Archive for January 17th, 2013

The Hobbit

January 17, 2013

It is a shame that J. R. R. Tolkien’s great work, The Hobbit, has been overshadowed by his still greater work The Lord of the Rings. Nowadays, most people regard The Hobbit simply as the prequel to The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit, however, is a great story even standing on its own.

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The Hobbit is the story of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, a staid, unadventurous member of a staid, unadventurous race. One day, Bilbo is visited by the wizard Gandalf and thirteen homeless Dwarves and somehow becomes their burglar with the job of helping the Dwarves recover their lost gold and home, stolen by the dragon Smaug.

When they first set off on their adventure, Bilbo is not much use to the Dwarves and seems more a burden than a burglar. He can’t seem to do anything right. Over time, however he becomes more confident and takes more of a lead. By the end of the story, he has helped defeat the dragon and has saved the Dwarves lives more than once.

Tolkien shows great skill with the plot of the Hobbit, never allowing the pace to slacken but keeping the reader excited with Bilbo’s adventures.  Throughout the book, he shows the same keen ability to depict the natural world as he does in the Lord of the Rings, and so makes Middle Earth come to life in a way few authors of fantasy can. Bilbo’s growth as a leader and a person are convincingly shown and Tolkien, at times displays a wry wit, especially with the politics of Laketown and Bilbo’s conversations with the Dragon.

If there is one fault with the Hobbit, it is that at times Tolkien was too aware that he was writing a children’s book, and at times, his writing takes on a slightly condescending tone, the sort of tone that adults often use when talking to small children and which the children really don’t like much. Overall, however, the Hobbit is an enjoyable book to read whether on its own, or as the prequel to the Lord of the Rings.

 

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The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization

January 17, 2013
Show host Jerry Springer

Show host Jerry Springer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When some future incarnation of Edward Gibbon writes the definitive account of the decline and fall of Western Civilization, I am sure that Jerry Springer will play a prominent role in his narrative. Jerry Springer himself has admitted as much in this story in medialite.com.

Talk show host Jerry Springer appeared on HuffPost Live yesterday and admitted to viewers that he may have a small part in the dumbing down of society. Alright, not exactly. Springer actually admitted a much bigger role, saying, “I am the father of the destruction of Western civilization.”

Springer said that his show had “no redeeming social value” and called it “stupid.” When pressed, he said that while his show is “fun to do,” it really is “stupid.”

“I enjoy it,” he added. “People obviously like it otherwise they wouldn’t watch it.”

I wouldn’t dream of arguing with him about it. I didn’t actually know his show was still on. I haven’t watched it for years. Somehow I don’t think I am the worse for it.

Emails from the Democrats

January 17, 2013

I had thought that my friends in the Democratic Party had forgotten all about me since I have hardly gotten an email from them since the election. I am happy to say that this is not this case. They need me to stand with Barack Obama in his fight against the nefarious NRA.

Breaking Washington Post Headline: “NRA planning ‘the fight of the century’”

friend — Today, we have the momentum to take monumental steps toward reducing gun violence.

But the NRA and their army of lobbyists are working to tear any proposal to shreds. If we don’t stand up to the NRA immediately, they will destroy our chance to stop gun brutality. But the window of opportunity is so small that I need you to act right now so it doesn’t slip away.

Sign the petition and denounce the NRA immediately. Stand with Democrats who want to reduce gun violence. Let’s get 100,000 signatures by midnight tonight!

The NRA will do anything to demolish common-sense gun laws. They even released a repulsive ad that calls President Obama an “elitist hypocrite,” and uses his children as political pawns.

If we want to reduce gun violence, we must stand united against the NRA. Add your name right away so we can reach 100,000 grassroots supporters by midnight tonight.

Thanks for your support,
Guy Cecil

I can think of many other groups that have armies of lobbyists and at least the NRA doesn’t pay for their political action by taking money from people who are compelled to be members as the labor unions do. In any case the reason the NRA is so politically powerful is not so much because they hire so many lobbyists but because so many Americans happen to agree with their position on the second amendment.

I have not seen the NRA ad, so I do not know if it is repulsive or not. President Obama is using other people’s children as political pawns so he is hardly in a position to complain. He does indeed come across as a elitist hypocrite by denying parents the same right to protect their children as he enjoys. The president’s children are in more danger than others of having some harm come to them because of who their father is and I am sure that no one begrudges them their protective detail from the Secret Service. However, other people’s children are in danger and if parents feel that their children would be safer with armed guards in their schools, the same privilege that all the students at Sidwell Friends School and other elite private schools enjoy, why shouldn’t they be permitted to have armed guards?

I also got a message from Jim Messina.

David —

Yesterday, President Obama announced his plan to protect our children and our communities by helping reduce gun violence.

We won’t stop every violent act like the one in Newtown, Connecticut. But if we can save the life of even one child, the President believes each of us has a responsibility to take action.

People like you spoke out and demanded action. Your input, along with ideas from leaders and policymakers across the political spectrum, went into the President’s plan.

Learn more about the plan, and say you stand with President Obama in tackling this critical issue.

Most gun owners use their guns safely and responsibly, and the President believes firmly in protecting our Second Amendment rights.

But common-sense changes can go a long way in keeping our streets and our schools safer — and there’s too much at stake to stand by and wait for action.

The President will not wait. Yesterday, he signed 23 executive actions to start moving our country in the right direction. And he’s calling on Congress to act on four legislative measures — closing background check loopholes, banning military-style assault weapons, making our schools safer, and increasing access to mental health services — right away.

Take a look at the President’s plan to reduce gun violence, and stand with him in support:

http://my.barackobama.com/Gun-Reform

More soon,

Messina

Jim Messina
Campaign Manager

Obama for America

I thought the campaign was over. This idea that if we can just can just save one life we should do it is truly dumb. There is no consideration here of any sort of cost/benefit analysis. The question to ask  is what benefits we gain from an action at what cost and if the benefits are worth the cost. There are a great many things we could do that would save lives. We could pass a national speed limit of 20 miles per hour. We could outlaw, not only all guns, but knives, clubs, and every sharp object. Setting up a North Korean style police state could save many lives. None of these measures would be worth the cost in freedom and difficulty of enforcing them.

This may seem like a cold, hard hearted way of looking at things, but each individual human life is not of infinite value. Anyone who has been responsible for creating safety measures knows that you have to balance the number of lives potentially saved against the increased costs that such measures will produce. Environmental regulations cannot be designed to remove all traces of pollutions but can only reduce the amount of pollution in the environment to acceptable levels. A policy that saves only one life is probably not the most effective policy.

Now, of course, to every parent, their children are of infinite value. That is understandable. Policies, however, ought not to made by emotional appeals and quick action but by carefully considering what works best with the most acceptable costs, in other words, the exact opposite of what President Obama and his supporters are doing.


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