Friday, August 29, 2014

Liberalism Causes Mental Illness


Years ago, I first learned that several different groups of people - Marxist sociologists, English professors, psychologists, progressives, modern liberals, feminists, born again atheists, and some guy named Terrence from New York - started to toy with the idea that religion is a mental illness. I'd heard the idea before. It isn't all that new of a phenomenon, beginning as a means for nihilistic philosophers to explain away beliefs which they could never understand, by condemning the vast majority of people who they could never understand. (Nihilistic philosophers include but are certainly not limited to people like Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, and the whole school of critical theorists.)

For example, take this article from Psychology Today where the author claims he isn't arguing that religious people are insane, but "merely pointing out that the same belief is either sacred or a sign of mental illness depending on the context in which it is believed." Which means something like "you believe what you want to, but your belief in God sure looks crazy to me."

Given the climate of pointing the insanity finger, I wasn't terribly surprised to find a couple of "news" articles broadening the leftist meme past the point of absurdity. One such story questions the mental stability of those who aren't convinced about the evidence pointing to human-caused global warming. In a paper by a University of Oregon professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies, Kari Marie Norgaard, she presented the following synopsis:
Existing scientific conversations have generally failed to include psychological understanding of individual behavior, or sociological insights regarding culture and social organization. This session highlights key psychological and sociological concepts essential to understanding social inaction.
This academic-speak gibberish basically points to a research paper in which "she argues that 'cultural resistance' to accepting the premise that humans are responsible for climate change 'must be recognized and treated' as an aberrant sociological behavior." In a word, climate change skepticism is now a mental illness. (Well, I suppose you could argue that the mental illness comes from trying to figure out how "global warming" suddenly became "global climate change." Hint: The data didn't fit the conclusion.)

Now it looks as though some researchers are trying to find the root of the "problem" of conservatism itself. In a paper published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the authors propose that "low effort thought promotes political conservatism." Their conclusion?
These data suggest that political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought; when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases.
While the authors go to pains to say that there may indeed be thinking conservatives (of course, they've never met any), their conclusion uses academic-speak to try to prove that conservatives are stupid by default. (Their argument, by the way, begs the question. Their premises are based on the assumption that conservatives are stupid, therefore their conclusions inevitably conclude that conservatives are stupid.) (A lot of lefties use this type of argument.)

The authors do admit that conservatives may have a psychological advantage, that is, until they start to think. Then, the authors note, conservatives may have to give up their position in favor of the liberal view.


These "mad" forays into conservative psychoanalysis do add up to only one conclusion: liberalism causes mental illness. Since liberals keep arguing these untenable and silly ideas, they've succeeded in driving the rest of the world crazy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Most Troubling Modern Trends of Modern Liberalism


I've often thought about what ideals in modern liberalized society bug me the most. Of course, modern liberalism or progressivism is the driving factor for change, and therefore for the direction of social mores. What is it about modern progressive thought that seems so wrong? Thinking through this question, I find one common theme that points to systemic problems with progressive dogma. This is the philosophical fallacy of relativism.

Relativism
This ideal is fundamental to progressing thought. Relativism stems from the early Greek sophists. It is the belief that different individuals and groups of people can have different standards for how to act. On the surface, this seems an obvious and plausible explanation of reality. However, relativism isn't a mere observation, it is an idea which guides action; it is a means to an end.

The relativism from the sophists raises an important moral problem. If there is no right or wrong way to act or behave, what is to keep some people from imposing their beliefs on others? If any action is valid, where is the moral anchor for society?

The main problem with relativism is its duplicity. Within its philosophy lies an inherent double standard between what a relativist may believe and how a relativist behaves. (I'm not the first, or only one to see the inherent double standard of relativist thought. Even the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Philosophy notes the inherent duplicity of relativism.)

Relativism is fallacious, precisely because of its inherent duplicity. It simply cannot serve as a means to produce an end because those who control the means cannot, by definition, live by their own standards.

What does the bankrupt philosophy of relativism have to do with modern progressive dogma? Everything.

Constitutional Interpretation
Modern progressive dogma insists that the US Constitution is a living document, that it can and must be interpreted according to modern mores. More importantly, it must follow progressive dogma at all costs, even if the Constitution itself doesn't support such an interpretation. In short, progressives feel they can ignore the Constitution at whim, unless, of course, it serves their ideology to stick to it.

If the Constitution is a living document, then the federal government could assume all sorts of power not written into the Constitution. This is a dangerous trend because the government could, for example, take money from the richest half of people and spread the wealth around. It could take over private corporations, like car companies, and force them to make crappy cars that no one wants to buy. It could meddle with the production and distribution of energy to the point where no one could afford to drive to work. It could borrow trillions of dollars and bring the country to the brink of bankruptcy. It could order the assassination of US citizens without due process. It could start wars without actually declaring a war. It could make illegal exchanges with terrorists. It could even rewrite existing Obamacare law.

Oh wait. Those have already happened. So much for Constitutional integrity.

Social Nihilism
Modern progressive dogma, relying on relativism, gave birth to the doctrine of "if it feels good, do it," and the "me generation." With such dogmas, anything an individual does or thinks may be valid. The duplicity of this position arises when someone actually does or thinks something outside of progressive dogma. Then, the progressive double standard rises up to stamp out the "injustice."

Some examples:
If Bill Maher calls women the most vile and offensive names, progressives laugh and call him brilliant. If Rush Limbaugh calls a woman a slut who admitted having sex with a lot of men, he is censured, attempts are made to throw him off the air, he receives death threats, and the LA city council votes that free speech isn't really free.

If a gay activists call Jack Phillips (who owns a Colorado bakery) the most vile and offensive names because of his beliefs about traditional marriage, the activists are hailed as a defenders of justice and equality. If Jack Phillips states that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, he is sued, publicly humiliated, and his private business comes under the control of the state.

If a Black man shoots and kills another Black man, the media treats the incident as a statistic, largely ignored. If a policeman man shoots and kills a black man, the media and Al Sharpton descend on the scene to stir up civil unrest and riots.

If a woman calls her child a "group of cells" and aborts it, progressives applaud her courageous decision. If a church dares to call the "group of cells" a child, the church, all its members, and any institutions the church may support are all ridiculed, brought under political pressure, or forced to shut down, despite the constitutional 1st Amendment guaranteeing the right to free exercise of religion.

Political Correctness
The other day, I was talking with one of my students about fossil fuels. She immediately stated the mainline, progressive meme, saying how evil fossil fuels were for causing global warming. After talking with her a bit more, I realized that she had absolutely no idea about the modern problems of energy production, but had learned only the politically correct meme about global warming. She had no idea about what fossil fuels were, how they were made, or how we get them out of the ground. She insisted that electric cars could save us from global warming until I explained that most electricity is made by burning fossil fuels. She had no idea of the inefficiencies of converting energy from the wind or the sun, and how much energy it requires to produce such inefficient energy producers. She was scared spitless with the idea of nuclear power and was shocked to discover that a good portion of the electricity in the Phoenix, Arizona valley comes from the local nuclear plant.

My student had learned nothing of how the world works from her time spent in high school. She had, however, learned the dogma pervading K-12 textbooks. In a word, the progressive insistence on inculcating politically correct ideals into young students has produced an ignorant population, dependent on ideals rather than ideas.

Where's the double standard? Progressives teach that those who don't believe as they do are stupid, while progressive dogma perpetrates ignorance of the highest order.

Modern sophistry, the ideology of the left, maintains a double standard which, due to its own dogma, it cannot see. Modern progressives then turn around and condemn others with opposing views for not having the same "standards" as their own. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Sure-Fire Litmus Test to Identify Modern Liberalism


Modern liberalism pretends to the ideals of tolerance and equality. Yet modern liberalism can be identified, without fail, by its intolerance of religion. Modern liberalism cannot abide religion, especially Christianity, because religion competes ideologically with leftist liberal dogma. Modern liberalism can always be identified, and its most harmful doctrines exposed, by simply looking at how much modern liberals condemn religion.

As a sure-fire litmus test of modern liberal ideals, you can know with complete certainty that any of its doctrines is one-hundred and eighty degrees from reality by asking the simple question: "Does this ideal inspire liberals to condemn religion?"

Note that many churches have caved into the expediency of political correctness. The attacks I mention are against religion in general, not against many individual Christian churches, although some churches such as the Catholic Church or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do come under fire because they, out of all of Christianity, maintain competing doctrines against leftist ideals.

Here are a few cases in point:

Abortion is a major component of modern liberal dogma. There are fewer rabid humans in the world than feminists defending their sacred right to kill babies in the seductive guise of women's "choice." Inevitably, any discussion of the life of a fetus is met with anti-religious rhetoric.

For example, Joy Behar, of the TV show The View, said this about a Virginia law to require women to have an ultrasound when considering whether or not to have an abortion: "It's like, what are we? What is this, the Taliban now? What are we, in Afghanistan? Where are we exactly in this country?" (Ah yes - the old plea to demonize religion into its most abhorrent forms in order to shame religious people into being more "tolerant.")

A blogger put it this way: "The "pro-life" movement's drive to save babies has no noble purpose, because the real goals are to bring more souls to Jesus, punish women, and stamp out pleasure." (Because abortion is such a pleasure? Or maybe the pleasure comes from uninhibited hedonism with no consequences?)

Many modern liberals ultimately resort to slogans such as "the Bible: a book written by sheep for sheep." (Because blindly following leftist dogma is so much more enlightening?)

Same sex marriage is another modern liberal doctrine that has little room for tolerance of opposing viewpoints. After Proposition 8 passed in California, constitutionally defining marriage as between a man and a woman, gay activists went on the rampage - not against the vast majority of Blacks who overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 8 - but against, you guessed it, the Catholics and the Mormons.

One video went so far as to depict Mormon missionaries as Gestapo-like, barging into peoples' homes to demand that they vote against gay marriage. The liberalized campaign succeeded in demonizing the Mormons, and religion in general, because modern liberal ideals can only succeed through the subversion of religion.

In another highly publicized ordeal that occurred just around the brouhaha of Proposition 8, the left brutalized Miss California Carrie Prejean, for her honest answer to the loaded question of whether or not she supported same sex marriage. She stated, in the Miss America pageant, that she believed marriage was between a man and a woman. The outcry and furor came swiftly, ruining her career. (From the reaction of the gay activists, you'd think that she'd confessed to being a cannibalistic version of Hitler.) She was excoriated for her views (there were Facebook hate sites dedicated to her) but what also suffered under the wrath of modern liberals was her religion.

We can find anti-religious rhetoric among the secular community. Of course secularism condemns religion in general, but the truly converted secularists, the Born Again Atheists, attack religion with all the zeal of the true fanatic. These are the atheists who cannot leave religion alone and who simply cannot abide living in the same world with people who are religious.

As one blogger noted: "Religious nuts just rang my doorbell and woke me up. I wanted to kill them. Instead, I said 'May Satan be with you.' Then slammed the door." (That'll teach them for "pushing" religion in his face!)

Or, how about this gem complaining about Christians celebrating Christmas: "[It's] the time of year when religious f$^k nuts come out of the wood work with their complete lack of education and further prove their stupidity by complaining about things they have no clue about." (By the way, foul language is endemic to leftist dogma. Having no moral base, modern liberals turn to the lowest common denominator of poor language to prove their sophistication.)

As a last example, take the success over the popular Broadway Musical, The Book of Mormon Musical. Religion, especially religion attached to organized religion - widely perceived as cannon fodder for liberal jokes - is thoroughly debased by the creators of the stupid and nihilistic cartoon South Park. Full of vulgarity (endemic to leftist thought, remember?) and juvenile jokes about Mormon beliefs, this musical appeals to the basest desires to demonize someone, anyone, in the name of political correctness. We can't make fun of Blacks or women or terrorists or perverts or gays or animal activists or porn stars or anyone on the liberal empowerment propaganda team, but liberals can at least make fun of a people who generally happen to believe their religion (and who are at the top of the hit list among many practicing Christians).


And that is the true nature of leftist dogma. Religion must be subverted in order for modern liberalism to thrive because, when held up side-by-side in a fair comparison, liberals know that their doctrine is morally bankrupt nihilism that cannot stand up under close scrutiny, nor under the ideals of consistent moralism. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why Blog At All?

Why I Started Blogging:
(You can skip this and head right to the main idea for the day. I won't mind.)
I've blogged on and off again for six years if, for no other reason, than to clarify all the thoughts that keep company with my brain. I blog because I find the direction of politics and society in general quite disturbing, and I wish to contribute what I can to clarify and promote those ideals which lead us to choose better paths.

I have little desire anymore to blog about the general news (usually bad) or to address every silly whim promoted by society (also usually bad). Instead, I write about such unpopular subjects as morals, ethics, absolutes, and the lessons that I've learned. To leftists, yes, I'm still the bigoted, homophobic, racist, misogynist, H8er that you think I am. To the rest of the world, I'm just a guy with some ideas about how to live a better life than to give in to the sophistic relativism and specious reasoning that plagued the Greeks and which plague today's modern society.

Thank you all for finding my blog and for those who have stuck by me over the years.

The Main Idea:
Awhile ago, I attended an all-faculty meeting at the university where I still teach part time. By some strange and unexpected turn of events, I attended a session of faculty exploring the newest theories and ideas about critical thinking. I say this was unusual because the concepts of "critical thinking" at the university level usually include the latest means of indoctrinating students into leftist dogma - including promoting the socialist ideals of command economy, hedonism, and groupthink. 

Yet, as I sat in that presentation, I realized that all of the presenters were different from the usual group of sophists which tend to occupy university teaching positions. This group had ideals based on very concrete religious concepts, and which valued absolute ideals rather than relative values. Instead of clinging to modern leftist dogma, the panel of presenters were free to ask real questions about how to best help students learn. (I know! What a concept, right?) They formulated arguments without relying on the faulty premises that seem so prevalent in university curriculums across the Western world.

In fact, they could look at all sorts of ideas in order to present solutions to solve the problems of the dumbing down of American students. And these came not in spite of their religious ideals but, and this is the kicker, because of their religious ideals.

I learned a lot from those women and men who presented their ideas on critical thinking that day. The most important of which is this: metacognition (how we think about thinking) is best served when we understand, and hold, those ideals which ground us in reality. Those who claim to have no such ideals or those who claim to be above such ideals, just as the sophists of old, have no basis from which to avoid the faulty premises and conclusions of modern thought.

With its faulty premises, modern leftist dogomas can never come to correct conclusions. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Andrew Klavan: Why Do Blacks Vote for Democrats?



Andrew Klavan, a well-established fiction writer, takes on the question of why Blacks continue to vote for Democrats. Is socialist dogma and perpetual class and race warfare really all that appealing?

Several years ago, I posted the following video on my Facebook page, leading several of my left-leaning friends to unfriend me and to disavow all knowledge of my existence. I was called every name in the book.

Apparently Klavan's humor and the irony of his presentation escaped them. Rather than understanding the underlying truth behind the video, they chose, instead, to allow their dogmas to rule their lives.

I knew that if I received such a response from my liberal friends, that Andrew Klavan must be on the right track with his comments. What do you think?

video

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

After Ferguson: Black Man Goes on Epic Rant Against Riots in Ferguson

In connection with writing about the riots in Ferguson, Missouri yesterday, many of you have seen this video where a Black man rants against the riots and rioters in Ferguson. I thought I'd repost it here, precisely because he speaks truth in the face of progressive lies.

video

Monday, August 18, 2014

Some Thoughts on the Ferguson "Riots" and the 1992 LA Riots


In 1992, I lived in LA when rioting and looting took over the city after the trial of four police officers who were acquitted of beating Rodney King. The destruction and mayhem started small, with a few, enraged Blacks piling garbage in the middle of an intersection, then burning it, while throwing rocks and bottles at passersby.

While the police were engaged in trying to contain the local rioting in the streets, every news channel and every radio station fixed its attention on the rioters. The media fanned the flames of discontent by showing the rioter, then by implying that justice had not been served. White police had gotten away with an atrocity, and Black America was once again left powerless, except to take to the streets in rage.

The message was constantly repeated in the news until others took to the streets to begin a rampage of looting and burning that overtook the city and overwhelmed the police's ability to respond. I watched Blacks, Latinos, and even Whites take the opportunity to break into stores to steal whatever they could (mostly TVs and electronics) in "protest" against the acquittal of those four police officers.

The city burned. People died.

In between covering the riots, news stations played and replayed the infamous video scene of the police beating Rodney King. We saw that 30 second scene over and over again. Blacks raged in the streets. Everyone looted. Stores were picked clean then burned to the ground.

I watched several stores get broken into. At one shoe store on Venice Boulevard, near where I lived, several cars with young Blacks drove up to the closed store. They threw bricks at the front window, breaking it, then with the speed and precision of professionals, they entered the store and filled up their car with boxes and boxes of shoes. Just as quickly, they drove away.

That picture, the looting of a shoe store ten miles from the epicenter of the "riots," is really the epitome of what happened over those few days in LA. While the riots may have started in rage, they continued because, hey, free shoes.

What we never saw on TV, what the news media never showed or reported, was the high speed car chase and the minutes of video footage that led up to the point when Rodney King got beaten by the police. Those leading minutes are crucial to understanding what happened that evening as the officers beat Rodney King.

On the night of March 3, 1991, Rodney King and two other passengers in his car led police on a drunken, high speed chase through the streets of LA. When police finally succeeded in pulling King over, the other two (Black) passengers got out of the car and were taken into custody without incident. King, once induced from the car, behaved erratically, and acted as though he were reaching for a weapon. A woman officer drew her gun on King, but was ordered to holster her weapon, mostly as a precaution against King taking it and using it against her.

Five officers were ordered in to swarm, subdue, and arrest King. In turn, he resisted, standing and throwing two officers off of his back. The entire video footage which captured this, was shown just once by the news media. After the initial viewing, only the last 30 seconds were ever shown - the minutes that showed police beating Rodney King.

You see, the beginning of the video didn't fit into the narrative at the time, that white police officers beat poor, defenseless, and Black, Rodney King. That part of the video was shown in court and helped acquit the police officers of any wrongdoing. Outside of court, the news reported an entirely different story.

***

The story from Ferguson, Missouri holds a lot of parallels to the riots in LA. While not exactly the same situation, I see the news media once again fanning the flames of racial tension and bias merely because it fits into the narrative of most newspeople. I see race activists using the death of Michael Brown as a means to further the narrative that racism is the reason for all Black poverty and crime.

Such a narrative happens again and again. If the narrative doesn't fit, like Rodney King, or Trayvon Martin, or Michael Brown, the story is rearranged and truncated to make it fit. And if the narrative doesn't fit, like the 29 shootings in Chicago over the weekend, the story is mostly ignored.

The narrative goes forward, even when the facts of the case are muddled and corrupted by the very news media promoting the progressive narrative. Such a narrative feeds into the dogma that Blacks are powerless against Whites and must be coddled and fed by the federal government.

The progressive dogmas are as destructive to Blacks and the Black community as the riots in LA and Ferguson. The dogmas of progressivist oppression never let up. Instead the dogmas rage and tear at the very foundations that would allow individuals to rise and people to be free..

There is a way out of the cycle of destruction and progressive dogmas. The path is not easy and it takes time and energy. The cycle can be ended first, by understanding that our success is up to us, as long as the government stays out of our way. We must understand that government cannot "fix" anything. Government can only attempt to regulate the peace or burden our lives further with real oppression.

Self-determination and self-reliance remain the best and surest way out of the riots and looting, not adhering to the dogmas of oppression.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Barack Obama and Saul Alinsky: Fanning the Fires of Resentment Isn't Enough to Run a Country


I am currently rereading Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radcials. While reading the book, I've compared President Barack Obama's actions and governing style with Alinsky's explanations of the role of the community organizer. Obama's "style" and, especially, his mismanagement of the office of the President of the United States can be understood completely when compared with Alinsky's socialist philosophy.

One example of how Obama operates struck me this morning:
[The organizer] has taken a group;...he has fanned their resentments and hostilities by a number of means, including challenging contrasts of better conditions....And so the... organizer simultaneously breeds conflict and builds a power structure.
Consider Obama's campaign and the way he has subsequently ignored the common American problems of the still floundering economy, the failed foreign and domestic policies, the porous border with Mexico, the deficit spending, the abuse of executive power, and on and on and on.

For everything Obama does wrong, he blames others. For everything bad that happens that Obama cannot, or will not, respond to, he blames others.

First it was Bush's fault. (And now it's Bush's fault again that Iraq has imploded with ISIS.) Obama initially blamed Bush in order to "fan resentment and hostility" Obama sailed into office as the Great Community Organizer.

We have to admit, that Alinsky's tactics worked for Obama. He has certainly built resentment and hostility against George W. Bush, against Republicans, and now against conservatives (blaming the nebulous "Tea Party" for example).

Yet, now that we have the resentment, we have to ask ourselves, has the Obama administration brought the "better conditions" that Americans sought during the 2008 and 2012 elections? Consider the following:
  • A spending package that increased deficit spending and a federal debt that dwarfs anything any other president did
  • A spending package full of waste and payouts to big business (like GM)
  • A "stimulus" concept that failed to promote private sector jobs
  • A health care deal guaranteed to increase taxes, raise medical costs, and hurt middle class Americans
  • Running guns into Mexico, then blaming private businesses for it
  • Refusing to enforce federal law again and again when the administration  disagreed with the law
  • Blaming the Fort Hood shooting as a "domestic" problem and not a problem with Militant Islamism
  • A "military action" in Libya with no Congressional oversight
  • Ignoring and denying any responsibility for Benghazi deaths
  • Foreign policy blunders that fed the overthrow of Egypt, the massacre of Iranian citizens, and utter impotence in Syria
  • Supporting terrorists against the State of Israel
  • An economy still floundering and befuddling the mainstream media
  • NSA spying on Americans
  • CIA spying on members of Congress
  • IRS harassment and blocking conservative groups
  • The IRS conveniently losing key emails
  • 23 unilateral changes to the Obamacare law
  • Lying to Americans about Obamacare's impact (If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.)
  • Playing foolish and dangerous games with Mideast countries
  • Catering to terrorists
  • Releasing five terrorists for one American deserter
  • Losing Iraq to ISIS terrorists
  • "Leading from behind" foreign policy that allows Russia to start another cold war
  • The dangerous unilateral reduction in military spending
  • 177 rounds of golf
  • De facto amnesty for illegal aliens pouring over the US border
Are we really better off with Obama at the head of the US? He arrived in office using Alinsky's tactics, but his bankrupt dogma fails the litmus test of pragmatic solutions. And that, of course, fans the flames of resentment and hostility.


What did Americans expect from the Community Organizer in Chief? 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Can We Be Grown-ups Here? The Impact of a Fatherless America


While progressive dogmas may still adhere to the concept that "it takes a village to raise a child" the reality of human experience shows that what children need most is a mother and a father.

An article entitled "Fatherless America?" shows just what children miss out on because of the modern, bankrupt ideals which promote "alternative" families.

(Yes, there are certainly exceptions to every family and I'm sure some of you got along just fine without a father or a mother. The issue is not to point out the exceptions.)

(I don't know who I'm arguing with there. I just figured one of my readers would bring up a "but what about...?" exception.)

(And yes, I frequently argue with myself, especially in the shower. It's a great way to start the day.)

(But I digress....)

Here are some quotes from the article:
In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence — both in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference.
The quote comes from none other than Barack Obama.

A family researcher had these observations:
For many years, marriage and children were a packaged deal, and society was pretty good at enforcing that with strong cultural norms.... 
Marriage isn't about kids anymore. It's about my satisfaction as an adult, my emotional well-being, my personal development... 
The bottom line is, kids really need frequent contact with both parents to successfully navigate developmental stages as they grow up.
How about these statistics?
A study by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services found only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families where the biological mother and father are married to each other. Thirty-three percent come from families where the parents have divorced. Forty-four percent have parents who were never married.
The University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University both found young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families — even when other factors like race, income, parent education and urban residence were held constant.
Or these?
Children who grow up without a father in the home are also more likely to run away from home and commit suicide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Eighty-five percent of children with behavioral disorders don't have a father at home.

In a society bent on negating the importance of having a mother and a father in the home, the real losers are the children - the next generation who have to suffer the consequences of poor decisions made by the so-called adults of the previous generation.

If society is to survive, in the US as well as in other absent-father countries, we will need to raise a generation of adults who take responsibility for raising the next generation. The truth hurts, that children need both mothers and fathers who are committed to raising children. The adults of our current generations have never learned to put aside the selfishness of the "Me" generation.

We have enough selfish and petty adults. What we need are grown-ups.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Some Thoughts on Monty Python Live (Mostly)


Recently, the remaining members of Monty Python got together to broadcast a live show as a sort-of last hurrah before more of the group passes on, are no more, cease to be, expire and go to meet their Maker, are late Pythons, are stiffs, become bereft of life, rest in peace, push up the daisies, kick the bucket, shuffle off their mortal coil, or run down the curtain and join the choir invisible.

I looked forward to seeing the remaining group, as I've been a fan of theirs for a good, long while. The show was directed by Eric Idle, who brought us the wonderful musical Spamalot. The show included live sketches with the remaining five, and included Carol Cleveland, as well as vintage footage to include Graham Chapman, the first fallen Python. The live broadcast also included Eric Idle songs, complete with dancers.

The broadcast was disappointing and embarrassing.

Directing the show, Eric Idle based his definition of humor on the idea that if it was funny before, more of the same must be funnier. This is not true of humor. Mel Brooks and Woody Allen both fell into the trap of thinking that more was better, until their humor became so over the top, that it no longer resembled the brilliancies of the past.

So too with Eric Idle's direction. He included far, far too many of his own songs, most of which are bawdy. Then, combining them with young dancers, they went from bawdy, to raunchy, to downright offensive.

Yes, offensive. I, who have watched and enjoyed Monty Python nearly my whole life, found the live broadcast offensive.

Most of the offense came from the Eric Idle songs. We were treated to classic humor, such as the Lumberjack Song, the Philosophers' Song, and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. But in between were songs and dances that were so over the top, they ceased to be funny, entertaining, or even mildly amusing.

As a case in point, one of Eric Idle's songs, which I've never cared for, lists dozens of names and euphemisms for male genitals. In the live production, we were "treated" to a full-length production which also included a verse with names for female genitals, and a verse which included euphemisms for the rear end. The latter (so to speak) was obviously placed in the show in order to include homosexual sex. At the end (so to speak), phallic "canons" were pulled on stage, which sprayed the audience with white foam.

It was over the top. It was too long. It was debasing. It was offensive. And it was not funny in the least. The live audience didn't think very much of the song either.

If that were the only pecadillo of the show, I might have enjoyed the rest. Be we were subjected to song after song after song which were just as overblown and offensive.

Consequently, the humor was lost from the show.

Most of the sketches focused on sex, including a lot more homosexual sex, or bathroom jokes to attempt to, I don't know, shock the audience into laughing. The audience didn't respond. Oh, they cheered and clapped for the Pythons. I did as well. After all, the Pythons have created some amazing humor that spans generations. But neither the audience in attendance, nor I at the broadcast, laughed very much.

And that, ultimately, was why I bought tickets and attended the event. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to see the Pythons be funny. I wanted to re-experience, in a live performance, some of the sketches for which they are famous. I wanted to see new material. I wanted to be entertained.

Alas, I was not entertained, nor did I laugh at the endless and poor humor based on over-the-top sex jokes.

There were some bright moments. The Bruces sketch was well done. We were treated to a video of Stephen Hawking running his motorized wheelchairs over a young, and obnoxious physicist. (Hawking was in attendance at the theatre.)

Michael Palin and John Cleese shared a good moment recreating both the Dead Parrot sketch which moved directly into the Cheese Shop sketch. They both showed amazing comedic timing and improvisational skill.

I was saddened to see that Terry Jones has aged to the point where he has lost most of his comedic timing. He had to read most of his sketches from cue cards.

Carol Cleveland was amazing. At 72 years, she still has the same, sexy comedy that earned her the title as the "seventh" Python.

Terry Gilliam has never been in the same league as the other Pythons. While his animation is quirky, I've never found its humor enduring. His acting and timing on stage have always been inferior to the others, yet, for all that, it was good to see him.

Graham Chapman, who had the poor graces to die too young, could only appear in film clips from the original show. His performances, of course, were spot on.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Main Problem with Education in the US

Take a look at this sign, from Prescott High School in Arizona and then see if you can figure out the main problem with contemporary education in the US.


If we'd only we'd spend more federal money on education, have more federal controls, bigger and wealthier teachers' unions, make the students take standardized tests nearly every week, make teachers accountable, and switch to Common Core standards, our schools would be much better off!


Do any of you have signs like this in your neighborhood? I'd love to see them!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Admit It. The Bad Economy and Government Are All My Fault. Now Can We Fix Them?


OK. I admit it.1 I caused all the problems with the economy and the government. And you know what? It's a relief to finally get that confession off my chest. In fact, the relief has overwhelmed me and I feel like confessing all of my anti-establishment sins.2

You see, I've discovered that I agree with the basic principles that the Tea Party seems to express: limited government, lower taxes, and reduced government spending. While I thought that my ideas came from such sources as the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the political philosophies of such thinkers as John Locke, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and Alexander Hamilton, I've recently discovered the error of my ways.

Apparently, my mistaken ideas about how the government should be structured and run stems from my having been brainwashed by a group of racist, terrorist, economy killing, kitten eating, freaked-out white men who forced Standard & Poor's to downgrade the credit rating of the US.3

Whew! That's another relief to get that off my chest.

I know that I'm racist. Why? It's because I'm a white male. Oh, and I'm not white male who is a member of the Democrat Party or even a member of a labor union. Yep, it's true. Even though I work within the state college system, I haven't joined the union. (I just figured I'd like to use my own money instead of having more of it vanish to support Democrats.) I'm also not a member of the Republican Party, but that doesn't seem to count to qualify me as a non-racist.

I also know that I'm a racist because one of my friends told me that I was. He was upset that I'd posted a video explaining the historical relationship between the Democrat Party to slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow laws and voting against the Civil Rights laws of the 1960s. Apparently Democrats don't like to be reminded of their own past flings with racism. They deny their historical roots so they can keep and hold political power. My friend didn't like the connection as well and has since disowned me.

So I guess I'm racist by default.

I'm a terrorist too because I...well I...uh.... Actually, I have no idea why I'm a terrorist. Can someone please get Joe Biden to explain that one to me?

I take full and personal responsibility for killing the economy, however. I bought right into the whole corporate structure thing and created several corporations of my own. I've turned them to nefarious purposes by placing my money in such flaky and insubstantial investments such as real estate. (Come to think of it, since the economy collapsed in 2008, real estate wasn't such a great investment. Dang! I knew I should have bought gold at $500 an ounce!) I'm also simply not doing my part as a corporate owner and taking risks to grow my companies. That's because I've been sitting around on my butt waiting to be able to get corporate loans from stingy banks, waiting for the SEC rules to stabilize so I can plan investments, waiting for real estate prices to stabilize, waiting for the government to make some decision on capital gains and corporate taxes, and waiting for the government to decide how to address the bad economy. (It's selfish for me to wait. I know.)

I also refused to borrow money at the great subprime rates that Congress allowed. Instead, I wasted 15 years saving enough money to earn a decent loan rate to buy a house I could afford. I helped kill off the economy by not participating in the 2008 subprime loan crash. I admit to my selfishness.

I admit that I'm a freaked out white man. Maybe if I weren't white or male, I wouldn't worry about such things as the cut back on teachers' pay at my college, the real estate that I own but cannot sell, the threat of new taxes, the rising gas prices, the loss of a majority of my business clients, and the broken air conditioner. I'm sure I wouldn't worry about any of those things if I were a Latina woman. Or a Democrat. Instead I'm just a freaked out white man.

Me as a freaked out white man.

Lastly, I also admit to causing all of the continued unemployment in the US. I know the news keeps telling us that unemployment is dropping, but I've been secretly preventing millions of Americans from finding the jobs they need in order to support themselves. In connection with this, I've welcomed hundreds of thousands of immigrants across the Mexican border, because I want to pay less money to have my grass mowed and my Taco Bell burritos served.

It's all my fault. Now can we get someone else in the White House and Congress to fix it?
_____________________________________

1satire |ˈsaˌtīr| noun
The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

2I won't, however.

3I just made up the part about eating kittens. No one's said that Tea Party members eat kittens, and there are only a few references to George W. Bush eating kittens.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Quote from Thomas Sowell on Today's Educational Institutions


"In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity."

Thomas Sowell, "Is Thinking Now Obsolete?"

Monday, August 4, 2014

Some Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy


I've rarely written movie reviews over the years. I've mostly shied away from them because offering opinions about movies is entirely too controversial. Controversy scares me. I mean, what if I recommend a movie to you, and then, heaven forbid, you didn't like it? Or worse, you did like it, but for the wrong reasons? Or maybe you liked the move, but still disagreed with my review?

That's a responsibility I'm not prepared to take on.

With that in mind, this is (sort of) not a movie review of Guardians of the Galaxy. It is also (sort of) not a commentary on Hollywood.

Guardians of the Galaxy was a pleasant surprise. I laughed. I cried. I got back in line.

Going to movies is usually a painful experience. It's a lot like playing the lottery. In both, you throw away a bunch of money in the hope that your ticket will come up a winner. This summer's selection of movies has been especially bad. The folks in Hollywood have little imagination anymore, so in order to make up for the lack of new ideas, they offer sequels of stories that should have been buried years ago (Transformers: Age of Extinction, or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

Movie makers also produce their requisite movies which I cannot be paid to go see (Behaving Badly or Sex Tape). Or they produce dreck that is so steeped in Hollywood immorality and overladen with PC values that they barely register on my radar (Noah, or The Purge, or Boyhood).

That's why Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise. It's even more surprising considering that it sits atop a long and overblown Marvel franchise.

Guardians worked because the writers remembered two important ideas about story telling: audiences care about people, and plot is important.

In many Marvel movies (did you see that alliteration there?) the writers forget that audiences actually need to identify with, and feel something for the characters. For example, the first Iron Man movie worked for me because I actually came to like Stark and to care what happened to him. The sequels? Not so much. I saw the first Thor movie and none of the rest, simply because I couldn't care less about Thor or Loki as characters.

Guardians surprised me because the writers made the audience care about the characters. The main character has a back story. The assassin woman is more than a face and hot body. We could even come to care for an annoying raccoon and a tree with a vocabulary of three words.

The story, while drawing from the basic plot line of comic books everywhere, was more than a means to show off the latest movie-making technology (like The Hobbit). It was basically a save-the-universe tale. But it was also a vehicle for us to get to know the Guardians.

The movie was also funny. I laughed.

That is a rarity these days and one that I appreciate more and more in a humorless world.

Hollywood writers tend to think that humor hinges mostly on doing or saying something inappropriate. That's why we have far, far too many movies where humor revolves around sex, or bathroom humor, or being rude.

The humor in Guardians mostly resorted to banter and surprising action. Here's an example, where the main character, Peter "Star-Lord" Quill, tries to get the Guardians to save the universe:
Peter Quill: I have a plan.
Rocket Raccoon: You've got a plan?
Peter Quill: I have PART of a plan!
Drax the Destroyer: What percentage of a plan?
Drax the Destroyer: What percentage of a plan do you have?
Gamora: You don't get to ask questions after the nonsense you pulled on Knowhere!
Drax the Destroyer: I just saved Quill!
Peter Quill: We've already established that you destroying the ship I'm on is not saving me!
Drax the Destroyer: When did we establish that?
Peter Quill: Like three seconds ago?
Drax the Destroyer: I wasn't listening. I was thinking of something else....
Rocket Raccoon: She's right, you don't get an opinion. What percentage?
Peter Quill: I dunno...Twelve percent?
Rocket Raccoon: Twelve percent? [breaks into laughter]
Peter Quill: That's a fake laugh.
Rocket Raccoon: It's real!
Peter Quill: Totally fake!
Rocket Raccoon: That is the most real, authentic, hysterical laugh of my entire life, because THAT IS NOT A PLAN!
Gamora: It's barely a concept.
Peter Quill: [to Gamora] You're taking THEIR side?
Groot: I am Groot.
Rocket Raccoon: So what, "It's better than eleven percent?" What the hell does that have to do with anything?
Peter Quill: [to Groot] Thank you! See? Groot's the only one of you who has a clue. [Groot eats a leaf off his shoulder]
Guardians almost got through an entire movie without resorting to bathroom humor or being completely crude. I say almost, because the writers did indeed include some of that in the movie, including the inappropriate use of language. It's a sad commentary on society when poor language is only included into movies in order to garner a PG-13 or R rating, depending on the target audience.

Of course, a Marvel Comics movie wouldn't be complete without explosions, muscles, a cameo of Stan Lee, guns, girls, technology, and minions. After all, we like a bit of gratuitous violence in our movies.

Chris Pratt does a decent job of playing the rogue character. Zoe Saldana is absolutely gorgeous and makes a good anti-hero. Dave Bautista is massive, but despite his WWF beginnings, creates a decent character. Vin Diesel gets billing for saying three words as a tree (who happens to be one of the most endearing characters). And Bradley Cooper makes a cartoon raccoon come alive.

Did I mention there were explosions? Yep. Lots of 'em.

Did I mention that Zoe Saldana is gorgeous? Yep.

Did I mention the gratuitous violence? Yep. Lots of bashing and crashing.

Did I mention a tree was a decent and endearing character? Yep.

Why did the movie work for me? In a nutshell, I cared what happened to the characters, and that made all the difference.

Friday, August 1, 2014

School Sponsored Sexuality Film Festival


Dear Professor [Euripides]:

I was walking down the hall to your class today when I saw a poster advertising a "Sexuality Film Festival" at the school. It was sponsored by your department. I have to ask if this is for real? Is your department really showing movies about sex and handing out free condoms? Did you know that this is going on?

I want you and your department to know how offensive that is, to use my tuition money in order to show movies about sex. I pay more and more tuition every year to come here for an education only to find this stuff being sold to unsuspecting students as "education."

The poster said that the movies are being shown to make us aware of STIs and are free to the community. (I had to look up STI. I thought those were called STDs but I guess the word "disease" is too harsh a word for chlamydia or AIDS.)

I can't believe these movies. Two of them make fun of religion for not supporting gays. One's about Islam and the other rips on the Bible. That sort of thing really offends me, how they have to rip on religion in order to prove how tolerant they are. One movie can't leave India alone and describes itself as helping to "drag India kicking and screaming into modern life," like the most important thing in the world is to make all the Indian people act like Americans. The most offensive is the movie about the "Vagina Monologues." I've heard about this one before and am disgusted that the school would think so little of women as to bring this kind of show on campus.

I told my friends at school about this and they can't believe it either. I'm complaining about the sex movies to your department and to the president of the school. I hope you will also add your voice to protest of this stupid film festival.

Thanks for reading this.
[Name Withheld]

***
Reply from Euripides:

I am more than happy to complain about the senseless waste of department resources which brought this pornography to school in the guise of education. You must realize that the people who sponsor this kind of thing have absolutely no concept of right or wrong and cannot imagine that such a film festival could be anything other than enlightening. This is the academic hubris of the left.

You should also realize that by complaining we set ourselves up to be "intolerant, misogynistic, racist, homophobes," don't you? (Yes, even though you are a woman, you too can be a misogynist if you don't buy into the whole feminist ideal.) Complaining against what most people recognize as pornographic dreck is usually answered with vehement spew and hatred.

I mention this so that you are prepared for the backlash you'll receive by complaining about the sacred cow of feminism and gay rights - unrestrained hedonism. Still, we'll press on in the cause of truth.


(Note: I've edited the student letter to correct a few spelling and grammar mistakes.)