Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Israel vs Hamas

So. Israel gives up a piece of conquered land, turfs out its own settlers by force of arms, and hands it back to its Palestinian enemies. Hamas takes over Gaza. And then Hamas uses that returned land to launch months and months of rockets into Israel, targetting civilians. Finally.....Israel retaliates. And Israel is the bad guy.

A word from the recently late Samuel Huntington, via Robert Kaplan, insisting that we
"must learn to distinguish among our true friends who will be with us and we with them through thick and thin; opportunistic allies with whom we have some but not all interests in common; strategic partner-competitors with whom we have a mixed relationship; antagonists who are rivals but with whom negotiation is possible; and unrelenting enemies who will try to destroy us unless we destroy them first."

Is there anything about Hamas that would make them

1. true friends
2. opportunistic allies
3. strategic partner-competitors
4. antagonists
5. unrelenting enemies

I wonder.

Waddaya think?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Looking the World In the Eye

HT to two very atypical Canucks, the irascible Kathy Shaidle and sharp-witted Mark Steyn, for noting the death of Samuel Huntington and also for linking to the terrible images of what the Muslim jihadi terrorists in Mumbai did to their Jewish captives, a young rabbi and his pregnant wife. Savages.

Multiculturalists and frightened/guilty white liberals loathe Huntington's thesis in The Clash of Civilizations, that the age of ideological confict is being surpassed by a return to the ethnic-cultural-racial clashes which have marked most of human history since the first group of homo sapiens split into tribes. Cain and Abel. He coined the apt phrase, "Islam's bloody borders". But the redoubtable Robert Kaplan got Huntington right, and recognized that he "looked the world in the eye". And Fouad Ajami, rethinking Huntington's "Who Are We?", notes the struggle between the now-unfashionable patriots of the American Creed and the ascendant international elites of "Davos Man".

A cultural note, California style. I live among people who value something they call "consciousness". Now I, troglodyte that I be, imagine that consciousness has something to do with accessible awareness of your true and significant situation. For a lot of my neighbors, who are evolving and growing, it seems to mean increasing your level of abstraction from your true and significant situation.

If I am walking through a bad neighborhood --and I note that many of the evolved would find the judgmentalism of such a term intolerant and intolerable-- consciousness means being awake to potential dangers, such as mugging, assault, etc. If the evolved find themselves in such venues, I suspect they would be musing with Deepak Chopra about the unity of all sentient beings and would repress any thoughts that were less than lionizing of their oppressed neighbors. Which of us, I wonder, would be more "conscious"?

Who was it who noted that "I and the lion may well be brothers, but the lion does not know that." A crucial gap in information.

What does it take to "look the world in the eye"?


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


The SciFi channel produces an incredible number of incredibly bad movies. It's like the Ed Wood Memorial Channel. In addition to the almost obligatory HyperTalented Bitch character, we have the channel's obsessive commitment to totally unrealistic diversity formulas.

Tonight it's 10.5 Apocalypse, where a huge fault splits America in twain and Las Vegas sinks and the Hoover Dam breaks, with the obligatory side-stories of poignancy and pluckiness. What makes if incredible? As the country is dissolving, President Jeff Bridges relies on basically two people to give him info and planning to avert the crisis. And while the continent is rapidly imploding, everyone takes time to engage in slow-paced interpersonal conversations.

Really awful. And the 2 hour pile now on is only Part One! Written AND directed by John Lafia.

(This post is neither about sex, politic or religion.)

Angry GLBTs

The internet and the media are abuzz with angry GLBTs these days. In the USA, we are still going on about Rev. Rick Warren and the incoming President's inauguration invocation.

Now, with the utterly unbiased and unpredictable BBC (insert emoticon for eye-rolling sarcastic smile) leading the way, we hear that the Pope has taken the opportunity of the Christmas season of love and joy --where we should erase all references to Christmas lest we offend minorities, by the way-- to tell us that although saving the rainforests is a good thing, saving mankind from the threat of homos and transgenders is just as important. You can imagine the outrage.

Well, Il Papa did not say that. What he does reject is "gender theory", much beloved not only of gays and transgenders, but feminists, for its assertion that male and female are socially constructed (and oppressive) cultural performances, not expressions of nature, much less the Creator.

I reject it, too, though Benedict XVI and ExCathedra come to different conclusions about some of the consequences.

I am just about out the door and will return to this later, but here's the section of his speech...a long one (10 pages, 3600 words) given to the Curia, which ranged from reflections on World Youth Day to a four-part meditation on the role of the Holy Spirit, part one of which (see below) has to do with the rational structure of a cosmos created by a rational God, an old theme of his.
It was this theme that got the Muslims pissed at him a while ago.

The Italian text is the Vatican website. Here's my translation. And the screwup with the font is what happens when you copy a Word text to Blogger. Sorry.

There is first of all the affirmation that comes to us from the beginning of the story of creation: the creator Spirit who hovers over the waters, creates the world and continually renews it. Faith in the creator Spirit is an essential content of the Christian Credo. The datum that matter bears in itself a mathematical structure, is full of spirit, is the foundation on which stand the modern natural sciences. Only because matter is structured in an intelligent way is our spirit in a position to interpret it and to actively reshape it. The fact that this intelligent structure comes from the very same creator Spirit which has also given spirit to us carries with it both a task and a responsibility. In faith about the creation stands the ultimate foundation of our responsibility toward the earth. The earth is not simply our property to be enjoyed according to our interests and desires. It is rather the gift of the Creator that has designed its intrinsic orderings and with that has given the orientational signals to which we attend as stewards of his creation. The fact that the earth, the cosmos, reflect the creator Spirit means that their rational structures, beyond the mathematical order, become almost palpable in experience and bear within themselves an ethical orientation. The Spirit which has created them is more than mathematical – is the Good in person, which, through the language of creation, indicates to us the right path.

Because faith in the Creator is an essential part of the Christian Credo, the Church cannot and must not limit herself to transmitting to her faithful only the message of salvation. She has a responsibility for the creature and must assert this responsibility even in public. And in doing this, she must defend not only the earth, the water and the air as gifts of creation belonging to everyone. She must also protect man against his self-destruction. There must be something like an ecology of man, rightly understood. It is not an outmoded metaphysic if the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and women and asks that this order of creation be respected. Here it is a question of the fact of faith in the Creator and listening to the language of creation, dismissal of which would be a self-destruction of man and therefore a destruction of the very work of God. What is often expressed and intended by the term “gender” comes down to a self-emancipation of man from creaturehood and from the Creator. Man desires to make himself by himself and to dispose always and exclusively by himself what concerns him. But in this way he lives against the truth, lives against the creator Spirit. The rainforests deserve, yes, our protection but man deserves it no less, as a creature in which is inscribed a message which does not mean the contradiction of our freedom, but its condition. The great theologians of the Scholastic age have considered marriage, the lifelong bond between man and woman, as a sacrament of the creation, which the Creator himself instituted and which Christ –without modifying the message of creation—has then gathered into the history of his alliance with men. It is a part of the proclamation to which the Church must bear witness in favor of the creator Spirit present in nature in its ensemble and in a special way in the nature of man, created in the image of God. From this perspective, one ought to re-read the encyclical Humanae Vitae: the intention of Pope Paul VI was to defend love against sex-as-consumption, the future against exclusive claim of the present and the nature of man against its manipulation.

So. Did Bennie Sixteen target homos and transgenders? Or did he make a general statement to the effect that things have a nature and a structure, reflecting the rational structure of a Creator who is not sheer Will but Logos, ordered meaning? And would departing from the structured nature of the human being in matters of gender not include also contraception, divorce, etc. as well as homosexual acts? Agree with him or not, he was hardly taking a swipe at a particular group to the exclusion of others, but, as he often does, discussing an idea which is dear to a group.

In the interests of full disclosure, as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Pope did some writing which had a big influence on my life a couple of decades ago and not a pleasant one. I had some very unfriendly things to say about his ideas and I said them publicly. But first I read the damn stuff, the whole text!
Journalists are, as a class, scum. Robert Kaplan considers them the Inquisition of the modern world. The spin on this speech reminds me of times when a news anchor tells you that after the commercial we will see so and so respond with rage to an allegation that such and such. When the film plays, we see so and so mildly unappreciative. MSM largely lie and tell you what you are supposed to be seeing and hearing when in fact it may not be so at all. I worked in a very media-intense field for several years and was often interviewed for TV, etc. I know how this goes. And the BBC? Please.

Re: LGBTQI, etc. outrage here...it's as if every time the Pope said the Creed, Jews exploded in wrath that he implied that their religion is wrong.

Foot-stamping adolescents.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Adventures in shallowness

Aging well. I have done that not so badly in the department so far, I'm told. Enjoying it while it lasts. Not everyone does. Age well, that is. On a serious note, people of the same age can enjoy, or endure, vastly different states of health. On my shallow note, we just get older differently. Some folks season well and even improve over time. (I am a big fan of seasoned men.) Others not so much.

Here's two actors in their younger years, both fine looking fellas. To put it mildly. The very well known Alec Baldwin and the briefly known Gil Gerard. Currently, they are not so good, to my eye. I'll spare you the "after" photos and just leave you with the younger ones.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Why I like Jonah Goldberg

His thoughts on Sarah Palin and Caroline Kennedy.

Best line: "The bowel-stewing self-indulgence of elite liberalism."

AND why I like Charles Krauthammer: "Camelot is not a state."


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Grow up, boyz and ghyrls

The Great O disappoints gays.



Disgusting but unsurprising

Mark Steyn notes a recent decision of the commissars of the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission.

Despite the fact that when Christians criticize homosexuality they can be fined and forbidden to express this opinion for the rest of their lives...yes...when a Muslim thug writes a book in which gays and lesbians are insulted and considered liable to extermination and any non-Muslim is called names and vilified, etc. that is not hate-speech.

You think I am making this up?

The whole notion of hate crime and hate speech leads to this. Vile stuff. And if you know liberal Canadian culture and its state apparatus, perfectly predictable.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Instead posting some irritated curmudgeonly political rant or deep and melancholy philosophical rambling, I'll distract myself with some pictures of Kyle Bornheimer. The guy has "guy" written all over him. I have a weakness for real guys.

And apparently his appeal transcends species.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Risible also, but

not in an amusing way. Cuts way too close to the bone
in our pathetic nowadays world...

FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 01, 2008
RE: Gala Christmas Party

I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take
place on December 23, starting at noon in the private function room
at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks!
We'll have a small band playing traditional carols...feel free to
sing along. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as
Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lighted at 1 PM. Exchanges of
gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift
should be over $10 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's
pockets. This gathering is only for employees!

Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!

Merry Christmas to you and your family,



FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 02, 2008
RE: Gala Holiday Party

In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish
employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which
often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year.
However, from now on, we are calling it our "Holiday Party." The same
policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to
those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no
Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have
other types of music for your enjoyment.

Happy now?

Happy Holidays to you and your family,



FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 03, 2008
RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous
requesting a non-drinking table:

You didn't sign your name. I'm happy to accommodate this request, but
if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only"; you wouldn't be
anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this?


And sorry, but forget about the gifts exchange, no gifts are allowed
since the union members feel that $10 is too much money and the
executives believe $10 is a little chintzy.


FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To: All Employees
DATE: October 04, 2008
RE: Generic Holiday Party

What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20 begins
the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking
during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can
appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate
our Muslim employees' beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off
on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package
everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work?

Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit
farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the
table closest to the restrooms.

Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit
with gay men; each group will have their own table.

Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the gay men's table.

To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks
that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns
about confusion in the restrooms. Sorry.

We will have booster seats for short people.

Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet.

I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used
in the food. The Grill House suggests that people with high blood
pressure taste a bite first.

There will be fresh "low sugar" fruits as dessert for diabetics, but
the restaurant cannot supply "No Sugar" desserts. Sorry!

Did I miss anything?!?!?


FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All F#$&*ng Employees
DATE: October 05, 2008
RE: The F*%#ing Holiday Party

I've had it with you vegetarian pricks!!! We're going to keep this
party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit
quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so
quaintly put it, and you'll get your f#&*^%g salad bar, including
organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They
scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them
scream right NOW!

The rest of you f#@*&ng weirdos can kiss my *ss. I hope you all have
a rotten holiday!

Drive drunk and die,

The B* from HE*^!!!!!!!!

FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: October 06, 2008
RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party

I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy
recovery and I'll continue to forward your cards to her.

In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party
and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay.

Happy Holidays!


Also risible

Risible in a different and enjoyable way. Not personally relevant, of course, but I liked it.


Saturday, December 13, 2008


I spoke with a Catholic priest last month, a man who came of age when the Vatican Council and Pope John XXIII coincided with the dawn of the Sixties and the Age of Aquarius. Like so many of his generation, he lived by a dream of how his Church could be one day. It has been clear to me for a long time that that dream was an illusion. Amazingly, he was clear that he understood that, too. He can see what has happened to the Episcopal Church. He still thinks it would have been a good idea, but he knows it's gone, and mourns it, honestly.

Unlike, these folks.

Since the attempted ordination of the Danube Seven --God, what a quaint echo of the long-gone Sixties--- a coven of flower-power feminists have decided to become...Roman Catholic Womenpriests. In spite of the clear papal decision by Rome...and it is the Church of Rome, after all, no?...that females cannot be ordained, these girls have taken that tiresome "prophetic resistance" stand and had themselves "ordained". Now they have their own WomenBishops, too.

Risible. Not quite as ridiculous as the "inhibited" --not even excommunicated---Episcopal priestette, a teacher at a Jesuit seminary (!), who announced she was also a practicing Muslim. But, good Lord, ladies, where's your sense of reality?

It is very clear that part and parcel of this little phenomenon is a deeply feminist ideology which does not want to become part of the Church as it is, but to overhaul it into an improved mode where it would be unrecognizable. They accuse the Pope and the Bishops of "imposing their view" on the Church. What the hell else is a Pope or Bishop for but to impose their view on the Church. That's their job.

The likelihood of the Roman Church welcoming this horse full of Trojanessesjand its "new model of priesthood" into its evil patriarchal abusive bosom so it can be mentored and enlightened and raised up to the level of its highly evolved daughters?


Womenpriests? They've even made a new word for it. Roman Catholic Womenpriest. It's like Sunni Muslim JewImam.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Man of the West

A piece on the man behind the Muhammad Cartoon phenomenon, Danish journalist Flemming Rose. He is not sorry for what he did. On the contrary. We need more like him. And this is for him.


And I repeat my now pointless point about the folly of Europeans (including the Brits) attempting to integrate Muslims...or other groups of non-Westerners...into their countries. Nations are not blank sheets of paper. America especially, but Canada and Australia, too, are nations which include the integration of immigrants into the national myth. Some South American countries seem to include it, too. It is messy and difficult, but it is part of who we are and always have been. (I am certainly not supportive of Muslim immigration to these Anglosphere places, but that is because of the nature of the immigrant communities, not the issue of immigrations itself.)

But how can a Somali Muslim ever think of himself as a Dane? It's as silly as a expecting a Dane becoming Japanese. The only way the host country can integrate these particular newcomers is by...trying to erase itself and recreate an identity wholly disconnected to its real past and history and culture.

It's like having one of my nieces marry a Muslim some day --God forbid-- and then the whole family ceases to celebrate Christmas or Easter in order not to make him feel different. In order to welcome him, we commit cultural suicide. But do you think he will stop marking Ramadan for us? Nature abhors a vacuum and so does history. And Muslims have no self-doubt about which is the perfect and final religion.

Multiculturalism, which sounds on the surface like good manners and hospitality, is actually a device for subverting and replacing the culture of the host. It is the cuckoo of ideology.
As Francis Fukuyama wrote, in a moment of surprising insight, criticizing European and North American societies for ignoring the cultural struggle going on within them, he says, “many celebrate their own pluralism and multiculturalism, arguing in effect that their identity is to have no identity.


Thursday, December 11, 2008


When I finally found the courage to say out loud to another human being that I was homosexual, I was twenty-six years old.

I grew up in a world where men like me simply did not exist. We were literally unspeakable. My feelings were strong and persistent, but without language or shape. By my later teens, I had begun to piece together what they might mean. And the only images available to me for men whose eros drew them to their own kind were offputting, even horrifying. The Boys in the Band.

When I finally met someone I could reveal this to, someone who promised me that he would not reject me no matter what my secret was, he was a man my own age. He already knew what I was going to tell him. We sat on a park bench in the autumn chill of a Toronto night and out it came, a sobbing torrent, years of shame and terror, and desire.

Within a few months, I had fallen in love with him, and he with me. But I still had not crossed the bridge from imagination to experience. I was frightened by the power of my desire, which now had a and a local possibility and a name. As much as I was hungry for him, my unexpressed passion felt so large to me that I was afraid I would explode and obliterate us both. But he wanted to cross over with me. So, on the afternoon of December 12th, 1974, he and I made love together. And for all its awkwardness and anxiety, that’s what it was: sweet, stunning, life-altering lovemaking.

We celebrated our new connection by heading off to Burger King afterwards. The light was different. Even fast food tasted new. I felt myself belonging to the world as I never had before. In a way, I finally felt human.

We parted after several years, but remained friends. And each year, on this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (and I hope She will pardon me for intruding on her day), wherever we were, we would contact each other by phone, a note, or email. He is gone now. He died in 2006, suddenly, in the midst of his life work. I miss him. And I honor him for the wonderful gift he gave me.

If my first experience had been furtive or impersonal, who knows how it might have marked me? As it was, the first time I was fully flesh-to-flesh with another man, it was with a man I loved and who loved me. Since that moment, nothing has seemed more natural to me. In those encounters, especially with a man I love, I can feel wholly myself. And that, as the poet said, has made all the difference.



Was a book of essays from 1996 (!) that critiqued various aspects of gay culture. A reviewer quotes a line from the inside cover...Funny!

"Why (is) being gay like being a member of a religious cult,
except not so open-minded?"


Irritating tribe

Eating a late breakfast in a local cafe yesterday, glad of the sunshine and the distractions of reading the book on Charlemagne, trying to keep my psychological balance during these personally and societally rollercoasterish times.

I look up at two guys who come in the door and claim a table about twelve feet across from me.

The first is a classic Old Queen. I keep hoping they will retire this model, but I fear that will never happen. The man is in his mid to late 70's. Overweight, pale, gray, with a huge and rather lowhanging belly, covered in his flowing silken short-sleeved Hawaiian-style shirt, a riot of pastels. Large sunglasses. On his hands a set of flashy rings, including one I can only describe as about the biggest digital bauble I have ever seen, and then two sets of bracelets on both arms. He looks up and sees me and flashes a big smile. I do not return it.

His companion is a black or mixed black/white guy about 35. Jeans and a t-shirt, workboots, short hair, nice and solid mesomorphic build and an easy non-dramatic smile.

Escort and client? Friends? Father and son? Who knows. This is San Francisco.

I get up after a few minutes to pay my bill and as I pass the table --another flash from the older guy-- I hear the younger man speaking...with the sibilance and cadence that reminds me of teenage cheerleaders.

God, I hate that. It might be shallow and judgmental and all that stuff, but I don't care. I've had a rough coupla weeks.

One of my darker opinions about many of the denizens of my local ghetto is that their sexual object choices are secondary results of a primary gender identity disorder. Not everyone can or should be John Wayne or John Cena, but, damn, why are ordinary men so difficult to find around here?

Irritating tribe.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


"There is a great deal more in homosexuality than a simple release of new levels of sexual permissiveness. True psychological mating is not only possible between individuals of the same sex, it is actually the rule in human interactions (whether sexual or not). How can two men, biologically alike, find a true difference between them through which mating can occur? The answer is simple but profound in its implications: through character specialization.

What this book says in effect is that character specialization is dominant over biological identity, and that therefore two men (or two women) can have a masculine-feminine interaction which can lay the basis for a true romantic union, pregnant with possibilities for creative self-development. The concept of masculinity and femininity, used in this way, has nothing to do with conventional masculine and feminine roles in our society. Such roles have social roots, not independent psychological ones."

Homosexuality: Psychology of the Creative Process
Paul Rosenfels


Thomas Aquinas Combats the False Teachers
in his Summa Contra Gentiles
Santa Maria Novella, Florence, 13th c.

From the Dominican Friars of Poland...combining a traditional image with a contemporary beat, and a bit of a surprise at 4:25ff.

Note on group cultures. There are two Catholic religious orders I know very well, The Society of Mary, a group of educators of young people, founded in France in the early 19th century, and the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans, founded in southern Europe in the early 13th. The first has a dominantly feminine streak in its culture, not only focussed on and vowed to Mary, but with a priority given to feeling and affiliation. The second, although famous for its connection to Mary's rosary, is distinctly masculine, valuing philosophical and theological thinking, dispute and discipline. The first run schools, the second ran the Inquisition.

Ironically, or perhaps complimentarily, the post-1789 mostly lay Marian group has little sense of ceremony or aesthetic, an unusually egalitarian spirit and never even wore a noticeable religious habit, while the historically aggressive mostly priestly Preachers have a monastic ceremonial tradition, a complex (but always elected) hierarchy and governance structure, a somewhat spare but clear aesthetic (Fra Angelico, for example) and wear a striking garb. The Polish video strikes me as very masculine still.

*The Dominican friars' name in Latin sounds a lot like the phrase "Domini canes", which means "The Lord's Dogs". And St. Dominic's mother, while pregnant, dreamed of a dog carrying a torch in its mouth. Young English friars are on the web as Godzdogz. And the Poles...well, it's a pretty interesting piece.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Separated at birth

Always had a soft spot for Eric McCormack, Will, of Will & Grace. Even as I find the show decreasingly good in reruns, I still think he is a damned handsome guy. Now I may know why.
He looks like one of my early adolescent pre-conscious crushes, George Maharis. No?

Loss and age

Had a dream recently which provoked in me a strong sense of the world as the kind of place that the Gnostics thought it was: basically God's nightmare. Mood has a strong influence on perception, so I know that while there is a very hefty case to be made for this attitude, it is not the only one, for sure.

For this and some other reasons, I have been particularly aware of the downside of life of late. And loss seems to be all around me. As you grow older, of course, you have a longer history of losses of all kinds. And if you have any resilience, you can use your past experience to let yourself know that you can survive it. On the other hand, the accumulation over time wears you down.

So I thought this morning of my last surviving sibling. I am one of seven. Six are left. And some day, one of us will be the last one. Having gone through the deaths of the other six.

Normally I am very happy to be part of a large brood. I know people, both as friends and as family, who are one of two, or even just an only child. Large sibling groups have their own problems, of course, but despite that, there is a certain comfort in knowing that a bunch of other people are in your brood.

But these days, where it is grayer on the inside than the outside, I was struck with the melancholy image of my last surviving sister or brother. Since I am the oldest, I am pretty confident that it will not be me. And since men die younger than women, it will likely be one of my sisters. It brings tears to my eyes to think of that.

So, loss. Inescapeable. The more experience you have, the tougher you become about it, I think. But just as much, if not moreso, the more you have of it, the less you have left to be tough with.

Like I said, today it seems the Gnostics had a definite point.



Going thru my list of morning cyber-reading, one of my regular spots showed up with this. I am afraid that it has a wider application. Alas.

In case the image is too small, it reads:

"NOT FOUND. Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here."


Monday, December 08, 2008

Aw, poor thing

The self-obsessed bitterness that often comes roiling off Maureen Dowd's writing in the NYT seems to have called out to a similar soul who took her place as a guest columnist. He laments that Joe the Plumber's book being published makes real writers think that the world is unfair.

Where do they get these people?

HT to Mark Steyn


Sunday, December 07, 2008


In my cyberwandering, came across this magnificent piece of bumpersticker anti-capital punishment thought:

I ask, in reference, say, to kidnappers, "Why do we imprison people who imprison people to show that imprisoning people is wrong?" Indeed, "why do we hurt people who hurt people to show that hurting people is wrong?"



Ten Words to the Wise

I sometimes read my old blog posts and wonder who this guy is who is writing this stuff. Although a friend of mine describes himself rightly (and not always pleasantly for others) as having "unity of personality", I wonder if I am a reluctant post-modern man, sorta fragmentary. But I have long become accustomed to the reality that my life and my values do not always match.

So, a post on The Ten Commandments. How this came to mind today or why, I have no idea.

Most people who have any sense of the Ten hear them as a hectoring and scolding list of repressive "thou shalt not's", as the telling phrase goes. Reading them --there are two slightly different versions-- in their original settings in the Bible is interesting. The Catholic catechism version I learned omits the prohibition about graven images and splits the prohibition of coveting into two separate texts: one sexual, one general. The Protestant catechism version gave full voice to the anti-idol text.

Anyway, here's a summary:

1. I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the house of bondage:
you shall have no alien gods before Me.
2. Do not make idols and worship them.
3. Do not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Keep the Sabbath day.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Do not murder.
7. Do not steal.
8. Do not commit adultery.
9. Do not commit perjury.
10. Do not covet what belongs to your neighbor.

I hear them in a kind of Basic Constitutional framework.

The first four come down to this: A personal God who is the advocate of your life and liberty is the transcendant source of truth and order. So do not corrupt that Center with competing forms of divinity, nor reduce it to an object nor trivialize it. And build into the regular rhythm of life a full sacred day.

The next five outline human society: Marriage and the parent-child bond are to be protected. Life and property are to be respected. Truthfulness in discourse allows trust between people and in their institutions.

The final one names covetousness, inordinate desire, and specifically as envious desire for what belongs to others, as a root drive which must be contained.

One of the techniques I used to use in teaching was imaginary reversal. I found that it helped people appreciate texts that they resisted approaching except in a reactive way. For the Ten Commmandments, as I have interpreted them, try to imagine a societal order shaped by the violation of each and every one of them:

No personal center of value to protect life and liberty, with the result that "sacred" things are both objectified and trivialized and there is no marker of anything sacred in your life's actual calendar. Every day is really just like another.

Men and women, parents and children, distrust and mistreat each other because marriage and family have broken down and are not really valued or protected. Your home is always under threat and you have to watch everything you own, lest you be robbed of it. And people trust neither one another nor their institutions because truth is so hard to come by and speech is really an instrument of power and struggle, nothing more.

Envy is rampant, so no one is happy with what they have, and anyone who has anything has to wonder suspiciously who is out to take it away from them.

Sound familiar? When I lived back East and it was the 70's, I simply used to describe life under the Ten Anti-Commandments as "The South Bronx".

Synchronistically, I have earlier today wandered into an article at The Intellectual Conservative where a long and rather hyper article about principles in politics eventually finds the principles in the Ten Commandments as grounds for a non-theocratic libertarian social contract!

And while I am feeling fragmentary, I ran across Kay Hymowitz' 2005 piece on the crisis in black America as being centered on the collapse of the family and its replacement by single mothers and absentee fathers. Her 2008 update remains pessimistic and supports the radical notion that very much of black America's difficulties stem from this pattern of behavior, not the increasingly hard to find, white racist.

In popular culture and drama prior to the late 60's, a girl pregnant and unmarried was a huge problem. The shame and opprobrium she carried came to seem cruel and intolerant, so now an "unwed mother" has become that cozy-sounding plucky victim-survivor icon, the "single mom". As I have noted before, if you are Murphy Brown, maybe, but Kenisha from Oakland is a different story.

An unpleasant thought occurs: the relatively few individual mothers, and their children, did suffer social stigma back in the bad old days. But the subsequent misery, poverty, emotional and social damage, crime and imprisonment and poisoning of gender relations that the caring and enlightened view has brought about is much worse and for far more many people. Only thirty years from Town Without Pity to New Jack City. Maybe the old attitude reflected ancestral wisdom, which is often unkind, but often true.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

The uses of memory

It is a passtime of progressives to undo the traditional reading of many historical events as merely propaganda serving the interests of the victor. Their own predictable narratives are not lacking in motivation either, I might add.

In Canada, on December 6th 1989, --I was living there at the time-- a noteworthy event occurred.

Here's the standard narrative: In Montreal, Marc Lepine shot 27 female engineering students at the Ecole Polytechnique, killing 14, before fatally shooting himself. Prior to the murders, he sent all the male students out of the room and shouted his hatred of feminists as he executed them.

The mass murder prompted tighter gun laws, which included the creation of the controversial national firearms registry. It also prompted Parliament to create the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in 1991, to coincide with the anniversary of the tragedy.

Two items that were suppressed in the narrative were "Marc Lepine's" cultural context: Arab Muslim, born Gamil Gharbi, ... and the fact that the unarmed men agreed to abandon the women and leave the room in the first place.

Mark Steyn provides some additional thoughts and reflection on what became a standard Women As Victims of Patriarchy and Its Guns discourse.

Some words of Steyn that are apt: (bolding mine)
Let’s face it, our society is in trouble. The real problem is not the killer. It’s those men who think nothing of letting someone kill women. There’s something dark, lurking and evil in the idea that manliness is dangerous. This is what happens when there’s a lack of testosterone in society. How can we raise boys to be uncomfortable with traditional boy behavior and then expect them to act like honorable men? We cannot.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Aaron T

Just because

Thank you, Your Dhimmitude


An old saying of the Desert Fathers, "Flee women...and bishops."


A quote I got last evening from my friend Bill the Quoteslinger.
Attributed to Hegel, the charming fella pictured above.
My fact-checker is on vacation in Aruba,
so I'm just posting this without verification.
Sorta like a lot of news outlets.

"What we learn from history is
that we do not learn from history."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Man speaks

Victor Davis Hanson --classics professor, author, farmer and shouldabeen George Bush's speechwriter--on the university. Not short, but an example of his usual insight and clarity, in City Journal.

While the public may not fully appreciate the role that classical education once played, it nonetheless understands that university graduates know ever less, even as the cost of their education rises ever more. Any common, shared notion of what it means to be either a Westerner or an American is increasingly rare.


Mutt mug

Eddie Cahill of CSI:NY.
Irish Dad, Italian Mom.
New Yawk accent.
Nice combo that.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mundane wisdom

Over the weekend I recalled a story I heard this past year. It's supposed to be true. Well, even if it never happened, it's still true.

In Catholic schools some decades ago, the crowning of the statue of Mary as May Queen was a big deal. There were processions, etc and the bright and pious girl who was chosen by the nuns to do the actual coronation had status.

There was a girl, Maria Scarpino, let's call her, who wanted this role. So she set out during the year to be the most exemplary Catholic school girl she could. She excelled both in academics and behavior and ramped up her piety with Masses and rosaries, etc. It was her project and goal and she dedicated herself to it totally.

When the time came in spring, though, the nuns chose another girl to perform the coveted ritual, one who, to Maria's eyes, seemed far less worthy than she. It was a bitter disappointment.

Many years later, Maria was invited to her class reunion. Now an adult, she returned to her childhood school and some of the nuns who had taught her were there. She summoned up her courage and asked one of them about the affair of the May Crowning, which had haunted her all these years. She wanted to know why, despite her worthiness, she had not been chosen. This was the answer she got:

"Ah, well, Maria, yes, you certainly deserved the spot. But we only had one dress for the ceremony and unfortunately...you didn't fit the dress."

You certainly deserved the spot, but, alas, you didn't fit the dress.


Excellent questions

from the incisive ShrinkWrapped.

Can an open and free society exist with a large population of unassimilated and hostile Muslims within its borders? Can free men remain free when all the passion and courage has been drained away by comfort and self-abnegation? When people no longer feel their own culture is worth defending, can the virtues that make modern civilization worth supporting stand against those who hate the modern world's freedoms?

The whole thing.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Farewell, W.

When people discover that I am not a Democrat, it's sort of like watching people try to ingest the idea that you can be Italian or Irish and not Catholic. Their next remark, "So you're a Republican." Well, no. Not quite. I deregistered as a Democrat and reregistered as an Independent. But I mostly vote for Republicans. Lesser of two evils. Two.

My major problem with George Bush also makes people blink when I say it. He was too nice. What we needed was the swaggering cowboy. What we got was No Child Left Behind...one of the most patently nauseating names for a law I ever heard of, and Islam the Religion of Peace.

Apparently I am not the only righty to feel this way.

The world is dominated by bullies and tyrants. Always has been. You cannot impress a bully or a tyrant by being nice. Speak softly if you want, but have to have the big stick. And use it. And when you do, do not apologize. Only ask if they want another blow.

I blame much of the corruption of liberalism on practical atheism. Liberals have imbibed a set of highminded moral principles (and poses) from a dying Christendom, but since they lack the lynchpin of Christendom --God and God's Son-- the whole enterprise is out of whack and self-destructive.

The world is an impossible place. And the human predicament is a predicament, not a temporary detour on the road to utopia. Christians (and Jews) understood that, in the end, it was God's job to handle the big picture. And although this world was understood as God's creation, it was so flawed that, in the end, it would have to be destroyed and replaced with "a new heaven and a new earth." Apparently even God found it incurable.

Liberals, being practical atheists, have to stand in for God and do all His jobs. They end up trying to be Christlike without Christ or God, and it just degenerates into niceness. Real religious believers, like Muslims, are utterly unimpressed by this. And liberals don't get it, because they do not know what real religious conviction is like. Deaf. And dumb.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...