Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Friday, February 19, 2010

Noted Musician/Theologian Elton John: "Jesus Was Gay"

Elton John has never been a big fan of religion.  It's so...intolerant.

"Religion promotes hatred and spite against gays," the openly gay performer told the Observer's Music Monthly magazine in 2006.  "From my point of view, I would ban religion completely."

Right, Sir Elton.  Good thing we have such tolerant people like you to point out how intolerant religion is.

However, the noted musician/theologian is willing to "tolerate" one religious figure – Jesus.  Provided that he's gay, of course.  In a new interview with Parade magazine, Sir Elton John has said that Jesus "was gay" and that he was a "super-intelligent gay man."
I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.  On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him.

Now, it could be pointed out that gays have neither a monopoly on compassion and forgiveness, nor do they demonstrate it to any greater degree than heterosexuals.  But before you get upset with Sir Elton, you must admit that his penetrating insight into the sexuality of the Son of God does offer tremendous help in understanding certain Biblical passages:

Genesis 1:3-4
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.  God saw that the light was fabulous!

Genesis 13:13
Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD; they would sodomize a man and not even give him the courtesy of a reach-around.

Mark 3:17
...James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Loins of Thunder)...

Mark 4:39
...He [Jesus] got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet!  Stop it!  You're being homophobic!"  Then the wind died down and it was completely calm, and it began to attend mandatory sensitivity training.

John 2:1-4
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.  Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother looked for Him to tell Him, "They have no more wine."  However, Jesus was not there, as He had marched out in protest because gays can't get married.

John 3:17
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to give it better fashion sense.

It all makes sense now.  Whatever would we do without the theological insights of pop stars?

I eagerly await Sir Elton's thoughts on Mohammed....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Alpha"s Without The Omega

Charlotte Allen has a long piece in The Weekly Standard about the modern "dating scene" and its "winners" and "losers":

The whole point of the sexual and feminist revolutions was to obliterate the sexual double standard that supposedly stood in the way of ultimate female freedom.  The twin revolutions obliterated much more, but the double standard has reemerged in a harsher, crueler form: wreaking havoc on beta men and on beta women, too, who, as the declining marriage rate indicates, have trouble finding and securing long-term mates in a supply-saturated short-term sexual marketplace.  Gorgeous alpha women fare fine—for a few years until the younger competition comes of age.  But no woman, alpha or beta, seems able to escape the atavistic preference of men both alpha and beta for ladylike and virginal wives (the Darwinist explanation is that those traits are predictors of marital fidelity, assuring men that the offspring that their spouses bear are theirs, too).  And every aspect of New Paleolithic mating culture discourages the sexual restraint once imposed on both sexes that constituted a firm foundation for both family life and civilization.

Allen’s basic point is that social Darwinism has triumphed in the urban dating scene: the beta men (that is, me) get left behind, while the alpha men (in theory, the embodiment of the Playboy-Maxim vision of a master of women; in reality, those ranging from "serial seducer" to "sexual sociopath") get women and then teach others to do the same, deploying sales methods and psychological assumptions similar to the get-rich-quick movement.

There's a lot that is debatable about Ms. Allen's article - especially her rather uncritical citing of Geoffrey Miller's The Mating Mind about the relationships of Pleistocene era:

Many Pleistocene mothers probably had boyfriends. But each woman’s boyfriend may not have been the father of any of her offspring....

What the actual evidence is for such prehistoric sexual arrangements is not mentioned or even considered.  It is merely cited to reinforce Allen's thesis:

That’s a pretty fair description of mating life today in the urban underclass and the meth-lab culture of rural America.  Take away the offspring, blocked by the Pill and ready abortion, and it’s also a pretty fair description of today’s prolonged singles scene.  In other words, we have met the Stone Age, and it is us.

However, such conjuring of non-evidence-backed prehistoric sexual shenanigans to try to cast light on the depravity of modern sexual shenanigans isn't what really alarmed me about what she writes about.  What really got me was the peek she offered into the modern world of male singledom, specifically the "game" theorists whose terminology - alpha and beta males and females - she incorporates into her exploration and explanation of male-female relations.

For me, it wasn't so much "a peek" as a "remembrance of things uncomfortably familiar".  Throughout my late teens, twenties and even thirties, I struggled with confidence with women.  I received a lot of advice and encouragement from friends (and even friends of friends); almost all of it was helpful, especially from folks like

• Kevin Barth (my honorary older brother), whose blunt observations and cool-as-a-bushel-of-cucumbers masculinity reinforced the backbone I needed to grow

• Sheila Barth (my honorary older sister), who shined light on things I had become willfully blind to

• Blog partner Tom, Kristen Murphy, Matt and Erin Foley, my sis and her hubby, et. al. for listening to me first complain, then gird my loins for another foray into the world of dating.

However, some sources, though they may have meant well, were not so helpful: basically, the ones who offered advice and "strategies" that parallel that of Tucker Maxes, Tyler Durdens, and Roissys of the world.

Funny thing was, a good portion of those offering the aforementioned "advice" were not to-the-bone hedonists, but folks like "Thursday", who commented on the article on the First Things blog:
The work of "game" theorists like Mystery or Tyler Durden isn’t really either science science or pseudo science.  It’s more like engineering.  Oh, and by the way, it works like gangbusters.

To read Thursday's blog The Man Who Is Thursday (incidently, the title of an early Chesterton work), is, for me, to be reacquainted with the dichotomy of being someone trying to pursue the vision of male-female relations offered by Christ and His Church while being sorely tempted to pursue the vision of male-female relations offered by our sex-saturated society: you want to find a beautiful, virtuous woman to love, honor, and cherish, and in the meantime you also harbor a not-so-veiled desire to screw every attractive and semi-attractive woman within driving distance.

For Thursday, and such characters as Roissy (whom Thursday admires rather extensively), the "alpha vs. beta" serial-seducing philosophy does indeed work, if by "work" you mean "provides encouragement to insecure men to not let a woman walk all over them".  Unfortunately, it does not restrain itself there: while the Mystery-Max-Durden-Roissy perspective is quite valuable for its observational insight and honesty, the mindset and behavior they go on to encourage is downright deplorable.  If you’re looking for love, a modus operandi in which "works" means "succeed in maneuvering a woman into sex with you as quickly as possible" will not only not get you what you are looking for, but will make attracting the type of woman you are looking for nigh impossible.

A telling indicator of the shallowness of the the approach of Mystery, Durden, Tucker Max, et. al. to female relations is their dogmatism in regards to what constitutes the behavior of an "alpha" male.  If you doubt such dogmatism exists, note (for example) the disdain on Roissy’s blog, in both the posts and comments, for those men who hold to some other approach to interacting with women; or towards those who, at the very least, display an inclination to pump the brakes a bit on such a headlong rush into treating women as objectives to be conquered and then discarded at one’s leisure.

Adopting such an approach to male-female relations is a recipe for disaster.  As much a disservice it does to any women of quality that cross your path, it involves adopting an even more benighted view of men.  Here is a (very) brief sampling of men who, by their words and deeds, would earn from these "alpha" males the dishonorable distinction of being considered a "beta":

George Washington
John Adams
Abraham Lincoln
Teddy Roosevelt
George Patton
G.K. Chesterton
Richard John Neuhaus

Not a single man on this list would find the advice of Mystery or Durden to have the slightest appeal.  Though its observations on the "games people play" is insightful, its proposed course of action amounts to little more than post-adolescent vengeance:

"Attractive women can be manipulative, so I’m going to master the art/science of the manipulation and beat them at their own game."

Men under 35 adhering to such a self-demeaning view of men and women have my sympathy and prayers that they’ll move on to something more likely to bear lasting fruit; men over 35 who haven’t figured out what a anemic bill of goods they’ve been sold that such "engineering" is are just damned fools.

What finally "worked" for me, as far as confidence with women was - really - storming the gates of heaven with my prayers.  On Christmas Eve of 2004, I decided to go the "Parable of the Unjust Judge" route: I would bug Him until I got what I wanted.  I told Him that I would say a rosary every night for the coming year that this year I would finally meet "the one".  And so my nightly rosary-nagging began.

For reasons I can't wrap my head around, this gave me a previously unattained level of confidence with the subsequent women I encountered, as my fear of rejection diminished rather markedly.  Aren't attracted to me?  Next.  Not a good match?  Next.  After a couple of months, I had a brief relationship with former Miss Texas contestant who was both smart and witty, but walked away from her due to her rather negative view of the Catholic Church (she was Episcopalian).  We agreed to be "friends" on Feb. 16; on the next day, she somewhat sarcastically forwarded my an article on her favorite topic, the Catholic clergy sexual scandals.  That evening, before I went out, in the face of losing the approval of a beautiful, smart woman - my kryptonite - I penned as fine a defense of the Catholic Church - as well as a demolition of the Episcopalian claims to legitimacy - as St. Thomas More could have written himself.  I also told her, in as gentlemanly terms as I could, to get bent.  The power of my kryptonite dissipated, I went out to dinner with a group from St. Rita's here in Dallas.

That evening, I met Lynda.

Monday, February 08, 2010

We Have Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself. And Sheep Demons.

In the wake of Scott Brown's Senate win in Massachusetts, conservatives have been feeling the wind in their sails for the first time in a while: all of a sudden, being a "true" conservative has gone from being a liability to an asset.  Of course, sensing this shift, it would be tempting for some conservatives to ratchet up the "more conservative than thou" rhetoric in the coming primaries.  Carly Fiorina, a Republican candidate for the Senate from California, faced such temptation to go too far, so she naturally saw no reason not to do so.

Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO (who was so spectacular at the company that its stock price jumped 10% the day she resigned) was a shoo-in for the Republican nomination until former Congressman Tom Campbell jumped into the race.  Sensing a need to thwart Campbell's momentum, Fiorina's campaign ran the following commercial in an effort to expose Campbell for what he really is:

A sheep demon.

0:00 - 2:26:  OK, it's a political attack ad....what's with all the farm animals?
2:27:  My eyes must be playing tricks on me...
2:30 - 2:34:  What the hell?
End:  OK, I get what you were going for here, but still.....what the hell?

What could Campbell's campaign come up with as a response?  How about this:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This Is All Kinds Of Awesome

George Mason University economist and teacher Russ Roberts teamed up with filmmaker and armchair economist John Papola to create this amazing rap-music video, "Fear the Boom and Bust", that features Lord Keynes and F. A. Hayek.  In the video, the renowned economists come back to life to attend an economics conference.  At Lord Keynes's insistence, they head out for a night on the town and as a result we learn about why there’s a "boom and bust" cycle in modern economies and a good reason to fear it.


(You can watch it in HD here, and also view the lyrics.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When Your Research Consists Of Re-Watching "Jesus Camp"

Those parents who home-school their kids are likely used to the wariness which their endeavor is often greeted with, and are likely used to the rather insulting caricatures of home-schoolers that pop up in the media from time to time as well.  However, Robin West of Georgetown University Law Center, writing in the University of Maryland's Philosophy & Public Policy Quarterly, has provided the new gold standard by which all future insults of home-schooling will be measured: what First Thing's Joe Carter dubbed "undoubtedly the silliest, most offensive caricature of homeschooling to ever be published in a scholarly journal."

After spending a couple of pages recounting the evolution of home-schooling...

Thus, over the course of the last thirty years, "homeschooling" has gone from illegal – meaning criminal – in all fifty states, to fully legal, and from heavily regulated, when allowed, to either completely unregulated or only lightly regulated, everywhere.  That’s quite a revolution, in law and education both.  How did that happen?  Why haven’t more people noticed?  Why don’t more people care?

The short answer to how it happened is simply that in the 1980's, all fifty state legislatures, in response to massive political pressure from religious parents and theirlobbyists, legalized homeschooling.

(Remember that last sentence for later on...)

...she states that she is not attacking "homeschooling", as

Passionately involved and loving parents, whether religious or not, can often better educate their children in small tutorials at home, than can cash-strapped, under-motivated, inadequately supported, and overwhelmed public school teachers with too many students in their classrooms.  Results bear this out, as home-school advocates repeatedly point out (and as critics virtually never deny): the home-schooled children who are tested, or who take college boards, whether or not religious, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, do very well on standardized tests, and on the average, they do better than their public school counterparts (though it must be noted that the parents and children who voluntarily subject themselves to testing are the self-selected educational elite of the homeschooling movement).

(She cites no study, statistical or otherwise, to justify her above claim [in italics].)

...but unregulated homeschooling.

At this point, she could likely make a good case by citing studies, statistics, and legal analysis that show the risk of unregulated home-schooling; that is, she could write a responsible, scholarly article.  No such luck.  Citing not a single statistic, study, or even case example, she wades into a description of her targets:

The average homeschooling family may have a higher income than the average non-homeschooler, as was recently reported by USA Today.  The radically fundamentalist "movement" family, however, is considerably poorer than the population, and it is the participants in these movements – the so-called "patriarchy movement" and its "quiverfull" branch and related groups – that are the hardcore of the homeschooling movement.  The husbands and wives in these families feel themselves to be under a religious compulsion to have large families, a homebound and submissive wife and mother who is responsible for the schooling of the children, and only one breadwinner.  These families are not living in romantic, rural, self-sufficient farmhouses; they are in trailer parks, 1,000-square-foot homes, houses owned by relatives, and some, on tarps in fields or parking lots.  Their lack of job skills, passed from one generation to the next, depresses the community’s overall economic health and their state’s tax base.

A few points here:

1.  So the average home-schooler has a higher income than the average non-homeschooler, but within the home-school ranks is a group that is at poverty level.  If they're a large percentage, how does the "average home-schooler" have a higher income than the "average non-homeschooler"?  If it's not a high percentage, how can they "depresses the community’s overall economic health and their state’s tax base."?

2.  The "quiverfull" reference is to the Evangelical "Quiverfull" movement; the "so-called 'patriarchy movement'" refers, the Promise Keepers?  The only ones who refer to them as the "patriarchy movement" are feminists like Ms. West.

3.  West provides no evidence of these exotic tarp-dwellers.  If they actually existed, wouldn’t someone in the national media have noticed by now?  Maybe that episode of "60 Minutes" was pre-empted by a Cowboys’ game or something.

4.  Love the "...under a religious compulsion to have large families" line.  Darn those religious opposed to societal and personal-interest compulsions to have 0-2 kids and then sneer with disdain at those who have more.

5.  Also love the concern over the "community’s overall economic health" coupled with concern about "their state’s tax base".  Funny how the collection of taxes is never far from some people’s minds, isn’t it?

Unsourced claims and implausible claims are not Ms. West's only problem; logical consistency seems to be something not entirely prized by Georgetown Law School.  By way of example, this passage in the article is astounding:

Fundamentalist Protestant adults who were homeschooled over the last thirty years are not politically disengaged, far from it.  They vote in far higher percentages than the rest of the population.  They mobilize readily. The "army" in which adult homeschooled citizens are soldiers has enormous clout: homeschoolers were called "Bush's Army" in 2000 and 2004 for good reason.  Their capacity for political action is palpable and admirable, although doubly constrained: it is triggered by a call for action by church leaders, and in substance, it is limited to political action the aim of which is to undermine, limit, or destroy state functions that interfere with family and parental rights.  Nevertheless, and by their own accountings, these citizen-soldiers in the "homeschooling movement" and the various political campaigns in which they are enlisted have no clout in the army in which they serve. They are as effective as they are, and as successful as they are, because they engage in politics in the same way that soldiers participate in combat.  They don’t question authority, and they can’t go AWOL.  With little education, few if any job skills, and scant resources, their power either to influence the lines of authority within their own sphere, or to leave that sphere, is virtually nil.

To review:

In the fifth sentence, Ms. West writes "The 'army' in, which adult homeschooled citizens are soldiers has enormous clout...".

Two sentences later, however, we are informed that though their "army" has clout, they themselves have no clout within it: "...these citizen-soldiers in the 'homeschooling movement' and the various political campaigns in which they are enlisted have no clout in the army in which they serve."

Nevertheless, she writes in the next sentence, they are effective and successful in political action.  In the reality that we inhabit – but Ms. West apparently does not – this would give this group enormous clout in whatever political movement they were part of.

However, two sentences later, she again asserts that they are rather useless and have no power among their political allies.  Then how did they manage – as she wrote earlier in the piece – to amass "massive political pressure" to legalize and deregulate home-schooling?

Oh, by the way, "accounts" and "accounting" are words; "accountings" is not a word.

Sweet leaping Moses on buttered toast....How many degrees do I need to acquire before I can write a paragraph as brazenly self-contradictory as this one of Ms. West's?  Somewhere in heaven, a fat 13th-century Dominican weeps...

The passage does contain a hint as to what really has Ms. West nervously envisioning the country being diluted by tarp-dwellers: the homeschoolers helped elect George W. Bush.  Is this what all this fuss is about?  Ms. West declined to illustrate why the homeschoolers' political activity is any different from that of ACORN's 'community organizers'....except for who they supported, of course.

But, hey, she's doing it all for the children, right?

...curricular review would give the state a way to ensure that the academic content is such as to protect the children's interest in both acquiring the necessary skills for active, autonomous, and responsible citizenship in adulthood, and in being exposed to diverse and more liberal ways of life.

Ah, yes, the ever-important exposure to "liberal ways of life".  Thus cause-and-effect joins logical consistency in the dustbin of Ms. West's mind, as it's these "liberal ways of life" – Condom Ed, "Billy Has Two Mommies", and a form of a rather non-scientific and non-historical secularism – being pushed in the public schools that likely started the homeschooling movement in the first place.  But we can't have a child miss out on all that, can we?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Infallible Predictions for 2010


1.  The media tongue bath of Obama will continue.  Pieces that criticize Obama will be comprised of 1/6th of Obama's failure du jour and 5/6th of recounting how Bush was much worse.

2.  Pope Benedict will author another encyclical; both the politically conservative and politically liberal will seize on the passages they already agree with and ignore the rest.

3.  As Obama dithers in Afghanistan, General David Patraeus' name will start to circulate as a potential player in the 2012 elections.  You heard it here first.

4.  Rachel Maddow of MSNBC will continue to be the first 13 year-old boy to have his own prime-time TV news commentary show.

5.  Dissident Iranians, caught between hating their own government and hating the US, will turn their affections to logical alternative: France.  Embracing the biggest bunch of sissies on earth will result in the dissidents immediately surrendering.  Obama will hail this as a victory of his diplomacy.


6.  The Big Ten conference will announce the eminent addition of a 12th member.  They will pursue Notre Dame like my dog pursues me when I have food. Notre Dame will undergo much internal debate over the issue, but in the end will say "no", as to not royally piss off 99% of their alumni.  The Big Ten will then go after either U. of Missouri or U. of Pittsburgh, with Pittsburgh being chosen as the new member.  Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who bitterly opposed having Pittsburgh join the conference, goes into a fit of rage that would threaten to cause him a heart attack were he not already dead.

7.  Tiger Woods' wife will divorce him and get half of his estate, leaving him with only a measly half billion dollars to spend on mistresses and prostitutes.


8.  Two of the best movies of 2009, (500) Days of Summer and Up, will not even be nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, which will be won by Up In The Air.

9.  Taylor Swift encounters the first setback of her career when she actually finds a boyfriend whom she really likes and who treats her well, leaving her with nothing to write any more songs about.


10.  As a companion to the Templeton Prize – which acknowledges achievements in furthering the public's understanding of science, reason, and spirituality – an international panel of scientists, philosophers, logicians, theologians, and cosmologists is formed in summer of 2010 for the purpose of naming the first winner of the Dawkins Prize, to acknowledge achievements in making arguments so bereft of knowledge and logical structure that only the most willfully ignorant could accept them. The inaugural "winner" of the Dawkins Prize goes to, naturally, Richard Dawkins himself for his proof of "why there almost certainly is no God" (a proof in which he takes much evident pride), which the committee cited as "possibly the single most incompetent logical argument ever made for or against any proposition in the entire history of the human race."

Bank on it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Waiting for the White Smoke

I'm finishing up work on a website that I'm trying to go live within a week to 10 days, so I haven't had much time to blog.  However, I've been implored by commenter Joe C to expound upon my thoughts in regards to Notre Dame looking for a new head football coach.

The latest Search For A Notre Dame Head Football Coach extravaganza is a time of both great hope and great exasperation.  "Hope" because I have my favorite candidate or two that I'm convinced would return ND to a consistent place in the Top 10; "Exasperation" due to:

The "be the first to get the scoop" mindset of sportswriters has ramped up exponentially due to the blogsphere, where rumors fly with great volume and alacrity.  This has even normally credible news figures claiming that this coach or that coach is definitely/not in negotiations with ND, based on the slightest hint of a rumor or on absolutely nothing at all.

An example of this came from ESPN, starting on Sunday night.  Adam Schefert reported that Oklahoma's Bob Stoops was a bit of paperwork away from being ND's coach.  Monday morning, he retracted all of it.  Sunday night, and again on Monday, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit opined that Stoops-to-ND was a "fantasy", and that in "reality" ND should look at Cincinnati's Brian Kelly (OK), Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald (Ugh), and Stanford's Jim Harbaugh (triple Ugh).  On Tuesday, Herbstreit reversed himself and said that the Stoops-to-ND scenario might happen.

Round and round we go.

Coaches who have not been contacted or even considered by ND for the job are publicly announcing that they are not interested in the ND job.  It's akin to the Pope dying and me calling a press conference to announce that I'm not interested being the next Pontiff.

The usual phalanx of media pundits who spend entire columns and TV segments informing anyone who will listen that Notre Dame is no longer relevant or capable of competing at a high level.  The high point (or, rather, low point) of this type of silliness was on display by ABC's play-by-play and color commentators during Saturday night's televised (shown to most of the country) Notre Dame-Stanford game, which demonstrated rather clearly that neither gentleman has any sense of irony.  First they waxed eloquent about how ND was just not nationally relevant anymore....this while they are covering a prime-time matchup between Stanford (their only non-regional or non-cable appearance of the season) and a 6-5 Notre Dame team; ABC sure as hell wasn't there because of 7-4 Stanford.  Then they cited ND's "tough academic requirements" as the reason for ND's irrelevance, all the while touting the running back from Stanford for the Heisman Trophy, given to the best (ostensibly) player in college football.  Funny how Stanford's tough academic requirements for athletes wasn't much of obstacle for the Cardinal, huh?

These same type of missives appeared in 1958-63, 1981-1986, and again with the demise of ND's last three coaches.  When Notre Dame finally gets its act together, hires a good coach (a la Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz) and returns to elite status, these same pundits will dust off their "Notre Dame has sold its soul for football glory", claiming ND has lowered its academic standards for football players to get better recruits, though the test scores and GPAs of incoming recruits has remained rather uniform for 45 years (since such things have been tracked).

My rule of thumb for following the Notre Dame coaching search is this: When the new head coach is announced by Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, then we'll know who it is.  Until then, anyone who actually knows anything has too much to lose by having it go public before a contract is signed, an therefore is not going to tell anyone what they know.

So, chill.