Miss Ladybug and the Draft:

Texas Blogger Miss Ladybug has a post up on a Marine lamenting the absence of a draft. She says she'd like to hear your opinions on the subject, if you please.


Signs You've Been in China Too Long:

I happened across this list today while doing some other internet research; but I couldn't resist it. It will probably only be funny to people who have actually spent some time in China, but if you have, it's hilarious.

Several of the items I found funniest deal with the propensity in Chinese culture for people to absolutely refuse to give you a straight answer about anything -- especially if they have any sort of authority.

112. You accept without question the mechanic's analysis that the car is "Broken" and that it will cost you a lot of money to get it "Fixed".

146. In a meeting you say everything will be 'wonderful' and give no details.

219. You think "white pills, blue pills, and pink powder" is an adequate answer to the question "What are you giving me, doctor?"
I think I've related my story about trying to get paid in China. "When will I be paid?" "Maybe today!" Three months later...


Australian Women:

One of the best friends I've ever had was a fellow from Freemantle, Australia. The wife and I met him in China when we were living there. He was an outright scoundrel, who had scammed the Australian welfare state into believing he was so crazy that he deserved a lifelong full pension, as he was incapable of working even eight hours a week; which pension was to be mailed to him in China, in US dollars, to enable him to pursue full-time studies in a foreign language.

I think he probably worked as hard getting and keeping that pension -- the not-totally-insensible Australian bureaucracy was forever trying to summon him for a review of the thing, since it was self-evidently suspicious -- as he would have done at a job of any kind. He had understood the key thing about psychology, though, which is that it is only masquerading as a science -- it really has no capacity either to prove or disprove any of its claims. As a result of that, and his knowledge of the arrangement of the bureaucracy, he was invincible.

That description can hardly recommend him to you, so let me add that he was a genuine philosopher on top of these less desirable qualities; a poet, and a man who could recite poetry at the drop of a hat; and as insightful and clever a man, and as good a conversationalist, as I've ever known. Between his capacity to provoke new thoughts and to explore them with you, and his ability to make even the dreariest winter evening (with no heat, again) into a delight, I wouldn't have held the pension against him if I had been paying it myself.

One of the things I remember him telling me was that he never dated Australian women -- that is, his own countrywomen. "They're not like other women," he said. "They're castrators."

I've known very few Australian women myself, so I can't inform the debate on the question as to whether or not he was being fair. I might suggest, however, that insofar as he was correct, it is not without some cause.

Search on for 'sexiest feminist'

THE men's magazine which sparked outrage when it offered a $10,000 boob job as a competition prize has responded to its critics by launching a search for Australia's sexiest feminist.

Zoo Weekly magazine angered health and women's groups when it urged men to "win" their girlfriend a boob job by sending in shots of her cleavage.

The lad's mag today revealed its new competition - a search "for the hottest girl in sensible shoes" - promising the winner a year's supply of deodorant and a sexy photo shoot.

"If you hate men, we want to see photos of you in sexy lingerie," the ad reads.

Magazine editor Paul Merrill said the new competition was the magazine's way of offering its critics an olive branch.

No doubt that's just how it will be received.
Movies. Everybody loves movies. We here at the hall have our on going film fest, we talk about them alot and well, when I saw this meme over at Villianous Company, I liked it so much that I'm taking it on, because, well, I like it so much. So there. And my response would get lost in the comments over there.

1. Name a movie you've seen more than 10 times.
Zulu. Conan the Barbarian. Starwars. Yojimbo. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

2. Name a movie you've seen multiple times in the theater.
The original Star Wars.

3. Name an actor who would make you more inclined to see a movie.
Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken, Peter O'Toole, Charles Laughton, Rutger Hauer. Funny, I can't think of an actress that I'd go out of my way to see.

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to see a movie.
Sean Penn, Alec Baldwinn, John Travolta, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins (These are Cassandra's picks, but you know what? I wouldn't go see a movie with these people either.)

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.
The Duellists. Zulu. Conan the Barbarian. Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

6. Name a movie musical, to which you know all the lyrics to all of the songs.
Guys and Dolls. "I got the horse right here..."

7. Name a movie with which you've been known to sing along.
Guys and Dolls.

8. Name a movie you would recommend everyone see.
Samurai Fiction. Spaghetti Western Samurai film? I dunno. Go see it anyway. You won't regret it.

9. Name a movie you own.
Pirates of the Carribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Yo ho me hearties.

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.
Mark Wahlberg. Who knew he could act?

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?
Cheech and Chong's "Up in Smoke". Boy, that dates me.

12. Ever made out in a movie?
See last question. :) (Yeah, that was Cassandra's response too.)

13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t yet gotten around to it..
Pork Chop Hill.

14. Ever walked out of a movie?
I wanted to walk out of the Prestige but my wife wouldn't let me.

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.
Tout les Matins du Monde. Yes, I admit it. When Monsieur de Sainte Colombe plays his music for his dead wife.

16. Popcorn?
I'm not paying those prices.

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?
When there is something worth while seeing on the big screen.

18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?

19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?
Anything that tells a good tale.

20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
The Swiss Family Robinson.

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?
The Prestige.

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed? a way all movies are weird. The Big Lebowski, maybe. The life Aquatic (another of Cassandra's answers) is also weird but enjoyable. So is Lost in Translation.

23. What is the scariest movie you've seen?
The Ring. (the original Japanese one, which I saw not knowing what I was in for).

24. What is the funniest movie you've seen?
The Blues Brothers. Literally fell out of my seat laughing in the theater.

Cassandra's questions:

What was the last movie you saw at home?
Voices of a Distant Star. A very short, but poignant Anime about love across (literally) time and Space. And it has giant robots too.

If you had to name your top ten favorite movies of all time, what would they be? And why are they your favorites?

Geez, its film class again. Well, these are movies I'll stop and watch if they happen to be on TV, and I own them all too.

In no particular order:

Zulu. This just all comes together perfectly.
Conan the Barbarian. More fun than it has any right to be. Has the best line ever spoken in a movie.
The Seven Samurai. This movie is tool cool for words. The Magnificent Seven pales in comparison.
Henry V (Kenneth Branaugh's version). What's not to like about this? Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare.
Ran. Kurosawa's take on King Lear. A visual feast, and the tragedy smacks you upside the head at the end.
The Duellists. Harvey Keitel, Keith Carradine, directed by Ridley Scott, based on a Joseph Conrad novella. Has to be seen.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Still holds up. Come back and you will laugh a second time!
Spirited Away. Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece. If you ever get a chance to see it on the big screen do so.
Pirates of the Carribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Pirates. Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush are just spot on. What we wish Pirates had been.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It's not history, it's not the West, but its majestic all the same. Morricone's score makes the movie.

Fed Soc Debate

The Federalist Society Debate:

InstaPundit participated in a Federalist Society debate on gun rights and the Parker v. D.C. case. (I think his point on them denying cert to the case is a canny one.) It's interesting.

As usual, the debate centers on whether the "militia" part of the 2A overrides the "shall not be infringed" part. The main collectivist argues that the phrase "bear arms" had an exclusively military context in the 18th century, for example; and therefore that the right must pertain only to military uses.

It seems an odd point to me. It's obvious from the literature that (a) the Founders expected the states to maintain a militia, and also (b) that they are securing a "right of the people" rather than a "power of the states." There are two other uses of the phrase "right of the people" in the Constitution, in the 1A and 4A, protecting what are clearly individual rights. There is no reason to believe -- indeed, it would be an extraordinary claim -- that the Founders used the same phrase both right before (1A) and right after (4A) the 2A, but intended the middle use of the phrase to carry a wholly different meaning from the other two.

The government does not bother to regulate the militia, but that does not invalidate the right. That the government falls down on its part of the bargain should only strengthen the individual right, not wash it away. The 1A use of the term "right of the people" guarantees a right to petition the government for redress of grievances. If the government refused to redress any grievances, the right to make the petition would still exist.

More, the refusal of the government to accept petitions for redress would amplify rather than suppress your right to make such petitions. It would be just to make louder petitions, more frequent petitions, not fewer and softer ones.

If the government has fallen down on the business of regulating the militia, that has increased rather than suppressed the danger of modern society; and it has therefore amplified rather than minimized the right to bear arms. If Americans were trained as militia and regularly bore arms about themselves in that capacity, we would find little need to worry about terrorists or hostage-takers or even common criminals. Since that is not the case, our reason to carry arms in self defense is only increased.

The government's failure should never be read as a reason to limit the rights of citizens. When the government fails to execute its duties, the citizens' rights amplify. They are the ones who must make up the difference; and so they need more and greater rights, not fewer and less.

Time to Die

A Time to Die:

What to say about this article?

For the last decade or so, economists have been telling us that the baby boomers, who represent over one-quarter of our total population, are about to become the beneficiaries of the greatest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history.... Depending on how they crunch the numbers and what models of economic growth they use, the experts estimate that somewhere between $41 and $136 trillion will pass from one generation to another in the next fifty years. Yes, that’s trillion, a number that almost defies comprehension.
Seems like the Baby Boomers were the beneficiaries of the last great transfer of wealth, too -- the postwar boom that their fathers and mothers created, which allowed the young men and women of the late 1950s and the 1960s to begin adulthood among prosperity unheard of in human history. Having started their adult lives with unprecedented wealth built by their parents, the Baby Boom will now drain the coffers of their children and grandchildren to finance their retirement.

Not that it's anyone's fault. Nobody picks when to be born; we'll talk about picking when to die here in a bit, but not yet. First, we have to talk about the technology.

We've increased longetivity but not productivity -- a man is still done with work by seventy at the outside in most cases, but he might have another twenty years of eating to do. Any society has to feed a large mass of unproductive citizens as it is -- children. None, not even ours, can afford to feed most of its citizens for twenty years at the end of their lives as well.

What to do about it, though? Tell them to die?
“I love my parents, they’re good people, but you can’t help wondering: How long will they live? My mom’s only seventy-two and Dad’s seventy-six, which isn’t very old these days. If I have to take care of them, and I will, what happens to me and my family? What about my retirement? Who’s going to take care of that?”

The answer is: nobody. There’s Social Security, of course, but at best it promises a life at the bare subsistence level.
There's not even that, not really. When the Federal pensions come due at the same time as the Baby Boom demands on Social Security, the system will break.

Having seen the outer edge of it, I can tell you that the funds that are left at the end of life dry up fast. The government doesn't keep its promises. It doesn't keep them now to those due VA benefits; as the budget breaks later, it won't keep them at all. Then what? A family cares for its own, that's what.

The cost of individually caring for those who can't pay their way is high. What we need is to make old age livable enough that people can work and earn most of their days. Making life survivable is far simpler than leaving people productive, though -- the medicine required to keep the body from dying is simpler, though expensive.

That's for society. I want to talk to you men who are like me, who have the feeling about these things that I have. Until technology reaches that level, there is an ethical duty on us.

We've got to learn when to die, those of us who don't die naturally before we grow too old. Might be we should talk about that for a bit. It seems like a hard question. I don't hold with suicide as such, and many others don't as well. Yet no man would impoverish his children or his grandchildren just to keep himself alive a few more years.

So: How can a man die well? When is the right time? Until the technology catches up with us, we need to think about these things. Let us hear what you think.

Wal Mart

Wal Mart Manager Imposes Himself:

An interesting story from VCDL's weekly report:

About a month ago, a relative of mine was in the Wal-Mart in Fairlawn. He was doing some shopping while open carrying his weapon. After being in the store for a little while, he was confronted by the assistant store manager, Jim Hancock, who told him that he was breaking the law by carrying his firearm, and asked him to remove it in the store and let him take it. When my relative said no, the manager told him that he could either go with him to the office and "straighten this out" or be prosecuted.

He said, "OK," not knowing what he was going to be prosecuted for.

When they got to the back of the store, the assistant manager then called the Pulaski Sheriff's Department and put the deputy on speaker phone and asked what my relative could be charged with. When the deputy told him that there was no law being broken, he then hung up and started telling my relative that "things were going to change when the next president was elected...and people like my relative
were going to lose their rights to carry weapons."

When my relative wanted to leave, he was told that he had to write a report. After the report was written and signed, he then told him to leave the property. There were witnesses to this.
It's nice to know that you can accost someone, demand to seize their property, demand that they stop their business and accompany you to speak to a policeman (isn't that an arrest?), and then -- when you find out that your quarry isn't breaking the law -- harrangue them, deny them the right to leave until you fill out your "report"...

...and still claim that they are the ones who should be regarded by society as lawbreakers.