Sunday, November 25, 2007

In Our Future
Question: What happens when tolerance, multiculturalism, and universal healthcare collide?

Answer: Taxpayer funded hymen replacement surgery for Muslim women!

A Hillarycare future is near.

Sounds of the Season
John Denver sings Please Daddy Don't Get Drunk this Christmas.

An Inconvenient Admission
I saw this news article on the UN admitting that they have overhyped the global AIDS epidemic.
The United Nations' top AIDS scientists plan to acknowledge this week that they have long overestimated both the size and the course of the epidemic, which they now believe has been slowing for nearly a decade, according to U.N. documents prepared for the announcement.
They also dramatically revised downward their math:
The latest estimates, due to be released publicly Tuesday, put the number of annual new HIV infections at 2.5 million, a cut of more than 40 percent from last year's estimate, documents show. The worldwide total of people infected with HIV -- estimated a year ago at nearly 40 million and rising -- now will be reported as 33 million.
The problem is a few million less than we said it was. But who's counting?

A critic of the UN's science speaks the truth here:
"There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda,"
Hmmm. So what other consensus science is the UN pushing? Given the track record, we should immediately discount almost by half anything that they say about global warming, and then go from there.

We Are the Disease
A friend of mine once dated a girl who, one night while eating pizza with a group of us, proudly proclaimed "humans are the disease! I knew then that it was not her mind that my friend was attracted to. I was reminded of this when I read an article of a UK woman who aborted her pregnancy "to save the planet".
"Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," says Toni, 35.

"Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."

While most parents view their children as the ultimate miracle of nature, Toni seems to see them as a sinister threat to the future.
There's just a bit too much of the anti-human infused within contemporary environmentalism. The incessant drumbeat of environmental doom and exploitation of gaia-mother at the hands of rapacious humans. That we came so close to electing the cyborg-ish "Mr. Environment" Al Gore bears this out.

It's amazing how so many gravitate toward self-loathing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Words Written Across an Ass
Who wears Hollister more: MILFs or their kids?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Books I Read:
All the Pretty Horses
The Crossing
Cities of the Plains

by Cormac McCarthy

Years can go by within a lifetime of reading where nothing shakes you to the core so much as having read a powerful book. The book itself ceases to be a stack of bound papers, but transcends into something else - a dangerous thing that exudes its own life, like a wild dog you lock in a closet, or a loaded gun, a diamond you hide from others eyes, or a talisman that grants power. Books like that become something you want to talk less about to others. You treat such a book as a secret bestowed, something that would be a betrayal if offered to others. I can remember various books from my life that requited such tribute: A Clockwork Orange, 1984, The Fountainhead, Foucault's Pendulum. Most recently, after a lull of years, another book joined this roster: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
While this review is not about Blood Meridian, it has relevance with the "Border Trilogy" of books headlining this post. Blood Meridian detailed the ferocity of a band of American outlaws traversing the US/Mexico borderland pursuing carnage for the sake of carnage itself. The band being led by "The Judge", a literary character akin to Marlon Brando's Kurtz. McCarthy's hallucinatory narrative of hellishness speaks through starkly written prose. A portal into a landscape imaginable by Hieronymus Bosch.

In contrast with Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy humanizes this landscape, narrowing down to more personalized encounters with the land south of the border. The first two books each detail personal journeys of their protagonists. In All the Pretty Horses, young John Grady Cole decides south Texas doesn't do much for him, so he and a friend strike out for Mexico to serve as ranch hands. Cole ends up falling in love with the daughter of a wealthy hacienda owner, a match disapproved of by the family matriarch. A violent past catches up with Cole, landing him and his friend in jail. Release from jail and getting back the girl mark then second half of the book.

The Crossing, the second book of the trilogy, shifts in tone and narrative structure. The book is not the romantic tale of its predecessor but instead an odyssey told in three parts. The first part details young Billy Parham working the ranchlands of borderland New Mexico. He and his father are tracking a wolf terrorizing the cattle herds of the region. Billy's father teaches his son the ropes of tracking the animal, leading to a protracted match of hunter and hunted. A chance encounter with an old Mexican mystic reveals the soul of the animal, an understanding of the wolf from the wolf's point of view. Billy is armed with an insight into the animal. Eventually, Billy captures the she-wolf which forces a choice: return the wolf to the ranchers to collect the bounty, or return the wolf to Mexico, its land of origination. Empathetic of the wolf, Billy eschews a return home and crosses the border with the wolf muzzled and in-tow behind his horse. In Mexico, Billy's attempt to return the wolf to the Mexican hinterlands is thwarted by a band of men involved in animal fighting carnivals. These men commandeer the wolf from Billy and employ it in dog-fighting carnage. As literature, McCarthy's set-piece scene culminates in force and power, sadness and triumph. The tragic conclusion of the scene marks a transformation in the soul of Billy and is followed by several chapters of Billy wandering the Mexican countryside trying to make sense of the loss of the wolf.

After an untold time of travel, Billy returns to his homeland, only to find out his family murdered and his brother Boyd orphaned. This shift in narrative marks the second section of the book which details the journey of Billy and Boyd back to Mexico to track down their father's horses. Whomever murdered their father stole the family's horses and sold them to a hacienda owner in Mexico. This second crossing into Mexico takes up a large section of the book and is marked by visionary and dreamlike descriptions of escalating events whose conclusion leads to the third and final portion of the book, a final crossing back into Mexico to set things to rights as best as can be done. With each subsequent crossing, Billy's soul is irreversibly altered and transformed.

The last book of the trilogy, Cities of the Plains is set a few years later. The main characters of the first two books, John Grady Cole and Billy Parham are, in this story, ranchhands working for the same family just outside of El Paso, Texas. A shorter book, McCarthy employs a straightforward narrative to illustrate a story involving John Grady Cole's love and obsession with a Mexican prostitute working just across the Rio Grande in Juarez, Mexico. Cole's intention is to marry the prostitute and bring her back to America for a new life. Standing in the way of his intentions is her pimp, a calm, businesslike man capable of quick bursts of temper and extreme violence. The conclusion of the book encapsulates what we have come to know of the characters Cole and Parham having journeyed with them throughout the Border Trilogy of books.

The US/Mexico border serves as both a geographic boundary and also an existential boundary. It is the existential boundary that provides the depth of McCarthy's writing. The orderliness of America is contrasted with the difference found below the border. The American characters traverse a mystical and alien culture that they cannot fully comprehend. A weight of ancestry guides the fate and fatalism of the people. The aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, only a few years distant history in the time of the narratives, deepens the aura of disorder and chaos guiding the land. This is the Mexico that the characters are immersed in. The order and predictability of their American experience that they bring with them to Mexico serves them well at times and at times serves them not at all. McCarthy's use of this device, of a nether land beyond a boundary, provides the narrative dreamscape which elevates the books of the Border Trilogy into great literature. Life is marked by borders that beckon. Lines to be crossed, choices to be made, transformational decisions to be reckoned with.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

An Evening with Mark Steyn
I ventured down to Boston area mid-week to meet up with Jackdied and Bobsalive of team-blog Jackdied to hear columnist extraordinaire Mark Steyn give a speech on Western declinism and the looming demographic and cultural death that America will have to deal with in the present and future.

Jackdied's post on the event neatly sums up the talk and our impressions. Mark Steyn is easily one of the funniest and precient thinkers out there and I strongly recommend readers seek out this man and his columns. Knowing the extant of the retrograde forces out there, it encourages one to be less tolerant of and more vocal in challenging any and all examples of extreme moonbattery and as a whole the Marxian Industrial Complex and its Gramscian minions.

As Mark Steyn correctly notes, the future is there for those who show up and the footrace there has already begun.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Heart's Wilderness
Mrs. Rants and I went to see Sean Penn's adaptation of Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild a week ago and both of us really liked it. I thought Penn might have outdone Krakauer in examining the emotional and philosophical depths that animated Chris McCandless, the subject of the book and movie. For those unfamiliar with the book, it is a biography of a lonely young man who roamed the American west soon after graduating from university. McCandless dropped out of touch from his parents and sister and indulged in various odd jobs and adventures as he sought for life's meaning. He eventually journeyed to Alaska where he set out into wilderness and found refuge in an abandoned bus left rusting near the banks of a river. McCandless lived in hermit fashion, finding companionship in the library of Russian novels he brought with him into the wild. After weeks of solitude, McCandless starved to death, brought down by a misidentification of susposedly edible plants. His body was eventually discovered by hunters, bringing forth a posthumous reunification with his parents.

What I liked about Penn's dipiction was it dwelt less on trying to excuse McCandless (the ultimate point of Krakauer's book) and instead celebrated an untamed joy that fueled McCandless' pursuit of meaning. One cannot know for sure what ultimately drove McCandless. Krakauer followed McCandless' track and interviewed the people he crossed paths with. From their recollections it was clear that McCandless was a vagabond searching for meaning in companionship and solitude. And he left life-changing impressions with everyone he met. Penn does well to depict this, reveling in the off-the-grid communes and fringes of American wilderness where McCandless crossed paths with people living on society's edge. Bravo to Penn for spending time in these off-kilter landscapes: the Dakota prairie, the Burning Man-esque environs of the Salton Sea, the Alaskan Taiga. The movie was like a great 2 hours of the Travel Channel filled with interesting characters and hidden America.

More than this, Penn's movie is a meditative exploration of a wilderness of the heart, examining how far one will go to find the purpose of life after casting off material posessions, career expectations, familial commitments, and attachment to others. McCandless went to the Alaskan wilderness in order to find answers to the wilderness that was in his heart. Penn suggests covincingly that in this northern wilderness McCandless found what he went there in search of. As he lay dying, Penn's moral may be that in a flip-side to Sartre, life is other people. Penn's conclusion includes McCandless meditating on Tolstoy:
And all people live, Not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people.