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April 1, 2005 - March 25, 2005

Thursday, March 31, 2005


Instapunk033105

Stray Items

Must-see TV this week

PSAYINGS.5Q.80. Nothing long-winded today. Just a few glancing blows unloaded at random.

Rectitude

The Media Research Council is gloating about a series of new polls and surveys that show Americans -- left and right of the spectrum -- concerned and perhaps even fed up about the vulgarization of popular culture. The speedily reached conclusion:

So much for Hollywood’s cushiest defense: We only reflect society. Society is now responding, loudly and unambiguously: No, you’re dramatically out of touch.

The numbers condemning Tinseltown cascade: 66 percent said there is too much violence on open-air TV, 58 percent said there’s too much cursing, and 50 percent found too much sexual content, the Time poll said. So upset is the public that about 49 percent, [sic] agree that FCC regulation ought to be extended to cover basic cable, which includes raunchy reality shows on MTV and the over-the-top FX shows "The Shield" and "Nip/Tuck" on many cable systems.

I wonder how the MRC comes down on the desirability of regulating private cable broadcasts. After all, they're allied to the party of limited government, and the media-regulating FCC was the brainchild of that old socialist devil FDR... Oh that's right: liberty is fine until the wrong sort of folks take it too far. Then it's time for the virtuous to pass some laws that restrict liberty to, well, just the virtuous things.

We'd like to remind the MRC and Mr. Bozell in particular that one of the reasons Republicans continue to draw a distinction between a republic and a democracy is that pure democracy is tantamount to tyranny by the majority. The minority view is still supposed to have a place in the U.S., and I'd further remind them that in a capitalist society like ours there's a very nice profit to be made by marketing product to 40 (or even 30) percent of the populace. Or should we also impose some major new regulations on the markets we normally describe as self-correcting? We could have the virtuous people decide who gets to make money. How about that? You'd probably find some "progressives" who'd like to help. How cool is that?

As a postscript, I'd bet serious money that some of the "concerned" in these polls are mothers who have taken their preteen daughters to the concerts of this young role model (NSFW). (If the video you shouldn't be watching doesn't play right away, hit refresh or reload.) Hypocrisy comes in all flavors.

End of the World

According to a new consensus study of more than a thousand scientists, we miserable humans have used up two-thirds of the earth's resources. Two-thirds? Does the 100 percent figure include all the iron in the earth's core, all the coal buried underground, all the hydrogen in the atmosphere, all the brains of the independent innovators who have always found a new way undreamt of by degreed scientists...? Oh, forget it. More twaddle from the tenured geeks of the academy.

Rectitude Redux

Every so often, the popular culture vomits up an undeniable reminder that even the crudest and most tasteless forms of mass entertainment can give the highest of highbrows something to think about. This week's episode of South Park, "Best Friends Forever," is a sterling example. You must watch it. NB: It's scheduled for repeat showing on the Comedy Channel tonight at 10 pm and 12 am. Warning: yes, it is crude and tasteless. It's also dead on.






Instapunk040105

PSOMETHING to think about


FORGERS.14.8-11. It seemed fitting to wait till the calm after the storm to offer up some observations about the national melodrama of the past few weeks.

A few catalysts for these observations:

1. A right-leaning Philadelphia talk show host who expressed, if not surprise, the scent of potential controversy surrounding Laura Bush's statement that she and her husband have living wills.

2. The strident claim of many pro-lifers that the court's decision was synonymous with an execution and the corollary claim that murderers on death row receive more consideration for their rights than the victim in this case.

3. The determination of so many Christians -- including, ironically enough, the Pope, now on a feeding tube himself -- that life must be extended by every means possible, to the last possible nanosecond.

I'm not taking up a sword here to question the sincerity of the participants on all sides of this debate. Rather, I'm interested in highlighting what has been, to me, an ironic but almost invisible backdrop to the proceedings. Let's consider the catalysts one by one.

Why should there be any conflict whatsoever between the Bush's Christian pro-life faith and the fact that they have drawn up living wills? Not to do so would be the same as saying that every single life must be extended as long as possible by even the most artificial and technological means. And in using the term "life" note that we are implicitly defining it as the continuing heartbeat and respiration of the human body. How is this definition consistent with the Christian emphasis on the soul as the true life which is housed in the flesh? At every turn, the Christian faith enjoins its followers to defy the demands of the flesh on behalf of the good of the soul. And is not the central act of the Christian drama that Christ consented willingly to the death of the flesh in order to demonstrate the separateness and deathlessness of the soul?

If all must do everything possible to extend the life of the physical body regardless, then every act of sacrifice unto death by mothers, fathers, soldiers, firemen, and other altruists and martyrs automatically becomes a sin. Our Christian duty is reduced to the mission of subsisting in whatever form for as long as possible. This means, among other things, that Christians had better revise their views about the morality of stem cell research. And they'd better cast away that old chapter of Ecclesiastes which begins, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: (2) A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted." Perhaps they'd also be well advised to acknowledge Christ's sin on the cross when he declared, with evident deliberate intent, "It is finished," and "I commend unto thy hands my spirit." In short, Christian life is about breathing and nothing else.

Catalyst number two. The execution analogy and its legal corollary are as flawed as they are belabored. Imagine that a state or federal court had the power to sentence you to this fate: you are to be confined to a bed for the rest of your natural days, so drugged or otherwise incapacitated that you cannot see clearly enough to read or watch television, cannot speak coherently to those around you, and cannot control your body sufficiently to wash yourself or open or close your hands unaided. (Those of you who have some imagination might try this exercise in your own bedrooms for two hours or so -- no radio, no TV, no speaking aloud; then, if you wish to experience a real possibility of this sentence, subtract your own consciousness from the experience.) No court could escape the immediate overturning of such a sentence, which is "cruel and unusual punishment" by any definition. How, then, can the canceling of such a sentence equal an execution, and how can its indefinite continuation represent any kind of victory? How might the pro-lifers have celebrated the restoration of the feeding tube? How much would the party have been enjoyed by the guest of honor?

The Pope. How to interpret his determination to stay "alive" by any and all available means? Has he expanded his convictions about contraception, abortion, and the death penalty so far that he too has conflated the life of the soul with the life of the body? It seems impudent to think so. A more obvious explanation is that in his own case, he deems his continuing physical travails a kind of suffering which he is not permitted to escape through an easy death. But if he is putting himself on the cross, is he likewise condemning all Christians to the same fate? And if he is, where on the scale of compassion does that bit of theology put those who fought so hard to maintain the dutiful Christian "suffering" of Terry Schiavo?

I'm not saying that I have all the answers or that all the arguments above are incontrovertible. What I will say is that it's difficult to find a common thread among the three catalysts that is consistent with Christianity as I have traditionally understood it. The common thread I do perceive is decidedly unchristian -- namely, a deep, irrational, and overwhelmingly terrifying fear of death. That's what I hear in the raised voices of those who have fought so long and hard for an empty objective.

None of us, I'm convinced, would argue that technology is always the handmaiden of the Lord. We have seen it used for good and ill. Not everything that is possible to the hand of man is necessarily a manifestation of the will of God. (Revisit the gas chambers of Krupp.) If we claim to be Christian, we are simultaneously professing belief in the life of the soul everlasting, the beneficence of the will of God, the timelessness of eternity, and the infinite balm of knowing that when the flesh has distintegrated to ash, the spirit lives on.

All I ask is this: if you are one of the ones who has been so charged up emotionally about this case that you regard the death of Terry Schiavo as an unspeakable tragedy, please take a moment to look death squarely in the face. It is coming for all of us. Our faith is supposed to make us unafraid. Where do you stand?

And while I'm at it, I'll ask one more thing. What if the entire morality play whose catastrophe has just occurred is itself the will of God? What if this pitiful circumstance has become a circus for the express purpose of requiring all of us to consider anew our deepest beliefs about the nature of life and the relationship between the flesh and the spirit? In that event, there is real peace in the outcome. Terry Schiavo has served as a direct instrument of God, and whichever way the courts might have decided, the divine intention fulfilled its inevitable end, Terry Schiavo is now enfolded in the arms of her maker, and all of us -- if we will continue to think just a bit longer -- may be the wiser for the experience.




Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Instapunk033005

I told you so.

NO MATTER WHO GETS HURT. Yesterday, Instapunk referenced a column by Professor Mike S. Adams of UNC, Wilmington, and asked whether we should care about the feminist silliness he was describing. Today he answers the question for all of us with an account of recent doings at the University of New Hampshire (The "Live Free or Die" state, don't you know.) Here's a sample:

The Feminist Action League (FAL) organized the on-campus event, which featured poetry readings, skits, monologues and an open microphone....

...One FAL member’s monologue follows: “Hello, my name is Mary Man-Hating-Is-Fun. I am 23 years old, and I am what a feminist looks like. Ever since I learned to embrace my feminist nature, I found great joy in threatening men's lives, flicking off frat brothers and plotting the patriarchy’s death. I hate men because they are men, because I see them for what they are: misogynistic, sexist, oppressive and absurdly pathetic beings who only serve to pollute and contaminate this world with war, abuse, oppression and rape.”

Other members of the FAL wore scissors around their necks and sang a song about castration.

There's more, especially on the castration theme. And there's also this:

David Huffman, a writer for the UNH conservative paper “Common Sense” was outraged by the, shall we say, mr-ogyny of the event. Huffman was asked to leave the public university event during the open microphone session. Despite the fact that he wasn’t singing songs about castration, FAL members said he was making women feel uncomfortable....

...After hearing poems that talked about castrating men, read by women with scissors tied around their necks, Hoffman asked “How is this any different than hating African-Americans or Jews?” The answer is simple: It is no different in principle. But, of course, the FAL is not based upon principle. The organization is based upon blind hatred.

But the women weren’t the only lunatics in the audience. Rob Wolff, of the Men Against Patriarchy, said the following: “I hope men are confronted. That's what it's going to take. Events like this are the beginning of a women's revolution.”

I'm sure some of you are shocked. But this has been coming for a long time now. More than five years ago, Shuteye Town 1999 foresaw what Dr. Adams is now writing about. Here's a link (Depending on where you work, it may not be safe for work).

It really is time for men to stop being so damn silent about the excesses and pretensions of feminism. It's also time for men to quit repeating the unexamined propaganda they've swallowed about their own sex -- that men are simpler, cruder, crueler, less articulate, and dumber than women. IT AIN'T SO. And the very worst way of relearning this elemental truth is to put women in charge, which is the real agenda driving radical feminism.




Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Someone Discovers the Floor of Their Box
You will have to read the headline link today if you want to appreciate the writing of the young Joshua Parker on his home in Tucson, AZ.





Miscellaneous Madness


PSAYINGS.5A.41. It's the silly season. But when isn't it? Every so often it's good to stand back a bit and appreciate the circus and some of its star performers. Call it comic relief.

More Gender Squabbles

Not long ago, we noted, here and here, that relations between the sexes seem to be heating up again -- and not in a good way. The first fistfights broke out on the left, and now they're spreading.

There's a Harvard professor, believe it or not, who hasn't been very impressed with the behavior of women during the Summers fiasco. His name is Harvey Mansfield, and he's a professor of government (a.k.a. political science). Like his university's president, he really should know better than to jump into a catfight, but here's what he had to say in a recent article for the Weekly Standard:

It takes one's breath away to watch feminist women at work. At the same time that they denounce traditional stereotypes they conform to them. If at the back of your sexist mind you think that women are emotional, you listen agape as professor Nancy Hopkins of MIT comes out with the threat that she will be sick if she has to hear too much of what she doesn't agree with. If you think women are suggestible, you hear it said that the mere suggestion of an innate inequality in women will keep them from stirring themselves to excel. While denouncing the feminine mystique, feminists behave as if they were devoted to it. They are women who assert their independence but still depend on men to keep women secure and comfortable while admiring their independence. Even in the gender-neutral society, men are expected by feminists to open doors for women. If men do not, they are intimidating women.

Thus the issue of Summers's supposedly intimidating style of governance is really the issue of the political correctness by which Summers has been intimidated. Political correctness is the leading form of intimidation in all of American education today, and this incident at Harvard is a pure case of it. The phrase has been around since the 1980s, and the media have become bored with it. But the fact of political correctness is before us in the refusal of feminist women professors even to consider the possibility that women might be at any natural disadvantage in mathematics as compared with men. No, more than that: They refuse to allow that possibility to be entertained even in a private meeting. And still more: They are not ashamed to be seen as suppressing any inquiry into such a possibility. For the demand that Summers be more "responsible" in what he says applies to any inquiry that he or anyone else might cite.

Professor Mansfield spends most of his article describing the antics of feminists at Harvard in re Summers. but he closes with some interesting questions about where all this might be headed:

Feminist women rest their cause on "social construction" as opposed to nature. The patriarchal society that has been made by humans can be unmade and remade by humans. But how do we know that the reconstruction will be favorable to women and not a new version of patriarchy? To avoid a resurgent patriarchy or other injustice, society, it would seem, needs to be guided by a principle beyond human making, the natural equality of men and women.

Accepting that principle would require, however, thinking about how far it goes and what natural inequalities in the sexes might exist. This might in fact be a benefit if it induced women to think more about what they want and like, and about what is fair to men and good for children. We do need feminism, because women are now in a new situation. But we need a new feminism conceived by women more favorable to liberty and the common good than the "feminists" of today.

If this reference to "liberty and the common good" sounds abstract, consider this restatement of the issue in a different context by conservative firebrand Ann Coulter:

How many people have to die before the country stops humoring feminists? Last week, a defendant in a rape case, Brian Nichols, wrested a gun from a female deputy in an Atlanta courthouse and went on a murderous rampage. Liberals have proffered every possible explanation for this breakdown in security except the giant elephant in the room — who undoubtedly has an eating disorder and would appreciate a little support vis-a-vis her negative body image.

The New York Times said the problem was not enough government spending on courthouse security ("Budgets Can Affect Safety Inside Many Courthouses"). Yes, it was tax-cuts-for-the-rich that somehow enabled a 200-pound former linebacker to take a gun from a 5-foot-tall grandmother.




Monday, March 28, 2005


Imminent Danger of Having a Heart Attack
Baby Boomers in poor health. Well, maybe it could just be improved. It is amusing to see the circumstances this 75mm+ demographic will soon be encountering. Looks like they also have tons of credit card debt.

Sorry, it is Monday afterall -- NOW GET TO WORK!




Sunday, March 27, 2005


V. Alleluia! Christ Is Risen!
R. The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

What do you want from me?

Te Deum Laudamus

We praise the, O God, we knowlage thee to be the Lorde.
All the earth doeth wurship thee, the father everlastyng.
To thee al Angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therin.
To thee Cherubin, and Seraphin continually doe crye.

Holy, holy, holy, Lorde God of Sabaoth.
Heaven and earth are replenyshed with the majestie of thy glory,
The gloryous company of the Apostles, praise thee.
The goodly felowshyp of the Prophetes, praise thee.
The noble armie of Martyrs, praise thee.
The holy churche throughout all the worlde doeth knowlage thee.
The father of an infinite majestie.
Thy honourable, true, and onely sonne.
The holy gost also beeying the coumforter.
Thou art the kyng of glory, O Christe.
Thou art the everlastyng sonne of the father.

Whan thou tookest upon thee to delyver manne, thou dyddest not abhorre the virgins wombe.
Whan thou haddest overcomed the sharpenesse of death, thou diddest open the kyngdome of heaven to all belevers.
Thou sittest on the ryght hande of God, in the glory of the father.
We beleve that thou shalt come to be our judge.

We therfore praye thee, helpe thy servauntes, whom thou haste redemed with thy precious bloud.
Make them to be noumbred with thy sainctes, in glory everlastyng.
O Lorde, save thy people: and blesse thyne heritage.
Governe them, and lift them up for ever.

Day by day we magnifie thee.
And we wurship thy name ever world without ende.
Vouchsafe, O Lorde, to kepe us this daye without synne.
O Lorde, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lorde, let thy mercy lighten upon us : as our trust is in thee.
O Lorde, in thee have I trusted : let me never be confounded.

UPDATE:  If your browser is setup to hear embedded sound files (mp3), the song you should be hearing is not the Te Deum, as some may suppose. Rather, it is Ag Criost an Siol -- a song BalowStar wants to have sung grave side with a lone piper about 1/4 mile away from the burial site. You know, to help people cry who might not be so disposed at his passing.

Another UPDATE:  You can now only hear the mp3 file by clicking on the Ag Criost an Siol link in the first update.




Saturday, March 26, 2005


O How Beautiful is a Generous Spirit
InstaWally, aka - Soulfish Stew is absolutely gushing and I didn't want to enjoy it all by myself.




Friday, March 25, 2005


Instapunk032405

Strike!

The Easter Bunny may sit this one out.

DAVE.15.33. We're aware that it's still Good Friday and that looking forward to Easter is poor form, but many of you have children who are expecting a visit from the Easter Bunny. That's why we feel compelled to sound an alarm of sorts. According to our sources, the Easter Bunny is, well, cross. Why? A lot of reasons really. Not getting as much respect as Santa is one thing, of course. As much as the government and mainstream media trash Christianity and try to thrust creche scenes and nativity plays beyond the pale, Santa continues undeterred, the star of countless TV commercials, retail store displays, and children's cartoon shows. In 2004 alone, Santa raked in more than $200 million in  product endorsement contracts (though Coca Cola is a major chunk of this haul), compared to less than $200,000 for the disgruntled paschal rabbit. Is all of this differential attributable to Santa's PR strategy of evading direct links to Christianity? Or is there some less acceptable form of discrimination involved? No major media outlet ran the Easter Bunny's 2004 press release, which said (in part):

The Easter Bunny does not endorse and is not a spokesperson for any denominations of the Christian religion and prefers to be thought of as a socially conscious rabbit who seeks to distribute goods and services to children of all faiths, regardless of need, during a season (spring) which has become associated by tradition with a specific religious holiday (Easter). In fact, this association is a semantic accident; in other equally valid though less affluent cultures, the socially conscious rabbit in question is known as the Wester Bunny, the Souther Bunny, and the Norther Bunny, none of which sobriquets carry the politically incorrect burden of being confused with the (to some vile) Christian religion.

In further clarification, the Easter Bunny would have it be known that she voted for both Gore and Kerry, is a major contributor to the Democratic Party and feminist causes generally, is an avid listener of Air America, and regularly attends pro-choice rallies in the U.S. and other fascist nations...

Recently, the state of Florida has sought to exclude the Easter Bunny from lucrative mall engagements, replacing her with a stand-in called the "Garden Bunny," who presides not over Easter egg hunts, but copyright-infringing "egg hunts." This is yet another sore spot with the Easter Bunny, who is now convinced that her rights are being systematically violated by business with the tacit support of the courts.

The upshot is that she is considering a dramatic labor action -- sitting out the 2005 Easter season. So parents are advised not to expect any help filling baskets with green excelsior and candied eggs, bunnies, etc, this year. The Easter Bunny is sick of being dissed, and she demands appropriate compensation -- and reparations.

Any questions, contributions, or affidavits should be directed to her attorney, Mark Geragos via celebrityshyster@alwayslose.com.

You may now resume watching The Passion Recut (PG-13) if you still have the stomach for it.




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