Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Pop Culture Beat

Greetings, Situationers, from the shallow reaches of my brain. Having just completed a chapter and shipped it off to the adviser, I regale you with two tips from my vast array of recent pop culture findings:

1. Time arrived in our mailbox today and the cover story is about Mark Twain: "How he changed the way we view politics, Why he was ahead of his time on race, What his writing can teach America today." I'm not a Twain scholar, nor am I a scholar of America in that era, but the article and sidebars were interesting in a sweeping news magazine sort of way.

2. If you loved Lisa Loeb back in the Reality Bites days--and who didn't--check out her kids albums, Catch the Moon and Camp Lisa. Sweet Toddler J is obsessed with the title track on the first album (below), along with "Jenny Jenkins," which is only available as a single. Enjoy:

Government Compelled Speech

A 2005 law in South Dakota, which will go into effect now after a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th District, appears that it will alter the parent-doctor relationship and compel doctors to engage in an ideological conversation about abortion. From Slate:
The South Dakota law requires doctors to give patients who come for an abortion a written statement telling them that "the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being," and that they have "an existing relationship with that unborn human being" that is constitutionally protected. (What does the constitutionally protected part mean? Who knows.) In addition, doctors are ordered to describe "all known medical risks of the procedure and statistically significant risk factors," including "depression and related psychological distress" and "increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide."
Overlooking whether or not the information is actually factual, and the Slate article discuss there is good reason to be skeptical of some of the claims, the decision by the 8th Circuit challenges one of Justice Powell's main contention in Roe: the fetus is not a human being. Further, it compels doctors to make that argument to women whether they believe it or not, which seems to be a clear violation of the first amendment. If the first amendment is to hold any meaning whatsoever it must mean that it protects liberty of conscience and the government cannot tell you what to think. The government may be able to persuade you to adopt a view but it cannot compel you to adopt a view. If the government cannot force flag salutes or prayer in school, it would seem more than reasonable that doctors should not be compelled to discuss ideological viewpoints about abortion.

Also, this decision is demeaning to women as the government paternalism forces them to "think about their actions" as if they would not do this if the state had not told them.

This would be an interesting case before the Supreme Court, especially if the first amendment issue were raised. In the previous Supreme Court decision on late-term abortions, Justice Kennedy decision wrote about women the distress women feel about not having all of the information as if it were the Doctor's responsibility to provide it and, it seems that this bill is the logical extension of that position: if the doctors did not provide the information then the government should provide it. This could be a dilemma for Justice Scalia who desires the end of Roe v. Wade like no other but who also is a guardian of free speech and for Justice Thomas who desires the end of Roe but believes that the legislature not interfere with commerce, which in this case would be the relationship between a woman and her doctor.

The case may be important enough and novel enough for the Supremes to examine.

Friday, July 04, 2008

My Patriotism Overfloweth....

Megs and I just discussed the lyrics and meaning to Yankee Doodle Dandle. It is quite the nonsensical uproar....

Originally, British soldiers used the tune to mock Americans, especially for their "simpleton" nature in appearance and sophistication. During the Civil War, the Southern Democrats used the tune to attack Northerners. Currently, school children learn a parody version, like the rest of their history.

King o' the Dogs...

Joey Chestnut defended his title successfully thanks to a impressive binge during a Five-Bun eat-off overtime session at the 2008 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island.

Let the world rejoice, Free at Last, Free at Last....

Song of the Day

Joey Chestnut, A Great American Hero

Previously, we at The Situation have discussed some Fourth of July traditions, such as reciting The Declaration or reading "To What to the Slave is the Fourth of July."

However, now we must discuss present traditions and present Great American Heroes, such as Joey Chestnut-- the top ranked eater in the International Federation of Competitive Eating and the winner of the 2007 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island. "And like a Coney Island Cyclone, I won't chicken out." (Props to anyone who can name the band and song of that near famous lyric.)

Chestnut began his professional eating career in a 2005 Deep-Fried Asparagus Eating Contest, where he consumed 6.5 lbs of the delectable treat in 11.5 minutes. But he did not become a Great American Hero until his 2007 victory at Coney Island (seen below) when his he and his opponent, Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi, were in a neck and neck competition until the end, when Kobayashi suffered a reversal (think about it) in the final few seconds. Those in the spray zone were not happy though I imagine, if we think about this deeply enough, Chestnut's heroism is like Washington crossing the Delaware.

Joey Chestnut's other accomplishments include, eating 241 chicken wings in 20 minutes (Wing Bowl XVI), 103 Krystals in the Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship, 78 matzoh balls during Kenny & Ziggy's World Matzoh Ball Eating Championship, and drinking a gallon of milk in 41 seconds.

Americans, let us rejoice. With heroes like these, we can overthrow the British or, at least, they will not be able to move us...

Programming Note: the 2008 competition will be on live at noon est on ESPN, the world's leader in sports television.

"To What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"

Frederick Douglas' speech on the meaning of the Fourth, which he delivered on the fifth of July. This is one of the best rhetorically crafted speeches ever written, even better than King's "I have a Dream," and on par with "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" or Lincoln's "Second Inaugural." Excerpt One:
Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

Excerpt Two:
For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and cyphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively, and positively, negatively, and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to bum their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employments for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is past.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O!

When in the Course of Human Events....

I imagine that when everyone is attending a Fourth of July party today they will take a few moments and read this document aloud to all of the other party goers....
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.— Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
Full version here and a history from The New York Times here.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Getting Bowie With It

Just a great song.

Get Drunk and Vote for Moderate McCain; or, Politics According to Ann Coulter

The always-delightful Ann Coulter's recent column is a valuable read because it strikes at the heart of one of the major narratives competing for primacy this election season: John McCain is a Moderate.

Harrogate is with those who understand that McCain, like Bush, is perfectly representative of Republican orthodoxy. If in terms of ethos he is somewhat less of a social knuckledragger than the typical GOP politician, the difference is negligible at best when you start getting into policies. As for foreign policy, he's as extreme as it gets, belonging to the class of men who would choose no world at all over a world not run according to the ideological fancies to which he clings. Economically, there may not be any prominent Republicans left outside Huckabee and a few precious others, who in certain moods are not totally invested in facilitating corporate hegemony.

But alas, Harrogate's is not the only opinion that counts. Coulter's warrant matters because a lot of Democratic and Republican voters buy it. Harrogate thus wonders emphatically what you, Gentle Reader, think of her article, entitled McCain: Pump This!, which attacks the GOP nominee relentlessly, though also stating a promise to vote for him.

To that latter end she invites her devotees to get drunk on election day, as it will make pulling the lever for McCain more tolerable by far. Yea, the same day her article appeared, a website also appeared with the name Get Drunk And Vote 4 McCain. Wittily, the site uses martini glasses to indicate ratings for a given subject. Presumably, a particularly horrendous example of McCain's Moderation would render a "Five Martini Rating."

Finally, in honor both of Ann Coulter and John McCain, Harrogate posts the following Jimmy Buffet classic.

Independence Day....

Little known fact: John Adams thought July 2nd would "the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America." Yet, we celebrate Independence on July 4th, which is the day Congress approved the Declaration of Independence and sent it to the printer, implicitly giving the recognition of the 4th a Jeffersonian viewpoint.

We do know for certain July Fourth was not the day that people signed the Declaration as Revolutionaries continued to sign the document through August.

Yet, for the romantics, there was a time when patriots would gather together and read the actually document rather than barbecue burgers and dogs and whatever....desecrating the American flag by placing it on cakes and napkins and shorts and shirts.

Oh well. In The Washington Post, George Will has an interesting column on the history of Independence Day.

And if you are looking for some online fun, take the latest Citizenship Quiz from MSNBC. Good Luck!!! And is this is meant to prepare people for citizenship, it explains a lot.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

And who could forget this beauty...?

Appropriately titled, of course, The Timeless Art Of Seduction.

"If she floats in water..."

Living in Salem, Mass., wait, I mean... I just don't know what to say. Really.

In Pleasant Glade Assembly of God v. Shubert, the Texas State Supreme Court ruled that the Free Exercise Clause of the first amendment prevents courts from adjudicating issues of religious doctrine. The case is beyond incredibly complex but it seems that members of a youth group performed an exorcism on one of the youths, physically restraining and touching (groping) her in the process, or, in religious speak, "'laid hands' on her and prayed." (Why not call her a witch and burn her?)

After she was physically restrained and assaulted, suffering some physical distress and a lot of emotional distress, Shubert sued for damages. At trial, the lower court agreed with Shubert, ruling that she had been improperly physically restrained and assaulted and awarded her damages for those transgressions. However, the Texas State Supreme Court claimed that the emotional distress liabilities would place the Court in a position to take sides in determining what is valid religious doctrine (as, according to the decision, "The “laying of hands” and the presence of demons are part of the church’s belief system and accepted as such by its adherents") and courts cannot do this. Fair enough, except the courts did something similar in U.S. v. Reynolds. But I digress....

It appears that a free exercise claim trumps a false imprisonment claim in this case. This bothers me as it allows a group's free exercise to diminish the safety of another. It also means that the beliefs in the church are orthodox and must be accepted by all until the person actually leaves the church, which since this case involves a minor, it is not likely to occur. If these practices were done to someone outside of the church, it would be assault; inside the church, free exercise. "She's a witch...." "She turned me into a Next. I got better."

Yet, can't I belong to a church and not agree to every position by the church? My disbelief in some principles does not mean that others need to disagree as well or that the entire religion is incoherent. I understand that each religion, no matter how irrational (fill in your own words here) some of the beliefs may be, must have protection to develop their belief system up until a point. And one point, for me, is physical coercion like the physical coercion that occurred in this case. Besides, why the beliefs of demons and devils may be religious, not all of th physical and emotional pain is, allowing for some remedy.

Here are the facts of the case from the decision. It is long though one of the most interesting summaries I have ever read. If you want to read the decisions, go here.

On Friday evening, before her parents left town, Laura [Schubert, a 17-year-old congregant,] attended a youth group activity at Pleasant Glade in preparation for a garage sale the next day. The atmosphere during this event became spiritually charged after one of the youth announced he had seen a demon near the sanctuary. The youth minister, Rod Linzay, thereupon called the group together to hear the story, and after hearing it, agreed that demons were indeed present. Linzay instructed the youth to anoint everything in the church with holy oil and led a spirited effort throughout the night to cast out the demons. Finally, on Saturday morning at about 4:30 a.m., Linzay gathered the exhausted youth together to announce that he had seen a cloud of the presence of God fill the church and that God had revealed a vision to him. Although exhausted, the young people assisted with the garage sale later that morning.

At the Sunday morning worship service the next day, several young people gave testimonials about the spiritual events of the preceding day. At the conclusion of the service, the youth, including Laura and her brother, prayed at the altar. During these prayers, Laura’s brother became “slain in the spirit,” collapsing to the floor where church members continued to pray into the early afternoon.

Later that afternoon, Laura returned to church for another youth activity and the Sunday evening worship service. During the evening service, Laura collapsed. After her collapse, several church members took Laura to a classroom where they “laid hands” on her and prayed. According to Laura, church members forcibly held her arms crossed over her chest, despite her demands to be freed. According to those present, Laura clenched her fists, gritted her teeth, foamed at the mouth, made guttural noises, cried, yelled, kicked, sweated, and hallucinated. The parties sharply dispute whether these actions were the cause or the result of her physical restraint.

Church members, moreover, disagreed about whether Laura’s actions were a ploy for attention or the result of spiritual activity. Laura stated during the episode that Satan or demons were trying to get her. After the episode, Laura also allegedly began telling other church members about a “vision.” Yet, her collapse and subsequent reaction to being restrained may also have been the result of fatigue and hypoglycemia. Laura had not eaten anything substantive that day and had missed sleep because of the spiritual activities that weekend. Whatever the cause, Laura was eventually released after she calmed down and complied with requests to say the name “Jesus.”

On Monday and Tuesday, Laura continued to participate in church-related activities without any problems, raising money for Vacation Bible School and preparing for youth drama productions. Her parents returned from their trip on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday evening, Laura attended the weekly youth service presided by Rod Linzay. According to Linzay, Laura began to act in a manner similar to the Sunday evening episode. Laura testified that she curled up into a fetal position because she wanted to be left alone. Church members, however, took her unusual posture as a sign of distress. At some point, Laura collapsed and writhed on the floor. Again, there is conflicting evidence about whether Laura’s actions were the cause or result of being physically restrained by church members and about the duration and force of the restraint. According to Laura, the youth, under the direction of Linzay and his wife, Holly, held her down. Laura testified, moreover, that she was held in a “spread eagle” position with several youth members holding down her arms and legs. The church’s senior pastor, Lloyd McCutchen, was summoned to the youth hall where he played a tape of pacifying music, placed his hand on Laura’s forehead, and prayed. During the incident, Laura suffered carpet burns, a scrape on her back, and bruises on her wrists and shoulders. Laura’s parents were subsequently called to the church. After collecting their daughter, the Schuberts took her out for a meal and then home. Laura did not mention her scrapes and bruises to her parents that night.

An Indirect Follow-Up to Supadiscomama's Recent Treatment of Seinfeld

Having recently effused over the greatness of the Kramer painting, Harrogate here offers another splendid visual achievment, indeed an achievment the sheer splendidness of which cannot, perhaps, be at all registered outside The Rhetorical Situation from which it stems.

Garrison as Richard Dawkins' concubine.

Just good, clean fun.

WALL-E Wars II: All Early Noise to the Contrary,Perhaps the Movie is Actually an "Indictment of Liberalism"!

Ahhhh, Ambiguity, thy name is WALL-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Or as one of oxymoron's students once famously queried, "so you're saying there's lots of different ways to interpret it?"

Comes today's piece by the erudite Paul Edwards, entitled "WALL-E's Indictment of Liberalism".

Some fun snippets in a read that one can't quite believe actually exists, even though it is quite mainstream in its scope and intent:

WALL-E is the story of what results when a liberal vision of the future is achieved: government marries business in the interest of providing not only “the pursuit of happiness” but happiness itself, thus creating gluttonous citizens dependent on the government to sustain their lives. The result is a humanity consisting of self-absorbed, isolated individuals with no affection for others, who thus defy what it means to truly be human.

And a Much-Needed Bible Lesson, on the House:

One might immediately surmise that the creators of the movie received their inspiration from Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Not so fast. While in the storyline humans certainly have laid waste the planet, and the government’s answer to the crisis is the removal of humans (which is also Al Gore’s solution), 700 years after the last human has left the planet it becomes quite clear that the earth needs humans just as much as humans need the earth. After all, in the Bible we learn that humans were created as caretakers for the planet: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15).

Finally, in a comment perhaps more piercingly intellectual than any Harrogate has ever seen in the history of political and cultural debate:

WALL-E exposes a fundamental flaw in the liberal worldview. In their well-intended desire to lift people out of despair, liberals often fail to factor in the depravity of the human heart. Offer a man the opportunity to get something for little or nothing and the ultimate end will be a man who believes himself entitled to everything for little or nothing.

You get the idea. Capitalism is our God-Given way of neutralizing our own depravities and becoming instead warriors for the righteous and the good. Yea, forsooth, capitalist society in its undiluted form brings out the very best in all of us, rich, poor, everyone in between. The only time capitalism is even remotely problematic is when the government gets involved in it.

The essay, in short, is filled with one gynormous assertion after another, and really, ye don't have to have seen WALL-E (Harrogate, as of yet, still has not) to be entertained by its affect of reasonableness.

Apology to Angelina

In a comment on Megs's post, I spewed a little bitterness in the direction of Brangelina. Yes, your collective unreal beauty, wealth, and general ability to do whatever you want to do gets on my nerves. But at least my OB-Gyn didn't have to give an press coference to inform the rabid media about the status of my womb and/or babies. And the general public doesn't get to weigh in on what I feed my kid. So, I suppose I don't envy you so much after all. Good luck, and I hope your destined-to-be-gorgeous babies arrive in perfect health.

And who says that Americans don't understand foreign cultures

The New York Times reports that Americans actually do lean about and from other cultures. Well, maybe not most, but soem really influential do:
WASHINGTON — The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Some methods were used against a small number of prisoners at Guantánamo before 2005, when Congress banned the use of coercion by the military. The C.I.A. is still authorized by President Bush to use a number of secret “alternative” interrogation methods.

What is that about looking into an abyss?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

U.S. Government Takes Nelson Mandela off the "Terror-Watch List"

Now after all these years we can finally rest assured that Nelson Mandela is not a ter'ist.

"Today the United States moved closer at last to removing the great shame of dishonouring this great leader by including him on our government's terror watch list," Senator John Kerry said.

A blind groundhog will find an acorn every now and then, and every now and then this political system does something marginally decent. Hell, we cheerfully cede that beautiful Americans are everywhere, and for that matter that even a plastic bag floating in the wind, inviting you to play, is so beautiful one almost can't take it (you love him. you want to have ten thousand of his babies). &c.

But for God's sake. Reagan put him on the list more than twenty-five years ago. Really. You almost have to be a polyanna, not to be totally disgusted by our politics.

"It's clothes you want to have, clothes you want to keep"

Christian Dior

Apparently, French designers are doing a little gender-bending in their current collections. The quote cited in this post's title is attributed to Lucas Ossendrijver (designer for Lanvin), whose collection boasted these little gems:

"A black silk puff-sleeved blouse was worn over a T-shirt encrusted with black beads, while accessories included lace-up sandals and crinkly straw hats laden with thick ribbons."

Hmm...I think I've seen something like this before--about 15 years ago:

Who knew Jerry was so fashion forward? Of course, Kramer saw the potential in this look right away. But Kramer was a true Renaissance man--a fact so beautifully seen by some potential buyers of his portrait:
Woman: I sense great vulnerability.
Man: I see a parasite, a sexually depraved miscreant.
Woman: His struggle is man's struggle.
Man: He is a loathesome, offensive brute--yet I can't look away.
Woman: He transcends time and space.
Man: He sickens me.
Woman: I love it!
Man: I love it, too!

WALL-E Controversies

Harrogate has wanted to see this movie since he found out about it. The robot's cuteness is a big plus. Stories about loneliness are often very good as well. But now we find out, courtesy of Think Progress, that this movie has the conservatives pissed off.

This weekend, Pixar’s latest film “WALL-E” debuted at No. 1, earning $65 million at the box office. The film has been hailed by critics, scoring a whopping 97 percent “Fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes.

The film portrays a lonely robot’s quest for love, as he is left to clean up a trashed earth. Meanwhile, the over-indulged humans wait it out aboard gigantic spaceships run by a monolithic corporation-turned-government that “resemble spas for the fat and lazy.”

Somehow, this touching love story has outraged the radical right

And then comes a litany of quotations from pundits, guaranteed to scare you off of the WALL-E, in case you were hitherto interested in seeing it.

Harrogate, for his part, is glad he didn't spend his hard-earned money on this leftist propaganda. Michael Moore may as well have made it. Enviro-consciousness, anti-corporate rhetoric. Blech. Pixar appears now to have capitulated to the Liberal Orthodoxy that runs this country with a firm and unforgiving grip.

BTW: If anyone makes it to the movie, Harrogate would like to know just how moonbatty it is.


Because I've Been Busy, Damn It!

Yes, Situationers, it's been a while. And I have been reading, but what with my enormity, the virus from hell I received as a gift from Sweet Toddler J, and trying to finish at least one chapter before Kid B arrives in theaters this summer, even comments are a challenge. For instance, the Virginia Woolf desk is now my wallpaper, solon. Thank you. And, Harrogate, I have some thoughts rattling around in my brain about your Wesley Snipes post. But not enough time or energy to get them out. (Nor, truth be told, the cojones to take myself very seriously after the great and esteemed Reverend has spoken.)

Here in my world, there are two important things to report:
  1. Angelina Jolie has checked into a French hospital to give birth to babies five and six. CNN's reporting it, so it must be news.
  2. J's Free Credit Report boyfriend has another ditty, and she loves it just as much as the first two. So, dear readers, for your viewing pleasure, I submit to you the following:

It's a P.C. world and your living in it

From Politico: Every once in a while there are consequences to our politically correct language. Case in Point: a far-right fundamentalist website, American Family Association, who subscribes to AP stories, employs an auto-correct feature to their stories that changes the word "gay" to "homosexual." Of course, when stories involve the U.S. Sprinter Tyson Gay, hilarity ensues. Check out the article under the headline, “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.”
Tyson Homosexual easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and seemed to save something for the final later Sunday.

His wind-aided 9.85 seconds was a fairly cut-and-dry performance compared to what happened a day earlier. On Saturday, Homosexual misjudged the finish in his opening heat and had to scramble to finish fourth, then in his quarterfinal a couple of hours later, ran 9.77 to break the American record that had stood since 1999. […]

Homosexual didn’t get off to a particularly strong start in the first semifinal, but by the halfway mark he had established a comfortable lead. He slowed somewhat over the final 10 meters-nothing like the way-too-soon complete shutdown that almost cost him Saturday. Asked how he felt, Homosexual said: “A little fatigued.”
I bet you were fatigued...

The Timeout

Those of us who use the "Timeout" as a form of discipline will find this article on Slate worth the read.

According to the writer, the Timeout should be:

*****used sparingly, because the side effects of excessive punishment are more significant than any benefits the timeouts might have. If you're giving more than one or two per day for the same offense, that's too much.

*****brief, because the timeout's positive effect on behavior is almost all concentrated in its first minute or two. Some parents feel obliged to add more time to satisfy their sense of justice, but the extra time has no value in terms of changing behavior. If you feel that you must go beyond one or two minutes, treat 10 minutes as the extreme upper limit.

*****immediate, following as closely as possible upon the behavior that made it necessary. If you can, do it on the spot, not when you get home from the store or playground. Delayed timeouts are ineffective.

*****done in isolation from others, with the child in a separate room or sitting alone in a chair off to one side. Complete isolation is not needed if you feel it would be good to keep an eye on the child.

*****administered calmly, not in anger or as an act of vengeance, and without repeated warnings, which lose their effect if they are not regularly followed with consequences. Make clear to the child which behaviors lead to timeout, and then be consistent about declaring one when such behavior occurs. One warning is plenty.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sobering Thought of the Day

From Thomas Friedman in The New York Times:
My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.

I continue to be appalled at the gap between what is clearly going to be the next great global industry — renewable energy and clean power — and the inability of Congress and the administration to put in place the bold policies we need to ensure that America leads that industry.

“America and its political leaders, after two decades of failing to come together to solve big problems, seem to have lost faith in their ability to do so,” Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib noted last week. “A political system that expects failure doesn’t try very hard to produce anything else.”

We used to try harder and do better. After Sputnik, we came together as a nation and responded with a technology, infrastructure and education surge, notes Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. After the 1973 oil crisis, we came together and made dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. After Social Security became imperiled in the early 1980s, we came together and fixed it for that moment. “But today,” added Hormats, “the political system seems incapable of producing a critical mass to support any kind of serious long-term reform.”

No analysis necessary at this portion of the column speaks for itself.


Thirty nine years ago, the Gay Rights Movement began with the Stonewell Riots. Today, in NYC, there will be the city's Gay Rights Parade in which Mayor Bloomburg will attend and Gov. Paterson will march. It ends at the Stonewall Inn.

Rarely has a social movement expanded rights in such a short period of time, moving from criminalization to marriage in less than forty years.