Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lee Bollinger was right! Now what?

It was educational to see Ahmadinejad speak at Columbia. What I learned from it:

--The despot of Iran is a Muslim would-be master of obfuscation and evasion under the guise of using Western Civilization's "Socratic method" and Columbia students interested in critiquing arguments and learning about propaganda could learn a lot from watching this master. Want to learn how Hitler cast his spell? Exhibit A in your own time, kids. His speech exemplified the way tyrants use weasel words to dodge accountability, change the subject, and sway gullible and especially ignorant audiences. I had not spent more than a few seconds here and there listening to this guy rave before, knowing instead from transcripts and news coverage what a delusional and meretricious liar he is. Now having watched a good chunk of his speech, I am both slackjawed and nauseated at how he sidesteps and spins (and waves his scolding finger) in person. What a performance. Perhaps others who watched the speech or paid attention to this person for the first time have learned something as well. It's just too bad we had to give this guy a podium at one of our universities to accomplish this, if that is what was accomplished.

--A good portion of the audience at the speech, judging by their applause, evidently thought Ahmadinejad was just great as sliced goatcheese. So perhaps Bollinger learned that he has his work cut out for him in educating these in-house admirers of a lying terrorist-dictator. It is clear that more faculty and students at Columbia need to learn how to maintain an open mind appropriate to true academic scholarship, to research to find facts and verify statements, to read widely and become informed about current and past events, and to learn how to parse arguments and detect baloney. Perhaps most of those who applauded will never learn that from Columbia University or anywhere else. But if even one person had his or her eyes opened a bit by Ahmadinejad's exceedingly strange performance--if just one person realized how inappropriate his presence was in the halls of academia--that could be considered a silver lining to yesterday's dark cloud.

--We all learned there are no homosexuals in Iran and Ahmadinejad doesn't know where we got this! I think maybe this qualifies as politically incorrect hate speech on an American campus. This may come as a educational surprise to some who might have otherwise thought the A-man a cool dude for being so out there and sticking it to the man.

--We learned Lee Bollinger was actually sincere when he talked about providing a platform for rigorous challenging of odious views, since he did have enough spine to challenge Ahmadinejad's views in his presence, to the point of being insulting. That sincerity and gall count in his favor as a man. But I agree with what Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News last night: that Ahmadinejad was right in pointing out that in his country hospitality dictates that guests are not treated so rudely; Bollinger should not have treated an invited guest that way, and no "hard challenges" could redeem or mask the fact that Bollinger's true mistake was in inviting Ahmadinejad to speak in the first place. I think Bollinger was talking tough to try to redeem face as a reasonable guy, and not lose alumni donations, an extremely serious concern for Columbia resulting from all of this.

--We learned there are enough wide-awake people in New York City and elsewhere, including on the Columbia campus and faculty, to make this entire event a hotly-contested issue. That's encouraging. And we learned the internet offers grand and glorious spreading coverage of all aspects of this kind of circus event. Better and better. The softball Q&A that Ahmadinejad sidestepped in the lecture hall is nothing compared to the discussions (with footnotes and links) going on in the global blogosphere. And that is educational.

Now, as one commenter says, "Will the Minutemen be allowed on campus now?" Or Larry Summers or Donald Rumsfield or Norman Podhoretz or Robert Spencer? And will they get the same respectful attention from the audience and security from the university that the Iranian liar ("I am a Muslim, I cannot tell a lie") got when they air their views?

I think the next question to be answered is, what has Bollinger learned? And what have the alumni learned? I want to hear more about that.

Final note: The websites of Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, and others can educate us on 'Muslims who cannot tell a lie.' How many in the audience knew what "taqiyya," "kitman," and "Tu-Quoque" are? Did they recognize they were watching these techniques in action? What do Lee Bollinger and Columbia University plan to do next to educate the world and their students about these issues?

UPDATE: Ha! They are Muslims, they cannot tell a lie: the standing ovation that never happened (via the Drudge Report).

Curious: Columbia University, too ashamed or scared to be associated with Ahmadinejad, blacks out logos and covers up its brand? (via Instapundit).

UPDATE: From Breath of the Beast to Lee Bollinger:
You, sir, are also a useful idiot. ...When you invite a genocidal despot into your University you are inviting death, repression and intolerance into your home. There are no sharp remarks that will take the stench out of the walls.
Has Bollinger heard this? Does he understand it? What does he think now that he's gone through this educational experience?

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's about the quality of leadership on campus

Speaking of campus administrators who just don't get it, I just found an excellent update at Gates of Vienna on last year's flap about removing the cross from historic Wren Chapel at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. President Gene Nichols who, after one complaint, deemed the presence in the chapel of the Christian cross to be so offensive and off-putting that he had it removed, has now removed himself from campus duties to focus on fundraising, since his decisions at the school seem to have cost the campus some rather large donations.

That's poetic justice, but I'll bet a lot of people would feel better if he were entirely gone, and the sooner the better. With the kind of judgment he's shown thus far, one could reasonably suspect that the kinds of fundraising contacts he might make could well do the college more harm.

Offended, outraged, vigilant and persistent alumni, students, supporters, and residents of Virginia kept the issue alive and subsequently 36 members of the Virginia legislature voted to strip Nichol of his state salary. Seems it was just too much for the State of Virginia to abide, that Nichols nixed the Christian cross but said "okay" to strip-teases on campus paid for by student activity fees. According to this earlier article,

More than 18,000 alumni and supporters signed a petition asking Mr. Nichol to reverse his policy banning the display of an Anglican cross in the school's historic 275-year-old chapel during exhibition tours....

The Daily Press, in an editorial, said the issue now is no longer the sex show that was featured on campus, or the removal of the Christian artifact.

"It's about the quality of leadership at the college," the editorial in February said.

The protest group noted that the national standard for assessing endowments showed William and Mary's ranking dropped from 115th to 128th during Nichol's tenure, and now Louisiana State and Texas Tech rank higher than W&M, the nation's second-oldest college.

And the group noted the average application growth at the top 34 universities in 2006 was 6.2 percent, but William & Mary's was only 0.9 percent.

Ouch. Bad college and university presidents and other administrators are a bad investment. And eventually their chickens do come home to roost.

My earlier posts about the Wren Chapel cross-removal story are here and here.

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Iranian terrorist-in-chief invited to do victory lap in NYC

Yes, children, the protest about Iran's "President" Ahmadinejad being invited to speak at Columbia University is no mere "flap" --it is what you can call a full-blown outrage. And here's Hugh Hewitt, for one, to put it into proper perspective for you, by summoning up the facts of both history and common sense, which seem to have escaped the Columbia administration (via Powerline):

Eisenhower understood how propaganda worked, how the Nazis had used it through the '30s and the war, and how evil men would use it again in the future.

One such evil man is Ahmadinejad. It is inconceivable that Columbia will allow this anti-Semitic blowhard a podium, or in any way add to his prestige at a time when the world is attempting to halt this gangster state's illegal acquisition of nuclear weapons.

But what is truly outrageous is that Columbia does not see the deep dishonor it is doing to the men and women killed and wounded by the machinations of this man and the regime he represents. Some of those casualties of Iranian intrigue have come in Iraq just this year.

But Ahmadinejad’s rogue state has been killing Americans for far longer than that, and using terror against us since the presidency of Jimmy Carter....

Iran has defied UN sanctions and continues to fund terrorists and terrorism in the Middle East. Iran's weaponry and personnel, smuggled across the Iraq border, have been responsible for killing our service men and women even as this goon is preparing to lecture to American students in the heart of New York City.

Bill Kristol advocates that Columbia students boycott the Iranian terrorist's appearance scheduled for Monday. I agree with his thinking and would do so if I were a Columbia student (I would also be out on the street strenuously protesting the event that reflects so badly on Columbia University). I could be outside protesting the invitation just on the grounds of Iran's anti-Semitism and its repressive thuggary toward women, gays, Christians, and dissenters alone. But sadly there will always be enough just plain clueless people willing to come out to ogle car wrecks and grab their brushup with celebrity that Kristol's imagined vision of a snubbed terrorist lecturing to an empty room will never come to pass--not in this world, and certainly not in New York City.

Victor Davis Hanson wonders, "why Columbia university tried to invite a terrorist to speak who denies the first holocaust and advocates a second one. This is not a matter of free speech but of common decency and the most elemental common sense." That means, the guy is a delusional lunatic as well as a bad guy--why give him a podium? Columbia students can easily learn all they want and need to about Ahmadinejad and his views in our country's free press and on the internet.

But if I had a dollar for every time politicians and academics shock me by their failing to recognize and reflect common decency and common sense, hey, I'd be blogging from my horse farm in Montecito (which I assure you I am not).

Since Columbia University and its President Lee Bollinger have already recently tacitly sabotaged a public lecture on their campus by Marvin Stewart and Jim Gilchrist of the Minutemen, and nixed a newly scheduled one, and since Columbia has banned the ROTC from its campus since 1969, this current outrage is clearly not about First Amendment rights of free speech or encouraging "dialogue," despite Lee Bollinger's fatuous assurance. That hypocrisy does not escape notice--outside of Lee Bollinger's office, anyway.

I ask you, what rock do these supposed educated Americans live under anyway? How can people so out of touch with facts of reality, history, decency and common sense make better salaries and enjoy more prestige than, for example, the NYC police who said "no" to Ahmadinejad?

I like Mitt Romney's idea (via Neal Boortz): "Instead of entertaining Ahmadinejad, we should be indicting him."

And then wait for Columbia University to invite him and O.J. Simpson to share their views of the American criminal justice system.

As for me, I feel the outrage, but I live far away from New York City. I can't protest in person, but I'll be watching to see how this plays out. And I'll be looking forward to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, starting October 22nd at a campus near you. Lee Bollinger, you might want to clear your schedule.

UPDATE: Shame on the National Press Club too. I'm with Fred: revoke his visa and send a message to the corrupt U.N. as well. We are already on the brink of war with this creep. Maybe that's what he's counting on, and pushing us toward. He should be told to stay home. He is not to be recognized and not to be welcomed.

UPDATE: Betsy highlights John Podhoretz's imagined meeting of Bollinger and Ahmadinejad at Columbia: the monster would fit right in. Sadly true.

UPDATE: The day before Ahmadinejad comes to New York, this is what we see from Iran. I like Glen Reynolds' suggestion, though; that's creative thinking. It will be interesting to see what else an Army of Davids will come up with to counter this particular Goliath. But perhaps some bigger folks will come to their senses and step up and do what's right before it comes to that.

Romney gets it right too, as Mark Steyn points out:

In fact, Mitt Romney, one of the best things he ever did was to deny the state troopers protection facility to Ahmadinejad’s predecessor when he was invited to speak at Harvard. And Mitt Romney had the right line on this. If Harvard wanted to issue these idiotic invitations, that’s up to them. But the taxpayers of Massachusetts are not going to fund the visit by providing protection for these guys. And in the end, the event was cancelled. And that’s exactly the line that the state of New York should be taking, too.
Let's hope so.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 17, 2007

Almost a clean sweep of the Emmys

I looked at the list of Emmy winners (via Instapundit) and was chagrined to note that I just missed never having seen any of these shows. Spoiled my record by watching Jon Stewart's show once when visiting friends (who thought he was great and wanted to introduce me to an acclaimed liberal humorist).

So, am I an old fogey--or Amish (no electricity)--or hopelessly out of it--or enjoying life too much to spend hours of it vegging in front of the TV? Are any of these shows actually any good, or just something to fill empty time with?

I keep thinking I should rent "The Sopranos" and watch it since eeeeeeverybody talks about it everywhere (in the media, anyway), but I just haven't gotten around to it. Keep thinking it's probably over-rated and not my bag, like most things eeeeeeverybody talks about.

When we want to fill empty time around here we put in a DVD of some classic from Netflix or watch Turner Classic Movies...or fool around on the computer or (gasp) read a book or go outside.

Funny how many other people like me I know. Not at all worried about being "out of it."

It's a big world after all. And a free country. Enjoy it!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Aliens among us

Check out this extremely amusing portfolio of a photo retoucher (via Neal Boortz)--making a living turning perfectly nice-looking humans into otherworldly scary plastic aliens. Click on "Portfolio" at the top of the page and click on the thumbnails to load; run your cursor over the examples to see the "Before" and the "No Way."

Good visuals to show your teenagers how they shouldn't aspire to love or be the fakes they see in the media. What you see in the media is all about money, honey, and squeezing dollars out of beauty and desire.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why I'll never vote for Hillary (part 5)

Because she shows extremely poor judgment in electing a convicted felon who can't have access to classified documents to be her foreign policy advisor.

Betsy hits all the sour high notes.

Beldar Blog reminds us what's going on and puts it all into extremely apt perspective:

Although the accusation that Berger had committed an intentional, shameful abuse of the public trust was sufficient to shame John Kerry into disassociating himself from Berger in 2004, even Berger's guilty plea and conviction are obviously insufficient to similarly shame front-running 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). And beating John Kerry in shamelessness is an impressive accomplishment.

Cripes. What shady birds of a feather that lot be.

Why I'll never vote for Hillary (part 4)

Previous reasons why I'll never vote for Hillary.

UPDATE: I'm not the only one.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Newt Gingrich for Vice-President!

Newt always says the darndest things (and I find him one of the most interesting idea men around, along with Mark Steyn and Victor Davis Hanson; whose blog is here). All of these bright lamps seem to be ten steps ahead of the best-thinking of the pack (and about 80 miles an hour faster than your average journalist). They habitually voice the ideas I would've gotten around to voicing myself if I had as many brains, the verbal facility, the historical education, and the trick of future-vision (yeah, right!):

He said politicians focused on the Petraeus report and other reports on the war in Iraq are missing the bigger picture of the broad war on terrorism, citing Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Great Britain and the United States as other fronts in the struggle with the "irreconcilable wing of Islam."...

Citing Abraham Lincoln's adaptability during the Civil War, Franklin Roosevelt's mobilization of the American people in World War II, and Ronald Reagan's efforts to define the enemy and victory during the Cold War, Gingrich called for a more broad approach than a dual focus on Iraq and Afghanistan allows.

"The key debate for the next year should not be the Petraeus Report and conditions in Iraq," he said. "The key debate for the next year ought to be the larger war, the real enemies, the need for a real strategy, and solutions to the scale of the challenge we face."

See? So obvious. Why didn't I say that?

On second thought, if Newt Gingrich were Vice-President, he might have to get all diplomatic and repressed or something. He wouldn't be seen as often on Fox News or heard as often on talk radio, which would be a shame and a diminution of the quality of thought here in the U.S.

On second thought, I say, Let Newt continue being Newt. He and the country are probably better off with him as a rogue, free-range pundit (until somebody smart appoints him to some political agency with muscular power and big propaganda punch). A bully pulpit for Newt--I'd vote for that. Maybe V.P. ain't it. But the thought is momentarily exciting.

Still can't settle on who I'd vote for President though. It's okay; I've got time. And as my Dreamboat points out, we'll just end up holding our noses and voting against the benighted and dangerous Democrats anyway.

UPDATE: Yup, that's my man Newt.

Labels: , ,

Our "open borders" policies

I. Heartbreaking:

This is the voice of the "open borders" crowd, led and personified by a mother who uses her eight-year-old child as a prop to emphasize her selfish, self-centered, and anti-American political demands and then abandons him because it makes for good theater:

It is Elvira Arellano’s choice, and hers alone, to separate herself from her son. The gall of this law-breaking zealot does not cease to amaze.

Elvira Arellano is calling on people to pray today.

Pray for her abandoned son.

Amen. This little boy is the real victim here--victimized by his mother and their anti-border handlers. And who and where is the little boy's father? At this point, most importantly, where is the local child protective agency to look after the interests of this child clearly abandoned by his parents and held hostage by a radicalized political movement?

II. Frightening:

Here's what our de facto open borders policy has reaped for us already:

Indeed, al-Qaida reportedly had 42 operatives as part of its 9/11 attacks, and some 23 remain as "sleepers" in the United States.

Williams also reveals that al-Qaida's operations continue here in the United States, supported by supplies and personnel who simply slip through Mexico and across our porous border.

Williams names names — including top al-Qaida operatives that have admitted that Mexico remains the main conduit point for al-Qaida penetration into the United States. This includes the smuggling of nuclear materials.

Atlas Shrugs has more:

Mr. Mir said that he had been informed by leaders of the Taliban in Afghanistan that al Qaeda's long-planned American Hiroshima - - a nuclear attack on seven to ten U.S. cities - - will occur in 2008 but could come sooner.

In June, ABC News reported that large teams of al Qaeda suicide bombers had been sent to the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Germany to launch attacks at strategic sites. The report contained videos of hundreds of recruits for these missions at a graduation ceremony in Pakistan. Some of the recruits were as young as 12. ...

Mr. Mir has long sounded the alarm of al Qaeda's plan to launch an American Hiroshima.

"As far as I know, they smuggled three suitcase nukes from Russia to Europe," Mr. Mir maintained last year. "They smuggled many kilos of enriched uranium inside America for their dirty bomb projects. They said in 1999 that they must have material for more than six dirty bombs in America. They tested at least one dirty bomb in the Kunar province of Afghanistan in 2000. They have planned an attack bigger than 9-11, even before the attacks on the World Trade Centre [on] 9-11 took place. Osama bin Laden trained 42 fighters to destroy the American economy and military might. Nineteen were used on 9-11, 23 are still 'sleeping' inside America waiting for a call from bin Laden."

Mr. Mir said al-Qaeda operatives told him that tactical nuclear weapons were smuggled over the Mexican border before Sept. 11, 2001.

I am sorry for the current plight of all the peaceful and respectful aliens (i.e. fellow Christians or others who share an understanding of the Golden Rule, if not of the requirement to obey the rule of law) who came into our country illegally. I feel sympathy for those illegal aliens who came here intending only to break our immigration laws and then work hard to make a better life for themselves and their families here. And I am sure there are some illegal aliens here (there must be) who are Christian enough themselves to sympathize with the plight of the average U.S. citizens forced to subsidize the education, welfare, health, and extended families and countries of the uninvited "migrant" multiple lawbreakers and identity thieves in their communities. To say nothing of the cost to the U.S. of harboring the hardened criminals, gang members, and terrorists swimming in the illegal alien stew.

Osama Bin Laden and all the other murderers and would-be murderers have made life harder for all of us, legal and illegal dwellers in the U.S. Unfortunately one of the responses our country must now take is to secure our borders and get a firm handle on all of the illegal aliens, good and bad, who remain among us.

Do your part. If you're illegal, recognize that it's post 9/11 and the party's over --leave and/or get legal. Life will only become increasingly difficult for illegal aliens here. If your intentions are good, apply for legal citizenship along with those who are already following the rules. Just because you did or can jump a border or overstay a visa doesn't mean you deserve to cut ahead of the line.

If you are a legal resident or a U.S. citizen, speak up against the open borders proponents who are working for their own selfish purposes to the detriment of us all. If you're a Methodist or other Christian appalled by the twisted theological reasoning of the New Sanctuary movement, let your faith leaders (and your elected leaders) hear your views. As W. James Antle III says,

Unfortunately, noble intentions aren’t sufficient for good policy.

The Christian faith knows no national boundaries. But the nation-state by definition must. ...

Tragically, through the pursuit of racial and ethnic harmony, improved living standards for the poor and a less balkanized society, misguided Methodists are helping promulgate immigration policies that will accomplish the exact opposite.

There may soon come a time when even the pro-open borders folks may finally see the blood on their own hands.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Never forget

Today offers a somber anniversary chance to remember 9/11. James Lileks asks "Where were you when you heard the news?" and "Are you tired of being asked to remember?" Americans (and a few Canadians) respond. (Via Instapundit.)

My memories of 9/11. No, I am not tired of being asked to remember. And the anger and resolve still stands.

In Memoriam by Bookworm Room.

Texas Rainmaker: "Six years seems like yesterday."

The Anchoress remembers. And Jules Crittenden.

It all comes back. It never went away. It never will.

Labels: ,

A 9/11 tribute to Shreyas Ranganath

Srinivasa Shreyas Ranganath was beloved and admired by people who knew him on two continents.

He was born January 4, 1975 in the southern Indian town of Bhadravati, and grew up in the big city of Bangalore. “Shreyu” was remembered by family and friends as a sharply intelligent, fun-loving boy, with a mischievous grin, an outstanding singing voice, and a twinkle in his eye. He was the rallying central figure in the informal but intense cricket matches and hide-and-seek games that he played so passionately with neighborhood friends on warm summer nights in the streets or in the backyard of his family’s home. Even as a youngster “Shreyu” seemed to have more than a hint of the hero and the role-model about him—many of his friends sensed it, and no one looked up to him and admired him more than did his own younger brother, who knew him best.

As Shreyas grew older and attended middle school and high school with his friends, he was transformed into a serious and diligent student devoted to his education--not afraid of hard work and very willing to immerse himself in books. Yet along with his mental talents, he also had a generous spirit. At 16, while a member of the National Cadet Corp and attending a camp event, he pretended to be 18 years old so that he might, along with the adults there, donate blood to the wounded soldiers in the Indian Army. It was evident to many who knew him that Shreyas was “a great soul.”

He studied at the Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering in Bangalore, and lived in the Basavangudi area of the city. But his interest in seeing the world and “meeting people of different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs” brought him to the United States, where he enrolled in the master’s degree program in Electrical Engineering at the University of Utah. Completing only one semester (Fall 1999), he decided to return to India—either because of health problems, as one source said, or because he found the winters in Utah too cold. Friends and colleagues who knew him in Utah remember him as soft-spoken, “the sweetest person I’ve ever known,” and “a very sincere student, very quiet, not into parties.” He did, however, like eating the sandwiches at the local Subway deli.

Back in his hometown of Bangalore, Shreyas developed a new passion. Once the center of British colonial rule in South India, Bangalore is now the country’s third-largest city with a population of over 6 million, and is known as India’s “Silicon Valley,” the center of high-tech innovations. There Shreyas became an expert professional in software design. “For him, it became an addiction,” said one friend. “He had a great love for software.”

He landed a job at Wipro Technologies, a global software services company, and “the largest independent R&D services provider in the world.” He worked long 16- and 18-hour days as a code-cruncher, but loved the work. And he still found time to help others, including bright young kids from his neighborhood who needed financial help to stay in school.

At the age of 26 he, along with three other colleagues from Wipro-Bangalore, was sent abroad to work as a software consultant on a three-month project for the firm of Marsh & McLennan Companies, a global professional services firm which in 2001 had 57,000 employees and an annual revenue of $10 billion. Once again Shreyas found himself able to visit the United States, enjoying his work while seeing new places and meeting new people (with his Sony Walkman as his “constant companion,” usually playing his favorite songs by the Irish rock band U2). He was assigned to work specifically for Marsh Inc., an insurance brokerage subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, located on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center’s Tower One in Manhattan.

A longtime friend and fellow employee of Wipro offered to share his Hackensack, New Jersey home with Shreyas and one of the other three consultants on the same assignment, Shashi Kiran L. Kadaba, a young man who was engaged to be married the following year. These three men spent many congenial evenings together, cooking elaborate meals of gourmet Indian food, or watching Hindi movies. Shreyas “appreciated Hollywood movies,” said the friend, “but he had a great taste for Indian movies.” On the evening of September 10, 2001 the three consumed “a wonderful dinner” in honor of the birthday of the Hindu god Krishna.

The following morning, a clear and beautiful Tuesday, Shreyas Ranganath and his three fellow colleagues from Wipro in Bangalore (Hemanth Kamar Putter, Deepika Kumar, and Shashi Kiran Kadaba) reported for work as usual. When they spoke by telephone with their immediate superior in Bangalore, “the four sounded cheerful, at the beginning of yet another busy day in New York.” About an hour later they were murdered along with 291 other employees and associates of the Marsh & McLennan Companies who worked on floors 93 to 100 of the North Tower. Forty-six other Wipro employees present in New York City that day were spared.

Shreyas Ranganath touched the hearts of many people in his short life. He had a certain quiet charm, a twinkle of fun, and an easy, sweet nature that many would later remark upon. His hard-working diligence, his excellence in his chosen field, and most of all, his generous spirit were his gift and inspiration left to the world. Wipro named a hall in Bangalore in his honor; the Marsh & McLennan monument and website bear his name. But more permanent than stone are the memories of small kindnesses and the not-so-small contributions he left and still leaves in the lives of the people he personally touched as he passed.

Shreyas Ranganath is not forgotten.

I have reposted this tribute (first run last September 11th, 2006).

This story is just one among 2,996 as told by The 2,996 Project. I did not know Shreyas Ranganath but after having written his story, I am sorry I didn't. I will not forget him.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Covering with bug bites, buried in vines

I have been busy pulling English ivy off my property and off the trees its been claiming. So I've not done much blogging, since I'm trying to get a bit of "control" in my yard before the leaves start falling here and all my "free" time will be taken up with raking.

A stay-at-home mom has got to earn her keep, after all. Nobody's paying me to sit around and blog all day (and I don't think I'd like that much either).

In the meantime, here's a nice roundup of Revolutionary War road trips you can take next time the kids have a few days off of school. Or if you are already retired and your kids are grown, you're free to head up north and see some fall color with your history. Lucky you. Incidentally, gas prices are lower again.


Sunday, September 02, 2007


Some fun and interesting reading for a relaxing Labor Day weekend:

An excellent must-read article: "Hollywood's Missing Movies" - the real back story on what was going on in Hollywood politics in the last half-century and how the legacy continues today (hat tip to Flopping Aces, or somebody else linked to or from there, or commenting somewhere, I forget now, sorry! Maybe Instapundit.).

Draft riots in Wisconsin (1862!) Who knew?

How to hide an airplane factory, geek wedding cakes, international slang names for McDonald's, and lots of other interesting things are available at A Welsh View.

More Hollywood history and social mores: "Hollywood, Westerns, and the 1930's" -- I always did wonder why "specific social and economic concerns were dramatised in a unique fictional world where cars, radio stations and newsreel reporters moved freely through nineteenth century cattle towns. In this world cowboys, dressed in gaudy, theatrical costumes, sang in radio stations and out on the prairie." (Thanks to my Dreamboat, who loves the old movies.)

Orphaned baby hedgehogs (via I forget who, sorry--maybe Ace?). Warning: intense "Aww!" content.

Cool map of federal agricultural subsidies granted to Manhattanites (graphic punch via Ace).

Modern life in America: a chance encounter between two youth in a Wal-Mart (made me laugh) (via Simi Valley Sophist).

Sippican Cottage, my new favorite blog by yet another iconoclast who writes well (via American Digest, another such animal).

Is it that time of year again already? Lileks does the Minnesota State Fair.

And I'm outahere, off to church and then to take the kids to visit Grandma.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Flying somewhere? Parents: be forewarned

Smokers have to white-knuckle it and give up cigarettes on an airplane flight for the common good. So what's so difficult about temporarily giving up sex and violence while on an airplane flight too? But here's the latest assault on common decency: airlines showing PG-13 and R-rated films throughout the cabins:

Thomas Fine and Sara Susskind of Cambridge, Mass., recently spent two hours on a United Airlines flight distracting their 6-year-old son, Zachary, from the R-rated [movie] “Shooter,” which depicts multiple gory killings. The sound of gunshots from nearby earphones alerted Zachary to look up, Mr. Fine said. “It’s not like he can look away when he hears the sound, and he’s sitting on a plane bored, and he’s 6,” Mr. Fine said.

The airlines counter that they are trying to appeal to the widest possible audience while respecting parents’ needs, and that parents can avoid shows if they wish.

“Parents have to be responsible for the actions of their kids — whether they shouldn’t look at the screen or look away,” said Eric Kleiman, director of product marketing for Continental Airlines.

Continental, you just lost all my future business. And that of every other relative and mother I tell this to.

Mr. Kleiman, of Continental, said that at times there were not enough popular romantic comedies and other lighter movies to fill the available slots in his airplanes.

Try Netflix, Mr. Kleiman. Try the sweet sound of silence. Try anything but this route. Because Mr. Kleiman, it is not a good marketing strategy for a struggling industry to offend, insult, exclude and repel families traveling with children or sending their unaccompanied minors on flights in your care. I think if I saw a PG-13 or R-rated film showing on a plane while I was traveling with small children, my mothering hormones (already upset by the stress of shepherding my child through what is these days the brutal ordeal of air travel) would probably make me go bezerk, stand up, and scream. I would probably be arrested. But that's usually my visceral reaction to a complete breakdown of common civil decency anywhere near my children. And don't ask me to pay for the privilege!

Mr. Kleiman should lose his job, in my opinion. He is neither creative nor diplomatic enough to be worth his paycheck. But Delta, United, and US Airways are just as bad:

The Association of Flight Attendants-C.W.A., a union whose members hear complaints from parents, said that the percentage of R-rated movies had jumped in the last two years and that the observed trend was toward more graphic and violent content. Delta started showing R-rated films in December, while United and US Airways have increased the frequency with which they show such films. The three airlines also featured “Fracture” last month.

Also on overhead screens are television programs like “Monk” and “Desperate Housewives,” deemed appropriate by parental review organizations for teenagers but not for children.


Nina Plotner, an account manager with Inflight Productions Inc., which works on behalf of many airlines to review and acquire films, said of the editing procedure, “If we take all the good things out, there’s not going to be a lot left to play.”

Ms. Plotner added: “If you get a complaint, you get a complaint. You can’t please everybody.”

Mr. Kleiman, of Continental, agreed, saying: “People love Pepsi, and we don’t serve that, so there you go, we just ruined their flight. That’s an accurate analogy.” Airlines said they received relatively few complaints.

I'll bet. There are relatively a lot fewer families flying these days, aren't there? I know that personally, we've spent our family vacation dollars on some great roadtrips across America since 9/11. (And by the way, that is not an accurate analogy, Mr. Kleiman, as requesting Pepsi and not getting it is not the same as being bombarded with unrequested and unwanted violent or sexual images you can't avoid unless you hide under your airline seat. Sheesh, where did you go to school?)

But maybe having an all-adult airline is a great idea. Maybe the industry should develop fragmented niches like that. Maybe that's the way Continental's going, with the laissez-les-bons-temps-rouler Mr. Kleiman at the helm. The airline companies should have the decency to warn parents ahead of time of the policy change though. Since they obviously don't, I'll do my part here.

I hate government intrusion into the free marketplace, but if you care to sign the petition complaining to the government, there's one gathering thousands of signatures at

As the petition states:

If a child-care facility aired these movies they would face criminal and civil charges. Children simply should not see these images.

Thanks, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways, for reminding us how the skies are not friendly anymore.

I urge all parents flying with younger children to avoid these carriers like the plague. And when booking flights for your family (if you must), be sure to check in advance what films, commercials, and fillers will be shown. If the airlines don't assure you they are totally family-friendly, caring about your concerns, and understanding of what common decency is, don't fly with them.

UPDATE: "Corporations are starting to realize that it's good business to be socially responsible."