Monday, March 23, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Politically Incorrect Politically Correct Speech

Mark Steyn catches Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano using an incredible euphemism for terrorism. She says:
In my speech, although I did not use the word "terrorism," I referred to "man-caused" disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.
But shouldn't that be "person-caused disasters"?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Where's Whit?

On the New Criterion's blog Michael Weiss has a piece on why we need Whit Stillman now. It turns out, Stillman does have a feature in pre-production. Hopefully it won't be vaporware! He was interviewed about it and other things by IFC when Metropolitan was available on Hulu recently (it's not anymore). I'm not overly optimistic; his name has been attached to other projects that haven't gotten made.

Here's a scene from towards the end of The Last Days of Disco:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thanks for the Link

Union News picked up my post on Jimmy Hoffa and the Secret Ballot. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Latin vs. Greek

I've been reading G.K. Chesterton's A Short History of England. (The full text is available from the Gutenberg project.) The book includes an interesting section comparing Latin and Greek learning. I'm not sure it's entirely fair to St. Thomas More, but the comparison itself seemd worth sharing.
[St. Thomas More] was an innovator in things more alluring to modern minds than theology; he was partly what we should call a Neo-Pagan. His friend Colet summed up that escape from mediævalism which might be called the passage from bad Latin to good Greek. In our loose modern debates they are lumped together; but Greek learning was the growth of this time; there had always been a popular Latin, if a dog-Latin. It would be nearer the truth to call the mediævals bi-lingual than to call their Latin a dead language. Greek never, of course, became so general a possession; but for the man who got it, it is not too much to say that he felt as if he were in the open air for the first time. Much of this Greek spirit was reflected in More; its universality, its urbanity, its balance of buoyant reason and cool curiosity. It is even probable that he shared some of the excesses and errors of taste which inevitably infected the splendid intellectualism of the reaction against the Middle Ages; we can imagine him thinking gargoyles Gothic, in the sense of barbaric, or even failing to be stirred, as Sydney was, by the trumpet of "Chevy Chase." The wealth of the ancient heathen world, in wit, loveliness, and civic heroism, had so recently been revealed to that generation in its dazzling profusion and perfection, that it might seem a trifle if they did here and there an injustice to the relics of the Dark Ages. When, therefore, we look at the world with the eyes of More we are looking from the widest windows of that time; looking over an English landscape seen for the first time very equally, in the level light of the sun at morning. For what he saw was England of the Renascence; England passing from the mediæval to the modern. Thus he looked forth, and saw many things and said many things; they were all worthy and many witty; but he noted one thing which is at once a horrible fancy and a homely and practical fact. He who looked over that landscape said: "Sheep are eating men."

Who are the new religious intellectuals?

Andrew Sullivan claims:
The days when America’s leading intellectuals contained a strong cadre of serious Christians are over. There is no Thomas Merton in our day; no Reinhold Niebuhr, Walker Percy or Flannery O’Connor.
It would help if Sullivan could explain who America's leading public intellectuals are. It's possible that the lack of Christian standout intellectuals is partly because there are few standout intellectuals generally. Intellectual culture is more fragmented than it used to be.

Beyond that, there are leading Christian intellectuals. Here are some of whom Sullivan might have heard who are formidable and accomplished minds and don't live in any particular religious ghetto: Marilynne Robinson (called by Sullivan's paper "world's best writer of prose"), comedian Stephen Colbert, Gary Wills, Kathleen Norris, and Tim Keller.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Card Check Quip

Jimmy Hoffa suggests the ballot box isn't a cornerstone of democratic freedom:
"Since when is the secret ballot a basic tenet of democracy?" Hoffa said. "Town meetings in New England are as democratic as they come, and they don't use the secret ballot. Elections in the Soviet Union were by secret ballot, but those weren't democratic."
Mark Steyn has a great comeback:
The day Jimmy Hoffa shows up at my Town Meeting is the day we move to paper ballots.
Of course, town meeting governments sometimes do use secret ballots either for votes over a certain dollar amount or when a certain percentage of the voters request it.

The debate calls to mind Jill Lepore's outstanding New Yorker article on why the U.S. adopted the Australian Ballot (that is the secret ballot) for most voting in the first place. It happened surprisingly late.

Watch What You Say

Lest anyone be confused, let's give the last word on this one to Leo XIII:
The generally held argument that this sort of struggle washes away, as it were, the stains that calumny or insult has brought upon the honor of citizens surely can deceive no one but a madman. ... It is, to be sure, the desire of revenge that impels passionate and arrogant men to seek satisfaction. God commands all men to love each other in brotherly love and forbids them to ever violate anyone; he condemns revenge as a deadly sin and reserves to himself the right of expiation. If people could restrain their passion and submit to God, they would easily abandon the monstrous custom of dueling.

--Pastoralis Officii, September 12, 1891

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Bad Argument

The NY Post gives four reasons to oppose the Obama mortgage plan. This one is pretty silly:
It sends the wrong message to children about dealing with the consequences of decisions.
Won't somebody please think of the children?!