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Thursday, December 23, 2004

The New York Times > Fashion & Style > Fooey to the World: Festivus Is Come
To use a phrase that has been said to Star Trek fans many times; "IT'S JUST A TV SHOW, PEOPLE!!!!!"

Link via The Corner.

Pixar on National Review Online
How Pixar makes their movies:

We don't make movies for kids. We make movies for adults, actually ourselves, and then just make sure there's nothing in them that the little ones shouldn't see. The local cineplex is littered with movies made by studios who want to second-guess what the audience wants. We find we get better results by making what we want, and then assuming that there are other people like us out there.
If audiences in general are underestimated, kids really get the patronizing treatment. Two things are often forgotten about kids. One: They have no taste. They will watch just about anything. This is normal and healthy. Taste comes later. Two: They are not stupid! Kids are born intelligent, and there's no good reason to make dumbed-down entertainment for them.

Because it's been far too long since my last attempt at French-bashing...
I bring you Jonah Goldberg's article "Down With the French!"

Who can help but sympathize with such concerns as the groaning hoards of shoppers appear like Huns outside the doors of Wal-Mart? That is why I am so grateful for a special Christmas present — holiday present if you must — for the whole world. No mere thing or shiny bauble, this present is an idea, glowing with an ecumenicism that fires the mind and illuminates the heart, uniting nearly all mankind in fellowship. What idea is that? Why, the total destruction of France, of course.

No, no, I don't mean — or want — to kill the French people and salt the earth where they live. That would be wrong.

No, what I'm referring to is the destruction of France as an idea, as a shining fromagerie on a hill, serving as a beacon of asininity to left-wing radicals and a siren to kleptocratic third-world dictators who, after a career of mass-murder, want decent medical care, a good lawyer, and a fresh croissant. Two new books are out that attack the cheese-eating surrender monkeys from two of France's three most vulnerable sides: facts and logic (the third vulnerability, duh, is its border with Germany).

The French supported the Confederacy in the Civil War and let's not count how many Frenchmen supported the Germans — and the Holocaust. Suffice it to say, the Hollywood version of French heroism leaves a lot to be desired. "Next to the weather," General Eisenhower lamented, "[the French] have caused me more trouble in this war than any single factor."

And let's also not gloss over the fact that more than a few French intellectuals have been known to look at dictators and mass-murderers the way Michael Jackson gazes at posters of Macaulay Culkin. Michel Foucault was like, "Oh my God, the Ayatollah is sooo cool."
During the Cold War, de Gaulle was always more of a hassle than a help. France's opposition to the Iraq war had a soupcon of principle in a kettle of cynicism burbling with Iraqi oil and blood. Indeed, we forget that the phrase "millions for defense, not a penny for tribute" stemmed from America's refusal to acquiesce to French shakedowns during the XYZ affair. And we also forget, by the way, that the phrase, "Herr Kommandant! The Jews are hiding in those woods right over there!" was a wildly popular phrase in France in the early 1940s.
And while I feel bad that it took so long for me to plug John Miller's book, as the French general who started fighting the Germans in 1945 said, "Better late than never!" So joy to the world and down with the French! But I repeat myself.

Global Warming? Hot Air. (washingtonpost.com)
Or why Hollywood now doesn't like Michael Chrichton.

Just for the record: I don't buy global warming as a problem. Change isn't always bad, and the Middle Ages were termed to be a "mini-Ice Age," so some warming should be expected. Plus most of the gases that are alleged to cause the global warming increased in the last half of the 20th century, while the greatest increases in temperature occurred in the first half.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

News Journal Poll
A while back, I commented on the expected inaccuracy of the News-Journal's pre-election poll. Let's see how accurate they were. (I haven't done the math yet, so this is an honest evaluation.)

CandidateNJ PollElectionDifference









My thoughts:

  • Looking at it, the News Journal was off for just about everybody, which should be expected considering they let people say they were undecided. One of the fundamental rules of polling is push the respondent to make a choice as this gives you a much more reflective sample of the voting preferences.
  • In every case, excepting President which we'll attribute to sample error, the poll grossly overestimated the eventual margin of the winner. This is partly due the earliness of the poll. (It was released in 9/28 and conducted 9/22-25.) Many people are still not engaged in the political process at this point and haven't made up their minds. This point is supported by the accuracy of the Presidential race: people knew early who they were voting for in that race.
In my opinion, the News-Journal did a disservice with this poll. In the first place, the methodology of the poll gives meaningless results so it was a waste of money. Second, people looking quickly at the numbers could have decided the races were over harming candidates with a chance to win. I'm not saying this poll cost Lee the race, but in a campaign where he was running against tough odds, this certainly didn't help. It showed him over 16 points down when he really only lost by 5. Much of that difference was made up due to Ruth Ann being a bad candidate who had things going against her. (Prison attacks, etc.) But no one believed the race was actually that far apart, and printing that it was could have had a demoralizing effect on potential Lee voters.

If the News-Journal is going to continue to do these sort of polls in the future, they should be more careful about how they do so. The News Journal should make sure their polls accurately reflect the landscape (which this didn't) without unnecessarily impacting it.

And to be honest, should they really be doing polls anyway? Just report what happens, don't run polls which usually just support the front-runner.

"Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no ambition corrupt thee, no example sway thee, no persuasion move thee to do anything which thou knowest to be evil; so thou shalt live jollily, for a good conscience is a continual Christmas." --Benjamin Franklin

"The Incarnation...illuminates and orders all other phenomena, explains both our laughter and our logic, our fear of the dead and our knowledge that it is somehow good to die, and which at one stroke covers what multitudes of separate theories will hardly cover for us if this is rejected." --C.S. Lewis

The dogmatism of science has become a new orthodoxy, disseminated by the Media and a State educational system with a thoroughness and subtlety far exceeding anything of the kind achieved by the Inquisition; to the point that to believe today in a miraculous happening like the Virgin Birth is to appear a kind of imbecile...." --Malcolm Muggeridge

What Christians Should Get Out of Christmas
For us, God has a face, and we can say "You" to him. Moreover, he has a Son, because his love is not sterile, but dynamic and creative. Therefore, if the fact of being able to establish an I-You relationship with God distinguishes biblical Revelation in an unfathomable way from the Koran, much more so does the fatherhood of God!
In addition to gifts, affection for parents, friends and neighbors, for me it is part of Christmas to become ever more like Christ, born as our brother. Listening to the Word of God, prayer, the sacrament of penance and the celebration of the Eucharist help us to make this feast an event of Christian faith.

It's Available for Pre-Ordering!
I already ordered Harry Potter Book 6!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Proposals for the Seminary Visitation
These proposals make a lot of sense.

Pope loosens up saints' miracle clause - (United Press International)
He's apparently dropping the requirements for posthumous miracles. I have mixed emotions about this.

On the one hand, any acknowledgement of sainthood by the Pope is infallible, so we don't have to worry about making a "mistake." But this could make it too easy to canonize individuals. To steal a phrase from baseball debates, I'm for a "small Hall of Fame."

On the other hand, they know a lot more about this than I do, so I'll trust their judgment.

Link via A Saintly Salmagundi.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Joseph: A Man Who Walked by Faith
Another good article on St. Joseph.

Denying Holy Communion: A Case History
According to the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts in that Council's June 24, 2000 Declaration on the question, "Should a priest deny Communion to a Catholic who is an obstinate public sinner?" the answer is "Yes." The reason cited by the Pontifical Council is, "In effect, the reception of the body of Christ when one is publicly unworthy constitutes an objective harm to the ecclesial communion: it is a behavior that affects the rights of the Church and of all the faithful to live in accord with the exigencies of that communion." (no. 1).
From a Bishop who has denied Communion to a pro-abortion Catholic politician.

The Active Silence of Saint Joseph
Good article about the sacrifices St. Joseph made to raise Jesus and how much faith it took in God.

Women's Great Liberator
Too much good stuff to quote anything in particular, but the theme is "The Catholic Church: The Greatest Force for Women's Right in World History."

Generic Names for Soft Drinks By County
This is really interesting to me. Looks like if you use "soda," you're likely a Blue State."Coke" or "pop" means Red State.

New Castle County is naturally very much "soda" territory.

Link via The Corner.

"It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe." --Massachusetts Bill of Rights, Part the First

"A fairly new tactic in the Christmas wars can be called the sensitive person's veto. In 2000, the city of Eugene, Ore., banned Christmas trees on public property, then allowed firefighters to put up a tree on Christmas Eve and Christmas, with the provision that if one person objected, the tree had to come down. The next year, Kensington, Md., banned Santa Claus from a tree-lighting ceremony because of two complaints. So the city's most sensitive person was, in effect, allowed to make policy. The sensitivity argument -- that any reference to Christmas at all might make someone feel bad -- is responsible for the spread of the anti-Christmas campaign from religious symbols to the purely secular and harmless trappings of the season, including red poinsettias, red-and-green cookies, holiday lights, and Rudolph the reindeer. Santa Claus, originally based on a Christian saint but no more religious than Kermit the Frog, is considered much too divisive and hurtful to non-Christian students in many schools." --John Leo

"[T]he real message of Christmas is not the gifts that we give to each other. Rather, it is a reminder of the gift that God has given to each of us. It is the only gift that truly keeps on giving." --Greg Laurie

"Meaning no disrespect to the religious convictions of others, I still can't help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that he lived and that he was put to death by crucifixion. Where...is the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time -- possibly to your own hometown. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father's shop. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father's shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside, walking from place to place, preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister. He never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most. He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal, so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing --
the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place for him so he is interred in a borrowed tomb. End of story? No, this uneducated, propertyless young man who...left no written word has, for 2,000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals; all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived -- all of them put together. How do we explain that? ...[U]nless he really was what he said he was." --Ronald Reagan

"Christmas is not my holiday. For a practicing Jew, the twenty-fifth of December is no more significant than the twenty-fifth of any other month. But I enjoy the Christmas season a great deal. I appreciate the spirit of generosity and the reflection on religious themes that the holiday engenders, and I love the mood, the music, and even the decorations. Many Jews and other non-Christians may feel a bit 'out of it' during the Christmas season, but I have absolutely no problem with such a feeling. ... Moreover, I enjoy observing Christians celebrate their Christianity. For a Jew rooted in Judaism, Christians rooted in their identity are a blessing, not a problem. ... What this Jew does dread is an America that ceases to celebrate Christmas." --Dennis Prager

Herald.com | 12/19/2004 | Man's best friend is always ready
Great article by Dave Barry on why dogs rule.

Link via The Corner.

Afternoon Delight
I had complained earlier (although apparently not on the blog) that Arrested Development had declined a little this year. After watching it the past few weeks and especially last night, I can definitely say that it's back.

The whole episode was great, especially their use of "Afternoon Delight." It's so funny to me how many ways they come up with to make incest jokes. The handling Michael and Maeby's duet was good, but the best was Tobias' comments during George Michael and Lindsay's duet: "That's my wife and my nephew.... We have an open relationship."

Such a good show. If you aren't watching it, start.

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