Friday, August 28, 2015

Wish I'd written that

Question: What is TV's greatest need?

Answer: A sense that getting people to buy things they do not need is morally indefensible. One does not ask for Utopia, only a slightly less frantic exploitation of the innocent.

Gore Vidal, as quoted in TV Guide, May 9-15, 1964

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The Platinum Rule

Ever heard of The Platinum Rule?

"Treat others the way they want to be treated."

Hmm, you're thinking. It sounds kind of familiar, but there's something just a little off, isn't there?

The Platinum Rule is one of those behavioral style assessments that Human Resources departments are so wild about nowadays. And it perfectly illustrates the point I've made time and time again about the insidious nature of Corporate America, about the growing influence of New Age philosophy in HR departments, and why we ought to be concerned about these trends.

The Platimum Rule is the brainstorm of one Dr. Tony Alessandra, who describes it as follows:

We have all heard of the Golden Rule - and many people aspire to live by it. The Golden Rule is not a panacea. Think about it: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The Golden Rule implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated.

Ah yes, after two thousand years or so, we discover that the Golden Rule (which comes from the Beatitudes, Luke 6:31) just isn't good enough anymore. Alessandra goes on to say "The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus of relationships shifts from 'this is what I want, so I'll give everyone the same thing' to 'let me first understand what they want and then I'll give it to them.' "

OK, so The Platinum Rule is not some new type of credit card. It's a new way of thinking about life. "Treat others the way they want to be treated." This would be laughable if one treated this with the seriousness which it deserved (or rather, the way in which it wants to be treated). Just think about it for a moment. If I'm a criminal, woudn't I want people to treat me with leniency when I'm captured? Therefore, shouldn't you give me a free pass out of jail?

And that's only the beginning. Suppose you walked into your bosses office this morning and told him, "Boss, I want to be treated like the CEO of the company. From now on, I think you should do what I tell you to do. Now that you understand what I want, don't you think you should give it to me?" He'll give it to you, all right, and pretty soon his HR department's going to be using The Platinum Rule to assess the person taking over your job.

At the very least, Alessandra shows that he really doesn't understand the depth of the Golden Rule, at the layers which go into its true meaning - Tobit 4:15, "What you hate, do not do to anyone," for example. I'd suspect that Christ (who fulfilled the Old Testament, after all) might possibly have been familiar with this passage. If you read this into the Golden Rule, as most sensible people do, then most of Alessandra's arguments fall apart. And as for treating people the way they want to be treated, as St. Augustine pointed out, we must "do many things against the will" of certain people, because they need to be "punished with a certain kind of harshness." (For that passage, thanks to Robert Louis Wilken's review in the November First Things of Robert Dodaro's Christ and the Just Society in the Thought of Augustine.)

If people really did laugh this ridiculous theory into oblivion, then we wouldn't have much trouble. Alessandra would be a stand-up comedian, since he succeeded so spectacularly at making people laugh at him, and we'd be on our merry way.

But that isn't the case. This guy writes books, has a speaker's bureau, and influences HR departments and corporate executives. A quick Google of "The Platinum Rule" shows it appearing at sites of groups such as the "School for Champions" that provide keys on how you can "increase your performance" in both your business and your personal life. The subtitle of Alessandra's book is "Discover the Four Basic Business Personalities -- and How They Can Lead You to Success." (In fact, its classification is under "Business & Money") It boasts that you too can:
  • Predict the behavior of others and adapt your own for the best possible outcome
  • Identify the many "mixtures" -- people whose styles embrace more than one type
  • Get people together who enhance each other's potential -- for dynamic work groups, a better balanced staff, better company-client relations, and more "sell by style" -- using five essential Platinum Rule steps
  • Defuse conflict and dissatisfaction -- and boost energy, productivity, and profits.
In other words, everything that the modern HR department looks to maximize. Ah, they must love this stuff.

I think my favorite sentence of all, the one that really crystalizes what this is all about, is the one that The Platinum Rule "accommodates the feelings of others." And of course there's the key. In this day and age where we can't offend anyone, where we have to be sensitive to the point of banality, when we serve our love with soft edges so as to not hurt anyone's feelings, it's natural that something like this would catch on. And it's particularly appropriate that HR departments would adopt it for their "diversity" training programs.

We all know that the principal of diversity, as preached by HR, is that everything is equal, that all philosophies, all cultures, all ethical standards, are equally valid. (Look no further than the "Diversity Luncheon" that we encounter every December as proof of this.) Benedict XVI, as Joseph Ratzinger, spoke of the dictatorship of relativism, and the ideas contained in The Platinum Rule are prime examples of this school of thought.

This kind of thing really is dangerous. As Fr. Mitch Pacwa has pointed out, new-age personality tests such as the enneagram are directly contrary to Catholic teaching. And I'm always suspicious of anyone who tries to improve on Jesus' teachings - "well, that Jesus guy, he had some good things to say, but his statements aren't a panacea, you know."

We shouldn't be surprised that this kind of thinking would be popular in Corporate America, where over the last hundred years or so we've seen religion go from being recognized (Christmas Day as a vacation) to tolerated (well, you can have Good Friday off, but you have to take a vacation day) to shunned (no Christmas decorations in the workplace) to scorned (schoolteachers who can't wear green or red during December) to out-and-out hated (employees fired for failing to toe the corporate line on celebrating homosexual "diversity"). (Of course it's no wonder that HR departments are apprehensive toward religion; after all, in God they see a rival to the control they presume to have over the employee's life.) Perhaps Augustine has the answer for why so many people in the workplace seem unhappy, for in looking at the Psalm verse, "Happy the people whose God is the Lord," he concludes, "It follows that a people alienated from that God must be wretched."

It's hard to know how much of a point to put on this; you'd like to think that people can see through this kind of rubbish, but Corporate America has a way of jumping onboard the latest trends, and The Platinum Rule is certainly sexy enough to cause executives to salivate. It reeks of political correctness, which makes it a prize of any HR department - well, not any, because I actually know one or two that take their jobs quite seriously. And it provides another way of assessing personality types that dehumanizes the individual.

But in the end, I get uncomfortable with someone who tries to trump Christ. It's really kind of a zero-sum game, like trying to outdo your Boss. One can imagine Jesus slapping His head, thinking to Himself, "The Platinum Rule! Why didn't I think of that?" And Alessandra, like all ambitious people, should fear the consequences of this game of oneupsmanship. Because when this Boss calls you to His office, it's a one-way trip. And being dismissed from His presence is eternal.


Originally published October 21, 2005

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Opera Wednesday: Revisiting the Ghosts

Pierre Beaumarchais is one of the more interesting characters in classical music, or politics, or any other subject you might want to discuss.  From the always-reliable Wikipedia:  Beaumarchais "was a French playwright, watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, horticulturalist, arms dealer, satirist, financier, and revolutionary (both French and American)."  He wrote a couple of plays that were later adapted into operas, which you might have heard of:  Le Barbier de Séville, which became Rossini's The Barber of Seville and Le Mariage de Figaro,  which Mozart made into The Marriage of Figaro.  

One of the more creative operas of recent years is John Corigliano's seldom-performed The Ghosts of Versailles, which is based on characters from the two operas, as well as Beaumarchais himself, who Corigliano and librettist William M. Hoffman inserted as a character in the story.  Here is a clip from the 1994 world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, conducted by James Levine and featuring an all-star cast including Renée Fleming as Rosina, Stella Zambalis as Cherubino, Teresa Stratas as Marie Antoinette, and Häkan Hagegärd as Beaumarchais This is "Come Now, My Darling."

Monday, August 24, 2015

We've lost another gentle giant

I was intending to comment on a fun 1970's themed promotion that fits within our television blog that NBC has been airing for an event next week, but sadly, I have to postpone that commentary.  As I write this at 2120 hours Eastern time on a Monday night, a message has been sent by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a press conference by Mark Miles of INDYCAR.  The news conference was requested by Julianna Wilson and her family to be held in Indianapolis, and it was the worst news that could happen following Sunday's ABC Supply 500 at the Igdalsky family's Pocono Raceway.

Mr. Miles announced just after 2100 hours EDT tonight INDYCAR driver Justin Wilson died of his head injuries after his helmet was struck by an errant nose cone from Sage Karam's car that had impacted the Turn 1 wall at Pocono Raceway on Lap 180.

The freak incident that has many, including NBC's Townsend Bell, asking is it time for canopy cockpits, similar to an Unlimited Hydroplane or a Top Fuel racer.   James Hinchliffe was knocked out for a time after the 2014 Indianapolis road course race, and as we know, Felipe Massa had an injury when a spring on another race car penetrated into his visor during the Magyar Nagydij in 2008.    With the tragic circumstances at Pocono, the questions regarding canopies in single-seaters will come up again.  John Surtees (F1 world champion 50 years ago) lost his son Henry to a crash a few years ago when an object struck his helmet in an FIA F2 race.

Mike Joy:  "Incredibly sad . . . within a fortnight racing loses both of our 'gentle giants.'"

A. J. Allmendinger:  "My friend, brother, teammate, and especially to one of the most amazing people I have had the pleasure to be around."  (Allmendinger has posted a Wilson photo on his Twitter profile.)

Sage Karam (whose crash led to the debris that led to the fatal crash):  "I can't find the proper words to describe the pain and sympathy I feel for Justin and his family."

The humility in the paddock tonight is poignant in light of the news.  To the Wilson family:

Réquiem ætérnam dona eis Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat eis. Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Yvonne Craig, R.I.P.

When I heard the news of Yvonne Craig's death at the too-young age of 78 (and no classic television blog worth its weight could ignore it), I knew there was only one picture I could use for this story. In that one picture, we see Yvonne Craig's two great callings: dance, and Batgirl.

She was a trained dancer the day a chance encounter with a producer made an actress out of her; according to her story, a producer was trying to talk her into acting, an offer which she was refusing, when the son of the great director John Ford, walking past their table, stopped and asked "Are you an actress?" Before Craig could answer, the producer replied, "She is and I'm her manager. What can I do for you?" The rest, as they say, is history. That encounter led her to the movie The Young Land with Patrick Wayne (son of the Duke), and from then on Yvonne Craig, dancer became Yvonne Craig, actress.

Her movie career was nothing too sneeze at - two pictures with Elvis, and a role in Our Man Flint (naturally) among them - and her television roles were numerous and winsome, as in an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I saw a few months ago. She was cute, vivacious, and she had presence. There were other attributes as well, but this is a family site. And then she wound up on the hottest program on television, Batman. Make no mistake about it, it was a role that was perfect for her.

Was Batgirl a superhero? I'm sure that there's fierce debate about this on the web and at comic-cons; my own opinion is that the very word "superhero" denotes some kind of super power (the ability to fly, to spin spiderwebs, x-ray vision, that kind of thing). According to those standards, none of the crimefighters on Batman were superheros in the strict sense. And Craig wasn't the first ass-kicking female; Honor Blackman's leather-clad Cathy Gale on The Avengers preceded her. But she was something quite different for American television when she joined the show in its third season. As that picture shows, it was an unfortunate criminal who got in the way of that foot.

There's also something so fitting about her character's name - Batgirl - because Yvonne Craig was a girl, in the very best sense of the word.  She radiated youthful energy and a natural charm that jumped off the screen, big or small, no matter what role she was in.  Her characters were always active, always up for adventure, the kind of people you want to hang around with, even if you're in a speeding car with her, watching the world pass by through parted fingers while you cover your eyes..  William Shatner today called her one of "America's Sweethearts"; Lou Grant might have said she had "spunk."  Whatever it was, she had it, and the costars who expressed sadness at her death seemed to be speaking from the heart.

Usually the public only knows celebrities from their, well, public work; Yvonne Craig had battled cancer for a couple of years and was a crusader for free mammograms.  From all accounts, she was a popular costar and a nice person..  Most people would never know that.  Instead, they would know her fondly from her work and her public appearances, and while friends and loved ones will mourn her passing, her fans will have the consolation of her work, which is not a bad way at all to be remembered.


Originally published at It's About TV!

Friday, August 21, 2015

This Isn't Salem Media's First Time in Controversy!

Erick Erickson's dismissal of Messrs. Trump and Carson from the RedState event in Georgia sent an alarm upon past incidents with Salem Media Group, the parent of RedState, which owns numerous conservative sites (Townhall, RedState, Hotair) and religious media sites (The Fish, Solid Gospel, CCMMAGAZINE, and Singing News, all of which promote pop music in the church, which as I've seen isn't always doctrinally sound), with the California company (NASDAQ : SALM) also partnering with CNN in the upcoming second Republican press conference in a few weeks.

As I divulged into this issue, this was not Salem's first time that the heat has been on them in the wake of attempting to control the debate over issues.  In November 2013, Salem radio hostess Janet Mefferd confronted Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll over his new book, A Call to Resurgence, after Westminster Seminary California professor Peter Jones' content, without being cited, was referenced in Mr. Driscoll's book.  The heated controversy later led to Salem officials purging the contentious interview (which someone else has archived), the resignation of a producer that I've often cited here (and I have the utmost respect for her), and eventually Mefferd from Salem Radio.



(Note that Salem has purged all references of Mefferd's show since she was released by Salem.  Her noncompete expires soon and she will return on another radio network.)

A few weeks later, Mefferd's evidence was confirmed by the publisher of the Driscoll book.  Despite the exoneration, the damage was done.  Salem had pulled all references to the Mefferd-Driscoll incident.

When I saw the RedState incident, I had to remind myself that this was not the first time Salem has targeted someone with controversial incidents.  Welcome, Donald, to the same club as Janet.  This was not Salem's first time embroiled.  We've seen it before, and we're referencing it.  Is Trump being given a Mefferd treatment by Salem Media?

Oh, by the way:  I cannot let this pass through our lines, but two of sports' best known current voices lost their partners from the 1990's -- Al Michaels with Frank Gifford (then at ABC) and Mike Joy with Buddy Baker (then at CBS) -- over the weekend.  Both Michaels and Joy did tributes to their colleagues.


WORKS CITED:

"Famed Pastor Embroiled in Controversy Amid Charges of Plagiarism, But What's His Publisher Saying?," The Blaze, December 11, 2013.

Kate Tracy, "Publisher: Mark Driscoll Improperly Copied Paragraphs from Bible Commentary," Christianity Today, December 9, 2013.

Alex Murashko, "Fallout From Radio Show Host's Allegations That Pastor Mark Driscoll Plagiarized Includes Deletion, Apology, and Producer's Resignation," Christian Post, December 7, 2013.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Frank Gifford, R.I.P.

The thing about Frank Gifford was this: although he was a certifiable part of NFL history - before, during and after it had become America's sport - and had been a broadcaster for, it seems, forever; and though he was sometimes the butt end of jokes about how he wasn't always spot on with his game callas as an announcer, and he'd perhaps overstayed his time on Monday Night Football, and his wife was way younger than he was; despite all this, it didn't seem, at least to me, that he was old enough to die, to be a mere mortal.  It just didn't seem  possible.

***

Frank Gifford was one of the first football players I ever read about.  It was in one of my first "grown-up" books, from the NFL's "Punt, Pass and Kick Liberary" - what we'd today call Young Adult books.  They were real\-life adventures of famous football stars, unforgettable games, strange-but-true moments.  The first of these books that I read was, appropriately enough, entitled Heroes of the NFL, and along with tales of Elroy Hirsch, Eddie LeBaron and the like, there was a chapter on Frank Gifford.

Gifford's one was a compelling story, and remains so.  He'd been a star at the University of Southern California and then joined the New York Giants, perhaps the most glamorous professional football team of them all.  There, he had helped to revolutionize the game by utilizing his multidimensional skills (he could pass, catch, run and play defense) to popularize the option pass, in which he'd take a handoff, roll out to the left or right, and then loft a pass to a waiting receiver.  It helped him win the MVP in 1956, when the Giants beat the Chicago Bears to win the NFL championship.

And then came 1960, and Chuck Bednarik.  It was one of the reasons Gifford appeared in the book, and one of the reasons his story was compelling to me.  Late in the game, with the Giants trailing Bednarik's Philadelphia Eagles but on the move, Bednarik laid out Gifford with a hit that was one of the most memorable in the history of the game, forcing a fumble that the Eagles recovered, giving them the win and a major leg-up en route to winning their last NFL title.


It also knocked Gifford out cold.  Stone cold.  More than one Giant said they thought Bednarik had killed Gifford.  Bednarik celebrated the victory, not realizing the seriousness of Gifford's injury.  The end result was a massive concussion, forcing Gifford to miss the remainder of that season as well as the entire 1961 campaign.  In the interim he went into television, took up broadcasting.  Many thought he'd retired.  His decision to come back for the 1962 season as a receiver was a major story.  He played three more successful seasons before retiring for good in 1964.  He went into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

That was what put Frank Gifford in Heroes of the NFL, and if that was all there was to it, it would have been quite a life.  But in a way, the rest of the story had just begun.

He was a commentator on NFL games for CBS until 1971, when he became the play-by-play man (one of the first former players to do play-by-play rather than color) on ABC's Monday Night Football, along with Don Meredith and Howard Cosell.  The trio became one of the most famous broadcasting partnerships of all time, turning the broadcast into an event, and making MNF into something of a travelling zoo, "coming to your town next week!"  Gifford was cast as the straight man, the only sane one in a chaotic booth with Dandy Don and The Mouth, struggling to focus on the game while anarchy surrounded him.  While many preferred his predecessor in the role, Keith Jackson (on the way to a storied career of his own), and he was often knocked for getting calls wrong, it was probably a wonder, in that environment, that he got anything right at all.

Gifford did other sports besides football; one of his most famous calls was Franz Klammer's gold-medal winning downhill run in the 1976 Winter Olympics, and he was also there to cover Evel Knievel's triumphs and tragedies as a motorcycle jumper.  He was on Monday Night Football until 1997, when he was more-or-less eased out.  He was married three times, the last of which was to Kathie Lee.  He was entrapped by an airline stewardess who had been paid big bucks by a tabloid to catch Gifford in incriminating positions.  As I said, what a life.


***

If you hadn't grown up with Frank Gifford in his various phases of stardom (he had just retired, in fact, the year I first remember watching football), he might have felt to you like one of those celebrities who appear in "dead or alive" spots on morning radio shows.  And yet, as I wrote at the outset, he ever quite stopped being one of the golden boys you thought would live forever.  So it was something of a surprise to hear of his death last Sunday at the age of 84, and when the obituaries started retelling the facts and figures and you realized what a great career he'd had, and then thought back on the longevity of his announcing career, you found yourself a little more surprised, reflecting on those things you'd known about but had forgotten, or downplayed.

Frank Gifford was never my favorite announcer, but he had something of that "big game" sound that I've written about so often.  His voice was a warm and familiar presence that reminded viewers that you were watching an event.  I thought back on that, last Sunday, and reckoned that, indeed, Frank Gifford was one of the heroes of the NFL, and always will be.


Cross-posted to It's About TV!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Seeing red over RedState, or why Erick Erickson isn't welcome here anymore

You might have noticed in the past that I've linked to quotes from a conservative website called RedState, run by conservative activist Erick Erickson (as a matter of fact, I think I did one in the last week or so).  I'm not going to link to them here, but if you haven't read them, you might want to take a chance now, because you ain't gonna see anymore quotes from RedState at this site.

In the circular firing squads that now comprise both the Republicans and the conservatives, Erickson got off a shot last Friday night, when he disinvited Donald Trump to his RedState bash over the weekend, because of comments Trump made about Fox news host and self-shill Megyn Kelly, who did such an execrable job in her part as host of the GOP "debate" on Thursday night.  Erickson was offended by Trump's post-debate comments, thinking them to be in bad taste.   I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail on this because it's all kind of distasteful, plus I have more important things to write about right, things that have nothing to do with either this blog or the TV one.*  However, if you want to read about it from the best possible source, I'll steer you to this wonderful column from Mark Steyn.

*However, dear readers, I'll never desert you entirely.  No matter how busy I am, I'll always have time for a post or two.  Just not too many long ones like this one.  For the time being, at least.

Let me make it clear at the outset: I'm not a supporter of Donald Trump, although I think he's absolutely tapped into the discontent seething inside the Republican Party these days.  (As was well-put by Rush here.)  I'm not really for anyone at the moment, although if I was forced to pick someone, I'd go with fellow Texan Ted Cruz.  My suspicion is that it doesn't matter who anyone votes for at this point; both parties are going to job you.  The Democrats are in full leftist mode, with no room for conservatives and increasingly no room for moderates or even classical liberals.  The Republicans, the party of capitulation, seems far more concerned with maintaining their own position in the status quo than affecting any real change.  Both parties hold the average person in contempt, both parties are run by elitist monied interests, and the only difference in how they want to spend your money is on which of their pet projects and crony capitalist enterprises they favor.  In other words, they both want to spend all your money; they just differ on the specifics.

With that all out of the way, let's get to brass tacks, as it were.*  What is it specifically that set me off on Erick Erickson?

*And what is it about brass tacks, anyway?  Wiktionary says it dates back to the 1860's specifically from Texas (no surprise there)., and may refer to "the brass tacks in the counter of a hardware store or draper’s shop used to measure cloth in precise units (rather than holding one end to the nose and stretching out the arm to approximately one yard)."  In other words, let's deal with facts, not estimates.

Even when I read RedState regularly, there was something vaguely unsettling about it.  Perhaps it was the crudity with which some of their writers addressed the issues of the day, not to mention the fact that many of them simply aren't very good writers.  But there was something more to it as well, an edge of nastiness that didn't really accomplish anything if your goal was to get people to respect, if not agree with, your viewpoint.  I began to suspect that the "Red" in RedState stood more for red meat than red-state politics.

Then there was their habit of banning comments from people who disagreed with them.  This didn't happen across the board, but it most frequently occurred with people who chose to respond to RedState using the same rhetorical flourishes that RedState itself used.  In other words, Pot - meet Kettle.*  I understand the idea that a blog is private property, and that the blog owner is free to do whatever he or she likes with it.  Nonetheless, I've often wondered about people who block critical comments.  Yes, there are times when it's necessary - in the case of organized campaigns by people trying to bring down a blog, for example.  However, in the case of a site as large as RedState, I doubt this is the case.

*Certainly, they're not the only bloggers who are hypersensitive to seeing themselves in the faces of others.  See also: Shea, Mark.

So even when I was a regular reader, there was something that bothered me about the site.  Maybe it was Erickson's increasing habit of using religious, indeed Biblical, allusions in his writing.  Now, I do this myself at times, but I hope when I do, it appears organic and natural, and not as Erickson did, in what seemed to be an attempt to attach legitimacy to his point of view.  You know, when all else fails: use God as a crutch.  There was something unnatural, and not to his benefit, in the way he did this.

It wasn't until this kerfuffle that I finally found out what it was, though, and for that I suppose I should be grateful to Erickson.  You can see a lot of it in this exchange Erickson had with Neil Cavuto on Fox today, when Cavuto chose to read some of Erickson's own tweets on-air - many of them, in fact, coming across as, well, sexist.  Which, as I recall, is what he'd accused Donald Trump of.  Cavuto was joined by fellow Fox commentator Greta Van Susteren, who said that Erickson "has said the worst things about women."  I told you that Erickson was a Fox contributor, didn't I?  Apparently the revolution really is consuming its own.

Then there was this story on why Erickson didn't invite Dr. Ben Carson to the RedState gathering this past weekend (the same event for which he'd disinvited Trump).  In the body of the story is a line from Erickson in which he describes himself not as a journalist, but an "activist."  And there's nothing wrong with being an activist.  But the problem, not only with Fox but with CNN, MSNBC and all the rest, is that all they do is employ activists, whom they pass off as either experts or representatives of a particular point of view, in hopes of setting off some kind of manufactured shout-fest that just serves to turn off even more voters.  In fact, whatever happened to the idea of becoming an activist in order to make things better?  If Erickson was interested in this, he wouldn't be quite so inflammatory; instead, he might actually try and convince people of his positions.  As Van Susteren says, "No one should pay any attention to them – they are not persuasive, they are noise, and in some instances boorish and obnoxious.  I suspect this guy [Erickson] feels that he makes himself relevant or even important if he says or tweets like this. I just roll my eyes and wonder what is going on in his head!"

As if all this wasn't enough, there was this comment Erickson made regarding the Virgin Mary, whom he said, "My wife tells me Mary had PMS on the way to Bethlehem.  Says the Bible says Mary rode Joseph's ass all the way there."

OK, so I'm going to put my religion hat on for a minute, and I hope it doesn't come across the way I accused Erickson's of sounding when I wrote about it a few paragraphs ago.  But as someone who has a particular devotion to both Mary and Joseph, I find that comment not only not funny, it's insulting and offensive.  It borders on blasphemous, as much as "Piss Christ" in some ways.  And it just isn't the kind of comment someone ought to be proud of making in public.  As I've often said, there are some people who just shouldn't be on Twitter.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm not a fan of Erick Erickson's.  I think he's done much to lower the level of discourse in the public arena.  (I'm not a fan of Megyn Kelly's either, but one attack per day is about my limit.)  I will give him credit for one thing, though.  He points out that his blog is private property, which means he can do what he wants with it.  That's true of my blog as well, which means I can do whatever I want.  Including not linking to RedState, or Erick Erickson, again.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Chase Is On - SPB 1959-2015

The title was inspired by a television show once hosted by the late WCIV weekend reporter who later worked for Fox, Steve Byrnes, who died of cancer in April. #ByrnesStrong

Football is Back - And Fox Adopts Promotion and Relegation for the Presidential Candidates. It's only fitting that with football starting this week, the ads for the Barclays Premier League on the Comcast stations (and other leagues on Al Jazeera, plus Bundesliga on FS1/FS2/FSP), that Fox has split a fuller than full field of Republican contenders for these "glorified press conferences," as the late original host of Fox News Sundaycalled them in an early episode of the show, into football-style divisions for Thursday's press conferences. With apologies to Fox's new rights for the Bundesliga, they are split this way:

Bundesliga: Trump, Bush, Walker, Huckabee, Carson, Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Christie, Kasich

Zweite Bundesliga: Perry, Santorum, Jindal, Fiorina, Graham, Pataki, Gilmore.

Of course, if this was Comcast, I'd have used Premier League and Championship!

Baby Slaughter. The outrage over the selling of murdered children's body parts by "Planned Parenthood," the biggest baby murder mill in the country, is everywhere except for mainstream media, which has become a source of propaganda for left-wing causes. The arrogance of the organisation and even the legislators and Administration in full support of them is now in full colour to see. Why do we fund them, and the Administration probably bullies companies to give to them or lose contracts. Meanwhile, the outrage over the killing of a lion has more exposure than the killing of babies. Why?

Of course, as we should expect the next few weeks, television shows will be scripted to favour Planned Parenthood as planning begins for the binge watching generation who watches all ten episodes of a "season" in one setting on the streaming services. How lazy can you be?

Victory Laps. The sexual perversion crowd, fresh off the illegally officiated left-wing overturning of constitutions nationwide, is now creating a worldview apartheid where the Bible will become criminal as we see in Kentucky and other places. But isn't this an extension of the ban of the Great Compromise at the state level, as Scalia notes New York City's bias in the Supreme Court?

And Speaking of Premium Television. Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and James May have joined the premium pay, watch all ten in one revolution. Fresh off their firing from OFCOM-regulated The Beeb, where standards matter, they have signed with Amazon to do a show on their streaming service, likely a watch ten in one show, so they tape all ten shows, then people watch them when they want. Time is not an essence, and content can be as raunchy as they go. What is next?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Killing them softly

The sick irony of President Barack Obama’s administration is that he often compares himself to Abraham Lincoln. But he is perfectly happy to let Planned Parenthood sell off black children in bits and pieces as someone else’s property."

- Erick Erickson, RedState

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday: "My college actually took me away from logical thinking"

So says Forbes magazine publisher Rich Karlgaard in this article (H/T NRO).  His experience pretty much jibes not only with my own, but with many of my friends who sit in "careers" for which they're vastly overeducated.

A friend of mine, like Karlgaard a PoliSci major, has never had a job for which his degree meant anything other than that he had a college degree in the first place.  "Unless I was actually going into teaching, that degree was pretty much useless from a job standpoint," he told me.  "I didn't take it because I thought it would improve my chances to get a job or to make more money.  I took it because I liked and was interested in politics, and I wanted exposure to the kinds of thought I would be encountering."  Meaning?  "Look, I didn't have any illusions that I'd be getting a good education.  After all, this was a school where the students cheered when they heard Reagan'd been shot.  They had bumper stickers that said 'Reagan in '80, Bush in '81.'  If they were any more left, they would have fallen off the table completely.  But I figure if you want to be involved in 'competitive' politics (as I did at the time), it's good to know what the enemy's saying about you."

But the point he went on to make is this: "Ultimately, it didn't matter what I studied.  I figured a successful school year was one in which I still knew as much at the end of the term as I did at the beginning.  As long as they didn't make me stupid, it was a good year.  But at the end I had that degree.  How many decent jobs can you get now where they don't ask for - demand - a college degree?  Even when it has nothing to do with the job itself?  It's lazy - they just use it as a gatekeeper to keep out the riffraff.  Most of the jobs out there can probably be handled just fine by someone with a degree from a vo-tech school."

I digress with that little anecdote, but only slightly.  Karlgaard's point in this article is similar to my friends - that college has become an enormous (and ridiculous) drain on family and individual finances, oftentimes for nothing more than a piece of paper that does little to prepare the student for life after college - and introduce him or her to a lifetime of debt. Karlgaard posits that the average student would "learn more and spend much less at a community college," and it's hard to disagree with that.  The money quote:

The U.S., I would argue, is driving itself crazy over early achievement. Expensive four-year colleges are a symptom. They’ve become a costly dream trap for too many kids and families. High school grades are overemphasized, SATs must be prepared for years in advance, youthful intellectual experiments (or pranks of the kind Steve Jobs famously engaged in) are discouraged–and for what? Most kids won’t get into the topflight college of their dreams. Worse, some who actually clear that bar will nearly bankrupt their parents in the process. Or they’ll find life so competitive at Elite U. that they drop down into the Mickey Mouse courses–which exist everywhere, even at Harvard–and end up with a worthless degree.

In fact, it's been my observation that education is really one of the last things the modern college is concerned with.  First and foremost is indoctrination, but after that there's the endless quest for prestige, to be able to say "we're the best business school in the world," or law school, or engineering school, or what have you, in the ratings that come out from publications such as US News  There's the desire for research dollars from governments and foundations.  There's the scam being leveraged on alums to provide financial support for the school.  There's a continuing, and growing, alliance with big government and big business to control access to the power in this country.

But don't just take my rantings - be sure to read all of what Karlgaard says, and discuss.

Originally published by Paul Drew on May 7, 2013