"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jack Bauer: America's true Idol

OK, time for something different. First, I'm ashamed to say I watched my first episode of American Idol this week. For so long I was able to avoid it, but this time, the TV was on, the baby was finally asleep on me and any movement would instigate World War II, so I stayed put. I understand that a lot of people like the audition episodes more than anything else, and I can see why. Nothing beats the guilty pleasure of laughing at people who don't realize how completely devoid of talent they are. It's even funnier when they tell you that they're voice coaches or that they have a piece of paper at home that says they have musical training. Underlying that, though, was another current I found rather sad. So many of these people thought they were entitled to stardom simply for being, well, them. They either believed themselves skilled, regardless of evidence to the contrary, or that certification by some higher authority somehow bestowed on them undeniable moral authority. I think this is part of a culture of entitlement that so many of our nation's institutions are fostering, and it's something that must stop (how odd that a reality show would be at the vanguard of our culture wars). Last time I checked, America didn't reward you just because you felt you deserved it; it rewarded you because you worked hard, or because you had some skill that you'd spent your own time and sweat cultivating. America is a meritocracy, folks, so stop expecting handouts just because your first-grade teacher or spineless friends lied to you about your abilities for fear of offending the god of our times: self-esteem.

Enough of that. I watched the first four hours of the new season of 24 this week; and then I had to sit and watch the last five minutes of the fourth episode again, because I couldn't quite believe it. SPOILER AHEAD!!!!!

I thought that, after killing off virtually every major character last season, the writers would focus more on the story-line this time round. Well, they did, but apparently Curtis Manning was getting too big for his britches, so he got whacked (by Jack, in a fun twist). And then, not two seconds later, L.A. got nuked. This wasn't a mushroom cloud in the desert (season 2) or a missile shot down JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME (season 4); a no-kidding, city-wasting disaster of gigantic proportions. I'm trying to think of any other modern movie or TV show that had the flattening of a real American city as part of a serious plot-line, and only Sum of All Fears comes to mind. WOW doesn't even begin to describe those five minutes of television.

And in homage of Jack Bauer, a man who could solve every problem in the world if only people would just get in the car and trust him because he doesn't have time to explain right now, I offer some of my favorite Jack Bauer facts:

Jack and Jill went up the hill. Only Jack came down. Jill was a fucking terrorist.

Jack Bauer could get off the Lost island in 24 hours.

If Jack Bauer was in a room with Hitler, Stalin, and Nina Meyers, and he had a gun with 2 bullets, he'd shoot Nina twice.

Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up the location of the keys.

The only reason you're conscious right now is because Jack Bauer doesn't want to carry you.

There were originally five horsemen of the apocalypse. Jack Bauer said he would travel by foot.

They say you can't go a day without water, Jack Bauer has gone five seasons.

Jack Bauer sleeps with a gun under the pillow. But he could kill you with the pillow.

When Kim Bauer lost her virginity, Jack found it and put it back.

Jack Bauer doesn't miss. If he didn't hit you it's because he was shooting at another terrorist twelve miles away.

After running out of ammo, Jack stood in the line of fire, took 3 shots to the chest, and used them to reload.

A Priest, a Rabbi, and a Minister walked into a bar... and Jack Bauer is going to find out why.

Once, someone tried to tell Jack Bauer a "knock knock" joke. Jack Bauer found out who was there, who they worked for, and where the goddamned bomb was.

The 2007 budget for the US Military covers Jack Bauer, two pistols and four billion rounds of ammunition.

If everyone on "24" followed Jack Bauer's instructions, it would be called "12".

Jack Bauer doesn't need to eat, sleep, or use the bathroom because his organs are afraid of making him angry.

Superman is one of the few individuals who could possibly survive a confrontation with Jack Bauer. But that is only because he can fly away.

Only Jack Bauer can fly a plane from the luggage compartment

Jack Bauer is the only human in the world with the ability to make Chloe O'Brien drop the personality disorder and patch him through.

If Jack Bauer's gun jams, it's because he wanted to beat you with it.

Jack Bauer could strangle you with a cordless phone.

Jack Bauer once won a game of Connect 4 in 3 moves.

Most pilots need 5,000 feet of runway to land a plane. Jack Bauer needs 100 feet and a gun.

Tony was once shot in the neck, rushed to the hospital, underwent emergency surgery and was back on the job in just a few hours. Jack Bauer still can't believe that pussy went to the hospital first.

Jack Bauer once opened a can of whoop ass. All he found inside was a mirror.

Don't ever ask Jack Bauer what is going on. He'll explain in the car.

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