Saturday, April 26, 2003

Victor Davis Hanson was on Fox News Channel a while ago talking with Tony Snow. I hadn't seen him on TV before or heard him speak before, so I'm glad I happened to catch that. VDH is one of my heroes, partly because he's such a great writer, partly because we have similar values, but mostly because he has inspired me to learn more about history. When I was in school, I was more of a math and science kind of guy, and never took much of an interest in history classes. What can I say? I found it incredibly boring. I failed to see why history was relevant, why I should care what went on eons, centuries or even decades ago.

VDH helped me see the relevance. How specifics may change, but the principles remain the same. How we can see parallels between events today with events in ancient Greece. How history shows that a nation's culture, its values, can have as much impact on the battlefield as its spears, swords or tanks. That's cool. That's stuff I hadn't bothered to notice before, I am thankful to VDH for making it interesting for me. I've started reading history books on my own now, books like this and this and this, and of course this. I have a lot of reading to do if I'm going to make up for my lack of attention in school. Better late than never, I suppose.

If you're insterested, you can get a bunch of articles written by VDH from Nation Review Online.
A word about free speech: Last night I caught the last part of NBC's look at the White House during the war, in which Tom Brokaw got to spend quite a bit of time with President Bush (here's the transcript). One of the questions Brokaw asked was: "One of the things that you said was that you wanted to liberate the Iraqi people so they could speak their minds. But in this country, when some people spoke their minds when it happened to be in opposition of the war, they got jumped on by a lot of folks."

This is the kind of question that just ticks me off. Let's be very clear: the first amendment prevents the government from interfering with an individual's right to free speech - it does not protect an individual from getting "jumped on by a lot of folks" when those folks don't like what's being said. I am free to speak my mind, and you are free to disagree, to criticize, to say whatever you want in response. That's how free speech works, and Brokaw knows that. So when he asks questions like this, he caters to the Tim Robbins and Dixie Chicks of the world, the ones who have no understanding of what freedom of speech really means, and that's not a good thing.

Friday, April 25, 2003

24 predictions: Or perhaps I should call it, "Predections for 24", because I certainly don't have 24 separate predictions. Anyway...

I love 24. Cannot miss it. Must watch it. I haven't been this excited about a television show since...since...well, since they cancelled The Tick (the animated series, not that live-action wicked mutation). There are only four episodes left, so I will take a bold stand and offer my predictions:

  • Jack and Kate will come this close to having a nice, passionate kiss, but will be interrupted by Kim, the moment will be lost, and we'll be left wondering.

  • Chief of Staff Mike Novick isn't really a bad guy - he's trying to do the right thing and has just, shall we say, lost his way. At the last possible moment, he will support President Palmer and prevent the Vice President's attempted coup.

  • The chip containing the evidence that the recording is fake (you know what I'm talking about) will be destroyed before Jack can get it back to CTU.

  • Like Jack, Tony will choose to go rogue in order to do the right thing. Chappelle will force Tony into this situation.

  • President Palmer will personally kick someone's ass. I can't predict who the kickee will be, but it'll happen. Dennis Haysbert does such a great job of acting angry, I just have to see his character unleash it. I hear Penny Johnson Jerald, who plays ex-wife Sherry Palmer, was actually afraid for her safety during the filming of a tense scense because Haysbert was so, you know, intense. I believe it.

  • Michelle will punch Carrie in the face and break her nose.

  • Here's a bold one, I think: Michelle is a mole.

  • Sherry will return and reveal the whole conspiracy.

  • Jack will shoot and kill at least six more bad guys. No, make that fifteen.

  • Jack will die with less than 15 minutes to go in the last episode so the show can progress on to someone else next season. I mean, how many bad days can the poor guy have?

So there you go. Mark 'em down. We'll review how I did when the time comes.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Derbyshire sets things straight: I sometimes have problems with the opinions voiced by John Derbyshire at National Review, more so than the site's other contributors, but I can't help but like the guy. He recently wrote an article that covers evolution and Creationism, though this topic was only part of a larger point he was trying to make. Apparently he has received a bazillion e-mails on this, and he has posted some good responses in the Corner (just start at the top and scroll on down).

Here's a key passage from one of his earlier posts:

The essence of a scientific theory (said Popper) is that it be falsifiable. The theory of evolution, for instance, is falsifiable. It would be falsified if we found a modern human skeleton fossilized in ancient rocks. Or it could be falsified by advances in our understanding of molecular genetics--which might show that natural selection is genetically impossible. Creationism, on the other hand, is not falsifiable, as it rests on the idea that an omnipotent God can do anything he feels like doing, even if it makes no sense to human beings. Ergo, evolution is a scientific theory (possibly a false one!) while creationism is a pseudoscientific theory.

And this is why Creationism has no place in, say, a high school science class - it simply isn't science.
Signs of a slow news day: Fox News Channel reported at the bottom of the hour that, I kid you not, a cow had escaped from its pasture and was running loose on the highway (I believe she said in New Mexico). Don't panic, though. One of the local authorities saddled-up, chased down that cow, lassoed and returned the cow safely to its home.

Give me a break. I live in Kansas. If the news around here bothered to report every loose farm animal found along the highway, they wouldn't be reporting anything else. I would have thought it wouldn't be any different in New Mexico. Why is this national news? Who cares?

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

So I'm listening to the Indigo Girls right now, something I never thought I'd be doing on my own volition, say, ten years ago. I have Rites of Passage playing, which is filled with songs I know very well - Ghost, Joking, Virginia Woolf, just about all of them. My wife and I both love to sing in the car, and we'll each take our parts, I singing Amy's part and my wife taking Emily's. Given the frequent long car trips we take as a family, that makes for a lot of singing time and plenty of opportunity to learn the music by heart.

Years ago it was something I did out of appeasement, patiently waiting for the chance to switch to R.E.M. or something else that's more my speed, but now I have to admit I have developed my own appreciation for them. The Indigo Girls are, quite simply, one of the country's best musical groups, period. Their style is nothing like the kind of music I usually listen to, so it's a testament to their quality that I enjoy them so much.

Also, my favorite music is of the sort I can sing along to. That's why I like R.E.M., Stone Temple Pilots and Creed so much - their lead singers are right in my range. It helps that Amy sings in my range, too.
Whoa, that was quick. Let me figure out what I'm doing and I'll get back to you.

Test, test...