Can you freakin’ believe that we have to go back to the polls on Tuesday?

My ass still hurts from the last time I voted. As pointless as the general election is for me (I’ve never elected a President, a Senator, a Congressman, a city council member, and 99% of the propositions go against me as well), the municipal elections are even worse.

Minorities–ideological minorities, I mean–are simply not well represented in our current system. I sometimes think that’s a real advantage of the parliamentary system: Votes are apportioned according to party instead of being winner take all.

Libertarian Optimism

“Expecting Washington to cut back its main instrument of power after a capitalism-bashing political campaign is like expecting Michael Moore to share his Egg McMuffin with a homeless man.”

The above from a piece by Gillespie and Welch which is remarkably optimistic given the massive spending. Bankruptcy could lead to–must inevitably lead to?–greater responsibility and less spending and control? Maybe? Dunno.

John Stossel is less sanguine.

It’s true that technology–far from the oppressor imagined by Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury–has mostly had a salubrious effect on liberty. Which is not to say that there aren’t victims.

Gillespie and Welch’s premise seems to be that, in many ways, people are becoming accustomed to tremendous freedom, especially through the ‘net. (We are all anarchists now, after a fashion.) This, in turn, will lead to draining of political power.

That might could be. (Yes, “might could”. Gotta problem with that?)

It’s certainly a nice thought. I think I’ll adopt it. See how it grows.

Darcy asked me the other day if I was optimistic, with regard to people and events. Not exactly. With people, I prefer to dwell on their better aspects. Their worst aspects are likely to be banal, but the ways in which they excel or thrive are more likely to be interesting and useful. (Unless, I suppose, one is an extortionist.)

There’s an optimism one adopts when taking on a project. The idea is that it should succeed. That’s why one generally bothers at all. (And I do the occasional project that I know will “fail” because its success is separate from what I’m trying to get out of it.)

But for large events–society-wide events–history is a bit of a buzzkill. Here we are, in this Golden Age–for surely it is a Golden Age, warts and all–when history demonstrates that all such ages pass, and sooner rather than later. And it’s so easy to see–or at least think we see–the reasons why.

But what else can one do but try to stop that, at least until things get so bad the ship must be abandoned?

That doesn’t sound very optimistic, though, does it?


I wrote about fairness not long ago on these virtual pages and I wanted to point out that there is one area in which I’m particularly unreasonable on the topic: My children.

In an early experiment with one of the Boy Scout groups, The Boy entered a Pinewood Derby. Apart from shaping the wood with the power tools, which no one in his age group could do, I required him to do everything on his own. I was there to offer advice–not that I had much to give–but I wasn’t going to be sanding, oiling, talcing or whatever tricks they do for those things.

Which, on the day of the race was evident, were extensive and well researched by all the fathers involved. The disinterest from the actual boys was obvious but the guys my age? They were into it. Not even the vaguest premise of having the troopers do their own work.

This is a minor unfairness, and it had its own value in showing The Boy the way of the world.

A more serious unfairness is that The Boy has been sick for the past three days from drinking water and the vegetable juice. His blood sugars have been great, fortunately, and this is precisely what the doctor said would happen, but I feel bad.

I’m an old man (at least relatively) and somehow this stuff isn’t affecting me negatively at all. It’s just unfair that a 13-year-old should have to put up with it. His whole life’s been a lot harder than it should be. We do this on the hope that he’ll come out the other side better.

Which brings me to the subject of de-toxification.

Detoxification is a hot topic because every quack pedlling snake oil talks about “detox”. Like those foot guys on the television selling wasabi or kinoki or shinobi or whatever it is that, if I’m not mistaken, takes the dirty outer layer of skin off your feet and tells you you’re being purified.

The drinking of distilled water at regular intervals is done to provide the body with a basic, necessary resource to let it do its thing. (The vegetable juice is for minerals; these guys are crazy about the minerals! Later we add calcium.) The symptoms of this detoxification process are runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, lots of phlegm in the lungs (with coughing), and even things like fever or some nausea. Even if you don’t understand how it happens, you sort of have to respect the predictability of it, given that there’s no conventional medical reason that slightly greater hydration should lead to it.

One of my main issues regarding “snake oil”–a term I use affectionately about a time period before the government locked up medicine–is that the theories behind them may be completely whack. That doesn’t mean the medicine’s no good.

My canonical reference is Ignaz Semmelweiss, who didn’t know why washing your hands before surgery helped, he just knew that it did. Likewise, ancient astrologers (sorry, guys, they were astrologers at the time, not astronomers!) could map the motion of the planets in the sky, even though their understanding of said bodies was fanciful at best.

And so I take that approach with medicine. (Alternative or otherwise. You don’t get a free pass from me just ‘cause you can prescribe drugs.) I’m utterly unconvinced by the theories behind mood-altering drugs, and in every case I’ve seen them used, they’ve failed.

And then there are the enema guys.

You know the enema guys, right? They have a long, storied history going back to the Kellogg brothers of Battle Creek, Michigan. And, oh, my, they have pictures! Pictures of twisted intestines, all gnarled up by residual fecal matter and, heavens, it’s quite awful.

But the enema guys have a problem, I think: We now have footage of the insides of people’s colons, and they don’t appear to be the messes that the enema guys predict. I haven’t thoroughly researched this, mind you: I’m just going by the shots that I’ve seen which show the walls of the intestines to be pretty clear. (And by their own literature, the enema is necessary to clean said intestines out, the drink you get before a colonoscopy shouldn’t be sufficient.)

I’ve not seen any benefits from enemas that couldn’t be explained by the rapid infusion of caffeine into the blood stream. (Enemas are often done with coffee, and the lower intestines are way more absorptive than the digestive system from top-to-bottom.) And this absorption factor makes enemas potentially dangerous, too.

But now watch this sleight-of-hand: I’m totally willing to let the enema guys be, because, hey, I could be wrong. And people need to have the right to explore these things on their own. That’s just how I roll. As it stands, right now conventional medicine is being hampered by government regulation. And, predictably, politics–more than science–seems to be the big factor in what gets made available.

An effort to make things fair always seems to make things even more unfair than ever.

But The Book Was Better

The unlikely-ly named Willing Davis has penned a screed for Slate which boils down to “the book is better”. In fairness, the author notes the triteness of the very premise, but he endeavors to explain the reasons in terms of plot versus story.

Well, hell, Joe Bob Briggs has been saying that for years: “Too much plot gettin’ in the way of the story!”

It’s usually true that the book is “better” than the movie, for some definition of “better”, but I like to point out the mystery that is Silence of the Lambs. The book is almost identical to the movie, yet it’s one of the greatest movies of all time, where the book is … not. (Not that it’s a bad book or anything of the sort.)

But you can smell the sentiment coming. You may know which one I’m talking about if you’re a regular reader:

It was released in 1985, and the great run of 1970s American film culture was just coming to an end.

You just knew it had to be one of those guys who loved nihilism and avocado green, didn’t you? (I did!) It makes me completely suspicious of his recommendation of Schrader’s Mishima, the virtues of which he is extolling. (Though one should always be wary of Schrader films.)

David follows up with:

Ironically, it was partly Lucas’ Star Wars franchise that proved how lucrative giving the people what they want, repeatedly, could be.

That’s not ironic: Spielberg and Lucas are movie lovers. That means they don’t just love arty flicks or popcorn flicks. It means they love movies. How could it be otherwise?

If not for L&S’s popcorn fare–or something similar in its place–moviemaking would be a complete niche that few cared about.

(H/T Instapundit, the Himbo.)

Dead Cowboys

One of the wonders of the K-TEL years was that I heard about two lines from every song ever made, the entirety of which would be delivered to me in 2, 3, or 4 record collection filled with other songs I also knew two lines of (from the same commercial), sung by musical groups I often hadn’t heard of.

One of those albums was a Statler Bros. collection, and they were singing about the movies and how neurotic and sexualized they had become. Not knowing anything else, it seemed sort of quaint a notion. Heck, I used to walk or drive by a porn theater daily as a youngster–itself a quaint notion these days.

Anyway, someone put that song “Whatever Happened To Randolph Scott?” along with a Sons of the Pioneers (?) song “Cool Water” to a bunch of photos of dead actor-cowboys. (At this point, long dead, many before I was born.)

Maybe some of y’all will enjoy that.

OK, Back To The Serious Fun….

Well, with all the attention on Alex Lotorto and his band of merry Mac-wielding, terrorist-lovin’ protestors, we’ve gotten away from what’s really important on this blog: movies and pointy breasts.

Nah, unfortunately, we still got the Oscars clog. We might go see The Class (which lost for Best Foreign Language Picture) or the Joaquin Phoenix flick Two Lovers. I can’t quite gin up the mojo to spend any bucks on a Friday the 13th flick. I do see that they remade(ish) the second film rather than the first, which was smart. It opened big and then dropped a whopping 80% in the next weekend.

I do need to move on to reviewing the rest of the series, tho’. After that, I’ll probably fisk Wall-E. And maybe the Harry Potter series.

Also the fourth (and possibly final) Futurama “movie” arrived and that needs a looking at.

Minimum Standards

Politics notwithstanding, wouldn’t you think that writing an article about something that hasn’t happened at would violate minimum standards of professionalism? And yet, every few months, we get one of these. In fact, I might be wrong, but this doesn’t seem like the first time we’ve gotten one of these “time machine missives” from Ms. Loven her own self.

I read many years ago that journalists make up the story first, then go out to collect the facts to support it, and I thought to myself, “Self, that’s a colorful exaggeration. I’m sure it’s bad, but surely it’s not that bad. Surely!”

How naive I was. Sometimes, they don’t even bother to collect supporting facts.

Up Till Now, Everything Was Okay

It is a characteristic of men that they are stoic. Not to say that all men are stoic, and certainly I know some who play up minor illnesses and injuries in a bid to win sympathy from their significant others. But stoicism is a manly feature. To the point of stupidity, even: Men will let health conditions go too long, until they’re untreatable.

Up till recently, I’d not thought of myself as particularly stoic. I’d noticed a few things and I attributed them to getting older. Unlike, say, Instapundit, I’m not particularly concerned about death, but I’ve always–especially when younger–wondered which features normally attributed to senescence were not due to some other factors.

In my case, apparently, a lot. But until I started drinking the water, I didn’t know how many.

I mentioned stiffness and morning vision blurriness, but in a week I’ve noticed that the occasional tinnitus, digestive issues, farsightedness, fatigue and a few other things I just assumed were me “getting older” have rolled back.

As I said, stoic to a fault: It’s one thing to endure and another to be so accepting you never try to improve things.

We’ve started to add in some juiced leafy greens, which isn’t as bad as it sounds.

The Boy’s blood sugar has been coming down but it’s still not quite under control. He’s had to undergo some dietary changes, and I think he’s somewhat depressed about that, though he is being a good sport. A big change is that he’s waking up faster: Most of my kids have a “need that first cup of coffee” kind of wake-up cycle, The Boy especially so. The doc attributed that to low morning blood sugars. The water’s made a big difference there.

I’ll keep posting on it, as the story progresses.

The Joys of being Seven

“Can I pour the water?”
“Sure…Can you…okay, I’ll get it, you hold the bottle.”
[Water comes out. Laughter. Bottle fills.“
"That was awesome!

We have the 2.5 gallons of water with the spigot at the bottom. Gravity–always a reliable source of entertainment–does the rest.

The Flower had another basketball game today and was her usual presence on the court, though I did notice that the other team was particularly huge today. She’s at the bottom edge of the age for the league and there are guys who must weigh half-again or more what she weighs.

Doesn’t stop her from snatching the ball, mind you. This may have something to do with playing with The Boy who is a foot or two bigger and more than twice as heavy. He does not treat her gently, either. (Oh, he holds back, but he’s at that stage where he doesn’t know his own strength.)

On The Flower’s team is a kid who is playing up a league. He’s younger than The Flower–and shorter and lighter, and not a super-gifted natural athlete, but he plays up a league by his own choice. He’s also completely unintimidated by the much bigger players and relentlessly enthusiastic.

Sometimes you can see at an early age who is most likely to succeed and why.

Well, I Guess TCM’s “Days of Oscar” Is Over

…because right now they’re showing House on Skull Mountain, which is a blaxploitation version of “The Old Dark House”.

Victor French, a fixture on westerns (and “Get Smart”) throughout the ‘60s and ’70s stars as the white relative, with a bunch of other cast members who went on to “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons”.