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Friday, March 30, 2012

When Is Tolerance A Fatal Flaw?

...when your tolerance and pluralism propel you to admit elements into your culture that undermine the tolerance and pluralism and permits their very existence in the first place:
Every time a Muslim commits murder in the name of Islam, the denial begins again: Western leaders and the mainstream media tie themselves into knots trying to explain what happened without making any reference to its guiding motivation.

Last week was no different: Muhammad Merah was a self-styled "Islamic warrior" who killed a rabbi and several children at a Jewish day school in Toulouse, France, in an attack that the international media widely reported initially as having been perpetrated by a neo-Nazi. When it became clear that Merah was actually a jihadist, the predictable denial began: French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the attack had nothing to do with Islam, and the call echoed worldwide not to allow the murders to harm French "pluralism."

In fact, however, Muhammad Merah's murders had everything to do with Islam: he claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda and may have trained with the Taliban, both of which are explicitly and ostentatiously Muslim groups that justify all their actions by reference to the Qur'an and Sunnah. He claimed to be a mujahid, which is a warrior of jihad, which is an Islamic theological and legal concept. He killed Muslim soldiers who fought in the infidel military -- something that only someone who considered one's loyalty to the umma to trump all other loyalties would have done.

Indeed, so grounded is Merah's massacre in Islam that it is virtually inconceivable that he would have carried it out had he not been a Muslim. And so Sarkozy is, like every other leader in the Western world today, whistling in the dark, trying to pretend that there is no problem when there is a huge problem, and basing the future of his nation on the fantasy that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in France do not believe the same things Muhammad Merah believed.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy announced that he is going to make habitually visiting jihadi websites a crime. But as long as Sarkozy and the French establishment continues in denial about the nature, source and magnitude of the threat, monitoring websites may stop a few jihad attacks, but it will do nothing to stop the Islamization of French society by gradual capitulation to Sharia demands. The hijab ban was one step to prevent that, but Sarkozy is going to have to be prepared to be much more "implacable in defending our values," as he declared he would be in the wake of Merah's massacre, than he has been up to now, if he is really serious about doing so.
Secularism, tolerance, pluralism, and relativism are in a pickle here. On one hand, secularism, tolerance, pluralism, and relativism theoretically have no truck with any creed or faith tradition. I say theoretically, because we know that there are some creeds (viz, neo-Nazism) that are rejected in a European pluralist society. But in general, all are fungible and interchangeable.

On the other hand, secularism, tolerance, pluralism, and relativism, since these philosophies do not believe in the objective superiority of any one creed or faith (or in the objective incompatibility and/or inferiority of any one creed or faith), these principles render a tolerant and pluralist culture unable to defend itself against a competing rival culture. Particularly a steeply chauvinistic one that insinuates itself into the host culture (in this case, French, European, and Western) under the rubric of pluralism, and then works feverishly to subvert that tolerant and pluralist culture and transform it into a Sharia-compliant Islamic one.

In other words, post-Christian Western Civilization's values of tolerance and pluralism impede it from acting on the threats posed by invading viral agents from another civilization. For what does it mean to be French? Can--or more saliently, will--an observant Moslem living in France act the same or hold the same values as would a white native-born nominally Catholic Frenchman? Is it realistic to expect a Moslem Algerian-born "Frenchman" to have any commonalities with a secular or nominally Catholic white Frenchman for the essential elements of a culture...shared faith, blood, language, traditions? If one's "identity" is one defined so broadly that all are accepted and few are rejected, on what basis is one French as opposed to German or Algerian? Speaking the French language, and obeying French laws? Or is it something more substantive than that, such as a common faith and shared genetic heritage?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You Have Met The Enemy - And She Is You

Somehow, I don't think this couple is gonna last. Either she's going to get disgusted with his Job-like ability to absorb the abuse she dishes out (a sure Delta or even Gamma DLV) and leave, or one day he's going to decide he's had enough of her drama and verbal assaults and either blow up and knock her block off or decide it's just not worth it and split.

Either way, it would be best if they never have children, for I suspect strongly her anger issues will render this future Fortress Mom absolutely unable to coparent post-divorce:
Mike is a mild-mannered Midwesterner, even after years of living in New York. When I yelled, he'd pause, consider my point and agree with me. It was no fun fighting with someone who wouldn't shout back. I pleaded with him to argue with me just so we could experience makeup sex. He promised to try but never managed to raise his voice.

One afternoon, I glared at him across the living room, livid that he had committed an intolerable transgression. I don't remember the details, but he probably folded an afghan incorrectly. I wanted to yell with every fiber of my being. But I stopped for a moment to consider. I could hurl insults at him, he'd take it and we'd move on. But would he put up with my temper indefinitely? And should he have to? Was this how I wanted to communicate with my life partner?

Our relationship wasn't in immediate danger. But I was leading us down a path that could've ended it. I've seen my husband angry twice in the eight years we've known each other. Once was in an argument about politics, and the other instance was when I'd hurled an unfair insult at him. Anger makes him speak quietly and shake with contained rage. It scared me to see that I had actually managed to make him mad. Mike is no doormat, and he wouldn't tolerate being the target of an unreasonable temper for a lifetime. He put up with my shouting only when I was right. Left unchecked, I'd start yelling when I was wrong. And then he'd yell back.

[One time], I threw my head back and shouted to the skies, "Oh my God, you suck so much!" We laughed, and I decided to overlook his subpar blanket-folding technique. In the five years since then, we've rarely argued. But we recite that sentence, or a variation of it, on a daily basis. "I'm sorry I suck so much." Or "Why did you do that?" "Because I suck so much."
While I can appreciate the subtly self-deprecating manner in which this article was written, I really feel for Mike, the male target of all this self-reported feminine anger. Living with a woman who cannot (or will not) control her temper and her tongue...particularly one who is aware that she veers outside the bounds of acceptable behavior yet blame-shifts to her parents' parenting...must be pure hell.

But I do wonder why he just "takes it". Does he think he can't do any better than be with a woman who seeks fights with him? Is she so great in bed, or makes such a great home, that such benefits counterbalance her loudly expressed "nagging perfectionism" and verbal denigration? Or is he so imbued with WASPy self-control that he will tolerate her regular flying off the handle in response to "sub-par blanket folding" or the "intolerable transgression[s of incorrect] Afghan folding"? What drives a man to stand idle while receiving hurled insults and not-nagging-just-loudly-expressed-frustration from the mouth of a woman who pledged* to honor him?

* I assume that they spoke something that approximated traditional wedding vows during their nuptials. I could of course be completely wrong.

One possible rationale is that, since Mike is married, he has realized how over a barrel he is with Marriage 2.0. Perhaps he feels trapped by the law and by social convention and is thus unable to push back in the way that his brain stem tells him he should. His (or her) departure would be economically cataclysmic, setting him back financially the number of years he was married to her (or more). It would be even worse for him if he gave into his fight-or-flight response and responded physically to her aggression. So he takes it, even going part-Stockholm (agreeing that "he sucks") in an attempt to mollify her anger. In doing so, he hopes to gain some measure of peace in his house...and staying out of jail and/or avoid being sold to fractional slavers.

Another possibility is that Mike was trained to be a "gentled man". Self-controlled, articulate, and respectful of others. The gentled man is, above all, non-violent toward women, the 'weaker vessel' given special cultural dispensation because they are more physically vulnerable and more susceptible to chemically influenced altered mental states. He takes it because he can, he takes it because he was told he should. He's strong, he's the deep-rooted oak, firm and unyielding, the metaphorical safe harbor in the face of her emo-storm. He does not hit girls, even if attacked in such a manner that, were it a male and not a female behaving in such a way, he would be justified in responding with physical violence. As a result, he just takes it, all while wondering why he does so.

In the end, I can only speculate on why Mike does as he does. Perhaps it is out of duty, or a sense of honor. His mistake was to wed such an emotionally unstable woman in the first place. But for both their sakes, I think he needs to push back.  Perhaps a couple of strategically employed backturns will do the trick.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday Tomfoolery - Transmogrification Edition

Miss Universe Canada ejects this poor, confused, de-masculated man from competing as a woman. He-she makes a convincing betty, too:
The Miss Universe Canada organizers threw out Jenna Talackova when they found out she had undergone surgery to become a woman...they disqualified her, arguing that the rules state that each contestant must be a 'naturally born female.'

According to Denis Davila, the national director of Miss Universe Canada, Talackova claimed on her registration form she was born a female. But becoming suspicious Davila confronted the 23-year-old about her sex change and the contestant admitted she was actually born a male.


In a YouTube interview Talackova says she knew she was a female at the age of four and began hormone therapy ten years later. And the 23-year-old beauty queen, who has competed in Miss Universe pageants and transgendered pageants before, says that she surgically changed her gender aged 19.
Sad part about this is, how does a toddler boy "know" he is a female at the tender age of four without some serious help from the adults in his young impressionable little life? Even sadder still--and I get a nervous tic just writing this--is that he-she is quite attractive and is frankly more feminine looking than a goodly fraction of natural-born female population out there.

I wonder what happened to make Ms Davila suspicious? Standing up to pee? Amenorrhea?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Contraception Does Not Reduce Unintended Pregnancies

File this under "you get more of what you subsidize":
Studies have shown that contraception increases sexual activity -- i.e., that more contraception means more sex.

In Sweden, between 1995 and 2001, teen abortion rates grew 32% during a period of low-cost condoms, oral contraceptives and over-the-counter emergency contraception. Similarly, National Review recently reported that "out of 23 studies on the effects of increased access to ECs, not one study could show a reduction in unintended pregnancies or abortions."

A recent ten-year study in Spain was reported to have found the same thing:
[C]ontraception use increased by about 60%, the abortion rate doubled. In other words, even with an increase in contraception use, there weren't fewer unwanted pregnancies, there were more.

Planned Parenthood's own affiliate, the Guttmacher Institute, showed simultaneous increases in both abortion rates and contraceptive use in the U.S., Cuba, Denmark, the Netherlands, Singapore, and South Korea. Guttmacher cites other countries as evidence of the opposite relationship, but it is noteworthy that many of those countries already had high abortion rates, often as part of existing coercive government policies.
With this background in mind, Ms. Fluke's widely mocked claim that her and her collegiate sisters require free-at-the-point-of-receipt contraception--so that they may complete their studies unburdened by the consequences of their extra-curricular activities--looks even more farcical. Clearly the best thing Ms. Fluke's fornicating floozy flotilla can do to enhance their academic performance and unburden theirs and the public's bankbooks is to take advantage of birth control that is really free. Yes sports fans, the benefits of aspirin go beyond its analgesic and anti-coagulant properties...it is also quite effective at impeding the ability of spermatozoa from stumbling across an ovum. Whodathunkit?

Such an admittedly radical recommendation also comes with a number of other tangible benefits, to include protecting all those horizontally proficient coeds from STDs and abortions-disguised-as-EC. Who knows? They may even find that they are suddenly, surprisingly, more attractive as potential mates (due to lower partner counts) and less likely to have a happiness-destroying divorce after marriage.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Universal Human Rights vs Honor Killin'

The religion of peace once again comes into conflict with Western values:
"At least 943 women were killed in the name of honor, of which 93 were minors," wrote the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its annual report.

Seven Christian and two Hindu women were among the victims, it said.

The Commission reported 791 "honor killings" in 2010.

Around 595 of the women killed in 2011 were accused of having "illicit relations" and 219 of marrying without permission.

Some victims were raped or gang raped before being killed, the Commission said. Most of the women were killed by their brothers and husbands.
For the record, I think so-called honor killings are a barbaric way to enforce chastity and fidelity. I prefer other, less lethal means of promoting sexually virtuous behavior, despite the fact that in Western Civilization's religious heritage, OT law prescribed stoning for adulterers and -esses.

Yet, in the spirit of "cast out the beam in your own eye before presuming to lecture others about the stick in theirs", who is the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan to poke Pakistani culture in the chest, when their ideological fellow-travellers (e.g., UN HRC and "Forum Asia" are two examples) turn a uniformly blind eye to the global abortion holocaust in the name of personal convenience and/or eugenics, and take a a-la-carte attitude toward human trafficking or coerced labor by governments?

One thousand Pakistani women were "honor killed" last year in Pakistan. Chances are some of them were innocent of fornication and/or adultery. Compare that to 42M induced abortions each year worldwide (all of whom were innocent), nearly every nation on the planet has some form of military conscription, or the 500,000 (my estimate) men and women in the USA per year who are legally sold into a state of fractional slavery by their former partners.  Are not each of these examples of human rights abuses in their own right?

Rapidly, the selective nature of Western human rights outrage becomes apparent, and thus is exposed as a fraud the putatively universalist nature of "human rights".  Instead, it is merely the idiosyncratic values of secular prog-liberalism being foisted upon other cultures; the "universality" of human rights is but an illusion--the natural law from which human rights is based is a creation of Classical Civilization and "universal human rights" are merely a conceit of a receding once-Christian-now-borderline-pagan Western civilization. To expect Islamic, Bhuddist, Hindu, Sinic, or Orthodox civilizations to hold to the same values as the post-Christian West is foolish at best, especially when those civilizations can look at the values of our civilizations and recoil in horror at the sorts of human rights abuses we permit in the name of libertine Statism.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Every Man In This Village Is A Liar


Book Review: Every Man In This Village Is A Liar, by Megan K. Stack [author page] [facebook], 251 pages.

Megan Stack's book, subtitled "An Education In War", follows her journey as a fresh-faced just-graduated-from-J-school reporter for the L.A. Times through the war-torn post-9/11 Middle East.  The book follows Ms. Stacks' meandering travels through Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan in the days after the American invasion in November 2001, to Israel and Palestine in the mid-2002s, to Iraq in 2003-2004, to Libya in 2005, to Jordan, to Egypt, back to Baghdad, and again to Afghanistan during the height of the pre-Surge American occupation and experiment in well-financed nation-building. While Ms. Stack is a feminist (female + reporter = no surprise that she's feminist), her book is largely apolitical. She instead chooses to chronicle her personal "education about war" via her observations about others' loss of innocence through the giant man-eating maw that is warfare.

This quote in the preface to Ms. Stacks' book summed up her mental state prior to her "education" quite well:
I was younger than I realized and extremely American; sentimental but not stupid. I didn't go to Afghanistan with any strong convictions; I was a reporter, and I wanted to see. Only after covering it for years did I understand that the war on terror was flawed, not that it was cynical or self-defeating, or likely to breed more resentment and violence. But that it was hollow, it was essentially nothing but a unifying myth for a complicated scramble of mixed impulses and social theories and night terrors and cruelty and business interests, all overhung with the unassailable memory of falling skyscrapers....this war we all talked about wasn't a coherent system, or a philosophy, or a strategy. Maybe it was a way for Americans to convince ourselves that we were still strong and correct. Mostly, I think, it was fear. Fear made more dangerous by gaping American estrangement from the rest of the world.
From this point of departure, Ms. Stack wrote about the brief slices of lives of those she met and documented in her travels: the naswar-chewing Afghan tribal warlords in Jalalabad, the paranoid dictators (exemplified by the now-expired Khaddafi), the idealistic reformers such as the intrepid female Iraqi journalist assassinated for the trouble she caused to the powerful and connected, to the innocent bystanders and the politically agnostic civilians caught in the midst of all that struggling for power and control, and the friends and fellow journalists she meets along the way.

I was both quite taken by how stupid (or, alternatively, how blithely naive and childishly trusting of the goodness of strangers) Ms. Stack's risk-taking behavior* was, and impressed with how she documented the myriad ways in which no one comes out of war whole.  Indeed, a great many, even if they do survive war, don't escape it entirely intact, whether or not they wanted to be involved. There was no escaping conflict's reach; to be in the vicinity was to be a casualty. 

* Ms Stack contributes to a trend I have noted regarding the behavior of well educated, lefty, sheltered white women in the Middle East. Prefiguring Lara Logan, she too took ill-considered risks in the Cairo mob and in other places teeming with agitated Moslem men. Do liberal female reporters have no street smarts at all? What fate do solo white female think awaits them in a radicalizing, retrenching Moslem world that values female honor and, accordingly, compliance with a certain social role? 

All told, this book was a fascinating tale of squashed naivite, innocence lost, of profound personal loss, of anger, of a sense of helplessness, and a call for readers to reflect on one's humanity in the midst of inhumanity and cruelty and death.

Other reviews of this book:
National Book Foundation
Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday Tomfoolery - Excessive PDA Edition


Image source here, from the LA Times.

When I first saw this a month or so ago, I thought it was a very butch female Marine going a way overboard with the PDA in uniform. Then I read further and discovered it was a man leg- and lip-locking with his domestic partner. Still overboard, and still outta regs with the public display of affection, but I have to admit to a certain special gut-level revulsion when I learned it was two men doing that.

Part of the public's high opinion of the military, I am convinced, is its reputation as one of the last remaining bastions of morality and honor in the culture. I see this photograph as evidence of an erosion of that morality; indeed, I think the military is held in such high regard by the public because it is seen, rightly or wrongly, as having higher standards that than the public.  This despite the fact that the military is drawn from the populace and shares (many of) the same values, and I fear that images such as these are signals that those entrusted with the security of our erstwhile Republic are becoming too indistinguishable from those they guard. Sheepdogs are supposed to be different from the sheep.

I would also like to contrast the above photo with that of two homosexual Navy women greeting each other upon return to port back in December:


My reaction to this latter photo is not nearly as strong as with the former. First, other than the same-sex display of affection, there is little if any violation of the usual standards of conduct in this photo. Certainly no leg-locking to go with the lip variety. Second, this is my chance to own up to a bit of double-standards of my own here...my gut reaction to two women lip-locking is more of an ick-yawn-wish-they-wouldn't-do-that. My reaction to the former photo was much more visceral. It is just plain disgusting, as well as just not manly to bugger another man, let along lip- and leg-lock him in public.

From whence do these double-standards come? I'm hard pressed to say, except that antipathy toward male homosexuality may be innate in the same way that property rights and self defense are part of the natural law...it is a behavior that is written on our hearts.  In addition, my sense is that male sexuality is a lot less fluid than is female sexuality.  It is either/or, without a lot of ambiguity or room to move from A to B and back again. This is also written on our hearts, I think.

I'll close this post by discussing a quote of a Navy officer in response to this homosexual "first kiss":
David Bauer, the commanding officer of the Oak Hill, said the crew's reaction was positive when learning that Gaeta and Snell would have the first kiss. Before the kiss took place, he told AP: "It's going to happen and the crew's going to enjoy it."

[Zeke Stokes, an official with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network] said the kiss -- along with recent comments from Marine Commandant Gen. James Admos -- is further proof that repeal of the ''don't ask, don't tell" policy has not caused disruption in the ranks.

Amos had not supported changing the policy in the midst of two wars but recently said that there have been no problems caused by its repeal.
"It's going to happen" is right. But the opinions of those who think homosexuality is immoral are suppressed in today's military; it has not caused disruption in the ranks because official policy is that expressing one's disapproval of homosexual conduct, rather than the conduct itself, is now unlawful discrimination, contrary to good order and discipline, bordering on hate speech. The script was flipped, and to speak up is to be stamped down, if not cast out. The message is clear: homosexuality in the military is approved behavior, and one's moral opposition to such behavior is no longer relevant. What's more, if you value your job, you will shut up and get with the times.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Does Your Service Promote Freedom or Democracy? Or Something Else?

I seem to recall suggesting before that America's national-security apparatus in some ways functions as the "militant wing of the Evangelical Church of Liberalism". Reading stuff like this only confirms it:
"I've made women a cornerstone of American foreign policy," Clinton told a 'Women in the World Summit' in New York City on Saturday [March 10, 2012]. Clinton says the U.S. government, for example, is giving grants to female activists and journalists in Kenya to train them on "early-warning systems for violence." The U.S. also is supporting a new trauma center for rape victims in Sudan. And there's more: "We're helping women in the Central African Republic access legal and economic services. We're improving the collection of medical evidence for the prosecution of gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"And that's just the beginning," Clinton told the gathering -- "because from around the world, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Sudan to the new transitional democracies in the Middle East and North Africa, we're expecting our embassies to develop local strategies to empower women politically, economically, and socially. Now, we know that young woman in Tunisia and her peers across the region already are facing extremists who will try to strip their rights, curb their participation, limit their ability to make choices for themselves. Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn't matter what country they're in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies."
In this example, Secretary Clinton celebrates how US foreign policy actively promotes feminism worldwide, even in cultures where feminist philosophy runs counter to the prevailing culture and/or religion. In a world of "diversity" and relative morality, where all cultures and peoples are allegedly of equal worth and value, some moral systems and some cultures are more equal than others. And those less-equal indigenous cultures and values must be plowed under in favor of this new and frankly revolutionary gospel.

But back to the national-security apparatus, specifically the military. "Defending freedom" and "protecting America" used to be the primary reasons why men and women joined in the armed services. And these principles are still part of the rationale behind our involvement in far-flung locales overseas, however superficial they may prove to be. However, it is undeniable that behind the invasion spearhead of well-armed, professional, all-volunteer troops--recruited on the basis of "defending freedom" and "protecting America"--comes a whole 'nother package that is not very interested in exporting or promoting the sort of individual freedom and Republican form of government that America was founded upon. Instead, US foreign policy seems content with, or even supportive of, forcibly spreading totalitarian democracy worldwide, or even political Islam (viz the Arab Islamist Spring), that is, when it's not busy injecting prog-liberalism into foreign cultures. In fact, I'm challenged to think of a single instance, since the War for Southern Independence 150 years ago, where US policy has been to transmit the Founders' vision of Republican governance and robust individual liberty to those we've come into contact with and/or invaded. At best, it has been parliamentary democracy with significant limits on individual rights, such as with Germany or Japan. At worst, well, it has permitted, even funded Constitutions that illiberally establish State religions that penalize apostasy with the death penalty. How such contradictions don't give allegedly liberal secularists pause is a wonder to me.

Exit question: given that exporting American values has always involved using force, how does being the tool that spreads ideological progressivism/liberalism--in this case, feminism--square with the interests of men (individually or collectively) or the values that those who identify as Christians claim to hold dear?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Failure to Launch

An author for the WSJ pens an article about delayed adulthood. She's a psychologist, and speculates on a few reasons that may explain why young humans take so long to mature these days. Diet. School. Sedentary lifestyles. Not me, though. I don't blame these things. I blame instead labor union-inspired child labor laws:
There do seem to be many young adults who are enormously smart and knowledgeable but directionless, who are enthusiastic and exuberant but unable to commit to a particular kind of work or a particular love until well into their 20s or 30s. And there is the graver case of children who are faced with the uncompromising reality of the drive for sex, power and respect, without the expertise and impulse control it takes to ward off unwanted pregnancy or violence.

Wide-ranging, flexible and broad learning, the kind we encourage in high-school and college, may actually be in tension with the ability to develop finely-honed, controlled, focused expertise in a particular skill, the kind of learning that once routinely took place in human societies. For most of our history, children have started their internships when they were seven, not 27.
This roughly mirrors a point made by John Taylor Gatto in his "Underground History of American Education".  Paraphrasing, Gatto claimed that productive work for children, if not abusive or exploitative, matures them in a way that nothing else can. Wasn't that long ago that productive work was the norm for children, and in some settings, is still permitted, i.e., the family farm or family-owned small businesses. But these settings are few and far between, and dimishingly few young Americans have the opportunity to participate. The lack of practical real-world experience in youth his startling when one considers just how recent a development this is. For instance, how many 13 yo young men would you even dare make a third mate on an an ocean-going naval vessel, back when sailing was *really* dangerous, even less a captain at age 21? Granted, in the latter case, the captain and first mate had suddenly died, leaving Jones in charge by default, but how many 21 yo men today would have the chops to do what Mr. Jones did 250 years ago?

Which drives directly to my point. Perhaps the young today are such strangers to the world of work, to the acquisition and practical application of concrete, marketable skills that focus the mind and train hands and brains on the wheel of productive labor, that it should be no surprise that they "toe-dip" from activity to activity until reality intrudes and the nascent man or woman is forced to grow up.

Another supposition: perhaps it could also be that maturation takes about 10-ish years, the countdown clock more or less starting from the time the child/young adult hits the labor market, prorated for time spentin the rareified arrested-development air of formal schooling. Is it little wonder then that age at which true, responsible adulthood has slipped to the right, into the late 20s and early 30s?

Exit question: Would resurrecting apprenticeships prove to be a superior method of preparing the young for the real world of work, compared to than nearly two decades of abstract formal schooling, and then suddenly dumped into the remunerative labor market to sink or swim? Even when arguably exploitative internships are taken into account?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name

Over at Dalrock's, a commenter explains the Catholic Church's distinction between divorces and annulments:
The Catholic Church has consistently held that a valid sacramental marriage cannot be dissolved. Perhaps “permanent separation” would be a better term? (Semantics, I know, but an important distinction.)

This also goes to something I wanted to clarify...that although individual authorities in the Catholic Church may in some cases have abused the Church’s provision for annullments (which are different from divorces!–the latter is a declaration that a marriage is over, the former that it never took place)...
I find this argument as unsatisfying as when I first read it inside a leaflet inside the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Washington back in 2003. I paraphrase, of course: "an annulment is not divorce, you see, because we (the RCC) find post facto that there was a previously heretofore hidden flaw in your seven-year marriage that invalidated the whole thing from the get go.  Oh, and your children aren't bastards, so don't you worry your pretty little head about that. 

"PS - if you want to get re-married in the RCC, you need to obtain an annullment from us first."

I hope readers will pardon me for thinking this, but I find this position to be terribly convenient, and this is why: regardless of the quality of the union, how well a man and women get along (or not), if the legal marriage doesn't dissolve, then there was no fatal flaw, ergo it was valid.  However, if one party to the union wants out, goes to Caesar and has him declare the marriage over, well that "marriage failure" is prima facie evidence* there was some hidden defect that invalidated the entire marriage.

* Curious that a temporal event (Caesar granting a legal divorce) is used as the catalyst for an annullment. One would think that the RCC would have little use for Caesar's decrees, but apparently this Prot doesn't quite "get it".

The trick for me here is that one don't know a marriage is invalid until after it fails, and it doesn't matter how many times you consummated the marriage (once, twice, 100 times, or Wilt Chamberlain times) or how long you were married (one year, five years, fifteen, or fifty).  One day you find yourself in an empty house, your children gone, and you yourself sold into a state of fractional servitude...little did you know it was all a mirage. Your marriage never happened in the first place in the eyes of God.

Lest this post be interpreted as an anti-papist screed, here's the nub at the center of the whole issue that applies to Christians and Roman Catholics both: the hearts of men and women are hard, so hard that even as much as God hated divorce, Moses had to grudgingly let the Hebrews have their divorces.  There's no stopping it, and no amount of Popish rationalization hamster or Prot head-in-the-sand will solve it. 

A divorce is a divorce, folks. Call it what you like, and throw up as many hoops and barricades and procedural gyrations that you wish.  If at the end of the day, you are tearing into two what God made one flesh, it is a divorce.  Put another way, call it a "fire", "inferno", or "conflagration", any way you look at it, your house just burnt down.  What you're left with is still the ashes left behind by what you thought was forever and ever, amen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday Tomfoolery - Court Jester Edition

I post the following image without editorial comment, for it speaks for itself:


Click here to read the full write-up in the Daily Mail.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Leftist Culture of Death

When children (and other net resource consumers) are viewed as a burden, the pre-emptive administration of death is the logical fiduciary choice:
(CNSNews.com) - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House panel Thursday that a reduction in the number of human beings born in the United States will compensate employers and insurers for the cost of complying with the new HHS mandate that will require all health-care plans to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that cause abortions.

"The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception," Sebelius said. She went on to say the estimated cost is "down not up."
Having established and legitimized the perspective of human beings as resource sinks, it is a small step to deciding that some are simply not worth the bother of leaving alive. Seems some of us have already arrived at that oh-so-logical conclusion, as Ms. DeAngelis of American Thinker found:
[M]edical ethicists linked to the highly esteemed Oxford University have decided that killing a live-born infant is "no different from abortion" [and] "parents should be allowed to have their babies killed because newborns are 'morally irrelevant.'" Therefore, babies are still killable after birth because..."rather than being 'actual persons,' newborns are just 'potential persons.'" The dastardly duo argued that "We take a 'person' to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to [his] own existence some (at least) basic value such as that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to [him]." That means suffocating or drowning an infant should be able to be done without a hint of struggle from the 'potential person' being deprived of air. according to the unethical ethicists, "To bring up [imperfect] children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care." Rest assured, granting Mom and Dad the 'choice' to kill a viable human being paves the way in the future for society to make similar 'choices' to preserve the common good.
What Ms. DeAngelis doesn't mention in her somewhat overwrought article is that Moms (note: not Dads) more or less worldwide already have the metaphorical "choice", the shameful stain with which we have been living in the US for nearly 40 years, to kill a human being at any time during a pregnancy. These medical ethicists are merely absurdly building upon the absurdity that an infant still inside Mom's birth canal is fair game for the butcher's knife, while the same infant is magically awarded the protections of personhood for moving scant inches in three-dimensional space. Viability ain't got nothing to do with it; indeed, the very concept of making personhood a function of viability is also ludicrous, as it pivots personhood not around intrinsic worth, but on the ability of medical technology to sustain a preemie ex utero. The ability to survive independent of one's parents is also a poor barometer of personhood; were that to be the measure, a great many twenty-something boomerang children would be candidates for liquidation. Call it the penalty for "failure to launch".

Ms. DeAnglis finds the conclusions of the medical ethicists repugnant. I do as well, but not because the ethicists have somehow crossed a line from deep thinker to soulless monster. No, via the Devil's whore, they are merely extending the principles of the amoral, rationalizing stew they find themselves in to their logical conclusion. Their conclusion is perverse because their premises--which our contemporary culture widely accepts and defends--are themselves perverse. In short, having found themselves in a moral ecology where human life has no intrinsic worth in and of itself, whether or not a being presents a "burden" is now the new yardstick used to judge whether or not a human life lives or is "retired". And as we can see from Secretary Sebelius' remarks, in the view of the government, all of humanity is a burden. Or at least those that accept entitlements. Viewed as a mere cost/benefit political calculation, there's really no stopping post-partum abortion for those deemed more trouble than their worth. In Holland, the aged and the infirm can still
choose to off themselves by lethal injection. How long before "death panels" rationing healthcare make that choice for them?

Update: I wrote this post a few days before I saw this.  I'm having a hard time with synching up this quote from the body of the story "...Deborah Levy would have aborted her pregnancy had she known her daughter had the chromosomal abnormality" with this one "the Levys -- who dearly love their daughter, now 4..." 

They would've murdered her if they had the chance. But they "dearly love" a child they would have killed had the test not been a false negative.  And the price tag on their love is a cool $3M

Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Review: Afghanistan: A Military History


Book review: Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban, by Stephen Tanner, 328 pages.

The book begins its telling of the history of Afghanistan, starting from 334 BC forward, with the invasion of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great, who led his Hellenic army, hacking and chopping, all the way through a fading Persian empire under Darius III to the Indus River in modern-day Pakistan. As Afghanistan sits astride the geographic passageways linking Asia, Asia Minor, and the Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan would be repeatedly invaded by other aggressively expansive peoples over the next two millennia. After Alexander's aggressive oriental expansion burnt out, his empire broke apart into squabbling fiefdoms, and the Hellenic rulers of Afghanistan finally succumbed to Scythian hordes, barbarians from the Steppes of Asia driven west by the construction of the Great Wall and funnelled south by the Himalayas. To this day, however, genealogical remnants of those Greek warriors remain in the rugged mountain valleys of modern-day Nuristan, nee Kafiristan (a reference to their polytheistic infidel religion practiced until they were forcibly converted to Islam in the nineteenth century). There, according to the author, one frequently finds fair skin, fair hair, and blue and green eyes.

The Scythians ruled Afghanistan for a brief century and a half, during which Afghanistan found itself--true to its location at the crossroads of Asia--smack in the middle between the Greco-Roman, Persian, Chinese, and Indian civilizations. And like any crossroads, it found itself invaded once again, this time by a resurgent Persian empire. The victorious Sassanids ruled Afghanistan for several centuries, until, weakened by invading Huns (most formidably led by Attila) from the Steppes, Mohammadean Arabs conquered the land and converted the local Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and peoples of other pagan faiths to Islam, by free will as much as by the sword. During this period of Muslim Arab rule, Afghanistan enjoyed a renaissance of sorts not seen before or since, and the land flourished due to its central location astride commercial corridor between the Far East and Middle East.

Then, in 1221, "the atom bomb of its day" fell on Afghanistan, and the land and the people never recovered. The Mongols under Genghis Khan invaded, again from the north like all previous invaders from the Steppes did, only this time, unlike the Scythians and the Huns before, they did not come to rule, to hold, but to obliterate, to destroy. And destroy they did. According to the author, anything the Mongols could not adapt to their native steppes they burnt, destroyed, or slew. Entire cities were fired and the population put to the sword. It was pragmatic as much as barbaric...after all, one needs less troops guarding the rear if potential rebels were pre-emptively slaughtered. Mongols laid siege to the city of Herat for six months and, when the city finally fell, spent the next week slaughtering every single inhabitant, to include household pets and livestock. Afghan irrigation systems, known as qanats, the same that frustrated Soviet troops 700 years later, provided cover and concealment (as well as water), and thus were systematically destroyed by the Mongols...which ensured chronically dry Afghanistan would remain so. Only the nomadic hill tribes of Afghanistan remained free; the more sedentary and civilized dwellers in the Afghan plans were massacred wholesale. Six years after invading, the Mongols departed Afghanistan and returned to Mongolia. Their legacy: a cultural and civilizational basket case that never fully recovered from Mongol terror, and indeed, remnants of the Mongol armies in Afghanistan,  a people known as "Hazaras", are widely despised for their obvious visible genetic linkages to such a cruel conqueror.

The next several hundred years are characterized by tribal Afghans more or less squabbling amongst themselves or lending their strength and martial inclination to neighboring powers; their involvement and ferocity at times was decisive to whatever prince could enlist their aid. But ever since the destruction of the Mongols, Afghanistan was never again a valuable addition to an empire. It would be a no-man's land, unruly, and unrulable by a central government, the Pashtun Durranis notwithstanding. And the ascent of European and Eurasian powers would turn a land made desolate by the petty squabbling of tribal chieftains into something even worse: a buffer state. Enter the "Great Game", and Russia and Britain, who both sought to exert influence upon Afghanistan as a sort of early-warning zone for invasion from the other, the former for her southern expansion, the latter to protect British India. Each would vie for control of this mountainous, unpacifiable land, and attempt to punish Afghan impudence with martial expeditions. Eventually, the Russians, later the Soviets, would gain the upper hand and attempt to draw Afghanistan into the great Communist fold, culminating in an ill-fated invasion in 1979 that would give rise to both the Mujaheddin and a power vacuum that would usher in the Taliban.

I found the following quote from the author instructive to our present adventure in Asia (one of Vezzini's Classic Blunders), as it provided invaluable insight into what many would see as the sheer ungovernability of Afghanistan, given modern mores and tastes:
Afghanistan [is] unique for three factors that in combination provide a valid rationale for its having bucked the tide of history. First, its terrain facilitated the ability of tribes to exist independently among inaccessible mountains, in veritable isolation from the writ of a central government. At the same time, terrain presented no such difficulties for tribes to descend from their heights to participate in collective defense. Second, the country as a whole, in the midst of an already degraded south-central Asia, had become increasingly isolated from the main currents of global commerce and thus the main paths of foreign armies. It had been no accident that the Durrani empire had risen during a period when the once-powerful empires on every side of Afghanistan were in precipitous decline. The Afghan tribes were able to live isolated within a country that was itself isolated. Third, in a land where indigenous strength lay with the nomad population rather than in the sedentary communities that had been repeatedly ravaged across centuries of warfare, the very primitiveness of the Afghans counted toward their formidability. They remained a warrior people with a martial ethic--entirely willing to fight among themselves when not otherwise challenged--with the effect that in a world increasingly bent on economic progress, the Afghan fighter, increasingly out-of-date, became increasingly fearsome to the rest of civilization.
All told, a fascinating, well-written, and thoroughly enjoyable read. Recommended for those who wish to better grasp the history behind an area that presently consumes so much blood, treasure, and attention.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quote for Today

Political correctness is tyranny with manners

- Charlton Heston

(link here)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cheaters Prosper?

I'd sure like to see the research behind this claim:
"The more successful you are, the more prone to cheating you are, and Washington is full of successful people looking for something outside their marriage," [Ashley Madison] CEO Noel Biderman tells the Post.

Washington D.C. is the best city in the country for people looking to cheat in their relationships, according to a website that facilitates adultery. More people per capita in the D.C. metropolitan area sign up for the website Ashley Madison than in any other city.

[P]eople who live and work in the District achieve success from taking professional risks, which often pay off, and the personality trait prompts personal risks, too.
While I concede that more successful people put in longer hours at work, and thus their exposure to maritally compromising situations is slightly higher, I'm still unconvinced. That Washington DC is an area chock full of infidelity doesn't necessarily surprise me; after all, isn't that the same hunting ground where the blogger formerly known as Roissy once plied his trade and where enterprising young women like Jessica Cutler slept her way to riches and notoreity? But I'm thinking that this statistical factoid may owe more to the demographics of the region (young, high proportion of singles, "#3 best city for single women...and national/international dating adventures", higher per capita income than average) than a putative link between career/monetary success and infidelity.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Global War on Christianity

With the dominant Western culture's rights-stripping drive to shove our previous freedom of religion into a small box labelled "freedom of worship"--ostensibly to avoid running afoul of the Establishment Clause or, alternatively, hurting an atheist's or Moslem's feelings--one could say that the religion of sec-humanism is at war with Christianity. But at least they haven't grabbed torches and pitchforks with murderous intent. Yet. Compare that with the quite lethal war waged on Christianity by "democratizing" Moslem soceities all around the world. "Arab Spring"? More like "Christian nuclear winter:
But a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends leads to the conclusion that the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other. The conspiracy of silence surrounding this violent expression of religious intolerance has to stop. Nothing less than the fate of Christianity--and ultimately of all religious minorities--in the Islamic world is at stake.

From blasphemy laws to brutal murders to bombings to mutilations and the burning of holy sites, Christians in so many nations live in fear.

It should be clear...that anti-Christian violence is a major and underreported problem. No, the violence isn't centrally planned or coordinated by some international Islamist agency. In that sense the global war on Christians isn't a traditional war at all. It is, rather, a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities. As Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, pointed out in an interview with Newsweek, Christian minorities in many majority-Muslim nations have "lost the protection of their societies." This is especially so in countries with growing radical Islamist (Salafist) movements. In those nations, vigilantes often feel they can act with impunity--and government inaction often proves them right. The old idea of the Ottoman Turks--that non-Muslims in Muslim societies deserve protection (albeit as second-class citizens)-has all but vanished from wide swaths of the Islamic world, and increasingly the result is bloodshed and oppression.
The part that strikes me about the worldwide explosion of lethal violence against Christians in Moslem societies all around the planet is how blase the post-Christian West has been about it all. And not just among the secular elite, either (I wouldn't expect the dominant sec-humanist culture to give a fig about oppression of Christians around the world, except to enjoy a bit of schadenfreude at the Body's expense). Outside of limited  murmuring among the religiously active conservative commentariat, I'm challenged to think of any examples of what ought to be a veritable and overwhelming groundswell of Christian outrage on par with the orgiastic reaction to the Arab Spring on the part of neocons and other political leftists. Or at least on a similar scale to the worldwide islamic reaction to a Florida pastor's burning of a pile of Korans. At least that would be a start. One would think, anyway. Instead, crickets.

Exit question: Have we Christians become so tolerant (it's the new virtue, you know) that we stand idly by while steeply intolerant "Cresc-aders" oppress and murder our spiritual brothers and sisters in cold blood? Is tolerance so much a virtue that we'd tolerate our induction into the umma at the point of a saracen sword?

Friday, March 2, 2012

For Best Results

Be a zealot, marry a zealot, and want lotsa kids:
Sixty-four percent of wives report being very happy when they and their husbands attend church (or synagogue or temple) regularly, compared to about 50 percent of wives in a marriage where only one spouse goes to church (or neither spouse does). Wives in marriages where both spouses go to church regularly are also only about one-third as likely to report their marriage is at risk of divorce. (Husbands in these marriages are only one-quarter as likely to report thinking of divorce). Seventy-seven percent of wives in marriage where both husband and wife believe "God is at the center of my marriage" report being very happy, and just 1 percent of such wives report feeling their marriages may end in divorce.

Why are these wives so happy? Is it just an illusion? The authors of the report say that, in part, religious practice and beliefs make men better husbands.

...

"We found that pronatalistic attitude is one of the top five predictors of marital happiness" for both wives and for husbands, the authors state.
In the lace curtain media, a frequent lament is "where have all the good men gone?". Likewise, in the manosphere, it seems that nearly all men have written off Western women as too spoilt by feminism to be wives. Both groups miss the mark, the former for failing to recognize their hypergamically limited "erotic field of regard", the latter for falsely concluding that a fiercely gynocentric culture + MWALT == "why bother?". If there is one thing this article suggests, is that we can select ourselves for marital happiness. While a quiverfull may indeed happen by accident in this day and age (low probability in our anti-natalist/contraceptive / abortifacient culture), a zealous faith doesn't. We can choose to set ourselves up for success. We can select ourselves into the population most likely to enjoy marital happiness, not because we sought happiness for happiness' sake, but because we loved God and He blessed us in response.