Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DOMA about to be struck down?

Well, we're well on our way into unknown waters now. If mere shreds of legislation and judicial hair-splitting are all that's keeping legal same-sex marriage from becoming a reality, then society is surely ready for it.

But as I said, the waters are unknown. As the writer Donald Kingsbury said, Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems. Throw away the solution
and you get the problem back. Sometimes the problem has mutated or disappeared. Often it is still there as strong as it ever was. Society's insistence on monogamous, lifelong, opposite sex marriage was a solution to a problem which apparently we no longer remember. Will it now come back, in some guise or other?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Me-blogging: Where I fall on the political landscape

I'm a conservative. I'm also an eclectic reader and commenter, and most of my brain-dribblings that I put the most effort into are to be found in other sites' comments--see the links in the right-hand column, if you're curious. I'm to be found all over the map, from AlterNet on the left to Takis Mag on the right. I don't care to get further Out There than those two outliers. But lately I've found myself gravitating towards The Atlantic, The Guardian, NPR and such, and commenting at my old conservative favorites not quite so frequently as in the past. One reason I suppose is that I am more comfortable being the person regarded as too conservative, rather than the squish who's not conservative enough. Another is that I'm rather gun-shy about getting too emotionally invested in any one online community anymore. I was banned from Little Green Footballs a few years ago, part of the great purge of conservatives and warhawks and such, of which I remain one. I probably should have left earlier, but I didn't, and I won't pretend that ejection from the herd after being practically a plank-holder didn't leave me stunned for a while. Later on, I left Protein Wisdom of my own volition, in whose community I had been participating for an equal length of time. I was becoming an increasingly bad fit however, as the times changed, just didn't have that much fire in my belly. So I decided that, out of respect for Jeff & the others and the good times I had enjoyed there over the years, the best thing would be for me to just quietly vanish.

So I most often can be located in my Disqus feed, cordially debating or mixing it up with liberals and proggs, defending my views and enjoying the sight of people who aren't used to it being forced to justify theirs. I keep scribbling here a couple of times a week--who knows? Small blogs may come back some day. (Here's a tumblr I made recently, which so far as I can tell hasn't landed a single hit.)

And, truth be told, real life is being very good to me these days. I spend more time on Facebook, and my meatspace affairs are absorbing and fulfilling. All that tends to take the edge off of the acerbity I once wielded. You should have seen me in my usenet heyday, just sayin'...I suppose I'll continue to blog here for the foreseeable future, and if you're lucky it might even be worth reading from time to time. And if not, then I'm proud to say that my blogroll over there is bound to have something intriguing someplace, so try it out!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday night ADHD linklets...

With his bouffant black hair, white short-sleeve shirt and endless boring speeches, he certainly seemed like a high-ranking Communist party official. But...

Voyager I is not out of the solar system yet. Impress your friends by using the word "heliopause", if you discuss this story.

Fighting creationism in Louisiana schools and legislature.

Identifying a huge trove of art theft loot.

So long as Delaware can keep its interstate tollbooths above water, their economy will be fine.

A classic honey trap?

A costumed re-enactment of Western history, Asian style.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Congratulations to Pope Francis

I'm glad we were spared the arrogance of the New York Times's editorial board this time. Last time they pronounced the elevation of B16 "a missed opportunity". Yes, a 2,000 year old institution missing the opportunity to get more in line with the NYT--I'm sure they're still kicking themselves over that.

Which brings to mind this bit of satire from 2005, on that very point:

Pick Seen as Sign of Contradiction

By Ian Fisher

CAESAREA PHILIPPI (20 Kislev). Yesterday's surprise announcement that doctrinal hardliner Jesus of Nazareth had been anointed “messiah” provoked mixed reactions in the diverse and sometimes fractious Israelite community, ranging from cautious disappointment to frank despair.

“I see it as a missed opportunity,” said Herodias Schneidkopf, a Galilean incest-rights activist. “Many of us were hoping for someone more open to leadership roles for women and more appreciative of our experience. I don't feel valued.”

Respected archpriest Caiaphas Bar Nun agreed. “Above all, the messiah should be a good listener. How can we as a faith community keep credibility among the youth of today if we cling to every jot and tittle of an outmoded social code while thousands die of leprosy and hunger? Today's highly educated Judahite community isn't satisfied with the old answers. I'm afraid it's a missed opportunity.”

Even some members of the Messiah's personal entourage expressed misgivings. The Rev. J.E. “Dimples” Iscariot, S.J., a media consultant, did not hide his regret. “A missed opportunity, I'm afraid. We in the Society of Judas traditionally enjoy a special relationship to the messiah, but we'll find this choice very hard to explain to gays and lesbians—I mean, of course, to gomorrhaists and sodomitesses—as well as to the divorced and the marginalized. Why just the other day I saw 300 denarii, which might have been used to help find a cure for leprosy, squandered on wholly unnecessary ritual excesses.”

Fighting the spread of leprosy is a vexed issue among contemporary Palestinians. Most polls show Israelites widely ignore official teachings on ethical matters, preferring to follow their own conscience. Some see Jesus' moral conservatism as a rigidity that leads to disfigurement and death in at-risk populations—and that may ultimately doom his movement to irrelevance.

“Yesterday's unction was an opportunity missed,” insisted real-estate broker Sapphira Glass. “Today's young professionals don't find their own experience reflected in a one-size-fits-all morality that limits options and encodes patriarchal bias. I mean, sacrificing one's newborns to Moloch is a tragic but often necessary choice, and many of us find the language of apostasy alienating and judgmental.” [NYT copyeditor's note: Need some quote from supporter—J.L.]

“It all comes down to power,” countered maverick theologian Fr. Richard Maccabeus, retired professor of applied autology, who pointed out that the successful candidate had almost no pastoral experience. “What we're seeing is a right-wing restorationist fantasy in its death throes. Intelligent Israelites aren't buying. We want to be heard. We want someone who speaks not with authority but like us academics—I mean, of course, like the scribes and the pharisees. One can only call it a missed opportunity.”

The Procurator of Judea was unavailable for comment.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

RIP Hugo Chavez

From a purely human point of view, I would never wish a lingering death from cancer on anyone. So on that basis, my condolences.

He was of course the most prominent face on Latin America's general leftward tilt over the past decade. The fact that he looted the nation's economy while being fawned over by First World proggs is a banality at this point, after the 20th Century's long and disgraceful history of the same phenomenon in other workers' paradises.

Give him this, though: he was indeed conspicuously un-murderous, for a socialist maximum leader. And who knows, maybe he would not have later instituted gulags, had he lasted and had a free hand. Unlike most of his marxist predecessors, he never used the pretext of This Present Hour Of Armageddon to institute mass jailings and executions of opponents, nor random terror to keep the people off balance and in political disarray. (If I missed it, someone please let me know.) So low has the bar been for socialist Second and Third World governments that this minimum, this simple refraining from launching a blood bath, seems like an actual achievement by contrast.

So why does Latin America keep throwing up people like this? Blessed as I am with near perfect ignorance of most details of the continent's history, I'd say that it's founding was awry. Instead of a sturdy, independent anglo-protestant yeomenry as in northern North America, Latin America was settled by a thin scum of violent, sleazy Iberian nobility, lording it over a vast sweating under-mass of suffering peons, with very little in between. It's rather as if all of North America had consisted of a small aristocratic planter class, slaves and indentured servants, and little else. The imbalance has perturbed Latin America's course ever after. They don't need revolutions, they need a free, robust, enfranchised middle class, with a rule of law that inspires respect.

He survived a coup attempt, and he was re-elected a couple of times. But I'd still rather be governed by my last twenty county commissioners than by someone like him. When politics is dictated by a single person, whether or not under the guise of some -ism or other, political life withers into simple alignment for or against him. It barely matters if he's Idi Amin or Frederick The Great--Dear Leaders are bad for democracy.

Here's hoping for the best for Venezuela's future, may God guide her.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Dennis Rodman in North Korea

In the 30s, serious intellectuals traveled to the Soviet Union to hail it as the future of humanity. In the 60s and 70s, writers, actors & other assorted glitterati went to Cuba to be schmoozed by El Jefe. And now North Korea has hauled in...a retired basketball player with a penchant for shock publicity. The quality of useful idiots is on a definite downward trajectory.

Well, at least he didn't go there to label the conditions of the ordinary people trapped in that hellhole of a country as being the wave of the future. Unlike the intellectuals of the 30s oohing & ahhing over their Potemkin tours of the Soviet Union, or the celebrity radicals of the 60s & 70s, Rodman apparently doesn't claim any higher political acumen. "I'm not a politician. Kim Jung Un & North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone. Period. End of story," he tweeted. But he's still appallingly wrong for saying things like this in public: "About the relationship, no one man can do anything. His country and his people love him. I love him, he is an awesome guy."

For any un- or mis-informed readers, here's what the problem is. North Korea is the grimmest, most murderous, most total of all remaining totalitarian states in the world. Yes, our client South Korea was a police state until the late 1980s. But the communist North usurped their people's very souls, stripping away all intermediary institutions--church, family, non-government organizations--leaving the people naked before the whims of the state. See for yourself:

It is shameful for anyone who enjoys the very best of the free, prosperous West, as Rodman does, to give legitimacy to that horror show.