Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Holleran Whiffs One
I often agree with most of what Scott Holleran says about any given movie, but I have to say that I think he missed the mark on his review of the recently-released Casino Royale.
As to values, [the new Bond] has none, except Vesper, and it's easy to see what the writers (including Crash's Paul Haggis) have in store for her. Other than Vesper, with whom he generates few sparks, Bond is more muscle than brains. He may be perfectly toned and able to withstand a ballbusting (literally), but he lies to M, breaks into her home, destroys private property for kicks, and, as he smugly says, sneering at his previous persona, doesn't give a damn whether the martini's shaken or stirred. [links dropped]After his earlier complaint that "the outcomes are predictable", I find it puzzling for Holleran to then turn around and complain that "few sparks" fly with Vesper. How challenging Vesper was to Bond was one of the things I liked about this movie. The torture scene this Objectivist complains about reminded me a little of that of John Galt in Atlas Shrugged, in which he tells his torturers how to become more effective.
And to complain of Bond destroying private property is almost laughable. I surmise Holleran is speaking of the sabotage of the rude customer's car at the resort in the Bahamas. But I saw in this scene not a gratuitous destruction of private property, but rather a very quick-witted way to create a distraction so he can go through some video archives at the resort. He was handed the keys to the car and an excuse some attendants I have seen would take as sufficient to ding it. Spies are supposed to take advantage of such things, aren't they?
Holleran thinks, wrongly in my opinion, that the movie sacrificed plot to make James Bond more real, and did the latter badly. I disagree with both points. In fact, I found this character more believable than other Bonds and therefore more likeable.
TOS Article cited at Arts and Letters Daily
My congratulations go to Craig Biddle and C. Bradley Thompson on Thompson's "The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism" being linked at Arts and Letters Daily, a web site produced by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The byline: "Conservatives have forgotten, if they ever knew it, that the U.S. was built squarely on the rights of individuals to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness..."
Party of God Emboldened in Lebanon
This article in Slate errs in holding that cockiness is necessarily dangerous for supporters of Hezbollah -- to which the Western press ought always to refer by what its name means: "Party of God" -- in Lebanon, but otherwise hits the nail on the head.
[T]he Shiites who have the most interesting answers in this poll -- though they aren't always the same answers as the rest of the population (that is, Sunnis, Christians, and Druze). Shiites are the only group that believes that "[i]f the US quickly withdrew its forces" from Iraq, "Iraqis will find a way to bridge their differences." (Shiites are the majority in Iraq.) Shiites are the only group that insists that "[e]ven if the Israelis return all of the territories occupied in 1967 peacefully, the Arabs should continue to fight Israel no matter what the outcome" and the only group who perceive Israel as "[w]eaker than it looks/matter of time before defeated." They are the only group whose views of Hezbollah have changed for the better since the summer war with Israel and the only group that considers Israel to be the big loser of the war -- rather than the "Lebanese people" as the other groups believe.Notice the missing context here. If the Shiites "have the fertility rate, the money, the support from the outside, [and] the confidence and the patience", it is only because they remain alive and undefeated to have these things. A refusal by the civilized West to fight barbarism is creating bad morale in a situation where a clear victory should have been achieved months ago.
Nasrallah's ultimate goal for Hezbollah, many in Lebanon believe, is the Iran model. They know it cannot be implemented right now, but, in the long run, "if Christians keep leaving the country in big numbers, as they are doing now, well, it might happen," one Lebanese gloomily told me. The Shiites have the fertility rate, the money, the support from the outside -- but, most of all, they have "the confidence and the patience."
It is time for the West to stop pulling punches in this war before we completely forget that it is possible to fight back. Those of us who remain aware that military victory is possible must call for it loudly and frequently.
An Application for Intelligent Design!
Adrian Hester has informed me that David Morgan-Mar has succeeded in surpassing the entire sixteen-year research output of the Discovery Institute by producing an Intelligent Design-based sorting algorithm!
Kansas Outlaws Practice of Evolution
Via the Harry Binswanger List comes yet another Onion masterpiece.
"If Earth's species were meant to change over successive generations through physical modifications resulting from the adaptation to environmental challenges, then God would have given them the genetic predisposition to select mates and reproduce based on their favorable heritable traits and their ability to thrive under changing conditions so that these advantageous qualities would be passed down and eventually encoded into the DNA of each generation of offspring," Olathe public school teacher and creationist Joyce Eckhardt said. "It's just not natural."And they've got millions of years of fossil evidence against those microorganisms, too!
Two Views on Global Warming
(and two very different approaches to public debate)
Also via the Harry Binswanger List comes a Tim Blair post which points to a very interesting bit of peer-reviewed material and commentary about anthropogenic global warming. Blair quotes Andrew Bolt:
The take-home message of Khilyuk and Chilingar's analysis, as they describe it, is that "any attempts to mitigate undesirable climatic changes using restrictive regulations are condemned to failure, because the global natural forces are at least 4-5 orders of magnitude greater than available human controls."To visualize 4-5 orders of magnitude: Natural forces are the length of a football field. Human controls will make a difference of anywhere between less than half an inch to about the width of your hand the other way by comparison. At the price tag of $50 billion so far.
In the meantime, it seems that the Democrats are already threatening American corporations who might have an interest in both sides of this public policy debate being heard. (HT: TIA Daily)
We reprint the full text of the letter here, so readers can see for themselves. But its essential point is that the two Senators believe global warming is a fact, and therefore all debate about the issue must stop and ExxonMobil should "end its dangerous support of the [global warming] 'deniers.' " Not only that, the company "should repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public its funding history." And in extra penance for being "one of the world's largest carbon emitters," Exxon should spend that money on "global remediation efforts."It would seem that the Democrats might wish to threaten a few scientists, too. Oh. Wait. How much blood could you squeeze from one of them turnips, anyway? Besides, through state funding of science, I am sure the threats will be forthcoming after the new gang in Washington takes care of the big money. First things first!
The Senators aren't dumb enough to risk an ethics inquiry by threatening specific consequences [Actually, the fear of the unknown will help their cause. --ed] if Mr. Tillerson declines this offer he can't refuse. But in case the CEO doesn't understand his company's jeopardy, they add that "ExxonMobil and its partners in denial have manufactured controversy, sown doubt, and impeded progress with strategies all-too reminiscent of those used by the tobacco industry for so mangy years." (Our emphasis.) The Senators also graciously copied the Exxon board on their missive. [bold added]