Monday, February 28, 2005

Catching up with history II

Austin Bay writes that the Washington Post and NY Times editorial pages are catching on to tipping points leaning toward democracy in the Middle East: the Iraqi election, Lebanese reaction to the Syrian-backed assassination (and the resignation of the Syrian-backed Lebanese government), and the Israel-Palestine situation post-Arafat. Another is Syria's decision to pull out of Lebanon (although no timetable), and Syria's turning over members of the Baathist regime who (until now) had been safe-harbored in Syria.
Money quote:
Read my column from December 2004, about the looming revolt in the Middle East. The opportunities for genuine change were no secret, they were obvious. Moreover, those doing the tipping saw the goals and paid the price. These opportunities were earned with tough, visionary US leadership, smart diplomacy, and the sweat and blood of coalition troops and the Iraqi people. Here's a bandwagon I'll join: Give the Iraqi people the Nobel Peace Prize.
One of Bay's readers notes: "The Syrians seem to have caught on more quickly than the Democratic Party. They demonstrated that by handing over most of the Baathist leadership that was directing the insurgency." Although there will surely be setbacks, democracy is truly on the march. And we don't have Democrats to thank for that.

Lebanon: the newest domino?

Read this BBC article about the resignation of the government in Lebanon, which has been Syrian-dominated for about as long as any of us can remember. I doubt that the invasion of Iraq and the presence of American and other coalition troops in that country is coincidental.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Podcasting: the next big thing?

Startup Odeo is developing an application to make creating, distributing, and downloading content for podcasting simple. What is podcasting, you ask? Amateur Internet audio (like blogging is text, podcasting is audio). Read more here, here, and here.

Postmodern warfare

Little Green Footballs links to a Victor Davis Hansen piece in City Journal on postmodern warfare:
It is still suicidal to meet the United States in a conventional war—at least for any enemy that has not fully adopted Western arms, discipline, logistics, and military organization. The recent abrupt collapse of both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein’s regime amply proves the folly of fighting America in direct conflicts. The military dynamism that enables the United States to intervene militarily in the Middle East—in a manner in which even the richest Middle Eastern countries could not intervene in North America—is not an accident of geography or a reflection of genes, but a result of culture. Our classical Western approaches to politics, religion, and economics—including consensual government, free markets, secularism, a strong middle class, and individual freedom—eventually translate on the battlefield into better-equipped, motivated, disciplined, and supported soldiers.

To an American television audience, al-Qaida videos of pajama-clad killers in ski masks beheading captives look scary, of course. But a platoon of Rangers would slaughter hundreds of them in seconds if they ever approached Americans openly on the field of conventional battle or even for brief moments of clear firing. In Mogadishu, Somalia, everything boded ill for a few trapped Americans—outnumbered, far from home, facing local hostility in urban warfare—and yet the real lesson was not that a few Americans were tragically killed, but that the modern successors to Xenophon’s Ten Thousand or the Redcoats at Rorke’s Drift managed to shoot their way out and kill over 1,000 in the process.

Nevertheless, the numerous setbacks of Western armies from Thermopylae to Vietnam prove that there are several ways to nullify these military advantages, both on conventional and irregular battlefields. The question is: Are such historical precedents still relevant to the modern age?
Read the whole thing.

Democracy on the march -- in Egypt?

Jeff Jarvis notes that Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak has set the stage for the first multiparty election in Egypt since 1952 (after Bush comments and the day after Condi's postponement of a trip to Cairo).

In a similar light, Austin Bay says he is confident that, like the Iraqis, even the French will learn how to handle democracy.

Hugh Nibley 1910-2005

Renowned LDS scholar, Hugh W. Nibley, passed away Thursday at the age of 94. He made an incalculable contribution to LDS scholarship. FARMS is expected to publish his magnum opus on Abraham facsimile No. 2, One Eternal Round, which he did not finish in his lifetime.

I took Nibley's Pearl of Great Price class twice, once for credit and once I attended with my wife who was taking it for credit. Some classmates regularly taped his lectures (which my father once described as trying to take a drink from a fire hose -- read his foreword in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless), so there were often two or three tape recorders on the table at the front of the classroom. Nibley was completely oblivious to them. During one lecture, he tripped over the electrical cord of one of the machines, and it crashed to the floor breaking into several pieces. Nibley didn't even pause, but simply continued on giving his lecture.

I also had the opportunity to check his footnotes for "Treasures in the Heavens" -- there were more pages of footnotes than pages of the essay itself -- before it was published in Old Testament and Related Studies (the first volume in the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley series published by FARMS). It was a daunting task because the sources were in a dozen languages: German, French, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Egyptian, Hebrew, Italian. It was made easier because Nibley's pencil notes (!) in the books in the BYU Library he had used as his sources often guided me to the quotes. I relied heavily on senior scholars to confirm Nibley's translations. But often, I simply had to consult with Nibley himself.

Given his incredible gifts and the cosmic sweep of his scholarship, the man himself was completely unpretentious. I was gratified that he remembered me and greeted me by name whenever we passed on campus.

Well fought the fight, good soldier. "May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

Lileks on iPod

You should read James Lileks all the time (he's in our set of links). Yesterday he wrote on, of all things, Apple's iPod and responded to criticisms about the iPod from an Instapundit link. Read the whole thing here.

It's Apple's clean design and tight integration between hardware and software that set it apart. When I got my first Mac (1984), people used to say, "But it doesn't run PC software!" And I'd say, "Yeah. And your point?"

The Mac OS is now a better citizen in the Windows world, and Microsoft Office is a superior product in the Mac OS (ironically) than in Windows. But for all the bucks Bill Gates generates from having a near-monopoly on world OS market share, you'd think Microsoft could come up with a less buggy and more innovative operating system.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Apple announces new iPods

Lower prices, a new Camera Connector -- all here.

And now for something completely different...

An old friend shared the following Phyllis Diller joke tonight:

Q What's the most effective contraceptive for senior citizens?
A Nudity.

Another Phyllis Diller one-liner: I don't throw leftovers away. I put them in the fridge for a month, and then I throw them away.

A nurse is trying to console a woman who just gave birth in the hospital elevator. She says, "Don't worry. Last year some lady had her baby out on the front lawn." Instead of being comforted, the distraught new mother cries, "That was me!"

Q What do you call people who use the rhythm method of birth control?
A Parents.

My daughter's favorite joke (from Highlights magazine):
Q Why is an elephant big, gray, and wrinkly?
A Because if it was small, white, and smooth it would he an aspirin.

One of my favorite laywer jokes:
Q What's the difference between a dead snake and a dead lawyer lying in the road?
A Skid marks in front of the snake.

One of my favorite bald jokes (one-liner): We all have the same number of hormones. If you want to use yours growing hair, that's your business.

One of my favorite LDS high council jokes (one-liner): If all the people who slept in church during a high councilman's talk were laid end to end -- they'd be a lot more comfortable!

A panda bear walks into a restaurant, and, after finishing his meal, shoots the busboy. He's arrested, and the cop asks why he did it. The panda replies, "I'm a panda. Look it up." The dictionary entry says: "Panda: eats shoots and leaves."

"Wrong but right": catching up with history

The Belmont Club (by way of The American Future blog) quotes London's Guardian about Europe's attitude adjustment during the President's recent trip:
The transatlantic reconvergence, in other words, is for real. The problem is that its purpose remains both unstated and, even to those closest to the process, somewhat unclear.

Much of this is summed up in the current transitional fluidity over the politics of Iraq. The war was a reckless, provocative, dangerous, lawless piece of unilateral arrogance. But it has nevertheless brought forth a desirable outcome which would not have been achieved at all, or so quickly, by the means that the critics advocated, right though they were in most respects.
Cognitive dissonance, indeed. Maybe European pragmatism won't now hinder (and may help) the cause of freedom championed by President Bush.

"I'll Link to That" -- Peggy Noonan's blog-style piece this week

Peggy Noonan makes some interesting connections in this week's commentary. After giving some background about her candidate for patron saint of the Internet, she writes:
Why is St. Joseph Cupertino the obvious patron saint of the Internet? Because he flew through the air, lifted by truth. Because no establishment could keep him down. Because he empowered common people. Because they in fact saw his power before the elites of the time did. And because it could not be an accident that the center of the invention of the Internet, ground zero of Silicon Valley, is Cupertino, Calif., named for the saint centuries ago.

Was God in this? Of course. Does God do such things for no reason? He does not.
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Feelings über alles

Austin Bay quotes Dennis Prager on how feelings have superseded moral authority ("Liberal Feelings vs. Judaeo-Christian Values"):
Columnist Dennis Prager writes this week about the “decline of the authority” (moral authority) in the West. Prager argues religious guidelines have been supplanted by –yup– feelings.
For many millions today, those guidelines are feelings. With the ascendancy of leftist values that has followed the decline of Judeo-Christian religion, personal feelings have supplanted universal standards. In fact, feelings are the major unifying characteristic among contemporary liberal positions.
Prager adds:
Aside from reliance on feelings, how else can one explain a person who believes, let alone proudly announces on a bumper sticker, that “War is not the answer"? I know of no comparable conservative bumper sticker that is so demonstrably false and morally ignorant. Almost every great evil has been solved by war – from slavery in America to the Holocaust in Europe. Auschwitz was liberated by soldiers making war, not by pacifists who would have allowed the Nazis to murder every Jew in Europe.

The entire edifice of moral relativism, a foundation of leftist ideology, is built on the notion of feelings deciding right and wrong. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
As for international conflict:
The liberal preoccupation with whether America is loved or hated is also entirely feelings-based. The Left wants to be loved; the conservative wants to do what is right and deems world opinion fickle at best and immoral at worst.
Read the entire column.

The Pope on communication in the information age

Hat tip to Hugh Hewitt for the following quote from a letter by the Pope on the Church and the media:
To Communicate with the Power of the Holy Spirit
13. The great challenge of our time for believers and for all people of good will is that of maintaining truthful and free communication which will help consolidate integral progress in the world. Everyone should know how to foster an attentive discernment and constant vigilance, developing a healthy critical capacity regarding the persuasive force of the communications media.

Also in this field, believers in Christ know that they can count upon the help of the Holy Spirit. Such help is all the more necessary when one considers how greatly the obstacles intrinsic to communication can be increased by ideologies, by the desire for profit or for power, and by rivalries and conflicts between individuals and groups, and also because of human weakness and social troubles. The modern technologies increase to a remarkable extent the speed, quantity and accessibility of communication, but they above all do not favor that delicate exchange which takes place between mind and mind, between heart and heart, and which should characterize any communication at the service of solidarity and love.

Throughout the history of salvation, Christ presents himself to us as the “communicator” of the Father: “God, in these last days, has spoken to us through his Son” ( Heb 1:2). The eternal Word made flesh, in communicating Himself, always shows respect for those who listen, teaches understanding of their situation and needs, is moved to compassion for their suffering and to a resolute determination to say to them only what they need to hear without imposition or compromise, deceit or manipulation. Jesus teaches that communication is a moral act, “ A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil. I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt 12: 35-37).
I'm not Catholic, but I think the Pope's got it right. More care to be taken here. Most of us like to rip off a good rant. But we need to be more about generating light than heat.

President Bush at NATO HQ

On Air Force assignment, my investigating partner and I once visited NATO Headquarters to interview SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) and his staff. The President's visit this week was far more eventful, as By Dawn's Early Light summarizes here. As the President aptly summarizes, "Freedom is on the march."

Happy Birthday, GW

Everyone's hour

Wretchard over at Belmont Club outlines recent developments among our old allies, including Canada, the EU (Old Europe), and France who are coming around on giving assistance in Iraq:
If there is something a little unseemly about the sudden cooperativeness of recently truculent friends, President Bush is making light of it. He has grown, in the best way, beyond the need to gloat. The dangers facing the world have not yet abated, but are starting to be recognized by allies who were hitherto too fearful or uncertain to look upon them. "This is not victory of a party or of any class." It is everyone's hour.
The link is to a speech by Winston Churchill to V-E ("Victory in Europe") Day crowds. The successful elections were obviously a watershed. The tipping point. "Friends at first are friends again at last."

PBS Frontline's "A Company of Soldiers"

Watched the whole thing tonight. Get's past the headlines and news view from 30,000 feet. Up close and personal. Shows the real danger. One of the troops repeats the perennial Army line: "I'm not here to give my life for my country. I'm here to make sure the other poor b*****d gives his life for his country." Shows fog of war, the reality of losing a comrade. Depicts how our best intentions in fighting the insurgents in an urban/populated area is fraught with unintended consequences (i.e., civilian casualties and animosity). But shining through is the courage of our troops trying to do a horribly difficult job. Reminds me of my friend Col Ted Parsons' favorite sign at a checkpoint on Balad Air Base in Iraq: "Polite, Professional, Prepared to kill". Check out the PBS site for the show here.

Monday, February 21, 2005

France2 "news" coverup?

At the beginning of the most recent Palestinian "uprising" about four years ago, the world was outraged at footage of a 12 year-old Palestinian boy killed by Israeli soldiers' fire while his father was wounded. In the aftermath of Dan Rather and the forged National Guard documents, and Eason Jordan's allegations about US military targeting journalists, turns out the France2 story was probably staged propaganda. Read about it here. (Hat tip Little Green Footballs).

Apple iPod wireless car stereo device

Props to Apple. Looks like you'll soon be able to play your iPod wirelessly through your car stereo. Hat tip Apple Insider.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Bush Tapes

The NYT publishes a story about audio tapes of candidate Bush made secretly by a friend (the friend just happens to have a book coming out right now...). Ann Althouse suggests the tapes were made with the knowledge of candidate Bush because of the marked consistency between candidate Bush and President Bush.

How ironic.

Those of you (like me) old enough to remember the Nixon tapes heard a distinct dissimilarity between the privately vulgar calculating Nixon and his public persona.

Not so candidate/President Bush. And so Althouse smells a rat: the tapes were knowingly made by candidate Bush 5 years ago -- to be released now -- to show the consistency between his thinking then -- and his thinking (and actions) now.

A more likely scenario is this: Bush (like Reagan before him) says what he thinks. Genuinely. No secret plot. What you see is what you get. Then and now.

(I guess it's hard to imagine after Clintonian triangulation and spin. Or perhaps that is why Rove-ian spin is suspected in this, as in Rathergate).

This helps, not hurts, the President.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that Nixon knew he was being taped -- and was genuinely vulgar and scheming. All indications are Bush did not know he was being taped -- and was consistent with his public persona.

Encouraging signs

The Belmont Club pieces together a series of recent news items from Iraq. At heart of positive news is a demonstration of the Iraqi people's heart. Encouraging.

Neener-neener: the coalition of the willing was right (so far...)

In this day-after review (1/31/05), Stephen Schwartz at Tech Central Station says "We Won!" and that the "coalition of the wrong" was, well, wrong about the Iraqi election.


I haven't been a fan of MSNBC (prior post). But, with broadcast network news magazines losing viewers, MSNBC has embraced blogs and bloggers as newsworthy and has built (at least in its premier week) a news show (Connected Coast to Coast) around them. Witness a clip here. (Hat tip: The Word Unheard).

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Blog plaudit

Read what Peggy Noonan has to say about the blog phenomenon. Or, should we say, revolution.

TNR "Not Much Left"

Is liberalism dead? Read here.

Despair, Inc.

For demotivational posters -- classics -- like:

...go here.

RR goes postal

Old news (announced November 2004 -- although first-date-of-issue was February 9, 2005), but cuts a fine figure any day:Example

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Blogs Must Be Crazy

Peggy Noonan's insights on blogs. And predictions, too.

Top 100 gadgets of all time

MobilePC has a list.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Syrian campaign in the GWOT?

The Belmont Club weighs in with insightful analysis about America's options and interests in Syria as part of the Global War on Terrorism.

"When Good News Feels Bad"

Hat tip to Donald Sensing for link to this New York mag opinion piece about the Left's cognitive dissonance between rooting for democratic Iraq's success v. hoping for its failure because it hurts Bush politically. Excerpt:
Each of us has a Hobbesian choice concerning Iraq; either we hope for the vindication of Bush’s risky, very possibly reckless policy, or we are in a de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. We can be angry with Bush for bringing us to this nasty ethical crossroads, but here we are nonetheless.

I don’t mean to suggest, in the right-wing, proto-fascist rhetorical fashion, that every good American is obliged to support all American wars. But at this moment in this war, that binary choice of who you want to win is inescapable and needs to be faced squarely . . . .

Popular Mechanics debunks 9/11 myths

PM scrubs down 16 of the most prominent (I didn't know there were 16) 9/11 myths with expert help and a healthy dose of common sense. (Hat tip: Instapundit).

Monday, February 14, 2005

"Where do we find such men?"

That line -- or something very close to it -- is the concluding sentence in James Michener's novel, The Bridges at Toko-ri. I thought of it this afternoon as I read this article in today's online edition of National Review. Read it -- and be inspired.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Theodore Roosevelt on critics

Postscript to 2004 election and the inaugural address: "It is not the critic who counts, not that man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doers of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

American pride

P.J. O'Rourke wrote this, in part, about America (in response to European critics): "We’re three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother’s side. You take your Germany, France and Spain, roll them all together and it won’t give us room to park our cars. We’re the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time."

Update on Swedish "hate speech" conviction

I wrote about Utah's proposed "hate crime" here. By a 4-3 vote it never made it out of committee. In connection with that discussion, I cited a news story about a Pentacostal minister in Sweden convicted for decrying homosexuality in a Sunday sermon. He appealed the conviction, and it has now been overturned.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

"The Mansions of the Lord": haunting hymn to the fallen

Those of you who were in our home Monday night heard Col Ted Parsons, USAF, recount his recent experiences as a trauma surgeon and deputy commander of a field hospital in Balad, Iraq. You also saw and heard his moving memorial to the wounded. The musical background for his presentation was "The Mansions of the Lord" from the We Were Soldiers soundtrack. It was also performed at the conclusion of President Reagan's funeral at the National Cathedral. Music by Nick Glennie-Smith is here. Words by Randall Wallace are here:

The Mansions of the Lord

To fallen soldiers let us sing
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the Mansions of the Lord

No more bleeding, no more fight
No prayers pleading through the night
Just divine embrace, eternal light
To the Mansions of the Lord.

Where no mothers cry and no children weep
We will stand and guard though the angels sleep
Through the ages safely keep
The Mansions of the Lord.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Tiger, tiger burning bright -- a modern parable of predators

William Blake's famous poem finds a modern counterpart. Glenn Reynolds, commenting on The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature, suggests his own parable about attitudes toward predators here. Hint: playing nice to predators (e.g., terrorists and thugs) is an invitation to a meal (your own).

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Opposition to the war in Iraq

Donald Sensing discusses five bases for opposition to the war in Iraq: Ideological, Strategic, Partisan political, Isolationist, Moral/religious. Read the whole thing.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Diplomatic dithering and the disappearance of WMDs

The typically-incisive Belmont Club suggests that the months-long delay between the first U.N. resolution authorizing force and Bush's "going the extra mile" to get a second for Tony Blair's political cover gave Saddam the time he needed to hide his WMDs. How iRONic. The gift of time. And now the "rush to war / let's give diplomacy more time to work" crowd are some of the biggest critics of the coalition's failure to find WMDs. Hmm.

Who's responsible? (OK, as W himself says, we're a responsibility society: Bush's loyalty to an ally -- a calculated risk -- is responsible; but he's man enough not to make excuses; not so his critics who would never admit that their obsession with appeasement diplomacy actually helped Saddam or made the world less safe).

"It's fun to shoot them"

Donald Sensing posts about the Marine general who said this. Need to read it in context at Sensing's post. Additional money quote:
"Americans simply will not face up to what war is all about. They want it to be nice." -- US Marine Chesty Puller, who entered the Corps as a private and retired as a lieutenant general after earning five Navy Crosses.
Reminiscent of Col. Jessup's "you-can't-handle-the-truth!" speech in "A Few Good Men":
Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? . . . You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

We use words like honor, code, loyalty . . . we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post.
This speech is like Polonius' "to-thine-own-self-be-true" speech to Laertes -- in the context of the play, it was ironic. But it was nevertheless true.

Col. Jessup's speech is in the context of justifying murder. Yet -- it also contains truth. Semper fi, and God bless the Marines.
(Guess who figured out how to post photos and logos? C'est moi;
Yikes! Total clash: Marines and French in the same post!)

Through a soldier's eyes

This article by Paul Greenberg appeared in today's Jewish World Review. Most of it consists of an e-mail he received from an Army officer serving in Iraq, which recounts the story of last Sunday's election as he saw it. Come to think of it, I suppose I should also e-mail this to Peter Jennings and Dan Blather, just in case they missed it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Concise summary of official Dem response to SOTU

From Protein Wisdom:






State of the Union

Top quotes about major successes of the Bush doctrine as applied (and foreseen):

As a new Congress gathers, all of us in the elected branches of government share a great privilege: we have been placed in office by the votes of the people we serve. And tonight that is a privilege we share with newly elected leaders of Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine, and a free and sovereign Iraq.
. . .
We are all part of a great venture: To extend the promise of freedom in our country, to renew the values that sustain our liberty, and to spread the peace that freedom brings.
. . .
As Franklin Roosevelt once reminded Americans, "each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth." And we live in the country where the biggest dreams are born. The abolition of slavery was only a dream — until it was fulfilled. The liberation of Europe from fascism was only a dream — until it was achieved. The fall of imperial communism was only a dream — until, one day, it was accomplished. Our generation has dreams of its own, and we also go forward with confidence. The road of Providence is uneven and unpredictable — yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.

You can read the whole thing here.

Bush haters: stare greatness in the face. Who would they have lead us? Weak and timid souls? Not for such a time as this. Give me a bold Texan who has risen to the occasion of history to risk great things.

"That society of the bravest of the brave"

This article is about the first Medal of Honor awarded in the Iraq war. I wonder if Sgt. Peralta, whom I mentioned in a previous post, will be honored in like manner. If so, his medal, too, would be posthumous -- like so many other Medals of Honor awarded during America's wars.

I have also posted this article in I miei cari amici.

It's Groundhog Day . . . Again

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Dem pundit: maybe Bush was right on Iraq

He's reserving judgment, but still conceding the president might prove to have been right on Iraq all along. (Hat tip Drudge).

Mr. Bush's rhetoric "misunderestimated"

I found this article in today's Christian Science Monitor and thought it worth sharing. I've always been impressed by how eloquent Mr. Bush can be, particularly for a man who supposedly is lacking in both gray matter and gravitas, and unable even to form a coherent sentence. One of his better speeches, in my view, was the one he gave after the Columbia space shuttle disaster, which included a poignant reference to Isaiah 40:26 .