Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Tribute, From DIH Spouse

My husband Richard Vigilante wrote this.

Bill was our Socrates.

He lured us to his side, at first, by showing us that upsetting the
conventional wisdom was, as Socrates said, "an activity not without its
amusing side" and naturally appealing to the young.

Once he had our attention he taught us that we were in a deadly serious
game. For then as now the Sophists were serious about seizing power, and
then as now their way of doing so was to discredit the very notion of truth
and make their power the only reality.

Jaques Maritain famously said that there were never more than three schools
of philosophy:

The idealists who believe that getting the truth was easy. These are the
conventional liberals, whom Bill gently mocked.

The nominalists, the Sophists, who deny truth altogether; these are the hard
left, the true enemy he rallied us against.

And finally the realists, who accept that the truth is out there but is
fiercely difficult to lock down.

Bill's most enduring achievement was to identify and shape conservatism as
the political expression of philosophical realism in our time

And so simultaneously, he gave us a vision of the intellectual life well
lived, and put us in the field against the great enemy of our time.

He did what Socrates dreamed of: made philosophers of citizens and citizens
of philosophers.

I hero worshipped him. I am not ashamed to say it, because I chose my hero
well, and my life has never been the poorer for it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley. Jr.

Some years ago my husband, then only a few years out of college, was hired as Articles Editor at National Review. NR was still in its 35th Street offices then, just a few blocks from the Midtown Tunnel. [h/t to Anonymous for setting me straight geographically.]

We lived in Queens. On the days when I had to pick Richard up at work, I would have to leave the house at 3:30 at the latest, if I wanted to get to NR by five. The distance between our house and NR was only a couple of miles, but as a wise man once said, distance is irrelevant in New York. It's all about the traffic.

And the traffic between me and NR's home base was fierce. I always felt like some kind of fighter pilot making my way up the Long Island Expressway, dodging taxis and cop cars, tryngn to reach my goal. Then came the Midtown Tunnel, where I felt more like a kamikaze bomber, elbowing my way through the mouth of the tunnel and on to the light of day at the other end.

I would start out calm, telling myself today would be different, but the result was always the same: by the time I got over the LIE, through the Midtown and onto the island of Manhattan I would undergo a complete personality change. I began the journey a woman and ended it an animal, ready to mow down anything that got in my path.

One day as I was pulling up in front of NR's office, my eye on the last parking space on the block, another car beat me to it. AND TOOK MY SPACE.

Well. Naturally I relatiated. HOONK!! HOOONK!!! "YOU #%$%! THAT'S MY SPACE! MINE,MINE,MINE!! MOVE YOUR $^%# @&& AND--"

The car door opened. That unmistakable form - tall, lanky, messy light hair, prominent teeth- slipped out.

DIH slinked low behind the wheel. Thank God, he never saw me.

That was my first live encounter with WFB. There were many others, at close range and pleasant. Bill Buckley was singularly gracious man. I always thought if I spilled somethng at his table or knocked over some precious stemware, he'd immediately smash his own glass on the floor and say in that soft drawl of his, "My God, there must be something in the air tonight!"

Yes he was brilliant, yes he was an icon, yes he changed the intellectual landscape of America. All great things.

He was also kind, considerate, and unbelievably generous. Which are even greater things.

I am sad that he is gone.
Rest in peace, Bill.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.

The Oscars were given out last night. Hollywood has rewarded itself for its efforts once again. All the acting Oscars went to Europeans. And Democrats insist they dont' really hate America.

DIH saw only a couple of the films up for awards. I did see "Michael Clayton," and I thought Tilda Swinton was terrific in it. So my heartiest congratulations to a fellow pale-as-death-itself redhead. Stay out of the sun, Tilda.

"Elizabeth; The Golden Age" got the award for best costume design. I watched that movie on the flight over to Hawaii. My earphones didn't work, so I watched it without sound. It can be very instructive to watch movies this way. Movies are supposed to be stories told with pictures, right? So turn off the sound and you get to the essence of the form, right?

The essence of "E: TGA" was fascinating. Judging from the images, this is a movie about big stone columns and the women who emerge from behind them, walking at a stately pace, waering skirts the size of Rhode Island. That stately pace was practically a character in the story. The Brits must go ape for stately paces. And wigs. But let's not get into any of that.

[DIH also watched "Dan in Real Life" on the plane. Working on the 'without sound' theory this is a movie about Steve Carell's nose. The nose takes up a significant portion of the screen. Especially when it dances. Steve and His Dancing Nose. Maybe that should be his back-up act.]

"Ratatouille" won best animated feature. When you're the parent of a second grader it's hard to make a call on films like this. Anything you see a dozen times tends to make you feel a little ill. But I loved "The Incredibles," so I'm glad Brad Bird picked up an Oscar.

I don't think I saw any of the other films. I love movies but babysitters are hard to come by, so I usually wait for the video. I did try to see "Juno" but couldn't find it playing at a decent time. Oh well, the video should be out soon.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Little House on the Volcano

After six days of calamine lotion and baking soda baths my daughter is on the mend. This makes everyone around here happy.

Having chicken pox must be one of the most profound experiences of childhood. As soon as they hear what Sophia has been down with everyone wants to tell me their own chicken pox story. The guys who park the cars at the hotel, for example, or the lady at the rental car agency. I have heard details about body parts of total strangers that I'd really rather not know anything about. It's brought us all closer together.

For the most part I have been stuck in the house with Sophia, except for a couple of runs to airport to change our tickets and the drugstore for Children's Tylenol. This morning, though, Sophia was feeling well enough that I felt I could take a walk around this here development- check out a few lots for sale, see who has a pool, try a few doors. It's fun to stand on some vacant house's lanai- that's, ahem, patio for you non-Hawaiian speakers- and look out over the ocean. I imagine rolling out of bed, having a cup of Kona coffee as I watch the whales swim past before breaking out my laptop and emailing my next bestseller to my mega-agent in L.A.... It could happen, right?

I should make that my new motivation. Keep typing, Desperate. Your lanai awaits.

Friday, February 22, 2008

On Copying

Oh dear. First Hillary accuses Barack of copying from some governor. Now we find out Hillary is borrowing from Bill.
Talking Points Memo's Joshua Micah Marshall reports:

In 1992 Bill gave an interview to the NYT in which he said, "The hits that I've taken in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people ofhtis countryand this state have benn taking for a long time."

Hillary, in last night's debate:
"You know, the hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every day in the lives of people across our country."

Where will it all end?

Look at the blogosphere, for example. There are some really great blogs out there that do almost nothing but quote other people. OK, they attribute, but still. They quote and link and refer for a few paragraphs and they're done for the day.

Not I. Oh no. DIH barely knows how to link and is too lazy to do it most of the time anyway. This stuff here is original. Mostly. I think.
Which is probably not the correct way to blog, now that I think of it.

I better start looking around for some folks to copy. All suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ups and Downs

We were supposed to return to the mainland today. But yesterday we found out we'll be here for another week. "At least," as the doc put it. My daughter came down with chicken pox and can't travel until she's not contagious. Should be a week or thereabouts.

DOWNSIDE: rental car for another week.
UPSIDE: will not have to drive in a Minnesota winter for another week.

DOWNSIDE: both of us pretty much stuck in the house.
UPSIDE: said house is in Hawaii.

DOWNSIDE: child is miserable.
UPSIDE: she'd have been just as miserable in Minnesota, right?

In fact, except for the pox part, it's hard to see a downside to this.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Educational Experience

So I pulled my kid out of school for ten days so she and I could escape to Hawaii for some sun and surf, and the occasional mojito for mom. I felt a twinge of guilt at the "out of school" part, or rather I didn't want the daughter to get the idea I didn't really feel guilty at all, but she should, because you just can't go cutting school all your life whenever somebody says "Hey, let's go to Hawaii." Even though you really, really want to.

But I figured out a way around the moral dilemma. "We'll make it an educational experience," I said. "We'll learn about volcanoes and rain forests and indigenous peoples. You'll go home a regular Al Gore."

Well. we've given it "educational experience" the old school try. Time to share our knowledge.

The Rain Forest.

Half of the Big Isalnd of Hawaii, where we are staying, is a rain forest. In a rain forest, it rains. All the time. And it's cold. Wet. Gloomy. If you are a plant you will probably be very happy in a rain forest. If you are a human being you are more likely to say "I want to go home" or "I thought we were going to the beach." We suggest you follow your human instincts and head for the sunny part of Hawaii. Leave the rain forest to the frogs.

Hawaii is a volcanic island. There are volcanoes everywhere. If you are lucky the one in your backyard will be of the extinct variety. If you are not, we can only wonder what kind of an idiot builds his house where it could get buried by a lava flow? Lava flows are quite spectacular, especially at night. We know because we have seen the pictures. When an active volcano is not sending forth fiery glowing lava it is probably sending up a lot of sulphurous gas. We decided to come back another time when it's more lava flow than sulphur. And watch the flow from someplace safe, like the sea.
Another thing: the volcano is on the rain forest side of the island, This means a three hour drive in the rain to get there and a three hour drive back. You might not think this is worth the time and the aggravation. We decided it probably wasn't. Sue me, I'm on vacation.

Indigenous Peoples.
We have done much research and conclude the following: absolutely no one knows where the Hawaiian people came from. We know they left a lot of charming stick figures carved in the rocks. They are called "petroglyphs": men with spears, animals. But no one knows what they mean, unless they're just primitve photo albums. Any essay by a scholar on the the origins of the Hawaiian people is really just an excercise in finding new ways to day "I dunno." Kind of like TV pundits doing election commentary.

People from Other Cultures.
You meet a lot of Japanese people in Hawaii. Most of them are tourists like you. When they ask you to pass the salt or is this seat taken, they do it with a little bow. Then you have to suppress the urge to shout, "Howdy, pardner! Shore thang!" when you oblige them. This is harder than it sounds. I don't know what it is about being bowed to by a Japanese guy that brings out one's inner John Wayne, but there it is. Be prepared.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

OOOOH, Obama!

I think I'm going to faint!

Breitbart TV reports that there has been a string of fainting incidents nt Barack "Next-President-of-the United-States"'s campaign rallies. Apparently young ladies can't help passing out cold when the Rackmeister starts doing his thang.

This is the first good thing DIH has even heard about BO. This puts him right up there with Frank Sinatra. Who never ran for President of the United States, but it does make one ponder the possibilities.

President Frankie. Ol' Red White and Blue Eyes. Chairman- in -Chief- of- the- Board. "My Way," now how could you top that as a campaign song? Osama, you wanna play rough? I got some friends back in Jersey. They'll show you rough.' Remember Frank's concert in China? He wowed the Reds that time, huh? They were totally enthralled. Just the way we like 'em.

I gotta say, I would have voted for Frank in a heartbeat. He had all the requirements. The Abe Lincoln-esque rise from his boyhood in Hoboken. The Clinton-esque string of affairs. The modestly gifted yet filthy rich offspring of the Kennedys. The Hollywood connections. Dino for VP. No, wait- make that Sammy Davis Jr. for Veep. How do you like them apples, Barack? Dino could still be Secretary of State. Heck, give Peter Lawford a job, make him Ambassador to the Court of St. James. He could go back where he came from. And stay there.

Frank might have started out a JFK supporter. But remember that he, like Sammy and Dino, died a Republican. And a pro-life one at that, if the fundraisers are to be believed. Frank came through in the end.

I can see it now. Osama bin Laden brought to justice at last. WIth the President of the United States belting out "New York, New York" on live TV. Yeah. I could go for that.

Might even faint.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Same Old Same Old

DIH is settling into her new routine. Wake up, step out on sister-in-law's patio, scan ocean for whales. Drive to resort, take up residence on patio, start typing. Drive back to sister-in-law's, watch sun drop back into ocean. Sleep. Repeat.

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hawaii, Part 1.

"You're going to love it. The islands are so relaxed," everyone said.

On the plane from Denver to Kona a Hawaiian man reached his seat, stowed his luggage and then took off his sweat pants. "This is Island styole," he grinned. (He was wearing shorts underneath, we were pleased to note.)

Another man gave up his seat so Sophia and I could sit together. "This is the Island way," he smiled.

When we landed in Kona eleven hours later the first thing we did was collect our bags. Then we dragged them towards the rental car shuttle.

Next thing DIH knows a grown man is screaming in her face.


There were a) no cars in sight and b) several others dashing for thier buses. But the man's hat said "Police," which I guess grants him certain privileges, not to say hallucinations.

Needless to say, this was not exactly the "aloha" DIH was expecting. But she did not spend all those years in Queens for nothing. She knows when to keep silent and deprive the hostile force of the pleasure of an argument, save for the loud and obvious chewing of her Chiclets. And the withering look. At least she hopes it was withering.

She proceeded to her bus. Where the driver, in shorts and loud Hawaiian shirt, decided to take up the refrain.
"You shouldn't cross the street like that. Cars are dangerous." etc etc.

The lecture continued until I felt compelled to point out I was from New York and knew all about cars. The shuttle driver was undeterred. "I was in New York once. Long time ago. 1964 World's Fair."

"It's changed," I said.

"Yes? But CARS STILL HURT," he said triumphantly.

"Yes," sighed DIH. "And cops are still jerks."

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Short Break

DIH is going to Hawaii tomorrow for about two weeks. She will blog from The Big Island if at all possible. Assuming she is not eaten by sharks or parrots.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

And I Was Feeling Bad for the Mormon Boys

Driving my daughter to school every morning I feel like I'm cruising the religious landscape of America.

On a stretch of road no more than a mile long I pass a gaggle of robed Muslim women waiting for a bus, bearded ultra orthodox Jewish men with heads down and books tucked under their arms hurrying off to morning prayers, and of course mini-vans full of my fellow goyim rushing their kids to school.

And then of course there's the Mormon boys. Black pants, white shirts, bicycle helmets. All on their way to work, doing their missionary thing. I suspect since they live in the ultra-orthoddox Jewish neighborhood their jobs are not local, but you never know.
I was feeling bad for the Mormon boys this morning. Gordon Hinckley's dead, Mitt Romney didn't exactly wow the nation last night- the times aren't so good for Joe Smith's crew.

Then I get home and check the headlines. And what do I find?

The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's dead.

You remember him. Short, fat little brown guy. At least I assume he was short. Hard to tell, since he never stood up. He was always photographed in that lotus postion. Long hair, long beard, big, satisfied smile. The guy who introduced "mantra" to the West. As in "You gotta help me, I forgot my mantra."

Maharishi was one of the first people to catch on to the key to success in the guru biz: snag clebrities. When the Beatles were filmed coming off that plane in 1968 to spend a month with him, Mr. M's inner child must have been shrieking for joy. "Yippee! That's worth millions right there!"
But as DIH recalls it ended badly. Didn't at least one Beatle end up denouncing the guru? And what about "Sexy Sadie"? The rumor at the time was the not-too-flattering song was actually about MMY. "Maharishi, you'll get yours yet..." See? The syllables fit and everything.

But there were always tons of Beatles-related rumors, so DIH will have to do some research before going on record with that one. The Maharishi moved on and bagged Shirley Maclaine. Apparently no one told him to check IQ before letting someone into the ashram. You know who else was into TM? Howard Stern. And look what it made of him! Actress Mia Farrow got so enlightened she hooked up with Woody Allen- now there's a mental health move. Maybe we should all start humming mantras to ourselves.

Anyway. Now there are 4 million prophet-less Mormons and God knows how many guru-less transcendental meditators. My condolences, guys. Hey, I been there, it's rough.

So where do you all go to watch for the white smoke?

Monday, February 04, 2008

On The Eve

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday. A couple dozen primaries and caucuses and kaffeeklatches. McCain or Romney. Or Huckabee, I suppose. Hillary or Barack. CNN or CSpan.

On the eve of this important part of the electoral process, DIH wonders if her fellow countrymen have considered the important questions.

If Mitt Romney gets the nomination will he have to go around saying how much he loves Obama because Mormons love black people, they really really do?
And if he gets elected, wouldn't that mean a dry White House? Has he considered the repercussions of offering the press a glass of Clamato at receptions? And don't imagine for a minute offering the press corps free Franklin Covey organizers will mollify them.

What do we have to do to get McCain's mother to go home? Short of electing her son.
And how come we never hear from Mama Obama? And is she any relation to Bahama Mama? "Mama Obama Had A Bahama Mama." That's a song, isn't it? Mama Obama had a Bahama Mama and she went out and shot at Osama... all right, it needs work.

Will anyone be able to say "President Huckabee" without snickering? What kind of a name is that, anyway?

What happens if Barack Obama cries? Hmm? Does that make him a sensitive man or a Hillary copycat? Clearly a no-win situation. Suck it up, Barack.

If Hillary wins, what will happen to the White House Internship program? Or the Secret Service application pool?

What's Huckabee going to do after he loses? Shill for Weight Watchers? Jared already has Subway all sewn up. Maybe Huck could sell those new McDonald's salads. I had one once, they're pretty good.

Oh, heck. Thank God tomorrow's Mardi Gras. This campaign is giving DIH a headache. Just in time to kick off Lent.

Again With the Waterworks

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Sen. Hillary Clinton teared up this morning at an event at the Yale Child Study Center, where she worked while in law school in the early 1970s.
Penn Rhodeen, who was introducing Clinton, began to choke up, leading Clinton's eyes to fill with tears, which she wiped out of her left eye. At the time, Rhodeen was saying how proud he was that sheepskin-coat, bell-bottom-wearing young woman he met in 1972 was now running for president.
"Well, I said I would not tear up; already we're not exactly on the path," Clinton said with emotion after the introduction. [h/t The Swamp via Drudge]

Sometime in 2010:

President Hill: Mr. Bin Laden, you just- I mean, sometimes I just feel you 're not appreciating my efforts to, to-- it's[sniff], it's hard, you know?

Sunday, February 03, 2008