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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Chuck Dixon on Leftism's Only-Seeming Triumph

On the Dixonverse Message Board there is often generated a political discussion of some sort. Typically Bill Wiist makes a political post or even Eric Spratling, Josh Elder or myself. Chuck Dixon himself contributes something worthwhile whenever he has something wise or meaningful to add. Something happened and he felt it neccessary to write one of these threads and he titled it with this confession.
I don't usually start political posts.

I was driving into the small town I live near to pick up a pizza for the kids. Salads for me and the missus, thank you.
It's an old town and still has a lively "downtown" despite the new Wal-Mart two miles away. It's also a Republican stronghold.
So, I was a bit taken aback to see three folks standing on the main corner of town wearing signs that read MONEY FOR FOOD NOT BOMBS. They were all three of an age prone more to nostalgia for the 60s (as they remember it) than young firebrands. They stood on the tiny sidewalk (I said it was an OLD town) and were jostled by folks making their way to their cars after work and to the Amish farmers market across the street.
The irony that the original, and most dedicated. anti-war protestors had set up vegetable stands across from these sometimes-hippies was lost on me until I wrote this.
Anyhow, this and other recent events got me to thinking. At either end of my road someone has stenciled “BUSH” in yellow paint at the bottom of the stop signs. (Stop BUSH. Get it? Ha ha ha!) I have a sneaking suspicion who it was and no more free comic books for him! I considered stopping and buying some red spray paint and taking care of business.
But I realize that this loud and vocal Bush-hating will pass. The anti-Bush rhetoric that’s everywhere in the media (except FOX and the unusually generous NPR of late) is reaching fever pitch and we’re JUST hitting the conventions. It could cause one despair. What if someone LISTENS to these One World mental patients? What if America decides to vote as Peter Jennings tells them? What if P Diddy leads an army of empty-headed young morons down to the polls to pull the lever for Johnny Vietnam and Johnny Haircut? Is Michael Moore’s flockumentary (not one of mine. Got it from the WSJ.) actually going to change the course of an election?
This morning I woke up recalling the late 60s. Violent protests against the war. A feeling of distrust and polarization. Racial tension. REAL racial tension not a flight attendant using “eenie meenie miney mo” to seat passengers. And yet, in this atmosphere Richard Nixon was elected president twice, decidedly, over two liberals who were speaking the same language of those protesting in the street. Richard NIXON, for gawd’s sake!
That’s when I recalled that the late 60s protests were as much staged media events as protests are now. They were simply better attended and more focused. More “real time” and less video driven. Despite that they moved the country’s needle not one inch to the left.
We’re in a war now and I think most of America outside of New York and LA knows that this is for real and for keeps. I think they know we’re up against some really bad guys. I think they know that Kerry et al are using this tragedy as political hay with no regard for the message they’re sending to our enemies as well as our troops in the field.
I think America has a lot more in common with the folks heading for the fruit stand or the parking lot than it does with the sign-wearing goofballs standing in their way.


source IP: 4.238.237.232
Posted on July 22, 2004 at 01:06:10 PM by Chuck

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I declare a sabbatical

or roughly speaking this blog is on temporary hiatus until I personally get re-tooled for life.

as it stands I'll post when I feel like it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Ted Kennedy Throws Me Into Homicidal Fits

I can barely remember what he said, but as I was watching his Convention speech I had this overwelming urge to bash his brains to wobbly jelly with a cooking pot.

I know the man is scum. I know that he's responsible for a young lady's tragic death in a car accident (or so the records say). When the President spoke during his State of the Union Address this year he shook his head at the declarations that all improvements to Iraq because of the war were actually improvements. The end to tortures and atrocities? Those are bad things according to Ted Kennedy.

As an aside, I get angered when these Democratic punks pull this "900 soldiers" dead garbage as an argument agains the war or the current Presidential Administration. This is a volunteer army! How many of these heroes are Republicans or the least bit conservative? How many would enjoy their deaths being used as statistics in arguments against what they believe.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Creating Space and Selling Off Videos

Gunfighters of the Old West: The Old West's Most Wanted

Does anyone out there want a tasteful, informative, educational documentary about gunfighter and outlaws and cowboy and such from the Old Western era? Might as well but it from me. It's cheap. It's cheaper than buying it at a garage sale and I guaruntee it's quality. That and it will create some much needed space in my home. Thank you.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

review - Stephen Hawking's Universe

I borrowed this DVD set expecting the program within to be as interesting as Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe program on Nova or Dr. Hawking's A Brief History of Time and while the content within is stuff that I normally find fascinating and none of the material or presentation was beyond my understanding, the presentation of this stuff was boring. This stuff was boring.

There are three DVDs in this set, each DVD containing two episodes of the series as presented on PBS. The first DVD "The Big Bang", contains Progams One and Two. PROGRAM ONE is "Seeing Is Believing" and is merely a history of study, including some overlap with Hawking's own scientific and then-academic career. It's about theory and mathemetics. PROGRAM TWO is the titular episode. "PROGRAM TWO: The Big Bang" covers the origin(s) of the Universe and compares/contrasts that with official church thought historically. The most relevent point is that the universe had a single moment of creation.

Volume 2 "On the Dark Side" presents "PROGRAM THREE: Cosmic Alchemy" and "PROGRAM FOUR: On the Dark Side". The first part covers the question how vast cosmos is birthed from a single point. The question is raised of how energy becomes matter and how matter comes from energy. It goes over the basic elements of old psuedo-science, "fire", "earth", "air", and "water", the basics of gas and solid and liquid, expands into the Periodic Table and even works to Einstein's theory of relativity. I wish it wasn't so dry. "PROGRAM FOUR: On the Dark Side" talks about dark matter. It's largely discussion of gravity where no objects can be observed (without solid objects gravity cannot be generated; gravity requires a source). This exploration of gravity leads to a discussion of a "Big Crunch" as opposed to gradual fade-out of all stellar objects alongside an eternal expansion.

Volume 3 is "Black Holes and Beyond". "Beyond" covers the sixth program although in the fifth program, the titular one, it's a reference to quasars and other stellar objects that are no black holes; that's very convenient. It's just very general as physics as we know it, or believe we know it, tends to become stuff that we know we don't know within black holes. Cosmic anomolies cause cause mysterious phenomena. The last program "An Answer to Everything" is not a reference to Unified Field Theory but to the search for a purpose or a cause to the Big Bang. What started creation? The episode isn't that simple.

The entire production is aggravatingly boring. We get the experts speaking now and again. We have a generic narrator. We have the typical dogmatic approach to theoretical cosmology. The producers and thinkers go over all this material regarding billion-year-timelines and grand cosmic engagements, events, happenings, and matters of creation and primal force and present it in terms of such certainty as if they observed as it happened and knew what they were seeing in a definite way and manner. The truth is that these notions and ideas are conclusions made from observations made today and calculations made from some definitive and some theoretical knowledge. The conclusions are stated and adhered to as religiously as any dogma a priest or pastor in a Christian church ever made of the Lord.

To them it's religious doctrine and they speak of these principles with great faith. For the most part that is just what it is. Belief and dedication to what cannot be seen and in some instances cannot be confirmed for a thousands of years.

Stephen Hawking does not narrate the program (such as he would or could) but for the most part it's obvious that he is the inspiration and possibly the architect of the program. It is all about what he studies. Unfortunately the presentation is much too dry for general public consumption.

Chicken or the Egg: Evolution Makes No Sense To Me

The movie Chicken Run ends with two weasels debating which came first, the chicken or the egg. It obviously is cliche, psuedo-philosophical and silly.

The answer, I believe, is the chicken. The chicken lays the egg and the chicken sits on the egg in order for it to later hatch. From a Christian perspective and a Biblical perspective that really is the only way that makes sense. Even from a maddening secular perspective the egg has to have something set it for hatching. God can make eggs, hundreds of thousands of eggs, but only a diety wanting a major omelet would create that many chicken pre-embryos without roosters to fertilize them or chickens to hatch them.

God created chickens, at least one hen and one rooster out of whatever celestial matter He used for the act(s) of Creation, in order so they may do their business and reproduce in however manner that they are set to do. With one rooster and hen you get more than one egg and from there you get chicklets which eventually become fully formed, grown, and matured chickens (being hens and roosters themselves).

My original notion was that the egg could not have come first and that the question is in its own way stupid and illogical. No one asks which came first, the human or the baby.

(Human eggs only exist in fully-formed humans, go figure).

So the secular perspective is typically evolution.

This track is a funny one. Following from beginning to end we have cells. We have paramecia (single-celled lifeforms that lack brains), then we have multi-cellular lifeforms. We have jellyfish, invertabrates, and trilobytes. We go from trilobytes and invertabrates to fish with spines. From fish came apes from apes came proto-man and from these pre-men we get human beings. At what point does a fish become a man?

It takes a tremendous stretch of imagination to believe or even formulate cells arbitrarily forming actual fish and then fish-forms of some sort, amphibians, to give birth. Somewhere in the cycle something that is expected to lay eggs gives live birth to some other sort of creature. Somewhen long before that something that otherwise should have been created from cellular fission, from splitting apart or budded off, laid an egg and in that object was a new lifeform in sudden question.

I can imagine some critter being really pissed off at finding a baby instead of a critter-ling popping out of its egg. I wonder why it didn't eat it.

This is why evolution doesn't make genuine sense to me. Suddenly something is what it isn't or was what it isn't or it doesn't belong in its original nest.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Lay Your Hammer Down from July 2004 IMPRIMIS

The following speech was delivered on May 8, 2004, on the East Lawn of the Hillsdale campus, at the 152nd Hillsdale College Commencement Exercises.

In 1969 a Stanford University psychologist named Philip Zimbardo set up an experiment. He arranged for two cars to be abandoned – one on the mean streets of the Bronx, New York, the other in an affluent neighborhood near Stanford in Palo Alto, California. The license plates had been removed, and the hoods were left open. Zimbardo wanted to see what would happen to the cars.

In the Bronx, he soon found out. Ten minutes after the car was abandoned, people began stealing parts from it. Within three days the car was stripped. When there was nothing useful left to take, people smashed windows and ripped out upholstery, until the car was trashed.

In Palo Alto, something quite different happened: nothing. For more than a week the car sat there unmolested. Zimbardo was puzzled, but he had a hunch about human nature. To test it, he went out and, in full view of everyone, took a sledgehammer and smashed part of the car. Soon, passersby were taking turns with the hammer, delivering blow after satisfying blow. Within a few hours, the vehicle was resting on its roof, demolished.

At this point, you might be wondering what all this has to do with graduating from Hillsdale. “Why did this man come from Washington to tell us about cars that were abandoned in a psychology experiment 35 years ago?” I promise I’ll try to make that story relevant to this happy occasion.

I know today is special for you because you’re leaving this campus to enter the next phase of your lives. For me, arriving here is a delightful experience. My work in Washington consists largely of grappling with policy issues that boil down to how the federal government spends our tax money. You can’t imagine what a wonderful breath of fresh air it is for me to visit a college that refuses to accept federal funding. This is one of the very few places in America where I truly am away from all of the “inside the Beltway conspiracies” to get more money out of the taxpayers.

But beyond that, as your president has said, this is an “institution that is tied to the principles of the United States.” Hillsdale is indeed a very special place.

But let me now return to those abandoned cars: Among the scholars who took note of Zimbardo’s experiment were two criminologists: James Q. Wilson, who is now the Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University, and George Kelling. The experiment gave rise to their now famous “broken windows” theory of crime, which is illustrated by a common experience: When a broken window in a building is left unrepaired, the rest of the windows are soon broken by vandals.

Why is this? Aside from the fact that it’s fun to break windows, why does the broken window invite further vandalism? Wilson and Kelling say it’s because the broken window sends a signal that no one is in charge here, that breaking more windows costs nothing, that it has no undesirable consequences. The broken window is their metaphor for a whole host of ways that behavioral norms can break down in a community. If one person scrawls graffiti on a wall, others will soon be at it with their spray cans. If one aggressive panhandler begins working a block, others will soon follow. In short, once people begin disregarding the norms that keep order in a community, both order and community unravel, sometimes with astonishing speed.

Police in big cities have dramatically cut crime rates by applying this theory. Rather than concentrate on felonies such as robbery and assault, they aggressively enforce laws against relatively minor offenses – graffiti, public drinking, panhandling, littering.

When order is visibly restored at that level, a signal is sent out: This is a community where behavior does have consequences. If you can’t get away with jumping a turnstile into the subway, you’d better not try armed robbery.

Broken Civility

Now all this is a preface. My topic is not crime on city streets. Rather, I want to speak about incivility in the marketplace of ideas. The broken windows theory is what links the two.

As the head of a think tank in Washington, I work exclusively in the marketplace of ideas. Our job at the Heritage Foundation is to engage in a wide range of public debates about public policy issues. We put forward traditional conservative policy options and ideas with the aim of persuading others to our viewpoint on the whole range of national policies – both international and domestic.

What we’re seeing in the marketplace of ideas today is a disturbing growth of incivility that follows and confirms the broken windows theory. Alas, this breakdown of civil norms is not a failing of either the political left or right exclusively. It spreads across the political spectrum from one end to the other.

A few examples: A liberal writes a book calling Rush Limbaugh a “big fat idiot.” A conservative writes a book calling liberals “useful idiots.” A liberal writes a book titled The Lies of George W. Bush. A conservative writes a book subtitled “Liberal Lies About the American Right.” A liberal publishes a detailed “case for Bush-hatred.” A conservative declares, “Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do.”

Those few examples – and unfortunately there are many, many more – come from elites in the marketplace of ideas. All are highly educated people who write nationally syndicated columns, publish best-selling books, and are hot tickets on radio and television talk shows.

Further down the food chain, lesser lights take up smaller hammers, but they commit even more degrading incivilities. The Internet, with its easy access and worldwide reach, is a breeding ground for Web sites with names like Bushbodycount.com and Toostupidtobepresident.com. This is how the broken windows theory plays out in the marketplace of ideas. If you want to see it working in real time, try the following: Log on to AOL, and go to one of the live chat rooms reserved for political chat. Someone will post a civil comment on some political topic. Almost immediately, someone else will swing the verbal hammer of incivility, and from there the chat degrades into a food fight, with invective and insult as the main course.

This illustrates the first aspect of the broken windows theory, which we saw with the car in Palo Alto. Once someone wields the hammer – once the incivility starts – others will take it as an invitation to join in, and pretty soon there’s no limit to the incivility. And if you watch closely in that chat room, you’ll see something else happening. Watch the screen names of people who make civil comments. Some – a few – will join in the food fight. But most will log off. Their screen names just disappear. They leave because the atmosphere has turned hostile to anything approaching a civil exchange or a real dialogue.

This illustrates the second aspect of the broken windows theory: Once the insults begin flying, many will opt out. Wilson and Kelling describe this response when the visible signs of order deteriorate in a neighborhood:

Many residents will think that crime, especially violent crime, is on the rise, and they will modify their behavior accordingly. They will use the streets less often, and when on the streets will stay apart from their fellows, moving with averted eyes, silent lips, and hurried steps. Don’t get involved. For some residents, this growing atomization will matter little.... But it will matter greatly to other people, whose lives derive meaning and satisfaction from local attachments.... [F]or them, the neighborhood will cease to exist except for a few reliable friends whom they arrange to meet.

The chat room shows us that a similar response occurs when civility breaks down in the marketplace of ideas. Many people withdraw and tune out, regardless of whether the incivility occurs in a chat room, on a talk show, in a newspaper column, in political campaign ads, or on the floor of Congress. This is the real danger of incivility. Our free, self-governing society requires an open exchange of ideas, which in turn requires a certain level of civility rooted in mutual respect for each other’s opinions and viewpoints.

What we see today, I am afraid, is an accelerating competition between the left and the right to see which side can inflict the most damage with the hammer of incivility. Increasingly, those who take part in public debates appear to be exchanging ideas when, in fact, they are trading insults: idiot, liar, moron, traitor.

Civility and Character

Earlier this week I was in London and attended a dinner honoring Lady Margaret Thatcher on the 25th anniversary of her accession to the Prime Ministership of Great Britain. As you know, she is a good friend of Hillsdale College and has visited your campus. She was also a great political leader and has always been a model of civility.

If you want to grasp the nature of civility, try to imagine Lady Thatcher calling someone a “big fat idiot.” You will instantly understand that civility isn’t an accessory one can put on or take off like a scarf. It is inseparable from the character of great leaders.

I also happen to believe that our President, George W. Bush, is a model of civil discourse, and I only wish that everyone else in the political arena would take a lesson from his example.

Incivility is not a social blunder to be compared with using the wrong fork. Rather, it betrays a defect of character. Incivility is dangerous graffiti, regardless of whether it is spray-painted on a subway car or embossed on the title page of a book. The broken windows theory shows us the dangers in both cases.

But those cases aren’t parallel in every way, and in closing I want to call your attention to an important difference. When behavioral norms break down in a community, police can restore order. But when civility breaks down in the marketplace of ideas, the law is powerless to set things right. And properly so: Our right to speak freely – even with incivility, if we choose – is guaranteed by those five glorious words in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law....” And yet, the need for civility has never been greater. Our nation is divided as never before between the left and the right. We are at loggerheads on profoundly important political and social questions. Meanwhile, civilization itself is under barbaric attack from without.

Sadly, too many of us are not rising to these challenges as a democratic people. On the contrary, we’ve seen a 40-year decline in voter participation in national elections. In the last two presidential elections, fewer than half of eligible voters bothered to vote. Rather than helping to reverse this decline, the rising chorus of incivility is driving out citizens of honest intent and encouraging those who trade in jeering and mockery.

Fortunately, this is not the stuff of Hillsdale.

If we are to prevail as a free, self-governing people, we must first govern our tongues and our pens. Restoring civility to public discourse is not an option. It is a necessity.

Who will begin the restoration of civility? I hope you will. Your graduation today is proof that you’re up to the job, and I urge you to take it on as a serious, lifelong commitment.

Graduating senior Jennifer Meyer said today that this college has given her – and all of you – “all that is virtuous in one’s life.” Civility is, I firmly believe, one of those virtues. After four years of study at Hillsdale, you know the difference between attacking a person’s argument and attacking a person’s character. Respect that difference.

Your education here has taught you how to engage in rational debate and either hold your own or lose with grace and civility. Take that lesson with you.

Your professors at Hillsdale have shown you, by their example, that you don’t need the hammer of incivility to make your point. Follow their example. Defend your convictions – those virtues – with all the spirit you can. But do it with all the civility that you ought. As you leave this special place, lay your hammer down.

I wish you Godspeed on your journey through life. Thank you, and congratulations to the Class of 2004.


Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the monthly journal of Hillsdale College (www.hillsdale.edu).

Monday, July 19, 2004

Typical Young Man's Worst Nightmare Comes True

One could barely and at best rarely imagine that this would occur. This was done on purpose! If man fears one more event, then it would be understandable.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Citing the Source of the Controversy and his Falsifying History

"I bet I know which book your prof read" accurately claims Michael Hutchison, regarding the genesis of a notion that gun ownership was rare in early America
If this happened in the last few years, I'll bet your prof had read Michael Bellesiles' "Arming America." He contended that, in almost the exact same words you used above, gun ownership was much rarer than previously thought and thus the second amendment did not guarantee personal ownership of guns as hardly anyone had them. He claimed to have uncovered this through the use of probate, since firearms would (he assumed) be valuable items left to others in wills.

After all his book sales, hype, kudos, awards and honors, it came to light that Bellesiles' had committed a good deal of fraud in making these claims. People trying to validate his research were unable to find the records. He claimed to use records from 19th Century San Francisco, when they had all been destroyed in the Great San Francisco Earthquake. When challenged to provide his proof, he said that all of his notes had been lost in a flood.

As one fact-checker said, the matter that every error is an error in favor of his thesis tends to remove the possibility that this is accidental.

I did read a good response to his book, BEFORE the research data was proven to be falsified, which simply contended that his thesis was wrong. Guns may not have been cheap, but if they weren't mentioned in wills it didn't mean that they didn't exist...simply that guns were an everyday tool to a frontiersman, not a cherished heirloom. I can't find that article, but it's late. *
A summary of the work is here. A more tentative view:
I haven't looked too closely at the colonial firearms controversy, but based on what I know I'm not sure the historian was guilty of deliberate fraud. Few trained historians really cheat. But using obscure primary sources to make estimates that prove this or that is a tricky business. Your sample or methodology can lead you astray, especially if you're determined to find a certain thing from the start. That's why it takes a lot of historians looking at the same kinds of questions to come up with a good overall picture. It's also why people trying to invoke history to make a point should be very careful about citing a single historian's work as proof, and why people should not just read books by historians they personally agree with. **
The truth does matter, according to Mr. Hutchison.
I'm sure there is a big difference between a biased observer and a fraud, and whether Bellesiles is the latter or not may not yet be proven. I haven't been following the controversy that closely.

Citing records that don't actually exist, such as San Francisco city records from an era where the records are gone, or the 100 wills he cited from people who died without wills... well, if you want to argue those are just mistakes, you are free to. ***
from Not From Around Here:
Fraud can be harder to prove or disprove than you might think. Subject almost anybody's work to a powerful enough microscope and you're likely to find things that don't add up. Whether it constitutes fraud or simple mistakes isn't always obvious.

When I was in grad school there was a big controversy regarding an up-and-coming historian who published a book with a somewhat controversial thesis. A historian on the other side of the question had a team of research assistants go over the guy's work with a fine-toothed comb and found quite a few errors. He accused the man of deliberate fraud. The other guy defended himself. Historians argued for years over whether he was a cheat or just mistaken. It ruined his career and he had to leave the profession entirely. Some people still think he was an honestly mistaken scholar who was ruined by a vendetta.

From what I've seen, Bellesiles looks like a typical historical revisionist. Revisionists almost always go too far when they question traditional accounts and interpretations. But they do often raise useful questions and start useful debates. Bellesiles may have been wrong when he tried to say that firearms were rare in colonial America. But the debate he started has caused people to look at the subject more closely and possibly come to a more detailed understanding of it. Even if he cooked the books he might have done a useful service, although that wouldn't excuse it. *
From Chuck Dixon:
Bellesiles wasn't the least bit interested in spawning a healthy debate. He was about pushing his own political beliefs and knew that a book with his "findings" would have a ready audience and lots of support. What he didn't count on was the integrity of historians on both ends of the political spectrum.
There is no silver lining to him putting forth lies in the place of truth. **
If history is what we use to clarify our knowledge of life and know how to improve our future it only harms us, not helps us, to present and/or justify an outlook that runs contrary to actual fact. Lies can shape the future and are not a healthy extension of the past.


source *IP: 66.188.210.248
Posted on July 12, 2004 at 03:42:14 AM
**IP: 129.59.151.117
Posted on July 12, 2004 at 11:47:48 AM by Not From Around Here
***IP: 66.188.210.248
Posted on July 12, 2004 at 06:47:19 PM
*IP: 129.59.151.117
Posted on July 13, 2004 at 10:30:21 AM
**IP: 4.239.90.73
Posted on July 13, 2004 at 04:22:28 PM

Best Stored Cold, Not Served Cold!

Comic book writer Gail Simone started out writing Simpsons titles for Bongo Comics and before that she penned a humor column for Comic Book Resources. Her genesis essentially was the website Women In Refrigerators, which carried the theme that women characters in comic books were disproportionately used as victims of one sort or another. The title is based on the end-fate of the character of Alex, girlfriend of the then-new Green Lantern named Kyle Rayner. She was created to be killed as part of his origin. Anyway she was murdered by a super-villain and the corpse was stuffed into his refrigerator, hence the title. Obviously some damsels never get rescued from distress and their apparent pattern of disaster led to the relevant title. The general theory behind this supposed tendency is about one of misogynist or some other ideas, theories of causal circumstance ranging from hatred of women to plain sadism. The general dogma is that the comic book writers and their fans are primarily creepy and somewhat angry and creepy.

I don't generally agree with these assertions. In fact I strongly disagree with the generalization made from the list of lady victims. Michael Hutchison theory is the most rational to me and in any case the most likely. Oddly it is also the most noble. Mr. Hutchison writes about this in the light of one of his favorite characters, Sue Dibny (wife of Ralph "Elongated Man" Dibny) who was recently murdered in the first act of Identity Crisis.
It was very difficult for me to gauge the first issue, because it was quite moving and well-written... and, of course, it killed off one of my favorite characters and effectively mortally wounded the other, plus it was very hard not to take it on a p ersonal level since it trashed a LOT of great stories I wanted to tell that just won't transfer to any other characters. But after a month I think I can look at it honestly and I want to speak about Gail Simone's whole "Women in Refrigerators" ethos.

Obviously, the "W.I.R." cry went up the day IC #1 hit the stands. For those of you who don't know, the current writer of Birds of Prey gained some fame with her Women in Refrigerators web site which listed dozens and dozens of superheroines who have been killed, assaulted or lost their powers... basically saying that superheroines aren't used for much else except motivation for the men. (Check out the web site sometime.)

I remarked on my web site, Dibny Dirt, how stunned I was that Ralph made it through the dark ages of the early 1990s without some writer knocking off Sue in a lame attempt to make Ralph a dark, violent character (and thus popular for the times).

The thing is, while I do agree that writers resort to killing superheroines far too often, I have to disagree with a lot of the analysis by Gail and the other commentators. It's not primarily because of misogynism, or the sadism of comic book violence, or a fear of strong women. The plot is used because it strikes at the heart of what men cherish most. What's more, superheroes are people of gallantry, like knights of old, and the protection of the fair ladies is a central part of chivalry. But more than a notion, it is a primal part of man's nature: in simple caveman terms, "protect your woman" is a hardwired thought process. Modern ideals about equality, feminism, women not being weaker, etc., is all well and good, but you're not going to breed a basic instinct out of men in a few decades.

It's one of the main reasons I'm against women serving in combat. I know there are tough women capable of doing so, but then male soldiers have to go against every instinct they have in leaving a shrieking female dying of a gut wound. It's hard enough to do that to a man. More likely you'd have guys taking unnecessary risks trying to save her and you'd lose more men to stupid heroics.

Kyle Rayner may have one of the most powerful weapons in the universe, not even vulnerable to the color yellow, but what he loves most can be easily mutilated. Hence the Woman in the Refrigerator.

If we lived in a matriarchal society where superhero comics were aimed at teenage girls instead of boys (okay, there probably wouldn't be superhero comics, but work with me here), there would be TONS of plots about kids, babies, sidekicks and unborn children being placed in danger, killed, or harmed... because women are hardwired to care and protect them.

Thus, I'm not arguing that the plot of killing a dearly loved woman is automatically a wrong thing to do. It's a bit overused, but I think it's a matter of how it's done. Too many good characters have been killed off for cheap effect, such as Katma Tui, Ice, Sarah Essen Gordon and Arisia. I think putting characters like Silver Sorceress on the same list, when she died gloriously and memorably, weakens the argument.

So, what do I think of Sue's death? I think Meltzer is treating her just as a motivational device. After years of getting to know her as a character, the person who died in Identity Crisis is amazingly bland. (Today I picked up DC Comics Presents: Mystery In Space...and as a GUEST in an Adam Strange story by Elliot S! Maggin, I got to see the Sue Dibny I knew: witty and devious.) Sue's lines consist of thanking Alfred for his assistance, a short interior monologue, begging for help over the radio before her brutal murder, and a few cries while being raped. Considering this is the last story she'll ever be in, barring flashbacks and Elseworlds, it's a miserable way to go out.

Crimson Fox and Ice had better deaths... and they didn't have good deaths, but at least they put up a fight and got to show their personality before they died. Sue Dibny was a feisty, imaginative woman who could take care of herself, and she doesn't bear much resemblance to the whimpering victim of Identity Crisis.
We can note the ultimate logic of what Mr. Hutchison is saying. The fact of the matter is that since the age of chivalry heroes have an inherent streak of that quality infused with them. Fans and imagineers of heroism can see their champions as protectors of the weak or the weaker. They defend the helpless. The role of men classically and logically even today is as protectors of our female counterparts. A man protects his wife or his girlfriend. As a matter of history the male became the hero and a sidekick as a matter of consequence is the main hero's lesser. If that sidekick happens to be a woman than her role is primarily a reflection of the hero's or she is there to provide a motivation or an impetus that the hero can react to or for. The lesser is there to be protected ultimately or to fall because of a lack. Either way the supporting character lives to provide a sort of impetus for the main character.

That's all very well and obvious. The other thing that should be obvious and apparently isn't (obvious) is that a woman's death triggers a far different emotional response than a man's death. If a writer wants that particular response then there is only one thing that he can or that he must do. That thing isn't to kill the man.

Men eventually may be expected to sacrifice themselves. Somewhere within public coda it still exists that we do not, will not, and really cannot expect women to make the same sacrifices simply because they do not or should not have to. For many reasons the death of a woman is just more tragic.

On the other hand there are cases where the writer does indeed have an issue with women amounting to hatred, yet I doubt that is a fine descriptor of the tendency.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Historical Q&A re: the Gun Ownership in American Pre-Revolutionary Times

From scatterscribe on the D-verse board
When I took my colonial American History class the professor insisted that most pre-revolutinary Americans didn't have guns. He said they were expensive and it cost money to maintain and the only ones that had them were the militias which were usually kept under lock and key when they weren't training as thoes in power didn't trust the people in the mlitias. He also contended that the second amendment for the right to bear arms was meant for the "well regulated militia" and not the average bumpkin farmer. I grew up in northeast Tennessee and happen to a descendant of said bumpkins, so I had questions.

How much truth is there to this? On the surface and at the time it seems to hold some water especially when I sit here and read the amendment for myself. However, I'm not sure. My one question at the time was that if not everyone had guns, what in heavens name did the settlers do when they came up against a bear in the woods. And now that I'm older, what about all that duelling that the upper society in the colonies practiced? *
Chuck Dixon answered
Was your professor that clown who was drummed out of academia for his less-than-factual history of guns in America? Or maybe this is one of those wishful thinking philosophies the left holds onto so dearly.
The prof I referenced above set oyut to prove the theory that America was not founded with the help of firearms and that their ownership was rare. In going over county records in various communities from the Colonial period into the 19th Century he found the exact opposite to be true. Most homes had at least one rifle or musket. Many had one for each male member of the household. But this conflicted with the author's world view so he ignored any research that didn't fall in line with his thinking. When caught with his facts down he then defended his work. When further challenged by his peers in the history community he claimed to have lost his notes (apparently he didn't own a dog). Finally, he was entirely discredited except by the staunchest members of the lunatic left who don't seem to trade in reality much these days.
Gun ownership was common back in the day. Yes, they were expensive. But they were necessary, particularly to the poor who had no way of scrounging extra meat for the table other than hunting game. And though costly they were less expensive than a horse or cow.
And, yes, militias were well armed. (Visit the governors' house in Williamsburg, VA. The main hall is stocked with hundreds of rifles.) But most men belonged to the militia as the threat of attack from Indians was very real in the original colonies. So, many men were armed by their local government, usually a patron with lots of cash or land.
And their expense would not be enough to keep them from private ownership by an impoverished citizen. Even the poor can scrape up the money for what's important or necessary to them. Drive through any trailer park in Florida. You'll see some mighty fine boats sitting outside many of them. The trailer looks like it's gonna crumble to a pile of dust. But that boat looks showroom new. **
History can all be very logical sometimes.

source *IP: 24.121.43.205
Posted on July 10, 2004 at 09:09:51 PM
**IP: 4.239.207.114
Posted on July 11, 2004 at 11:41:05 AM by Chuck

an anecdote

From the recollections of Chuck Dixon
We had a student teacher in my junior year of high school. I had a great history teacher that year. probably the best teacher I've ever had. he made you work hard and knew his stuff backwards and forwards and strived to make his passion contagious.
Anyhow, this student teacher filled in for him one day and began trotting out some BS received wisdom he'd picked up at college. He stated that there was no difference between the Holocaust and the slavery period in American history.
Well, we had an excellent teacher who taught us to think critcally and so this numbnuts was stunned when we begin arguing with him. And our arguments were cogent and well thought out. Sure, both the Holocaust and slavery were evil but one was about annihilation and the other cold commerce. Slavery, in its time, was accepted and legal. The mass murder of innocents was never either.
One kid, who I swore slept through most of the year, tore this guy a new one.
When backed into a corner and it was obvious we weren't buying his line he accused us all of being rascists. The entire class.
Our teacher returned to the middle of this brouhaha and, once he got the gist of what was going on, ripped into the college kid like Sherman through Georgia.
It was a rare, sweet moment.


source IP: 4.239.201.101
Posted on July 12, 2004 at 11:08:26 AM

Open-Field Tactics in the American Revolution

An interesting fact that I had taken from Chuck Dixon
One quick primer on the importance of guns in American history---
Lots of folks talk about how the colonists won out against the Brits by hiding behind trees and rocks and such. Not so. There were lots of set piece European style battles. The kind the Brits were trained for.But the Americans had two advantages in open field, rank and file fighting.
The first was the rifled barrel. American' firearms had a groove inside the barrel that would spin the ball when fired and give it greater range and accuracy. The Brits had smoothbore muskets that were inferior in accuracy and range. They actually relied more on the bayonet for the real work if killing. The trick for the Americans was to drop as many Brits as they could in the first two volleys and then withdraw out of bayonet range while reloading.
The other major difference is the one hardly anyone talks about. The standard British firing line was three ranks of men. This was to keep up a steady stream of fire to make up for the lack of accuracy. A volley every ten seconds as each rank took twenty to thirty seconds to load a Brown Bess.
The Americans had less men and were forced to form only two ranks so as to spread their front line out and prevent flanking.
This actually provided the rebels with an advantage. Firing into a dense formation of three rows of men made misses nearly impossible. The side of a barn indeed. And with the more powerful Lancaster rifle many balls took out more than one Brit. The British never figured this one out and continued the three rank firing line until, years later, the Duke of Wellington, in studying the tactics of American rebels, decided to try the two rank firing line against Napoleon whose Grand Armee was still on the three rank model. We all know how that turned out.
I had never imagined George Washington ducking around trees and under and over rocks and such. In fact I never heard of him engaging in guerilla tactics or leading such a battle.

source IP: 4.239.207.114 Posted on July 11, 2004 at 11:41:05 AM

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

the attempted Marriage Amendment Disintegrates in and for the Senate

FOXNews.com - Politics - Senate Rejects Bid for Marriage Amendment

It's not something that I didn't predict but I certainly hope that our Party doesn't stop and surrender on this.

It's a war to preserve sacred institutions and defend our language!

Jeopardy's New Million-Dollar-Man

I've been keeping track of this phenomenon for just over three weeks I reckon. The latest Jeopardy Daily Update press release:
(CULVER CITY, CA) July 14, 2004 — Answer: He just broke the million-dollar mark and continues to shatter all JEOPARDY! records. The correct question: Who is Ken Jennings? Yesterday on JEOPARDY!, amiable software developer Ken Jennings from Salt Lake City soared beyond the $1 Million Dollar cash-winning milestone. Jennings’ Tuesday, July 13 episode marked his 30th consecutive appearance, and made the 30-year-old wunderkind a newly minted millionaire, with a whopping total so far of $1,004,960. Quick on the buzzer and well-versed in topics from Rock Music to Opera (“Who is Kurt Cobain?” and “What is Madame Butterfly?” were among his over 1,000 correct responses so far), the champ has steadily averaged over $33,000 per JEOPARDY! episode.
A rule change introduced in the Fall of 2003 lifted JEOPARDY!’s five-day win limit, allowing contestants the opportunity to continue earning winnings as long as they remain victorious. “When we changed the rule, we declared that the Sky’s the Limit for JEOPARDY! Champions, and boy, oh boy, has Ken certainly proven that true,” says JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek.

Jennings grew up attending schools in Seoul, Korea, and Seattle, Washington, as well as in Utah, and graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Computer Science and double major in English. He also spent two years in Spain on a mission for the LDS Church. He currently develops software for CHG Companies, Inc., one of the nation's largest providers of healthcare recruiting and staffing services. Described as “the guy next door with a great personality,” Jennings has become a media darling this summer. Featured in People magazine, on popular morning shows and in late night opening monologues (he recently delivered the famed “Top 10 List” on Late Show with David Letterman), Jennings says he is just as comfortable staying at home with his wife Mindy and playing with their year-and-a-half-old son Dylan and dog Banjo. As well, he cites hiking, writing and watercolor and acrylic painting as treasured pastimes.

The previous JEOPARDY! record-holder, Tom Walsh from Washington, D.C., a former policy advisor to the Senate Finance Committee, won seven shows and earned $184,900 in January 2004.

Just Who is Out of Touch With What?

According to Reuters, today Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards accused Vice President Dick Cheney of being out of touch with real American people.
"I think he is out of touch with the lives of most Americans," said Edwards, a North Carolina senator. "I think as a result of that, it's very hard for him going forward to provide the kind of vision of hope and opportunity that this country is entitled to and needs."

Edwards, who was chosen by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry last week as his running mate, said Cheney had a "dramatically different" view of the world than his own.

"I come from a family where my father worked in a mill in rural North Carolina. I was the first person in my family to be able to go to college," said Edwards, who was a successful trial lawyer before becoming a senator.
At the very best this is a pot calling the kettle black. Nominally I'll say that it's cow calling bull shit. As Josh Elder noted, Edwards' accusation took a lot of stones to make, although I'd wager that he sued for them.

As statements and notions go, this is quite rich, as Edwards has been the one maintaining the idea of there being "two Americas". I'd also be hard-pressed to believe that a prosecuting attorney would have a mindset closer to that of a common man than an oil executive.

I've seen the man's house; he could easily be mistaken for an oil baron; John Edwards is not the common man.

Monday, July 12, 2004

It's Either Adoption or Acknowledgement, I Don't Know

Either way, I am grateful. Apologies Demanded, the wonderous topic-blog, has been added to the list of sites comprising the Monitor Duty Family.

I've been posting on Monitor Duty for some time now; it's likely almost a year since I started. Noting that, AD has likely been a member of the Family for quite a while. The Family is composed of the varios blogs and sites created by and representing some or all of the other staff members and contributors to MD. Now I've been acknowledged in that manner.

So it's official. That should add a few hits a week.

I have for awhile now listed MD on my normal Blog list. Fact is it probably should be put in a seperate and higher priority list, given my own contribution and activities on it. It's not just a place I recomend for reasons of commonality.

So yeah, really, I've been linked to again.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Edwards Doesn't Really Make the Grade

Rather Kerry apparently fudged the minumum requirements to become Vice President. Either that or he lowered the minimum qualifications (which isnt up to him anyway). In addition to that, Senator Edwards might not be as much as an asset for the Kerry Campaign itself, as Mr Kerry apparently initially calculated.

Michael Graham's Michael assertions of Edwards aren't really flattering of the man. Personally I wasn't surprised at Edwards being Kerry's choice, given the man's performance during the last few months. I want this guy less as VP than I want Kerry as President. In my mind you have to earn your dues. There's no way that a man should hold the number two spot if he's just entered the group. Edwards is a one-term Senator; I cannot recall any more. Prior to this single government position he was a trial lawyer. Let me put it this way. No man ever enters a field anew and expect the number one or the number two position to be his second job.

more later