Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Speech of All Speeches

Election cycles bring high and noble words written in speeches and spoken from stumps, railcars, and You Tube videos. In every cycle the speeches are different, but somehow the same. Many hear the speeches for the first time or as if it were the first time and swoon in wonder and awe. Others listen hearing only the same tired rhetoric they have heard for a lifetime. It is the same now, but somehow something is different.

Andrew Parker Nevin, Princeton Class of 1895 and Republican nominee to the Supreme Court, wrote a speech to end all speeches published in the Princeton Alumni Weekly 14 August 1936, according to the Mudd Manuscript Library Blog. The speech he wrote didn't stop future speeches, but has been copied and plagiarized in many ways, mundane and inventive. We've all heard variations on the theme written here:

An Address for All Occasions
Subject: The Crisis
(or any other topic)

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is indeed a great and undeserved privilege to address such audience as I see before me. At no previous time in the history of human civilization have greater problems confronted and challenged the integrity of man's intellect than now. Let us look around us. What do we see on the horizon? What forces are at work? Whither are we drifting? Under what mist of clouds does the future stand obscured?

My friends, casting aside the raiments of all human speech, the crucial test for the solution of these intricate problems, to which I have just alluded, is the sheer and forceful application of those immutable laws which, down the corridors of time, have always guided the hand of man, groping, as it were, for some faint beacon-light for his hopes and aspirations. Without these great vital principles, we are but puppets, responding to whim and fancy, failing entirely to grasp the hidden meaning of it all. We must readdress ourselves to these questions which press for answer and solution. The issues cannot be avoided. There they stand. It is upon you - and you - and yes, even upon me, that the yoke of responsibility falls.

What then, is our duty? Shall we continue to drift? No! with all the emphasis of my being I hurl back the message: No! Drifting must stop. We must press onward and upward toward that ultimate goal to which all must aspire.

But I cannot conclude my remarks, dear friends, without touching briefly, on a subject which I know is steeped in your very consciousness. I refer to that spirit that gleams from the eyes of the newborn babe; that animates the toiling masses; that sways all the hosts of humanity, past and present. Without this energizing principle all commerce, trade, and industry are hushed and will perish from this earth as surely as the crimson sunset follows the golden sunrise. Mark you, I do not seek to alarm or distress the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, gathered before me in this assemblage; but I would indeed be recreant to a high resolve, which I made as a youth, if I did not at this time and in this place, and with the full realizing sense of responsibility which I assume, publicly declare and affirm my dedication and my consecration to the eternal principles and precepts of simple, ordinary, commonplace Justice.

For what, in the final analysis, is Justice? Where does it go? Is it tangible? It is not. Is it tactual? It is not. Is it ponderable? It is not. Justice is none of these, and yet, on the other hand, in a sense, it is all of these things combined. While I cannot tell you what justice is, this much I can tell you - that without the encircling arms of justice, without her shield,, without her guardianship, the ship of State will sail uncharted seas, narrowly avoiding rocks and shoals, headed inevitably for the harbor of calamity.

Justice! - Justice!! - Justice!!! - To thee we pay homage. To thee we dedicate our laurels of hope. Before thee we kneel in adoration, mindful of thy great power, mute before thy inscrutable destiny ....

(Secondly, thirdly, and fourthly can be taken up by the speaker at any point in the foregoing.)
We have heard this speech more this election cycle than in the recent past. It is the essential model of the presumptive Democrat Party nominee, Barack Obama. The words sound nice, they're lofty, pretty, dangerous, and as inviting as the Siren's song was to Odysseus. To borrow from Carl Reiner and the writers of "The Dick Van Dyke Show", Obama's words "seem vague, but in reality are totally meaningless."

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Friday, February 22, 2008

MENSAs 10 Smartest TV Shows

It's a well known truism that television viewing will rot your brain. So one must wonder how much smarter Chairman Jim Werdell of MENSA International, the planetary club for people with IQs in the top 2% of the population, was before he started watching or listening to TV 10 hours a day. That's like a gazillion times more than the 2 hrs. 49 mins. the average TV viewer zones with the idiot box.

Werdell was asked by Fancast which telvision shows were the 10 smartest ever. He said, "It was difficult. There were programs that were good in their time, but the way shows are made today has improved." Werdell continued, "I was a Star Trek fan. It was on the original list. It was groundbreaking, no question. But the follow-up, Next Generation, were better programs than the original, in my opinion, and smarter."

Of the criteria for picking the 10 Smartest TV Shows of All Time, Werdell says, "They weren’t pure comedy, mystery or action. They tended to be shows that dealt with issues in the world, and from my perspective that’s considered smart. Some sitcoms reach a higher level of intellect than others, and you can say the same about some of the dramas. The stories may be cliché, but the characters and dialogue are smarter."

In no particular order with Werdell's comments:

1. M*A*S*H – It had smart repartee and was so much more than a comedy.

2. Cosmos (with Carl Sagan) – Sagan was able to communicate something extremely complicated to the layman and do it well, and that’s unusual for a scientist at his level.

3. CSI -- The way they use science to solve their programs is intriguing to viewers.

4. House – Again, it’s high level type of show; it’s the personality that makes it a winner, plus it deals with science.

5. West Wing – you had to pay attention to stay up with it. The repartee was fast and furious and you needed a fairly high level intelligence to keep up with it.

6. Boston Legal – It’s primarily because of the characters. The story lines are okay, but the characters are incredible and the writers give them great dialogue.

7. All in the Family – The show dealt with social issues before its time and was on the forefront of trying to show people’s feelings, beliefs and the complexities of personality, in both a serious and comedic way.

8. Frasier – The repartee was sensational; the main characters were very good. Even though they portrayed people who were likely of high intelligence, they also showed their weaknesses.

9. Mad About You – It’s a personal favorite, I loved the characters and the back and forth. It was very smart.

10. Jeopardy – It’s about the only game show that really tries to test people’s intelligence. There’s very little luck involved, and there are few game shows like that. I don’t watch it all that much honestly, but from what I’ve seen it tests more than knowledge, it tests intelligence too.
But that was then, what smart guy shows does Mensa Chairman Werdell watch now? The top smart guy watches "CSI: New York, Law & Order: SVU, House, Stargate SG-1, NCIS, and Numb3rs." Well, I feel smart! I watch those same TV shows, except Law & Order - it's way too predictable now.

It's ironic that Get Smart isn't on the list.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nevada Surprise

Unexpected and fun things can happen on the Internet. Last month, I wrote about Michelle Obama and the correct pronunciation of the state name Nevada. That was a bit of fun as many people in the public eye mispronounce the name of the beautiful state of Nevada.

Yesterday, I went to my mailbox and found the usual junk mail, bills, and a large, thick, white envelope. It was a dark and stormy night so I couldn't see the return address til I got back inside.

The Nevada Commission on Tourism sent a package of tour information. I received a copy of Nevada Magazine, Nevada Visitors Guide, Nevada Adventure Guide, and a Nevada State Map. Nevada is wildly varied state and really quite pretty.

I can't be sure that this package was sent because of the January post, but I don't know that it wasn't. I wonder what would happen if I wrote about Sierra Nevada Pale Ale?

A big THANK YOU to the Nevada Tourism Commission and whoever read the blog posting.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obama's African Roots

Kenya has been torn by ethno-political volence since the December 27, 2007 election in which President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner. Observers and opposition candidate Raila Odinga claim the election was riddled with irregularities; no one seriously believes the election was anything but a fraud.

Barack Obama, Democrat presidential candidate, has attempted to mediate the strife between the two ethnic groups. Obama, an ethnic Luo, has often spoken with Odinga, the Luo leader. Kibaki is the leader of the Kikuyu tribe. The troubles have claimed about 1000 lives so far and shows little sign of abatement.

The two tribes have attacked each other with bows and arrows, clubs, spears, machetes; the most personal of weapons. The young man in the photo has a typical injury - an arrow in his head.

At the start of his presidential campaign, Barack Obama touted his African roots. He even went to Kenya with a press entourage to visit his black paternal grandmother and family. The videos of the African visit was often used to establish his African-American bona fides.

Obama doesn't trumpet his Kenyan family ties so much anymore. More recently, he stopped in Kansas to meet his white great-grandfather's family to establish his Euro-American bona fides.

It makes me wonder.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's a Wonderful Day in Our Neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It's a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please,
Won't you please,
Please won't you be my neighbor?

- Mr. Roger's Neighborhood

Hi blog neighbor, I'm glad we're together again....

Today is indeed a wonderful day in the neighborhood. Fidel Castro will not run and will not serve another term as Dictator for Life of Cuba. The 81 year old ego-maniac, Communist revolutionary, mass murderer has called it a day this morning. Raul Castro, Fidel's younger brother, is expected to be elected as the new head of state. He is expected to move to ailing nation toward democracy. Yeah, we've heard that before.

In Pakistan, the political parties of Pervez Musharraf , President/Dictator of Pakistan is going down to defeat. According to late radio reports, the Musharraf block has conceeded defeat. The Bhutto faction has promised to lead the war torn country to democracy. Yeah, we've heard that before.

Toshiba conceeded defeat this morning to Sony in the HD DVD v. Blu-Ray corporate wars for dominance in the home entertainment market. Toshiba announced the company will no longer manufacture HD DVD players and recorders and shut down manufacturing by the end of March. All of you who bought or received HD DVD equipment in the last couple of months, take it all back to the store and get Blu-Ray equiipment. Unless, of course, you still think Beta is about to stage a come back.

Finally, on this day 40 years ago, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood premiered on National Educational Television. When NET dropped the children's program, PBS picked it up and aired the popular show until the final episode August 31, 2001. The program is airing all around the world neighborhood everyday. Fred Rogers died two years later.

It is a wonderful day in the neighborhood, and you know what? I like you all just the way you are.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Denmark's Muslims Despair

Feisal was born in Denmark, works in marketing, is a Muslim, and does not feel accepted in his native land. He despairs.

Feisal was one of several Muslims interviewed by the BBC during another week of turmoil in Denmark resulting from the reprinting of one of the Mohammad cartoons. He believes the rioting is the fault of the Danish media that "should have learned from their previous mistakes and the only thing the Muslims are asking for is respect, nothing else".

"It's the media who started it this time, so I feel a lot of it is their fault. When the same thing happens again it's tiring and we despair," said Kamran. That is, they have lost all hope, are overcome by feelings of futility and defeat.

"I am hurt, as I was the first time," says Feisal. He says he can't understand why the media stresses the idea that Muslims want to take away their freedom of speech.

Okay, hold it just one stinkin' minute. The Danish press reprinted the stupid cartoon because three Muslims - one Dane, and two illegal aliens - were plotting to kill Kurt Westergaard who had dared to practice his right to freely express his opinion about Mohammad and the reign of terror his religious cult has unleashed on the world.

The press was reiterating their right, the right of all people, to freedom of speech. Muslims threatened to stop freedom of speech again and somehow the rioting is the fault of the press!

Feisal says, "the only thing the Muslims are asking for is respect, nothing else". And the head of any journalist who prints the truth about the butcher of Islam, or draws a dumb picture of the famed terrorist, as well as any other infidel they fancy killing today.

What is this respect that Muslims keep demanding. I was taught that respect is earned, not bullied out of others. "Respect" is an expression of respect of deference. "Deference" is a yielding of judgment or preference from respect to the wishes or opinion of another, submission. "Submission" is the state of being submissive, acknowledgement of inferiority or dependence, humble or suppliant behavior, meekness, resignation. "Islam" is to submit, surrender, resign. Respect to deference to submission to Islam ... consider the dots connected.

"I am hurt," says Feisal. Really? Has Feisal been hurt like the Serb, Blagoje Blagojevic, who was decapitated by this Muslim jihadi in 1992 Bosnia? I doubt it very much. Instapundit has many more examples of real hurt committed by Muslims.

Imran Hussein, who runs 'Network', an advisory body for Muslim organisations in Denmark, says he "will never feel one hundred percent accepted here in Danish society ... Before it was my clothing was not correct, the food I ate wasn't good enough, the way I expressed myself wasn't good enough - now my Prophet is not good enough. The next would be I am not good enough." Note that Imran places himself above the Prophet here. Insulting the Prophet is bad enough, but next Imran might be insulted!

Again, Feisal cannot understand why the media, Danes, and the West focuses on the idea that Muslims want to destroy our freedom of speech.

Well, Feisal, maybe it's because Hizb ut Tahrir in Denmark, a radical Islamist group the aim of which is the restoration of the caliphate, organized the demonstrations and riots in which hundreds of good mohammadans marched through the streets on Copenhagen chanting "Khilafat" and "Allahu Akbar" while surprised Danes looked on.

And maybe we get the idea that Muslims don't really like freedom of speech much from slogans like the one shouted in Copenhagen - "Freedom of Speech is a plague!"

To me, that just sounds down right unfriendly.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"From this day onwards, Kosovo is proud, independent and free"

With those words, Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci declared independence from Serbia Sunday, February 17, 2008. Note the time in the photo.

The United States and several European nations will recognize the new nation of Kosovo on Monday.

Kosovo Declaration of Independence

Convened in an extraordinary meeting on February 17, 2008, in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo,

Answering the call of the people to build a society that honors human dignity and affirms the pride and purpose of its citizens,

Committed to confront the painful legacy of the recent past in a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness,

Dedicated to protecting, promoting and honoring the diversity of our people,

Reaffirming our wish to become fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family of democracies,

Observing that Kosovo is a special case arising from Yugoslavia's non-consensual breakup and is not a precedent for any other situation,

Recalling the years of strife and violence in Kosovo, that disturbed the conscience of all civilized people,

Grateful that in 1999 the world intervened, thereby removing Belgrade's governance over Kosovo and placing Kosovo under United Nations interim administration,

Proud that Kosovo has since developed functional, multiethnic institutions of democracy that express freely the will of our citizens,

Recalling the years of internationally sponsored negotiations between

Belgrade and Pristina over the question of our future political status,

Regretting that no mutually acceptable status outcome was possible, in spite of the good-faith engagement of our leaders,

Confirming that the recommendations of U.N. Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari provide Kosovo with a comprehensive framework for its future development and are in line with the highest European standards of human rights and good governance,

Determined to see our status resolved in order to give our people clarity about their future, move beyond the conflicts of the past and realize the full democratic potential of our society,

Honoring all the men and women who made great sacrifices to build a better future for Kosovo,

We, the democratically elected leaders of our people, hereby declare Kosovo to be an independent and sovereign state. This declaration reflects the will of our people and it is in full accordance with the recommendations of U.N. Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari and his Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement.

•1. We declare Kosovo to be a democratic, secular and multiethnic republic, guided by the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection under the law. We shall protect and promote the rights of all communities in Kosovo and create the conditions necessary for their effective participation in political and decision-making processes.

•2. We accept fully the obligations for Kosovo contained in the Ahtisaari Plan, and welcome the framework it proposes to guide Kosovo in the years ahead. We shall implement in full those obligations including through priority adoption of the legislation included in its Annex XII, particularly those that protect and promote the rights of communities and their members.

•3. We shall adopt as soon as possible a Constitution that enshrines our commitment to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all our citizens, particularly as defined by the European Convention on Human Rights. The Constitution shall incorporate all relevant principles of the Ahtisaari Plan and be adopted through a democratic and deliberative process.

•4. We welcome the international community's continued support of our democratic development through international presences established in Kosovo on the basis of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999). We invite and welcome an international civilian presence to supervise our implementation of the Ahtisaari Plan, and a European Union-led rule of law mission. We also invite and welcome the North Atlantic Treaty

•5. Organization to retain the leadership role of the international military presence in Kosovo and to implement responsibilities assigned to it under U.N. Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the Ahtisaari Plan, until such time as Kosovo institutions are capable of assuming these responsibilities. We shall cooperate fully with these presences to ensure Kosovo's future peace, prosperity and stability.

•6. For reasons of culture, geography and history, we believe our future lies with the European family. We therefore declare our intention to take all steps necessary to facilitate full membership in the European Union as soon as feasible and implement the reforms required for European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

•7. We express our deep gratitude to the United Nations for the work it has done to help us recover and rebuild from war and build institutions of democracy. We are committed to working constructively with the United Nations as it continues its work in the period ahead.

•8. With independence comes the duty of responsible membership in the international community. We accept fully this duty and shall abide by the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, other acts of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the international legal obligations and principles of international comity that mark the relations among states. Kosovo shall have its international borders as set forth in Annex VIII of the Ahtisaari Plan, and shall fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all our neighbors. Kosovo shall also refrain from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

•9. We hereby undertake the international obligations of Kosovo, including those concluded on our behalf by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and treaty and other obligations of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to which we are bound as a former constituent part, including the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations. We shall cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. We intend to seek membership in international organizations, in which Kosovo shall seek to contribute to the pursuit of international peace and stability.

•10. Kosovo declares its commitment to peace and stability in our region of southeast Europe. Our independence brings to an end the process of Yugoslavia's violent dissolution. While this process has been a painful one, we shall work tirelessly to contribute to a reconciliation that would allow southeast Europe to move beyond the conflicts of our past and forge new links of regional cooperation. We shall therefore work together with our neighbors to advance a common European future.

•11. We express, in particular, our desire to establish good relations with all our neighbors, including the Republic of Serbia with whom we have deep historical, commercial and social ties that we seek to develop further in the near future. We shall continue our efforts to contribute to relations of friendship and cooperation with the Republic of Serbia, while promoting reconciliation among our people.

•12. We hereby affirm, clearly, specifically, and irrevocably, that Kosovo shall be legally bound to comply with the provisions contained in this Declaration, including, especially, the obligations for it under the Ahtisaari Plan. In all of these matters, we shall act consistent with principles of international law and resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations, including resolution 1244 (1999). We declare publicly that all states are entitled to rely upon this declaration, and appeal to them to extend to us their support and friendship.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.