November 07, 2019

Amy Robach's Brush with Truth via Project Veritas

I worry that Trump has greatly accelerated media decadence, that he’s driven them mad and has exposed them to the point where they no longer "self-identify" as journalists anymore.

No longer in a state of “journalistic grace” they’ve easily transitioned to “advocate sinners”, having long been tempted in that direction anyway. It's getting to the point where if the press said the sky is blue I’d believe it wasn’t.

Because in the time-honored D.C. way, a gaffe/hot mic revealed the truth. TV reporter Amy Robach vented on having the goods on Epstein three years ago but the ABC honchos suppressed the story because apparently too many important and powerful people would get hurt, like the Clintons, Alan Dershowitz, and a prince in England. Because, as we know, the role of the press is to protect the powerful and preach to the powerless (especially Trump voters). The irony of Buckingham Palace having veto power over ABC stories is that we once fought a war to end monarchical rule.

And of course Robach stepped back from her brush with the truth and docilely toed the corporate line just as she did three years ago when she withheld the information from other news outlets or the police because, as we know, the role of the press is to get scoops, not give them. Apparently she felt no moral obligation given that Epstein could claim more victims in the meantime.

ABC laughably professed not having sufficient information for a story on Epstein never mind having had nothing on Justice Kavanaugh but eagerly feeding off wild-eyed allegations for days. (As one columnist said, "Whatever the liberal elite wants printed is propaganda; whatever it wants suppressed is news.")

They found out who apparently leaked the video and arranged to have the staffer fired even though he/she now works for CBS. “Professional courtesy” said CBS. They might’ve added, “After all, we’re all on the same team here, to propagandize for liberalism.”

I think we’re in a post-hypocritical age now given that there’s no longer any shame in being one. Witness ABC lecturing Trump on his focus on the whistle-blower while at the same time working to crucify their own whistle-blower, now at CBS. There’s no stigma to Trump’s hypocrisy when everybody’s doing it, just as there’s no stigma now to having kids out of wedlock since everybody’s doing it. There reaches a tipping point where there’s no shame.

The Epstein story is not the most important story of the year but it’s highly symbolic and telling. That he could get killed in a detention center and there be no leads or media curiosity? It’s like the Jimmy Hoffa story only it all occurred in public.  But little cracks are beginning to form in the cover-up, little slow leaks of truth. Despite the press. 

October 28, 2019

Last Days Pre-Nostalgia

There’s a weird and perverse predilection in me for this to be the “last days”, to be nearing the apocalypse, even to the point of not quite being disappointed if Pope Francis doubles down on his loathing of church conservatives by displaying the Amazonian idols in St. Peter’s (update: he did not).

Both Donald Trump and Pope Francis feel like canaries in the apocalyptic coal mine, both singing “the end is nigh!" to different tunes.

One wants to live in interesting times as long as they don’t affect us unduly, which is a fiction we can believe to a rather astonishing extent. This wicked tendency is disturbing but perhaps goes with the human nature interest in extremes: extreme holiness or extreme debauchery. But especially the latter -- as the Henley song goes, we all love dirty laundry.

But whether this be the last times or middle times or what have you it doesn’t lessen the obligation to be holy or to die to self, which I think is part of my attraction alas. The delay in the Second Coming is an act of the mercy of God for which we should all be grateful.

How a Bill Doesn't Become a Law

It’s interesting to me to consider the ever on-going ripple-down effects of the activist judiciary. Since the adoption of a “living Constitution” (which effectively kills the Constitution), the judicial branch has become rightfully paramount to the legislative.

After all, if you’re in the position where a branch of government sanctions the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocents and could rewrite the Constitution on religious liberty and freedom of speech, well, that concentrates the mind.

So there’s a bill (the Secure Act) stuck in the Senate despite 97 out of a 100 senators in favor of it. It helps address the looming retirement crisis by increasing amount older workers can contribute to 401k, protecting religiously affiliated organizations, protecting private-sector pensions, increasing 401k coverage to part-time employees, etc…

But the problem is Senate floor time is scarce due to the focus on judges (the latter also arguably due to the feeling that this is the last hurrah for the GOP and its hold on judges, given the demographic winter it’s on the cusp of).

A way around it is if you’d have unanimous consent:
In short, if a bill enjoys unanimous consent among every Senator, it doesn’t require any floor time. At this juncture, it appears three GOP Senators are refusing to allow the bill’s passage under unanimous consent: Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Pat Toomey. Senator Cruz has concerns about certain 529 college savings plan provisions. Senator Lee has concerns about a provision that provides some relief for small community newspapers. And Senator Toomey has primarily voiced concerns about certain technical tax corrections that impacts retailers, which he wants to see addressed through floor debate and amendment.

October 22, 2019

Appalachia at Dusk

We recently took and trip and drove through atmospheric old West Virginia, old because of the mountains and old because poverty contracepts the artificiality of newness. Veiny fronds and ivy weave around eighty year old farm equipment and hundred year old barns. Everything has a look of having settled in permanently.


We pass a historical sign marking an antebellum house on 35 South, General McCellan’s house if I read it correctly at 60mph. This road is a corridor I’d like to tour, but hard to park on a turnpike and it’s mostly all private land. Plus I hear they have shotguns in those hollers. It all gives off a “City of New Orleans” tune vibe.

Unwoke: Napa Valley
Woke: Appalachian valley

Napa nah, Appalachia yah. The white lightning tour > the winery tour.

We pass by South Charleston Industrial Park, which looks like an old penitentiary. A “Beef Jerky Outlet” sign. Dunes of black coal look as soft as Hawaiian black sand beaches. Hoary old mountains wearing fog wreaths like the coronas of ancient Roman generals.

Deathly looking truck ramps scale mountain passes for when brakes fail. How do they get down from up there? I google and learn: it’s a tow and a fine.  In a half-doze I dream a rhyme of a fen populated by a Renaissance festival: a Ren Fen.

Gallery at highway speed:














October 08, 2019

Motivational Indeed

Rousing and deeply moving/unsettling talk by a speaker at our department meeting today. Funny, sad, rich and uncommonly wise. Have I changed or has the company? Both? Regardless, this speaker comes from an obviously core Christian bedrock and addressed the sore sticking point for humanity today: the inability to see the sanctity of life and the extraordinariness of the “ordinary” person.

At the same time it was unsettling because he was deeply uncompromising on mediocrity. I tend to be exceptionally mediocre (oxymoron alert!).

It’s funny that after treating work as a joke, a Dilbert cartoon, that now it’s morphed into a different thing. My experience is sometime between 2006 and 2009 executives simply stopped being obtuse and really changed in a radical way.  More common sense-oriented and more purpose-seeking. And definitely more employee-centric.

For example, needless meetings stopped happening and became far less boring, especially on the department level. It is inconceivable in the ‘90s we’d have as a meeting venue the Columbus Zoo, and mix business with pleasure.

It’s remarkable how the culture shifted. In the old days of the 90s, every other day you’d have some new top-down management fad you’d have to indulge, beginning with “ponc” which stood for “price of non-conformance” and which became a rallying cry among the troops, with all of us calling each other “ponc-ers”.

There was an atmosphere of mandatory overtime, pointing fingers, and pointless exercises - basically all the stuff that went into Dilbert’s popular cartoon. But it’s as if the execs started reading Dilbert and reacted to it - or maybe it’s when we became a private company. Execs even started using Gallop to measure employee satisfaction. That'd cray-cray in 1990.

I suspect some of it is also the influence of Silicon Valley, where the tech companies have a more laid-back style and emphasize employee comfort. You get more with honey than vinegar.

Or it’s simply that the millennials (who are now the majority of the work force and drive many a decision) are not motivated by hierarchy or “force” but by being treated like an adult with less overhead and supervision. It’s odd to see institutions change, but if you live long enough you see stuff.

The result is to feel a loyalty to the company in a new and more visceral way. It’s interesting to see the change in our department getting a speaker who would speak to average man instead of one who assumed that his audience were all executives chasing only the bottom line. He was human - no cyborg salesman - and spiritual, and it was a disconnect to hear this at work, if only because most of the time I’ve failed to see the spiritual side of work (which admittedly is idiotic). But it’s inconceivable someone so authentically spiritual in the ‘80s or ‘90s would've spoken. It was cutthroat world and the goal was to make money so as not to have layoffs.

The speaker, Kevin Brown, inadvertently gets to the sickness in capitalism which is to treat everything and everyone as transactional.

The money quote was: “Can you look in the mirror and see the faces of the people who helped you get to where you are?”. In other words, we look into the mirror and may either despair or be complacent and self-satisfied, but what we should see is that we are not autonomous units but reflections of all that came before us - the teachers, preachers, mentors, parents, strangers, the person who serves you now, etc. They all played a role in our becoming. There’s no such thing as a “self-made man”.

October 06, 2019

Brandt Jean Forgiving Amber Guyger

Interesting to see the varied responses to the video of the man forgiving the cop who killed his brother. It’s almost a Rorschach test.

Al Sharpton: “He’s not doing it for her. He’s doing it to grow as a Christian.”

Displays denial of God’s grace, shows Pelagianism and reduces humanity to being incapable of doing something for another without self-interest.  Also contradicts Scripture in pretending he can read another person’s heart.

Others on Twitter: “He did it because therapists teach us that you have to forgive in order to move on and not influence your health and well-being negatively.”

This is the therapeutic model that sees religion as a means to an end, that of the god of health, rather than the ultimate end in itself.

Others: “It’s Stockholm Syndrome where you sickly love your oppressor.”

The cynic’s choice, a conspiratorial mindset that sees human behavior only in political and psychological manipulation terms.

Others: “He’s a fool.”

Others lack the vision to see forgiveness as anything but weakness.

October 02, 2019

Down with Theistic Evolution

Much appreciate the link below on Orthodox theology on the Fall called "alterism". Taking their cues from early Church fathers other than Augustine, they mention an alternative to the belief that the world as currently configured, using evolution and death and survival of the fittest, is what God called "very good" in Genesis.: Orthodox theology alterism.

The gist of it is the Big Bang was not the beginning of creation per se but the result of human sin. Prelapsarian life wasn’t just the same as our life except we don’t die, but was similar to how we currently view resurrected life. Augustine influenced the Church (including Aquinas) by suggesting that everything was the same pre-Fall except man had better control of his unruly members (i.e. no lust or gluttony, etc..).

To say it’s a stretch to believe that prior life was radically different than our current life is no different than saying our future life in the new Heaven and new Earth will be radically different than our current one. Both require an element of faith. And since we know no more about our future life than our prelapsarian one it doesn’t seem heretical to think the early Church Fathers’ "alterism" fits far better than theistic evolution.

September 29, 2019

Prophets of Nuance and Other Oxymorons

This morning I read a (not atypical) Bishop Flores tweet (he of Mexican heritage whose diocese is close to the border) denouncing an uncaring attitude towards immigrants (presumably illegal, a modifier now illegal itself, probably because pro-immigrant folks want the conflation).  It all seems reflexively a tribal thing: he stereotypically ignores the prudential question while I stereotypically forget to pray for illegal immigrants and consider the immediate need. 

One could say that to even think in those terms (i.e. I am white and he’s of Mexican heritage) is to view it racially, but then how can one do otherwise in this age of identity politics? Perception being reality I guess. It’s like saying, “don’t think about the pink elephant” when every day there’s a pink elephant on TV, radio, news. “Don’t think about your whiteness,” we’re told, when every day we’re told things like "whites are inherently racist”.

Immigration is an explicitly political act (given that states control borders, not individuals) so a political argument will naturally follow. The opposing side’s argument is either not presented (the Pope Francis treatment, i.e. “no comment”) or framed (so unlike Aquinas!) as malignant.

For example, there is no pity left over, for example, for the poor left in countries where only the most courageous or intelligent leave.

So part of the “indifference” Flores ascribes is, I think, due to bad faith political arguments. That doesn’t make it right but it helps explain it.

And of course the reading from Amos this Sunday surely supports the bishop's attitude. The prophet’s job is not nuance or prudential judgements - his task is to castigate and irritate. (We’re all prophets now, laugh out loud?) And the truth of the prophecy is irrespective of the source: the Civil Rights Movement was no less true that it was mainly inspired and begun in earnest by a black man (Martin Luther King). Ideally the prophet would lack self-interest, but King was both prophet and beneficiary, although tragically he didn’t live to see the benefits. And no one is in a position to know injustice more than those treated so.

The OT prophets were famously not approved of in their own time, to put it mildly, but only later added to the canon. It’s easier to rake previous generations for their sins than our own in our time.  Distance in time provides perspective and a different point of view. (Certainly not necessarily the right point of view - Margaret Sanger is looked upon as a prophetess and revered in our time only because in our corrupt age her views on contraception are mainstream.)

Aquinas wrote that “we distinguish in order to unite.” How very far from our modern sensibility! It’s so foreign as to feel like an inherent contradiction.  We think distinguishing is “non-pastoral” (as in the case of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics) or else we distinguish very crudely in order to divide or vanquish (i.e. if you’re for a wall, you’re not Christian).

September 27, 2019

Praise for Trump's Quid pro Quo

I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't give a flying fig about Trump's Ukraine deal - see Luke Thompson below.

And it's amusing that the open borders crowd don't like open borders when it comes to outsourcing investigations to Ukraine, investigations that Americans can't or won't do for themselves.

National Review's Luke Thompson nails it on The Editors podcast:
“I think anything that Hunter Biden touches that intersects with his father’s official role as vice president is presumptively corrupt and worthy of investigation and that there’s a legitimate interest in finding what the hell was going on.  Because of this, it doesn’t matter that Joe Biden is running for president. That has nothing to do whether there is a legitimate government interest in finding out what the Bidens were up to.
Here’s what we know: Biden intersected his intervention in Ukraine, including withholding aid, with Hunter’s involvement in international energy-related matters on which he had zero expertise.  We know that Joe Biden flew his son to Bejing and while Joe was meeting with Xi his son met with a state-owned enterprise and left with ludicrous amounts of money.  He was paid handsomely for doing so though he has no finance expertise and indeed no marketable skills other than a seemingly bottomless appetite for narcotics and self-destruction.  And so given what we know I believe there is a presumption of legitimacy and that information is not the same as interference. 
If Trump had said, “dig something up and leak it for me.” that would be wrong. If he had said, “Target Biden, go hack into something, give it to me.” That would be wrong. If he had said, “Make something up, give it to me.” That would be wrong. Saying, “Get to the bottom of the fact that a chronically addicted, self-destructive son of a vice president was being integrated into American foreign policy in one of the most troubled places in the world", however artlessly he did it, is not wrong.  And to associate that with election interference or a campaign contribution has as its logical conclusion an absurdity that no one would endorse - it would mean running for president creates a de facto blanket immunity for anyone.”

September 25, 2019

Seven Quick Takes


Read some of National Review issue on what writers love about America, and so far it’s travel-heavy, making me yearn for the open road. So much of America I’ve never seen.

One of the articles mentions how Americans are prone to faddishness in opinions and utopianisms, and how Lionel Trilling once wrote that “Nothing in America is quite so dead as an American future of a few decades back.”

Also this, by editor Rich Lowry:
"Baseball on the radio remains an iconic American sound...During night games in July and August, the murmur of the crowd — just like the sawing of cicadas, the chirping of crickets, the calling of frogs, and the clatter of innumerable other critters — speaks of the delicious languor of an American summer, of long days and hot nights, of drives to the beach, of talking on the front porch, of the yells of kids running in the yard after dinner, of carefree, seemingly endless hours.”
Feel like a part of my childhood being ripped away with Marty Brennaman’s impending retirement. Like a bandaid being pulled off I’m not sure this was the way for him to go given the wailing and gnashing of teeth from fans (he’d originally planned to bow out with no year notice).

Feels like his wife, like Yoko Ono, broke up the band. She gave him a new desire to travel and a life apart from baseball. But he’s certainly earned it.


_


Funny Brendan:
“How I imagined raising children: All the little offspring gathered around me on the couch as I read a book about Greek Mythology or science to them.
What it's actually like raising children: One is howling under a cardboard box because I decline to find him a YouTube video he'd watched half of with his older sister but can only describe as ‘about making a squishy wedding’, another is throwing shredded cheese all over the dining room as I try to feed him, and a third is narrating Pirates of the Caribbean 3 to me in what I have to assume is garbled form (or maybe the movie just makes no sense.)”
Reminds me of the quote “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams” from Dostoevsky.

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Tomatoes still coming in by the bushel. Feels late to be still getting this many tomatoes. One way to define summer is by growing season, i.e. when first and last frosts come. For central Ohio it’s Apr 28 through Sept 28. Five months of green things growing, which means 41% of the year we have a climate capable of supporting non-hibernatory plant life.

By contrast, Hilton Head’s season is from 3/10 till 11/29, or 72% of the year. Louisville comes in at 55%. The 50-50 line comes in just a bit north of Lexington.


I shall try

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Interesting take on Padre Pio:
“I have to say, I’m not up on Padre Pio studies, except that I know—and some brief research confirmed—that it’s quite a minefield. Claims of fascism, fakery, fornication: It’s all there.
Pio is perhaps the quintessential saint for the modern world, a man whose controversy would have been in the past sequestered in ecclesial meetings and documents but who in the early mass media age became nothing short of a superstar—“the most important Italian of the last century” according to one secular biographer. He was a man who, whatever you think about his stigmata and other apparent supernatural abilities, exuded that manic energy that lives in the space between holiness and madness, but unlike Catherine of Siena, or other historic saints, he did so in the age of the camera and the journalist. This makes him at once more accessible and more mysterious, more credible and more strange.
For my part, I don’t know what to make of him. The accounts of his wounds and his ecstasies are incredible—and yet if I heard them about some 11th century mystic I wouldn’t question them for a second. Padre Pio, then, brings a certain unrestrained spirituality from the Before Time into a modern world where it no longer seems to fit. This is how he challenges us.” 
Padre Pio does seem to be a sort of big outlier of modern saints. St. Therese of Calcutta, St. John XII, St. John Paul II, St. Therese of Liseux, St. John Henry Newman (soon), Maximillian Kolbe, Edith Stein, St. Damien of Molokai, and on and on of saints who, while experiencing bit of mysticism and the miraculous, but nothing the way St. Pio did.
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Priest uncorked a very good homily. Quoted Augustine on the three stories we have of Jesus raising a person from the dead: the first, the 12-year old girl who was still at home in her bed, the next was the widow’s son who was on his way to the cemetery in a procession, and the third was Lazarus, who was dead for some four days in the tomb. And the message Augustine got from that is how Jesus can raise us from three types of sin: the first is sin contemplated in the mind but not acted on (home), the second is sin contemplated and acted on (on the way), and the third is a habitual sin (in the tomb). All can lead to death but the third is particularly pernicious, though Jesus is master of all three.

The priest added that these acts of Jesus raising people from the dead was to show that he was God even then, while in the flesh, and that he didn’t become God at the Resurrection.
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Creed revisit: “For us men and for our salvation / he came down from heaven; / he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the presiding priest, /and was made bread.”

Reviewer of Book on St. Paul

Saw book by Sarah Ruden that tries to rehabilitate Paul (I didn't realize he was in need of rehab). I’m always taken aback by how controversial St. Paul is among Christians. His letters seem uplifting and inspiring.

It amazes me that many think of him as grumpy and Puritanical, when his writings seem among the most upbeat and inspiring in the entire Bible. Many hate, of course, where he writes against fornication but how could they not then share the same distaste for Jesus, who said that anyone who looked lustfully at a woman had committed adultery with her? I suspect it’s the typical dodge of assuming most everything Jesus said in the gospels was attributed to him later in response to conditions in the churches at that time. Nice gig if you can get it. But it’s hard to wiggle out of Paul because everyone agrees at least 6-7 letters were written by him and there are pretty hard (and very early!) dates around them.One amazon reviewer pointed out that perhaps Paul was against homosexuality because it was deeply bred in Jewish tradition instead of his simply reacting to Roman/Greek abuses.

From a reviewer on Amazon:
In his book "Mythologies" (English translation 1972) the French semiologist Roland Barthes analyzes what he terms 'neither-nor criticism', a rhetorical game now even more prevalent than when he first essayed it back in the 1950s. This involves the critic's confession that he is able to discern how any subject's reality is more complex than simply being a matter of X as opposed to Y: the reality in question is neither X nor Y because it is, in the critic`s own perceptive gaze, a blazing matter of being Z. And the identification of Z is the result of the plucky critic's having so clearly established the respective errors and inherent biases of X and Y that he was led eventually to Z`s discovery. But, as Barthes simply observed, what fuels the neither-nor critic's activities and ultimately convinces him of his own results is the relative amount of FREEDOM he assumes for himself, namely, that he is immune to A PRIORI judgments, and that his own critical work is as much a liberation as it is a timeless explication of a given subject.

Reading this book by Sarah Ruden made me think of Barthes' essay. Her subject is the eternally controversial Paul and his reputation, deserved or not, in the modern world. And here is where the 'dichotomy-spotting' begins: wishing to steer a course between conservative and/or traditional views of Paul (X) and the often questionable results and opinions deriving from the historical-critical method (Y), Ms. Ruden in her quest for an 'original' understanding of Paul (Z) inadvertently relies on so many polarities and contrasts largely derivable from our own age that the 'original' voice of Paul she thought she had re-discovered ends up being the reflection of some currently entrenched prejudices.

Now I am not advocating any kind of relativism here; nor am I contending that there is nothing like a reasonable truth to be had about Paul or the meaning of his letters. I am as willing as the next person to say that Paul actually means what he says and in fact says what he means, but what Sarah Ruden promises and what Sarah Ruden delivers end up being two different things…

This is perhaps my most serious objection to the book`s project: that in order to make Paul more palatable, to rehabilitate him IN THE COURT OF OUR SENSIBILITIES, it becomes necessary to show that he was more like us than we ever imagined, that the reasons for his startling statements about the relative 'status' of women, homosexuality, slavery, even the nature of the divine agapĂȘ (love) itself must be revealed as having been based on the same forms of modernist pathos that so prejudicially orient not a few of our own attitudes and assumptions.

And finally, there is, for my tastes, a far too lenient (and downright anachronistic) use of expressions and ideas such as 'liberal', 'emancipation', 'oppression', 'individuality', 'self-expression', etc. in this book. This usage is problematic for many critical reasons, but it is further complicating, not because the ancients lacked any of the sensibilities that make such concepts possible and so compelling for us, but rather because our own psychologizing take on things, our own debilitating capacity for introspection and interiorization makes the ancients seem like they were inhabitants of another planet, like us in so many respects but thinking, feeling and experiencing God in ways that seem like a proverbial world apart.

Now Ms. Ruden occasionally keys in on these inherent and undeniable differences, those moments when Paul communicates to us the disconcerting proximity of God's glory--gospel 'flashpoints' I would call them--the kind that stem not from antiquated patterns of ignorance let alone our condescending attitudes toward them, but from a direct and overwhelming sense of God's presence and power: they are the expression of those timeless certainties that make for the blessed uncertainty of the faithful; in short, they are what make Paul true rather than just learnedly relevant.

September 19, 2019

A Tale of Two Songs

It was mid-80s and I was dancing at the new college bar and the song playing was Frankie Goes to the Hollywood’s Relax. And I remember thinking...am I hearing it correctly? Can this possibly mean what I think it means?

It’s interesting that at a conservative college back then there was a culture that enabled clean-cut kids in their teens to osmosis lyrics that, to put it mildly, failed to edify.

I was curious as to the genesis of the song, of how it traveled from the dregs of excess libido to the ears of millions of American kids, bypassing the antibodies of the (admittedly weakened) culture?

And it’s a familiar story - the quickest way to success is to get banned. It was done so by the BBC and it grew famous and climbed the charts. But it also had help from a famous producer.

The songwriter claimed the words came to him while he was walking around Liverpool minus any “oh, I’ll sing these words and this record’ll be banned” considerations. They performed it on a UK television show, and the producer took it on and changed it radically (ultimately leaving only the lead vocalist in the final version).

The ad campaign courted scandal for promotional purposes by emphasizing gay sexual imagery. And the singer-songwriter himself apparently lived it, being diagnosed with HIV within a few years of the record’s release.
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Another song from the past was written in 1964 (recorded five years later) called In the Year 2525.

It’s not too bad for prophecy. In the future you:
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today
(Is that pill social media?)

And:
You won't need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube
Couple more stanzas:
Your arms hangin' limp at your sides
Your legs got nothin' to do
Some machine's doin' that for you
I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing
The writer, Rick Evans, lived off royalties:
“Rick, still in his twenties, found himself set for the rest of his life, which meant, to him, that he’d never have to work at a job that didn’t interest him (“I couldn’t sell shit to a dung beetle,” he'd say). It helped that Rick “happened to enjoy relatively simple things: music, the sky, and ‘spacing.’”
He exchanged letters often with a friend who wrote:
Rick’s observations about society were often scathing, but also filled with a sort of mystified affection. Things that interested others baffled him. The country club? Football? Why?
Rick grew up loving all things science, especially astronomy and the prospect of space travel. ..More than anything, Rick enjoyed his own mind, his own far-reaching imagination. He was more comfortable with solitude — months of it — than anyone I’ve known. Why would he prioritize socializing with people who talked about “window treatments” when he could be in the “zone,” a state of mind not so conducive to camaraderie?
He wrote: “Music is an audio display of our love affair with organization presented in a way that responds to our complex emotional dictates...The players who are ‘getting it right’ with rock are every bit, if not more, in tune with the business of expressing honest human emotion; maybe even more so than with the players of the more refined types of music such as classical, because they are playing their music, not interpreting someone else’s.”
He mused that we only can attempt to reproduce the sound that Chopin, say, intended. There’s no way to know, really. “One thing for sure, though,” he wrote. “Our very best attempts at rock are exactly that. There’s none better than that which is labeled the best at this very instant.”

September 13, 2019

Sufferin' the Suffrage

A rather bold woman on twitter tweeted:
“I think women’s suffrage was a mistake. As unpopular as it is to say it, women think and therefore vote differently than men. I don’t think the fruits have been good. Furthermore, it’s an unproven assumption that lacking franchise somehow assaults human dignity for either sex...Only a minority of women have an above-average ability to compartmentalize emotions to a high extent when making policy decisions."
Hey nice to hear men are good for something besides opening twist-off cans! (My own specialty.)

Be interesting to study the women’s vote from the time of the suffrage until the present and see how what the score was. Certainly their first pet project, Prohibition, wasn't a good start.

Of course the difficulty in rating would-be presidencies is that it requires a counterfactual, which is Latin for "nobody knows".  But since I'm a blogger, and thus unpaid to have opinions, I will fear to tread there.

Women liked Herbert Hoover in ’28 over Alfred E. Smith (Hoover being the enthusiastic Prohibition candidate). Roosevelt in ’32, ’36 and beyond. Ike in ’52 and ’56. Nixon in ’60. LBJ in ’64 and Humphrey in ’68. Carter in ’76, Reagan in ’80 & ’84, George HW Bush by 1% over Dukakis in ’88, Clinton in ’92/’96, Gore in ’00, Kerry in ’04, Obama in ’08/’12, and Hillary in ’16.

Basically I think the elections can be put into two categories: one, defensible (or indefensible) given the lay of the land at the time, and two, whether it was a good decision in retrospect (which requires God-like powers of counterfactual presidencies).

I’d say Kerry in ’04 was defensible but not a good decision. Defensible because Bush deserved to be fired based his failed Iraq bet. Reagan and HW Bush were obviously good choices. Humphrey in ’68 defensible, and Ike and Nixon reasonable or defensible.

So of the 22 elections, about half are defensible, and 6 or 7 out of 20 were correct in hindsight. (Two elections, ’60 and ’68, I'm unable to say with certainty if the right choice was made even given hindsight.).

I’m not sure 22 elections is a big enough sample size but certainly the trend of late is bad.