URLs du Jour

2009-03-16

  • Via And Rightly So!: the poster at Theodore's World is disgusted by HR 1388, aka the "GIVE Act" ("Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education"). He finds the following language, where the duties of the new "Congressional Commission on Civic Service" are described, particularly ominous:
    [To "address and analyze"] Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.
    While the bill itself (apparently) doesn't impose mandatory service, it pretty clearly is aimed at moving the country in that direction. I wouldn't be surprised if, underneath all the bafflegab, is unsubtle encouragement for local and state authorities to (for example) institute a "service" requirement for high school graduation or college entrance.

    And naturally, my very own Congresscritter/Toothache, Carol Shea-Porter, is one of the 25 current co-sponsors of the bill.

  • Charles Murray's Irving Kristol lecture, given at the American Enterprise Institute's annual dinner is online. He notes that a major goal of "progressives" is to move the US to a "European-style social democracy", and hack away at "American exceptionalism". Read the following excerpt while keeping the "national service" effort mentioned above in mind:
    The exceptionalism has not been a figment of anyone's imagination, and it has been wonderful. But it isn't something in the water that has made us that way. It comes from the cultural capital generated by the system that the Founders laid down, a system that says people must be free to live life as they see fit and to be responsible for the consequences of their actions; that it is not the government's job to protect people from themselves; that it is not the government's job to stage-manage how people interact with each other. Discard the system that created the cultural capital, and the qualities we love about Americans can go away. In some circles, they are going away.
    My version: my ancestors moved here because they didn't want to live in Norway anymore. If the US turns into a bigger, slightly-warmer Norway, what was the point?

  • Roger Simon pens a tribute to Ron Silver, who died over the weekend. I remember Ron Silver mainly as (a) Gary Levy, Brenda's boyfriend on Rhoda; (b) the (very) bad guy in Timecop. In recent years, he was a brave leader in the struggle against terrorism. His very good essay on fear is here.

  • "Send a private message to" is the most common 5-word sequence the Google sees on the web, according to this post at Language Log.

    Funny, I thought it would have been "Heh. Read the whole thing", but I probably spend too much time at Instapundit.

    The article has more, plus scholarly discussion. My conclusion: there's a stunning amount of eBaying going on.

Let the Right One In

[3.5
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

An arty Swedish horror movie; it is currently #188 on the IMDB's Top 250 movies of all time. I doubt that, but it's still pretty good.

Twelve-year-old Oskar is a skinny and awkward outcast at school, the preferred target of a bunch of bullies. He also, probably not coincidentally, has developed some pretty serious psychological problems, evidenced by his de-Niro-in-Taxi-Driver-style monologues while waving a knife.

But things change when Eli, a twelve-year-old girl—that's what she looks like, anyway—moves into the apartment next to his. She's reclusive, only coming out at night, and seems a tad mature for her age. And, oh yeah, people start getting murdered in grisly fashion for some reason.

The movie's set in 1982 Sweden; in one of the DVD extra features, the director speaks of Sweden being "halfway behind the Iron Curtain" at that time, with the clear implication that it was a drab and dispiriting place to live. Funny: back in 1982, it was only conservatives who said things like that. Nowadays, it's conventional wisdom.

The "bullies pick on unusual kid" theme appears in a lot of movies. American ones, of course, but over the past few years I've seen it in movies set in Britain, Afghanistan, Japan, and now Sweden. Sadly, it seems to be a cross-cultural human universal.


Last Modified 2012-10-08 1:03 PM EDT