Thursday, June 30, 2005

Kevin Drum wants to know

... about Tom Cruise and Scientology.

Scientology is, I guess, a religion, if by religion you mean that you take its teachings on faith, and it involves some sort of unprovable mysticism. Scientology is also not much different from more mainstream religions in its irrational opposition to various kinds of science.

A few examples:
  • The Catholic Church was ready to kill Galileo for not "admitting" that the Earth was the center of the universe.
  • Creationists or (as they call themselves today) advocates of "intelligent design theory" continue to beat the drum for a 6,000-year-old Earth and an irrational, fearful hatred for Darwin's theory of evolution.
  • Jehovah's witnesses have a problem with blood transfusions, I understand.
  • Christian Scientists, for all their positive thinking -- one aspect of the religion I happen to like -- believe modern medicine should be shunned.
And Tom Cruise apparently believes that psychiatry is bad and that his body is inhabited by an alien's dead soul. This would be scary, except that it's no different than what's been going on for thousands of years. But it doesn't make it any less dangerous. In Galileo's time, the Catholic Church was the scariest thing going. Today, I guess it's Islamists with death wishes. Irrationality is the greatest evil, whatever the era.

Cruise, who is otherwise very intelligent, is a zealot for a truly crazy set of beliefs. I noted his insistence that "I know the history of psychiatry," on the Today Show recently didn't include any statement that he actually understands the science and practice of psychiatry. Just the history. This doesn't make him an expert on therapies. As Matt Lauer did his best to stay cool and rational, Cruise came across as a jerk. A jerk with nutty ideas. To the extent that fans, enamored of his celebrity, buy in, he hurts people. People who would benefit from the kinds of treatments Cruise reviles.

Drum is right. The press needs to ask Cruise if he really, REALLY believes this crap about thetans and aliens. And then question him about his church's crusade against drug and other therapies for the mentally ill. According to Cruise's church, all you gotta do is clear out yer thetans. Perhaps trepanning (drilling a hole in the head) would help. It used to be the cure of choice for getting rid of evil spirits.

That the Church of Scientology has grown to the level it has, based on sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard's initial creation, is one more testament to the fact that a lot of people in the world somehow don't find meaning in their lives, and must look to mysticism and life-after-death promises for fulfillment.

Seeing Cruise go after Matt Lauer on national TV leaves no doubt in my mind why Nicole Kidman took her leave. She was living with a crazy man.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Re Bush's Speech

Actually, I didn't hear it. Why? I dunno. I was working on something and have been catching up with news reports today. But Andrew Sullivan has some great insights.

Rush does too. This war has, on balance been a success. and the left can't stand it. I've mentioned before that the left has been consistently incorrect in their predictions of failure in Iraq. The WMD issue is a biggie, of course, BUT, we have an insurgency now, NOT a civil war as was predicted. We had free elections (not the bloodbath the left warned us about), and the casaulties, while certainly not good, are nowhere near the "Vietnam" we keep hearing about. The left WANTS this to be Vietnam. They WANT us to lose.

Here's the deal, the only way to end this is to WIN and keep winning. Fewer will die and progress will be greater. Yes mistakes have been made. Not enough troops, intelligence failures on WMD (not the only reason we went in), etc. But pullout is not an option, and anyone who suggests it is not viewing a big picture. (Again, it is in the left's interest to focus on small-picture issues, details instead of broad strategy, symbols instead of reality.)

All is Vanity . . .

I had thought I would stop putting political comments here, but this by Peggy Noonan is too good. And it applies to both sides of the political aisle.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Movie of the year

Batman Begins is spectacularly good. As much as I enjoyed the early Tim Burton versions of the Batman story, this one really grabbed me. And, incidentally, it is far better than the last three "Star Wars" installments which slogged along under the weight of their one self-important seriousness.

The story line of Batman Begins takes Bruce Wayne in a direction we've not seen before, but one that is highly imaginative. Action sequences are breathtakingly well-paced, and not just comprised of gratuitous running, jumping and shooting. This is a character-driven movie. I mean great characters -- not cartoons -- including Michael Caine as Alfred and Gary Oldman as the "good cop" Lt. Gordon (later to become commissioner, get it?).

This doesn't really qualify as a prequel to the other films because there's one little issue. The guy that kills Wayne's parents does NOT go on to become The Joker, as is the case in Burton's film. That's as much as I'll say, because the surprises and action are worth seeing in the theater. Don't miss this one.

Friday, June 17, 2005

We're 88th

According the the Old Spice "Sweatiest City" report, South Bend, our neighbor to the west is 88th Sweatiest in the nation. Indy is #65. Chicago is 83, which seems odd to me, since you'd think all that wind would blow the sweat away, but what do I know. It DOES get kinda sticky in Wrigley Field at times.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dick Durbin: treasonous weenie

As has been reported all over the place, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has likened our troops' interrogation tactics at Gitmo to the Nazis, Pol Pot and other mass murderers. This jackass should be forced out of office. With Senators like Durbin, the enemy has no need to fear losing the war. Durbin and his ilk apparently care only for the politics of the issue, not the lives of Americans both in uniform and here at home.

The left continues to play from the Vietnam template. Back then, their politics cost thousands of troops lives, and we lost a war we should have been able to win easily. We can't let politics and anti-American guilt-mongering exact the same costs, and more, now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Why is Microsoft helping to repress the Chinese people?

Microsoft helps the Chinese government supress freedom of speech.
Chinese Censors Scold Internet Users Who Input Taboo Words, Like 'Freedom' and 'Human Rights'

SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- Chinese bloggers, even on foreign-sponsored sites, had better choose their words carefully -- the censors are watching.

Users of the MSN Spaces section of Microsoft Corp.'s new China-based Web portal get a scolding message each time they input words deemed taboo by the communist authorities -- such as democracy, freedom and human rights.
I think MS should not be cooperating with this obvious attack on basic human rights, benefits of trading in China be damned. This kind of cooperation with censorship and repression is unconscionable. Especially since China has a history of stealing our technology (or having it handed to them by certain unnamed presidents).

It has always bothered me that American companies trade in China, where peoples' rights are so disregarded. The Chinese government still imprisons people for saying the "wrong" things, forces people into labor, confiscates personal property and, when it feels it's necessary, kills its own people. It doesn't deserve the technology and consequent freedom Microsoft brings, and morally, Microsoft shouldn't give it to them. The Chinese government needs to understand that the benefits of capitalism shouldn't come to a government that has no concept of freedom.

As to the censorship of it's MSN Spaces web site based on the rules of a foreign government, Microsoft should be ashamed. And Microsoft should just say "Hell no." If this technology is important to the Chinese people and/or its government, it comes without restrictions, especially restrictions that are a clear violation of our sacred values.

I am a capitalist, but this is worse than a sell-out. It's anti-American. And I never thought I'd say this about a company I respect for so many other reasons.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Here come the lawyers

Emmett Tyrrell presents another indication of how our legal system is not really about justice or protecting people so much as it is about a) making huge fees or b)political agendas or both.