a blog a day
b$ and mc chat it up about life, politics, and pop culture

Monday, May 10, 2004  

Stress hits a very disturbing nail right on the head.

It's the old "soft on crime" debate writ large, I have not doubt that the freedom loving public would, in the absense of the Judicial branch, prefer many less rights for the accused, and much greater power for law enforcement. People don't imagine themselves as the falsely accused, they imagine themselves as the victims of crime. When the accused are much worse than normal criminals (terrorists) and exclusively composed of members of an alien and despised culture (Muslims) those feelings are amplified.

posted by Brandon | 9:45 AM

Monday, April 05, 2004  

The WSJ Opinion Journal is almost never worth reading except to know what ridiculous crap the Republican party would like us to believe today, but I think this piece by Mark Bowden, the Atlantic Monthly correspondent who wrote Black Hawk Down, is pretty decent.

I agree with him that justice and respect for humanity (not to mention our credibility) require that we try to find the people responsible for this and punish them. This is where I can buy the Kantian retributivist argument that punishing is necessary to show that we respect Iraqis as persons, i.e. moral agents who understand basic decency and so are responsible when they violate it. Letting this go without response is not only backing down in the face of thugs, it's refusing to hold Iraqis to the same moral standards we would hold other people. That's condescending - the people who killed those Americans and mutilated their bodies are just as human as you or I and they knew exactly how horrific their actions were -- that's why they were so exhillerated. That's sick, and out of respect for the victims, ourselves, morality, and the Iraqis themselves, we ought to seek retribution against the perpetrators.

posted by Brandon | 7:32 AM

Thursday, March 04, 2004  

The V+ e-mailed me the link to this post over at Eschaton. As Atrios says, I couldn't have written a parody this good.

posted by Brandon | 7:32 AM

Monday, March 01, 2004  

The Institute for Humanist Studies has a religious studies professor review The Passion. A little meandering, at times, but here's the best point:

"The success of the film, to be fair, will depend on whether it is judged to do what it sets out to do. (Roger Ebert is on record as saying that this is the only criterion by which to judge a film like this -- whether it 'succeeds' in its artistic purpose.) But it is not clear what 'a film like this' is, or what the filmmaker's purpose really was. At one level, the film is grossly and deliberately under-theologized, as though we are being fed accurate data and asked to bring our own religious conviction to its interpretation. On that ground, the film fails because the passion story in the gospels is not historical data: it is a composition built up of Old Testament prophecies and psalms that were applied to the life of Jesus, or more accurately, used to explain his untimely and unexpected death, late in the first century. Everything from the cross to the thirst to the piercing of the hands and feet to the mocking of bystanders can be found in Ps. 22, with bits from Zech. 12:10, Isa. 53:7. Ex. 12:1ff, and the rest in a little-read book known as the Book of Wisdom thrown in for good measure.

Almost every detail of the passion of the Christ -- even the words of Jesus on the cross -- are lifted from Psalm 22.15ff.: 'My throat is dry as dust; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth ... My enemies look at me and stare. They gamble for my clothes, and divide them among themselves.' While the early Christians explained this striking similarity as the fulfillment of prophecy -- and thus saw it as corroboration of Jesus' messiahship -- our more cynical age can see it for what it really was: a script for the gospel writers to fill in the enormous gaps in their knowledge of the life of Jesus. So completely wanting for historical data are we concerning the death of this inconspicuous Jewish preacher that it has often been doubted that he was crucified at all: early Jewish and Muslim sources (for different reasons, of course)denied it, and pagan sources for the crucifixion are non-existent or forged. An oft-quoted passage alluding to the death of Jesus from the Jewish writer Josephus is so transparently a piece of Christian editing that it hardly repays effort to attack it.

Thus all the ink (and film) spent on describing the sheer viciousness of Roman torture and execution is invested (wasted?) in historicizing a piece of the gospel that is the least historical, the most liturgical, the most completely rationalized portion of Jesus' nebulous existence. Those who feel that the movie has awakened them to the reality of salvation, reminded them of its 'cost,' or transported them to a higher spiritual plane with its realistic depiction of historical events have been film-flammed."

posted by Brandon | 8:23 AM

Wednesday, February 18, 2004  

Will Saletan has a nice breakdown of the numbers. And if the numbers don't lie, Edwards is starting to look like the more "electable" candidate, if what we mean is "appealing to actual non-democrats."

posted by Brandon | 8:24 AM

Wednesday, February 04, 2004  

There's a future for me as a professional wedding photographer (see the picture on the bottom right).

posted by Brandon | 12:34 PM

Saturday, November 08, 2003  

For some reason, medical evidence notwithstanding, I believe the Iraqis.

posted by Brandon | 8:53 AM