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Everything posted by JJPierce

  1. License to Kill in Iran

    That was the same Topeka Baptist Church group I wrote about a once. I saw an obvious hypocrisy in their choice of targets then: <<Some Baptist church in Topeka sent a team a few years ago to harass mourners at the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay kid who was murdered and tied to a fence. They just wanted to bear witness that homosexuality is sinful, they said. So how come that same church never harassed mourners at a Mafia or Hell’s Angels funeral? Could it be that they don’t think those groups are sinful, or just that they know they’d have gotten the s**t kicked out of them?>> They've gotten a bit more daring since then. Some veterans' families considered calling in Rolling Thunder, a biker group, to deal with them, although I don't think this has happened.
  2. License to Kill in Iran

    The worst of it is, these maniacs have widespread support, although I don't think the majority is behind them. The old left-wing terrorists in the West like the Weathermen and the Baader-Meinhoff Gang were pretty isolated by comparison. The Unabomber didn't have a group at all. The right-wing militia groups were mostly pathetic. But I'll bet Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (who famously proclaimed that 9/11 was God's punishment on the US for tolerating gays and women's rights) wish they had a religious militia here. There was a piece on TV a while back about "Jesus camps," where young "Christians" were supposedly being trained for Armageddon. I suppose the report, which I haven't seen, may have been biased and overblown, but a lot of the fundamentalist rhetoric we hear every day is scary enough.
  3. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    I would hope that we can have done with psychologizing the victims here, as in blanket statements about what they were taught or what they thought. What we have to remember here is that, despite the precedents of Columbine and the like, very few of us have any actual experience of the kind of violence that Cho brought to Virginia Tech. Even so, some of the students and teachers had the presence of mind to barricade doors, look for cover and/or play dead, or jump out the windows. We cannot reasonably conclude that all or or most just stood there. Nor does it matter much how good a shot Cho was -- with automatic pistols and plenty of clips, I think that almost anybody could have killed dozens of people in enclosed spaces like a dorm room or a classroom. As for Cho himself, he was the ultimate Second Hander, "living" and dying only to make us aware of him, to make himself famous, to make himself "immortal." How do we deal with that? It's impossible not to be aware of him. In that, he has achieved his aim. I'm not going to read his rant or watch his video clips, but I suppose a lot of people will -- and that's exactly what he wanted. If there's any parallel in ATLAS SHRUGGED, it has nothing to do with the Taggart tunnel, but with Eric Starnes -- only all he did was commit suicide in a manner calculated to inflict the most pain on others. Next to Cho, he was a piker.
  4. Solace from music

    Double or Nothing! La Valse http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dcv51HW5PMI Car Wash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUiiryAINfo
  5. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    Well, now we know what Cho was doing during that two-hour gap. And we also know that he was even sicker than we thought. The way he rants about supposedly being persecuted, when he wouldn't even talk to anyone else, avoided any relationships of any kind. Somebody mentioned the movie IF in this thread; I've never seen it myself, but from what I read when it came out, the message seemed to be the society "owed" love to the boys, and that when they didn't get it they were perfectly justified in starting a bloodbath. Note that Cho invokes the memory of the Columbine killers, and even calls them "martyrs." As far as I can tell, they -- like Cho -- INVITED scorn, and practically reveled in it. Only, somehow, this was all "society's" fault. Too bad those coeds didn't press charges of stalking; maybe this bastard would have been locked up by now.
  6. Solace from music

    I'll see you and raise you: Fred Astaire: Putting on the Ritz http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j02k9t4rP50
  7. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    The common denominator among these killers is that they think the whole world is against them, and that the world should "pay." Obviously they don't value their own lives, as they usually commit suicide. Which brings us to another question: what is the difference, if any, between the people like Cho who kill out of imagined personal grievances, and the terrorists who kill for a "cause?" It isn't necessarily deep-seated belief. Lawrence Wright, who just won a Pulitzer Prize for THE LOOMING TOWER, related at his recent one-man show in New York that he'd met with young Saudis who were cynical about both their religion and their government but admitted they might become suicide bombers because of the terrible boredom and frustration of their lives. Al Qaeda, Wright said, exploits these wretches by telling them they have a "chance to make history. All they have to do is die."
  8. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    You write as if you have some real experience with this sort of thing, or must have at least carefully researched it for some time.
  9. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    I hope you'll keep us posted, as someone close to the scene -- let us know what's right in the media coverage and what's B.S.
  10. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    There were indeed cases of people blocking doors -- in one case with a table, in another just by leaning on it -- thereby saving themselves and others. They were the heroes.
  11. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    Moreover, they did a better job last fall when an escaped convict shot people on campus. You'd think they'd have known to do the same today. I suspect some heads are going to roll over this.
  12. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    Just heard from Shoshana. She's okay. But it turns out that if the massacre had happened tomorrow, she'd have been teaching in a building right next to Norris Hall, the engineering building where most of the people were killed. It seems that there aren't any classrooms in the English department, so literature classes like hers are conducted all over the place, wherever they can find room. Shoshana also said it's still possible there were two different shooters, at the dorm and at Norris Hall. There'd been bomb threats to Norris Hall last week, and it's possible that somebody else shot up the dorm, and the bomb threat guy then decided it was a good day to die and made his move. The Norris Hall shootings were two hours later, and university authorities did a poor job of warning people -- a lot of students didn't know about the dorm shootings until the classroom shootings began. The shooter there, incidentally, chained the doors shut to keep people from escaping. But because the building is used for both engineering and non-engineering classes, it's uncertain which was being targeted. At this point they're still trying to identify the shooter, who blew his face off and didn't carry any ID. And, of course, the victims aren't being identified until their families can be notified. Where do monsters like this come from? The same place as Raskolnikov, I suppose.
  13. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    Not exactly new. Charles Whitman, the Texas Tower sniper, killed 16 people at the University of Texas, in 1966. But this latest seems on the face of it to be part of a greater epidemic that also includes workplace shootings and deadly road rage incidents. Because the first workplace killings involved postal workers, "going postal" has become a catchphrase for all such occurrences. Somebody once told me that the Post Office hired a lot of stressed-out Vietman vets, but I've since read that the murder rate is lower in post offices than at, say, retail stores. And the killers at Columbine and other schools and workplaces certainly weren't soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress. Chances are the shooter at Virginia Tech wasn't, either -- more likely the typical case of a loner who thought the whole world or at least the whole community he inhabited was against him and wanted to "get even."
  14. Major shooting at Virginia Tech this AM

    I haven't heard back from her by e-mail, and the phone lines are tied up. But the shootings all took place in the dorm and in the engineering building, whereas Shoshana teaches in the English department, so I think she must be okay. But I'm sure she'll feel devastated, as any sane person would at such madness. From the sketchy news reports, I surmise that the killer was an engineering student who went postal -- but I could well be wrong. We'll doubtless see a lot more on the nightly news, and days and weeks of (mostly futile) attempts to analyze it.
  15. Short But Powerful

    Back in 2001 and 2002, BMW commisioned several top directors to make short films -- about six or seven minutes each. The series was called THE HIRE, and starred Clive Owen as the Driver. They also starred BMW cars, of course, but they were NOT commercials, or even promos (The cars often took a beating!). What they were was very concentrated, very intense cinematic short stories, like nothing I'd ever seen. Because of time limitations, the directors had to make every second count, make every word, every image, every gesture advance the story. You have to watch really carefully, or else you may miss something really crucial (like WHY the Driver blows off his old friend at the end of "The Follow."). The films were shown for a while on a BMW Internet site, then sold briefly on DVD, but neither source is available now. But lately they've shown up on YouTube. The quality of the play may depend on your browser' in some cases, the sound and image get out of sync. Anyway, here's a link to one example, "Hostage," directed by John Woo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXuc7f2ivec And here's a link to a rundown of all the episodes at Wikipedia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXuc7f2ivec
  16. Short But Powerful

    Been a while. Here are links to four more of the BMW films at YouTube: Ticker, Ambush, The Follow and Powder Keg.
  17. No surprise for a gangster state that whacks its critics like the Mafia.
  18. Ever notice these people always think they were lords and ladies in past lives, and never peasants?
  19. WW2 ~ What was the point ?

    Patton may have been right in principle but, as you point out, America was tired of war by then. Let's say YOU were an ordinary GI in 1945, eager to get home to your family, and been told, "Sorry, now you're going to fight the Russians." How would YOU react? How would your family react? Of course, Communists and Communist sympathizers here would have raised hell, but even if there hadn't been a single Red in this country, I think another war would have been a hard sell. And the Soviets had a much bigger army than we did -- they would NOT have been a pushover. Yalta was a sellout, of course, but it was a sellout based mainly on the facts on the ground: the Russians were already occupying all the countries we "gave" them. But there was a window we could have used between 1945 and 1949, when we had a monopoly on nuclear weapons. Philip Wylie thought we should have used the Bomb on Russia, or at least threatened to use it, and the Berlin Blockade of 1948 could have provided the occasion. Arming our enemies? Well, that's what we did in Afghanistan with the mujahadeen. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it triggered the collapse of the Soviet Union by destroying the Communist myth of historical inevitability. But look what we got! The Jihadists are so crazy it almost makes you wish we had the Communists back. And after 9/11, what country (besides Afghanistan) do we attack -- Iraq! Now Saddanm was a bastard, but he was a SECULAR bastard who, for his own survival, had to keep the religious fanatics on a short leash at most. Whereas our "friends" in Saudi Arabia were spending hundreds of millions, maybe billions, to fund Al Qaeda and all those madrassas that turn out jihadists by the truckload. Figure THAT out.
  20. WW2 ~ What was the point ?

    I would point out that Germany might well have won the war in Russia, despite Western aud to the Soviets, if Hitler hadn't been so stupid. He might have launched his invasion a month earlier in 1941, and been in Moscow by fall. In 1942, he might have taken Stalingrad, had he not diverted a corps to the less strategic target of Rostov. And, of course, he might have made allies of the Ukrainians and others who at first welcomed the Germans as liberators -- but were then treated just like the Czechs and the Poles. As for the global consequences of that, these have been considered in a number of alternate history novels, the best known doubtless being Robert Harris' FATHERLAND. About five years ago, I wrote the piece below, which seems relevant here although it doesn't address all of the issues raised here. **** What Private Ryan Saved "Am I a good man?" asks an aged Private Ryan in the epilogue to Steve Spielberg’s film. "Have I lived a good life?" Of course, we say to ourselves. But that isn’t the real point of the movie, or of the heroism of what is now called the Greatest Generation. The point is, that because of Private Ryan of others like him, billions of people across the world have at least had the chance to live fairly decent lives when they would otherwise have been condemned to stinking, rotten, miserable lives. The twentieth century was one of such mass slaughter and mass injustice that it is easy to forget how much worse it would have been had World War II ended in an Axis victory or a stalemate. And it wouldn’t necessarily have had to involve the military conquest of America, as in science fiction novels like Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Neither Germany nor Japan had any serious ambitions in the New World, and there were doubtless any number of America Firsters or crypto fascists who welcomed the idea of an Axis victory in the Old World. It would have eliminated the Soviet Union, after all, and made America safe from Godless Communism. There are still apostles of the Rancid Right who think we took the wrong side in the war on that account. We already know what kind of a world we ended up with by allying ourselves with the Soviets. But what Ronald Reagan called the Evil Empire eventually collapsed, not only because it could not compete economically or militarily with the West in the long run, but because its controlling idea was so artificial. Marxism was the creation of intellectuals, and pathetic intellectuals are the only defenders today of an ideology that belongs in the dustbin of history. Communism never had any mass appeal. Even in the Soviet Union, the May Day and October Revolution parades were hardly spontaneous, and Stalin was worshipped as a tsar, not as the liberator of the working class or the peasants. The kind of people who voted for Communist parties in countries like France vote for neo-fascists today, and it has to be significant that racist skinheads are more prevalent in eastern Germany and the former Communist states of Eastern Europe than in the West. Does anyone believe that a triumphant Nazi Germany would have collapsed under its own weight? The Nazis were smart enough to co-opt their capitalists rather than liquidate them, but what the Nazi ideology had going for it was its natural mass appeal. There was nothing artificial or unnatural about nationalism, militarism and xenophobia, and under the umbrella of those atavistic passions the Nazis could co-opt socialism in practice – after all, Germany had had a welfare state since the 1900’s, and the industrial complex that supported the German war effort was a state enterprise in all but name. There isn’t any mystery about what the Nazis had in mind for the world – whatever part of it they would have ruled in the event of their victory. Even in the last days of the actual war, when the German forces were in collapse, shipments of Jews to death camps were given priority over military traffic. Multiply the Holocaust tenfold, a hundredfold, and you will have some idea what a Nazi hegemony over Europe, Africa and the Middle East would have been like. Tens or hundreds of millions of Slavs, Arabs and Africans would have followed the Jews to the gas chambers, and those not slaughtered would have been enslaved. In the Pacific Rim, the Nanking massacre would have been just the beginning of China’s sufferings. Southeast Asia, Australia and perhaps India would have become satrapies of the Japanese Empire. And unlike the British and the Dutch, the Japanese wouldn’t have left. If the likes of Gandhi had opposed them, they would have been squashed like bugs. There might not have been any mass exterminations, but the brutality of Japanese rule in other lands would surely have matched that already experienced in Korea for a generation. Comfort girls in Korea and germ warfare research like that in Manchuria would have been the models for exploitation and victimization elsewhere. And what of America? Our country might never have been conquered in fact, but it would have been conquered in spirit. Fascism rather than Communism could have become the intellectual fashion. Clones of Father Coughlin would have ruled the airwaves, and the Ku Klux Klan might have become as respectable as the Chamber of Commerce. Joseph McCarthy might well have become president rather than an upstart who was eventually put down. Our entire culture would have been poisoned. There would never have been a Civil Rights movement, there would never have been a Women’s Liberation movement, there would never have been a sexual revolution. Gay rights? Forget about it! Common freedoms and decencies that we take for granted in our continuum would be unknown, and perhaps even inconceivable, in that alternate history. We would be pettier and nastier and more brutish people. All of us would be living stinking, rotten, miserable lives, and the worst of it is that we wouldn’t even know how rotten they were: we’d take them for granted. That this did not happen is what we owe to Private Ryan and all the ordinary heroes of the Greatest Generation. It is easy enough to discredit the values that the average GI took to World War II, and brought back. Ask any black American of that generation what it was like to live in a time when black soldiers would be kicked off trains in the South to make room for Nazi prisoners – or what those black soldiers had to come home to. It has long been fashionable for liberals to sneer at ordinary middle class Americans of Ryan’s generation – Archie Bunkers, the lot of them. Some Hollywood "issue" movies still give the impression that the heartland between New York and Los Angeles is inhabited entirely by rednecks, neo-Nazis and skinheads. Yet the heroes of the Greatest Generation were the greatest just the same. Perhaps the greatest thing about them was that they didn’t want to play heroes. Few of them bore any resemblance to swaggering Rambos, still less fanatics like the suicide bombers of today. Their icons were Willie and Joe, Bill Mauldin's comic figures of ordinary GIs like themselves. They didn’t fortify themselves with mind-rotting propaganda or hate literature, or carry icons of maniacal religious or political leaders. They carried pictures of their wives or girlfriends, or failing that, pinups of Betty Grable. They didn’t want to sacrifice their entire beings to a cause, even a righteous one. They just wanted to get the war over with, get home safely if they could, and live normal lives. Maybe the Private Ryans weren’t perfect. Maybe they didn’t all represent what was best in America. But they saved what was best in America, just the same, and our nation and indeed the entire human race owe them a debt for that. Troubled as they may be today, think of what our country, and the world, would have been without them.
  21. Iran Captures 15 UK Sailors

    True, but today's heretics might become tomorrow's successful radicals. Look at history -- Jan Hus was burned at the stake, but Martin Luther broke the back of the Catholic Church. Look at China today: officially, it's still a Communist state, but it's a far cry from anything the radical Maoists ever had in mind. I can't guarantee that it will evolve into a fully capitalist economy, but the momentum is certainly in that direction. Vietnam, when it was accused of dumping shrimp below cost on the US market, declared, "Hey, we wouldn't sell below cost, we want our shrimp farms to make a PROFIT." I can remember that when Gorbachev implemented Glasnost and Perestroika, a lot of US conservatives thought it was just a ploy -- that nothing had really changed, and that we would be facing the Evil Empire well into the future. Well, you know what happened. Of course, now we have a Gangster state in place of the Soviet state, but that's a different story, and -- unlike the Communists -- Putin's gangsters at least know how to run industries.
  22. Well, it looks as if there isn't any new news about the ATLAS SHRUGGED movie, if this thread has moved on to the merits of Kiefer Sutherland and Bart Simpson. So I'll move even further, to a YouTube clip from H.G. Wells' THINGS TO COME (1936): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nsXjazGh8s Nothing to do with AS, obviously, but it's set in a post-war world where civilization has collapsed and a looting warlord who calls himself Rudolf the Boss has his ragtag army fighting for control of a coal mine. Sort of a parallel situation. Only when Wells' world saviors later show up, of course, they're black-clad technocrats rather than capitalists. Will it take until 2036 to see the ATLAS SHRUGGED adaptation?
  23. Iran Captures 15 UK Sailors

    I heard on the radio that all of Iran's gasoline is produced at one plant. I'd think that would be an easy target. Supposedly nuclear research facilities are widely dispersed, which would make it harder to take them all out. A sidelight on Munich: By TODAY's political correct standards, the Germans were "right:" they wanted only Czech territory inhabited by ethnic Germans. And yet in college I read that if the British and French had only stood up to Hitler, the German Army had been ready to arrest him and throw him in an insane asylum. Another thing I heard in college: the only permanent result of Munich was that no statesmen would ever again stand under an umbrella (as Chamberlain did, stepping off a plane to announce "peace in our time."), even if it was pouring rain.
  24. Iran Captures 15 UK Sailors

    Not NECESSARILY. There are some "heretics" in the environmental movement who support nuclear power and other technologies most have shunned: http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_fr...e.aspx?id=14406 Moreover, as editor of a food industry trade magazine, I'm familiar with some environmental groups that work WITH business instead of against it on issues like fisheries management (encouraging sound fish farming practices, substitution of underfished species that taste just as good for endangered ones, etc.). There MAY be a change in the way the wind is blowing....
  25. An eminently sane attitude.