Check out my incubating new project, Man Against World, about the fight that we, especially young Christian men, have to wage in this world.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
We went to France. Here's the story, in short installments.
Numb airport gate agents, almost robotic in their countenance. Unlike robots, these terminal denizens are not emotionless. Instead, they are sunk deep into melancholia. However, there was a curious glimmer—almost joy—in this specimen's eyes as she told us we had missed our flight to Paris.
Charlotte, North Carolina, is no doubt an excellent place. Its leaden skies on this occasion, however, did not invite further exploration. We wanted to be in Paris, immediately. I won't spend time describing the horrible experience of cajoling an airline into getting you on another plane. Somehow, we managed to get tickets to London. There, hopefully, we will transfer to another airport and thusly to Paris—most of a day latter than planned.
John, our erstwhile companion, was booked on a different flight, from Philadelphia. Ironically, he missed his flight as well—the plane was delayed. We will see if tomorrow brings a safe reunion of the four of us at Paris—Charles De Gaulle.
The loudspeakers on planes hardly merit the term. They failed altogether as the stewardess on this flight tried to talk. When they did work, they were hardly more effective. The pilot, however, was finally able to advise us to avoid “conjugating in the aisles.” I could barely resist jumping into the aisle and yelling “Amo! Amas! Amat!” at the top of my lungs.
The head stewardess was also able to tell us about the “flirtation devices,” handily placed under our seats. Seated between two pairs of grandparents, I didn't find this particularly useful. Besides, I have one built in that works perfectly well.
This is an Airbus A330. I only fly Boeing, so I asked the stewardess for a parachute with which to exit the plane, hoping for a soft landing on the pillowy Atlantic. She wouldn't supply me with one! I tell you, airplane travel is going to the dogs.
Eventually, we will get there. Will our baggage be waiting to meet us, however. THAT is the question.
What journey goes smoothly? Few. Life itself is a journey, if you'll pardon the cliched sentimentalism. We cannot avoid its obstacles—and nor can we make every plane. Obstacles are part of the journey of life. But how do we surmount them when encountered? Without sounding like a televangelist, we should rely on God. He is map, compass, and tour guide. When we are saved, the journey of life still has its ups and downs, but the destination has radically changed. I'm going to heaven, via Paris, France. How about you?
I don't really feel like getting my iPod out right now. So I plugged my 'phones into the in-flight entertainment console. Hey, they have Alejandro by, erm, well, you-know-who. Ah, even better, they have a whole station devoted to Radiohead. Bliss.
The whole tragedy of errors that has thus far characterized our journey brings all too readily to mind the excellent comedic sketches of Brian Regan: the arrogance of first-class passengers, the food which adjectives fail to capture, the message of harassed gate agents: “Okay, if I could have passengers in Zones A and B being to approach the gate, please,” which, to many people, sounds like, “Okay, Everybody rush the gate RIGHT now.”
It is indeed strange that during a single seven-hour flight through Earth's atmosphere, we can see the light of two days. We have shortened the night—I will pay for it with tiredness. Dawn begins sooner above the clouds. It is 5:45 AM and bright as day.
After three different estimates, we now find that weather has lost us 12 hours of France. John was, for some reason, sent to Oslo, Norway. He won't be in Paris till 7.
I have been sitting near the spotless McDonald's in Charles De Gaulle airport for hours now. My designated task seems to be muse, scratching post, internet enabler, and baggage watcher, while my betters troop about this massive airport. Tiresome crises, too tiring to go into, come and pass as we try to get our fractured party together and leave this teeming rabbit warren and strike out into France in our “Renault Espace or similar.”
Charles De Gaulle is massive and convoluted, but astonishingly clean and new, albeit with frequently non-functional escalators. The McDonald's and Pizza Hut are located back to back, as if set defensively against the waves of “foreign food” that threaten to overrun them.
We ate, this morning, at a delicious place called “Costa” at Heathrow Airport. It was like an upmarket, deli-style Panera Bread.
A short plane ride later, Air France delivered us to CDG, where we sit, waiting for John's flight from Oslo.
125 kilometers an hour through the dusky French countryside. It is past 9:30, but the leaden skies still bear enough light to write by. No one really knows where John's luggage is. No one knows when we will get it back. But we do count our blessing that John packed an extra change of clothes into his carry-on. None of us did.
Nor our black Mercedes, aided by a GPS, oozes quietly across the countryside.
Honfleur is a miniature town—parking even the tiny B-Class was a chore. The houses are ancient—half-timbered and brightly painted. It is dead silent right now in our hotel room with the windows thrown wide open. No downshifting trucks, no 24-7 gas stations—this town at night is much as it has been for centuries. La Cour Saint Catherine is a little jewel of a hotel right from Rick Steve's guidebook. The landlady promised us good weather tomorrow, and having lost a rainy day to the airline, we resolve to start early.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Never mind. Why did I delete this post? I suggest you watch the House episode "Private Lives." It's unhealthy to share everything about you with the internet.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
You have probably heard of Tim Tebow. Tebow, 22, is the quarterback for the Florida Gators, the University of Florida's football team, and he is the greatest college athlete ever.
Here's what we do need a lot more of: Tebows. Collegians who are selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other than themselves, and are willing to put their backbone where their mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.
You know what we really need more of? Famous guys who aren't embarrassed to practice sexual restraint, and to say it out loud. If we had more of those, women might have fewer abortions. See, the best way to deal with unwanted pregnancy is to not get the sperm in the egg and the egg implanted to begin with, and that is an issue for men, too -- and they should step up to that.
"Are you saving yourself for marriage?" Tebow was asked last summer during an SEC media day.
"Yes, I am," he replied.
The room fell into a hush, followed by tittering: The best college football player in the country had just announced he was a virgin. As Tebow gauged the reaction from the reporters in the room, he burst out laughing. They were a lot more embarrassed than he was.
"I think y'all are stunned right now!" he said. "You can't even ask a question!"
That's how far we've come from any kind of sane viewpoint about star athletes and sex. Promiscuity is so the norm that if a stud isn't shagging everything in sight, we feel faintly ashamed for him.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
It happens after every natural disaster: "Why does God let these things happen?" some people say. And some reply, "These people are cursed by God and deserve to die." Cue hatred.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Sarah Palin. Many people like her immensely. Many people can't stand her. Many people think she would make a better president than any other major-party candidate in 2012. Many people think Curious George would do better.
Best Movies of the 2000s
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I was nine when this decade began, and eighteen now. I am twice as old now as I was then. Obviously, then, this decade has influenced and changed my life in incalculable ways. So, for your enjoyment, for posterity, and for my biographers, I now list my favorite music and books of the '00s. Coming soon: Best movies and cars.
Best Music of the 2000s.
Arctic Monkeys, Favourite Worst Nightmare, 2007
The Monkeys' brash scouser funk at its best, with lyricism and catchy beats.
9. U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2000
The world's greatest band reapplying for its title and unanimously holding on to it.
Norah Jones, Feels Like Home, 2004
Jones is the best-selling female jazz artist of all time and her second album remains, so far, her masterwork.
Radiohead, Hail to the Thief, 2003
Radiohead has been hailed as one of the greatest bands of the 21st century. Opinions vary, but I believe this album is more coherent than their more popular offerings Kid A and Amnesiac.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, By the Way, 2005
Funk with heart. Kiedis's polarizing vocals, plus Chad Smith's superb drumming, Flea's driving bass lines and John Frusciante's godlike guitar skills make this the best Pepperss album.
The White Stripes, Icky Thump, 2008
The White Stripes' last and best is probably one of the most American albums I have ever heard.
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2002
Wilco was dropped by their record label after this album was completed, and picked up by a new one. It became a mega-hit and established Wilco's country-influenced hard rock sound.
Switchfoot, The Beautiful Letdown, 2003
Sue me, but I think Switchfoot has had a huge influence on modern pop rock, and it started with this album's earnest lyricism.
- The Killers, Hot Fuss, 2004
The Killers' best album to date, Hot Fuss combines many elements to become an eclectic, interesting whole.
1. Audio Adrenaline, Lift, 2001
Lift is one of the most worshipful albums I've ever heard. From Ocean Floor to You Still Amaze Me, the Christian rockers keep the message coming in serious, otherworldly melodies. Also, I have all these albums on iTunes and this is the only one that writing a blurb about made me want to listen to it again. "You, you still amaze me. Bigger than the sky, brighter than the sun, you're the one."
Best Books of the 2000s.
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 2007
Rowling's powerful finale to the best-selling fiction series ever written was a fitting end to the series and proved, once and for all, that Rowling was no mere children's writer. The Messianic allegories, the intricately crafted plot, and the unforgettable characters make this one of my favorite books ever.
Rod Dreher, Crunchy Cons, 2006
Dreher's impassioned call for a Republican party grounded more in environmentally responsible, doctrinally sound, and intellectually honest philosophy is the political book with the most influence on me, ever.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Shadow of the Wind, 2001
Zafon's book is magical. Simple as that.
Eric Metaxas, Amazing Grace, 2007
William Wilberforce, “God's politician,” has long been one of my heroes. This biography of him, then, naturally attracted me. It was the best biography I have ever read, and slim as it is, it provides a rather complete assessment not only of Wilberforce but of his allies and conditions in early Victorian England.
Stephen Marche, Shining at the Bottom of the Sea, 2007
This exquisite collection of short fiction from the fictional island of “Sanjania” is as beautiful as it is inventive.
Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism, 2008
Pastor Keller, leader of New York's most vibrant evangelical church which he himself founded in the 80s, gives an impassioned, orthodox defense of traditional belief.
Timothy Zahn, Allegiance, 2007.
I know, I know, a Star Wars novel. Truth be told, though, Zahn is ten times more talented than the other hacks Lucas hired to write his sequels, and is an accomplished sci-fi author in his own right. Allegiance is not his best, but the others were published in the last millennium and he needs to be on this list.
Adam Nicolson, Seize the Fire: Heroism and Duty at the Battle of the Trafalgar, 2006
As an anglophile, I've always idolized Nelson. This book is less about him as it is about the greatest naval battle in history, but how can one define Trafalgar without Nelson, or Nelson without Trafalgar? A great read. It also introduced me to one of the best poems ever written.
Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, 2009.
This rousing mystery features a ridiculously young protagonist, but is nevertheless a great book.
M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies, 2007.
A reasoned defense of one of my heroes. McCarthy's methods were way over the top, but his evidence of communist infiltration, Evans points out, was unassailable. This has been proven by declassified Soviet records. The fact that he remains a favorite target of liberals should remind us which side it is that has reason on its side.
Authored By Sola Gratia at 12:24 PM
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Authored By Sola Gratia at 1:06 PM
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Ender's Game is a science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card and is one of the very few books to win both Hugo and Nebula awards, science fiction's highest honors, for Best Novel. It is the story of child prodigy Ender Wiggin in 22nd century North Carolina, who lives with his distant parents, his dear sister Valentine, and his sadistic brother Peter. The novel opens movingly: “I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one.” Humanity faces the threat of a technologically advanced alien civilization that has already attacked twice, and the Earth leadership desperately seeks a person with the skill and innate ability to lead Earth's forces to victory. In Ender Wiggin, they see that person. Colonel Graff, who says that unique first line, is the book's most mercurial character. A fat, slovenly bureaucrat in some respects, he possesses a keen military mind and a ruthless sense of what must be done to win final and ultimate victory in the war that humanity faces. It is his manipulation that turns Ender Wiggin into a precisely-tuned instrument of destruction, who in the end, is able to save humanity. The question Card leaves us with is: was it the right thing to do?
Early in the book, Peter Wiggin terrorizes his younger siblings, inflicting physical violence and even threatening to kill them. Peter is cruel and manipulative by nature, and this naturally led to his oppression of Ender and Valentine. He especially hates Ender because Peter was tested and rejected for Battle School while, at the outset of the book, Ender still wears his “monitor,” and is apparently destined for Battle School. After Ender leaves Earth to go to Battle School, the conflict continues to a lesser extent between Peter and Valentine. Peter draws Valentine into his scheme to gain power in the world. He and she pretend to be the ideologues Lock and Demosthenes. Locke's persona is reasoned and wise, while Demosthenes is inflammatory and indulges in demagoguery. They are meant to be perfect opposites. Peter takes Loke, Valentine writes Demosthenes. Essentially, they each are taking positions that conflict with their real beliefs. Through their close partnership, they begin to understand more about each other and Peter's animosity is curbed somewhat. However, Valentine knows that if Ender returns to Earth after his victory over the Buggers, Peter will use him to his own ends. She uses Demosthenes to assure that Ender can never return to Earth, and she leaves Earth on a colony ship to join him. So the conflict is resolved only when the aggressors are separated by lightyears.
The Human war with the Buggers is the overarching conflict in the story. The Buggers are a powerful alien race that attacked Earth twice sometime before the story began. They were repulsed by the space-fleets of Earth, but only because of the dumb luck of Mazer Rackham. Since the “second invasion,” humanity has concentrated its energies on preparing for a possible third invasion. Humanity is under a Hegemony and the IF (International Fleet) builds spaceships with ever-increasing speed and firepower. However, humans on earth believe that the fleet is massing in the solar system, when in fact each ship is sent to attack the Bugger home-worlds as soon as it is built and crewed. The IF has instituted the Battle School, an orbital base devoted to training prodigious children to be the leaders and commanders of the fleet en route to destroy the Buggers. Ender Wiggin is selected to attend Battle School. He overcomes the trials of battle school and is sent to Command School. There he is trained by Mazer Rackham himself, and begins to practice using the “Simulator,” a virtual command interface. He is aided by his “jeesh,” his friends and allies from Battle School. Unbeknownst to him, the battle “simulations” are actually the real battles against the Buggers. He wins most of them handily. On the final trial, however, he decides to use his weapons against the Bugger planet itself, employing a suicidal strategy. He is succesful, and the planet is destroyed, along with nearly all his forces. Rackham reveals to him that he just fought the real battle and has defeated and destroyed the Buggers.
Before Ender enters battle school, Stilson, a boy at school, terrorizes him for being a “Third”--a third child born to his parents under a special dispensation, at a time when there are strict population controls placed on the population. One day Ender's “monitor,” a device the IF uses to observe him and decide his fitness for Battle School, is removed. Stilson, seeing that Ender is now unmonitored by watchful adults, approaches him with a group of cohorts planning to cause pain. Ender determines that he must take the gloves off. He thinks that only a complete victory would dissuade the bullies from further attacks. When Stilson attacks him, Ender's response is swift and very painful. Stilson is vanquished and, the author implies, actually dies. Later, at battle school, Ender makes an enemy of Bonzo Madrid, a much older boy who commands Ender's army. Bonzo treats Ender nastily, and Ender embarrasses him by defying his orders to never fire his weapon, and firing critical shots that win a battle with another army. Ender is later transferred to another army and has further scuffles with Bonzo. Their conflict culminates when Bonzo confronts Ender in the showers. Ender decides that, as before, a direct confrontation is necessary. He destroys Bonzo, later finding out that he killed him as well.
All the conflicts in the book are set against the backdrop of humanity's protracted war with the Buggers, which forms the overarching story line. The first lesser conflict is Peter Wiggin's infliction of pain on his younger siblings. Ending this conflict becomes a major motivation for Ender and Valentine. Ender's fight with Stilson is his final test, and the moment in the book when he is most defenseless. It is his response here that finally tells Colonel Graff, the commander of Battle School, that Ender is strong enough to lead. As Ender goes through Battle School and proves his stellar abilities, it is his seeming indispensability in the Bugger Wars that provokes Bonzo's hatred and jealousy. Before their last encounter, Ender's older friend Dink shouts, “Don't hurt him, Bonzo! We need him!” This only inflames Bonzo further, reminding him, as Card points out, that he is largely a nonentity to other people, while Ender is the perceived savior of humanity from the Buggers. In a sense, the antagonists Peter and Stilson and Bonzo were hindrances that prevented Ender from addressing the major conflict: the war with the Buggers.
Ender's time in the “simulator” at Command School is the climax of the story, specifically the final “test” set by his teacher Mazer Rackham: he must lead the human forces, outnumbered 1000 to 1, to victory against a massive Bugger fleet around their home planet. Prior to the battle, Mazer tells Ender that the upcoming battle will be the final simulation; if he wins, he will graduate from Command School. Ender is dismayed when he sees the enormity of the fleet he is tasked to destroy. He thinks it is an impossible cheat by Rackham, and decides that he will use all his forces in a near-suicidal attack on the Bugger planet itself. This mirrors an incident earlier in the book, Ender's last battle at Battle School, where Ender and Dragon Army beat not one but two armies in the battle room by using similar techniques. Ender's spiraling, unpredictable attack leads to grievous losses, but it also brings the awesome destructive power of Ender's weapons to bear on the Bugger planet. He destroys the planet. Ender thinks he has won by cheating, but the celebration of the observers sent to watch his final battle tells him otherwise. Finally, in the book's revelatory moment, Rackham reveals to him that he has just destroyed the Buggers—the “simulator” was no simulator at all. In fact, it was a tactical command center of the entire Earth space armada. He tells Ender that Earth needed a commander with the compassion to fully understand his enemy, but with the ruthlessness to destroy him. Ender had the compassion, but not the ruthlessness, and thus his true purpose was hidden from him. Ender concludes that a complete understanding of one's enemy will lead irrevocably to loving them. Ender's victory, then, is the climax of the story, though he did not know it at the time.
The questions Card leaves unanswered are uniformly intentional. Ender's Game is not a thrilling science fiction story, but rather a novel about the human condition and the consequences of thoughts and actions. Was Graff's manipulation of Ender justifiable? Was Ender's eventual act of destruction the right thing to do? Did the Buggers deserve to die? These are the questions Card leaves us with, and they are questions with answers that may make us rethink our preconceptions about human actions, the military mind, and the prospect of nonhuman intelligent life in the universe. Ender's Game, however, does not succeed because it is a great philosophical work. It succeeds because it is a novel that describes otherworldly events with a human heart. Like the best experiences in life, the events in Ender's Game do not just happen. They break down and change and build up the characters who experience them. In a world where fiction is so often idealized and unrealistic, Ender's Game is, conversely, a harshly realistic novel set in one possible future.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
My new favorite source for worldwide news is Foreign Policy magazine; especially two of its recent articles which challenge the conventional wisdom and strike me as wise--all too rare a quality. See what you make of them.
Myth #1: "Conditions in Africa are Medieval."
FP's response: read the whole, enlightening article here.
Myth #2: "Power is shifting from West to East." (America and Europe are losing power to Asia.)
FP's response: read the article here.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The modern lending library is a co-op of sorts. In my town, a group of literate people got together and decided that the town needed a library. They each contributed a few books, and these sparse tomes were housed in somebody's basement. New people joined, contributed their own books, and read others. The library grew. A hundred years hence, it is a collection of thousands of books in a sterile, white-walled, green-carpeted building with a staff of ten. What will it be in another century?
The printing press appears to be on its way out. Amazon's Kindle was introduced a few years ago, and quickly embraced by the literary elite. The Kindle, however, has massive flaws. Even after a price cut, the cheapest model is still $300. It uses E-ink technology which is expensive but, unlike an LED screen, is not backlit. The Kindle can only be stocked with ebooks from Amazon's Kindle store, which has about 300,000 titles--78,000 less than the amount of books published in the US and the UK in 2006. In other words, this is a tiny drop in the bucket of books that have been published even in the last decade, a tiny mote in the dust bunny the size of Hoover Dam that is the amount of books published since the invention of the printing press in approximately 1436.
Furthermore, a cursory glance of the "Kindle store" will reveal that, although most NYT bestsellers and many significant books are available, many of the bestselling books in history are not. The Harry Potter series, for example, which has sold half as many copies in 12 years as the Holy Qur'an has in its entire history, is absent.
The Kindle is undeniably groundbreaking, despite its flaws. Two competitors, Sony and Barnes & Noble (competing for the first time in their respective histories) have produced or shortly will produce e-readers, with larger libraries, lower prices, and less restrictions than Amazon's Kindle. The fact is, the printed book is no the way out, but I'm not willing to jump on board yet. I'm an admitted technophile, but every now and again staring at glowing rectangles gets old and I have to escape into what solace a printed book can offer. I do not look forward to the day when, to read the books I love, convenience will mandate that I leave my printed books behind.
I will miss going to Borders and browsing for hours. I will miss my job at the library, which will be made ineffably obsolete in the next half-century. I will miss the fresh, foresty, virginal smell of a new book, the crispness of its pages, and the salacious pleasure of reading it for the first time, and many times hereafter. I will miss the joy--yes, joy--of recommending a book to someone, lending them a ratty copy, and then basking in satisfaction when he or she loves it. With Card's Ender's Game, I did something very perilous. I recommended to someone a book I had not read myself. He read and loved it, I read and loved it. My brother read and loved it. By the end of it, I had read eight more books (the sequels) and no less than everyone in our school had read Ender's Game. With books made up of bytes instead of paper, this sort of sharing is not possible. No sensible publisher will relax DRM (Digital Rights Management) rules to allow customers to lend books to each other. Brick-and-mortar publishers can't dictate what customers do with their books after they buy them, but cyberspace-based ones can reach into your computer and delete anything and everything it wants to if you don't toe the line.
Don't take my word for it, though. Recently, Amazon remotely deleted copies of the Harry Potter series and Orwell's 1984 from customers' Kindles, and refunded them. The books had been placed on Amazon's Kindle store illegally, but even so: if they can do it for legitimate reasons, they can do it whenever they want. Barnes & Noble, however much it wants to, can't send ninjas to break into your house and take your copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting that you lent to a friend "in the family way."
There is a inherent difference between the version of the latest bestseller on Barnes & Noble's burgeoning shelves and the electronic one on Amazon's Kindle store. There are a finite number of copies of the paper version, and they cost a certain amount of money to make. There are an infinite number of copies of the Kindle version, as many as there is demand for and no more, and they cost an infitesimal amount to produce. This means that consumers pay less, that bookstores will never be overstocked, but it also undermines the entire thesis--and here I return, five paragraphs hence, to the subject of my first paragraph--of the modern lending library.
A public library is not a building or a collection of books, but a social contract between people saying, in effect: "We will each contribue x% of our income to fund this library, which will buy books and other materials, hire staff, and provide premises where we can all enjoy these items for free." That, at least, is how libraries started out. Now, they are publically funded and so taxpayers pay for their library whether they use it or not. A book that a library buys is put on the shelf, and patron after patron after patron can read it. Electronic books cannot be put on a shelf, and with DRM only one person can own them, not a consortium. A library could buy one e-book, someone could download and read it...and it would be "used up" and disappear into cyberspatial oblivion.
So, whither the library--or rather, will the library whither?
Not to act like an action film director, but to find out you'll have to wait till the sequel: "The Future of Libraries Redux," "The Future of Libraries is Back," "The Future of Libraries Reloaded," or "The Future of Libraries II." The title is still under consideration.
Till next time,
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
So, VP Joe Biden says it's okay for Israel to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. "We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination, that they're existentially threatened," Biden said in an interview on ABC's "The Week" on Monday the 6th.
Joe might want to check back with his boss. Here's Obama, when asked one day later if his administration had given a "green light" for such an attack: "Absolutely not." The problem of Iranian nukes would be resolved, he said, through diplomatic channels.
Joe Biden is in the right of it. Israel is a sovereign nation and old enough to make its own decisions. Biden didn't really give them the "green light;" he acknowledged that they could do what they darn well pleased. Obama, on the other hand, says that the problem must be resolved through diplomatic channels. Iran, even under Ahmadinejad, isn't stupid enough to challenge the U.S. directly by bombing U.S. interests in Iraq or Afghanistan. If, God forbid, they do get the bomb--which Mossad chief Meir Dagan said might happen by 2014--then they may well attempt to wipe Israel off the map.
In other words, this doesn't affect the U.S. directly except insofar as it changes the political balance in the Middle East. I hope Israel won't do anything rash that might lead to a larger Middle-Eastern war, but here's the clincher: Iran stands virtually alone. The rest of the Muslim East is separated from them by ethnic, linguistic, and cultural barriers. Even ultra-conservative, ultra-Muslim Saudi Arabia has, after negotiations, reportedly allowed Israeli jets to fly over Saudi airspace in an attack on Iran. Even the Saudis don't want a nuclear Iran, and see what needs to be done. Why doesn't Obama?
This is all assuming that Khamenei's theocracy in Iran triumphs in Iran, and that his puppet Ahmadinejad isn't forced to give in. This may or may not happen. The shooting death of protester Neda Salehi Agha Soltan, caught on video and apparently perpetrated by Iranian security forces, has become iconic in the same way as the grainy footage of the lone protester in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square. A prominent group of Iranian Shi'ite clerics in the city of Qom have called the election invalid. We don't know what the future holds, but if Mousavi triumphs the whole question of attacking Iran might become moot. We can only hope.