December 24, 2012 - December 17, 2012
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Not Guilty Pleasures 2
you know this guy? My favorite 20th Century artist.
Usually, commenters demonstrate the validity of the truism about
herding cats. They seize on one phrase or paragraph in a post and run
off in their own individualistic directions. Which is fine and to be
expected. Not this time, though. Three generations -- preponderantly
the 50+ crowd -- checked in to report on their own relation to the map
test, implicitly confirming that it is somehow important, even if the
knowledge involved never made them rich. Left unsaid: it made them
wiser and more concerned about the state of our nation's youth. They
don't need to know precisely
why. They just know it's not trivia. They also took my question about
"Rhapsody in Blue" seriously and answered it honestly. Which is to say
their comments weren't about showing off. They were about pondering the
bigger question I'm asking.
The dissenters were equally revealing. Penny likes attention. Here's her response:
Not that we ...count.
Really, Penny? If the readers and kids didn't count with me, I wouldn't
be here. Nasty? Maybe. And maybe the kids need to know that there's
someone who's willing to call them on their bullshit. Because make no
mistake. A bullshitter knows he's a bullshitter. He keeps doing it,
though, till he gets caught and held to account. It's long past time
that the veneer of learning is differentiated from the real thing. I
think it might actually constitute a relief for them: I don't have to
keep faking everything with no end in sight.
Speaking of which, there was also Helk, who commented four times.
First, with a snide link without explanation designed to jeer at the
whole subject of American culture:
But then, as other commenters piled on, he couldn't resist resisting
"After all, the chief business of the American people is business. Of
course the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end
of existence." Who said that? Don't cheat.
I agree with that statement. Though I will add that without a bit of
wealth one has only a meager shot at any kind of luxury.
What again does knowing the states have to do with making money? Not
yesterday but today? My lawyer doesn't know the fifty states but he got
me out of a lot of hot water on a few occasions. Should I find defect
in him as a result of lacking memory?
Nope. Because I am not judging him based on his memory of (what are in
my particular case) immaterial facts - I am judging him based on his
ability to solve my legal problems.
Now to the issue of learning - what lesson is greater than the lesson
of how to make money? You know, tangible factual non-levered cash?
You want to preach from on high about the good life metric and how the
good life requires as deep a knowledge of facts as one can glean while
on this mortal coil. I never disagreed with you. What I disagree with
is the idea that this deep well of facts has any material bearing on my
My. Getting. Capital.
Now, I am conversant in may things. That helps impress prospective
employers. I cannot deny that.
But as for the factory workers who live across the street from me -
they do metal plating. They know how to chrome a bumper and how to use
JB Weld to repair a radiator. But they don't even know half the states.
And you know what, to the extent that they live inside a bubble they
are happy there.
Happiness is not equated to knowledge. In fact, many times I feel that
it is inversely proportional.
The same guy who said that statement I quoted above said this:
"We make no concealment of the fact that we want wealth, but there are
many other things that we want very much more. We want peace and honor,
and that charity which is so strong an element of all civilization. The
chief ideal of the American people is idealism. I cannot repeat too
often that America is a nation of idealists. That is the only motive to
which they ever give any strong and lasting reaction."
I put you in that category. But being an idealist does not provide for
I'm sure he'll forgive me for responding to all of them at once. I
think it's called multi-tasking, something only you tech babies are
supposed to be capable of.
Yeah, I know Coolidge. His son went to my school. I used to see the
boy's portrait in Traylor Hall every time I was called to the
headmaster's office to explain the latest outrage I'd published in the
school newspaper or the school literary magazine. He was a handsome
kid, Coolidge's boy. He died of blood poisoning. At my school. He wore
colored socks in a tennis match, got a blister, and the dye did him in.
Maybe a reason why Silent Cal was so silent. His best quote? A woman at
a dinner party sat next to Coolidge and told him she'd bet her
girlfriends she could make him say three words. He replied, "You lose."
The same message I have for Helk. You're simultaneously so above the
trivial nature of my tests that you can't be bothered to take them
seriously and yet so beneath their esoterica that you paint a portrait
of yourself with your hands sunk deep in the good earth, just trying to
make a buck like Coolidge said we should, doing the real American thing.
What a crock. Because then you proceed to hang Coolidge's subsequent
words from the same quote about idealism around my neck. That's called having your
cake and eating it too.
You're too authentic to have
to know anything about your country because you're operating under the
Prime Directive of your country: to make money and forget everything
Then you top it off with a jeering link to "The Greatest Speech Ever
Made," hoping to impress by the subtlety of your supposed learning,
which you personally don't need at the moment because you're shaking
the money tree, yet you just had to twinkle your implied superiority
because all us "idealists" are just too self-involved with cultural
trivia you know just enough about to piss on. Color me unimpressed.
You know that I know that you know "the Great Dictator" was a massive
critical failure. The "greatest speech" is widely considered the
disastrously mawkish, self-indulgent end of a career that would have
ended more nobly if Chaplin had retired when talkies came in. (I never
cared for Chaplin anyway.)
So, again, you're trying to have it both ways. You're not accountable
to any objective standard of learning, but you just have to show off
what you think of as learning ("I'm conversant with... what?")
You're a quick study and a multimedia dilettante. But if you're so
focused on making your fortune, why do you you keep scratching the itch
of my posts? Because you know I'm right. There's a difference between
being smart and being intelligent. The Latin root of 'intelligence"
relates not to IQ but understanding. Which has nothing to do with quick
command of facts and references but learning and wisdom.
I'm no idealist. I think Chaplin's speech is farcical and idiotic. I'm
a pragmatist. An imaginative realist, if you will. I believe we can
make things better, not perfect. I don't believe in any human
paradise. There will always be pain and suffering and injustice and
waste. We mitigate these by doing the best we can to understand as much
as we can and make good decisions that aren't exclusively selfish in
their intent. Knowing the human legacy is a vital resource for keeping
the intent honest and resolute. If you've read as much of my work as
you say you have, you know this already.
I think that's why you came here and why you stay here. Your cynicism,
your various poses, your provocations, all have to do with the fact
that you're using brains as a substitute for intelligence. You sensed
that I had the ability to see through that. You wanted me to see
And, no, I'm not trying to break you down. In my twenties I was like
you. I'd skated through everything on smarts alone. And then I realized
it was a dead end. That's when I sat down and taught myself how to
write. The most painful process I've ever been through. I'd graduated
from college at the age of nineteen without knowing how to write. When
I'd learned how to write, nothing was ever the same again. Knowing one
thing made me aware of how much I didn't know about everything else.
Honest humility is the surest defense in the world against slick
fakery. Everything I tried after that I did to the absolute best of my
ability, because I knew it would never be good enough. I may seem like
an egomaniac at InstaPunk. In reality, I always see myself as a week
late and a million dollars short. (Thought you'd appreciate the
It's not me trying to humiliate you that I can see and anticipate your
debating maneuvers as easily as Neo with Agent Smith at the end of The
Matrix. I've been there. How can I be so smart and keep getting
This is your wakeup call. Sure you can win what you want materially.
Making money for a smart person is about being fanatically focused on
money. But I'm talking about life. And you can't quite figure out how
to have one of those.
Go print out the map. Fill in the names of the states. Et cetera. Et
cetera. I guarantee you, you are not above
HALF-ASSED SPOILERS AHEAD. I should explain that Mrs. RL is very
quick on the trigger with movies and TV shows. "This sucks. Get rid of
it." Sometimes, though, I find things she slowly comes to enjoy. Why I
do what I call pre-screening. I did that with Terra Nova, Steven Spielberg's new
gigantic TV epic. I was skeptical from the first promos. "Something
you've never seen before!" Really. Like we didn't see Avatar and Jurassic Park I thru VIII. Okay.
Excuse us for remembering. We promise not to do it again.
But I watched it On Demand anyway. After seeing the trailers for Prime Suspect, she said, "No way."
But after the pilot episode, she's intrigued. So what's the deal
with Terra Nova? My report.
Honestly, I find myself chuckling. I can see Spielberg's and all of
lefty Hollywood's intent, and I can't help thinking they've swallowed
their own grenade. The show is supposed to be a billboard for
environmental paranoia, meaning the need for our acceptance of
draconian governmental control of energy resources (you know, to save
us from ourselves), and after the first 20 minutes it becomes something
altogether else. An advertisement for free enterprise, the need for
military protection even in a putative utopia, and a startling
contextual preference for dangerous, unpredictable frontier life over
Talk about counter-propaganda.... and it doesn't end there. The
script's need for drama requires that all the old human weaknesses be
repeated in the Jurassic world of Terra Nova's brontosauri and T-Rexes.
But as with all Spielberg pieces, the most active agents of chaos are
the Kids who refuse to listen to their parents, have no common sense,
and absolutely no personal connection with anything like community
responsibility. No wonder Spielberg makes campaign contributions toward
an all-powerful nanny state. His parents couldn't control him. He can't
control his kids, and, well, QED.
Which raises the philosophical question, if snotty narcissistic kids
aren't evil and parents' attempts to discipline them are, then why are
we even talking about the Nature of Man? Civilization was obviously
doomed from the moment American children learned they could tell Mommy
and Daddy to go fuck themselves. We should be agonizing over The Natue
of Teenagers, the one force in the universe even God doesn't have the
guts to confront. Why bother doing this all over again in 25 million BC
when Spielberg has made it the central theme of every movie he's made
that contains kid actors?
Because of the CGI, stupid.
Which is pretty good.The dinosaurs are convincing. Kewl. The other
flora and fauna are convincing. The parents, excepting their
characteristic doormat relationship with their sociopathic progeny, are
decent enough. But we've seen all this before. Why watch?
One reason. The Sore Thumb.
You know. The thing that things stick out like?
Why I enjoyed this show so so much. The Sore Thumb is liberal
Hollywood's understanding of the basics of civilized life. The biggest
fantasy aspect of this sci-fi fantasy blockbuster isn't the time
machine that transports Los Angelenos to the Jurassic Age, or the
dinosaurs that pursue our heroes, or the immensely imaginative foliage
that papers the sets. It's the Terra-Nova settlement itself. Everybody
has a nice little house with bedrooms and decorations (discussions of
paint), running water, and there are military vehicles charging hither
and yon (powered by what?), nice new clothes (made by whom?), etc, etc.
Understand. The trip to Terra Nova is one way. They can't order
provisions from the fatally stricken 22nd century earth. But the
appurtenances look better than what we'd expect from Walden II.
In the entire two-hour pilot episode the only reference to actual labor
was one day in the life of the hero when he had to cut down vines on
the protecting wall in the so-called "agricultural unit." No sign of
factories, mills, refineries, oil rigs, blacksmiths, or anything else
that bespeaks an industrial civilization. Truth to tell, Terra Nova is
more reminscent of the Eloi in H.G. Welles's Time Machine than it,
well, isn't. So there. I can't wait for the Morlocks to show up. Oops.
That's an entirely different new series. Sure it is.
Hence my title. It's liberal magic. The scriptwriters don't know
anything about plumbing or electricity or manufacturing or weaving or
sewing or energy production or home-building or motor vehicle
maintenance, so they just assume it's all automatically there while the
actors fret about where their kids are, knowing they'll never know.
Because their kids are all absolute stone fucking brats like Steven
I think the show's a keeper. Funniest thing I've seen in years. This
really is how lefties see the
world. The invisible labor of people they don't care about will just
materialize whenever they need it. Like an assistant with a Valium and
a mango. And did I mention that the opening credits list eleven
different "executive producers"? Obama would be proud.
More on "More on the Sin of Faith"
Get it? It's like a DOUBLE cross. Irrevelvant puns are the best.
CLARIFICATIONS. Right up front: I didn't mention abortion because I took it as understood we're all on the same page. It's bad. Unborn babies shouldn't be stabbed in the brain. This is me officially making that explicit. OK?
Since this is, as has recently been stressed, his blog, my responses to Robert's comments get their own post.
Brizoni's Knievel analogy IS absurd. Such a sect would end very quickly. No new members. How, btw, the Shakers failed to take over and rule the world. They didn't believe in procreation. Result. No more Shakers. Some things take care of themselves without FBI SWAT teams pounding through private doors.
There's a Snake River-wide gulf between not having babies and letting babies die. I'd like the Followers of Christ membership to dwindle to zero as much as anyone, but passive infanticide is not an acceptable means to that end.
Hence all our civil protections against the intrusions of government on our civil liberties and, yes, freedom to make catastrophic mistakes -- or what look like mistakes to all-knowing others. That's where this issue gets more complex than Brizoni wants it to be.
I'm reminded of George Will's speech to last year's CPAC. "The liberal/conservative argument in our country is alive and well. It turns on the two polar values of western political thought: Freedom and Equality. Both important, always in tension, always being adjusted." I'd argue the two polar values are, properly understood, freedom and justice (liberals got their portion wrong because that's what they do). That tension is complex enough to merit its own post. Or its own thousand posts. That's why I didn't address it in my entry on murder-by-faith-healing, a much smaller issue.
...our attempts to judge God are bound to fail because we can't see behind the veil.
Which is why I didn't try. Hence the "agnost" part of "agnostic." And that's why your and urthshu's objections to my Holocaust example are moot (not to say I have any problem with their substance). The Holocaust proves God can't be relied on to preseve life on earth. It proves it. And it's not the only proof. I explicitly declined to make a claim one way or the other what that says about God. I'm more interested in what God's unreliability means for us, here.
Atheists make it simple for themselves by declaring that there is no veil to see behind.
Pascal (and Will Ashbless, via his 21st century updating of the Wager) got it backwards. God cannot, in justice, punish sincere disbelief. All he'd have to do to dispel legitimate doubt is make Himself manifest unambiguously to every individual-- small potatoes for the omnipotent. The fact sincere disbelief in Him can exist at all is His fault, no matter how good his reasons or extenuating his circumstances. And He understands this.
If He does punish honest nonbelievers, He's unjust. What can I do against tyrannical omnipotence, except hope for the chance to spit in despot God's eye before he sends me off to the eternal punishment of the upright? Maybe some great thinker will one day devise a contingency plan for a thing like that. Personally, that's not a battle I pick.
I don't deny there may be a veil. I don't deny the veil is worth trying to pierce. I do deny I have any pressing imperative to pierce the veil. I do deny I ought to live according to any merely potential obligation to an unproven Creator.
Since there may not be a God, and we only potentially owe anything to a God who refuses to prove He exists beyond reasonable doubt, it makes sense to me to err on the side of atheism. Which means acting as though there's no safety net of life after death or of (infrequent at best) divine justice here in mortal life.
So in that sense, in Will's words, "there are no agnostic actions." In another sense, behaving as if this life is the one shot we've got is the action of a rational agnosticism.
I won't pretend I'm not biased one way or the other. I would prefer a Godless universe, with room to explore and build. I don't want God or anyone or thing else having dibs on the whole of existence. But my want alone doesn't affect reality. God might be real as hell. He may have done most or all of the building and exploring there is to do. When I die, I may have to just come to terms with that. I trust (hope) any God who does exist would be a paragon of goodness, and won't condemn me for not going against my honest judgement.
One last thing. Commenter ErisGuy made a remark I can't let lie.
It is up the family to choose the medical treatments for its members, including declining treatment or choosing ineffectual treatments.... The state derives is powers from those the family voluntarily and revocably grants to it.
Wrong. The state derives it's power from the consent of each individual governed. The individual, not the family, is the fundamental unit of society (don't feel bad; the Mormons make the same mistake). A free society respects the sanctity of self-determination. The family's most sacrosanct responsibility is to make sure its children develop a self that can determine its... self. A child can't very well determine himself before he has a self to determine.
When I read "there is no resurrection without Christianity" instead of "there is no Christianity without resurrection," I committed what psychologists call a Freudian fuck-up. Robert thought Christianity justified the resurrection. I thought the resurrection justified Christianity. Robert was operating from the primacy of God. I was operating from the primacy of life.
Put another way: Is God subordinate to good, or is good subordinate to God?
Imagine this. Somewhere in the universe, God has created a planet with human beings like us. The difference between Earth and Planet Q is, He's sending everyone on Planet Q to hell. Without exception. Regardless of merit. From serial rapists and Stalinesque tyrants to miscarried babies and sweet, gentle retards and five-year-old girls without a mean bone in their little bodies. Their brief, often frustrated lives were the closest to happiness they'll ever get. God created them to send them to hell. No salvation. No recourse. Just endless, eternal punishment. Forever.
Are you OK with that? Does no part of you object to that? Is your response "Whatever God wants is good"? Really?
Are you sure?
IF it's not OK for God to create conscious human beings for the sole purpose of torturing them without end, then God is subordinate to good. Then morality is transtheistic.
You want something even more objective than the preservation of life? Sorry. Even God can't help you with that one. Any more than He explains the creation of existence? If God created everything, who created God? If God doesn't need a creator, why does existence? Similar problem with the morality question. Is an evil act good when God does it? If not, why not?
So God is accountable to you? Pitiful.
Straw fiat. God is accountable to morality. I've done my best to determine what morality consists of. Care to explain how I'm accountable God who keeps His existence ambiguous? Or how anyone is?
God is good if he serves life (same goes for the family, ErisGuy). I'd like to hear an argument to the contrary. Honest, I would.
STILL MORE. It isn't my, or maybe anyone's, responsibility to prove the existence of God to you.
Which is why I haven't asked you to.
And it lies within the realm of possibility that God may not view individuals as all that important, and He certainly doesn't seem to view death as an Evil, so maybe you shouldn't either.
The Holocaust wasn't evil, since God let it happen? Thanks for clearing that up. Your way is so much easier.
Guess what I'm saying is if you're going Agnostic, go all the way and stop building expectations of behavior towards a being you admit to knowing no definite information of.
Muhfugga, how many different ways do I have to repeat this? I'm not saying God should do a damn thing differently. I'd like Him to do more real-world saving, yes, but I'm not pining for it. When I was younger, I wanted to be saved by God or the lottery or the vaginas of my various crushes. But I'm putting away childish things. Believe it or not-- and I doubt you will, because I'm not sure you can begin to conceive of this-- I don't want to be saved anymore. I want freedom. Real freedom. Where both risk and reward are all mine. Where I get to take credit for what I make of my own life.
God can be what He wants. As it stands, He's chosen to save life on earth from horror and tragedy so infrequently that He effectively doesn't exist. Maybe His reasons for this are genuinely good. I'll repeat that in boldface, so you can't pretend you didn't see it: Maybe His reasons for this are genuinely good.That's literally fine. I'm interested in how we ought to conduct ourselves in light of His absenteeism.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Not Guilty Pleasures
me honestly: Do you know this piece of music?
PSAYINGS.5Y.1-56 -- THE
BARE BACKBONE. Since I've determined not to withdraw from the site
I've had a change in perspective, prompted in large part by a couple of
recent posts and exchanges with our younger hotshots. I realized I may
have been making a mistake I was making when I began The Boomer Bible
and had to learn not to make in completing it. I'm not trying to be
pompous and superior here, just reportorial. My first outline and
drafts were allusive and brief, depending on a base of shared cultural
and historical knowledge I thought was our common heritage. Rather than
the book of Ziggie,
I had a book of Minoans, designed to lampoon
Freudian concepts without ever mentioning Freud, for example. I thought
everyone knew a little something about Freud. Then life intervened, as
it does, and I had to put away the manuscript for a number of years,
during which I learned that what I thought people knew they didn't
know. Why The Boomer Bible turned out to be the monster it ultimately
became and why I was afraid to resume the writing of it for so long.
The more I learned about what people didn't know, the bigger the
unwritten book got.
Now I realize I'm possibly repeating an error no man should make twice.
I'm dazzled by the brilliance of multiple youngsters who have
contributed to InstaPunk in recent years. They know plenty about plenty
of things. But they also have a habit of wrenching themselves into
absurd postures that make absolutely no sense to me. They display a
kind of cynicism, and naivete, I can't comprehend. And, yes, I
frequently use a cynical voice because that is an integral part of my
role as a satirist -- to be scathing, denunciatory, and dismissive .
But the very purpose of satire is to hold the world up to a moral
standard the satirist really does believe in. By definition, he cannot
be a cynic. Or he would not write. He does write because he desires to
provoke thought, not to be God himself sitting in judgment.
I'm sympathetic to the spirit of youthful rebellion, because I was a
rebel too. But I'm beginning to suspect that something is missing in
even our brightest youngsters that I never doubted for a moment of my
youth -- a ferocious admiration of the incredible beauty of life and the ineffable courage,
creativity, and genius of the human race.
It's not my intent to point fingers. Examine recent posts and comment
threads here, and you will find what I'm talking about. The education
system in our country has failed them utterly. They're having to do it
all for themselves, and maybe I've been remiss in repeatedly returning
to the easiest of cultural touchstones -- popular music, TV, the
movies, and the politics of the moment. My failure. Why I've been
losing my temper so often. Failure will do that. Politics isn't about
ideology, as written by this or that recent seer. Politics is about
life, about preserving and promoting what is best in life, what makes
life worth living, which can never be reduced to "jobs" or cold theories or individual
chunks of legislation or monolithic villains of various stripes. To think intelligently
about politics, we must all have a very deep context of the whole that
includes not only what we most revere but also what we do not revere
and yet need to know about.
What is context for a human being living in America in the early 21st
century? It begins with a timeline of important historical events
beginning all the way back in ancient Sumeria when writing first made
history possible. But it doesn't end there. Dates aren't history and
they aren't life. They're just the alphabet we need to learn before we
can learn how to read. There is also geography, which is the landscape
of history that begins to make sense of how people, ideas, conflicts,
and illumination spread from one culture and one time to the next.
Permit me to take time out for a simple test. Can you fill in all the
names of the states on this map without looking anything up in a book
or on the Internet?
And don't just tell yourself you can. Do
it. There's a link today I won't give you to the Obama campaign
luminaries who distributed a map to their activists highlighting the
three states where the next campaign events would occur: California,
Washington state, and Colorado. But the map highlighted not Colorado
but Wyoming. You know. One of the flyover states.
I submit you can't understand U.S. history, really, without knowing
this map. When I was a kid, my dad made us learn the capitals of every
state at the dinner table. I still know them. Silly? No. It's part of
the backbone. You remember by remembering the shape of the state and
knowing that capitals are almost always located in the center. It helps
you learn the map.
Thing is, I was never especially good at geography. My teachers weren't
teaching it 50 years ago. Why I've been trying to make up for that the
rest of my life. So I watch shows like "How the States Got Their
Shapes," and innumerable documentaries about the rest of the world from
Europe to South America to the Middle East to the Far East to Africa to
wherever. Because it's a gap that undermines my confidence in my
Then comes the history that puts flesh on the dates. What the dates
mean and how those events resonated past their time to ours and beyond.
What do you have if you have all of this? A corpse.
What breathes life into the corpse and thence into your own mind and
soul? The cultures that underlay the historical peoples and events. The
art, the music, the literature, the religions, the philosophies, the
sciences, the architecture, the archaeological remains of the peoples
themselves. It's impossible ever to know enough. The older you get, the
more you despair of knowing enough to claim absolute certainty about
anything. But you can still have conviction. You can still have context
for the hypotheses suggested by your own life experience. Which argues
for knowing the most about the place and the people you come from
personally. Knowing one thing well at least helps you know what knowing
is. If you can't fill in the map of states of your own country, then
maybe you don't know shit about anything.
And if your knowledge of the America you live in is confined largely to
the time you have been a conscious (?) person watching movies and
sitcoms, listening to pop music, fiddling with high-tech gadgets that
make you feel sophisticated because you can copy and paste the answers
to questions that might otherwise embarrass you, and expressing
yourself via Facebook and tweet as if you had something to say anyone
should listen to, then it doesn't matter if you read a book once that
impressed you or even two or ten. You don't know anything.
I'm not done with this topic. I've just begun. But I'll close with a
question for all those who think maybe I'm not talking about them. The
YouTube up top. Do you know
this piece of music? Have you ever listened to it all the way through?
Do you know its historic importance? It's incredibly famous. When you
type the letters "rhap" at YouTube, it pops up immediately. Maybe you
think you have an awareness of it because it's so famous and you've
heard the opening strains. But this is an icon from your own country.
It matters. It's one of the ABCs of American culture. If you don't know
that or if you don't believe that, or all the complexities of why, you're an ignoramus.
How much flesh and blood and nerve and brain is attached to whatever
fragmented backbone of history you rely on to preach your certainties
to the world?
Monday, September 26, 2011
The Florida Straw
NEED TO THINK, RIGHT? So they announced the results
of the oh-so predictive Florida Straw Poll and discussed them on Fox
News Sunday. To be fair, there were some big
Winnie the Pooh 37.11%
Yosemite Sam 15.43%
Daffy Duck 10.88%
Britt and A.B. and Bill and Juan were all inclined to agree that
nobody was really voting for Winnie the Pooh. They were sending a
message. Pooh was offering a simple honeypot called
compared to sterling
capitalist and technologist Goofy's 59-point (!) jobs plan. Which
complicated for Florida Hoverounders
(Free! Count me
out) and besides
Pooh has a "Winn-ing" personality, compared to Goofy's "what the hell
is he, really?" identity. (I mean, if Pluto's a dog, what is Goofy?")
They all seemed concerned about the Mormon thing, and the
conservative-liberal flip-flop thing, and what the hell is a
front-runner if he's always losing in the polls?
They did concede that Pooh had completely outclassed incorruptible
immigration hardliner Yosemite Sam
in the last debate, but they seemed to agree that wasn't because Pooh
is smart or a legitimate candidate (I mean, really? Pooh? Pooh.) but that Sam
has developed a tendency to fire off all his ammunition in the first
ten minutes, then drop into a siesta for the next hour and a half.
Correctable? They didn't know.
They soberly reminded
viewers that at this same stage of the 2008 campaign, the polls had
Elmer Fudd and
TV star Foghorn
Leghorn way out in front of Wile
E. Coyote, who
was then dead in the water with no more credit at Acme and no prospects, yet went on
to gloriously win the nomination and fall off his customary cliff,
screaming all the way down...
Nobody could have seen it coming....
...although, paradoxically, nobody seemed interested in discussing Daffy, Eeyore, Pluto, or the two-faced Droopy,
who sits on a couch with Cruella De Vil
talking about saving the environment and then insists he's committed to
defeating the (NSFW) Road
Runner. They prefer to write them
all off as also-rans without wasting much of their dazzlingly IQ-heavy
analysis on remote possibilities. (Me? I'm liking Daffy Duck. Always did.).
Somebody, maybe Bill Kristol, did point out that Droopy wins,
almost invariably (via the unfair advantage of being 3 times smarter
than the rest of them), the
points he feels like contesting, but he's still Droopy and more than a few kibble
bowls overweight, so who cares?
Because Sam and Goofy are so far ahead in -- what? -- the current
[Frankly, I'm curious that
nobody else was curious how Eeyore's followers failed to stuff this
particular ballot box the way they have stuffed every other straw poll
ballot box at every conservative conference and gathering for the past
four years, but it's an idle curiosity when all
is said and done, and I guess I can't blame them for not wasting time
on a trivial mystery. Eeyore will never be president. If you've lost
your tail, it seems like an especially egregious form of carelessness.]
Led (inevitably) by Chris Wallace, the panel was prepared to spend some time
writing the political epitaph of the flake Minnie Mouse,
who came in dead last
despite her polka-dot bows and startlingly yellow shoes. Something about
her being a tea party cartoon too scripted and polka-dotted to take
seriously. (The term mental retardation was mentioned.) Like all women, we're to infer,
except the acceptably unappetizing A.B. on the Fox News Sunday panel, whose sole implementation of yellow is the hair dye that starts an inch above her black roots. Of course, this
might have been a warning shot across the bow of Betty
continues to lurk above the fray without pointing her hypnotic boops in any
particular direction. All of them are afraid she could
her way into a catastrophic Republican snafu.
appalling, unthinkable, Republican nightmare.
(The impatient can skip to 1:10 in,, right to the vile.
disgusting, rightwing whoring Sullivan hates in her.)
Well, Juan Williams wouldn't mind. But his private and mostly
smile of satisfaction could not compete with Bill Kristol's Cheshire
cat grin. He's convinced that the Winnie the Pooh vote is a clarion
call to the one
personage who really could save
the day for Republicans and the Republic.
Raise your hands if you knew he was
from New Jersey.
So. What's up, Doc? Well, we'll see. Won't we?
More on the Sin of Faith
The only medical science acceptable to God, evidently.
. Yet another faith healing couple has murdered their child (it's always the same group that makes the news. We've got a nest of them up here in the Portland area). This used to be a controversial thing, but I'm not sure anyone pays attention anymore. What was once a contentious debate about freedom of religion versus not murdering children has kind of fizzled. "Kooks will be kooks," seems to be the dismissal. So this may be something of a dead, or ailing, horse I'm about to beat. But just in case.
Religious freedom does not include the "right" to kill your child. Not even by inaction.
I understand religion-- mainstream Christianity in particular-- is under attack. I've done some of the attacking myself (the really good, logically sound attacks). I understand that, as Christians see it, the law is turning against Christianity, and that this makes them sensitive to any suggestion that religion ought to be regulated. I get that. I honestly sympathize. But the thing is, religious freedom does not include the "right" to kill your child. Not even by inaction. Seems obvious when I put it like that, doesn't it?
In a free society, religion is necessarily private. That way, every individual is free (hence the word free) to decide the matter for himself. If you want to be a faith healer, go right the hell ahead. Don't want to have your own bladder infection looked at? Awesome. But that's not the kind of decision you get to make for anyone else. Even if they are your kids who you legally own.
Imagine you were a high priest in the Cult of Evel Kinevel. Instead of regular water immersion, baptism into your faith is jumping the Grand Canyon in a perfect replica X-1 Skycycle. Should you be allowed to force you kid to make that jump? Or to strap your infant to the X-1, push the Skycycle down the ramp, activate the booster rockets via remote, and hope he makes it?
Moreover-- and this is the real point-- God's track record is indisputably spotty. Exhibits A, B, C, D, and most of the other letters? The Holocaust. Don't get me wrong. This isn't the argument that the Holocaust, or any of the commonly trotted-out travesties, prove God doesn't exist. I'm not some arrogant prick atheist (but two out of three ain't bad) who chooses-- and it is a choice-- to leave out the whole "heaven is forever" part of the God hypothesis when contemplating the oh-so intractable "problem of evil." That's existential laziness. On a few levels. What I am saying is that the Holocaust proves conclusively that God's intervention is, at best, a maybe. He might make a 20-dollar bill appear in your laundry basket when you need it. He might make the battery in an alarm clock die so a WTC employee sleeps in on 9/11. Or he might let 10 million innocent lives be systematically executed. Whether His reasons are good or bad, Dude does what He wants.
In light of this incontestable truth, how can anyone justify waiting for God to act? If you answered something like "let God's will be done in all things," or "everything happens for a reason," I cordially invite you to stop eating. How disrespectful to God, to presume you can sustain your own life! Lie down and wait for God to feed you. Right now. Let us know how that works out for you.
I'm generally against regulation and government meddling in private matters, but the protection of life is a legitimate state function. Laws against negligent homicide are not statist tennets comparable to the welfare state. It's an abuse of language to say religious freedom is abridged when parents aren't allowed to let their children die for God. No rightful freedom has been denied.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Further Insight on
The Krugman Paradox
Krugman praying to himself. I think I
know what the answer is.
. Brizoni did a nifty little post on Paul Krugman, who
is always wrong and always instantly refuted. How can he not know that
he's an idiot? Thanks to my better half, I can offer an explanation
that explains many other things as well. I know this violates the "fair
use" rule, but it's simply too hilarious not to reproduce in
considerable detail. Sorry. This from Wiki:
Personally, I love the Cornell
connection. Incompetence isn't about
being a Neanderthal. It's about being in over your head and not knowing
it. Perfect. (And note that I'm not alone in discerning a slight problem among the best and brightest with geography...) Of course, Krugman is at Princeton, which makes him
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Raebert Report
The mind of a
It's not easy
being a Scot. You have to be a deep
. So he's coming up on a year-and-a-half.
Still a puppy. But I
haven't reported for a while. He's huge.
Gigantic, in fact. But he eats
like a girl on a first date.
"You won't think I'm being too forward if I take this Cheeto very very
carefully from your hand." Greyhounds think every tidbit is a reprieve
from starvation rations at a concentration camp. Not
deerhounds. They're just as tentative about their own kibble.
For a long time we thought he was going to be smarter than Psmith. We
were wrong. Psmith was best friends with Izzie, the 7-pound Bengal cat.
Raebert is best friends with Elliott, the 10-pound tabby cat. Elliott
even goes so far as to claw Raebert's face (because he's such a
fun-loving cuss he accidentally claws everyone, even as he's chirruping
his affection). Nothing. Raebert just draws his monster head back and
pokes at Elliott with his oak-limb paw, like King Kong playing gently with Fay Raye.
But where were we? The deerhound mind. Thanks to accelerating
technology, it is
now possible to photograph deerhound consciousness. When he's staring
into the distance looking his most nobly brave and Scottish, what is
Raebert thinking of? Thanks to Apple's new iMind camera, we now know:
I like cheese
He used to like Herr's pretzels. No more. When he comes upstairs to the
media room in the evening, he makes a great show of affection. He
kisses the missus (doesn't that sound like a country song title?). He
kisses me, licks my hand, and then settles on his huge haunches with a
hopeful smile on his face. Because he knows I have a bag of cheese
curls at my feet. If you try to give him a pretzel, he takes it with
his lips pursed and drops it on the floor. Cheese curls.
I really like
Molly, like most older greyhounds, is getting food aggressive. Raebert
doesn't care. He's staking his all on the prize that all deerhounds
since Sir Walter Scott's have been waiting for:
I could really use
a cheese curl about now.
And here's the cute part. He doesn't grab or snatch even when the
cheese curl is offered. He takes it so gently in his impossibly white
front teeth that the frail puff is not damaged at all. He drops it on
the carpet. Then he lovingly eats it. With that hollow chomping sound
and the half-closed eyes of a man eating... well, you get the picture.
Who knew? Maybe all the wars in Scotland from time immemorial could
have been avoided.
Don't worry. He only gets two per night. Or three if he's really being
a pest. It's his idea of poetry.
Roses are red. And
I want a cheese curl.
What else? He weighs a hundred now. And he's slowly, slowly becoming more than a puppy.
But he still doesn't understand the deerhound factor. When we took him
to the vet last week, he was completely befuddled by the fact that he
was greeted by all the other dog owners as a rock star. "What IS that?"
"He's gorgeous." He just wanted to kiss the only other dog he
recognized, a hugely overweight pug who was as unintimidated by Raebert
as Raebert was anxious to make a new friend. (Our own pug, Eloise, is NOT
hugely overweight. Just a little. MY fault.)
Me? I'm thinking the pug had a secret stash of cheese curls. But I've
always been a cynic.
Do we love him? Yeah. Achingly. Why do you think I have a bag of Herr's
cheese curls at my feet?