Friday, November 30, 2012

Attempting the impossible

Watch the following video.  If you don't at least get a little misty at about 3:54, check your pulse, then go to the vitamin store for some empathy supplements.



Now, my resident cynic wants to convince me that, in putting together the clip (and the forthcoming documentary), Diamond Dallas Page, the former professional wrestler turned yoga instructor, was drumming up a little business for himself.  If that's the case, though, it's brilliant marketing, because DDP actually shows up only once in the clip; director Steve Yu doesn't allow him to take over Arthur Boorman's story.

Frankly, this video doesn't so much inspire me as make me feel ashamed, like a whining, feckless crybaby.  While I don't have much sympathy for people who whine and kvetch all day about their personal problems without doing anything to correct them, when it comes to my weight and the health problems it's created for me, I can kvetch with the worst of them.  And I'm not suffering any mobility problems, either.

"The Lord helps those who help themselves," we say to each other.  And regardless of how or what you think about God, He certainly requires some effort from us on our own behalf.  "With God all things are possible" (Mt 19:26); for man, maybe not so much ... but you don't know how much you really can do until you attempt the impossible.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The next quixotic quest: halting "Christmas creep"

First, a blessed Thanksgiving to all ... or, at least, to all who still bother to celebrate it.  In another five to ten years, if the stupidity doesn't halt its increase, Thanksgiving may be completely forgotten, wiped away by "Black Thursday".

This is no longer a series of holidays.  It's one large commercial season.  Merry Hallothanksakwanzmas Time!  It's all part of Satan's plot from Hell.

Although I stubbornly (perhaps foolishly) maintain that humans do in fact have free will, "Black Friday" was already a serious enough challenge to that premiss.  Watching "Christmas creep" slowly munch its way through the calendar, defecating annoying TV ads that convert the carols you like the least into clamorous jingles (I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against Target for what they've done to Handel's "Hallelujah"), has its own creepy fascination ... it's like watching a live-action rendition of Christmas in the Valley of the Dolls.  Watching people line up like lemmings awaiting their turn to jump off the cliff at insanely early hours of the morning on Black Friday for 50% off an item that was marked up 30% three weeks before — well, it's unsettling at the least.  Pavlov's dogs were penny-ante poker compared to this mess.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A fourteen-page hot mess

Abps. William Lori (BAL) and Salvatore Cordileone (SFO)
For every non-Catholic who has felt the Catholic Church focuses too much on sexual issues, it must have seemed a sweet irony.

According to Religion News Service, a special committee was supposed to produce "a short reflection" on the economic crisis for consideration at this year's bishops' conference in Baltimore.  What they got — and they didn't get it until after they'd arrived — was a fourteen-page hot mess "dominated by spiritual terminology that ignored the roots of the economic crisis and did not suggest solutions provided by Catholic social teaching."

Entitled "The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times", reported David Gibson included this critique:

The first draft gave short shrift to a century of social justice encyclicals from the popes, including those of Benedict XVI, and did not even mention the USCCB’s landmark 1986 pastoral letter, “Economic Justice for All[link mine], which has been hailed for challenging economic injustice in the U.S.
Moreover, there was criticism that the document repeatedly highlighted the church’s opposition to gay marriage and abortion and its support for school vouchers in ways that distracted from the economic issues that were supposed to be at the heart of the message [bold font mine].

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What happens when you assume

Meme making its way around Facebook.  Rather than just show the picture, I'd like to tell the story in my own best Reader's Digest fashion:

The British Airways flight had just landed at Orly and pulled up to the terminal.  Amidst the usual arrival bustle, an aged British gentleman was searching his carry-on bag for his passport.
A fellow passenger, a stern French woman, noticed his search, and asked, "Have you been to France before?"
The man, still searching, quietly replied, "I have."
"Well, then," the woman sniffed with stereotypical Gallic hauteur, "you should know to have your passport out and waiting, sir."
"The last time I was here," the Brit shrugged, "I didn't have to show my passport."
"Impossible!" the woman snapped.  "You British have always had to show your passports to go through here!"
Whereupon the Englishman stopped his search, stepped close to the lady, and whispered to her, "Well, when I landed on the beach in Normandy in June of 1944, I couldn't find any f***ing Frenchman to show it to!"

This story, like many good urban legends, must have been circulating some time, because if the Englishman were 83 today (which was the age quoted in my source), he would have been awful young to make the landing at Sword Beach ... fifteen, more or less.  Not impossible, and not unheard-of — I know of one lad in the American Navy who 'fessed up to being underage just before the landing — but unlikely nonetheless.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Baa, baa, baa ...

Am I depressed over Tuesday's results?  A little bit.

We had a choice over how we wanted to start the Great Depression 2.0 — "Would you like higher taxes or budget cuts?" — and opted for at least two more years of legislative dreadlock (as my cuz Greg calls it).  Already, firms that were threatening to send out WARN Act notices to their employees "dependent on the outcome of the election" (read "if Obama is elected to misrule for another four years") are making good on that threat, while other workers are receiving not-so-good news about their health benefits — increasing premiums, increasing co-pays, decreasing HSAs, etc.

But more to the point, the election demonstrated as stunningly as possible the fact that we Catholics are not all stupid, mindless sheep blindly obeying our bishops.  The majority of us are blindly following the liberal mainstream media.  

Honestly, in almost forty years, even in the depths of the Watergate trial, I have never seen the major news outlets so uniformly, nakedly biased in a single direction — to the left.  (Don't tell me FOXNews disproves the rule; FOXNews is a joke even among Republicans.)  Romney joked about it at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation fundraiser: "I caught a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines: OBAMA EMBRACED BY CATHOLICS; ROMNEY DINES WITH RICH PEOPLE."

After four years, the unemployment rate is still higher than when Obama took office, and the rate itself hides hundreds of thousands of Americans who have simply dropped off the radar.  Not only has Obama not gotten us out of the Afghan quicksand, he added to the defense bill by involving us in Libya's revolution (violating the War Powers Act in the process).  The nation is $16 trillion in debt, and is on the path to economic shutdown by 2027.  Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in specific face their direst threat in American history from the Obama Administration, as it chips away from the First Amendment here and there in the name of "progress".  The Democrat National Convention was an intergalactic flippin' freak show, with Joe Biden's wandering, emotive blather, not to mention Sandra Flake's invocation of hordes of misogynists waiting to push women back into the kitchen (while outside the venue women dressed in vagina costumes eked out the lunacy within).  The campaign finished up with ads that ran from the fatuous to the obscene.

And somewhere along the way, American Catholics went "Squirrel!", forgot everything that went before, and voted for Obama again!  For which the Obamination will thank us with full enforcement of the misbegotten HHS mandate.

By Friday I should have some further thoughts posted on The Other Blog about what needs to happen in the next four years.  Right now, I still need some time to reflect.  And drink.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Too dumb to go to college? Stoopid! (UPDATED)

Blame it on auto-correct? I think not.
My friend (and fellow wardog) Frank Weathers found this funny little exchange and shared it on Facebook.  Suffice it to say that, while I agree that English is a tough language to learn, one should be fluent in written English before one tries to insult others in it.

However, I need to point out that Garret Herschel's comment is not the first example of the "too dumb to go to college" trope I've seen this month.  Where it comes from I'm not certain; I suspect it's being handed down like an heirloom from senescent hippies to their quasi-liberal grandkids.  Anyway, like heirlooms and hippies, this meme is outdated.  It's also unbelievably bigoted.

Once upon a time — many, many years ago, before TVs, telephones and political action committees — it was true that there were no special intelligence or education requirements to join the Army or Navy, see the world and kill people. Even after the foundations of the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) in 1802 and the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis) in 1845, both of which have always been premier engineering colleges, for many years afterward you didn't absolutely need a college education to have a long, satisfying and successful career.

Perhaps the last example of this fact still living is Brig. Gen. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, USAF (Ret.), who was promoted to warrant officer and then lieutenant when the Army Air Force changed its policies during World War II. [The original version had him promoted on the retired list to major general; while this was backed by Pres. George W. Bush and authorized by Congress, the Air Force hasn't acted on it.] To say his service record and fame were built on a high school diploma is to overstate the case a bit; he also had specialized education as a test pilot, which by his own account was a tough slog without the math and engineering background other test-pilot candidates had. Still, the closest he came to a university was the Air War College, a military professional education program that doesn't confer a traditional degree. [On the other hand, aviation pioneer Gen. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle earned his master's and doctorate in the then-new field of aeronautical engineering from MIT on the Army's dime (at the time, the Air Corps wasn't a separate service).]

Today, it's a whole new ballgame. If you don't have the intelligence, discipline and motivation to succeed in the military, most likely you'll end up dropping out of college, too.