March 24, 2006 - March 17, 2006
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Must-see TV this week
Nothing long-winded today. Just a few glancing blows unloaded at random.
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:
much for Hollywood’s cushiest defense: We only reflect society. Society
is now responding, loudly and unambiguously: No, you’re dramatically
out of touch.
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
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.
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.
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
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,
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
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
I told you so.
NO MATTER WHO GETS HURT
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
Back to Archive Index
InstaWally, aka - Soulfish Stew is absolutely gushing
and I didn't want to enjoy it all by myself.