Comments Posted By Your Brother Jim
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Fox News is certainly the winner as a single network in the cable news wars, though as recent ratings show, the audience that skews toward the "liberal" outlets is divided into 3 networks whose total viewership bubbles just under Fox's:

However - if you check the actual Nielsen numbers, you'll see that nearly 2 times more people watch the network CBS, NBC, and ABC nightly news shows than all of Fox's multi-hour hosted shows combined (roughly 22 million for the broadcast networks to 12 million for Fox). Brian Williams and Charles Gibson each more than doubles Bill O'Reilly's audience (scroll down to the "Spotlight" on evening news):

If you factor in the audience of around 1.5 million from the first chart for Mattews, Olbermann et al., the audience preference for the programs of the "left"-type outlets absolutely crushes the viewership numbers for FNC.

Whatever Fox News may be, it is not "America's choice for news." It is the choice of the splinter represented by many of Rick's readers who make the politically dangerous assumption that they represent a majority. In a country with 85% of all households having either cable or satellite access, the figures, as they say, are what they are. Americans prefer their "news" from the opposite camp's sources by a much greater factor than they voted for Obama over McCain.

That makes the question of "why" the administration is carrying out this war even more a mystery and makes it look even more like personal pique on the part of the president.


Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 25.10.2009 @ 15:44


Actually, Rick, Kingston Trio fans tend to come from all points on the political spectrum with a goodly share of classic, dyed-in-the-wool conservatives like yourself. Haven't noticed among them, though, many of the hard core nuts that occasionally drop by your place here - you know, the kind described in that old Chad Mitchell trio song about Goldwater -

"Let's go back to the days when men were men
And start the First World War all over again..."

Another fine article, good light hand on the politics (and no, unlike the sainted Pete Seeger, PP&M were way too commercial to be Marxists), and a fine evocation of the weight of music in our family's collective memory.

I personally always put on a gas mask before visiting your site, and your timely notice also prompted me to wear rain boots and a slicker, lest I slip on slaughtered liberals' blood.

Been plowing through Sam Tannenhaus's interesting but flawed book "Death of Conservatism" and perhaps the most insightful theme he advances is that "movement" conservatism - "revanchists" he calls them - have thrown the rational right off the rails by acting most unconservatively. In this, I am agreement generally but have several major disagreements with his specifics.

The point is, I think to some degree, it is a generational thing. What I might term "Reagan conservatives" like Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, Bruce Bartlett, Martin Anderson, and most of what the revanchists see as the "elites," are fighting a losing battle to keep conservatism's feet on the ground with reasonable, yet powerful critiques of the liberalism of Barack Obama.

They are far overshadowed by the hysterical, out of control, exaggerated screaming coming from the base. It is being driven by the pop conservatives in Talk Radio who pander, encourage, and ultimately, deliberately create an atmosphere of paranoia and fear, milking these emotions for ratings and money. They have so skewed the perception of what conservatism is all about that the disfavor both the politics and philosophy into which the right has fallen will take decades to overcome - if ever.

I joke about lefty folkies, of course - more playing to stereotype than reality. But we are of a generation that perhaps learned valuable lessons about civic disagreements and how they can truly lead to bloodshed unless we all remember that we are Americans who love our country and wish only the best for it. If only we could all start from that premise, I think a lot of the ugliness in our politics would be muted and we could get down to the business of truly addressing some of the problems facing the country today.


Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 19.09.2009 @ 01:44


Thanks, WW! That makes the point of distance even more forceful - 50 years at 343x the speed of light - to go across part of one anonymous galaxy.

Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 2.08.2009 @ 17:18

Cool post indeed, but you're overlooking several important considerations, the main one being size.

Don't forget - until Edwin Hubble in the '30s, the universe was thought to be what we now know is only our galaxy. It was Hubble who discovered that there were other galaxies - thousands of them, maybe tens of thousands of them, he thought.

By the time Fermi propounded his theorem, the number of observable and estimated galaxies - each with hundreds of millions of suns - was still thought to be a countable number, perhaps in the millions.

By 1970, the estimated number of galaxies was in the billions.

Then (appropriately named) came the Hubble Space Telescope. Their most recent estimate is that there are 125 billion galaxies, give or take - as many galaxies as there are stars in our galaxy.

Fermi had no idea of the size of the universe, so the usefulness of his theorem is moot.

Now, since the universe is expanding, it is for all practical considerations of this sort infinite - and the infinite number of monkeys theorem steps up. That theorem as usually stated is widely misunderstood.

To refresh memories, it used to state that if you had an infinite number of monkeys randomly typing blindly on an infinite number of typewriters in an infinite amount of time, sooner or later some monkey would quite randomly type perfectly the complete works of Shakespeare (or the Bible or any other book you can imagine). Well and good - it's a cute illustration of what infinity means.

However...the rules of randomness and logic also apply. What infinity and the theorem suggests is this - if an infinite number of monkeys etc result in the random creation of a phenomenon once - that random phenomenon will continue to recur randomly - an infinite number of times. THAT's what infinity means.

If the evolution of intelligent life on earth is a random accident of a large (or infinite) number of occurrences, then in infinity it is a logical necessity that such an event recurs infinitely.

This is of course part and parcel of the alternate universe theories (as opposed to parallel universe theories that derive from Heisenberg and suggest that there is an infinite number of other universes in the same space we occupy) - that in a universe so vast as to be limitless, an exact and nearly exact example of myself exists "elsewhere" (no meaning to the word) - except that in some of them I'm handsome and left-handed.

So where are the aliens? Out there in a universe so teeming with life that the numbers would stagger out pitiful human conceptions of mathematics - but out there in a universe so vast and silent that even if after developing the Star Trekkian ability to warp out at ten times the speed of light we will never find each other except by the randomest of chances.

Don't forget that Star Trek Voyager was humming along at warp 7 much of the time - 7xthe speed of light - and it was going to take them fifty years to get back from the Delta quadrant to our own Alpha quadrant - in the same pitifully insignificant galaxy.

So they're out there all right, maybe even with their "To Serve Man" cookbooks - but the fact that they haven't come calling yet is simply a matter of its mathematical unlikelihood and is yet another blow to our anthropocentric perception of All That Is.

Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 1.08.2009 @ 23:48


And the curtailment and abuse of civil liberties under the last administration would have roused them from their graves and made every damned one of them who voted for the Bill of Rights start acting like Tom Paine. But when Bush was accused of being a fascist (everyone's favorite word for the person in power whom they don't like), the left was calling for impeachment, not revolution. Last time I checked, that was the constitutional solution. That doesn't matter to most of the reactionaries around here, but for the three or four sane and genuine conservative pundits still writing like Rick, the Robinsons and that ilk indeed make it hard to represent the classic American conservative ideas and values.

Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 21.07.2009 @ 11:09


From Stogie above -

"...they will cripple this country severely, particularly the economy, making it far more difficult to make ends meet..."

" prices to skyrocket, jobs to be more scarce, causing opportunity to shrink..."

"We may recover from this idiot but it will take years..."

Seems like a perfect summary of the 2009 effect of the Bush years.

Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 6.07.2009 @ 09:27


A fine piece and something that needed saying. I'd disagree slightly with one point, though, and that's about Presley. Elvis had a truly wonderful if untrained voice; the reason that he's not Sinatra or Bennett in his impact is due to the selfsame Col. Parker, who channeled a large talent into a narrow, insipid, pablum-ish series of career moves, pushing him into the most godawful group of movies on record and misdirected the singer's vocal gifts into equally vapid record albums after the rougher, bluesier early ones. That's part of the reason why the docu-performances on TV in his last few years now shown on PBS are so valued by his fans (of which I am not a particular one) - we see the shadow of what might have been. With Jackson, smoke and the man in the mirrors, we were shown more than was there.

It is possible Presley's voice had great potential that was never exploited. It certainly had a very nice, very rich tone but his phrasing was god awful even singing the simple rock melodies of the 50's. His forays into the American song book were near disaster, in my opinion.

That said, you're right. That reshowing of of the ABC special from 1967 I believe with Elvis in a black leather jacket and pants singing in the round is the best performance of his on record, far surpassing the film of his Las Vegas show where he forgets lyrics and constantly runs out of breath, singing off key in the process.

His fans forgave him a lot in later years.


Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 26.06.2009 @ 07:39


As I scrolled slowly down the list, agreeing or disagreeing choice by choice (kudos for the remark about the awful intensity of the knife fight in "Private Ryan," which I too at times cannot watch to its conclusion), I was hoping against hope that...and wishes do come true...that #1 would indeed by Flynn vs. Rathbone in "Robin Hood." What gives it the edge for me over the wonderful Rathbone/Power duel in "Zorro" is a) "Robin Hood" is a much better movie, the absolute finest swashbuckler Hollywood ever produced (and I'm including Fairbanks' marvelous turn in the same role in the silent version); b) Flynn was one of the best-looking human beings in history (admitted even by Bette Davis, who hated his lack of preparation and professionalism); and c) the magnificent shadows of the lighting plan Curtiz used, alluded to by you in the piece - but it's those fantastic shadows that lifts the lighting from the merely excellent to the sublime. Fine essay, BTW.

Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 16.06.2009 @ 00:21


......I'm just a tad surprised that no one has yet invoked the oxymoronic (or paradoxical - take your pick) absurdism that is the clear parent of Bush's statement - that of the nameless army lieutenant in Vietnam who remarked after burning a hamlet to the ground that had been a suspected refuge for VC sappers - "It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."

Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 18.12.2008 @ 12:30


"Humphrey was 11 points down a month before the election and then began a blistering attack on Nixon that was almost enough to overtake him. Gerald Ford was 10 points down to Jimmy Carter and made a valiant charge that came up short.

Notice anything about those examples? The candidate who was behind made it close but was never able to overcome the entire deficit."

The candidates in your examples were both incumbent members of very unpopular administrations. McCain may not be an incumbent, and he may be trying to distance himself from GWB, but on key issues like tax cuts (that favor higher income groups), health care (BTW- is he SERIOUS about taxing a benefit that for most who have it is worth $12,000 and replacing it with a $5,000 tax credit? That part was a joke, right?),and Iraq, he just doesn't seem different enough to anyone, including independents, who think we're going in (shall we say obliquely)a direction that is counter-productive to our best interests. People seem to be in a "throw the rascals out" mood - and this year, the rascals are Republicans.

Comment Posted By Your Brother Jim On 5.10.2008 @ 16:24



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