31 October 2010

Update on the Sorcerer's Apprentice

You know who I mean if you are a regular reader of this blog (or The Blob, as Mother used to call it).

TPM has had a poor suffering reporter covering the latest Christine O'Donnell event by Twitter (please somebody, explain to me what that means and why it is important). Here is one of his several Twits, or Twitters, or whatever a Twitter Message is known as:

Karl has really pissed off the tea party. Bruce just put Rove, Obama and Rahm in the same sentence. Wow. #midterms

Please excuse me while I go follow that white rabbit down the bunny hole.

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It goes without saying.

But they had to say it.

Click here.

Just sayin'.

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Advice for Christian students... or anyone

Via Andrew Sullivan comes this page of good advice from Stanley Hauerwas in First Things. It is good advice. Even if you aren't a Christian. You should read the WHOLE thing (as I tell my students), especially if you happen to teach at a college or university.

First, the inescapably Christian part:
“The Christian religion,” wrote Robert Louis Wilken, “is inescapably ritualistic (one is received into the Church by a solemn washing with water), uncompromisingly moral (‘be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,’ said Jesus), and unapologetically intellectual (be ready to give a ‘reason for the hope that is in you,’ in the words of 1 Peter). Like all the major religions of the world, Christianity is more than a set of devotional practices and a moral code: it is also a way of thinking about God, about human beings, about the world and history.”

I like that last part about history.

Here is the part Sullivan likes (me too).

But there is much more. Here is a part I like, partly because it has some relevance to my particular institution:
It’s not easy for anyone who is serious about the intellectual life, Christian or not. The curricula of many colleges and universities may seem, and in fact may be, chaotic. Many schools have no particular expectations. You check a few general-education boxes—a writing course, perhaps, and some general distributional requirements—and then do as you please. Moreover, there is no guarantee that you will be encouraged to read. Some classes, even in the humanities, are based on textbooks that chop up classic texts into little snippets. You cannot become friends with an author by reading half a dozen pages. Finally, and perhaps worse because insidious, there is a strange anti-intellectualism abroad in academia.

And if you were going to boil it down to a few sound bites:
But you are a Christian. This means you cannot go to college just to get a better job.

And, of course, you cannot read enough Trollope. Think of books as the fine threads of a spider’s web. They link and connect.

You cannot and should not try to avoid being identified as an intellectual.

Also, go to the bookstore at the beginning of the term to see which professors assign books—and I mean real books, not textbooks.

Although many professors are not Christians (at some schools, most aren’t), many professors have a piety especially relevant to the academic life.

So read the whole thing. Even if you aren't a Christian, or aren't a very good one, the advice is good and provokes thought.

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The Use of Comedians

In the Middle Ages every king, emperor, or really important armored thug, had a court jester. Even Attila the Hun. Their purpose was to tell the truths that no one else dared utter.

We still have some. Here's one now:

[Jon Stewart] had a closing statement of sorts, speaking at the very end for about 12 minutes, and if you haven't seen it, it's worth watching -- not just for the humor or the poignancy, but because it helped summarize the point of the gathering. Stewart didn't seem especially disappointed with partisans, ideologues, or activists; he reserved his discontent for the "tool" we're supposed to rely on for "delineating" between sanity and insanity -- i.e., the American media -- which Stewart believes "broke."

The 24-hour news media, Stewart said, "did not cause our problems. But its existence makes solving them that much harder.... If we amplify everything, we hear nothing. The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we eventually get sicker."

Go here to watch the video of a scorching critique of the media and a surprisingly moving description of the American people as they really are. Late for something they should be doing. Probably something really important.

I'd write more but I am late for finishing a paper that has to be done by last week at the absolute latest. And I have to have it done before Máeráed the anchor baby and family return for the great Sanity Rally in DC, my hometown.

Meanwhile ABC hires Andrew Breitbart for news commentary. And then tries to walk it back. Profiles in media courage.

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29 October 2010

A little Mongol history from Jon Stewart

Carmen brought home from the library Jon Stewart's (or his team of writers') new book Earth (the Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race. On one page is a supposed birth announcement that I will quote in full, because it appeals to my sense of humor and they get the history right, mostly.

Genghis and Chaka Khan
are pleased to announce
the birth of their son
November 5, 1185

At the Khentti Maternity Yurt

May he be a blight on the World!

This is hilarious if you are into Mongol humor.

Carmen and I once named a dog Jochi (though later he had to change his name to Riley-ugh)

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Sometimes the juxtaposition of headlines in The Washington Post blog takes on an unintended salience. Here are two from today:

So our political and economic elite have $4 billion to spend on campaigning at a time when the rest of us are worried about a home to live in. As I said, I suspect this is one reason the Tea Partiers are so angry.

Hope you all vote on Tuesday.

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25 October 2010

The Elites

It has been a steady thesis here that the elites, old and new, failed and were seen to fail during the double aughts. It is one of the reasons, I suspect, that the Tea Partyers are so angry. But who are the elites?

There is a revealing article here from the Washington Post that may throw some light on the 'new' elite. Fortunately (from my pov) I don't fall into this category: didn't go to an elite university (though I went to an excellent one - Un of MN), live in a small town (really small), don't work for an elite school (ahem), didn't marry a fabulously elite and wealthy spouse (that's not a complaint!), and actually have a few good friends who are Evangelicals (despite being an Episcopalian from birth, once the sign of the 'inner' elite).

The major thing that worries me about the new elite is that their predominate ethic seems to revolve around careerism.

a type of family value btw


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21 October 2010

Country to Emulate!

East Germany.

They know how to close their border. Here is Tea Party candidate Joe Miller on how to solve our immigration problem, based on his military time on the German border:

During that time, he said, "East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow" from one side of the border to the other. "Now, obviously, other things there were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, obviously to secure our border. If East Germany could, we could."

And, indeed, we could. If we want to be like East Germany.

the picture is an example of how the East Germans closed the border with the Berlin Wall (and shooting anyone who got near it).


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A quote from a Tea Partier

Here it is:
“Some people say I’m extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too,” - Kelly Khuri, founder, Clark County Tea Party Patriots.

Yep. No more extreme than the Birchers. I suppose you have to be as old as I am to remember a time when the John Birch Society was virtually the definition of "extreme" in America and Bill Buckley, founder of National Review among other accomplishments, drove them out of the conservative Republican ranks.

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A funny thing happened on the way to the Tea Party.

Read Dana Milbank on the plutocratic co-option of the Tea Party.

Assuming there ever was a Tea Party.

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13 October 2010

Without Comment

[Kuriositas, (Image Credit Flickr User worldlflandsinfo).]

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05 October 2010


Some shots of the lovely scenery in that state to our south, the one nearly surrounded by water.

ps: got the link from Andrew Sullivan.

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02 October 2010

Can't resist

Another John Wayne flick, with an unintentionally creepy movie poster.
Something is wrong with that poor kid.

Is she a hostage? Or what?

The Duke

That would be John Wayne, right?

I always thought so too, but check out this poster.

"Duke" is his DEVIL horse!

And Carmen insists that John Wayne is wearing rouge and eyeshadow.

"Ride Him Cowboy" indeed.

Golden Age of Comics

Once upon a time, long long ago, I wanted to be a comic book artist. Something in me still does, but it usually keeps pretty quiet, except when I come across blogs like this one.

I am sticking it here so I can go back and wander through it whenever I want.

I think our little friend Mr Miggs would love some of these old illustrations.


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Churchill's sense of proportion

Wandering through the Frum Forum, the last overtly right wing blog I can read with profit (and some minor entertainment in between gritting my teeth) I came across this:

Winston Churchill once entered a men’s room where his Labour Party rival Clement Attlee was standing at a urinal. As Churchill moved to the far end of the room, Attlee asked: “Feeling standoffish today, are we, Winston?”

Churchill’s reply went down in history: “That’s right. Every time you see something big, you want to nationalize it.”

The rest of the article is worth pondering too. It explains my first paragraph here.


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Ugh... what a way to eat

Just read this sickening report here.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that nearly 40 percent of calories consumed by children ages 2 to 18 were empty calories, the unhealthiest kind of calories.

Half of these calories came from just six foods:
Sugary fruit drinks
Grain desserts, such as cake, cookies and donuts
Dairy desserts such as ice cream
Whole milk, which is far fattier than skim.

Except for the Pizza of course, which I am sure is part of a balanced diet (grain, dairy, meat, veggies) I think this is terrible!

Here at the Clemens' household we don't have children, not human ones anyway. I am, however, concerned about Mosby Cat's binging and vomiting on Gerber's Turkey n Gravy baby food.

See. This is why I always make sure I eat enough of two basic health food powerhouses: chocolate and red wine.

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