Queda’s rear end all over Iraq. As I detailed 10 days ago:
…Al Queda has been completely routed in Iraq, it's safer to walk the streets of former Al Queda strongholds like Mosul in than it is in Washington DC or East St. Louis, the Iraqi government have achieved 15 of 18 objectives required to establish a stable constitutional republic…
Before I get back to writing about energy, I wanted to highlight a commercial I saw on TV last night. A political advocacy organization called Vets for Freedom is sponsoring an add campaign encouraging our leaders to finish the job in Iraq. The ads feature soldiers and their families advocating that we stay the course.
On a related note, an article in today’s New York Times quoted an Iraqi:
“In no way do I favor the occupation of my country,” said Abu Ibrahim, a Western-educated businessman in Baghdad, “but there is a moral obligation on the Americans at this point.”
I was a supporter of the war before it began. In hindsight, it may not have been the best move strategically or politically for the United States. The stabilization and transition phase of the war has been much more costly in blood and treasure (for both Iraq and the U.S.) than I had ever expected.
That being said, I have always believed that we have a moral obligation to the people of Iraq. We can argue about faulty intelligence, weapons of mass destruction, a rush to war and other past decisions until we are blue in the face. None of that really matters now. What does matter is that the United States disrupted the lives of the Iraqi people, and we should do everything we can to restore peace and stability to their country.
John McCain has consistently expressed his desire to finish the job in Iraq. In the primary, Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of setting a rapid timetable for withdrawal. Since securing the nomination Mr. Obama has moderated his position (much to the dismay of the far left). He told the Military Times, “[We] want to bring a gradual withdrawal of our combat forces, [we will] maintain a counterterrorism force in the region that could continue to keep al-Qaida on the run.”
I know McCain will finish the job. I’m not sure what Barack Obama will do.
Labels: war in iraq
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Energy drives cars, moves our goods, heats and cools our homes and enables our economy to grow. We are completely dependant on inexpensive energy to sustain our way of life. Gasoline prices are approaching $5 a gallon and utilities cost more than ever before. Our supply of affordable energy is at risk. This country is facing an energy crisis. Aside from the non-negotiable moral issues of life and marriage (100k pdf), nothing is more important in this election year than sound energy policy. That is why I starting a blog series to examine the issues relating to energy. I'll cut through the spin and the rhetoric and get down to the truth.
First, lets talk politics. I'll say for the record that I am voting for John McCain mainly because of his pro-life values, his willingness to support marriage and his national security credentials. However, I will not let my support of McCain bias this report. I will say upfront that some of McCain's energy proposals are good, but some are very bad. The same is true about Obama's energy plan. The solution to this energy crisis will require Republicans and Democrats to cooperate to do what is right for this great nation.
Second, advocates of various energy solutions often have different objectives. There are three energy objectives which are most common among well meaning people. Here they are listed in the order according to my priorities:
Often these objectives overlap, but sometimes they compete. For example: coal is an affordable source of energy which can be used to help secure our energy independence, but it produces quite a but of CO2. Nuclear energy releases no greenhouse gases, but it can pollute the environment in other ways.
Another point worth mentioning is that there is a distinction between #2 and #3. Many make the mistake of thinking greenhouse gases are pollutants. However, the two most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) are clean and natural. Humans exhale CO2 with every breath. Plants breath CO2 and convert it to oxygen. Water is a critical ingredient in all life. Aside from the possibility that CO2 may cause global warming, there is nothing harmful about CO2, and it is certainly not a pollutant. However, despite the facts, many in the media unfairly disparage this clean gas.
In future posts we examine these objectives, see why I have prioritized them and consider policy options that can lead to real energy solutions. Stay tuned.
The United States' military kicks all kinds of Al Queda butt, while the American media snores.
Every time one of those polls come out showing how left-leaning the majority of the mainstream American press is, those same mainstream media members can be counted on to:
a) Initially claim that the opposite is true: "Everyone knows the media leans to the right."
b) Then claim there is no bias either way: "It's our job to put aside any bias we may have when we cover the news, and 99% of the time, we're able to do it."
c) Finally admit it, but in a self-congratulatory way: "Well, journalists are bright, intelligent, caring people devoted to the truth. And most of those kind of people are liberals."
Well, in the past few days, the bright, intelligent, caring devoted-to-the-truth American media have given more coverage to The Bachellorette finale than to this little story, one that you might think Americans would be somewhat interested in:
London's Sunday Times called it "the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror." A terrorist force that once numbered mor than 12,000, with strongholds in the west and central regions of Iraq, has over two years been reduced to a mere 1,200 fighters, backed against the wall in the northern city o Mosul.
The destruction of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) is one of the most unlikely and unforeseen events in the long history of American warfare. We can thank President Bush's surge strategy, in which he bucked both Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington by increasing our forces there instead of surrendering.
We can also thank the leadership of the new general he placed in charge there, David Petraeus, who may be the foremost expert in the world on counter-insurgency warfare. And we can thank those serving in our military in Iraq who engaged local Iraqi tribal leaders and convinced them America was their friend and AQI their enemy.
Al-Qaida's loss of the hearts and minds of ordinary Iraqis began in Anbar Province, which had been written off as a basket case, and spread out from there.
Now, in Operation Lion's Roar the Iraqi army and the U.S. 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment is destroying the fraction of terrorists who are left. More than 1,000 AQI operatives have already been apprehended.....
Meanwhile, the State Department reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has achieved "satisfactory" progress on 15 of the 18 political benchmarks — a big change for the better from a year ago.
Things are going so well that Maliki has even for the first time floated the idea of a timetable for withdrawal of American forces. He did so while visiting the United Arab Emirates, which over the weekend announced that it was forgiving almost $7 billion of debt owed by Baghdad — an impressive vote of confidence from a fellow Arab state in the future of a free Iraq.