Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I admit that I have not regularly followed the situation in Darfur and so I guess I am as complicit as everyone else in what is going on there. That said, Nicholas Kristoff has a review of two books on Darfur in The New York Review of Books. The books are

Darfur: A Short History of a Long War
by Julie Flint and Alex de Waal
London: Zed Books, 176 pp., £12.00 (to be published in the US in March)

Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide
by Gérard Prunier
Cornell University Press, 212 pp., $24.00

Read the review. Having read it, I am not sure that I am up for the books anytime soon. They might be a little too depressing. But then again, that is why I should read them. Perhaps if enough people become outraged then someone might do something.

Thanks to Glen Reynolds at Instapundit for pointing the review out.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Feeding the Inner Geek

This has been a great week for my inner geek. The Barrett Jackson auto auction is being held in Scottsdale Arizona and Speed Network is bringing it to folks around the world. Watching really cool cars being sold for amounts of money that I will never have. The vehicle of the show though was a really cool bus.

From the Barrett-Jackson website, the bus was one of 12 built by GM, a self-contained display and transport vehicle created by the GM design staff under Harley Earl's direction. Opening side, lighting, retractable stage, distinctive center "cupola" cockpit driving position and dual wheel front axle. Used in the "Parade of Progress" touring exhibit created by "Boss" Kettering that complemented the GM "Motoramas" from 1940 through 1956. One of only three survivors restored in their original "Parade of Progress" configuration (the others are in long term ownership by NATMUS and Peter Pan Bus Lines), this Futurliner is fully functional and has toured Canada in corporate promotions. Recently returned to its original "Parade of Progress" configuration and colors. Powered by a 400ci GM truck engine and fully equipped including an onboard motor-generator and updated air conditioning for the driver's compartment. A matchless symbol of the American auto industry at the height of its power and influence.

It was sold for $4 million dollars setting a new record for the Barrett-Jackson auctions. Watching a cool auction of cool cars is a great way to spend a Saturday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fallen Heroes Fund

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is constructing a world-class state-of-the-art advanced training skills facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. The center will serve military personnel who have been catastrophically disabled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The center will also serve military personnel and veterans severely injured in other operations and in the normal performance of their duties, combat and non-combat related.

The center will encompass a 60,000 square foot structure, providing ample space and facilities for the rehabilitation needs of the patients and their caregivers. It will be constructed on a site sufficient in size to meet the needs of the center’s patients and caregivers and will include $3.5 million in top of the line indoor and outdoor facilities.

Imus started talking about this yesterday after he had been asked for a donation. While he supported this, as did I. His other point was that while this is a magnificant facility and a great cause it is something that the government should have done. He has asked every government official that appeared on his show got that question, and none of them had what I thought was a good answer.

In reality, this kind of state of the art facility should have been built by the government and Rumsfeld and his ilk should pay more attention to veterans and their needs and less to aggrandizing their own philosophical positions.

This is but one more reason why that incompetent fool should be run out of office and out of DC on a rail.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Stanley Kurtz at NRO.com, in reponse to Glen Reynolds' Instapundit comments on this issue informs us that the real issue is polyamory or marriage of multiple partners of any gender.

Polygamy or Multiple Partner Marriage (Corrected)

The Wall Street Journal had an editorial on Friday by Naomi Schaeffer Riley entitled Harem Scare 'Em Worried about Polygamy in which the author discusses the apparent spread of the practice around the world, including in parts of this country, though it has been illegal since 1862. I was intrigued, not because I support the practice nor do I want to see it spread necessarily, but because she couched all discussion of the practice in terms on one man and multiple women.

Couldn't the alternative work just as well? Or why not multiples of both genders?

There was a rampant movement to extend marriage laws to cover couples of a single gender. Efforts that failed generally. If current marriage laws are expanded beyond their traditional Judeo-Christian formulation, then the door is open for any configuration and a real rethinking of what marriage means in legal and civil terms.

As a Christian I will continue to hold to my traditional values that date back thousands of years, but for others, the future may hold something very different.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Robertson on Sharon

It has been widely reported (I first saw it on Imus in the Morning on MSNBC this morning) that Pat Robertson claimed that Ariel Sharon's stroke was God's doing because Sharon was working towards peace with the Palestinians.

First of all, Pat Robertson is clearly and utter whack-job who should not be allowed out of whichever booby hatch he obviously should be immediately committed to. Interestingly enough, the President of Iran agrees with Robertson (though for different reasons) that this is the Will of God.

Yes the Bible speaks of wars and rumors of wars in the End of Days, but Tim LeHaye to the contrary, no one really knows when that will be so promoting this kind of crap as part of some apocalyptic fantasy is just absurd. Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace, which at least suggests that Christians should give peace a chance and support otehrs who do as well. Since no one (other than some of the Palestinians) is going to promote the notion of a genocidal solution to the conflict, perhaps a negotiated peace is worth a try after 50 years of conflict.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The year in film.

I am a big film buff and thought that as all the critics were assembling their best of lists, that I might do the same. It was a kind of interesting year cinematically. There was a seemingly endless list of bad horror films. Few really dominant blockbusters and some unexpected surprises. I will only discuss films that I have seen so some that seem to be appearing on many lists will not be on mine. Sometimes this will be because the films have had such limited releases that I have not yet had the opportunity to view them, and sometimes because I have had no interest in seeing them, and sometimes both. (Brokeback Mountain for example)

I will begin with films that I really enjoyed watching even though they are not great works of art. The Popcorns.

1. Mr. and Mrs. Smith - This film was far better than it had any business being. Both Brad Pitt, who I am only just beginning to appreciate, and Angelina Jolie, who I could generally live without, were enjoyably watchable. There was alot of witty dialouge and watching them circle each other in ignorance at first and then in suspicion was fun.

2. Red Eye - One of the best thrillers in years. Cillian Murphy was actually frightening. Most of the time roles like his are overblown to the point of being absurd. His character was so understated that he could have been a manipulative stalker. Rachel MacAdams was delightful. She was professional and hardworking and when push came to shove, she took no crap from him and made sure that he got what he had coming to him. She really impressed in this film. She seems to be recognized more for some of her other films, but she was very good in this one.

3. Constantine. Keanu Reeves in a role that he could handle. He usually seems best when not a lot of demands are made on him as an actor, but he has to ability to deliver within his range. I am curious why Rachel Weisz seems to costar with him so often. This is at least the second time they have done so.

Next we turn to the big fun films.

1. Serenity. Joss Whedon brought Firefly to life. The film did not do as well at the box office as many had hoped, but I suspect that it will grow on DVD just like the series did. Perhaps it will do well enough for him to keep it alive again.

2. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. The third best of the Star Wars films, Lucas finally came close to getting it right. The last two were just awful so he redeemed himself somewhat. It was rather disappointing though to realize that one of the greatest forces of darkness in universe was ulitmately brought about by teenage hormones and petulance. Instead of telling Anakin that he was chosen, perhaps they should have tried knocking some sense into the arrogant little twerp. Also, Hayden Christensen is awful.

2. Batman Begins. The best Batman film since the first one and the best Batman of them all. Michael Keaton was a very good Bruce Wayne, but not as strong as Batman. Christian Bale handled both sides of the job well. The new Batmobile ruled.

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. With this film they seemed to have found the knack for compressing the rather lengthy books into a smaller more compact form suitable for film. They jetisoned most of the subplots and just kept the story on track. Voldemort was appropriately evil. As the characters age, the darkness they face does as well. I have to wonder if they will be able to continue to present that in a form suitable for children.

4. Sin City. Richard Rodriguez is one of the few directors that should be allowed to make films the way he does with the rampant use of CGI. He can do what George Lucas thinks he can. Sin City is a grand example of this style of filmmaking.

5. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The ultimate object lesson on why children should not take candy from strangers. They often want something that you really don't want to give. The film was well made and Edmund is still a schmuck.


1. War of the Worlds. This film was just bad.

2. Fantastic Four. They ended just as the story began to climax. If you remember Spiderman, the Goblin was presented as a menace to more than just Spiderman prior to the final battle in the streets. In this film, the first public appearance of Doctor Doom is in the big battle. Also, Jessica Alba is just to young to be Susan Storm. This kind of thinking is anathema to Hollywood, but the character had a Ph.D from MIT and had been out of school for eight years. Alba is 24 years old. Sue Storm had to be at least 35.

3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I am a huge fan of the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Gene Wilder's performance. Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka was a freak who should never be allowed near children. Also, their Umpa Lumpa was inferior to the original.

The one film I really wanted to see that never came to Oxford was A History of Violence.