Thursday, May 10, 2007

End Game Near?

The idea that Iran's influence in Iraqi politics has been growing along with the amount of arms they have smuggled in is getting harder to ignore, despite the desperate desire of both the Executive and Legislative branches of our government to avoid dealing with it. The latest sign that we may have lost the political war is posted about at Heading Right. If this petition holds up, support for the ground war will evaporate completely in the United States in short order. There is no doubt in my mind that Iranian money and arms are heavily influencing this, as our Congress has given our enemies proof that we are a weak willed and cowardly society. This has encouraged the Iranians and foreign jihadists no end, despite the astounding losses they are suffering. The sad thing is that the political left and quite a few moderates have forgotten the lessons of childhood playgrounds. The psychology of a bully scales up and now that we've shown our weakness, the bully will never leave us alone. That scaled up bully is Islamic terrorism and he's going to be wanting our lunch money on a regular basis after we abandon Iraq. Expect a "fortress America" mentality setting in and then being rather loudly blown up, as we can't even secure our borders. We may see a future like Israel's current situation, with suicide bombings and attacks becoming common.

We as a society are telegraphing our weakness very loudly at the moment, with the behavior of the Democrats in Congress, and the constant anti-war beat of our mass media. The drift to the Left over the war is also making the socialist fringe feel like they have a mandate here, while socialism is starting to lose its luster in Europe due to its colossal economic failures. Amazing, given that even the French have realized that it doesn't work well. All of this points to very bad times for our country in the near future as political strife undercuts our achieving anything constructive at home or abroad. The Democrats have sold their soul and are now selling out their country for political power. Nothing good can come of it and I wonder how long it will take the American people to wake up and realize what they did this last November.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Confessions of a Bibliophile

Currently, I'm trying to read too many books and have been ill enough that it is difficult to read for extend amounts of time. In the Old Testament, I'm just about to start The Second Book of Chronicles and look forward to a little less listing of names. Taking a break from The Confessions of Saint Augustine, I'm reading Nico Machiavelli's The Prince and hope to finish that today or tomorrow. It is very edifying and grim to read, for much of what he wrote are unpleasant truths. I can see that some of his teachings are being used in the political arena (primarily by the left), but interestingly enough other lessons are being completely ignored. The lessons being ignored are fatal ones if old Nico is correct. At some point I'm going to have to get his other writings. For the moment, Machiavelli is my light reading, eventually I'll finish the Robert Heinlein juvenile novel Spaceman Jones as that is proper light reading material. The latest Harry Potter novel looms large in the near future, so I better be clearing some time for it.

The Easton Press made me an offer I couldn't refuse, which is the ability to receive books every two months instead of monthly from the 100 Greatest Books club. I adore the quality of the books and being a reader rather than a collector, I want longevity in my books. Too many of my old paperbacks have fallen apart and cheap book club editions don't hold up much better. The quality of writing is also high for this particular subscription and I've been well pleased with the books. The latest book ended up replacing my over one hundred year old copy of The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne, so that was a nice bonus. Of course, the one flaw to the every two month plan is it will now take me twenty years to collect them all. Here's to hoping I can find a way to get a little more income and go back to monthly deliveries.

Of course, there are cheaper alternatives out there and one is finding books on eBay. I don't limit my hunting to Easton Press volumes, there are other lesser but still very good publishers out there. The Folio Society has published nice editions at lower prices for decades and I might have joined them but the upfront price is very steep with a requirement of four books purchased within four weeks of joining. That turns into a cost of at least $150 after all costs are totalled and I wasn't going for that. Instead I started hunting on eBay for their books and scored some great bargains. Another defunct publisher like the Folio Society was Heritage Press (or Heritage Club) and my copy of The Prince was printed by them. They went under in 1992 but the books seem to be readily available on eBay.

Thanks to the bargain of used books, I've acquired Folio Society editions of George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, Robert Graves' The Greek Myths and The Siege and Fall of Troy, and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. All are nicely illustrated and I only compromised on one set that was too cheap to pass up despite minor staining to the cover. While not leather bound or gilt edged, they are far beyond what you normally get in a hard cover.

One nice thing about paying more for books is that it slows down acquisition and makes it more likely I'll someday catch up on my reading. At least that's the theory I'm operating by at the moment. I will admit they make my book shelves look a great deal better!

Does This Thing Still Work?

Four score and seven years ago I last posted - or so it feels. Now I had to deal with the fact that Google has made users of Blogger use a Gmail address and that entailed some jumping through hoops to get started again. While little has changed in my personal life since the last post, a few things have changed here and there, such as the ending of the Help Defeat Cancer project at World Community Grid. I felt good about the project and it looks like it achieved what it set out to do, but I also admit a little melancholy crept in when it finished. I'd actually upgraded my dual core PC to 2 GB of RAM just to run it smoothly on both cores. Still, there are other good projects there and I keep crunching.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs are finally above .500 and it only took them until May to do it! Yes, I'm damning them with faint praise and yet I hope to see them do a lot better with the rest of the season. The bright spots have been watching Rich Hill become the pitcher I thought he was going to be and Derek Lee's hitting doubles like a madman. While most people love the home run, I love the double. Why? Simply put, a team that hits a lot of doubles will score more runs than a team of sluggers, as I've noticed that doubles hitters tend to hit for average. Most sluggers are an all or nothing proposition and therefore are less reliable. I was spoiled by watching Bobby Dernier and Ryne Sandberg hit what Harry Carey called "the daily double". Dernier would double, then Sandberg - presto, instant run. Now if rookie Felix Pie could get into that frame of mind, this will be quite a season.

I think I shall end this post on that positive note and continue in another.