Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Environmentalism, Less Gore

I don't know about you, but like many folks on the left who suffer from BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) we folks of the center-right run the risk of developing SOGA(Sick Of Gore Affliction). I'll ask you... Had enough of Saint Albert yet? I have. He will, if he hasn't already, single handedly destroy the environmental movement. Despite what you may think I personally think that's a very bad thing.

What Rachel Carson unwittingly let loose in the 1960's with her book "Silent Spring" has had both very good and very bad effects. We - meaning America and the rest of the industrialized world - absolutely needed an ecological awakening. While Carson's book was the catalyst for the greening of America it ultimately led to one of the worst human disasters in the environmental movement's spotted history. The story of DDT and third world malaria is simply tragic and has gone largely untold.

The strides that America and the West have made in cleaning up the air, the water and in developing safer agricultural methods along with (some) successful recycling programs is something to be thankful for. It is awareness that is the biggest success story coming out of the environmental movement. While many people and industries had to be dragged kicking and screaming the often maligned do-gooders did good! But just like a kid who hasn't matured enough to know his limits the hard core greens are trying to take it too far.

Read this fine piece "The Lowdown on Doomsday" from today's Wall Street Journal written by Jonathan Alder. Mr. Alder re-introduces us to Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger authors of the now famous essay "The Death of Environmentalism". Unlike Gore who is jetting around the world preaching environmental apocalypse messrs. Nordhaus and Shellenberger want to replace the Western man is destroying the planet paradigm with a truly progressive one.

FROM Alder's piece:

(they) contend that the environmental movement must throw out its "unexamined assumptions, outdated concepts, and exhausted strategies" in favor of something "imaginative, aspirational, and future-oriented."

...Nordhaus and Shellenberger are anything but nature-scoffing know-nothings. They have worked for environmental organizations for years. Thus there is a certain poignancy to their view that "doomsday discourse" has made the green movement just another liberal interest group. They want environmentalism to have a broader appeal--enough to address major ecological concerns, including global warming. But no one, they contend, is going to demand draconian emission limits--the kind that would actually slow the warming trend--if they bring down the standard of living and interrupt the progress of the economy.

(today's environmentalists) make normal, productive human activity the enemy of nature, as environmentalists implicitly do, is to adopt policies that "constrain human ambition, aspiration and power" instead of finding ways to "unleash and direct them."

Nordhaus and Shellenberger want "an explicitly pro-growth agenda," on the theory that investment, innovation and imagination may ultimately do more to improve the environment than punitive regulation and finger-wagging rhetoric. To stabilize atmospheric carbon levels will take more--much more--than regulation; it will require "unleashing human power, creating a new economy."

Therein lies the key, it is going to be new technology and the power of the human imagination that will push environmentalism forward. To bring us to the end of the fossil fuel age - while addressing the fact that humanity will need to create and use more energy not less - is just not going to happen if Saint Albert gets his way.

I think these two guys and folks like Bjorn Lomborg, who truly have a better environment (with mankind in it) as their prime motivator, are the future of an important movement. The UN, the IPCC and Al Gore have an economically destructive and senseless prescription for what ails us


Saturday, November 24, 2007

REVIEW: Beowulf

I have just a quick review of the new Robert Zemeckis CG animated film "Beowulf".

First let me say this about what I believe this film portends for the future of this kind of movie making. Beowulf is, in my mind, a breakthrough film. Computer generated films have been around for some time now with Pixar and DreamWorks putting out some of the most popular animated films of all time. Up until Beowulf the effect has been, well, animated. With Beowulf one can start to see what they are going to be able to do with the "actors" themselves and not just the supporting background as was done in with King Kong and the Lord of the Ring movies.

The main characters in this film looked a bit plastic and stiff but the animators are really closing in on the natural fluidity of human movement. Facial expression is still a little robotic but has come a long way since "Final Fantasy" of just a few years ago.

The movie itself was pretty exciting and enjoyable in its non-stop action. There are some adult themes and nudity that would not be appropriate for very young children. The story is very, very loosely based on the famous Beowulf and the Grendel poems of classic literature. I must say the final battle between Beowulf, the braggart hero, and the dragon (the spawn of Grendelmom and Beowulf) was just spectacular.

The real downer of the whole experience was the blatant and unnecessary anti-Christian sentiment laced throughout the story. If there was supposed to be some theme or thrust to the portrayal of the weak, sniveling, cowardly and abusive Christian character Unferth it was lost on me. Why Zemeckis wove this thread into this picture can only be known to him and his writers. It only served to sour me on what otherwise was a raucously fun afternoon movie experience with my son.

A few years ago I had a notion that someday in the not too distant future there is going to be software developed that would be able to take a book - your favorite book perhaps - and render it into a movie. With this film I can see the future coming sooner rather than later.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Where Has Common Sense Gone?

"We have spent the last 40 years in our country celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English." Lamar Alexander

The Salvation Army, arguably the finest charitable organization in America, has a rule that says if you want to work here you need to learn English. They give new employees a year to learn the common language of America. I think that is rather decent. Nancy Pelosi and the Hispanic Caucus in the House of Representatives doesn't - claiming it's racist and bigoted.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a moderate Republican from Tennessee, is dumbstruck that legislation he views as simple common sense would be blocked. He noted that the full Senate passed his amendment to shield the Salvation Army by 75-19 last month, and the House followed suit with a 218-186 vote just this month. "I cannot imagine that the framers of the 1964 Civil Rights Act intended to say that it's discrimination for a shoe shop owner to say to his or her employee, 'I want you to be able to speak America's common language on the job,' " he told the Senate last Thursday.

Where has common sense gone?!

Pelosi was pressured by members of the Hispanic Caucus to strip Alexander's language from joint house/senate committee version of the amendment which will in turn allow The EEOC to continue its witch-hunt against small businesses with strict English language rules.

Alexander hits the nail on the head:
this battle is about far more than what language is spoken on a shop floor. "The EEOC actions turn diversity, our greatest strength, against the interests of our common future as Americans."

It would be a shame if the media allow illegal immigration and all other aspects of the invasion from the south to languish is this all important election cycle. This issue may be the one thing that can unite liberals and conservatives in this country.

The goddess of tolerance and diversity has overstayed her welcome. I say throw the whole thing back in the melting pot and turn up the heat.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

What About the Future?

Will the West Survive? Do We Even Care?

Writing in a an earlier post I declared that I once had high hopes for the future of humanity. When the Soviet Union collapsed I was convinced that we were at the precipice of a grand new era for mankind. How wrong I was. In fact, according to many scholars and respected pundits we are in for a long hard ride in this, the 21st century.

On the one hand we have entered into this this thing we have dubbed "the information age" which is a direct offspring of the industrial age the West has now essentially pushed out to the developing nations. On the other hand we have the 1-2 punch of neo-luddites in the radical environmental movement ready to pull the technological rug out from under us and the radical Islamic movement ready to turn the civilizational clock back to the seventh century.

Six years after the Islamo-fascists smacked the West upside the head with the hard to ignore attacks of September the 11th it is still not clear whether we are even going to fight for our lives. While half of us are busy navel gazing repeating to ourselves "Why do they hate us???" the other half waits breathlessly for the next chapter in the Brittney, Lindsay and Paris saga. While we modern-day Neros fiddle the radical Islamists are busy training they many, many children to hate us even more.

Those who do read something other than Us Weekly for their news are divided into two camps. There are those suffering from BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) and won't think clearly again until January 2009, and those like me suffering from BCS (Bush Confusion Syndrome) a condition that needs no further explanation.

As for the environmental movement there are those true-believers who see humanity as a cancer inflicting our Earth Mother, Gaia, and those like, Al Gore and any number of "green" businesses, who see crying wolf as a way to make gobs of money while simultaneously looking like modern day saints. I mean, who believes in pollution and wastefulness as virtues? Of course lying and misleading aren't virtues either.

American and European children (our future) are growing up in a largely prosperous, largely free societies where the biggest problems are obesity and boredom. Judged against the whole of humanity currently living or not our kids have no idea how fortunate they are. You can almost hear them say, "What's so great about Western Civilization anyway?"

Asian Times blogger Spengler in his review of Fergus Kerr's "Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians" comments -

Radical Islam threatens the West only because secular Europe, including the sad remnants of the former Soviet Union, is so desiccated by secular anomie that it no longer cares enough about its future to produce children. Muslims may form a majority in Russia by mid-century, and may dominate Western Europe 100 years hence. Without the demographic decay associated with the decline of religion, radical Islam would be a minor annoyance to the West rather than a deadly adversary.

Americans are a little more hopeful about the future, it's in our nature, but with the Global Warming hysteria, the hordes invading from south of the border and the ongoing saga of Brittany, Lindsay and Paris can we be far behind?

Kerr suggests in his book:

The West is not fighting individual criminals, as the left insists; it is not fighting a Soviet-style state, as the Iraqi disaster makes clear; nor is it fighting a political movement. It is fighting a religion, specifically a religion that arose in enraged reaction to the West.

Bush and Blair will not say it, Sarkozy of France and Merkel of Germany will not say it. Howard of Australia comes close to actually saying it. None of these leaders will come right out and say that we are at war against a religion, but we are. So far only one "world" leader has come out and said it. Quite amazingly Islam took notice and has just recently began talks of reform and reconciliation...

Again Spengler points out:

None of the political leaders of the West, and few of the West's opinion leaders, comprehend this. We are left with the anomaly that the only effective leader of the West is a man wholly averse to war, a pope who took his name from the Benedict who interceded for peace during World War I. Benedict XVI, alone among the leaders of the Christian world, challenges Islam as a religion, as he did in his September 2006 Regensburg address. Who is Joseph Ratzinger, this decisive figure of our times, and what led the Catholic Church to elect him? Fr Kerr has opened the coulisses of Catholic debate such that outsiders can understand the changes in Church thinking that made possible Benedict's papacy. Because Benedict is the leader not only of the Catholics but - by default - of the West, all concerned with the West's future should read his book. (Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians)

Benedict XVI has also addressed the decline of post-Christian Europe and the demographic cliff native Europeans are jumping off as we speak. Like his immediate predecessor, John Paul II, Benedict XVI has not shrunk in the face of the enemy, Soviet communism before and Irrational Islam now.

Since America hasn't been "attacked" on our home soil since 9/11 it plays right in the hands of those who claim we are overreacting to the terrorist threat. This allows the news media to attack and undermine Bush while creating a saint out of Al Gore and his phony crisis of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. Still, since 9/11 Britain, Spain, Indonesia(Australians), Israel, India, Russia, Lebanon and Morocco have all been brutally attacked by Islamic terrorists either directly or loosely associated with al Qaeda or Iran.

We ignore the 800 pound gorilla at our own peril. In a Washington Times piece published on November 18, 2007 called "Know your enemy" Arnaud de Borchgrave clearly warns of the coming storm as Pakistan melts down and the Iranians play a dangerous game of nuclear poker. Borchgrave cites the very same Spengler post as I have... When Radical Islam has control of nuclear weapons the ticking time bomb will be engaged.

The Islamists believe in the future, a future without Western Civilization. What do we believe in?

What About the Future?

Will the West snap out of it and begin to believe in itself? As Spengler asks, how we account for the self-extinction of so many depressed and disappointed peoples today? What happened to "natural law", namely, those instincts and emotions common to man and the lower animals, such as the instinct of self-preservation and love of offspring? Earlier theologians rejected this notion of natural law while pushing their version of Thomism. Kerr suggests: St Thomas in fact believed, (as) de Lubac contended, is that "human beings were destined by nature to enjoy by divine grace everlasting bliss with God" This concept of "natural law" explains why peoples who repudiate grace tend towards self-destruction. This radical way of thinking made de Lubac a marginal figure in the Church of the 1930s, but a mentor to Wojtila(John Paul II) and Ratzinger (Benedict XVI).

I worry even about my own children producing enough offspring to replace themselves... My mother had eighteen grandchildren, one would guess that she will surely have even more great grandchildren. I'm afraid I don't see it that way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Twilight At the Water's Edge

My latest painting for your pleasure!

"Twilight At the Water's Edge"
18 X 24

This silhouette of a mother elephant with her baby was inspired by a Beverly Joubert photo. Although it looks like a simple three color exercise this style is indeed challenging! I hope you enjoy it...

Be sure to click on the picture to see a larger image. Also, please visit my online art gallery to see more of my art. Click here http://www.static-art.blogspot.com/


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Let There Be Peace (in St Paul)

What the %$#@ is this?

This, this... Peace Center, whatever that is, currently under construction is going up in my neighborhood. Naturally, being a peaceful guy my interest was piqued. Just so you didn't think I was making it up I stopped and took this picture...

I figured that something as important as world peace would have numerous websites and press releases. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I found NOTHING whatsoever (here's the Google search). Literally, I am not kidding, I found next to nothing about this project.

Since the contractor Vivienda USA posted its name on the sign I reckoned their website might be able to shed some light on this for us.

As you can see from the company description it is as clear as a ringing bell. Read on:

Vivienda USA is a general contractor and construction management company based in New Windsor, New York. The company was established to service the construction management needs of a group of affiliated not-for-profit organizations. Vivienda USA specializes in the construction of facilities designed according to Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, a comprehensive system of natural architecture.

That clears it up for me, how about you? At least they posted a picture of what natural architecture looks like. Not bad. Click here to see a 3D animation of the building. However, there was nothing on the Vivienda's website that explained what the hell this thing is.

Curiously enough there was nothing on the City of St. Paul's own website either.

It would seem to me that there is an air of mystery around this, this St Paul Peace Center.

If anyone knows anything about this, by all means, fill us in.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

From Russia With Bluff

Perhaps the worst thing that has happened in the world political landscape since 1992 has been the loss of hope. It was 1992 that marked a new political era - the post Cold War world was dawning. America had elected a baby boomer, the bright and charming Bill Clinton and democracy was breaking down the Iron Curtain. Here we are 16 years later and the the one nation that had the most to gain when the Soviet era ended has come full circle. So long modern Russia - we hardly knew 'ya.

I personally have always been fascinated by Russia. Maybe it was because growing up in the 60's and 70's the truth of the mysterious "enemy" rarely eked out beyond the mutual propaganda machines. What we knew of the Russians was that they excelled at Olympic sports and nuclear missiles.

In my idealistic youth I remember thinking that both society's were engaged in a wasteful and pointless arms race that brought no value to the world. (I still believe that to some degree). I mean, if only Nixon and Brezhnev could have gotten together and just smoked a little weed like me and my friends surely they could have found a way to stop all that silly talk of mutually assured destruction, right?

We all knew the Russian's produced as brilliant and talented people as the West did. It was a shame that there was no Russian equivalent of Hollywood or Harvard, baseball or Bell Labs. So much wasted human potential languished in the gulags and the tenements. The world may never know the wonders that might have been born to Mother Russia...

The lucky ones escaped over the wall and contributed to the eventual victory of the West. When the Wall came down I remember thinking that a period of greatness would soon be upon humanity. Indeed, many of the former Soviet satellite states have done very well. Hope is still lives in those places where Moscow's long shadow once darkened the sky. Unfortunately they are all looking over their shoulders with trepidation these days as Vlad The Consolidator turns back the clock.

Vladimir Putin is said to have a 80% approval rating at home so obviously the Russian people feel comfortable that Vlad won't be bringing back the firing squads. Putin, a former senior KGB officer, knows all about deception and perception so he sees the necessity of acknowledging the repression of the Soviet era even as he reapplies the totalitarian yoke.

In a recent speech said Putin of the dissidents his own KGB put to death: "these were people who were not afraid to speak their mind. They were the most capable people. They were the pride of the nation. And, of course, over many years we still remember this tragedy. We need to do a great deal to ensure that this is never forgotten."

Vlad was clearly trying to assure the people that nothing like this could happen in his Russia... Mikhail Khordokovsky, the former oil tycoon might differ with Putin on that subject. He is currently breaking rocks at a remote Siberian penal colony after being found guilty of politically motivated fraud charges.

Is the notion that Russia under Putin could return to the worst excesses of Stalin way off base? Probably... If for no other reason than mass communications would make it impossible to keep it hidden now. Unfortunately the last sixteen years have not been good for the average Russian. The gap between the rich and the poor in Russia renders anything John Edwards has to say about the Two Americas a riotous joke. Much of this can be put at the feet of Boris Yeltsin who failed to act boldly and decisively while the iron was hot. Russian history had failed to prepare the average person for a life of personal liberty much like it is in the Islamic world. Basic societal foundations like banking, commerce and business processes just didn't exist and a thriving black market was already operating in that space. Corruption still rules the day. Dictators thrive in a corrupt and dysfunctional society.

Putin is tapping in to the one sense of pride Russians felt about their country during the Soviet era. Having a military machine that the West feared and respected was all they could ever claim put Russia on equal footing with the modern world.

Flush with oil wealth he has stolen for the government Putin will now have the funds to rebuild and reassert the pride of Mother Russia. This is not a good thing. As if we needed another reason to hasten the end of the oil age.