"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States


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04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005

04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005

07/03/2005 - 07/10/2005

Friday, February 25, 2005
  The Ninth Amendment
Timothy Sandefur is discussing the ninth amendment, and it's implications for the right to die. He also provides links to ten separate posts of his on the ninth amendment, from his old blog. There are many interesting points in these posts related to the ninth amendment and the founders' views of it, for those with some interest in the subject.
  Anne Hathaway on The Fountainhead
She's a young actress, and if you know her, it's probably from the Princess Diaries movie, or Ella Enchanted. Via Media Empire Project:
It's beautiful. Someone asked me actually recently how I was enjoying it. And I said it's not so much that I'm enjoying it, but I feel like someone took the thoughts of my heart and put it down on the page and I'm discovering it. To say I'm enjoying it is an understatement - I'm really discovering parts of myself in the novel. It's really amazing.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
  Technical Difficulties...
It appears that my blog is having trouble rendering in Internet Explorer. I will note that it works fine in FireFox and Opera. But do not despair, I'll have the bug fixed sometime this afternoon. Damn Microsoft!

Update: Fixed it! Should look fine now.
  Catholic Ecstasy
The Pope reminds his flock what Catholicism is really about: 'Precious' Suffering.
More than 20 years ago, after recovering from the pistol shot that almost took his life in front of St. Peter's, John Paul declared that suffering, as such, is one of the most powerful messages in Christianity. "Human suffering evokes compassion," he wrote in 1984, "it also evokes respect, and in its own way it intimidates." In 1994, as age and infirmity began to incapacitate John Paul publicly, he told his followers he had heard God and was about to change the way he led the church. "I must lead her with suffering," he said. "The pope must suffer so that every family and the world should see that there is, I would say, a higher gospel: the gospel of suffering, with which one must prepare the future."
You wouldn't know it today, watching many Catholics (or Christians in general for that matter), but "happiness as the moral purpose of your life" doesn't describe the Christian religion. Of course, as Ayn Rand pointed out, the purpose of the Christian moral code isn't to provide a practical guide to action - it's to instill guilt.
This exaltation of suffering may be difficult for many non-Catholics to understand. (Protestant crosses, typically, do not depict Jesus at all, much less in the death throes shown by Catholic crucifixes.) Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" attempted to convey the power of suffering in a way that was graphic, accessible and not a little sensational. But suffering, scholars point out, is at the very core of the faith; it is the vital link between the human experience and that of Christ as savior. He was a suffering victim who seemed to have been defeated by the earthly powers of his time. But in his moment of apparent weakness and defeat, Christians see him as triumphant, dying for humanity's sins and opening the way to heaven.

"The cross is not just something you hang on the wall," says Father Justo Lacunza-Balda, a missionary and director of the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies. "Christianity is not born in a laboratory or a schoolroom; it's not conceived in an institute of higher learning. It's about suffering, torture, the experience of Christ on the cross." And it is about hope. In Africa, for instance, where the Catholic Church is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, the afflicted pope can be seen as "a living presence of the very essence of Christianity, which is the cross—and resurrection," says Lacunza-Balda. "He's not just an icon, he is the incarnation in his whole life of the message of Christ."
  Just To Be Fair
to President Bush, I'm going to mention this interesting tid bit, via The Panda's Thumb. How this guy got a job in the Bush administration (let alone still has it) is a mystery to me: Intelligent Denials.
When it's your job to serve as the president's in-house expert on science and technology, being constantly in the media spotlight isn't necessarily a mark of distinction. But for President Bush's stoically inclined science adviser John Marburger, immense controversy followed his blanket dismissal last year of allegations (now endorsed by 48 Nobel laureates) that the administration has systematically abused science. So it was more than a little refreshing last Wednesday to hear Marburger take a strong stance against science politicization and abuse on one issue where it really matters: evolution.

Speaking at the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers, Marburger fielded an audience question about "Intelligent Design" (ID), the latest supposedly scientific alternative to Charles Darwin's theory of descent with modification. The White House's chief scientist stated point blank, "Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory." And that's not all -- as if to ram the point home, Marburger soon continued, "I don't regard Intelligent Design as a scientific topic."
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
  A Personal Confession...
for fans of Atlas Shrugged. Warning - spoilers ahead!

One of the most poignant sections of the book for me, personally, is when Rearden comes upon the broken body of the Wet Nurse. I break down into tears every time I read through that section of the book. Here's the part that really gets me:
   The boy's head dropped on Rearden's shoulder, hesitantly, almost as if this were a presumption. Rearden bent down and pressed his lips to the dust-streaked forehead.
   The boy jerked back, raising his head with a shock of incredulous, indignant astonishment. "Do you know what you did?" he whispered, as if unable to believe that it was meant for him.
   "Put your head down," said Rearden, "and I'll do it again."
   The boy's head dropped and Rearden kissed his forehead; it was like a father's recognition granted to a son's battle.
   The boy lay still, his face hidden, his hands clutching Rearden's shoulders. Then, with no hint of sound, with only the sudden beat of faint, spaced, rhythmic shudders to show it, Rearden knew that the boy was crying - crying in surrender, in admission of all the things which he could not put into the words he had never found.
Of course, to get the full effect, you really need to read the preceding pages. In my hardcover edition, that starts on page 989 (Part III, Ch VI, The Concerto of Deliverance). Grab some tissues and dig in.
  Who Likes Bush (part two)...
If my last post didn't do the trick, here's another gem:
"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous," Bush said. "And having said that, all options are on the table."
  Conservatives and CPAC...
Ryan Sager has an interesting piece on Tech Central Station about the Conservative Political Action Conference (hat tip: Instapundit). He notes the nauseating presence of religious conservativism throughout the entire conference, and makes a very insightful conclusion:
...if there was anything particularly striking about this year's CPAC, it is to just what extent Republicans have given up being the party of small government and individual liberty.

Make absolutely no mistake about it: This party, among its most hard-core supporters, is not about freedom anymore. It is about foisting its members' version of morality and economic intervention on the country. It is, in other words, the mirror image of its hated enemy.
Hallelujah! It's nice to see someone other than myself horrified and alarmed by the religious right. Many people I respect have made light of the religious right's increasing presence by noting the many "moderates" in the party. "Yes, it's bad," they'll admit, "but you're making too much of it." During the RNC, the retort was Schwartzenneger, Giuliani and McCain. At the CPAC, the retort has been Log Cabin Republicans and libertarians.

But this is not a convincing response. These groups are present, but they don't have any clout, and are only brought in when their positions matches the position of the religious right. If the topic is abortion, homosexuality or separation of church and state, you will not find the moderates on the list of speakers. They are a deceptive presence, because they give the impression that the core of the Republican party is not religious and theocratic. This is what suckers in those moderates who, rightly reject the left, but are equally horrified by social conservatism.

Monday, February 21, 2005
  Reisman on Social Security...
Economist George Reisman weighs in on President Bush's proposal for social security, and finds it deficient. He offers an intriguing proposal that would be of benefit to soon-to-be retirees, and the young: Social Security Reform: A Free-Market Alternative.

Update: Thanks to my "ghost editor" for noticing my misspelling, which I've now corrected!
Sunday, February 20, 2005
  Which SciFi Character Are You?
Here's a link for SciFi fans, to determine which SciFi character you are. I'm pleased with the results:

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Jean-Luc Picard
An accomplished diplomat who can virtually do no wrong, you sometimes know it is best to rely on the council of others while holding the reins.
There are some words which I have known since I was a schoolboy. "With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." These words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie -- as a wisdom, and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged.
  Writing Competition
I received the following invitation via email to compete in an Objectivist writing competition:
Dear Objectivist blogger,

As you may or may not have already heard, a group of dedicated Objectivist
students is collaborating on a new project to start a national campus
Objectivist newsletter. The publication will be targeted largely toward
honest, receptive college students not familiar with Ayn Rand's philosophy.
The founders of this newsletter, currently proceeding under the working title
_The Undercurrent_, view this as a sorely needed and enormously valuable
project in spreading Ayn Rand's ideas. Our articles will apply Objectivist
philosophy to specific issues, spanning not only politics but also cultural
and aesthetic topics of interest to our readers. Given the critical state of
today’s culture, engulfed as it has become by the relativist-left/religious-
right dichotomy, we want to emphasize the connection between reason and values
on as wide a scale as possible.

We currently have a knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff on board for the
project, including a number of past and current OAC students and campus club
leaders. Work on our first issue is well underway. What we need most now are
excellent writers with a thorough background in Objectivism, and an ability to
apply Ayn Rand's ideas to specific issues in a fresh, layman-friendly,
inductive way.

That is where you, the dedicated Objectivist blogger, come in. As part of our
initiative to recruit highly competent writers, we are launching a Blogger
Contest to solicit one of the most crucial articles for our first issue. Your
prize will be, not only free publicity, but the honor of getting published in
a promising new Objectivist campus newsletter.

Your assignment is as follows: Write an op-ed style piece, approximately 700-
1000 words in length, of the sort we affectionately refer to as a "suck-in-the-
right-and-spit-them-out" article.

In other words, attack a position--either political or cultural--held by the
left (such as political correctness, or social security, or federally funded
abortions, etc.), thus attracting the right; then identify the fundamental
error behind the position (such as altruism, statism, etc.), which the left
and the right ultimately share in common (e.g., both advocate limiting our
freedom--the left, by using federal tax money for abortions, the right by
denying a woman's right to *have* abortions); thus revealing that our position
is fundamentally opposed to both camps. When necessary, articles should show
evidence of thorough factual research.

The deadline for submissions is February 28th, giving you a little over a
week. Should you need extra time, please let us know as soon as possible, and
we will try to accommodate. Our main goal is to encourage you to contribute--
so please let nothing stand in your way!

Please e-mail all submissions to this address (eugenia.gorlin@tufts.edu) as
Word document attachments.

Whether or not your submission is published, you may, of course, post it to
your blog. Finally, whether or not you submit an entry, we would highly
appreciate your posting an announcement about the contest and the newsletter
project, including our ongoing search for quality contributors. (If you wish,
you may quote the message in this e-mail verbatim.) This will ensure that word
gets out, and that we get first-rate submissions for our critical first issue.

We hope this will be the first in a series of such contests--but that will
depend largely on the active participation of our contributors.

Thank you, and we look forward to reading your entries!


_The Undercurrent_ staff
After peeking around the internet, I found the following article on the club in question. Hopefully I'll have time to write an entry for submission; if so, I'll post it here.

Update: The Undercurrent is not being sponsored by the club I linked to above. Here is the clarification, which I received via email:
the project is being launched by a group of past and current OAC
students and club leaders from around the country (including University of
Illinois, UChicago, and other places). We intend for this newsletter to be an
ongoing national project that outlives the often fleeting campus clubs that
sprout up around the country and die when its active members graduate. Though
campus clubs will play a central role as distributors and local sponsors, _The
Undercurrent_ as such is not affiliated with any particular club.
My apologies to Gena and the staff for my misunderstanding.
  Blogging Personality Test
Ego posted a link to this quiz, which will tells you what "type" of blogger you are. Here's the results:

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

What kind of blogger are you?

Email Me Blogroll Me


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