December 21, 2016

Missing that Election Buzz

I miss the great drama that was the '16 election. It was like a long-running soap opera, beginning in March of 2015 when Ted Cruz announced he was running and I began watching the political show With All Due Respect daily.  I recall Trump's famous announcement while on the Trump Tower escalator and thinking it a publicity stunt for The Apprentice. Or like how some has-been celebrity joins the Dancing With the Stars cast and lasts all of a week or two for lack of discipline.

Surely a poor use of time, to be consumed by an election for upwards of a year and a half.  Now With All Due Respect is off the air and Morning Joe is less interesting and the WaPo has suffered as well. I miss the intense engagement, waking up every morning to see what fresh Trumpian gaffe turned up, or what legal troubles and indictments Hillary might face due to her numerous transgressions.

No wonder there were so many celebrity deaths just after the election - people wanted to hang on to dear life just to see the results. It's uncanny how many died just after Nov 8th: Glen Ifill, Robert Vaughn, Leonard Cohen, Florence Henderson, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor...

Over the same period in 2015, only semi-famous Robert Loggia died.  People die more frequently during winter, likely from lack of motivation, similarly post-election.

The election was fascinating because the two major parties contributed patently ridiculous candidates - a would-be jailbird and a "reality" show star. That alone was a first in my lifetime (in most elections, there are two credible candidates, such as Bush v Gore or Bush v. Kerry).

Second it was fascinating to see how this con man, this carny barker, could get the august GOP nomination and then win the general. He was a blowhard, didn't everybody see this? I recall being shocked very, very early in the election season when at a family gathering my brother-in-law said he supported Trump. First off because my bro-in-law is a financially struggling blue collar guy who has worked extremely hard and here he was supporting a plutocrat-rich man who inherited most of his wealth. It seemed an audacious fit. Then too I was surprised simply because he supported mostly Democrats in the past and was no friend to the GOP. I realized then that Trump had something of a cult following. It felt like there was something in the air, in the culture, that I was completely oblivious to.

I used to feel like I was plugged into politics if not pop culture, but now I can claim neither. The race was also fascinating in part for the solipsistic reason that it told me something about me, namely how out of touch I am.



Elsewhere, I was surprised to learn how the earth was once pounded so hard that 70% of all vertebrates died:
The K-T [dinosaur] extinction was not the first such massive die-off in history, nor was it the largest. The Permian-Triassic extinction event, known as the Great Dying, occurred 251.4 million years ago and eradicated 96 percent of all marine species and 70 percent of all terrestrial vertebrates species on earth.

December 20, 2016

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like But You Can Never Leave

The shock and awe onslaught from ATT Uverse continues apace. Definitely a huge learning curve for me in more ways than one. I was a babe in the cable woods.

For example, I was completely oblivious to the nature of communicating with a cable company, i.e that it's a master-servant (they being the master). Thus, you petition to have service cancelled, you don't demand it. You make it a project, and include a timeline with intermediate, reachable goals. I went into it blind thinking it a one-off. Instead, I've invested five phone calls averaging 20 minutes and experienced two missed appointments.

Sarcasm or lectures are deeply frowned upon by Massah Cable. Free associating on the nature of their business model or dramatic reenactments of "ancient" (last week's) history and such will not be tolerated.

I learned this the hard way, as ATT won't cancel my service. A google search nicely explains in a 5-step guide applicable for me for ATT, and how it demands the skills of a diplomat combined with the tenacity of a Rottweiler:
Now that you’ve selected the correct option, cancelling service, you should be connected with a human being. Double check you’re in the right place by asking if they’re part of the retention department. If they aren’t a retention agent, ask them to transfer your call to the retention department for you, and ask them to do a ‘warm’ transfer. With a warm transfer, the original agent will sit on the line and make sure you’re directed to the right place. Conversely, a ‘cold’ transfer means they’ll hang up and let the system do it, which has a good chance of hanging up on you or sending you to the wrong department. If you’ve made it to this point, you’re well on your way to being able to successfully cancel your cable. So what’s next?
Prepare Your Excuse
The easiest method to cancel cable without hassle is to say it’s because you’re moving. Tell the agent that you’re moving to an area outside the service area, preferably outside the country.
The cable rep you’re talking to is very important in this process. If they make a ‘mistake’, your service might not get cancelled at all, or, they might cancel it immediately (even though you still need it for a few days). However, in our experience, the nicer you are, the fewer ‘mistakes’ happen. Be nice and your service will (likely) be cancelled on the day that you want, with everything neatly tied up in a bow.
One of the most important parts of cancelling service with a cable provider is returning the equipment. If you don’t return something, they will put it on a bill or send it to collections. As we mentioned in our Comcast article, cable companies would much rather charge you than have that old remote back.
While you’re on the phone with a representative, ask them to tell you what equipment that you’ll need to return to them. Write down the serial numbers they have on file. If you listened to us, you probably already bought your own modem but beware. One of all cable companies’ favorite tricks is to have unreturned equipment on the account.
Take photos of all the equipment, (and make sure those serial numbers match with the ones they told you on the phone). You can’t have too much evidence. You probably won’t need it but if you do, you’ll thank yourself for having taken the time collecting it.
You’re 90% of the way there! The last step (and most important step) of cancelling service is confirming that you’ve actually cancelled the service correctly. After you’ve finished the first four steps, call the cable provider back and ask them to confirm that everything is taken care of on the account. To be especially careful, ask them about three things: (1) if there is an outstanding balance on the account (2) if there is any unreturned equipment (3) if service is cancelled fully. Make sure that all of the answers match up with what you expect. If they don’t, have the agent on the phone fix the issue and then do step 5 one more time.
In a comedic turn worthy of an Oscar, I signed on with Time Warner in a knee-jerk "rebound" moment, returning to the arms of my former adversary. The enemy of the enemy is my friend, so they say, but Time Warner immediately rewarded me with internet speeds in the single digits, frosty indeed given we were paying for a 50mbps package.

So now I sent an email to WOW internet provider, applying for a service contract, so that I can have three internet providers providing at the same time. Ideally I could wait until I've successfully cancelled Time Warner and ATT before getting WOW but that could be 2018...

Another thing I was oblivious to was just how slim the competition is in Columbus market. You've got only three players with high speed internet: ATT, Time Warner, and WOW. And some of the reviews of WOW make your hair curl, constant outages and sudden illicit bill changes. But now Wow is looking pretty wow-derful.

Last night on a whim I called ATT and asked for an update on the service that was to be cancelled. Strictly for entertainment purposes. I expected nothing other than the humor of it, the sheer wonder of customer service so bad that it appears a mirage, and sure enough after 20 minutes of feverish activity the rep said that I would have to call back tomorrow. I asked if she could call for me, figuring that canceling a service was not exactly brain surgery, but the answer was "no". Apparently they don't do interoffice calling 'round those parts.

It all makes me realize how beautiful a thing detachment can be when achieved. The beauty of a St. Francis is that he didn't need the Internet or cable TV, and if he was on earth today he still wouldn't need it.  You end up being a slave to the thing you crave.  Hence St. Paul calls himself "a slave to Jesus Christ" in his letters. He's a slave, 'cuz he craves - the righteous One.

December 18, 2016

You Can't Fight City Hall (or the Cable Conglomerate)

Cable companies are the dregs of the earth. Sigh. I know that. But I signed up with Time-Warner as punishment to ATT, which is a desperate enough move (and a merger seems imminent anyway with ATT), but it felt good in the moment. Which is what Bill Clinton says often.

Ultimately it seems ATT Uverse just doesn't offer standalone Internet, which they have never told me but can be inferred from voluminous phone calls to reps. To say that communication is not ATT's strong suit is like saying ballet dancing is not my strong suit.

I got stood up for the 8am-10am appointment today. Called ATT. Tech said that that appointment got scheduled over top another appointment (being my cease and desist phone and cable order).  Would've been idyllic to have been informed of this. But this rep assured me they'd be coming out between 8am-8pm today to do that order, although he couldn't give me a time window.

Naturally, I got stood up for the 8am-8pm appointment today as well. Called again and got another tech and this one said no appointment was needed, they'd do it remotely. By tomorrow.

But the straw that broke this camel's back was when I asked, with much trepidation, what my new bill would be. Not $79 like I was told by a rep not even five days ago, but $128. Game over, Time Warner wins. In the space of a single week I had three different customer service reps give me unique if not particulary compelling stories. (And they say the gospels don't match up exactly!?!)  I feel pretty confident that if I call back I'll get new "information".  

Of course I'm back in the boat where I have to negotiate yearly deals with Time Warner to prevent them from jacking up the Internet-only package, so this all feels so pyrrhic a victory. My goal was to avoid having to renegotiate every year and now I'm back to renegotiating every year. I've squared the circle. I fought the cable and the cable won.

What I've learned from all this is that annual re-negotiating is not negotiable. 

Consider it part of the life maintenance, like going to the dentist.

Political Karma 101

Bush 41 in '90: "I lost to *this guy* [Bill Clinton]?"
Hillcat in '16: "I lost to *this guy* [Trump]?"

In a way, the only candidate who could not be slimed by the Clinton machine was Trump, since he self-slimed in advance.

David Brock and the other lizardly slimers could find (or manufacture) something heinous on any candidate even if that candidate was a saint, but Trump's sh*t shield was sh*t itself.

In a preverse way it's like how Jesus defeated death using death itself.

December 16, 2016

More Memoir

I've heard from countless (read: "0") readers clamoring for more of my online blog memoir.  "Blog memoir" is like the zenith of self-absorption, no?  Where you not only have the gumption to start an unsolicited blog, but then you want to talk about yourself instead of say, politics or religion.

But enough hand-wringing, let's talk about me.

It all began with a randy Irish king. So my ancestry DNA report says; I'm related to the same pagan king as Harvard academic and beer summiteer Henry Louis Gates. Separated at birth us two.

And from the king so down through the ages, begets led to begats, all now enshrouded in the blessed obscurity of the pre-Internet, pre-Facebook era. But what is genealogy research but gossip for nerds? Life in the past lane.

The "Adam" in our family line was purportedly born in New Jersey around 1865, son of an Irishman and gifted with a name so common that he's nearly irrecoverable from a historical point of view. At some point he - my great-grandfather - practiced the blacksmith trade in St. Louis, but a black cloud hung 'round him, for he attracted cyclones and floods: first in 1896 in St. Louis and later in 1913 in Ohio.

Like Melchizedek, there are no birth nor death records. He presumably died in that flood but his body was never found, and I always slightly preferred an alternative history where he vamoosed and headed west for drier climes.

He took temperance pledges that never took; once he fall off an embankment after too much liquor but survived to tell the tale. He seemed larger than life in the single surviving photo, like Clark Gable crossed with Billy the Kid. Handlebar mustache and mischievous eyes. But he gave the world a scion, my grandfather, who inherited a larger-than-life aspect that at the time I took for granted...

Courtesy Lino



This picture from Lino Rulli's feed (from his visit to Mexico City last year) practically deserves a caption contest.  Some tough-looking hombres in this one. For one thing, it's not enough to go on your knees to the basilica but you have to do so blindfolded? It's almost like he lost a bet or something. But seriously, great to see such devotion.  

December 14, 2016

Un-imprimatur'd Thoughts

Watched a bit of our office of finance meeting via streaming. It brings out the cynic in me. Ultimately I just don't get the point of it other than being a training vehicle for execs to get practice speaking in front of large audiences. The content was numbingly dry and pointless - either too broad a view, or too much in the weeds. Either cliche or pointless obscurity. I ought have more charity, but it just seems like these things have jumped the shark. They had twee slides made up in the Jib-Jab way where you see an elf body with the presenter's face. And the presenters made little jokes at the previous presenter's expense, such as "well since Bill took up most of my time, I'll have to hurry." Or "you can see how busy Ron's slide is - I'll give you a second to digest it" (it shows an indecipherable hieroglyphic slide).

In a way, I feel a sense of wonder that these executives have so high an enthusiasm level that they can actually read a motivational business book from cover-to-cover. Or that they would be so ambitious as to actually want to get up in front of a bunch of people and be critiqued by the likes of me.

I think it's the way I'm supposed to feel about God and neighbor. I need to be just as enthusiastic as they are, only about saving souls, starting with my own. Motivational books, the kind that turn me off, are no different in many respects as St. Paul's letters of exhortation. And when Pope Benedict writes of how the smallest gestures, like those of a smile, are of import, it reminds me how these executives take the small things, like their jokes or handshakes or gestures or slides, seriously. There's no minutiae in the spiritual world, witness the Little Way of St. Therese.

*

Dorothy Day's thoughts (in First Things) about how the sexual revolution:

*

The problem with buying two missals to compare and contrast and then send one back is that it's awfully easy to simply keep both. Which would be extremely wasteful since I can't use both. The Daughters of St. Paul has a more readable font and a couple-sentence reflection on readings. The production quality is so-so; cheap cover and not many inviting illustrations. The Our Sunday Visitor is a perfect complement: beautiful leather cover, nice illustrations, but a yellowish paper with poor fonts. I guess I can use both for awhile and try to see which one I'll use in the future, but neither one is that elusive perfect Roman Daily Missal.

Handsome beginning illustration to Our Sunday Visitor missal

Our Sunday Visitor - looks worse in actuality than in this pic

Daughters of St. Paul
*

Called the cable company and cut the cord! So freeing.  I was a bit too eager to speechify on the phone to the poor sales rep; she tried to get me to look at DirectTV but no dice. I told her the whole setup is a poor business model, this scam where you have to call up annually and threaten to quit the service to get a reasonable price. It kind of snuck up on me, the resentment of the scam, but when it hit it hit with a vengeance - much as it did for voters who got so fed up with business-as-usual that they up and elected a Trumpster. (You can't say that Obama wasn't ample warning: he was an unknown in '08 and won everything, so it's not like Jeb Bush was going to have a chance when there hasn't been an "insider candidate" win since Poppy Bush in '88.)

Supposedly we still get basic cable because that was the only way she could avoid scamming me on the Internet side of things (by a huge surcharge on streaming). More than the money it was the principle of the thing; that not everyone pays the same price, that for the same service my stepson pays half price they call every year and negotiate a better deal. I really don't want that hassle. Although I should probably pay my stepson to represent us, ha.

Anyway it was supremely satisfying to vote with my wallet today. And my mouth as well.

December 09, 2016

Paradoxical

The following from First Things reminds me of how Fr. Groeschel used to say that prosperity, paradoxically, breeds anxiety.


December 06, 2016

Imagined Open Letter to Americans from an Imagined Muslim

A dream to read, were it but real:
To My Non-Muslim American Friends and Neighbors:

I am a Somali Muslim deeply ashamed by the action of the Somali Muslim who stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall in September as well as a similar action by another Somali at Ohio State recently.

Americans are right to want to limit immigration from dangerous regions of the world, and if I were a target of potential Muslim extremists I would feel the same way. As it is, I fear the backlash of non-Muslim Americans more than I do Muslim extremists, partially because in America most self-radicalized Muslims do not target Muslim communities. But also because there's an infinitely higher potential for my people to be insulted than for Americans to be killed.

Many in the media have reached out to us and written stories about our fear of backlash and for that we are profoundly grateful. But you are telling only half the story.

I don't want it to be a one-way street. I want to reach out to Americans and tell them I understand their fears and their fears are legitimate. I don't want to play the victim card because I believe in the end Americans are a fair people and to the extent we Somalis refuse to acknowledge the obvious it only leads to more fear and Islamophobia.

I therefore am in favor greatly limited immigration from majority-Muslim countries having a problem with extremists.

Islam is a religion of peace and I want to further that peace by not having extremists infiltrate my mosque and community. I am a devoted Muslim who wants to reach out to my non-Muslim friends by being willing to accept that fewer of my relatives still in Somalia will be allowed to come to the U.S. This is the price to be paid for having extremism in lands where state and church are deeply interwoven.

Moreover, I understand statistics. I understand that there is a much greater risk in taking in 100 Muslim refugees than 100 Canadians. I don't take it personally! I notice in my own country that in some cases women are afraid of men because of past domestic abuse they'd suffered. I don't take it personally if a woman I don't know assumes the worst of me merely because I'm a man and she's suffered abuse from men. I would say she's using her God-given intelligence!

I don't take it personally, just as I would not take it personally if a doctor tells me I have a greater chance of having a stroke than my neighbor. I don't blame the doctor and call him biased against my weight or age. Radical Islamic terrorism is an idea and a sickness every bit as dangerous as heart disease. I could resent my doctor, or I could make improvements that will further my health.

I believe Islam has a bright future, but not if we continue to allow the migration of dangerous forms of Islam to Western countries. We are then just contributing to our own demise, or at least the demise of peaceful version of Islam. 

December 05, 2016

My Memoir

It's come to my attention that narcissism is the new black.  We elected one as president, and I know I can be more narcissistic, I feel I do have it in me.  So I've decided to write a memoir in a series of 15,780 blog posts in which I describe the history of my life in real time.  Ideally, it should take the average reader 24 hours to read about each of my 24 hour days.   Don't be daunted, this'll be great. We're I'm going to make blogging great again.  (See I almost used "we" instead of "I" - I'm still a budding narcissist but I've got the goods, trust me!)

Without further ado or re-do, shall we?


There was a break in the weather on June 20th. The weather at the Hamilton Water Works station recorded a high of 75 that day after a week in the 80s and 90s. It'd been a hot June with the promise of more to come.
On Friday the 21st the temperature inched up to 79; the next day would hit 91 and the day after 93. Like animals that can tell a coming hurricane, my mom could feel the heat coming and told me, in no uncertain terms, that the rent was due and I had to come out. She wouldn't be carrying a nine pound baby in the heat of summer, so labor began on the 21st and ended conveniently before the heat of the 22nd's afternoon.
I was born with certain expectations and predilections but failed to enunciate them or adequately communicate them to my mother.  I became a writer due to that early lesson: crying nonsense just doesn't get the job done. You have to be articulate, to plead your case, to explain what's wrong. And I didn't, not at all. All I did was cry, cry, cry. Endlessly but with impressive repetition, like how foreigners keep saying the same foreign word as if you could understand them the tenth time better. I couldn't use English to describe my dislike of the bottled milk, but I think it was causing me gas pains, best I can tell. I can't recall.
It was months before relief came when a doctor who spoke tears understood and translated. I went on some sort of different formula, the details unspecific but perhaps not earth-shattering. Calm was restored. The wisdom at Woodstock, six years later, was "stay away from the brown acid", but my wisdom acquired earlier was "stay away from the bottled milk."
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The birth itself occurred at 9:12:47 Eastern Standard Time, which is when I accomplished my first (the haters say "only") courageous deed, that of forsaking the amniotic fluid (and thus being, essentially, a aquatic animal) and breathing that rich combination of oxygen and nitrogen and '60s pollution we call air.  And thus I became a land animal overnight, or technically, over morning.
I spent my first day resting comfortably when I obviously should've been learning to read so that I could say words like, "I think I'm allergic to that damn milk." At the very least I could've gotten a jump start on a savings plan since I wasn't getting any younger.
But a certain laziness gripped me, perhaps not unique to my sex, and I slept a lot, dreaming of those Prelapsarian days in my mom's womb where I was essentially a "professional student", discovering my immediate surroundings, experiencing different types of food, and learning out how to pick my nose.  My payment was free food, and room and board.
I was surprisingly gifted in the womb, but this was not widely known. They don't give scholarships, six-figure jobs, or multi-year football contracts to those, like me, who show exceptional promise pre-birth. I'm not bitter, really, but I am a victim of societal prejudice against those still on the amniotic fluid. You'd think I wasn't a person or something then!  Fortunately nowadays they have soccer camp for pre-borns, which involves mothers hiking to distant athletic fields and yelling words of encouragement to their little ones along with words of discouragement to the refs. "Offsides, no way! Just because I'm a little more pregnant than she is shouldn't count..."
Again I leap way ahead. I intend this memoir to be a day by day account of my life such that you, dear reader, experience it in real time so to speak. I want it to take 24 hours to read each 24 hour period. So I have about 100,000 more words to write concerning my initial day of life, but we got this. 

December 04, 2016

So True

Amy Welborn nails it:
Over the past few days, protests have broken out over the country, centered on the meme #NotMyPresident. The anger, shock, dismay and yes, grief, is on full display.
When I look at this on the news or on my social media feeds, I see, above anything else, a spiritual vacuum.
There is room, of course, and if your conscience demands it, an obligation to express hesitation and opposition to a stated program of action with which you disagree or feel some aspect of your life to be threatened by. But even so, most people would, you know, wait for the person to actually take office and make decisions to make a judgment on how to react to that. To engage in this kind of protest at this stage is nothing more than attempts at intimidation.
No, what I sense goes deeper, and it’s not just the events of the last couple of days that lead me to that, but also the spiritual dimension of what I wrote above.
It’s too much. It shouldn’t be that important. 
But for some reason, it is. Why?
Well, when God has been chased out of your life, when the transcendent is simply what you make it to be, it is almost inevitable that the inborn yearning that we have for certainty in identity, belonging and meaning will be transferred.
Basically, this: If the election of the head of the executive branch sends you spinning and feeling distraught because the president doesn’t represent your values and moves you to disrupt your life to cry out  #NotMyPresident! …the presidency is too important to you. It’s become an idol.
It is possible to have high expectations of our leaders’ competence and abilities without deifying them or expecting them to embody your personal values and be crushed and outraged  and moved to violence and hatred when they don’t.

December 03, 2016

Lileks in NR

Funny stuff from James Lileks in National Review
All my right-leaning friends in Minnesota — both of them — went for Trump, and they haven’t held my disinclination to take a berth in the Trump Train against me. (By the way, can we call those who got on the Trump Train early enough to get a sleeping compartment “berthers”?) We’ve turned the Etch-A-Sketch upside down, given it a good shake, and decided to bond anew over the final repudiation of Hillary Clinton. 

Whether you were a supporter or a doubter, your dark evil heart has enjoyed the sight of some liberals taking the election like an Ikea bookcase hit by a semi. The brutal repression of the Reagan years with the know-nothingness of Chimpy Bush combined into one thick smirking bolus of malignity! America is doomed? Our feeling about their panic is both cruel and refined, so naturally there’s a German word for it. But however much schadenfreude you felt toward the weeping Hillary hopefuls as they watched Donald Trump paint over the glass ceiling like the windows of Grand Central Terminal during World War II, the reversion of some college students to thumbsuckery of the literal sort was even more delightful. 

You heard reports of events like this: 
Self-Care Drop-In Healing Place
For those who have been psyche-wounded by the election of the Ochre Horror, the Susan B. Anthony Room in the Shirley Chisholm Wing of the Betty Friedan Building will be open for medication and reinforcement. There will be stuffed animals, Play-Doh, pacifiers, small beds with bars on the sides and mobiles suspended overhead, blankeys, and a bucket of stage blood should you wish to smear yourself and scream at the moon. (A small, gender-neutral picture of the moon will be provided.) 
Or, reports like this: 
Protesters, Protesting Imminent Violence, Are Proactively Violent against Violence 
Several dozen masked people, protesting the imposition of fascism on America, joined up with the Committee to Destroy Israel and smashed dozens of windows downtown. At first, police thought the riot was caused by Never Trumpers and dubbed it Billkristolnacht, but the presence of many hammer-and-sickle T-shirts led them to believe otherwise. 
They have a name: bitterclingers. But what do we call them right now? “Never Trump” doesn’t work at this point, because it’s like jumping out a plane without a parachute and shouting “Never gravity!” Here are some suggested terms: 

Optimisticons: “Hey, I wasn’t for Trump initially; I was for Scott Walker. In fact I actually am Scott Walker. Now we have to make the most of this, and maybe he will sign good bills. If he does join us for entitlement reform, a Mt. Rushmore addition would seem a fair trade.” 

Skepticons: “I still think he is, when you get down to it . . . What’s the word? Trump. That’s what he is. He’s going to tweet ‘Sad!’ at someone at 3 a.m. and we’ll lose a military base on a Philippine island. I hope I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t mind being absolutely right.”

Read more at: https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2016-12-05-0000/hillary-clinton-loss-conservatives

Trump and Mother Teresa: Separated at Birth?

I saw a sour grapes headline in the WaPo lamenting that Trump got more credit over saving a thousand jobs than Obama did with millions.
There's likely some truth to that given Obama's auto bailout, and I think the lack of credit is due to a combination of things:
  1. If something doesn't get properly publicized, then it didn't happen. And Trump is a thousand times more a salesman than the aloof Obama. If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it...
  2. People want stories, not statistics. Without individual faces and a names attached to someone whose job was saved it doesn't break into our consciousness.
  3. Most people would prefer to see actions taken, even if the actions prolong economic pain. I'll never forget when John Updike reviewed a book on how FDR's policies lengthened the Great Depression. Updike basically said that because FDR cared, and was trying, that was worth more than shortening the Depression. You could see that as saying that love matters more than economic pain.* Or that people are more governed by emotions than logic (God made us humans, not robots.) Or that people are just much more influenced by stories than statistics.
Free trade has done more to lift millions of Chinese and Indians from poverty than all the charitable programs put together, and yet you never see any acknowledgement of that from any source: not any Christian church, not America-first Republicans, certainly not pro-labor Democrats.

Charity begins at home, they say, and so touting the benefits to Chinese and Indians of free trade isn't going to be too persuasive understandably.

* - one of the complaints about St. Mother Teresa was that she showed love to the dying but not adequate medical care. 

December 02, 2016

Denying Reality

I saw in the Columbus Dispatch where the mother of the OSU attacker is suffering from a similar syndrome as the Boston bomber mother: refusal to believe her son was capable of the acts attributed.

It's interesting that happened in two mothers of Muslim migrants. Very anecdotal of course and I'm not sure how often this occurs in non-Muslim mothers of sons who do heinous acts but there are at least a few explanations:

1. Strong desire to not believe bad things about your kid, thus you protect yourself with denial.

2. The apple didn't fall far from the tree - that is, the tendency to disbelieve reality was how their sons were raised thus making them capable of heinous acts on the basis of delusions.

3. Muslim migrants feel, in general, so disconnected from the culture that they have zero confidence in institutions like the police, media, government, etc, despite receiving the assistance that sprung them from hellholes like Somalia.

I hope the explanation is the first one.

December 01, 2016

Victim Mentality

"The Victim Mentality Kills" was the headline from a National Review Jim Geraghty email.

I thought it hyperbole.  Victim mentality can have some pluses, namely as a way to combat legitimate injustices, such as the way blacks are often treated by police (although BLM is a long way from MLK). But the downside is devastating: it ruthlessly kills gratitude and nourishes a passivity and blaming others for everything.

And now it seems positively dangerous, especially in at-risk populations like young Muslim immigrants. This WaPo piece reads like parody:
Artan spoke calmly but seriously about his acute awareness of what he saw as major American misconceptions about Islam, his religion. From memory, he ticked off examples of Islamophobia that garnered media attention, such as the police being summoned because a man in Avon, Ohio, was speaking Arabic in a parking lot or when a college student was removed from a plane after he said “Inshallah” in a phone conversation with his uncle.
Wow.  An incident in Avon, Ohio and a college student removed from a plane.  That's it?  Proving that if you want to nurse a sense of grievance, you'll sure find something.  Short of abolishing sin, there's gonna be no way to placate.  There needs to be a shaming of the victim mentality. A grievance industry set up against the grievance industry.

Geraghty writes:
What comes through most is this whining sense of victimhood, that he’s forced to commit these atrocious, barbaric attacks on innocent people out of a righteous sense of self-defense to protect his feelings.

“I am sick and tired of seeing my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters being killed and tortured EVERYWHERE..."

See, Muslims aren’t being killed and tortured everywhere. It would be nice if someone close to him had told him that, and if fewer people helped fuel that rage-inducing falsehood. If he ever bothered to read a book or the news about places like Syria and Iraq, he would have learned that Muslims are mostly being killed and tortured by fellow Muslims. Who does he think are the majority of ISIS victims? Who does he think are blowing up mosques from Iraq to Yemen? Who does he think blew up those Muslims in the hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, or the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, or set off the car bombs in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, or the minivan filled with explosives in central Baghdad? It’s not Westerners! You don’t see American communities churning out waves and waves of gleeful suicide bombers!

Burma? Burma? If you’re so mad about that, buy a plane ticket and go on a rampage over there. What, you think the students at OSU secretly control the levers of power in Naypyidaw? (That’s the Myanmar capital, and don’t feel bad, I had to look it up, too.)

He’s convinced he and his fellow members of his faith are victims of an aggressive, malevolent West.
He believes this while attending class at Ohio State University. Nobody’s oppressing him. No one’s imprisoning him without charges, trial, or appeal. Nobody’s trying to kill him. No one’s closing his mosque, or banning his faith. He’s got a better life with more opportunities, freedom, and material abundance than probably 90-some percent of his fellow Muslims around the world. And he still thinks he’s a victim of a malevolent America, and that everyone around him is a legitimate target for retribution.

Is this guy a jihadist? Sure. Even worse, he’s a whiny Millennial jihadist, who thinks that everything in life is so uniquely unfair to him, and that he’s unjustly victimized everywhere he goes. In an interview with the campus newspaper this summer, he said, “If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen. But I don’t blame them, it’s the media that put the picture in their heads.”

What, the unfair picture that any pious Muslim could be sympathetic to terrorists, a ticking time bomb, and full of murderous rage against everyone around him? Yeah, you sure showed us, pal! Allow me to float the theory that some people around this guy warily treated him like he was a nascent jihadist because he acted like a nascent jihadist.

Update: Oh great:  http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/01/osu-terrorist-was-enrolled-in-class-on-diversity-microaggressions/