Insights du Jour - 2015-01-20

  • Just before I cut out for the long weekend, James Taranto provided a handy rebuttal to those willing to suppress "hate speech". RTWT if you can, but here's the key paragraph:

    The trouble with policing hate speech is that without double standards there are no standards at all. As a practical matter, what defines hate speech is not the feeling that motivates the speaker, which can be policed only through totalitarian means if at all. It is, rather, the offense taken by the listener. The best definition of hate speech is “speech I hate”—the opposite of an objective standard.

  • As I type, President Obama's penultimate State of the Union address is scheduled for tonight. Recycling a bit of Kevin D. WIlliamson's wisdom from last year:

    The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

    "Other than that, though, it's fine!"

  • Your insightful tweet du jour is from the immortal Nick Searcy:

    That's 10pm on FX, and I'll be there.

The Wind Rises

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A recent offering from the genius Japanese animation folks Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. It's a (highly fictionalized) biographical drama about Jirô Horikoshi, the primary aeronautical engineer behind the WW2 "Zero" Japanese fighter plane. (Which was used to kill a lot of Americans, but Jirô gets a "Werner von Braun" pass for this.)

Growing up in early-20th century Japan, young Jirô is obsessed with airplanes, but his lousy eyesight precludes him from being a pilot. Fortunately (since this is a Miyazaki flick) his future path comes to him in a dream, where he meets his hero, aircraft designer Italian Count Caproni, who doesn't actually pilot his planes either. Jirô sets doggedly on his path.

The story follows Jirô through his education and employment with Mitsubishi. Along the way, Jirô meets Nahoko, the love of his life, during a train trip to Tokyo. Which is disrupted by the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, probably the deadliest in Japan's history; Jirô behaves heroically, saving Nahoko and her caregiver. Various other things happen, including some bad/sad things. It's a little unfocused, much like real life is.

All this is charmingly and gorgeously rendered on the screen, because it's Studio Ghibli. It's a bit of a departure from their usual pure-fantasy genre, but it worked for me.


Last Modified 2015-02-02 5:45 AM EST