...Calling Michael Jackson an icon doesnt let him off the hook for anything. But to listen to the news anchors youd think it absolves him of everything.
I say: Who cares who his famous friends were? Who cares what a fascinating person he was? If you want to talk about his death as an end of an era, have at it. But thats not what the Barbara Walters set is doing.
I know that Michael Jackson wasnt convicted of the despicable crimes he was accused of. And thats why he never went to jail. Three cheers for the majesty of the American legal system. But in my own personal view he wasnt exonerated either. Nor was he absolved of his crimes because he could sing, moonwalk or sell 10 million records. (Though many of us suspect the money and fame he made from those things is precisely what kept him out of jail).
And, while I merely think he was a pedophile, I know he was not someone responsible parents should applaud, healthy children emulate nor society celebrate.
And while were at it, his relatively early death wasnt tragic. He was one of the richest people in the world. He spent his money on perpetual childhood and he was perpetually with children not his own.
Meanwhile, in the last ten days, weve seen or heard of remarkable people whove given their lives for freedom in Iran. Weve heard of innocents killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the last decade, America has lost thousands of heroes in noble causes and thousands of innocent bystanders who were denied the simple joys of life through no fault of their own. Those deaths are tragic, and we're hard pressed to think of more than a handful of names to put with the long line of the dead.
If anything, Michael Jacksons life, not his death, was tragic....
Five Cuban dissidents who have collectively spent decades in jail for their pro-democracy activities were given a top award by the National Endowment for Democracy last night. But, unlike in past years, their representative was not invited to the White House, organizers said.
Carl Gershman, president of the endowment, said the organization asked two weeks ago whether President Obama could meet with Bertha Antúnez, the sister of one of the dissidents, who was picking up the award on their behalf. Gershman said he never got a response. There was also a lead editorial yesterday essentially saying Obama was siding with the oppressors rather than the oppressed - every now and again the WaPo comes through - while the NYTimes is still giving Obama serial tongue baths.
Posted by: European Conservative ||
06/26/2009 11:36 Comments ||
I've wondered about the Big O's tendency to suck up to enemies and abuse friends. Maybe friends are assumed to be already in the bag, having been either bought or intimidated into playing along, whereas enemies represent fresh opportunities for influence and cash. 0 17
Instead, we should stretch out the six remaining shuttle flights to 2015one per year. Sure, that will cost money, but we can more than make up for it by canceling the troubled Ares I. In its place, we should use the old reliable Delta IV Heavy or the Atlas V satellite launchers, upgraded for human flight. (It wont take much.) Then fast-track the Orion to fly on a Delta IV or Atlas V as soon as possible.
NASA should also step up its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program to subsidize private rockets like the SpaceX Falcon 9, which could make its first flight any time now. SpaceX is also developing the Dragon capsule to fly seven astronauts to the space station.
In the short term, some combination of an extended shuttle schedule and a new Orion/Delta, Orion/Atlas or Dragon/Falcon would fill the gap and give us the kind of continuity and flexibility we had during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. In the meantime, we need to develop new strategies, new launch vehicles and new spacecraft for the years beyond 2015 to bring us to the threshold of Mars.
Q: Aside from a mass deployment of force against unarmed protestors (which, unfortunately, is not unlikely) what is the worst possible outcome in Iran?
A: That it becomes unavoidably clear the post-election conflict isn't a struggle between tyranny and freedom the epic narrative we've been hearing in absolute, non-contestable terms. The worst thing that could happen next, at least for the absolute, non-contestable pundit-ocracy, is that it becomes clear we're looking at an intra-Islamic power struggle that has nothing to do with liberty and justice for anybody. That this may be a battle between theocratic, anti-American, anti-Israel, pro-jihad, Khomeinist factions should be enough to chill the enthusiasm of any pro-democracy booster.
Amazingly, the thought that there might not be a pro-West horse to ride here doesn't enter the collective media mind, from Left to Right. Such unbraked credulity reflects the media failure to deal competently with any non-Western aspect of Islamic society. They instantly project their Western selves onto everything every time.
It would seem advisable to feel one's way into this story, particularly after picking up on the mullah-versus-mullah action, along with a few choice highlights of "opposition" candidate Mousavi's resume. Mousavi (who defended the seizure of American hostages taken from the U.S. embassy there in 1979) served as the Ayatollah Khomeini's prime minister (and is believed to have had a connection to the 1983 attack on the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut), reportedly initiated contact with Pakistan's A.Q. Khan to launch Iran's nuclear program, and, as John Bolton recently pointed out, "is fully committed to Iranian terrorism." (So much for the Wall Street Journal's uncontested mention of Mousavi's "mercy Islam.") In a recent Al Jazeera interview, Mousavi revealed his opinion of Ahmadinejad's genocidal intention to "wipe Israel off the map." Mousavi said: "From the beginning, I objected to that phrase."
But there's more. In a seminal but barely reported speech on June 20, Mousavi explained his movement. It has nothing to do with freedom, with modernity or, as Iran-watcher Michael Ledeen has written, a call "in effect for the end of the Islamic Republic as we know it." Indeed, Mousavi's vision as laid out in this speech has everything to do with returning Iran to the past 1979, to be precise.
In a paean to the 1979 Islamic Revolution "an illumination, never experienced before" that empowered the noxious Ayatollah Khomeini, Mousavi explains his intent to revive "the Islamic revolution as it was" and "the Islamic Republic as it should be." Noting that this "noble message ... excited the younger generation, a generation that had not seen those times, and felt a distance between ... this great inheritance," he speaks of the "rights of the people" to fair election results, and pledges his loyalty to this cause. And finally this:
"We are not up against our sacred regime and its legal structures; this structure guards our Independence, Freedom and Islamic Republic. We are up against the deviations and deceptions and we want to reform them; a reformation that returns us to the pure principles of the Islamic Revolution."
Wasn't Dinnerjacket one of the rabble in the street in 1979 that seized the U.S. Embassy?
Bolton is right. The mad mullahs will simply drag their feet in negotiations to buy time to develop nuclear weapons. Dinnerjacket has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. He is a hateful little $hit. People have made the mistake of appeasing and negotiating with tyrants in the past. Chamberlain's fiddling and fumbling opened the door for WWII. With tyrants negotiations are used for advantage or taken as a sign of weakness. History again is ignored.
Yes and much more. According to other OSU officials, when the idea of storming the U.S. embassy in Tehran was raised in the OSU central committee by Mirdamadi and Abdi, Ahmadinejad suggested storming the Soviet embassy at the same time. A decade later, most OSU leaders re-grouped around Khatami but Ahmadinejad remained loyal to the ultra-conservatives.
During the crackdown on universities in 1980, which Khomeini called the Islamic Cultural Revolution, Ahmadinejad and the OSU played a critical role in purging dissident lecturers and students many of whom were arrested and later executed. Universities remained closed for three years and Ahmadinejad joined the Revolutionary Guards.
In the early 1980s, Ahmadinejad worked in the Internal Security department of the IRGC and earned notoriety as a ruthless interrogator and torturer. According to the state-run website Baztab, allies of outgoing President Mohammad Khatami have revealed that Ahmadinejad worked for some time as an executioner in the notorious Evin Prison, where thousands of political prisoners were executed in the bloody purges of the 1980s.
In 1986, Ahmadinejad became a senior officer in the Special Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards and was stationed in Ramazan Garrison near Kermanshah in western Iran. Ramazan Garrison was the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards extra-territorial operations, a euphemism for terrorist attacks beyond Irans borders.
In Kermanshah, Ahmadinejad became involved in the clerical regimes terrorist operations abroad and led many extra-territorial operations of the IRGC. With the formation of the elite Qods (Jerusalem) Force of the IRGC, Ahmadinejad became one of its senior commanders. He was the mastermind of a series of assassinations in the Middle East and Europe, including the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Qassemlou, who was shot dead by senior officers of the Revolutionary Guards in a Vienna flat in July 1989. Ahmadinejad was a key planner of the attack, according to sources in the Revolutionary Guards.
I can't see that Israel would have any choice. Am I wrong?
Posted by: Richard of Oregon ||
06/26/2009 10:38 Comments ||
The big question has always been, "How can Israel accomplish a win in this scenario?" It simply cannot be with the finesse the US used in Gulf War I. Israel cannot just destroy critical equipment and materiel.
It's going to have to kill a lot of Iranians, and do it ugly. Iran has to be so traumatized that they become fearful.
To be specific, Iran has to experience firsthand the horror of nuclear war--even if nuclear weapons aren't used.
Something Demented this Way Comes.....
One of science fictions last surviving greats sounds off with controversial opinions about the internet
With the loss of Arthur C. Clarke and Michael Crichton last year, the survivors of the elite group of twentieth century science fiction authors has dwindled. Such greats as George Orson Welles, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov had already passed away. One of the last surviving greats is Ray Bradbury, currently 88. Mr. Bradbury is known for such classics as Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, and The Martian Chronicles. Who in the name of Cthulhu is "George Orson Welles?" Hgeorge Gorson Welles?
Recently Mr. Bradbury has taken his passion for books to new heights, campaigning for the Ventura County Public Libraries. He explains, "Libraries raised me. I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years." "You punks get off of my lawn, goddamit! Turn the TV down? Hell, I can barely hear it and where are my pants anyway?"
Perhaps out of concern that the internet is displacing printed works, he let loose some colorful comments about the internet and its worth in The New York Times this week. He comments, "The Internet is a big distraction. Yahoo called me eight weeks ago. They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? 'To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet`. It's distracting. It's meaningless; it's not real. It's in the air somewhere."
A Yahoo spokesperson said they could not comment on the issue. They said they were unsure if Mr. Bradbury's account matched up to reality.
I grew up in the public library, too. Between my three siblings and two parents we went through a laundry basket of books every week, which would have been unaffordable on my professor father's salary. I love real books, and I've been know to buy eccentric volumes at the second hand bookshop. Nonetheless, I'd bet a larger percentage of the Millennium Generation is literate than ever before in history, due to the internet... and texting. The key is acquiring the ability to read; learning facts and learning to think are follow-on skills. Oh, and since Mr. Wife can't sleep if I have my light on, reading Rantburg and free novels on-line may well have saved our marriage. ;-)
Did spellcheck convert George Orwell into George Orson Welles?
Posted by: no mo uro ||
06/26/2009 5:42 Comments ||
"Orson" Wells, of War Of the Worlds fame, was born with the Christian name George. Orson is his middle name.
And personally, I enjoyed Fahrenheit 451, as I did everything else of Bradbury's that I've read. In fact, I'd say that he ranks only second to Heinlein, in the world of SF. Asimov? Now there's some seriously tedious writing! Outside of the occasional short story I never had the stamina to finish anything he wrote.
Posted by: Large Snerong7311 ||
06/26/2009 6:15 Comments ||
I think I understand why he'd say that. His writing revels in the senses; in the smell and sound and feel of things. I'd read that he preferred a manual typewriter for the sensation of the keys moving to hit the paper. He wouldn't want to lose the sense of the weight of the book and the feel of the covers and turning the pages--they'd be integrated with the act of reading for him.
I haven't read much of his recent work, so perhaps he's done it already, but I'd guess that if he were to write about books online he'd envision a self-aware server that rewrote the stories you stored on it; fitting them to what it thought you should be reading.
The internet--distracting? Not possible. Let me go check my email again.
George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 October 10, 1985) was an Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, actor and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television, and radio. Welles was also an accomplished magician, starring in troop variety spectacles in the war years. Noted for his innovative dramatic productions as well as his distinctive voice and personality, Welles is widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished dramatic artists of the 20th century. His first two films with RKO, Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, are widely considered two of the greatest ever made. His other films, including Touch of Evil and Chimes at Midnight, are also considered masterpieces. He was also well-known for a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds which, performed in the style of a news broadcast, reportedly caused widespread panic when listeners thought that a real invasion was in progress.
Bradbury's angle was that his stories usually did not have saccharine happy endings that were the norm in science fiction of the time, nor were the loose ends particularly wrapped up.
He also avoided the "Deus ex Machina" problem of the new invention being central to the plot, and tried hard to avoid scientific impossibilities. Going way back, however, he has disliked television, which was central to several of his plot lines, such as "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Veldt".
A very influential short story, "There will come soft rains", had a major anti-nuclear war impact both in the US and the Soviet Union, where in 1984 it was made into an animated short.
Over here, it was most recently referenced in the 2008 video game Fallout 3.
In what respect does Orson Welles qualify as a science fiction author, let alone one of the greats? He didn't even write the radio adaptation of War of the Worlds, Howard Koch did. Perhaps like many other pop-culturists, the author does not know that Welles and H.G. Wells were different people.
"Saccharine happy endings" were no more the norm in SF during the heyday of Bradbury's career than were bug-eyed monsters and flying saucers. This is a literary establishment stereotype of the field, and Bradbury played to it. See Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations," Heinlein's original Starship Troopers, or practically anything by Alfred Bester, Fred Pohl (who is still with us btw) or A.E. van Vogt. This kind of sophisticated and balanced work was by no means atypical. Movie/TV scifi and printed SF are not the same and until very recently did not even resemble each other.
I recently re-read Fahrenheit 451. After the election it seemed apropos.
In the afterward Bradbury talks about changes in the decades since he first wrote the novel. He gets many letters from people suggesting ways to conform it with current notions of political correctness. I never get tired of remembering his response: "There is more than way way to burn a book!"
Note that current editions of Heinlein and everything else have been expurgated by the PC gods. If you want to read what an author actually wrote you generally have to go to editions from to 50's or earlier. 0 18
The late Michael Crichton was another writer who achieved acceptance from the literary/media establishment by playing off the "not typical sci-fi" strawman. Unlike Bradbury, Crichton did routinely resort to scientific impossibilities and Deus Ex Machina devices that would normally result in instant rejection from experienced SF editors who were familiar with the field as it actually is, rather than as it is stereotyped among academic literary conformists and media critics.
The former includes the whole premise of Jurassic Park, since it was already known at the time that viable DNA could not be recovered from amber. As for the latter, the ending of The Andromeda Strain, where a random mutation suddenly solves the problem by unaccountably affecting every individual virus, is classic Deus Ex Machina. Having a new invention as a central plot device is not necessarily a Deus Ex Machina unless one confuses the "god from the machine" with literal machines, as the lit-snob side of the Two Cultures dichotomy (another humanities strawman) is apt to do. 2 14
It also depends on the particular magazine one read. Stories in Astounding (later Analog) tended to be uplifting human-triumphant stories, thanks to John Campbell, with some peculiar exceptions when Campbell was away. "E for Effort" by T.L. Sherred, for example. F&SF and Galaxy tended to have the more problematic stories.
Posted by: Eric Jablow ||
06/26/2009 23:29 Comments ||
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.