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Klavan On The Culture

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Stop Me Before I Jump Again

September 8th, 2011 - 7:00 am

When I was working toward my pilot’s license, a friend of mine, a paraglider, was always chiding me:  telling me I was working on the wrong thing, I ought to take up gliding, on and on.  Only trouble was, every month or so, this guy would show up with his leg in a cast or his arm in a sling or a bandage wrapped around somewhere.  Plus all his paragliding friends were missing body parts or on crutches or in wheelchairs.  One even flew into a mountainside and got himself killed.  ”You guys are the worst advertisement for paragliding ever,” I told them once…  which somehow they didn’t find all that funny.

However, the truth was, I was charmed by the bravado of it all and always wanted to try it out, so this past vacation in Aspen I visited Aspen Paragliding where the owner Alex took me on a flight off what I would guess was a 3,000 – 3,500 foot high mountain.  And I have to admit:  it was a pure thrill, an absolute joy.  For those interested, here are some pix:

Before:  my face frozen in a rictus of terror as I contemplate jumping off the cliff.

You can see my grim determination as I struggle to stop Alex from pushing me to my death.

If you put your ear to the monitor, you can hear me screaming.

I regained consciousness in mere hours, which I’m told is some sort of record.

More seriously, I had the time of my life.  I won’t take it up too regularly due to a vague yearning to live long enough to see my grandchildren, but I would like to do it solo one of these days.  Anyway, I truly recommend the experience for anyone who feels he has lived quite long enough.


When Hollywood Hit Rock Bottom

September 7th, 2011 - 7:17 am

My piece on Hollywood’s reaction to 9-11 is up now at City Journal:

Hollywood’s lockstep leftist filmmakers have long busied themselves with a range of shameful enterprises. They have peddled and celebrated a wholly distorted and negative vision of American manners in dishonest films epitomized by American Beauty (1999). They have sold the self-contradicting nonsense of moral relativism in films such as The Reader (2008). They have routinely depicted the U.S. government and U.S. corporations as bad actors in world events, as in The Bourne Ultimatum. And—in what some observers consider a conscious scheme by a likeminded filmland clique—they have maintained a small but steady effort to normalize the sexual abuse of children in films like Little ChildrenThe WoodsmanTowelhead, and more.

But when it comes to sheer shamefulness, the conformist “radicals” of Hollywood outdid themselves in the years after the Islamofascist attacks on 9/11.

You can read the whole thing here.

Me at Kitty Hawk

September 5th, 2011 - 8:21 am

Back from a terrific vacation – and what I wanted to post were the Action Man photos of me on my first (tandem) paragliding excursion in Aspen.  But American Airlines – you know who you are – has lost my luggage with the photo disk inside.  Instead, here’s a shot my wife snapped of me standing in Kitty Hawk, North  Carolina, where Orville and Wilbur Wright took their first flights.  The markers behind me (the first one obscured by my enormous head) mark where the first three flights landed less than a football field away from where they started and about twelve seconds after take-off.  But with the luggage intact!

As a one-time pilot and lover of flight – not to mention American ingenuity – it literally gave me chills to stand where, as the monument on nearby Kill Devil Hill says, the bros conquered the air in an act “conceived by genius, achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.”

Inspired, I sent a quick note to another – and current – pilot, Bill Whittle:

I love this Wright Brothers quote from the onsite museum:  ”All of the experiments have been conducted at our own expense without assistance from any individual or institution.”  If only they’d had a Government Flight Initiative, we would still be without airplanes to this very day!

Whittle (the smart alec!) wrote back reminding me of a bit of history I’d forgotten:

Turns out there was in fact a US Government run airplane program, and it was run by Samuel Langley, Director of the Smithsonian Institution. His aircraft was underpowered, over weight, uncontrollable (just as the government is) and it crashed into the Potomac after staggering a few feet (just like the Government will).

Hahahaha.  True that!  More photos when – if – my luggage shows up.