July 30, 2013
Can't make 9/11 too simple. No no no...
I started blogging exactly one month after 9/11. I had things to say! (Charlene did too, but is not a blogger type.) the thing that troubled me most was not the attack---I already knew radical Islam was at war with us---but the reaction of Leftish America. (To forstall the obvious objection, I don't mean that I did not care about the attacks and the 3,000 Americans murdered by Moslem slime-animals. But it was not intellectually troubling. Over 1,000 Americans had already been murdered, while we slept.)
My problem came becauseI'd always just assumed that if America was ever attacked in some way similar to Pearl Harbor, we'd all come together, left and right, just as we did on Dec 7, 1941.
The clear fact that a considerable part of the country (almost all of them on the Left) did NOT react with loyalty and love of our country in 2001 told me that there had been big changes I had simply missed. Things were not as I had assumed. This led to chains of thinking that extended over many years. There's nothing like blogging to stimulate thought!
The piece below is a perfect example of the sort of thing that started me off. "The way America will look best ... is to not be Americans so vigilantly and so vehemently." That's a very odd statement when you look at it. Nobody complains if the French are vehemently pro-France. No one minds if a Finn is vigilantly Finnish. What gives? And what other normal things would this person object to? (The answers can be found here.)
This iconic picture of firefighters raising the stars and stripes in the rubble of Ground Zero was nearly excluded from the 9/11 Memorial Museum -- because it was "rah-rah" American, a new book says.
Michael Shulan, the museum's creative director, was among staffers who considered the Tom Franklin photograph too kitschy and "rah-rah America," according to "Battle for Ground Zero" (St. Martin's Press) by Elizabeth Greenspan, out next month.
"I really believe that the way America will look best, the way we can really do best, is to not be Americans so vigilantly and so vehemently," Shulan said.
Shulan had worked on a popular post-9/11 photography exhibit called "Here is New York" in Soho when he was hired by Alice Greenwald, director of the museum, for his "unique approach."
Eventually, chief curator Jan Ramirez proposed a compromise, Greenspan writes. The Franklin shot was minimized in favor of three different photos via three different angles of the flag-raising scene.
"Several images undercut the myth of 'one iconic moment,' Ramirez said, and suggest instead an event from multiple points of view, like the attacks more broadly," the book says.
"Shulan didn't like three photographs more than he liked one, but he went along with it."
Shulan told The Post he didn't know that the way Greenspan described the discussion about the photographs "is the way that I would have."
"My concern, as it always was, is that we not reduce [9/11] down to something that was too simple, and in its simplicity would actually distort the complexity of the event, the meaning of the event," he said....
July 15, 2013
Kill the statistics to kill the planners...
David Warren, Truth & numbers:
...Once upon a time I studied demography, at first for the purpose of excoriating the "population bomb" scaremongers back in the 1970s. The subject struck me as boring, until I was sidelined into historical demography, & discovered such authorities as Thomas Henry Hollingsworth. And while his Demografia Historica will by now be dismissed as a little dated, it is permanently astute. No one could read it without having his confidence in all past & present estimates of population profoundly shaken. And while modern census-takers have devised very extravagant methods by which to corral heads for a headcount, they rely on a ludicrously complex pile-up of crude assumptions to invent every confidently-reported fact about these people. The demographers flourish nonetheless, as prized servants of bureaucratic tyranny, which has found the number crunching of "democracy" very much to its liking.
(A correspondent in email serendipitously supplies this explanatory note from C.S. Lewis: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.")
My libertarian hero in this regard was Sir John Cowperthwaite KB CBE, financial secretary to Hong Kong through the 1960s, & perhaps the most significant figure in the recovery of the old Crown Colony from its condition at the end of the last World War. He pointedly refused to collect economic statistics. His reasoning was that, without numbers to play with, the "economic planners" would be at a loss. They were, & Hong Kong boomed.
But to mention him is to stray into questions of economic policy, which, like Cowperthwaite, I am against. How we live our lives is God's business, & none of the government's until we are reasonably suspected of a crime. Their job is to provide for our defence against rapine & massacre by foreign powers & domestic criminals, in return for modest taxes. It is an important job, from which they should not be distracted by their own alien & criminal propensities. Let it be added that Hong Kong was remarkably free of crime throughout the period in question, comparing favourably even to booming yet placid Tokyo....
July 7, 2013
Pope Frank: "Throw away your iPhones"
This piece by Damien Thompson was from last month, but well, I've been busy. Meet Francis, the Chatterbox Pope:
...But did he actually say those words? The comments were taken from notes compiled afterwards by his visitors, and we can't be sure of their accuracy. Something tells me that confusion over quotes is going to be one of the leitmotifs of this pontificate. "Did the Holy Father really say that Catholics have to throw away their iPhones?" "I think he was joking, but you never know with Pope Frank."
When the former Cardinal Bergoglio was first elected, we were told that he was famous for not giving interviews to the Argentine press. To which one can only reply: who needs interviews, when he shoots from the hip all the time? Francis the Chatterbox Pope. A recipe for disaster, huh?
I don't think so. He won't undo the work of the great Benedict: it would create too much ill-feeling and, at 76, he doesn't have time. Yes, there will be gaffes, possibly so many that we stop worrying about them. But if you listen to the Pope's improvised talks, you quickly realise that his central focus never shifts.
Follow Jesus by helping the poor. Beware of the Devil, who wants you to spend all day distracting yourself with little treats. This is not earth-shattering stuff - until you try to put it into practice. Jorge Bergoglio has a gift that eludes the boring, risk-averse platitude merchants who have captured the machinery of most Catholic and Anglican dioceses. He relaxes you with his smiles and shrugging, and then tweaks your conscience so hard that you wince in pain.
Don't gossip, he tells us. That's the one that really sticks in the mind. I can't say I've followed that instruction to the letter, but every time I backslide, shall we say, I imagine Francis the Chatterbox tapping his watch and reminding me: you haven't got for ever, you know...
This is the first Information Age Pope. People used to Facebook and Twitter can process this kind of rapid-fire information flow. It's for the moment; it gets quoted and commented on in blogs and forums within minutes. Then on to the next thing.
And he's not going to "undo the work of the great Benedict." That's silly. He's just going to "route around" the stale battles between liberals and conservatives, old and new. He goes straight to the oldest idea of all, follow Jesus. Which is always the newest and freshest of ideas, if we can but see it past our ingrained ideas.
July 1, 2013
From a fascinating (to me at least) piece on "hottest day" records in Death Valley, from Watts Up With That?:
"The devil's in the details," as the saying goes, and Anthony Watts has spent years investigating the details of our system of weather stations. If you follow his work it seems clear that a lot of "global warming" is due to problems with the stations that record temperatures. Typically with stations that once were properly sited now sitting among parking lots and buildings. But here's a new twist, a station badly sited on purpose...
...In all of Death Valley, the ARC has chosen just about the hottest spot possible in the hottest valley in North America. They have in effect put it [a new weather station] into a natural oven - and done so in the full knowledge of Badwater's topography. Now all they have to do is wait - wait for the inevitable day when the conditions will be just right - clear skies, still air, a blazing sun, and that instrument will heat up from the combined heating of the air, the immense heating from the nearby cliff only metres behind the instrument, the intense reflected heat radiation from the salt pan, and the mercury will very likely fall over the Libyan line and record the `hottest temperature ever measured on earth'.
Then we will see the champagne corks fly as the greenhouse industry will cry with righteous indignation, announcing the `new hottest temperature ever recorded on earth', how it's all due to global warming etc. etc. and all the time, the whole thing will be about as fake as a three dollar bill.
Even the wording on the plaque on the instrument betrays the real intent - the exclusive emphasis on the significance of heat, of global warming, of record-breaking temperatures, of the `hottest year ever' etc. The plaque speaks of little else. Even the opening words of the text are `Carbon dioxide released by human activities etc. ....'. Consequently, it is reasonable to conclude that record-breaking is the primary purpose of the instrument, not genuine climatic research...
...If there is a media announcement of a record being broken at Death Valley, the skeptical observer should immediately demand to know if the record was broken at Furnace Creek, or at Badwater. If it is Furnace Creek, then the record will be quite genuine. But if it is Badwater, then the record will be a complete fake....
He also debunks the recent "hottest day" in Las Vegas, NV.