Monday, January 30, 2006

Cindy Sheehan has gone too far

It's official. Cindy Sheehan is no longer a grieving mother who lost her son in war. She is no longer a mere puppet of the anti-war left. She is officially working againist the United States. Sitting arm in arm with an anti-US dictator who has declared "down with the US Empire," she has proven to be more than just a vocal pacifist. She is working with a man that, if he had his way, would wipe the US off the map. She's aligning herself with Fidel Castro.
Shame on her for propping up a dictator that is destroying his own country. Shame on her for stomping on her sons grave and using it to launch her own warped career. She actually thinks she can run for senator? I'd like to see her go head-to-head with Dennis Miller (where has he gone anyway?).
This woman has become treasonous. Her actions remind me of Senators Kerry and Harkin meeting with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega during the mid 80s, a time when he and his Sandanista henchmen were enemies of the country. I don't like to throw the "treason" bomb out too often for the risk of sounding like a lunatic. But this woman is now working with an avowed enemy of the US, so I find her guilty through association.
What's worse is this woman has proven to be to be an intellectual lightweight. Her ramblings make no sense and the fact that people have lined up in support for her is amazing. It's apparent that she is an unstable individual who belongs in a straight jacket, not on a radio show.
At the same time, seeing her act this way isn't a big surprise. I'm sure meeting with a left wing thug hell bent on American destruction is simply her way of exercising the 1st amendment. That's probably what Harry Belafonte would say. Then again, she's not on American soil, so does it apply to her (any lawyers out there)?
She might as well fly to Iraq and spit in the face of every brave soldier, marine, airman and sailor and call them baby killers, if she hasn't already. Culturally speaking, she is the official face of the anti-war left. Call her the modern day Jane Fonda without the good looks. (politically speaking, I'd say Ted Kennedy is the main man on the left, he's certainly their biggest bomb thrower).
It's getting to the point where you can't simply laugh at these people. You can't just keep them out of office. You can't call them peaceniks and blow off their crazed ideology. They don't have a simple disagreement on policy with the Bush administration. From the media hacks to Ward Churchill to Cindy Sheehan to Jimmy Carter, they are no longer conscientious objectors. These left wingers are siding with the enemy and are actively working towards the decimation of the United States.

Cultural imperialism

With all of the fun coming out of the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections, I have to ask, is there any greater cultural imperialistic force than militant Islam? When hard core leftists complain of American cultural imperialism, they are talking about the fact that people in Singapore and France choose to eat a hamburger at McDonald's or drink a Coke. This is an affront and mortal danger to these cultures, apparently (never mind that cultures have been sharing with each other since time immemoriam). Really what it boils down to is that people of that mindset believe that western aka white culture is a pollutant upon the pure, noble savage brown culture. I don't think this way or use this language, but one hears it all the time from the true-believers on the left.
However, one never hears the same charges leveled against Islam. Why is that? Is it because they are non-whites? I don't know. All I do know is that before the advent of Islam, there were thriving Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Pagan, Hindu and Buddhist peoples all over what is now the Dar-ar-Islam intermingling, often fighting, but not attempting to abolish each other. Now, there is a pretty monolithic culture under the banner of Islam. True, there are many differences between an Afghani and a Jordanian, not to mention a Sunni or Shia, but there are nearly no minority religions or belief systems (often they are out and out illegal. See Saudi Arabia) and no fundamental differences in the system by which society is organized. The more Islamic a state is, the more homogeneous it tends to be. This is because the more hard line Islamic preaching allows no derivation from the Qur'an, hadith and sunna, and this preaching encompasses an entire organizational structure for a society. Local cultures often get swallowed up as hard core Islam sees absolutely no worth in a culture that existed before the conversion to Islam (pre-existing history is referred to as a time of darkness or ignorance).
However, human culture is a pretty lively thing, and Islam can only maintain that iron-clad cultural hegemony through extreme cultural pressure or violence. Local derivations in cultures developed despite Islam. I am not saying that Muslims are incapable of valuing a diverse and pluralistic society, only that hard-core Islam and the practice of jihad destroys all that stands in its path in such a profound and overwhelming manner that Hollywood and McDonald's are pathetic pikers in comparison. It is time that our college professors and hard core leftists who think that a cheeseburger will destroy mankind's wonderful diversity come to grips with this salient fact.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Fascism in Real Estate

Today I went to a continued education class for real estate. I worked as a realtor, didn't like the job, but I'm going into referral mode so that if I refer someone to a realtor and they close a deal, I get a cut from the commission. Even to go into "referral mode," I have to take 12 hours of continued education every other year. It amounts to 4 classes that are all 3 hours in length.
The class I took today was particularly disturbing. We were talking about Federal Fair Housing laws and it is unbelievable what realtors, builders, developers, landlords and other real estate pros can get in trouble for, all in the name of HUD fighting discrimination.
Let's start with advertising. You can't mention if a home is near a church, synagogue, temple, for it could be viewed as imposing religion. You can't use words like "empty nesters" because that could be considered steering (sending people towards or away from a certain area). Real estate professionals can get in trouble if they talk about the ethnicity of an area, the crime rate, or the school districts. You can't tell a potential buyer whether a school district is good or not. All these examples could be taken as discrimination and could result in punishment.
Imagine this scenario. A realtor takes a couple to a nice part of town and doesn't lock his car. Then he takes the couple to a rougher part of town and he locks his car. That realtor could be in violation of Federal Fair Housing Rules.
Say a builder is developing a subdivision. In the past, some builders would post pictures of people that live in the new development so potential buyers could see who's living in the area. You can't do that anymore, it could be discriminatory. Those are just a few regulation examples and there are hundreds more.
What's worse is that the government actually sends "testers" to see if realtors, in particular, are violating rules. They can pop into real estate offices, call real estate offices, show up at open houses, and even disguise themselves as a possible buyer just to see if any violations are being committed. In fact, they can go as far as writing a sales contract on a house. So potentially, a "tester" could have you show them numerous houses and get the realtor thinking that they're working for a client. In the end, they're being monitored to see if any act of discrimination has been committed. Plus, that realtor won't get paid, since they don't make a dime unless a deal closes, and they've wasted time that could have spent with a person that actually was looking for a house.
This type of government intervention is pure fascism. It's not running real estate but it's essentially telling the industry what it can and can't do. Realtors, if they commit enough violations, can face a first-time fine of $10,000, the $25,000 for a second offense, third time, you lose your license and you're out of business. They have to build up a fair amount of evidence against you but the fact that government officials are tracking your business is rather daunting.
Now I understand that discrimination occurs too much and I don't condone it in any way, shape or form. It's a sad fact of life that there are racist, sexist people out there and this type of behavior is inexcusable.
Unfortunately, like in so many industries, people turn to the government to solve their problems. And doing what it does best, the federal government abuses that power. The extent of their involvement in real estate is staggering, downright frightening, and simply wrong. Real estate pros have to watch every little word they say or they may have HUD, and in some cases the Justice Department, coming after them.
I'm curious if anyone in real estate has ever sued the federal government for meddling in their business. This type of intervention is absolutely uncalled for and makes me realize how much power the federal government has over business.

I love Denmark (and have before this)

Denmark, that small country perpetually menaced by the rest of Europe and now militant Muslims has taken a stand for freedom of expression. Though I see no real purpose in the cartoons, I do stand by their decision to do so. Good for this scrappy, tolerant country which happens to be the most pro-American country in Europe, especially old Europe. I'll write more on my love of this country later. In the meantime, check out this link to support them.

mandatory drug testing at CBC

I fail to see how this is even a debatable issue.

CBC is a private, Catholic high school here in St. Louis and has every right in the world to set the parameters under which one can attend. Heck, I think public schools should be able to do this. One of the comments by a former student if he wonders if some of the teachers could have passed it in the 70's is a non-factual ad hominem. Furthermore, hypocrisy does not neccessarily make one right. I could kill a man and claim murder is wrong. The fact that I am a hypocrite doesn't all of a sudden make murder right.
For the record, I'm not a huge fan of drug laws. I personally think that a free adult should be able to treat their body the way they way (the old libertarian in me), but I also have seen the corrosive effects drugs have on people and society. I still don't know what is the proper balance between what is proper for the individual and society in regards to drugs.
But, the school feels that drugs are to the detriment of a student (not to mention illegal) and I don't think that any cries of infringment of privacy are valid. They are not prying into every aspect of your life, just a targeted measure to see if you are staying away from a potentially devastating practice.
Finally, for full disclosure, I coach a high school rugby team which has some CBC students on it. We receive no money and have no official offiliation with the school. In other words, I have written this out of personal conviction, not under any pressure or perceived pressure from the school. I talked about it briefly with some of my boys yesterday after a game and I told them what I know to be true when they asked me if I did drugs. I told them that drugs make you stupid and can destroy your personality where all you become is that guy who does drugs. I've seen it happen to many former friends and acquaintences. It is depressing to watch and I say good for CBC for taking a total interest in the development of their students.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Jimmy Carter...sigh

Is there any more pathetic sight in the world than Jimmy Carter and his media sychophants? See this article and laugh away.

"America's most beloved ex-president?!" The only thing beloved about Jimmy Carter is the fact that he is an ex and not a current president. They actually used the word "sanctify" in relation to his certifying the Palestinian election. Sanctified!!! Yes, this was a blessed event which the Lord came down upon the heavens and spoke through his most holy messenger Jimmy Carter. Please. We are cleaning up his mess from 1979 and will be for a long time. Really, is there any socialist or non-western thug whose rigged election he won't certify? Thank you President Carter for certifying Chavez under a fraudulent election. Thank you for "sanctifying" this absolute travesty. It speaks volumes when one can honestly state that President Clinton now acts with more class and decorum as a former president than Carter. Please, do the US, the long suffering peoples of oppressive regimes and the whole world a favor and just go away. Your arrogant naivete is killing people and helping nudge the world towards insanity.

Friday, January 27, 2006

thank you, Joel Stein

I want to go on the record for saying that this article,0,4137172.column?coll=la-news-comment-opinions by Joel Stein, which smacks of desperately wanting to get some attention, any attention, gets my full support. I am sick of people who think that our troops are either braindead children or testosterone filled baby killers saying through clenched teeth that they support our troops. It is political expedience and pandering at its worse. It results in Hillary's hilarious attempts to sound like a hawk over such non-issues as the body armor incident.
If you don't support the troops and what they do, say so and let us decide in the ballot box. And the old trope that "I support the troops, I want to bring them home" is enormously childlish. They consciously and intentionally put themselves in harm's way for the protection of society, so that society itself does not have to endure the hardships soldiers willfully take upon themselves. I would love to have all of the troops home forever, but reality dictates that they need be out in the world fighting and dying. It's a horrible fact, but soldiers enter into their service with their eyes wide-open.
There are many aspects of this war with which I don't agree, but the troops need to be allowed to finish their mission. Many more will die, but at least Joel Stein has made it clear who honors their death and who does not.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Iran's President is nuts

I shudder to call this man a president, he's certifiable. One day he's threatening us, the next Europe, and he's always talking of annihilating Israel.
So how do we deal with him? Is troop deployment necessary? It's tougher to invade a nation with 150 millions people than a country like Iraq which has 25 mill. Do we send aid to Ayatollah rebels like we aided Afghanistan in the 80s? The people of Iran are young and pro-Western, so it's in my hope that the people will overthrow their government.
When you can get a man like Jacques Chirac to threaten with nuclear weapons, you know the situation is serious.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My nephew Houston

Here's a pic of my nephew Houston, he's a great little guy. Just kind of hangs out, doesn't cry much, hopefully when he grows up he'll be as cool as Uncle Mike.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dr. Jack Wheeler

Check out one of the websites for the man credited with creating the Reagan doctrine. This is the man dubbed "the real life Indiana Jones." I hadn't heard about this guy until recently, when I saw an old letter advertising his financial services. The guy has lived a thousand lives in his time on earth and continues writing to this day. Many of you may have heard of him already but I'm just now getting his story and the guy is an absolute renaissance. What other person has helped in anti-communist movements, lived in numerous tribes and hunted a tiger that had killed 20 tribesman? This guys stories are absolutely fascinating and I feel fortunate to have found out about him. I've had the chance to read a few of his articles and his hard hitting. He certainly has no time to listen to liberal babbling and really gets to the heart of matters. I can't wait to find out more about this guy.

Those Wild 80s

Today was a nice lazy day spent watching football and VH1's I Love the 80s, 1982-1986. What can you say about that decade? I was a child during that time, my earliest memory only goes back as far as 1984, but what a strange time in out history, at least from a pop culture standpoint. The big hair, the leg warmers, everything about fashion back then was completely over the top. From TJ Hooker to Dynasty, GI Joe to Inspector Gadget, that decade had it all.
The notable commentators on these specials were Michael Ian Black and Hal Sparks. It's easy feasting when you're making fun of the 80s but these two in particular were hilarious. I mean, Don Johnson thought he could sing back then?
People were making fun of the 80s before they were even over. It's been a decade since the 90s and I just don't see the humor from that era. Perhaps people were too self-conscious, or too aware back then. But I love watching those old 80s specials. For me, they're pretty nostalgic, since I was a kid back then. And looking back on the fashion, we've certainly come a long way.
I'm curious how the state of the world influenced pop culture. With Reagan and a hawkish administration, there was plenty of patriotism and a renewed sense of hope running in the air. From the anti-communist campaigns in Nicuagra and El Salvador, to the eventual collapse of the Berlin Wall, it was a monumental decade, a time that saw America become great again. These were troubling times, uncertain how the Cold War would end up, but at the same time, pop culture was so over the top, I just know there has to be a connection between the two.
Obviously cartoons like GI Joe and movies like Red Dawn were reminiscent of what was happening at the time. Definitely had that America kicks butt feel to it. But there was no war at the time, so the peaceniks had nothing to rally around (they were busy actually working), though they showed up to protest the potential of war when Reagan deployed missiles into Europe. But no major combat.
I'm just trying to figure out if there was somehow a connection between the political climate of the times and the ridiculous pop culture climate, with bands like the Thompson Twins Wang Chung. Perhaps this was just a period of bad song writing, not everyone necessarily is motivated by politics, though there were exceptions in people like Bruce Springsteen.
Anyways, if you are in the mood for mindless fun, watch reruns of I Love the 80s, they are hilarious.

a major pet peeve

You know what pisses me off? English muffins. It's no surprise that England's economy is falling in the crapper when they are too lazy to cut their muffins all the way through. Come on guys, do your job right.

taken some time off

I know that perhaps millions of you have been asking "where are JRMuller's comments?" Well, I just took a week off. Been a hellishly busy week and didn't have a spare second to think about this blog. Thoughts as deep as mine take time. So for all you starved for my wit, wisdom and wimsy, I have returned.

Friday, January 20, 2006

She's at it again

The more Hillary talks, the more she guarantees the Republicans retain the White House in '08. Keep it up Hillary, you know how shrillness has helped the Democrats in the last 3 elections.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Real Hillary

I love when Hillary Clinton shows her true face. Her latest diatribe wasn't as good as the shrill "I am sick and tired speech," that was Algoresque, but wow, I love when her true side comes out. I must give the woman credit. For the most part she has been a shrewd politician. She hasn't swayed too far left on abortion (on the outside), she sided with John Kerry and John Edwards by voting in favor of the war in Iraq and since then she's acted like she's pro-military (despite it's decimation by her husband). The likes of Howard Dean and Ted Kennedy have been the main character assassins for the left while Hillary has been as relevant as, oh, Barack Obama. She's doing a good job of posturing but when she has slipups like today, it's obvious that she doesn't have the political skills of her husband. Wonder if by the 2008 elections her college thesis will be circulating around the internet.,0,5641976.story?coll=ny-homepage-bigpix2005&track=mostemailedlink&vote19737754=1

Monday, January 16, 2006

Happy MLK day

Happy MLK day (as the title suggests). I don't have anything novel to say about this great man other than we should all take his message to heart and try to live up to the ideals of this country. Whatever that means to you, great. I think I have espoused mine and don't feel the need to beat one about the face and neck with them. I will say that "Reason" magazine (a mag of which I am pretty much a big fan) makes an oblique comparison between Al Qaeda and MLK.

Have we lost all nuanced thinking that we cannot make distinction between proper govt. surveillance an improper? Is all surveillance inherently improper? Some would say yes. Monitoring and harassing King was asinine, to do so to the Black Panthers or the Aryan Youth, not as asinine. I would love to call myself a libertarian, but I cannot defend total absolutes in a world defined by grays. I don't know where that leaves me, as far as labeling goes. I guess I'm left with being a Constitutional 19th cent. Classical Liberal. Not very catchy.
Just remember, even though King was right to use his tactics in the US, where he knew that people's good will and decency would win out, he wasn't right to think that the same tactics of love and non-violence would do anything in Vietnam. He isn't infallible, but the right man at the right time. Pacifism is the easiest and most simplistic way to be self-righteous. Well, I've prattled enough, especially considering I just wanted to remember one of America's great men.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

funniest web site in the world... unintentionally

P.J. O'Rourke is right, earnestness is stupidity sent to college. Check out this website with the litany of lefty heroes, although people such as John Stuart Mill and Thomas Jefferson really don't belong there. Any website that places General Marshall with Paul Robeson together clearly doesn't have a clue about the world and for what people stood. Plus, everybody's favorite genocide in Cambodia and Soviet apologist, Noam Chomsky is there as well. It's so sad and predictable, but really worth a laugh. The terrible portraits make it even better. I think one could find more artistic skill at one of those $5 caricaturists at the mall.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

if hollywood were real

After watching the (dare I say it) grossly overrated "wedding crashers" last weekend, it led me to think about what the US would be like if hollywood were true. These are just sociological observations, mind you, and horror movies don't apply because horror movies occupy their own little, disfunctional world. Here goes.

1) Every 2.5 kids in the yard, suburban family would have a gay son. There isn't anything wrong with being gay, but it's becoming a hollywood cliche' that if you want a family conflict, throw in a gay son. It's similar to the practice that if hollywood can't think of a bad guy, the default character is always a Nazi or neo-Nazi. It's lazy.
2) Every Southerner is bigoted and stupid, except the benighted few who are homey, hospitality dripping, easy-going folks. They are all sculptors and read Yeats in their free time. Nary a doctor or engineer is to be found in the south. Most of them live in trailers and hate black people. Oh, and they love football and usually beat up their wives while drinking corn whiskey.
3) The Midwest doesn't exist and only cowboys exist in Texas and the mountain states. Chicago exists, but it floats in another world detached from it's actual geographic mooring, somewhere between Boston and Manhattan.
4) The drug dealer in high school is always the smartest kid in school. He is just rebelling because his parents neglect him. He would do extremely well if he just tried. What a waste.
5) All athletes, especially football players are stupid and testosterone blinded cretins. If given a chance they will beat their girlfriends while drinking corn whiskey.
6) True wisdom can only come from a victimized minority member. How to make money illegally in business (in hollywood movies, that phrase is redundant) can only come from a fat, old white guy, preferably bald.
7)The English are the worst people in the world, well, behind the Nazis, but only slightly. Since there aren't many neo-Nazis running around these days, if you need a sadistic criminal mastermind, find a Limey.
8) Disaffected people, especially older disaffected people (which is everybody in the United States who resides in the suburbs) smoke pot. However, they do not listen to the Allman brothers when doing so.
9) College students are either hyper-intellectualized over-achievers who read Noam Chomsky or total drunk slackers whose monosyllabic vocabulary and stylized grunts can somehow effect communication between tow members. College girls never drink and, if they do, they get wasted and end up naked with a complete sleazeball. A month later they have an abortion and don't feel bad at all about it.
10) As stated before, the suburbs are vast wastelands of conformity and social repression where braindead sloths with intellectual levels barely above cavemen slouch to their stultifying, polluting work every day only to return to their cheating with the pool-boy, pill-popping, slightly resentful wives and spiteful children. They can only be saved by a trip to Manhattan (my God, not Queens! Football fans live there!), the slums of some random city or the Southwest.

That's about it. There are plenty more, but my head hurts and I need to watch "Revenge of the Co-ed Cannibals 2".

Monday, January 09, 2006

I second that notion

It's men like Joes friend Hunt that make this proud country the greatest place on earth. A heartfelt thank you to all soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors serving abroad and on US soil. Without you, this great experiment of democracy (which includes the blogosphere) would not be possible. You are remarkable and we are indebted to your service.

congrats and heartfelt thanks.

My friend from college, 1Lt. Hunt Holton is returning from a tour in Iraq. I am trying to contact him for a few words about his experience. He has been sending group e-mails, but I consider those private correspondences and would never print them without his approval. There are some funny, tragic, moving and depressing stories within them. He signed up after 9/11 and has done us all proud. Plus, he drives a tank now. Much cooler than anything I have. Thank you again and we're glad you are home safely.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

rambling thoughts.

Jeff Goldstein has some great thoughts concerning post-modern media and the truth at He's another must read writer. I don't agree with him all the time, but he always is thought provoking.

btw, I got "Interior Desecrations" for my g/f for Christmas and it is hilarious. Tears were streaming down my face. My mother, who bought her first house in the 70's was exclaiming that she had done some of the same things and wondering how she couldn't have been on drugs.

Super-smokers in St. Louis is shutting down. Classic case of a company trying to franchise too fast. When will people allow a company time to grow instead of rushing head long into placing one inside every Dierbergs in town? Another big problem for them was they completely neglected the entire city and the 40 belt within 270. Quite a few hungry people. Another thing, their resteraunts were kind of tacky. They never had the classy sit down joint in a classy area, or at least an interesting area like one finds in KC. All that being said, it's a terrible day for St. Louis BBQ. It really was awesome BBQ which did us proud. There are still great little places around town, (Richard's Ribs in Kirkwood is probably my favorite now), but now we dont' have a place that travels around the country and getting the word out that St. Louis is the equal of Memphis, KC and Texas when it comes to BBQ. Sigh.

Friday, January 06, 2006

wow, I'm reading about HTML coding

I think I have gone totally insane. I'm currently reading about different HTML codes, experimenting with the look of this site, it's amazing how changing one number or letter can change the look of the site. Tags, metatags, I'm getting goosebumps. I'd like to start loading pictures and other things to give this site more authenticity. I mean honestly, wouldn't you rather hear about web coding than listening to Joes political rants day after day? Can I get a show of hands? That's what I thought, it's unanimous.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

this guy is more educated in western civ than 95% of our university professors

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Judge Alito

Looks like Judge Alito is the man for the Supreme Court afterall. It's gonna be tough to filibuster this guy, he has rock solid credentials. Then again, Miguel Estrada was somehow deemed unfit for the appelate court. Hopefully Alito will be as sharp in his hearings as Judge Roberts, that man handled himself like a consumate professional.
Check out the latest on Alito

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

nothing in particular

nothing much upon which to comment today. Some writer from the NYT released a half-baked, 1/3 sourced book that shockingly doesn't like Bush. Yawn. I'm as concerned about personal liberties as the next guy, but 99% of the people commenting on the NSA report don't know the law, don't know exactly what anybody did and don't know how the decisions were made all the way back to President Carter. Yet, it still doesn't stop writers from bloviating that this is the 2nd coming of the 3rd Reich (would that be the 4th Reich?). I still haven't seen an entirely cogent piece about the whole issue and am not holding my breath for one. I don't know about this, so I'm shutting up.

In case anybody is reading this, check out for a great article concerning Russia's sad decline and the consequences for the free world. He's a great writer, though it's really no surprise, since he's originally from Missouri and roots for the Cardinals.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Goodbye Mike Martz

It's official, the Mike Martz era in St Louis is over.
Check out

Personally, I want to thank the man. True, he is arrogant, bullheaded, and his infatuation with the passing made thousands scratch their heads. But think about what the man accomplished while he was here. As offensive cooridinator, he led the Rams to one of the most stunning offenses of all time, capturing a Super Bowl in 2000. When he lost in the Super Bowl two years ago, he was defeated by a team that has since become a dynasty. Say what you will about the Rams not running enough during that game but the Pats are one of the all time great teams. They are a model for winning and greatness. Martz even called them Super Bowl caliber after playing them during the 2001 season. Give credit to Bill Belichek and crew for creating a winning gameplan year after year.
Aside from helping us get to the Super Bowl twice, Martz produced three straight MVPs, won 2 division titles as coach and led us the playoffs four times in six years. It's a feat just to make the playoffs. The football Cardinals made it, what, three times in 30 years?
I know why St Louisans are bitter, and downright hateful, towards Mike Martz. After winning the championship in Jan 2000, there was a feeling in St Louis that winning should be automatic, it was our destiny. When we were defeated in Feb 2002, St Louis was outraged, how could we lose, we're " the greatest show on turf?" St Louisans felt that they were entitled to a championship year after year. So the anger that St Louisans displayed towards Martz has to do with the absurd notion that while we had some winning seasons, we didn't win enough. The NFL is a business structured for teams to go from last to first, then back to last. It's a cutthroat business and anyone that thinks it's easy to produce a winning team year after year is a fool.
So I'm sad to see the man go. I think the time has come for the Rams and Martz to part ways but it's a sad ending. As far as I'm concerned, there was no Rams football in St Louis until Mr Martz came aboard. His poor track record on special teams and the running game may tarnish his legacy a bit but St Louis has never seen so much winning football before and I doubt we'll see it again.

required reading.

Great article (long) from the best editorialist in the world in the best cultural rag around.


Saw King Kong last night. I must say that I quite enjoyed it. It would have been much more enjoyable if there were about a half an hour less of it, but one can overlook this because of the sheer spectacle of the movie. Peter Jackson is one of the best technical directors in the biz with more tricks up his sleeve than Judge Stone of Night Court. His dialogue is pretty lousy and his social commentary trends towards the ham-fisted, but nobody goes to see King Kong for the screen-writers. Michael Kaufmann, this is not. One goes to see this movie to see Kong climb the empire state building, battle dinosaurs and cause general havoc. The action, once it starts is amazing, non-stop, imaginative, terrifying and giddyfying until pretty much the end of the movie. It's an adventure that Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to make.
The movie is truly beautiful to behold and had the audience gasping with delight and amazement. The scene with the leeches gave me a case of the heebie-jeebies of the 10th degree. Those images are burned in my mind, and for that Peter Jackson, I hope you are happy, you sick, sick man. Visually and kinetically, the movie succeeds on all fronts. It doesn't pack quite the emotional wallop that some people said it did, but I was still quite moved when he dies. Not because of the love story, because hell, how is Naomi Watts, who cries and strikes Doe Eyed poses on command, to explain to her parents that she loves a 30 ft. gorilla? But, what is emotionally affecting is that Kong died fighting, full of pride and anger, even though one could tell he was tired of life and tired of fighting. The worst scenes in the movie are those of him shackled and helpless. I suppose we simply have an innate desire to see things of power and agility able to exercise these traits. I don't know why really. I'm not a bleeding heart, all animals should run free, singing "Lesbian sea-gull" kind of guy. See the movie and you'll understand the pathos.
One final note, I can see James Walcott's point about inherent racism in the natives, but only to a certain point. First off, their features seemed to be both Caucasian and African and cartoonish manifestations of them. Furthermore, would it be believable to travel to an island somewhere south of Sumatra in the Pacific Ocean and find an island full of albino Norweigans? It would be silly and we all know it. And one can't remove the natives for then the movie makes no sense. So, I think Jackson attempted to distort them so much and to give them rather ambiguous features that only somebody desperately wanting to find racism in everything Hollywood produces could find it. James Walcott certainly fits that bill.
So, all in all 3.5 stars out of 4.

PS I think Jack Black was pretty good, despite what most people say. It's not easy to pull off a likeable sleazebag and he acquitted himself nicely.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

a few thoughts on religion (no, it's not preachy)

I don't know why I thought about this yesterday while in the midst of celebrating two of my friends' wedding and the New Year, but I tend to get philosophical while seeing a large group of my friends at special occasions. Oh yeah, I'm a load of fun. We'll what I was thinking about is the concept of original sin. I studied Islam and the middle east in college (not as my major, but under the umbrella of a history degree). Islam doesn't acknowledge the concept of original sin and often uses that as a bludgeon against the other Abrahamic faiths. I don't know why they think that recognizing man's inherent imperfect nature is a negative, but that is their perogative. However, I believe that this belief has important consequences for the very Weltenschaung of Islam.
Islam shares a few strange characteristic of Marxism, but most notably the belief in the perfectibility of man (given the right environmental influences). The 18th century French philosopher Democratus is the first philosopher to postulate that if society were properly ordered, men would live in harmony with each other. All that was left to discover was that magic formula. Western philosophy has been overtly or subconsciously influenced by Christianity and the Bible since Constantine's conversion in the 4th century (one can make the case that pre-Christian Western philosophy also believed in in-born fallibility of men. See Prometheus). This philosophic tradition accepted that man was a fallen being, destined to toil, suffering and evil. Marxism and most streams of hard left thought reject this notion and reoriented man's longing for utopia from the after-life to here on earth. That is why Marxism and related strains of thought have led to mass upheavals of the society in which they acquired control. If one can create a perfect world, devoid of pain and longing, then any price to pay is justified. What is the death of one man in comparison to the abrogation of human misery? What is ten? Twenty?
Islam has retained the belief in the afterlife that Marxists reject, but they also believe in the earthy utopia (the best of both worlds). The time of the 7th century (western chronology), during the life of Muhammad and his immediate followers was considered not just a golden period, but as a time blessed with a perfectly ordered society where evil was destroyed and the spread of the armies of God's messenger seemed to bring peace and harmony throughout the world. Muslims still mark this time as the high point in human civilization and the present Wahabi/Salafi goal is the re-establishment of the caliphate and to finish the job that Charles Martel thwarted in 732. The utopian dream rests upon the bedrock of man's malleability and supposed innate desire to do good and live in harmony. The concept of original sin contradicts this belief and, sadly, leaves us with a much more depressing and cynical view of human nature. However, as distressing as this thought may be, history has proven it's veracity without a shadow of a doubt. I am not saying that the story of the Garden of Eden and the Temptation of Eve is true, but merely that the mindset that this story produces is much more realistic, and paradoxically, much more humane than the alternative.
As a final note, I am not saying that the 7th century was not a golden period for Islam and for that part of the world to a large extent. What I am saying is that the utopian dream runs deep within the heart of Islam as well as Marxism and that dream will compel men to do things that contradict their religion, their moral and ethical systems and their very humanity.