Saturday, April 05, 2008

Charlton Heston dead at 84.

LOS ANGELES - Charlton Heston, who won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing "Ben-Hur" and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the '50s and '60s, has died. He was 84.

The actor died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills with his wife Lydia at his side, family spokesman Bill Powers said.


A McCain-Thompson Ticket?

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and ex-Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson gave back-to-back keynotes at the CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas Thursday.

Thompson, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee, was less direct in whether he would consider running as vice president beside the expected Republican nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Rather than give an answer, Thompson said the question doesn't matter, unless it's asked by "the only person that counts." In the meantime, "I need to go back to making a living," he said jokingly.
full article

CNN confirms that Fred Thompson will make a visit to McCain's Sedona, Arizona home this weekend. Thompson, who ended his presidential bid in January, is a longtime friend of the Arizona senator.


Useful Graphs.

Sorry Dan.

Book Review-Napoleon: The Path to Power

Over the long run, the costs to France and to Europe of Napoleon’s monumental ambition —indeed megalomania — were enormous. The disastrous Russian campaign of 1812 is particularly significant in this respect. It was only a few years ago that remnants of a handful of the soldiers who had had the bad fortune to be with Bonaparte were finally uncovered in Lithuania. Napoleon’s Grand Army lost 370,000 men to death and another 200,000 to Russian captivity. When Bonaparte returned to Paris, a military bulletin cheerfully announced: “The Emperor’s health has never been better.” That was true enough, and Napoleon blithely began to rebuild his armies for the next campaign. Napoleon once said, “A man like me does not give a damn about the lives of a million men.” For a million people, however, the romance of the emperor’s adventures led simply to death.

The Tall Tale of Tuzla.

The punishment visited on Sen. Hillary Clinton for her flagrant, hysterical, repetitive, pathological lying about her visit to Bosnia should be much heavier than it has yet been and should be exacted for much more than just the lying itself.

There are two kinds of deliberate and premeditated deceit, commonly known as suggestio falsi and suppressio veri. (Neither of them is covered by the additionally lying claim of having "misspoken.") The first involves what seems to be most obvious in the present case: the putting forward of a bogus or misleading account of events. But the second, and often the more serious, means that the liar in question has also attempted to bury or to obscure something that actually is true.

Let us examine how Sen. Clinton has managed to commit both of these offenses to veracity and decency and how in doing so she has rivaled, if not indeed surpassed, the disbarred and perjured hack who is her husband and tutor.

Abu Ghraib: Before the Americans.

The four AIDS-stricken women were dealt with in a fashion brutal even by the standards of the prison. Stripped of their clothes, they were placed, alive and screaming, into an incinerator so that they and their “vile disease” could be utterly destroyed. In this way Saddam “delivered” our country from the horrific infections of the West and from the inequities of the “evil Zionist state.”

The Psychoanalytic Roots Of Islamic Terrorism.

Despite enormous and continuing denial on the part of left and liberal ideologues and the media, we are facing an exceedingly pathological strain of Islamofascist terrorism. So a crucial question must be asked: from a psychological and anthropological point of view, what kind of culture produces human bombs, glorifies mass murderers, and supports humiliation-based revenge?

Pleading Not Guilty. Or taking the fifth.

Warning: Language

Scott and Shackleton's abandoned huts in Antarctica.

Shelves are still stocked with tins of cabbage, veal or onions. All these objects have been preserved by cold for the last 100 years. Antarctic explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton left them here in their way to the South Pole, in the beginning of the XX century. But none of them was able to come back.

These People Should’ve Died …

Another Anti-War Movie Tanks at the Box Office.

Another anti-war movie is tanking at the box office. Overnights for Friday show the film "Stop Loss" garnering an anemic $1.4 million for a projected $4 million opening weekend. This despite a huge build up and massive ad campaign with great reviews from movie/war critics.

A little fun.

50 Celebrities’ Real Names.

No Peak Oil?

There's a LOT of oil out there. The problem is isn't one of shortage but rather a shortage of oil that is cheap to get out of the ground.

The 10 Most Prophetic Sci-Fi Movies Ever.

When Arthur C. Clarke died last week at the age of 90, science fiction—hell, science in general—lost one of its greatest, most forward-looking masters. In his honor, PM’s resident geek and sci-fi buff analyzes the most eerily predictive, prescient films of the future. They’re not necessarily the best movies—just the ones that got the science right, or will sometime soon.

Poverty and superpower status.

[C]ountries can support powerful and threatening military establishments even if their overall economy is faltering (the old Soviet Union). They can create problems for the world even if they are extremely poor (North Korea). Sometimes economic dislocation itself can make aggression more likely (post-Weimar rise of the Nazis). Often the attempt to escape poverty can cause environmental disaster. And so on.

What I was trying to convey is how different, both intellectually and emotionally, the phenomenon of "China's unstoppable rise" looks if you're actually here seeing the people in the middle of the process, versus how it must sound if you just hear about it from afar.

The Clean Energy Scam.

The Amazon was the chic eco-cause of the 1990s, revered as an incomparable storehouse of biodiversity. It's been overshadowed lately by global warming, but the Amazon rain forest happens also to be an incomparable storehouse of carbon, the very carbon that heats up the planet when it's released into the atmosphere. Brazil now ranks fourth in the world in carbon emissions, and most of its emissions come from deforestation. Carter is not a man who gets easily spooked--he led a reconnaissance unit in Desert Storm, and I watched him grab a small anaconda with his bare hands in Brazil--but he can sound downright panicky about the future of the forest. "You can't protect it. There's too much money to be made tearing it down," he says. "Out here on the frontier, you really see the market at work."

This land rush is being accelerated by an unlikely source: biofuels. An explosion in demand for farm-grown fuels has raised global crop prices to record highs, which is spurring a dramatic expansion of Brazilian agriculture, which is invading the Amazon at an increasingly alarming rate.

Air America host Randi Rhodes suspended for insulting Hillary.

How odd. I don't seem to remember her being suspended for the even worse things she said about President Bush. I must be wrong.

Senior Democrats mull Al Gore's nomination.

Plans for Al Gore to take the Democratic presidential nomination as the saviour of a bitterly divided party are being actively discussed by senior figures and aides to the former vice-president.

The bloody civil war between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has left many Democrats convinced that neither can deliver a knockout blow to the other and that both have been so damaged that they risk losing November's election to the Republican nominee, John McCain.

Former Gore aides now believe he could emerge as a compromise candidate acceptable to both camps at the party's convention in Denver during the last week of August.

I'm beginning to think this is the best option the Democrats have for getting out of the mess they've found themselves in of late.

Interestingly, had the Democrats been using the same rules as the Republicans for allocating delegates guess who would be in the lead today? I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with Millary Binton.

In praise of Switzerland.

In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed—they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.-Orson Welles

4 Awesome Unfinished or Abandoned Structures in Florida.

Fort Jefferson
Work began on this fascinating, unfinished coastal fort in 1846 and the building is still the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, comprising of over 16 million bricks. Construction on the hexagonal fort continued for 30 years, the work-in-progress at its peak becoming home to 2′000 people, building work only stopped when advances in artillery development and armored ships rendered the fort’s defensive walls useless. These days this fantastic structure is part of Dry Tortugas National Park and can only be reached by seaplane or boat but the effort is definitely worth it.

Something to check out next time you're down there. Click to enlarge.

Missing a Generation.

Much of our politics over the past two decades has seemed to be a cultural civil war between the two halves of the baby boom generation, between the cultural liberalism of Bill Clinton and the cultural conservatism of George W. Bush. The resulting polarization has embittered our politics, as the odd couple of Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel argue in their new book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America."

To most voters, McCain seems to stand above or at least aside from that culture war. His lack of fervor about issues like abortion may bother some cultural conservatives, but it is comforting to those with more ambivalent views. If elected, McCain would be the only president from the "silent generation," born between the World War II veterans who served as president from 1961 to 1993 and the two boomers who have served since then. His age and generational identity may turn out to be a political asset.

Obama, born at the tail end of the baby boom generation in 1961, didn't miss the '80s in the same sense that McCain missed the '60s. But in a decade in which Americans decided that government didn't work very well and that markets did, Obama chose to make his way outside the suddenly booming private sector.

The dying of the light.

With each passing day I become more convinced that the 'green' movement is actually a millenarian psychosis; a mental and spiritual sickness borne, perhaps, from some degree of civilisational exhaustion. Not just a belief that the end of the world is nigh, but an active desire to bring it about. And soon. Ours is not the first age to witness such pandemics of madness but, in the Middle Ages at least, there was the excuse of a near-universal poverty. In such a state of interminable plight, despair may not be the wisest response but it is at least an understandable one.

But now we live in an age of near-universal prosperity and progress. Never before has our species enjoyed such security and such freedom from want. Yet this is clearly no defence against a recurrance of this psychological plague.

That Didn’t Take Long.

Criminal Mastermind Frank Singleton.

After being released from jail on a trespassing charge, Frank Singleton attempted a carjacking in the visitors parking lot. Ultimately he was undone by his inability to drive a manual transmission car.

“I didn’t feel like walking,” Singleton said.

Merkel will not attend opening of Olympics.

Good for her. Now if Brown and Bush would show a little spine.

The 'Emboldenment Effect'.

"Researchers at Harvard say that publicly voiced doubts about the U.S. occupation of Iraq have a measurable 'emboldenment effect' on insurgents there,..."

Is anybody surprised by this?

Criticising the conduct of a war is a legitimate and sometimes useful exercise. Senator Harry Truman of Missouri came to national prominence complaining about waste during the conduct of the Second World War. Obviously one of the strengths of western democracies is our talent for self criticism and our ability to learn from it. Truman was trying to help his country fight the war to a successful conclusion. Similarly, some of the criticism of the administration's conduct of the war in Iraq has been aimed at helping us win. Most however has not. The obsessive focus by many on the left with the occasional failings of our soldiers, their officers and most frequently our Commander in Chief have been aimed, not at improving our conduct of the war but at losing it.

This is shameful. Whether we like it or not, we are locked in an existential battle with Fundamentalist Islam. Retreat from our current battlefields will not end that struggle. The demands of our opponents is nothing less than our unconditional surrender. To loose this battle would frankly mean the end of secularism, reason, women's rights, the separation of church and state, much of our understanding of science, democracy, the western idea of progress and pretty much everything else we tell ourselves we hold dear.

Unlike some (most notably Samuel Huntington), I do not think this struggle is a conflict between Islam and the west. Rather I believe it is a struggle between liberty and authoritarianism with each camp having members throughout the world. How else can the apparent alliance between the the secular, radical left and militant Islamists be explained? Americans (well most Americans) hold a firm belief in the universal appeal of western inventions like liberty, democracy, female emancipation, and human rights. Others argue that those ideas are purely western constructs and inappropriate in non-western societies. This racist bit of cant has surprisingly wide currency among western elites. That the people of the unfree world routinely risk life and limb to change their societies or in the alternative flee to the west makes no impact on those whose brains have been addled by overexposure to the writings of Gramsci, Chomsky, Said and countless others.

It's a time for choosing. On the one hand we have pluralism , tolerance, and freedom; on the other we have a twisted ideology of hate that would have sickened Muslims in the 12th century. Choose wisely.

King of the Road.

The incomparable Roger Miller.