Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tell Him He Can Buy It on Amazon.com for Less and Without Your Snotty Judgement

What can you do when a customer wants a book that you not only find objectionable but also believe actually dangerous in the lessons it portends amidst such a politically precarious time?

Considering the book in question is Hillbilly Elegy, a New York Times bestseller by an author with whom I have enjoyed a correspondence, and whose personal story [he was born in a poor town in the nowhere of Ohio and worked his way through the Marine Corps and into Ivy League] rather resembles my own [I was born just miles from where he was, ditto the rest], that speaks eloquently of the role of personal responsibility and community in lifting oneself out of poverty and ignorance, I think it dangerous only to one.

Namely, the linked article's precious writer.

You work at a bookstore, sparky.  Just sell the books and take the money.

[For those wondering about today's heavy blogging, I'm at a conference that is so dull I stopped paying attention three hours ago.  Any minute now, I may pull the fire alarm.]

Well, Mostly Just the Dead Voters

The administration’s election-integrity commission will have its first meeting on Wednesday to map out how the president will strip the right to vote from millions of Americans.

I appreciate the hysterical zeal that some folks have about this, but voter lists could stand some scrutiny.  For example, my father voted twice in the last presidential election.  If that weren't astonishing enough, he had been dead for 23 months by that time.

Have One Less Child Than...What?


Does that mean slaughtering an existing child?  How wonderfully Old Testament.

I Can Make an Improvement to This

Global Harbour mall in Shanghai, China, is testing a new pilot program for men. Imagine four glass pods where men can go to play video games while their partner has shopping to do. According to the UK Telegraph, as translated from the state-run news site The Paper, each “husband rest cabin” would have:

Chair 
Monitor
Computer
Gamepod
Instead, how about:

Stool
Bar
Glass
Whiskey

Everything You Know is Wrong

"The change in dietary advice to promote low-fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Fault May Not Be in the Hormone, Madam, But in You

Appetizer:

I had been taking estrogen replacement therapy for four years prescribed after my hysterectomy at 36. But two weeks ago, my doctor added a special cream to boost my testosterone. She warned me of “odd symptoms,” but she didn’t mention this constant sexual distraction. Or the irrational anger. The day before, I dropped a fork in the kitchen and kicked it. It clattered into the base of the cabinet, but that wasn’t enough. I picked it up and threw it into the sink with a force intended to harm. When the mailman carelessly slammed a box onto the front steps, I resisted the urge to slap him silly.

Entree:

Does Testosterone Really Just Make Men Aggressive?  New research turns conventional wisdom about male hormone on its head.

Surprise!

The most self-consciously virtuous and progressive segment of our society is also the most exploitative of their workers.

University of Illinois-Chicago ad for language program director draws outcry: Ph.D.-Level Position, $28K Salary

I worked as an adjunct for one semester, once.  Yeah, no.

Do Not Surf Next to Fanning

Champion surfer Mick Fanning rescued as a great white shark circles below him - exactly two years after he punched one when it attacked him at the SAME event in South Africa

He's a shark magnet.

I'd Rather Read This Review Than the Book, as Prog Rock was Largely Dull

Still, it had its place.  Also, I think "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond" was a nice tribute to a fallen band mate.
This kind of excessive showmanship was part of what attracted fans to the strange musical movement known as progressive rock. In The Show That Never Ends (named for lyrics from Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Washington Post political reporter David Weigel recounts stories like this from the glory days of “prog” in the 1970s, when bands such as Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Genesis composed long, erudite, allusive songs about outer space, ancient myths, dreams of the future, and, in the words of Yes singer Jon Anderson, “discovery of the self and connection with the divine.”

Why the music is called “progressive” has never been entirely clear, and many of the most representative bands didn’t use the label to describe themselves. As with any artistic genre, precise definitions are disputed and boundaries are fuzzy: Debates about whether this or that band (or this or that album or period of a band’s work) is really progressive are a favorite pastime of fans. But the general idea is clear enough. In Weigel’s apt summary, prog had three main musical characteristics: retrospection, with artists looking to English and European influences rather than to contemporary American pop; futurism, using the newest techniques and instruments, like the Moog synthesizer or Mellotron keyboard; and perhaps most importantly, experimentation, with prog artists writing music with “19/8 rhythms, polyrhythms, polytonality,” and other unusual and challenging musical methods. Well-known prog-rock songs include Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” Yes’s “Roundabout,” and Rush’s “Closer to the Heart.”

Unpopular Thoughts


I think there's more artistic integrity in a Chuck Berry song than in a "concept album" by some pretentious pop musician.

Speaking of pop music, outside of contemporary country artists, do any of these performers actually sing live when on stage?  Do any of them not require technology to keep them in key?  Can any of them play an instrument while singing?

I'd rather have a whole stadium sing the National Anthem together at the beginning of a sports event, even an expensive, major one, than listen to some pop star, from the A to the D List, render her interpretation of it.  Really, I'm glad I'm not standing above Francis Scott Key's grave when she's doing so, for all of the spinning that must be going on.

Also, don't change the lyrics of "America the Beautiful" to fit the transient standards of the contemporary age.  It was a poem written by a woman of intellectual substance to celebrate the physical wonder of our country and God's favor towards those who tend to it.  Katherine Ward was a proper scholar and poet.  She taught at Wellesley in the 19th century, for heaven's sake.  To make her bona fide to 21st century audiences, I'll also mention that she was gay.  If you don't like her words, write your own dang national song.

However, since you can't play an instrument, sing on key, or read music, I doubt that you could.  Maybe you could put together a concept album, though.

Come to think of it, can you imagine what a dreary business a "social justice" national anthem would be?  The social justice perspective presumes forms of original sin, based on race, religion, and sex, without any opportunity for redemption.   In other words, it's neo-Marxist atheism.  Cool song, bro.

As ever, I find Alex Trebek obtuse.  I look forward to his retirement.  Well, unless he's replaced by Matt Lauer.  In which case, please come back, Alex.  Now I have to go yell at these kids who are on my lawn.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Pura Yucatán

A divertimento this week, in honor of summer.


The monkey had seized his Pepsi, an act that left Estefan somewhat agitated.  He had never liked Mexican spider monkeys ever since he had seen one snap his brother’s index finger like a twig back when they were boys.  Twenty years later, the sight of one would reduce him to a state of medieval terror.  The fact that the monkey was now sitting next to him on the tailgate of one of the pickup trucks belonging to the university’s archaeology department, with its legs crossed like his, helping itself to his bottle of Pepsi and behaving like any of the other diggers under the shade of some mangroves, had left him in a state of descolada.

Of course, Estefan also disliked thunderstorms, mud, bus drivers, Coca-Cola, and norteño music; the latter being something on which the two of us often agreed.  This was not lost on Heraclio, another digger at the archaeological site and our truck driver, who would gleefully read the weather report to Estefan whenever it included a prediction of rain, deliberately drive closely behind buses on the  narrow roads of the central portion of Quintana Roo, and turn up the volume whenever Los Tigres del Norte were playing on the radio.  In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Heraclio had trained the monkey to steal Estefan’s Pepsi.

The relationship between the two diggers, who were also cousins, would have made for an execrable journey had it not been for the fact that they were taking me to what they described as “a beautiful cenote [or sinkhole]” so that I could experience Yucatan-style surfing.  As we were about twenty-five miles from the coastline, my curiosity was piqued some by a surfing opportunity in the middle of the flat, dry llano.  That and I had never seen a sinkhole that could be described as beautiful.

So, as we drove through towns named after either Christian saints or monstrous Mayan royalty, as Estefan and Heraclio bickered about technique, I heard about the main feature of the Yucatan method.

“We do not use surfboards, doctore,” said Estefan.  “We use rododendro.  You will see; it is pura Yucatán”  Heraclio just laughed and nodded like a bobble-head doll.

My Spanish has always been horrible.  In fact, the university staff would label what I spoke “kitchen Mexican”, so I didn’t think it odd that Estefan had just said that they surfed using houseplants.  I just assumed that I hadn’t understood him over the roar of the loose muffler and the top 40 norteño hits that Heraclio had blaring from the truck’s radio.  That is, until we got to the cenote.

Truly, if a sinkhole could be beautiful, this was the one.  It was introduced by a stark opening at ground level of approximately seventy-five feet in diameter.  Crude stairs that looked rather ancient had been cut in the limestone walls in a rough spiral from the opening to the small patch of earth and sand about three stories below that served as a type of beach at the bottom.  The remainder of the sinkhole’s base was liquid.  Aided by the minerals in the earth and vegetation that grew within and around the opening and down its dark shaft, the water at the bottom of the cenote was made azure; capturing and magnifying the available sunlight but retaining a refreshing coolness.

Second only to the water in vividity was the verdant vegetation that clung to the sides of the shaft and dropped their roots from the sun-soaked surface thirty feet down to the water, lacing into strong knots of vines that formed basketball-sized root balls just below the water’s surface.  It wasn’t until I saw the cousins grab these vines and begin to swing themselves from the spiral steps to just above the water level that I realized the plants were, in fact, tropical rhododendrons.  Remarkably, I had heard correctly; they did use rhodadendro instead of surfboards.

The sport, as I came to learn it, in sinkhole surfing is bending both vine and body so that the soles of one’s feet, at the right moment of the parabola, make contact with the water and, if timed right, enable the “surfer” to release his grip upon the vine and glide across the water’s surface on a buffer of surface tension.  It wasn’t a long ride, and the cousins would loudly celebrate even a five foot glide, but it also wasn’t easy.  In fact, learning the nuance in a Hawaiian short board was probably simpler.  For over an hour, once I was assured that the vines would hold my weight, I repeatedly sent myself inauspiciously into the water with a sizable splash.  However, in the second hour, I was beginning to get the hang of it.

While it was a hot, humid day and a dusty ride after a long week of fruitless digging among the remnant stones of a pitiable Mayan archaeological site, when Estefan suddenly remembered that on his last trip to the cenote he had hidden a number of bottles of Noche Buena in the cool deepness, it turned into one of the best and most memorable days spent in any kind of water.  Our fatigue from work, and Estefan’s descolada, were cured.

In fact, to this day, after a particularly good session of conventional surfing, if asked how was the water, I sometimes respond that it was “pura Yucatán”.

[Excerpt from Reading Water, all rights reserved ©2011]

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alcoholic, Patriotic Archaeological News

Wine Meant to Toast John Adams’s Presidency Was Just Discovered

It's the Mug, Right? It's Too Small.


"Couples Don’t Need Wedding Loans. They Need More Modest Weddings"

Really, it's about time someone said this. Someone with more influence than a parish priest nobody like me.
...wedding loans are a “thing” for couples who find that their combined student-loan debt doesn’t concentrate the mind wonderfully enough. “You shouldn’t let your finances or your credit keep you from having the wedding you’ve always wanted,” chirps the website Bridalloans.com, encouragingly. (Note to brides: Actually, yes, you should. It’s called living within one’s means, and those who do it fare better on every scale of physical and emotional health than those who don’t).
Another website, myweddingloans.com, frets with brides-to-be over the cost of the photographer ($2,000!), the caterer ($65 per person!), and the “Historic church you’ve always dreamed of exchanging your vows in” ($4,000!).  You know, in case the Mandarin Oriental isn’t available. At least we now know what churches will be used for when the secularization of America is complete....
4000 bucks?!  Man, have I been cheating myself.

Besides that startling figure, the massive wedding, with its expenses and remarkable drama, is one of the signs of the emptiness of cultural nihilism.  I've seen too many "big" weddings serve as the high point of a couple's marriage, especially since many already have children who pre-date the nuptials.  Once the wedding is complete, there seems to be this sense of "Is that all there is?". 

Apparently it is now radical to note that there is a substantial difference between a wedding and a marriage.  To permit the former to color the latter with long-term and unconscionable debt is un-wise and, on the part of the lender, unsavory.

The War on Spelling Continues

Occult News

Ancient religious stones hiding secret message only visible at night

Needlehooks

The Wages of the Campus Revolts
The reason for the collapse is clear: Over the past few years, leftwing activism on college campuses has reached a level of intensity not seen since at least the “canon wars” of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and possibly not since the countercultural movements of the 1960s. Meanwhile, campus PC blowups—over trigger warnings, safe spaces, sexual harassment, and offensive speakers—dovetailed with the 2016 presidential campaign, as Hillary Clinton touted “intersectionality” on her Twitter feed and Donald Trump reveled in raising a middle finger to the ever-proliferating codes of academic liberalism.

Conservative media has also played an important role. Privileged students ensconced in $60,000-per-year institutions shouting down speakers for incorrect opinions on gender pronouns makes the perfect foil for the new anti-PC right. So right-wing journalists have followed the excesses of the campus left closely, spreading news of the latest insanity far and wide, often with a touch of hyperbole thrown in.

Most campus lefties will probably look at these numbers as evidence that Republicans are even more anti-intellectual than they thought, and that the #resistance against them needs to be taken up a few notches. This would be a big mistake. The homogenization of leftwing views on college campuses, and the obvious hostility to conservative ones was bound to produce a backlash from conservative voters. That backlash has been wrapped up in class conflict between a highly-credentialed professional class and a working class that finds higher education and the well-paying jobs it provides to the elite increasingly out of reach.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Not Just Vegas

The Decline of Marriage Is Hitting Vegas Hard

This is the first summer in my 35 years of church work that I have no wedding at which to officiate. I have not had one for ten months, which is really, really unusual.

I haven't any explanation that's terribly perspicacious.  If pressed, I would note that the institution of marriage, such as it is, is much more associated with the civic, rather than religious, definition these days, and that it is amorphous as it varies from state to state.  In its government form, like much that is controlled by the government, it seems trivial.

Younger people are not as interested in institutions of any sort, certainly not those of such a socially-enforced permanence.

Many young men, looking at the demands that are placed on them through marriage, with minimal rewards should the marriage be broken, what with the possibility of loss of income and access to their children, are avoiding such relationships altogether.

Perhaps, and this is the most obvious to me professionally, the regard with which the man in a marital relationship is held is far more mercenary than in the recent past.  The man, whether he be suitor, groom, or father, is a prop at the wedding, the provider of at least a portion of the income that permits the purchase of the woman's "dream house", and a biological ingredient in the creation of children.  Beyond that, his role is minimal and his concerns often belittled or otherwise disregarded.

Seriously, look at how husbands and fathers are treated in popular culture and TV commercials.  No wonder there's a market for books such as this one.

My Conferences are Never This Fun


Not as Much as Not Being Able to Communicate

College writing center: Proper grammar perpetuates ‘racist,’ ‘unjust language structure’

It costs over $50,000 a year to learn to write and speak gibberish at this college.  Enjoy the second or third mortgage, moms and dads.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Penguin Shaming


Just like in elementary school.  Girls are always good; boys are always bad.  By the end of the week, Timmy will be soaked in Ritalin.  

From Paradise, Matti Smiles

Iraqi Prime Minister congratulates armed forces for Mosul victory

Mosul was the home town of my late mentor, Matti Moosa.  It was also the city of the earliest Episcopal Church missionary work in the Middle East in the 19th century.  There are were a lot of Christians who live lived there and many places of worship are in need of reclamation.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Eugenie Clark


"Sharks are beautiful animals, and if you're lucky enough to see lots of them, that means that you're in a healthy ocean. You should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don't see sharks." - Sylvia Earle
_____________________________________________________________

I was once jammed onto an airplane in the midst of a gaggle of well-fed corporate men and women who were highly charged after attending a week long "team-work and incentive" workshop in Las Vegas.  After the third pass of the liquor cart, my well-lubed cabin mates were dancing in the aisle to the dulcet tones of Shakira and Justin Timberlake, poorly navigating the various armrests and safety features of the Boeing 767, and chanting slogans inherited from their conference.  Chief among them was "WE SWIM WITH SHARKS.  WAHOO!!!"

Yes, it was a long flight.  One of the few things that lightened the ordeal was that I was traveling with my surf buddy, Boonie Jackson, and we had just spent the week driving up and down the Pacific Coast Highway surfing every beach that looked worthy of the stoke.  After the fourth or fifth "WAHOO!!!", we traded a bemused look.

See, we had spent seven days literally swimming with sharks, and not as a corporate metaphor, and knew that it was hardly the pinnacle of physical or moral courage.  All it meant was that we had been in the water.

Now it's true that there have been injuries and fatalities associated with shark attacks on surfers, especially with that of friend-of-The CoracleBethany Hamilton.  However, more surfers have drowned or suffered significant head trauma on submerged coral than have ever encountered a shark.  This writer has surfed for forty-six years in various world waters and, while he has seen his share of the genus Carcharodon, he has never been menaced by them.  This is also true of the sharks encountered while bonefishing in the flats of the Florida Keys, sailing off of Cape Cod, and scuba diving the Palancar Reef.  They are always there, but they tend to keep their own counsel.

However, it goes without saying that sharks have a reputation.  There was a time when it was common for ocean-going pleasure craft to carry "shark guns" on board.  These were usually salt-water resistant shotguns or rifles used for deer hunting.  Ernest Hemingway famously employed a Thompson Sub-Machine Gun on board his fishing boat, Pilar, and once, while attempting to kill a shark that had been hauled aboard while sail-fishing, shot himself in both legs with a .45 Colt.

There are also shark fishing competitions, specially designed shark spear guns and pneumatic knives, and multiple recipes for shark parts, popular in the Pacific Rim countries, that require an alarming level of slaughter.  There have been many, many movies and even a few novels that present sharks as a rapacious predator that will automatically attack any human in the water. 

A few years back, a couple of Hawaiian surfers, tired of the waves being crowded by amateurs, took some old, broken surfboards, cut what looked like shark bites out of them, and liberally distributed them about the beaches of the North Shore.  Suddenly, the surf wasn't as crowded any more.  Hence, as with my plane cabin mates, the employment of the shark as a metaphor for danger even among those who work in some of the safest jobs ever known in human history.

It would take quite a novel thinker to work against that current of common thinking about sharks to truly study them and present their much more complicated role in the aquatic eco-system.  A pioneer, of sorts.  Fortunately, a couple of New York City parents created such a pioneer when they decided in the early part of the 20th century to do something that nowadays would get them arrested and publicly shamed on a variety of news shows and on social media.  They would, on a near-daily basis, drop off their nine-year-old daughter at the New York Aquarium for her to spend the day, alone and un-escorted, as a true "free-range" kid.

Instead of giving her a life's worth of trauma, as would be the case with some of the often soft, coddled children of the current age, it created in Eugenie Clark a robust curiosity about ocean life and eco-systems.  She would, because of her parents so "endangering" her, become the pre-eminent expert on sharks and a pioneer for women in the field of marine biology. 

Born in 1922, Clark's father died when she was still a toddler and her Japanese-American mother married the famous restaurateur, Nobu, which granted Clark the wherewithal necessary to pursue the considerable academic degrees necessary for her field.  These included degrees in zoology from Hunter College and New York University and considerable research work done with Scripps Institutions of Oceanography in California, its eastern counterpart, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute of Massachusetts, and the American Museum of Natural History.  Some of her most significant work was done with the U.S. Office of Naval Research, which had both an astronomical budget and the absolute best in post-WWII technology for the study of the ocean.

Most of Clark's studies would take place among the atolls and islands of the South Pacific, including Micronesia, Melanesia, and the Marshall, Palau, and Marianas Islands.  To further her research, it was necessary for her to be a proficient swimmer, certified scuba diver [I would remind the reader that this was before scuba diving was made popular by the TV show, "Sea Hunt"], cave diver, and technologically able.  Again, she did this, too, at a time when it was so rare for a woman to be involved in these particular sciences that she gained the respectful sobriquet of "The Shark Lady".

While she studied a great many types of fish, it was her work with sharks that gained her most notoriety, as her research reversed many of the assumptions about sharks that were and are common.  She wrote numerous articles, both scholarly and popular, on the subject of sharks and published several books, including Lady With A Spear and The Lady With The Sharks [I always thought both sounded as if they were fiction written by John D. MacDonald or some such mid-century pulp writer], and served as a mentor to numerous women in the biological sciences.  She was also the founding director of what is now known as the Mote Marine Laboratory.

Not only did she, in the midst of researching the biology of a rather dull flatfish, indirectly discover the most effective shark repellent yet produced, made from the secretions of a Pardachirus marmoratus [or Moses sole, a Red Sea dweller], but she also highlighted what was realistic in the feeding habits of sharks.

As an editorial note, when I first compiled the list of the people to be remembered on Fridays over the course of a year, Dr. Clark was included and, at the time, still alive.  My concern was that her scientific and social contributions had been forgotten and her inclusion was to be an attempt to redress that possibility.  However, shortly afterwards, at the age of 92, Dr. Clark died and was memorialized in all of the major media.  Thus, there is much about her to be read on line, so the original reason for posting is no longer as necessary as I once thought.

[Although a non-smoker, she died of lung cancer.  Many of those early scuba enthusiasts developed the disease and it is thought to be related to the gas mixtures and the equipment used in diving in those days.]

The handy thing about weblogs, though, is that they can be wonderfully personal.  As such, it might be appropriate to note one of her contributions that was left unmentioned in the canned obituaries and vague remembrances in scientific journals.  Namely, Clark taught watermen the real nature of sharks.

From the New York Times:
She insisted that “Jaws,” the 1975 Steven Spielberg film based on a Peter Benchley novel, and its sequels inspired unreasonable fears of sharks as ferocious killers. Car accidents are far more numerous and terrible than shark attacks, she said in a 1982 PBS documentary, “The Sharks.”
She said at the time that only about 50 shark attacks on humans were reported annually and that only 10 were fatal, and that the great white shark portrayed in “Jaws” would attack only if provoked, while most of the world’s 350 shark species were not dangerous to people at all.
“When you see a shark underwater,” she said, “you should say, ‘How lucky I am to see this beautiful animal in his environment.’ ”
She was never attacked in any of her nearly 75 years literally swimming with sharks, and only once suffered a wound from one when a sample of a shark's jaws fell against her arm while she was driving in her car to a lecture.

Her learned perspective and positive attitude towards even the most feared of sharks is one that injects a necessary note of reality into any experience in the water.  While care always needs to be taken in the open and untamed sea, it is a care born of common sense and a full understanding of one's surroundings.
 “Monster stories fascinate us,” she conceded, but people should not be afraid of sharks: “People want to know all the horrible details. And a shark attack can give you horrible details. People just can’t put it into perspective. We’ve learned, as most divers do, they’re not really dangerous at all. It’s no worse diving with sharks than it is driving a car down the road. The average shark, the more you swim around, scares off easily.”

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Families, Freedom, Country, and God are Bad Now, I See


Or at least "alt-right" in their value.  These are odd times.

The Science is Settled


Needlehooks

I occasionally come across quotations that snag my attention like a needle-hook to yarn. I may or may not agree with the writer's perspective, but the quotation represents something that stirs my thinking and, sometimes, imagination. From time to time, I'll share them and their source, but caveat emptor.

All Institutions are Suffering, Not Just Churches

Losing millions of dollars, Colonial Williamsburg makes ‘difficult decisions’

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Unpopular Thoughts

Yes, that's Trebek.  He's doing his Mick Jagger impersonation.  See what I mean?

I prefer German to Italian opera.

An observation for small businesses: When your sign says that you open at 8:30am, that means you're open and ready for business at 8:30am.  That's not the time you arrive for work.  At 8:30am, the door should be open, the lights on, and the cash register ready with change.

Traffic circles cause bad drivers to self-identify.

Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." is not a great 4th of July song; it's about an American bitter in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.  Seriously, look at the lyrics sometime.  It's actually grim and horrible.  Celebrate "America the Beautiful" instead.  The third verse addresses our imperfections in a way that is hopeful and true.

I still find Alex Trebek obtuse.

Things Have Not Gone Well These Past Ten Years


Never assume your politician is Jesus.

They Certainly Aren't Well in Connecticut

Connecticut has passed a law protecting colleges against lawsuits alleging that they failed to provide students with a valuable education in exchange for their hefty tuition charges...

But instead of doing something to make sure that colleges do provide value for money, the State of Connecticut has apparently concluded that the only way to protect college revenues from pesky lawsuits is to make it illegal for consumers to sue them on those grounds. Another sign that things are not well in American higher ed.

I think people are figuring out that a lifetime of six-figure debt in return for a X Studies degree that guarantees an appointment to barista school is not a good deal.

Now that the institutions can't be held responsible for their misleading advertising and poor performance, it'll just get worse.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Good Job, Brian


From the Preface to "Leaves of Grass"

The Americans of all nations at any time upon the earth, have probably the fullest poetical nature. The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem. In the history of the earth hitherto the largest and most stirring appear tame and orderly to their ampler largeness and stir. Here at last is something in the doings of man that corresponds with the broadcast doings of the day and night. Here is not merely a nation but a teeming nation of nations. Here is action untied from strings necessarily blind to particulars and details magnificently moving in vast masses. Here is the hospitality which forever indicates heroes. . . . Here are the roughs and beards and space and ruggedness and nonchalance that the soul loves. Here the performance disdaining the trivial unapproached in the tremendous audacity of its crowds and groupings and the push of its perspective spreads with crampless and flowing breadth and showers its proflic and splendid extravagance. One sees it must indeed own the riches of the summer and winter, and need never be bankrupt while corn grows from the ground or the orchards drop apples or the bays contain fish or men beget children upon women.

Other states indicate themselves in their deputies . . . but the genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors . . . but always most in the common people. Their manners, speech, dress, friendship—the freshness and candor of their physiognomy—the picturesque looseness of their carriage … their deathless attachment to freedom—their aversion to anything indecorous or soft or mean—the practical acknowledgment of the citizens of one state by the citizens of all other states—the fierceness of their roused resentment—their curiosity and welcome of novelty—their self-esteem and wonderful sympathy—their susceptibility to a slight—the air they have of persons who never knew how it felt to stand in the presence of superiors—the fluency of their speech—their delight in music, the sure symptom of manly tenderness and native elegance of soul . . .  their good temper and open handedness—the terrible significance of their elections—the President’s taking off his hat to them, not they to him—these too are unrhymed poetry. It awaits the gigantic and generous treatment worthy of it. - Walt Whitman, 1855

Good News for the American Holiday

University of Texas researcher may have found a cure for diabetes

Music from Kerouac's Day

The Most Fourth of July Story. Ever.

(A rerun from last year.  It's worth it, I think.)

So, an Army veteran sees a bald eagle tangled in a rope and hanging upside down from a tree.  He calls the various authorities to see if they will use their very expensive, tax-funded equipment to save the bird's life.  Naturally, as this would have meant some modicum of intelligence, civic devotion, and moxie, the tax-funded authorities said "No".

Thus, left to his own devices and ready to trust his own judgment and ability, he did the only thing that he could.  He shot away the branches and the rope with his rifle, freeing the eagle and getting it to a veterinary clinic.

Sharp-Shooting Army Veteran Saves Bald Eagle Stuck Up A Tree 

So, the 4th of July lessons involved are:
1.  Good intentions do not move public employees to action. 
2.  Taxed revenue is largely wasted.
3.  Own a rifle and know how to use it well.
4.  There is no time in the great history of our republic that bureaucrats have not stood in the way of common sense and compassionate aid.
5.  Direct action is always the best.

Or, as the eagle's savior said, "Fourth of July, you know, that’s our bird. I can’t let it sit there.”

Monday, July 3, 2017

Within a Generation, the Anglican Church in North America Will Have More Members Than The Episcopal Church [of the US]

From the linked article:
The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is planting one new church a week, Archbishop Foley Beach told delegates to the triennial gathering of some 1400 Anglicans, at Wheaton College, in the heartland of America's Bible belt. The ACNA also officially received The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina as the newest diocese with some 9,000 members – the largest of 31 dioceses in the orthodox Anglican body.
This seems to counter the perspectives of Episcopal Church leaders who have presented a variety of theories as to why TEC's membership is now more selective.

Some stray observations by an ordained nobody:

Suing parishes for their property caused a number of TEC dioceses to spend a lot of their money. Most of these lawsuits were won by TEC, as is noted in the article, but what the dioceses were left with were parishes with inadequate membership, attendance, or giving to maintain a viable ministry.  Many of these parishes were subsequently closed and sold, usually at a reduced price. The money for the lawsuits has never really been recovered, either.

It also caused the membership of the ACNA to re-think the role of property in the practice of ministry.  If a congregation has a standard membership size, but does not have to carry the cost of a building, its utilities, insurance, lawn care, and snow removal, suddenly there is a whole lot of money available for ministry.  Even if they decide to build or buy a church, it's done as an extension of their ministry.  In other words, ministry comes before the building in the ACNA; it is often the opposite in TEC.  Through the years, my main responsibility as the clergy leader of a parish has been to ensure that we have the wherewithal to repair and maintain the property.  For some of my colleagues, that becomes fatiguing.

I'm going out on a limb here, this is based on the work I did with parishes ten to fifteen years ago, but I think the original controversy was not so much about sexuality and related liturgical practices as it was being regarded as a [to use a contemporary term] "deplorable" if one did not toe the official TEC line regarding these social issues.  The thing is, not everyone evolves in the same manner and according to a strict timeline established by a diocesan bishop's personal social consciousness.

During this period, I worked for some bishops who believed the motto of TEC should be "Everyone will have the same thoughts at the same time; Everyone will use the same words."  They were disdainful of clergy and laity who evidenced even the slightest hesitation in conforming their thoughts and words to the bishops' expectations.  It was ugly and unbecoming.  Unfortunately, and they will never have the personal awareness to admit it, membership was lost due to their intolerance and phobia of those with whom they disagreed.

Also, I strongly doubt that there are that many members of TEC.  If that figure is based on parish rosters, it would be safe to trim it by 50%.

Jersey Surfers Don't Care as There's a Lousy Break on That Beach

Jersey voters, the proles who aren't permitted on their own beaches, may feel differently, however.

Chris Christie Enjoying a Public Beach During a Government Shutdown Is What Politicians Do:
It shouldn't surprise you when politicians show their true nature.

By the way, can an economic basket case like New Jersey actually afford both this


and this


just for their governor?

It may be time for a little of this kind of thinking on the part of the proles, eh?


Since It's the 150th Anniversary of the Dominion of Canada, We Should Know of the Kanaka

Not to mention the exiled Canadians who mostly built what's now Sydney, Australia.

Hawaiian-Canadians and ‘Buffalo’ Canadians: The hidden history of confederation

The Facebook Guy is Trying to be Hazel Motes

FACEBOOK AS CHURCH

If you don't know Motes, go here.  He founded the Church Without God.  "Where the blind don't see, the lame don't walk, and what's dead stays that way."

This is Actual News

House panel votes to split Air Force, create new U.S. Space Corps

While the press is, as usual these days, busy reporting on itself, this rather major decision was made.  Some politicians were caught off guard, too, as they haven't had the chance to organize the graft possible with this new boondoggle.

I hope there's a uniform contest.

Establishing a "Safe Zone" for the Sharks' Favorite Food Does Have Side Effects

Growing concerns over great white shark boom off Cape Cod

Saturday, July 1, 2017