Thursday, July 03, 2003

The Ultimate Warrior: Wrestler, Thinker, Conservative
I used to watch the WWF all the time when I was in high school and my favorite wrestler was the Ultimate Warrior. He had incredible physique, could press bigger guys over his head and was just so full of energy I couldn't help but like him. I remember how excited I was that the WWF was coming to Wichita and the feature bout was the Ultimate Warrior vs. Andre the Giant. I thought this would surely be an epic battle, and feared that the Giant may prove too big for the Warrior to handle (yes, I know it's all fake - shut it). I remember how disappointed I was when the match lasted all of 30 seconds. Yeah, the Warrior won, but all he did was sprint into the ring (the Giant was already there), beat Andre on the back about a dozen times, fall on top of him, get the ridiculously easy pin and sprint back out. I remember thinking the night wasn't a complete let down, that I at least had the privilege of rubbing one of the Bushwacker's heads (I said shut it!).

I figured the Warrior fell into complete obscurity, perhaps working as a personal trainer in a gym somewhere (not that there's anything wrong with that). Imagine my surprise when I discovered when Warrior - yes, that's his full legal name - is now a warrior of the mind:
An avid reader of the Great Books of the Western World, he plans on bringing the ideas of the Founding Fathers, along with Aristotle, Homer, Aquinas, Thucydides, Machiavelli, Adam Smith, Russell Kirk, Friedrich Hayek, Tocqueville, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand and many others to young people all across the country. These writings by civilizationÂ’s best original and modern thinkers exemplify the plain and powerful philosophy in which Warrior lives his own life.
It turns out he's a featured speaker in this summer's National Conservative Student Conference. Who knew?
Dang, the key really is diet and exercise!
So it turns out we can't blame our fat butts on fast food joints:
While fast food may not be the healthiest choice and often contains considerable amounts of fat and grease, the chamber's report says America's expanding fat problem has more to do with snacking between meals, sedentary lifestyles and overeating in general.
My problem isn't fast food. The only fast food place I visit regularly - say once a week or less - is Chipotle (mmmmm, fajita burritos), and I don't hear anyone complaining about that place. And I'm not overweight due to lack of exercise. I go to the gym at least five times a week and I don't just pussyfoot around while I'm there, either.

I believe the killer for me is soda. There's 200 or more calories of pure nothing in each can, and I have at least two a day. Not only am I a Pepper, I also do the Dew. I tried giving up soda, and I lasted a few months, but I slid back in. I predict someone will sue Coca-Cola or Pepsi (probably Pepsi since they have enough cash to give away $1 billion - big, big pockets) due to the addictive nature of the caffeine in their products. Trust me, it'll happen.
Terminator 3 review
I just got back from seeing T3, and I thought I'd share my thoughts about it. Bottom line: it was a good movie. I enjoyed myself, some parts were actually funny, the action wasn't bad. I think T2 was better because it had a more sophisticated plot, an actual message to convey and more character development. T3 is mostly a chase scene stretched to fill 2/3 or more of the allotted time. The inevitable fight scene between the T101 and the Terminatrix was a let down - it seems like two Terminators should wreak far more havoc than they did. That being said, overall it was a good, entertaining summer flick. 3 stars.

If you'd like detail, keep reading. Otherwise stop now, because I'm going to reveal details.

I got the impression that T3 tried to use more humor than the previous movies. I liked that. As the T101 said, "Levity is good. It eases tension and the fear of death." And the scene where the T101 was told to "talk to the hand", so he literally talks to the hand was priceless. Towards the end of the film, though, I caught a few lines that were obviously supposed to be funny, but I don't think I so much as smiled. Maybe I was getting tired, but I think the humor was becoming a little too strained by that point.

I was also pleased that T3 wasn't nearly as gory as it could have been. I like action flicks, but not hyper-graphic blood baths. For example, I saw the trailer for Freddy vs. Jason (or was it Jason vs. Freddy?) before T3 and I thought, "That is one movie I am not going to see. Ever." Anyway, there were a few scenes involving the Terminatrix that could have been downright disgusting, but we were spared. I'm sure the same people I heard muttering words like "yeah" and "awesome" after the F vs. J trailer were quite disappointed by the minimal blood content, but it worked for me.

I liked the car chase scene in the beginning because it involved mostly heavy vehicles: a pickup, an ambulance, a fire truck and a crane. Not your typical sports car-induced scene, and I'll give them credit for making it distinctive. And the footage of the crane ripping up the street and finally turning over was pretty darn cool.

The introduction of the psychiatrist from T2 was a nice touch, though I thought his reaction upon seeing the T101 was understated.

I like happy endings, so I was disappointed by the conclusion. I suppose they deserve points for surprising me, but still... So much for "no fate but what you make". I think the Terminator series will run like Star Wars except they'll do it in the right order from the start. That is, there's a trilogy leading up to some critical event (the fall of the Republic or judgment Day, as the case may be) and a trilogy that wraps up everything afterward. The biggest problem will be Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, who' will find it more and more difficult to play the part as he gets older. And who has time to make movies when you're the Governor of California, anyway?

And didn't the T101 sound reminiscent of Darth Vader when he said, "It's your destiny"? ("Join with me, and we can rule the galaxy as cybernetic organism and son, er, companion!")

This is neither criticism or praise, but I found it interesting that John Connor and the T101 didn't form a bond like they did in T2. There were no scenes of John discussing the finer points of human speech and behavior with the Terminator, no real conversations at all. Just questions and answers, or orders given.

Some problems:

How in the hell did both Terminators know that Kate was at the veterinarian's office at that precise moment? It'd be understandable if it were regular business hours, but at 5:30 in the morning? And don't tell me they knew because it was a matter of history, because if that were the case the Terminatrix wouldn't have had to bother looking up the addresses for her other targets.

You'd think an insanely sophisticated hunter/killer such as the Terminatrix would know there's someone hiding behind the corner five feet to the left. Kate was shaking with fear, I'm pretty sure she even let out a whimper at one point, and the Terminatrix walked on by. Whatever. And you'd also think it would be able to hit a (relatively) slowly moving target at 20 feet.

A question for those much more knowledgeable about cars than I: could a car's computer really take over and drive? Surely the computer doesn't have any control over the steering, or am I wrong?

The detectives who were looking for Kate and ended up talking to the fiance must have been morons. Wouldn't they have thought it a bit odd that he would be told his fiance is missing, likely kidnapped, and the best reaction he can muster is a blank-faced "oh"? Now surely they wouldn't think, "Aha, this guy is obviously a Terminator!", but they should have been a wee bit suspicious.

And how exactly did the Terminatrix work the pedals from the back seat?

I say if the magnetic field was so strong that it was sucking the liquid metal right off of her, there's no way that saw would have worked. It would have been pinned flat to the pipe. She wouldn't even have been able to lift her hand to trigger it. Speaking of which, a magnetic field that strong would have had John's and Kate's pants zippers and other little pieces of metal stuck to the pipe as well.

For someone who, in the course of 13 or so hours, discovered the existence of assassin robots, lost both her fiance and her father, and found out most of the people on the planet would die in a nuclear holocaust, Kate took things pretty well. A little too well. Another thing to be suspicious about.

Woo, well, that's a lot. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Ten great things about the U.S.A.
Dinesh D'Souza has an excellent article on NRO today containing his "list of the ten great things about America". I particularly enjoyed this passage:
In most countries in the world, your fate and your identity are handed to you; in America, you determine them for yourself. America is a country where you get to write the script of your own life. Your life is like a blank sheet of paper, and you are the artist. This notion of being the architect of your own destiny is the incredibly powerful idea that is behind the worldwide appeal of America. Young people especially find irresistible the prospect of authoring the narrative of their own lives.
No fate, as they say in the Terminator flicks.

This sentence made me laugh:
In America the old are incredibly vigorous, and people in their seventies pursue the pleasures of life, including remarriage and sexual gratification, with a zeal that I find unnerving.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Nomination for dumbest lyric
So I'm sitting here listening to Godsmack (don't ask) and in "Time Bomb" this line is actually muttered (said, screamed, whatever):

Sometimes I realize my mind was meant to go away

Sometimes? So the rest of the time, is it meant to stay or did you simply fail to realize that is, indeed, meant to go away? And where does it go? Or was this just a way for you to use the words "go away" in yet another song?

Freakin' French
If you still have French wine in your cupboard, shame on you!
Gephardt's delusions of power
I love Day By Day:

The bit in the last frame made me chuckle because it reminds me of the Knights Who Say Ni: "A path! A path!"
Governor Arnold?
Well, I was hoping this piece on Arnold Schwarzenegger's potential bid for Governor of California would have had more to say about his politics, but I found this to be heartening:
Although Schwarzenegger is known best as an actor, he is just as much a businessman and CEO of the Arnold empire. He has managed large budgets and understands the importance of focusing on the bottom line. The recall's winner will be handed the dubious prize of a $38-billion budget gap. Schwarzenegger might be just the person to take a crack at terminating California's record deficit.
Unfortunately, California is not a corporation, and I question whether Arnold would be able to deal with the legislature successfully. It's not like the Governor can do anything he wants. Of course, we know California has had successful former actors in that office before. And I do not doubt that Arnold, given his history, is sincere - he's not considering running simply for the publicity. We'll see...
The nature of homosexuality and identity
Andrew Sullivan displays some insight into the difference between Justices O'Connor and Scalia and the Lawrence v. Texas decision (look under "A Rush Against Understanding"):
O'Connor sees gay people as fully-fledged people, with lives and loves and needs like everyone else. Scalia sees them as people who for some bizarre reason do immoral things with their body parts. O'Connor sees that homosexuality is what people are. Scalia thinks that homosexuality is what some people do.
And also...
I know as well as I know anything, that being gay is an integral part of someone's being, not some facile choice but a complex and profound human identity - equal in all its facets to the heterosexual human identity.
Sullivan may have hit on something here, but I don't think making it an issue of being versus doing is wise in a legal context. That approach would lead the court into some heavy, extra-legal philosophical considerations, and the Supreme Court should be deciding the constitution of human identity. Besides, we cannot and should not expect the courts to delve into a person's mind and determine if he is, in fact, truly gay or just making a "facile choice".

My support for Sullivan's cause, if you can call it that, is based on something much simpler than the philosophy of identity. The test is this: do consenting adults, in the practice of homosexual sex, violate anyone's rights? Of course they don't, and so the government shouldn't take any concern with it.
Independence Day
It's about more than barbecues and fire crackers:
"Independence Day" is a critically important title. It signifies the fundamental meaning of this nation, not just of the holiday. The American Revolution remains unique in human history: a revolution--and a nation--founded on a moral principle, the principle of individual rights.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Taxation and theft
Checkout the piece "Is Taxation Theft?" on Tech Central Station, which purports to show that taxes are a form of thievery. I agree with the article's conclusions, but I think the argument is short-circuited early on in this passage:
Property is another concept that needs analysis, but for our purposes here we can think of it as that to which one is entitled by the prevailing rules, however unjust one thinks those rules are. So the question whether taxation is theft reduces to this question: "Is taxation the taking of someone's property without right or permission?"
It's the definition of property as "that to which one is entitled by the prevailing rules" that makes the argument fall apart. The current rules have the government just as entitled to our property as we are. If property is defined this way, then taxation isn't theft. It'll be that way until the rules are changed.

One may also argue that by living in this country, you have given your tacit permission for the government to tax you as a condition of your residence. I'm not going to argue it, but it is a point to consider.