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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Thursday, March 31, 2011

OPENING DAY

Its opening day for baseball today. Get some friends, kick back, and enjoy some games. Here, we'll have barbecue, potato salad, chips, and a bunch of buddies over to watch some games, talk, and enjoy being an American on one of the best days of the year.

Baseball is back. Summer is on its way.

PETA'S LATEST

"Shouldn't we let the chickens and other species write in to the committee to let them know whether they are offended by the pronoun 'it?'"

PETA Stunt
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was formed in 1980, ostensibly to highlight and combat what they considered ill treatment of animals in laboratory experiments, cosmetics testing, food production, fur farming, and animals in entertainment. Since then, just about any use of an animal other than letting it live out in the wild has caught PETA's attention, including keeping a dog chained in your back yard, donkey suicide bombers in Israel, fishing, and pest control. Conspicuously missing in their complaints is the leather industry, but those Birkenstocks won't just make themselves.

PETA does not accomplish much, although it has had some minor legislative and legal victories, and it has managed to convince people that wearing fur coats isn't just unattractive but unethical. For a while now it appears that PETA's primary concern is raising funds. They hit upon the idea of using scantily clad or even nude models for their ad campaigns, and that got them quite a bit of attention. For the last twenty years, PETA has gotten more and more outrageous, presumably in an attempt to get people to notice them.
  • When Jeffrey Dahmer was in the news, PETA compared his cannibalism and vivisection of humans to the meat packing industry.
  • They compared the American Kennel Association with the KKK for showing dogs.
  • They compared the food industry with the holocaust in a series of comparison images.
  • They publicly requested Ben & Jerry's ice cream to make a flavor with human breast milk.
  • When a junk study tried to link cow's milk to autism, they ran "Got Autism?" ads.
  • They sent home comic books with kids all about how evil their parents are for cooking meat and having pets.
  • They tried to get fish re-labled "sea kittens" so people would feel bad about fishing.
The latest scheme PETA has come up with is to demand that all "species-bias" language be removed from the Bible. Ben Yakas reports at The Gothamist:
The organization has petitioned the Committee on Bible Translation to suggest that its next translation remove “speciesist” language, by referring to animals as “he or she” instead of “it.” “When the Bible moves toward inclusively in one area … it wasn’t much of a stretch to suggest they move toward inclusively in this area. Language matters. Calling an animal ‘it’ denies them something. They are beloved by God. They glorify God,” Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s vice president for policy, told CNN.
At Right Wing News, Van Helsing quipped "But then, the odds of anyone in PETA actually reading a Bible are nil, so how would they know whether their demands had been met?" Which is hard to argue with.

I can't argue with the principle that animals glorify God, Christianity teaches that everything glorifies God, and that is the primary purpose of all existence. All things either glorify God by the stark contrast of their evil with His holiness, by the fulfillment of his purposes, or by a dim reflection of His ultimate glory, according to the Bible.

However, that same Bible makes it inescapably clear that animals are secondary and subordinate to humans, existing to serve and feed humanity.

Something this Bruce Friedrich seems to not understand, or not care about, is that the Bible is not copyrighted. Anyone, anywhere, can write their own version of scripture - and when you go into a Bible book store, you get the impression they have what with all the different varieties.

In other words, If PETA wants a species neutral Bible, they can have a species neutral Bible. However, this isn't about the Bible, translation, or Christianity at all. In fact, I doubt it is about animals at this point. PETA seems to have been transformed into an organization which exists simply to raise money. They don't ever seem to do anything with their funds other than come up with new ways to raise funds.

PETA never convinces anyone of anything these days other than that they are loony and that naked women are attractive, even if exploited by a loony organization. But they sure pull in the funds. In 2008 they brought in $29,000,000, but nobody seems to really know where that money is going, except PETA execs.

EMPIRE STATE IMAGES

"“The Eiffel Tower is the Empire State Building after taxes”"

Construction on the Empire State Building began January 22, 1930 in the midst of the great depression. At the time the location was not considered great because it was so far from the public transportation stations, so the property was relatively cheap for downtown New York City.

The Empire State Building was the first building to have more than 100 floors. It has 6,500 windows and 73 elevators, and there are 1,860 steps from street level to the 103rd floor. It has a total floor area of 2,768,591 sq ft; the base of the Empire State Building is about 2 acres. The building houses 1,000 businesses, and has its own zip code, 10118.

The Empire State Building has 70 miles of pipe, 2,500,000 ft of electrical wire, and about 9,000 faucets. The entire building weighs about 370,000 tons. The exterior of the building was built using Indiana limestone panels.

The Empire State Building was largely empty for years due to the poor economic times, and did not make a profit on rents and the observation deck until 1950. It was built before OSHA, before most safety standards, before air transportation was much of an issue. These men wore gloves and boots but had no ear protection, no safety lines, just luck, courage, and skill. Here are a few old photos of the men at work, high above New York:









According to historical reports, only 5 men died working on the building, one of whom was hit by a truck on the ground. The Empire State Building cost $40,948,900 to build. It sold for $51,000,000 in 1951.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Quote of the Day

“The failure of blue social policy to create an environment which works for blacks is the most devastating possible indictment of the 20th century liberal enterprise in the United States.”
-Walter Russel Mead

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

THE NEW ANARCHIST

"Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us."
-Leo Tolstoy

Modern Anarchist
If you're like me, when you hear the term "anarchist" the first thing that comes to mind is the 19th century guy holding the bomb that looks like a bowling ball with a candle on top, the kind cartoons still depict. These guys stood for demolition of all government so that people could build a new society of direct simple democracy and minimal to no government.

That's not what today's "anarchists" are like. They act the same, they carry around the same sort of symbols, and they pretend they are interested in "smashing the system," but at heart this new breed has nothing to do with anarchism in its truest sense.

From the start, they tend to organize into groups, which by its self is a violation of the principle of anarchy. An anarchist group is as absurd a contradiction as jumbo shrimp; anarchy rejects order, organization, and government.

Then there are the rallies and protests. You never see one of these complaining about organized government or calling for simple direct democracy, they're always rioting over capitalism, attacking corporations, and lately, showing up at every leftist rally no matter what the event to show their support.

In England very recently, huge rallies were formed, resulting in smashed windows, attacks on police, destruction of public property, and even attacking bank machines. The point of these rallies? Alan Jones at the Independent writes:
Between 400,000 and 500,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters, council and NHS workers, other public sector employees, students, pensioners and campaign groups from across the UK marched through central London to a rally where union officials and Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned the "brutal" cuts in jobs and services.
So what we have here are "anarchists" upset that government may be getting smaller.

Let that sink in a moment. These people, claiming to be anarchists after the destruction or simplification of government, are rioting because the government plans to simplify and impact their lives less.

In other words, these people are not anarchists in any sense whatsoever. They are simply violent leftists refusing to give up the government teat. Five police officers were injured, hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage was done, and all in the name of not having to give up the dole.

This kind of anarchist is just a young person looking for a cause and thinking a black mask and sticking it to the man is anarchy, without even bothering to understand what the term means or the goals of the effort are. Were they true anarchists, they'd support the reduction of government.

And that's the dirty secret these "trustafarians" would never believe: anarchy is what happens when you take right wing ideas to their extreme. Anarchy is ultimate distrust in government, desiring to see it torn down to its least structure, with as much liberty for individuals as possible. It is the radical extreme of libertarianism, rejecting all government interference with your personal life, be it positive (welfare) or negative (drug laws, for example).

For the modern faux anarchist, the left is what they believe in, which violates every idea the true anarchist originally held and was willing to kill over. Both of them are ultimately destructive to society, because we all need government. Conservatives and Libertarians agree with that basic idea, we simply believe that government should be as minimal as possible to do its proper job.

So these new "anarchists" are just violent anti capitalist lefties, usually rich college kids and young people just out of college. They oppose "corporations" without really understanding what that means, and support leftist schemes of redistribution and big government management of your life for your own good.

*This was originally posted on the Washington Examiner Opinion Zone. Interestingly enough the comments there are from faux anarchists insisting that wanting greater government control and management of everyone's life is not in direct contradiction to the very ideals of anarchy.

The comments are enlightening, as they insist that they want socialism but only with communities and not from the government, that organization is perfectly reasonable to a group which wants anarchy, and that protesting the reduction of government makes perfect sense for a group which seeks to remove all government.

In short they are very confused and hold several directly contradictory ideas at the same time in a dazzling display of post modernist relativism and youthful enthusiasm.

ANOTHER SORT OF GREED

"Capitol is the fruit of labor and could never have existed had labor not first existed."
-Abraham Lincoln

It was not Ronald Reagan who said "greed is good" but rather Oliver Stone, writing a speech for the character Gordon Gekko in his movie Wall Street. Ronald Reagan did not consider greed good, and neither does most anyone else. Greed is a vice, it is lust for money and the power it brings over all other things, and it is ultimately destructive.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan ushered in an era of unprecedented prosperity that, with a few stumbles, reached into the next decade despite the misadventures of politicians along the way. That era, however, is inevitably declared the "greed is good" decade, believing that it helped only the wealthy and rewarded greed while tramping upon the poor and needy.

Those of us who were poor in that decade know very well that is not the case, because as John F Kennedy famously noted, "a rising tide lifts all boats" and when the wealthy have more ready cash, they tend to spend it, thus providing jobs for the less wealthy.

However, that is not to say that there were no greedy people then or now. Some corporations plainly put greed and a short term profit ahead of wisdom and long term fiscal stability in their investments, resulting in a catastrophe for the banking and housing sectors in America. That these companies were greedy is something no one debates, and we're all suffering for it.

However, there is another kind of greed that is much less often recognized and never highlighted in popular media. You will never hear a leftist condemn this sort of greed, rather they will celebrate and support it. That is the greed of wanting other people's money.

This sort of greed is more subtle than the greed of the fat cat corporate type. It isn't visible in tailored suits and Gulfstream jets, this greed is hidden in the language of compassion. When someone calls for social justice so that the poor are cared for, they are whispering the other sort of greed. This sort of greed is the same kind of desire for money and power, but it is a desire for other peoples' money and power given to them.

If someone complains that it isn't fair that a rich person has so much money and they have to struggle to pay for college, what they are really saying is "they should give me what I want." When someone declares that only a cruel person would deny them a house they cannot pay for, they are showing greed; a greed that demands that they are given what they desire and have not worked for.

Its one thing to reluctantly and temporarily rely on the charity of others to get back on your feet and find your way again. It is another to demand the assistance of others because you want to have things without bothering to take the effort to earn them.

This "welfare greed" is worse than the fat cat's greed in several ways, even if it is on a more humble scale. The sort of greed that Gordon Gekko represented was what drives capitalism. Almost all humanity combines laziness with greed, demanding they get what they want without having to work hard for it; the "get rich quick" mentality that drives both lottery ticket purchases and misuse of investment laws to reap billions from trading dubious mortgages.

Capitalism is the only economic system on earth that recognizes this, and instead of trying to force it out of humanity, takes advantage of it. Capitalism channels greed to bring the greatest economic benefit to the greatest number of people, providing opportunity for everyone to climb up the ladder to wealth through their efforts and talent.

Instead of a driving ambition that produces value to others which is rewarded by services and payment, welfare greed simply demands the goods and wealth of others be transferred to them in the name of a mistaken sense of justice. Welfare greed does not produce, it demands, it does not provide opportunity for growth and betterment, it provides incentives to do nothing and complain more.

In the end, while corporate greed in the form of capitalism can be ugly and destructive if left unchecked by virtue and ethics, welfare greed is always ugly and destructive and is encouraged by the left though socialism and demanded by demonizing anyone who thinks differently or has achieved more.

It is ironic that often the very people who complain most about greed are the ones who themselves are displaying it the most, in a far worse form.

*The Washington Examiner Opinion Zone was afraid to post this, apparently.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”

And His disciples heard him.
-Mark 11: 12-14

Quote of the Day

“You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down–up to a man’s age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order–or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course."
-Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

GET THE CHRISTIAN!

"It was just impossible to listen to all the made-up blather coming from the pulpit. It was just impossible to believe all those hoaky stories."

Anti Christian
Being a Christian in the modern world is a bit of a strange experience. Even ten years ago people were more accepting of faith, and were less likely to be openly hostile to Christianity in public or around strangers. Increasingly, the world around Christians is more comfortable with mockery, spite, and contempt of Christianity and religion in general, which makes life unusual.

It isn't that Christians are mistreated, yet, but living in a supposedly open, tolerant, and multicultural society which teaches diversity as the highest virtue and having people be so blatantly intolerant toward your faith is interesting, to say the least. This probably would be a lot more difficult to face if the criticisms and mockery were a bit more informed. Most of the time its just ridiculous, the kind of complaints you would get from children.

Take this post on Ranker. Ranker is a site where people post lists about anything and Ivana Wynn posted her contribution: Top 20 Bible Passages To Use Against Fundamentalists. See, fundamentalists are those crazy Christians who take their religion so seriously they believe what their Bible says specifically and literally rather than picking and choosing what's true and what is just a suggestion or something someone probably added in later. Imagine that, a religious person that believes their religious texts.

In any case, her list is something that someone with a vague, passing familiarity with Christianity would come up with, the kind of thing a professor hostile toward Christianity would whip up and hand around to students who then nod wisely thinking they've unlocked the secrets of how Christians are all stupid.

I'm not going to run down and refute this list (commenters do a fair job and its old, old stuff long dealt with hundreds of times already by others) bit by bit, I'm just going to offer a suggestion. If you're the kind of atheist who thinks Christians are stupid and dangerous, perhaps you might want to consider a few things.

Through the years, some of the most brilliant, towering intellects in human history have been Christians, from Paul of Tarsus to Augustine to Aquinas, Calvin, Newton, and up through C.S. Lewis. These people were not idiots, nor were they trapped in their era, helpless to think things through as well as you. They studied and considered and argued and doubted and thought through the Bible and their faith on a level you and I are barely able to consider, let alone attempt. Your list of "ultimate challenges" from Professor n back in college would be child's play to handle for these guys.

The Christian Church has been in existence in its present form almost two thousand years, and unlike many religions, Christianity is characterized (and commanded in the Bible) to be one of thought, debate, analysis, study, and reconsideration. All those centuries, don't you think that maybe your little list was brought up? At least once?

Ultimately this kind of thing is a contemptuous slap in the face of your fellow man. It is in essence saying "you're so stupid you never considered this before, what an idiot you are for not knowing what I know and not reading the Bible you claim to know and love!" Just common courtesy would demand you give people at least some credit for not being a total knuckle dragging cretin.

Maybe it would serve you better to wonder why it is you find this kind of thing so compelling and exciting to you to use. Maybe you should ask why it is some people find attacking and belittling Christians so very rewarding, because that answer might be more worth considering than 20 ways to mock your fellow man's faith.

FOX HUNT

"Tallyho!"

Fox Hunt
Media Matters is a website set up by George Soros and some other leftist organizations as an attempt to find fault with and attack news which annoys the left. They try really hard to show right-wing bias in reporting (and sometimes succeed) but most of their reporting is of the "I wish they hadn't done this story" or "why did they report so much on this I wish they'd ignore" sort of complaint rather than tangible bias.

Lately, they've shifted gears, starting to attack blogs for what they perceive as inaccuracies and tea party rallies for evidence of hatred, bigotry, and being too white. Sometimes they find something, but often it has been tea party crasher idiots with rigged signs or deliberate misrepresentation of speeches by heavy editing.

Media Matters now has a new cunning plan, which Ben Smith lays out at Politico:
“The strategy that we had had toward Fox was basically a strategy of containment,” said Brock, Media Matters’ chairman and founder and a former conservative journalist, adding that the group’s main aim had been to challenge the factual claims of the channel and to attempt to prevent them from reaching the mainstream media.

The new strategy, he said, is a “war on Fox.”

In an interview and a 2010 planning memo shared with POLITICO, Brock listed the fronts on which Media Matters — which he said is operating on a $10 million-plus annual budget — is working to chip away at Fox and its parent company, News Corp. They include its bread-and-butter distribution of embarrassing clips and attempts to rebut Fox points, as well as a series of under-the-radar tactics.

Media Matters, Brock said, is assembling opposition research files not only on Fox’s top executives but on a series of midlevel officials. It has hired an activist who has led a successful campaign to press advertisers to avoid Glenn Beck’s show. The group is assembling a legal team to help people who have clashed with Fox to file lawsuits for defamation, invasion of privacy or other causes.
And, of course, someone is writing a book. Fox news doesn't have much to worry about, as people tend to watch a news organization less because they figure executives are great people behind the scenes and more because the reporting is on things that interest them, delivered in a manner they trust.

Whatever Media Matters manages to dig up, you have to laugh a bit at their determination to demolish the one major media outlet that doesn't bow to the Democratic Party's wishes. The problem here isn't their war on Fox News, they're free to spend their money however they want.

The problem is that Media Matters is a tax-exempt organization, and to maintain that status, they have to avoid being overtly political. And by targeting Fox News because they claim it is just a Republican mouthpiece, they've crossed the line even more blatantly than ever before. So they can do whatever they want, but they shouldn't get any tax exemption any longer.]

*UPDATE: Media Matters' first big rollout for their Fox Hunt? Someone on Fox News once called President Obama a socialist. And?

The problem these guys are going to have, I suspect, is that their perspective is so enormously skewed to the hard, radical left that things which outrage them will barely be worth a shrug to most people, particularly Americans.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


No matter how much effort and time the legacy media puts into trying to make Michelle Obama into Jackie Kennedy 2, it just isn't going to work.

Quote of the Day

"The thing is, we expect a president to have to learn on the job; a little. But we also expect him to actually get it figured out at some point."
-Dan Collins

Monday, March 28, 2011

THE GOOD EMPIRE

“The facts on the ground don’t matter much. What really matters is their good intentions.”
-Margaret Wente

When is empire good? According to many on the left, the same time tyranny is good: when its well-intended.

Consider this by Mickey Kaus about UN Imperialism:
“Humanitarian imperialism.” I think that label will stick. And in a true empire–in this case, the empire of UN approved human rights enforcement–war never really ends. Always someone to protect somewhere. Imagine living in imperial Britain in the mid-19th century. There would almost always be a war or police action–actual shooting and killing–going on.** For a true empire to work– even, or perhaps especially, a humanitarian empire–war has to be routinized.
...
The relevant international governing bodies have already determined the appropriate application of force. And “all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.”
This kind of imperialism is about ideological colonization, establishing a certain morality upon other nations in the name of social justice and what the UN believes is right. Whereas the founding fathers believed individual conscience must be inviolate and liberty depended on freedom of expression and thought, the new left believes liberty is an economic issue, and giving up all other freedoms in its name is a fair exchange.

For the principle of humanitarian war to be implemented, the UN and nations of the world must take upon themselves a moral authority they would consider ghastly and dictatorial from an organized religion. Were the Roman Catholic Church, for instance, to declare war on Islam for its belief in Allah, that would be considered horrendous, but if the UN declared war on Islam for its mistreatment of gays, suddenly that's okay.

Because the new religion of postmodernist atheism is the dominant faith, and it suddenly becomes quite reasonable to punish those who violate its tenets. Unlike Christianity, this new religion has not grown to maturity beyond the belief it should be physical force demand others bow to its positions. There was a time when Christians believed that forced conversions by the sword is perfectly acceptable, but that time has long passed.

The UN has not reached that level of maturity with its faith; like some radical Muslims, this atheist leftist faith demands obedience and is willing to use force to compel that obedience. And the results are a sort of religious ideological empire, calling all to bow to "green" multiculturalism and feminist acceptance of homosexuality.

HAIR POST

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

Sometimes I look at a girl's hair and am just fascinated with how they got it to look that way. Most men have pretty minimalist hair, unless they're some kind of metrosexual. We shave it close or comb it one way, and just leave it that way. Women are often really creative and can do some amazing stuff with their hair, usually involving braids.

French braids look really nifty to me. I sort of understand the principle behind the french braid, its sort of an inside-out ordinary braid, but they look so good. Even the basic one is really pretty:


And you can do little variants on it:




But then people get creative, putting them in front



Or sideways:


And sometimes they make amazing designs:



I think its more mom who does this with girls because they are treating their daughter's hair as a work of art more than something they have to bother with every day. I mean it must take an hour or more to get some of these done, and that's more work than most people want to put up with for every day work.

And then there are the really creative efforts that look just amazing but take some serious hair to attempt:



What I don't care for is ridiculous crap like this:




Its one thing to be creative and interesting, and another to get simply idiotic. Most hair styles that models have on the runway are idiotic these days. But a really interesting hairstyle is nice to see, like a work of art.

Just don't go with tard hair like the reverse bangs:


That's the second most regrettable hair trend of the present time, after the fauxhawk.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Its okay truck, it was just lead-laced Chinese toys.

Quote of the Day

John Stossel to Al Pires, lead attorney in the Pigford settlement: “How do you know they’re farmers?”
Answer: [long pause] “They fill out the forms… We hope they tell the truth.”

Friday, March 25, 2011

LERNER'S REVOLUTION

"So, a bunch of us around the country are thinking about who would be a really good company to hate? We decided that would be JP Morgan Chase."

Economic Terrorism
Stephen Lerner used to be an exec at the SEIU, and he recently was caught on tape calling for economic terrorism, total chaos in the US, and rebuilding with a socialist government ala Cloward-Piven's infamous scheme. These academics realized that the typical Marxist plan of the poor rising up to overthrow the wealthy just wasn't going to happen in the US, so they worked out a plan by which so many people could get onto the welfare rolls and depend on the government that the economy would collapse, allowing the left to rebuild in a socialist utopia.

Lerner called for a similar sort of economic chaos, by collapsing wall street and the major bankers and through that destruction rebuild America, all in the name of "social justice." In his speech, Lerner laid out some of the plan:
We have a very simple strategy:
  • How do we bring down the stock market
  • How do we bring down their bonuses
  • How do we interfere with their ability to be rich...
So a bunch of us around the country think who would be a really good company to hate we decided that would be JP Morgan Chase and so we are going to roll out over the next couple of months what would hopefully be an exciting campaign about JP Morgan Chase that is really about challenge the power of Wall Street.

And so what we are looking at is the first week in May can we get enough people together starting now to really have an week of action in New York I don't want to give any details because I don't know if there are any police agents in the room.
The Service Employees International Union recently put Lerner on administrative leave, not because they thought he was a radical extremist plotting economic terrorism, but because he allocated funds to begin this plot without asking them. How many people like this are in the SEIU and other leftist bastions is a matter of some speculation.

However, something Lerner said in his speech stands out and hasn't been commented on much:
Unions are almost dead. We cannot survive doing what we do but the simple fact of the matter is community organizations are almost dead also.
This is an admission that the old strongholds of leftist power are crumbling. His complaint is only a partial admission however. Looking around the modern culture of the west, and in particular the United States, you can see things are even more dire than he admits.

Entertainment has for decades been a leftist stronghold as well, with the tilt in the last two decades becoming ever more obvious and defiant. Yet as the internet expands, more people find their entertainment online than in the movie theater, on the radio, and on the television. With Netflix and other on-demand operations, people are able to pick exactly what they want, when they want it, and avoid what they're handed by the entertainment giants. Book publishers are seeing more and more authors go to self-publishing online with e-books for a greater share of their work's profits and more freedom to publish what they wish.

The news media, particularly newspapers, but in all establishment news branches, is in bad shape. Even the biggest and most prestigious newspapers such as the New York Times are collapsing due to lost advertising revenues and circulation. Recently the LA Times admitted that studies show more people get their news off the internet than from newspapers. For decades, the left has been able to rely on most news outlets to be at least sympathetic to their viewpoint if not an open advocate for it. As the power and influence of these organizations wanes, so does the left's power to control information and news.

Academia is even in trouble, as colleges and universities are starting to face budgetary troubles of their own. With the ever-increasing cost of a college education, many are starting to wonder if its worth going into debt for decades to get a degree.

And one of the strongest tools of the left was the black church, where leftist ideas and fear of their opponents were delivered all too often along side the word of God. The left deliberately worked with black activist pastors in the 60s and afterward to push their viewpoint of white racism, Republican evil, and socialism's promises from the pulpit. As fewer and fewer people go to church and as blacks are exposed to more and more information that challenges and refutes what they've been told, this hold is weakening as well.

Add to all this the "Roe Effect" in which leftists are murdering their offspring and selfish hedonism prompts them to not have children to interfere with their fun/careers/self fulfillment or what have you, and you have a significant loss to the power and future of the left in America.

Has their time come and gone? And what happens next? And most significantly, when the more conservative traditional elements of western culture were overthrown in the 1960's, they had enough patriotism and belief in absolute right and wrong to give up cultural control without destroying the whole playground. Can anyone trust the left to do so, if that happens to them?

WORD AROUND THE NET

"Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless."
-Milton Friedman

*UPDATE: Canada's government has folded. That's not nearly as catastrophic as it sounds, this is not uncommon for parliamentary systems. What it means is that the parliament has voted no confidence in the sitting government and a new election has to be held. Chip Cummins and Nirmala Menon report in the Wall Street Journal:
Canada's opposition parties toppled the ruling Conservative minority government on Friday in a historic parliamentary finding of contempt, which doubled as a vote of no confidence and set the stage for the country's fourth national election in seven years.
...
The no-confidence vote, 156 to 145 along party lines, packed the galleries of the House of Commons. It is the first defeat of a Canadian government since 2005 and only the sixth in the nation's history. It is also the first time in Canadian history that a government has been voted in contempt of Parliament.
It appears that the left-leaning parliament is upset with the right-leaning prime minister's government because they claim ethical lapses and withholding information in a vote from parliament. It sounds pretty mild from here, but I can't find much information other than the WSJ article at present.

Unemployment in Oregon is still over 10%, and new unemployment claims rose the last quarter, even as the overall number in America dropped. The Associated Press reports:
Oregon had one of the highest increases in initial claims, up by nearly 600, in the week ended March 12, the department said. That was third highest behind North Carolina and Florida.
This is why it doesn't feel much like a recovery to most people; some areas may be doing well - primarily government jobs - but the rest of us are having real economic difficulty.

Many have pointed out that in this latest recession, men lost far more jobs and were far harder hit than women, prompting the name "mancession." Well, jobs are coming back in some places, and men are doing a little better in the job market, but they're still in terrible shape. At Carpe Diem, Mark Perry points out:
1. Male employment is down by 4,932,000 jobs since the January 2008 peak, compared to female employment being 2.549 million jobs below the peak. Therefore, we can say that for every 100 jobs lost by women since the start of the recession, men have lost 193.5 jobs.

2. On a percentage basis, men have suffered about 66% of the recession-related job losses, and women only 34%.
Feminists and academic leftists call this "justice."

Florida is the number three worst state in the union for unemployment, even worse than Michigan (Nevada and California are ahead of it). Making matters worse for the state is that according to the US Census Bureau, 18% of the houses in the state are vacant.

Traumatized, a woman in Seattle called 9-11. Her story was one fraught with horror and confusion, reported by Casey McNerthney at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
The incident occurred about 4:40 p.m. in the 100 block of Northeast 125th Street. The woman told police said she came across three men in their 20s throwing the Frisbee in a triangle, and that they were throwing the disc across a street.

She stopped and made eye contact with one of the men. That man -- described as having a "round face and wearing a white bandanna" -- then threw the disc directly at the woman, she claimed.

The men all laughed. The woman who called 911 said "the hit caused pain and a bruise to her right thigh," according to a police incident report.

The woman said she was going to let the issue go, but it appears it became more serious. The men in a black Subaru reportedly drove by the woman's residence when she was in the front yard and one acted as through he was going to throw a Frisbee again.
Youths gone wild! Those ruffians probably listen to Elvis.

Following President Obama's "America must never show any leadership in the world" policy, Canada is in charge of the NATO troops in Libya. Lets hope this general can come up with some kind of plan, or at least is very patient with political leaders who have none.

President Obama is not particularly popular with Muslims these days, almost as if they don't like the US for reasons other than us being mean to them in the past or having a "cowboy" president. I'm pretty sure that's why President Obama recently issued this outrageously egotistical-sounding statement:
And as time passes, you start taking it for granted that a guy named Barack Hussein Obama is president of the United States,but we should never take it for granted.
He only mentions his middle name in the middle east or talking to Arabs and Muslims. Otherwise its kept locked away as secret as his college transcripts and full birth certificate.

Palestinians set off a bomb in a public area, killing a woman and wounding 30 others waiting for a bus. This was a political act designed to strike fear in the hearts of other civilians, hoping to change policy and public behavior. The Reuters report declared:
Police said it was a "terrorist attack" -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike.
Now, its one thing to try to maintain a neutral tone and not presume anything in an article, but this goes overboard the other direction. They're deliberately taking the side of the palestinians and rejecting a plain and obvious example of terrorism and claiming only a dirty Jooo would call it such. You don't often see such an egregious example of bias.

Unsatisfied with that whopper, Reuters recently laid down another egg, about President Bush and the invasion of Iraq:
Obama is committed to partnering with other countries rather than going it alone as did his predecessor George W. Bush, which both broadens and complicates the decision-making process.
This is not just mistaken but a total fabrication, as President Bush had more than twice as many allies and just as much UN support in his invasion of Iraq as President Obama has in his attack on Libyan forces. What, exactly, they're trying to pull here isn't clear, unless its a desperate attempt to make President Obama look less like President Bush with a tan.

Washington county commissioner Sandra Romero (Democrat) has a new idea to help with the local agri-tourism business (u-pick farms, christmas trees, etc): limit the number of customers a store can have.
This ordinance will place a cap on the number of customers allowed per day. Depending on the kind of business, your customer range will be limited to 20-39 customers per day.
This ordinance is a copy of one in place in Mariposa county California. How, precisely, this is supposed to actually help these businesses is a bit puzzling to me; maybe they think that if there are fewer per day, the seasonal surges will be extended? But if 100 people buy all at once or over 5 days, its still just 100 customers.

The Oxford English Dictionary is the unofficial but effective authority on the English language. Each year they examine words being used, removing (or marking as archaic) old words no longer in common use, and adding new ones in. This year they added the acronyms LOL and OMG. This either is a sign that the OED is slouching in quality or our language as a whole is. Perhaps both. Also added was the symbol ♥ which became popularized decades ago with the I ♥ New York ad campaign.

Following the pattern of Iran, as feared by many on the right, Egypt appears to be moving toward an Islamic dictatorship under the Muslim Brotherhood. As the only really organized opposition party to Mubarak, now that he's gone, they are moving up in power. The Egyptian army which now is controlling the government is largely Muslim, which only helps the Muslim Brotherhood's goals.

Uncovered by the press during the popular revolt against Mubarak was the plight of women. Some of the women who stood up and called for liberty and justice were arrested by the Egyptian police, according to Amnesty International. The Daily Mail reports:
Salwa Hosseini, 20, said she had been arrested and taken to a military prison in Heikstep where she was forced to strip and then searched by a female guard.

She told the charity a number of male soldiers were watching through two open doors and a window and it was at that point they took photographs.

Miss Hosseini then went on to describe 'virginity tests' being carried out by a man in a white coat.
...
Meanwhile Rasha Azeb, a female journalist who arrested in Tahrir Square at the same time, claims that she was handcuffed and beaten by security forces.

She described being taken to a building within the Cairo Musuem complex where she could witnessed other women being tortured with electric shocks to the chest and legs.
...
The spokesman also said that one woman who told the military she was a virgin and then failed the 'test' was beaten and given electric shocks.
Don't expect NOW and the usual feminist suspects to rally around these women any time soon.

This is a bit unfair, as I know virtually nothing about this woman other than she deliberately put off ruling on something so she could go on vacation, but it cracks me up:

Judge SumiDolores Umbridge
Judge Maryann SumiDolores Umbridge

That's courtesy Piece of Work in Progress.

Electric cars are like cigarettes, governments keep telling people to stop smoking, but tax cigarettes outrageously and depend on the revenue. Governments tax gasoline allegedly to pay for road maintainance, but push for people to buy electric cars. In both cases, the official policy is in direct contradiction to the revenue flow, but states are working out a way around that problem with electric cars. Eric Loveday reports at Autoblog:
Instead of taxing fuel to finance road infrastructure, a VMT tax system charges motorists based on their "road consumption," as measured by total miles traveled. VMT could be implemented via the use of GPS units, which records distance traveled and charges motorist accordingly.
How does this deal with the problem? Because if you pay for mileage rather than gas, it doesn't matter what you use to get around with, be it electrical, gasoline, or nuclear. Washington, Oregon, and surprisingly Texas are looking at this tax scheme. Just don't expect that "instead" to actually mean "removing gas taxes."

Following Ronald Reagan's trickle down theory is England's George Osborn who is proposing a reduction in gas taxes (called petrol duty). Why? Rosa Prince in the Telegraph reports:
George Osborne has announced a surprise cut in fuel duty in a Budget statement designed to help families and deliver growth and jobs.

The Chancellor told the House of Commons that he had “put fuel into the tank of the British economy” as he announced that petrol duty would be reduced by 1p a litre from 6pm this evening.

In a move designed to help drivers suffering from record petrol prices, he cancelled a 1p rise in duty scheduled by the last Labour government for next week, and announced a "Fair Fuel Stabiliser" to keep costs down.
However, there's a catch: they're raising fees on the fuel producers, which will pass the price down to the customers... you get the picture. They don't quite have this trickle down thing worked out yet, but its a start.

General Electric paid no federal taxes last year. Zero. They did it with a variety of tax dodges, investments, rebates, subsidies, and schemes, many of which they lobbied and pressured legislators and regulators to adapt. In fact, GE got a tax refund of over 3 billion dollars because of all these tricks. Flat tax, anyone? The simpler the scheme, the less likely people can get out of it, but then... the less people can use taxes to engineer behavior and economic activity.

Speaking of taxes, the Tax Prof Blog points out that of the top industrialized and richest nations on earth, the US relies on its rich the most for tax revenue. Its not that the tax rate is necessarily highest, its that the nation is so rich that the rich pay the greatest bulk of taxes. As I've noted before, the top 1% richest people in America pay more in total taxes than the bottom 90% combined, almost 40% of the total tax burden.

You may have seen this elsewhere but it still makes me chuckle. Newspapers typically will write up obituaries of famous and elderly or very ill people in advance of their death, speeding their insertion into any edition needed when they finally shuffle off this mortal coil. The New York Times held their Elizabeth Taylor obituary so long that the guy who wrote it died before she did.

Pawn Stars is a sort of guilty pleasure for me on television. I feel bad for how much they tend to rip off people coming in to pawn things, particularly as almost all of them are getting gambling money or trying to pay gambling debts. Most of them would probably get more off E-Bay or Craig's List, but they seem to be in a hurry. The main guys on the show are likable enough, particularly the main character Rick Harrison, but apparently Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison isn't always nice off camera. He was arrested for brawling in a California resort barroom:
San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire says the 27-year-old Las Vegas man shoved a deputy and security guard late Sunday at Murray's Saloon and Eatery in Big Bear Lake, which is about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
From what I've seen of the show, they don't seem to get a lot of time off, maybe he was stressed.

Centralville, Massachusetts is in mourning. It seems that a cruel and heartless government is threatening a program from the Housing and Urban Development called Community Development Block Grants. This paid for facelifts and beautification projects for businesses, and the cruel government is looking to cut the program. How much did it pay for these projects? All of them. In truth President Obama's budget cuts include reductions in this program, the horror. Obama's budget cuts are a hair on the back of a Mastodon, but even that is being attacked as too deep by some.

Journalist Lee Strahan is ripping up his cocktail party invites by reporting news accurately. He's several times now shown how the left is either incompetent or deliberate in misrepresenting the political right in America. Apparently he first realized this when he was shown by Andrew Breitbart how totally the charges of Tea Partiers yelling "nigger" at Congressional Black Caucus members was a fiction. Since then he's nailed the left several times, from Crooks & Liars to Talking Points Memo. Strahan is a leftist, but he's been mugged pretty hard by reality.

Despite hysterical insistence of the left, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg really were guilty of espionage and really did leak nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union in one of the worst cases of treason the US has ever suffered. To put a nail in the coffin of the left's hopes, co-conspirator Morton Sobell recently admitted that the case against them was all true. No doubt there's a "deeper truth" that somehow negates these facts, to the academic left.

Green jobs have not just proven to be a failure, but according to a recent study are actually destructive to jobs and the economy overall:
A study just released by Cascade Policy Institute & Beacon Hill predicts that the effect of renewable energy policies in Oregon is a net loss of tens of thousands of jobs. With increasing fossil fuel prices, Oregon has turned to green energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and our carbon footprint. That effort comes with a price. “Just a few years ago, 1 in 20 Oregonians couldn’t pay their electric bills and had their electricity shut off. We will continue to see this rate increase as more renewable energy is forced onto the grid,” says Todd Wynn of Cascade Policy Institute.
Millions of dollars have been pumped into this "industry" without any sign of growth or economic benefit. "Green economy" is the underpants gnome version of real economics.

Every time the Congressional Budget Office looks closer at President Obama's budget and schemes, they find more ... misstatements, shall we say. Powerline reports that the CBO has found almost 3 trillion dollars more deficit in President Obama's budget than he claims. That's $3,000,000,000,000 that fell through the cracks. Keith Hennessy believes he's found where President Obama intended to make up the difference: a raise in gas taxes by 25 cents a gallon, for starters.

Donald Trump is an ethically challenged opportunist, but he does have one thing right, I believe. I think president Obama was born in the US, but I can't help but agree with Trump when he says "there’s something on that birth certificate that he doesn’t like." Whoopi Goldberg insisted that its because he's black that people want to see Obama's birth certificate, but then John McCain had to show his during the election and he looks pretty white to me.

And finally, when it comes to higher education, only 3% of the public thinks that Ivy League colleges and universities produce better workers according to a recent poll. Fine, you might say, they only take the top 1% for admissions anyway, supposedly (not actually true due to affirmative action quotas), so not many will understand their greatness, right? Except more than 3% of the population do the hiring, and the reputation of being great drives peoples' perception of Ivy League graduates. If hardly anyone thinks you come out being much of a worker, that's not going to help these universities at a time when higher education is having problems enough already.

And that's the Word Around the Net for March 25, 2011

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Is there a demand for something like this, somewhere? I mean fingerless gloves aren't new but based on underwear?

Quote of the Day

“To ensure that the president does not focus unduly on your war, schedule it while he is preoccupied with other matters: a Motown concert, a conference on bullying, his golf game, and finalizing his Final Four picks.”
-Frank Richman

Thursday, March 24, 2011

OPERATION TOMODACHI

"They really are too cool."

Operation Tomodachi
Its been a few weeks since Japan was devastated by a 9 point earthquake and huge tidal wave, and the recovery process has been difficult. Radiation fears still plague the country, and the count of the dead still is not complete. Through it all, the US military has been working hard to help the stricken country, particularly its eastern coast.

The USS Ronald Reagan has been a major player in this effort, showcasing again the value and versatility of aircraft carriers around the world. Packed with tons of supplies, aircraft carriers can help an area like nothing else can, essentially floating a fully functional city to the location to lend aid.

Notoriously anti-American and often foul and obscene internet site 2Chan in Japan was moved, here are some comments:
“As expected of our friends!”

“USA! USA!”

“They’re so handsome. It’s like a movie, really.”

“I could cry. We’re truly grateful, America!”

“Sorry we were so hard-hearted. It seems America was our only friend after all.”

“They are really used to this stuff, aren’t they?”

“They really are tool cool. What is this sense of security I feel…”

“Please make Japan a state.”

“Guys who have seen actual combat are in a different class.”

“They are heroes, seriously.”

“Rather than seeing our government’s incomprehensible press conferences, seeing the US army on the ground is much more reassuring.”

"The SDF isn’t bad, but seeing this you can really tell how badly Japanese lack decisiveness.”

“They seriously look too cool! USA!! USA!! USA!! USA!!”

“The USA is truly Japan’s ally!”

“If God made the world into a feature film America would be the hero.”

“Americans may be stupidly optimistic but they are certainly brave and believe in justice.”

“I cried!”
In times of great need, there is no more generous and helpful nation on earth, no matter what. The USA gets kicked in the teeth a lot around the world and is not always the hero, but this is when we really do get a chance to shine. There is no better ambassador of US spirit and public than our soldiers.

So here's to the troops and Operation Tomodachi.

ON LIBYA

"When we talk of “'European leadership,' we mean the U.K. and France, not Germany, Italy, or most of the EU. When we talk of the 'Arab League,' we mean essentially zero military assets. And when we talk of the 'U.N.,' we mean zero blue-helmeted troops."
-Victor Davis Hanson

Where does he stand?
Other than a post on the inconsistency of treatment and action between President Bush and President Obama (which Instapundit kindly linked), I haven't posted on Libya much. Part of the reason is that I've been largely confused about what's going on over there, and part of it is that I wanted to wait and see.

Immediately upon reading that the UN had approved a coalition attack on Libyan forces, I commented that I was behind our troops and wished them a successful, swift, and safe effort that brought them home soon. The problem is that nobody - not even the President of the United States - seems to really know what the troops are doing or what they are trying to achieve.

We were told this is a no-fly zone, but the coalition immediately began missile attacks on tanks. To the best of my knowledge, no one has yet created a flying tank. What are our goals? What is the plan, what is this coalition attempting to accomplish? Many have suggested that the reason President Obama did not go to congress for approval of this action is that he didn't have any answers to those questions, and that sounds all too probable.

Moammar Khadaffi should have been dealt with long ago. He is a terrorist-supporting, terrorist-training, terrorist-mongering scum who built up WMD, abuses his people, and generally is a horrible person. Removing thugs and tyrants is always a goal I support and appreciate. Aside from the unfinished business of a repeatedly-violated cease fire, Libya is almost as good a candidate for attack as Iraq was. The people of Libya who were trying to get rid of Khadaffi were being bombed and shelled by his military.
"The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."
-Candidate Obama
The problem is that this is happening around the world, and has for decades, centuries even. There are horrible dictators everywhere deserving of removal from power, there are people in dire need of help, and there are nations with weapons of mass destruction that cannot be trusted with them. North Korea springs to mind as at least as ghastly as Libya's government. Sudan needed the world's help desperately. Burma has been a hell hole for decades.

Why did we suddenly go into Libya now, and not these others? Why help the people of Libya now? The only plausible answer I can come up with is the same reason Britain let a notorious, unrepentant, radical terrorist and murderer go free to that nation on a fake cancer claim: oil.

Now, unlike the typical doofus leftie protester, I'm aware that oil is the blood of civilization right now, we need oil. I understand that nations go to war for their self interests, and that the idea of Khadaffi burning and destroying oil assets to keep them out of the hands of rebels is a reasonable concern.

Yet that's not what anyone says when they talk about this effort. They always claim this is about humantarian reasons, coming to the aid of civilians in danger. William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection runs down the UN resolution and the laws being invoked, but he asks an uncomfortable question:
If the rebels start attacking pro-Gaddafi civilians, will we intervene to protect pro-Gaddafi civilians pursuant to the U.N. Resolution?
The truth is, you can't protect civilians from the air, or from sea, you have to have boots on the ground.

My basic doctrine for US involvement in military action is that it has to be a direct and clear US interest; the oil will flow no matter who ends up in charge, that's why the world put up with Khadaffi for decades. If the United States is going to spend billions it does not have and the blood and futures of our young men, there has to be a good reason that impacts the US. That's why I opposed going into the Sudan, as horrible as it was.

Victor David Hanson brings up some good objections, including this one:
What body/country/alliance determines targets, issues communiques, or coordinates diplomacy? The U.K. goes after Qaddafi, and we plead “They did it, not us”? Again, fairly or not, the impression is that Obama dressed up preponderant American intervention under a multicultural fig leaf, earning the downsides of both.
Like me, he can't figure out what exactly is the plan or what is being worked toward here beyond "save the civilians." Timothy Carney has also noted that the story keeps changing depending on what's going on and what day it is:
On Tuesday, for instance, Obama was asked by Spanish-language Univision about an "exit strategy" from Libya. "The exit strategy," Obama said, "will be executed this week -- in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment. We will still be in a support role. We will be supplying jamming, intelligence and other assets unique to us."
As I pointed out in A Study in Contrasts, President Obama and his team are making a complete about face with this action compared to their previous rhetoric, which makes it even more difficult to know what they even have in mind, or why.

And who are the rebels? What is their goal, what do they believe in, what do they want to achieve beyond "get rid of Khadaffi?" Are they for democracy, are they militant Muslims, who is their leadership, where are they planning to take the country? Is helping them really in the best interests of the US?

I guess my biggest concern is that this was pretty hasty, seems without any clear plan or purpose, at a time when we cannot afford more military adventures - we could barely afford it under President Bush - and this time the president didn't even consult anyone except the UN. And shouldn't the president be home at least when he sends the country to war? Shouldn't he present his case to the American public, come home in a time of crisis and war?

And since when did the UN substitute for the American people and US Congress for determining action by our military? I am behind our troops, and not entirely hostile to the principle of removing Khadaffi from power, this just seems really poorly implemented.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


When you have over six billion in gold, I guess you can buy an artist to portray you as a hero, too. The thing is, the world leaders aggressively seeking oil isn't exactly inaccurate.

Quote of the Day

“Right now heads are collectively exploding in newsrooms across the country as media grapples with the fact that the mostly-white crowd in Madison breaking things isn’t the tea party.”
-Dana Loesch

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

REVAMPED TALES

"It's amazing that I picked the week that Peter Pan is more ubiquitous than Charlie Sheen"

If there's one thing you can rely on from Hollywood, its that they're predictable. Tim Burton made a mint off the rebooted Alice in Wonderland film last year, so there's a score of old faerie tales and stories coming out in film form to try to duplicate that.

The biggest trend is Peter Pan. The implausibly named Borys Kit writes in Hollywood Reporter:
The recent rush of Peter Pan film projects hitting the town began with The.Never.Land, a spec script by John Swetnam that was sent to studios in mid-February by APA and FilmEngine. That project, described as a big-budget tentpole, tells the story of Wendy and the forever-young boy with a Twilight-ish spin.

Around the same time, an untitled Peter Pan pitch hit studios from Wedding Crashers producer Tapestry and CAA-repped Jeff Rake, who came up with a Pan family adventure concept.

Both projects then saw some of the wind taken out of their sails by Pan, the high-profile Channing Tatum-led package that included Billy Ray on board to write and Joe Roth attached to produce. Pan, which reimagines the classic 1904 stage play (and later novel) by J.M. Barrie with the boy and the dastardly Captain Hook as brothers, recently sold to Sony in what sources say is a seven-figure deal.

Not to be outdone, on March 11, Neverland hit the town and is in play at several studios. The spec script by Aaron Henry and Kirk Kjeldsen is being repped by Aperture, with Pan recast as a villain abducting London's children, while Hook, the hero, must stop him.

The Pan pileup comes amid a wave of fairy-tale and classic literature projects taking hold in Hollywood, as studios seek to move away from the comic books and toy brands that have filled multiplexes. On the heels of Red Riding Hood, several versions of the Snow White tale are in the works, as well as Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters at Paramount and Jack the Giant Killer at Warner Bros.
...
Not to be left out, TV is jumping into the Pan game, with Syfy making a four-hour miniseries titled Neverland. Keira Knightley just joined the cast as the voice of Tinker Bell in what is intended to be a prequel of sorts.
Its peter pan mania! The last time someone tried this was Robin Williams and Spielberg with Hook, which I thought was pretty good but it didn't do well in theaters. Disney's faerie flood with alternate Tinkerbells (carefully multi-ethnic, of course) might have generated more interest in the story as well.

Of course, there are also Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Jack the Giant Killer as well as Snow White with Julia Roberts (hopefully cast as the witch). I suppose this all really started with Pan's Labyrinth which was a surprise hit and a sort of faerie tale deconstruction.

In a sense I can sympathize, because things have been rough for movie makers and they are desperate to find that reliable hit. Its very expensive to make movies the way they do, and while there are a lot of ways they could cut costs (cut back on the catering, hire unknowns, etc) the Hollywood way is to try to find something that's making money and piggyback on it.

Of course, you can't just tell a story, you have to give a post-modern deconstructive spin to it, something Tim Burton understood you don't do with a classic story. Burton kept the wonder, retained the characters as they were, focused on Wonderland as a real place rather than a dream, and produced something visually fascinating, if not particularly compelling in its story. Sure, he pumped it full of modern grrl power, which was bizarrely out of place in the Victorian England setting, but it made sense in Wonderland, where all the rulers were women anyway.

I also understand that with a lot of competing projects out there, you want to make something that stands out. Casting Peter Pan as a villain and Captain Hook as a hero actually appeals to me, but it violates the basic story so badly you can barely use the same names. The original plan for Russel Crowe's Robin Hood story was to make Hood a villain and the Sheriff of Nottingham the hero. That one actually works better, Robin Hood was a criminal, and the Sheriff was just trying to catch him. There's no evidence that King John was evil, just weak and not very bright.

Still, some stories are so critical to our collective memories and shared narrative that you ought not mess with them too badly. I enjoyed the recent King Arthur movie all right, but it did violate one of my basic principles for the tale: don't take the magic and romance away. That's why despite loving all of Bernard Cornwell's other writing, I don't care for his Winter King series about Arthur. I recommend the Pendragon cycle by Stephen Lawhead much more.

Something I'd love to see along those lines is a good adaptation of Once and Future King which has never yet been done. Disney came sort of remotely close with Sword in the Stone in the initial part of the film, but then took a massive departure.

So we'll have to suffer through a year or two of big budget faerie tale movies, but the makers should beware. Tim Burton has a uniquely childlike vision, if a bit goth and dark, and his wonderful imagination makes stories like Alice in Wonderland work. In a way I think he's probably a lot like Lewis Carroll, so the story was a natural fit. Rebooting tales with a modern twist and modern sensibilities doesn't often work.

Which brings me to The Thin Man. Johnny Depp again, playing Nick Charles. While he'll never be as good as the incomparable William Powell in the role, I can see Depp playing the part. I can almost see remaking this movie, since it was done in the thirties. The problem is how they want to do it (again Kit from Hollywood Reporter):
The studio put the remake into development in October, taking its time to find a writer who would give it a contemporary attitude but retain the period setting.
For the life of me I'll never figure out why people want to do this. The Thin Man is one of the best and most loved detective stories and films ever made. Dashiell Hammett himself worked on the screenplay last time and consulted on the movie. Exactly how do you figure you're going to do it better this time?

Don't say "modern audiences won't care for a period piece" because they watch movies set in other times all the time, and these can do very well. The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars movies made a mint and they're set in worlds that doesn't even exist.

The writer's previous credits include Alf and Twin Peaks which doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. The director has done Chicago, Nine, and the upcoming new Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. None of this adds up to anything I am enthused about seeing, but I guess we'll find out.

There are a host of great movies out there that could be made, from stories untouched by Hollywood, but it takes daring, talent, and awareness of these stories for anything to be done, and I'm not even sure most people in Hollywood can actually read these days.