The Bookworm Beat 12/17/14 — Hanging in by the skin of my teeth edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI sometimes wonder if my family’s entered into a secret compact to keep me away from my computer. I’ve gone from having five hours or so to myself every day from Monday to Friday to having perhaps two hours to myself for the entire week.  It’s hard to think sometimes.

Of course, my week’s gone a whole lot better than Sony’s week. It isn’t every day, is it, that a whole studio is forced to cave to blackmail and threats? While I don’t think Sony should have caved (more on that in a minute), I think much of the blame for today’s end game belongs with news outlets that should have assiduously ignored the hacked information.  By paying attention to it, they signaled to every hacker in the world, whether individual, NGO, or government, that hacks can be used to blackmail institutions, because the media will gleefully participate in the hack by disseminating stolen information.

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Tuesday night stuff (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesJust a few quick links I don’t want to leave on the table before I head down to my perpetual motion machine for the rest of the evening.

Earlier today, I bought a Mark Steyn gift certificate to help fund his legal battle against Michael Mann, a man who rejoices under the title of being a scientist, but is in fact a First Amendment terrorist. Not too long after that, I read Dennis Prager’s article about Bryan Stow. Living in the Bay Area, I had heard about Stow, a SF Giants fan beaten almost to death by some L.A. Dodger’s fans. In the intervening years, I hadn’t realized that his injuries were so devastating. I also didn’t know until today that the men who did this to him got off with prison sentences equal to a slap on the hand — sentences that made them smirk happily when handed down. Please consider donating to the Bryan Stow fund. I did, and only regret that I hadn’t done so sooner.

***

When Victor Davis Hanson is good, he’s really, really good. He’s all that in his post about the Bizarro World of Barack Obama’s presidency, in which every manifest failure is presented to Americans as a glowing success. Lincoln famously said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” He was wrong. We live in a P.T. Barnum world, where there’s a sucker born every minute — and they’re all supporting Barack Obama and his administration.

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No link here, just an observation: I was speaking to my fairly apolitical sister about political correctness, education trends, national security, etc. I asked her, “Am I so exercised about this stuff because I’m an old fogey, like the old Yorkshire men famous for beginning each sentence by saying ‘When I were a lad,’ or has the world really gotten weird lately?” She answered, “It’s gotten really weird. The changes are fast and they are strange.”

***

It’s not just that Andrew Malcolm wrote a good article about Barack Obama’s myriad foreign policy failures and the disdain in which this Nobel Prize winner is held around the world. It’s also the side by side photos of presidents Bush and Obama with the Dalai Lama. It makes me steam to think that, probably without exception, the Dalai Lama’s supporters voted for Obama. I’m not a fan of the Dalai Lama who, despite China’s constant depredations against his land, has announced that he’s a Marxist, meaning he’s dumb as a post, but I do admire his steadfast fight for his country’s independence (a fight he apparently carries out so that his country, too, can become a large socialist workers gulag). And yes, that was one of the longest sentences I’ve ever written, but I kept my clauses in nice order.

***

If the name Margalit Fox is familiar to you, it’s because you pay attention to the bylines on New York Times obituaries. In my humble opinion, the New York Times obituary section is the only section in that paper worth reading — and what makes it worthwhile in significant part is Fox’s delightful writing. Knowing what a good writer she is, I didn’t think twice about picking up The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code when I saw that she was the author. My instincts were good. Fox brings to life the decades’ long (and eventually successful) effort to decipher the Linear B writing found at Knossos, home of the many King Minoses and the famous Minotaur. I’m halfway through the book, and am finding it difficult to put it down.

***

If the Thomas Jefferson quotation at Doug Ross’s site is apocryphal, please don’t tell me. I want to believe it’s real. (No, I take that back. Intellectual honesty matters more than wishful thinking.)

***

I’ve never managed to be that thrilled by Sen. Marco Rubio. I think with a bit of time at his back, he’ll be something wonderful, but right now he’s not quite all that — except that is, when it comes to ripping apart old Leftists and their sorry love affair with Cuba. That fire is the promise that he can become a great statesman, although he isn’t one yet.

***

Speaking of statesmen, I’m beginning to put more and more faith in Scott Walker as a serious potential presidential candidate. If the worst that the Democrat attack dogs can come up with about him as that, back in college in the late 1980s, he announced in advance that he was running for student body president, rather than waiting until the official announcement day to do so, the media is going to have to work hard to discredit him. Add the lack of bad stuff to all the major good stuff in Wisconsin, and you’ve got Candidate Squeaky-Clean-and-Principled. Indeed, my only complaint about him will be the fact that he’s younger than I am. How in the world did it happen that I got to be older than the guys running for president? (Obama is only a month younger than I am, so that doesn’t count.)

***

Islamists kill. That’s what they do. And they especially love killing children because, even for psychopaths, soft targets (baby-soft targets) are the best. Or maybe I mean “especially for psychopaths.” Regardless, even as these monsters continue to array themselves in ever greater numbers against the West, our administration announces that it’s going to shrink the Army back to its 1930 size. We saw, of course, how well that worked back in the day.

***

This is what Obamacare is all about (from a son’s WSJ article about Obamacare’s death sentence for his mother):

[T]here is something deeply and incontestably perverse about a law that so distorts and undermines the free activity of individuals that they can no longer buy and sell the goods and services that keep them alive. ObamaCare made my mother’s old plan illegal, and it forced her to buy a new plan that would accelerate her disease and death.

[snip]

The “Affordable” Care Act is a brutal, Procrustean disaster. In principle, it violates the irreducible particularity of human life, and in practice it will cause many individuals to suffer and die. We can do better, and we must.

***

Sultan Knish makes a point that is obvious only in retrospect, after having read his post: just as raw power isn’t concentrated in corporations’ hands but is, instead, concentrated in a centralized government’s hands, so too is wealth concentrated, not in corporations or amongst a wealthy few, but in a centralized, socialized or semi-socialized government’s pocket.

Now I finally know why I never liked him

I never liked the Dalai Lama.  I felt I ought to, but I just didn’t.  Since I’m a bit of a contrarian, I wondered if I disliked him because I was being told to worship at the shrine of his wonderfulness.  Now I’m thinking that I was just picking up on the fact that he’s an idiot:

Midway through the conversation, His Holiness, much to their surprise, told them “as far as socio-political beliefs are concerned, I consider myself a Marxist … But not a Leninist,” he clarified.

With that one sentence, he managed to reduce himself to the level of a guy in Dachau who hates the Nazis but thinks National Socialism is a good idea.  As Bugs Bunny would say, what a maroon.

Dalai Lama — as good and stupid as Gandhi

The Dalai Lama spoke today in Berkeley, and reminded me strongly of Gandhi.  This was Gandhi’s approach to the Nazis, as expressed to the English (who were, you remember, the nation against which he was rebelling):

“I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity.  You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. . . .   If these gentlemen [a word Gandhi apparently used without irony] choose to occupy your homes you will vacate them.  If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them”  (Non-Violence in Peace and War.)

As an interesting historical aside, it appears there was a lot more talk than action behind Gandhi’s non-violence stance, and he seemed to preach it most aggressively to those whom he disliked and who happened to be in the Nazi line of fire.  Nevertheless, he is the standard bearer for the coffee klatch approach to dictatorships, which is that one should just walk into their lair for some peaceful chit-chat, after which everything will be well.

Of course, Hitler walked all over countries (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium) and peoples (Jews, Gypsy’s, homosexuals) who hadn’t done a damn thing to him and who had been strikingly non-violent.  He did it because he could.  Nonviolence against someone determined to be violent works only when you negotiate from a position of peace.  The wagging tail is great when you can back it up with sharp teeth.  Otherwise, you’re just a victim in the making.

Turns out the revered Dalai Lama espouses the same view as Gandhi:

The Dalai Lama told a standing room only crowd of some 7,000 at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on Saturday that peace and nuclear disarmament can be accomplished if only the world’s leaders could talk to one another in a compassionate and understanding way.

The exiled spiritual leader of Buddhist Tibet chose the university where the Free Speech Movement began more than 40 years ago to endorse President Obama’s philosophy of establishing dialogue, even with reviled world leaders.

“We must promote dialogue with full respect and consideration of others’ interests,” said the world’s best known Buddhist as he sat cross-legged in a maroon robe on a cushy chair placed atop a platform covered by a rug, presumably Tibetan.

Unsurprisingly, the DL managed to be exceptionally nasty about George Bush, ostensibly praising him and then slapping him ungraciously across the face:

“As a human being, very nice person,” the Dalai Lama said, “but not, like, a great leader or good politician.”

I think the DL will be surprised when he discovers that Obama’s kissy-face across the table from the Chinese, rather than bringing in a new era of love and sunshine, will see a resurgent China, more determined than ever to stomp on the DL’s beloved Tibet.

The DL also showed himself to be no student of human nature:

“Everybody, including animals, want peace. It is clear,” he said. “Our long-term goal should be a more compassionate humanity.”

So untrue. As studies show, war appears to be hard wired into human beings. (See, for example, Nicholas Wade’s Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors.)  People do want peace, but only on their terms. Also, some people actually crave warfare — the excitement, the power, the volatility, the clarity, etc.

Lucky Chinese. Their avowed enemy, the one who goes around the world opposing them, is an idiot preaching the approach most likely to defeat his own interest.