Lewis 1, Pullman 0

The cultural war is not entirely lost as yet:

The movie [The Golden Compass] tanked so badly that the second and third installments are not going to be made (it did fairly well overseas, but unfortunately for New Line Cinema, that didn’t help because it pre-sold those rights).

Gee, such a shame. Pullman has no one but himself to blame, considering that he went out of his way to set his godless work against the much-beloved Chronicles of Narnia. That might escape notice in a series of books, but it was never going to sneak past anyone once it became a reasonably high-profile movie.

One could, of course, argue that the diluted atheism of the movie was one reason it failed. However, I suspect a movie that had pushed the very anti-religious elements that were dialed back in the film would have made it an even bigger failure. And film is a lousy medium for most books anyhow, look how badly The Dark is Rising was abused and, unsurprisingly enough, how poorly it did.

Rule #1 – when seeking a mass-market hit, do try to recall that turning off your built-in base will guarantee failure, because any advantages derived will be completely overwhelmed by the negative word of mouth from the only people who actually care what you’re doing. People may be stupid, but they’re not stupid enough to blindly support something that destroys the very object of their affection.

Portrait of the Author as a Serial Killer

No new Amazon reviews today, but the sweetly sensitive soul that is Bane has taken the unusual approach of writing a serial review on his blog. Here’s how he describes it so far:

I have decided to start reviewing this book a chunk at a time. It is the kind of writing that compels me to write, and he does all of your thinking for you, so you don’t have to do anything but lay back and enjoy it. So far.

And what a work of art it is. So far. It grabs you by the nose with velvet gloved fingers, pulls you around where it wants you to go…I am reminded of the Francis Dollarhyde character in Manhunter, when he is giving the slide show to the creep reporter Freddy Lounds, saying “Do you see?” as he takes Freddy from one scene of horror to the next.

It’s such a pity that the publisher didn’t query Bane for pre-release comments: “Read this book – it’s like watching a massacre in slow motion!” Actually, come to think of it, one of the editors did say that she wasn’t surprised to learn that I was involved with games because the book reminded her of one of those games where the player just walks in the room with a shotgun and shoots everything that moves. So perhaps the Reaper’s Hairball has a salient point after all.

Speaking of shots, the OC has laid out his thoughts on the best way to take part in the book surge at the Ranting Room. The essentials are: order your books between 9 PM Saturday to 9 PM Sunday (CST). I’ll be kicking it off with an interview with Cyber-Line on Saturday evening, then running a live blog during the Championship games, complete with regular surge updates. So, whether you’re taking part or not, do swing by during the games. We’ll be around.


The neocons are rapidly exiting tragedy and entering the realm of farce:

Following up on the alleged incident in the Strait of Hormuz with those five Iranian speedboats, remember that radioed threat supposedly coming from the Iranian side? Now they’re blaming it on – are you ready for this? – “the Filipino Monkey,” some crazy guy (or guys) whose obscene remarks have come crackling over ship radios in the area for years. Notice how quickly the official story is changing. First the transmission was a threat coming from the Iranians: now they’re “unsure.” This is contrary to the President’s characterization of what occurred, and the Pentagon’s video presentation of a threat emanating from the speedboats: the allegedly “aggressive” actions of the Iranians are underscored by an audio overlay in which a voice interpolates “I am coming to you, you will explode in a few minutes.”

The Iranians are calling the US video a fabrication, and it sure does look like that.

I think it’s glaringly apparent that the neocons badly need some better strategists and storytellers on their side. They’re desperately casting around for some excuse, any excuse, that will get the American people fired up again for war that doesn’t require the ritual sacrifice of a large American city. But it simply won’t work. In fact, even a dirty-bombed city or two might not get them the war they’re looking for since an increasing number of people are growing ever more skeptical about the Official Story, and rightly so considering how it is reliably wide of the margin when it comes to verifiable facts. The neocons are well past the point of diminishing marginal returns; hardly anyone even paid attention to George Bush’s half-hearted sabre-rattling this time.

This is quite tenses! Ah see OJ!

DAVID Limbaugh, right and wrong

The radio giant’s BROTHER’S endorsement is much better than Ann Coulter’s, anyhow. Give him his due:

Commentators are citing the unpredictability of the Republican primary contests as proof that Reagan conservatism is dead when precisely the opposite conclusion is warranted. The main reason the conventional wisdom is being shattered in the primaries is that conservative voters, so far, have not been persuaded there is an electable, reliable conservative in the race.

But as I’ve stated before, I believe Fred Thompson is a reliable, consistent conservative. There are others in the field I could support, but not without some reservations. The more I learn about Fred and observe him in action, the more convinced I become that he’s the right choice.

David is correct to state, as Pat Buchanan also notes, that Reagan conservatism isn’t dead or lacking broad support among the base, it’s merely lacking support among the political and media elite who call themselves conservatives but are actually nothing of the sort. The problem is that while Fred Thompson is far from the worst candidate and is unlikely to do much to push the country further towards the abyss himself, neither would he resist the forces that are doing their damndest to force the country to take the plunge. And, it’s worth noting that he’s probably less likely to win than Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich.

Sure, it’s a pity that neither David nor his brother responded affirmatively to my request and threw their support to the only Republican looking forward, but it’s hardly unexpected. But there’s absolutely no reason for despair because Ron Paul was never terribly concerned about winning, he is primarily in the race to build a coalition of freedom-lovers who are capable of providing the nucleus required to relaunch the American project once the inevitable collapse comes.

MEA CULPA – Inexcusable error confusing Rush and David there, especially since David and I exchange email every so often. My only defense is that I didn’t access the column from the Commentary page and it never occurred to me for one second that WND would consider David’s endorsement to be front page news. I mean, David is one of WND’s better columnists, but my readership is no smaller than his and I don’t recall my endorsement of Ron Paul being worthy of the front page.

I don’t know if the headline editor – it wouldn’t have been Mr. Farah, by the way – was simply juicing it up or if this is leading towards a Thompson endorsement by WND. I assume the former, but you never know.

Ponnuru slaps down David Frum

I haven’t read Comeback. Nor am I likely to, considering the author’s very poor track record when it comes to political analysis. (Given that he’s quite good at exhortation, I have no idea why he insists on banging his head on a wall that is obviously beyond his ability to either scale or knock down.) But even from Frum’s own brief description of the book, it was quite clear that if his diagnosis of conservatism’s plight was correct – and it may well be – his prescribed treatment could not possibly be, as Ramesh confirms:

[L]et me point out that in an entire book about how conservatives and Republicans can make a comeback, at no point does Frum offer a word of advice about which voters are likely recruits for a new center-right coalition. So it isn’t as though Frum can say that the strategy he recommends is superior to the one Lowry and I discuss. He has none…. (My chief problem with Frum’s “empiricism” is that it is mostly theoretical.)

And that, in a nutshell, is why Frum is such a terrible analyst despite his stylistic skills and intelligence. Very much like the New Atheists, he substitutes logic for data and calls it an empirical approach. This oxymoronic approach allows a thinker to assemble trains of thought that sound plausible enough, but are bound to end up as flaming wreckage as soon as they run up against reality or a genuinely empirical thinker who has taken the time to assemble the relevant factual information.

It also explains his bizarre position on currency economics, as he avoids taking the long and appalling history of fiat currencies into account by simply ignoring the literal centuries of empirical data on their historical performance in favor of Keynesian theory.

Look before you leap

And do a little research before you argue. Crypticlife attempts to exculpate the actions of the secular speech-haters at La Sapienza:

These protestors are not in executory positions of power, and aren’t about to murder or jail anyone…. And yet you claim a group of protestors is “authoritarian”

Michael Ledeen notes on The Corner: “I taught for several years at the “La Sapienza” University in Rome, back in the seventies. Lots of terrific students, incredible colleagues, and plenty of political terror. One of the most distinguished men in Rome, a member of the Supreme Court, was gunned down in his car in the middle of the “campus.” Other unpopular professors were beaten up, a couple were locked in elevators for half a day or more. Exams were all oral, and I had to deal with “student collectives” who wanted to march into the exam room in groups of thirty or so, then I would ask a question and they would decide who would answer.

Yes, yes I do consider this particular group of protestors to be very authoritarian indeed. Would-be totalitarians, in fact. I’m not going to pretend that I knew about this particular murder or the collective oral exams, but I do happen to know a bit about Italy in general, so I’m not at all surprised to learn about any of this. The European Left is very different than the American Left, among other things, it really doesn’t bother to hide its intentions.

Instead of attempting to steal identities such as “liberal” and “conservative”, the European leftist proudly calls himself a socialist or communist. (Anarchist merely means anti the current government, these “anarchists” actually tend to favor MORE government, ironically enough.) The fact that his political positions are generally quite similar to those of the average American Democrat is, I am sure, mere happenstance.