Archive for the 'culture' Category

Take a Day Off and Other Articles

stu sleeping

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been MIA for the last week or so. I gave up on trying to control myself and gave it over to the Lord to handle. He seems to be giving me a vacation of sorts…

So today, I thought I’d put up a list of some items of interest I’ve come across recently…er, well, mostly today, actually.

First up, appropriately enough is Writers Should Take a Year Off and Give Us All a Break – an essay in The Guardian on the observation that, to borrow from Ecclesiastes, “the writing of many books is endless…”  At the time of Solomon, however, it was nothing compared to today, when the rate of publication has exploded as never before. How ironic that this is occurring at the same time that more and more people lack the attention span or time, to read anything longer than a tweet.

Still, I like the idea of taking a year off from writing… oh, wait… I’ve already sort of been doing that …

Next, I draw your attention to a Muslim Brotherhood Fact Sheet from Stand With Us, an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Israel.  It includes quotes from the Brotherhood’s own charters, writings and guides. Members are not interested in dialog. Nor are they interested in peace (unless you count the peace that results from the entire world being converted to Islam). They are most definitely not interested in democracy, unless — again — it’s the Islamist kind… that is, Sharia Law.

Third is an essay on the misguided Western policy of appeasement during World War 1 that resulted in World War 2 and may well be on its way to setting up World War 3. This one’s written by my favorite blogger and former high level Foreign Service Officer The Diplomad 2.0: Obama and an Edouard Daladier Moment

And finally, the new  “funnel tunnel” in Houston, an unintended metaphor for where our tax dollars/charity donations are going…

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Facebook Envy

All right, I’ll confess: I’m not a fan of Facebook. Yes, I appreciate my husband’s drawing my attention to various updates of mutual friends (some of them more my friends than his) or family members. Sort of. Mostly…

But overall, the way it’s set up, the sheer number of people you end up “interacting” with (I use the word  with reservation), the superficiality of it all… not for me.

Especially not for me is all the “liking” and collections of comments on posts and… oh, my.  No.  I could see that my flesh would have a field day there. It could be immensely stimulating, sure, but not in a good way, and it also holds the prospect of being very distracting and even debilitating.

The other day a friend was telling me how one night when she was very tired, she checked her Facebook account to find a conversation between two “friends” that, in her fatigue and in the (unnoticed) ambiguity of the conversants’ words, she took to mean something that wasn’t meant at all. It wasn’t until the next day that she found out the truth, and in the meantime, her Facebook experience had not been pleasant.

I doubt that is an uncommon occurence.  I know I could easily fall into such a misunderstanding and waste hours fretting or feeling condemned or condemning myself. I know my weaknesses and I know my flesh is not improving, even after all these years. I know this not only from actual, experiential evidence, but because the Bible (2 Co 4:16)  tells me that my “outer man is decaying day by day.”  (“Decay” – diaphtheiro – means to putrefy, rot, grow more corrupt). Hence the need to renew our inner man…

Turns out I’m not alone in my Facebook weakness. A recent German study has determined that at least one third of Facebook users  end up with negative feelings after browsing. The primary cause of their negativity is envy: they become jealous of their fellow Facebookers’ perceived happiness and accomplishments, and discontent with their own, which seem much less than other people’s.

An msnbc article on this study, “Is Facebook envy making you miserable?” reported  that the number one cause of discontent among Facebook users was viewing the wonderful pictures of other people’s vacations.

“Oh, if only I could go to the Caribbean, I would be soooo happy. If only I could have a perfect family Christmas like that, then I would be content.

Really?  I’m of the opinion that if you’re not happy or content where you are right now, you’re probably not going to be happy in the Caribbean or content in the (nonexistent) perfect family, because the problem isn’t  where you are, it’s what you think.

But I digress. After vacations, other causes of envy are the accomplishments of others, and the social life of others.

All this in addition to the ever-present opportunity to compare how many Birthday greetings, comments and “likes” their postings get versus how many their “friends” get. And if the numbers are not good enough, they are sad. 😦

That’s one of the reasons I’m not on Facebook. I know I would be tempted to do the same. Besides, the Bible tells us not to compare amongst ourselves, that to do so is to be foolish. (2 Co 10:12) And Facebook’s structure inevitably invites just that.

In fact, while all this comparing drives some of us to 😥 , others are moved to concoct their own glorious reports in retaliation and one-upmanship.

Yes, the German study found that this whole problem of envy and comparing drives some users to overstate the fabulousness of their vacations, happiness, social lives and accomplishments! Furthermore,  the areas of overstatement seem to be gender based. Men, says the study, tend to oversell their accomplishments, whereas women , their appearance and social lives.

None of which surprises me in the least. We are, after all, a fallen race, living in a fallen world, and if there’s one thing our sin natures delight in, crave, lust after, it’s being lauded and approved.  (Well, some of us have sin natures like that. Others would rather have power, or pleasure, and who cares what others’ think? They’re probably not among the one third that suffer from Facebook envy, though.)

The downside of all this is that people who are left feeling resentful and lonely from their Facebook experience soon stop using it, or at least use it less. One of the researchers wondered if Facebook was reaching a saturation point in some markets because of this and would soon begin to decline in popularity…

If you want to read the actual article on the study, it’s here.

The Morning After Election 2012

I am shocked.

Horrified.

Stunned.

Disbelieving.

Grieving the loss of my country,

the downfall of a nation that was once a shining light of truth

in a dark world.

This morning, I’m sick to my stomach.

Dismayed.

Disappointed.

Sobered by the awareness of the disasters to come.

Disasters like…

Obamacare

A nuclear Iran

The fast approaching fiscal cliff of our debt

The Social Security shortfall

Al Qaeda very much NOT on the run, but alive and actively our enemy

Terrorists emboldened by the debacle at Benghazi.

Economic depression

Having to walk everywhere because gas is too expensive

or ride my bike.

Gun Control

Crime Uncontrolled

Streetlights no longer lit because no one can afford to replace burned out lamps

or stolen copper wires

Increasing vandalism and graffiti

Increasing food prices

Higher taxes

China taking over Japan without anyone to stop it

(And thus we have the King of the East)

The gutting of our military through budget cuts

The implosion of our military because of a dishonorable commander-in-chief who who actively disdains and betrays it

Rolling blackouts when caps or excessive taxation are imposed on our electrical energy producers

Mandatory flu shots

People fighting over bread in the streets when there isn’t enough at the free food distribution sites for all the folks who want it

Repression and persecution of true Christianity

Increasing natural disasters

Military defeat

Invasion of enemy forces

(or collusion by the majority with enemy forces they don’t see as enemies)

The fall of the once great United States of America

**

There are some who say we committed suicide as a nation yesterday.

I think we started that quite some time ago,

moving gradually away from Biblical Christianity

and the pure teaching of the Word to become a people

“who would not endure sound doctrine,

but,

wanting to have their ears tickled,

accumulated for themselves teachers  in accordance with their own desires;

and, turning away their ears from the truth,

have been turned aside to myths.”

(my paraphrase of 2 Ti 4:3,4)

**
Repeatedly the Lord says in Scriptures that for the sake of the righteous He will withhold punishment.

If there had been 10 righteous souls (believers) in Sodom, He would have spared it. (Gen 18:32)

 If there had been a single man in Jeremiah’s Jerusalem (aside from Jeremiah himself) who lived rightly and sought truth (ie, God’s word), He would have pardoned the whole. (Jer 5:1)

“O LORD, do not Thine eyes look for truth (and faithfulness to it)?
Thou has smitten them, but they did not weaken;
Thou has consumed them,
But they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
They have refused to repent.
(Jer 5:3)

*

This is us as a nation.

And sadly, it is many of those who call themselves Christian today:

“rebellious children, who execute a plan, but not His,
who make an alliance (with the world), but not of His Spirit;
who proceed down to Egypt without consulting Him…
…Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame,
and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation…”
(Is 30:1-3)

America Lite

I got a new book over the weekend. It’s by David Gelernter who is “a professor of computer science at Yale, contributing editor at the Weekly Standard, a regular contributor to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and former board member of the National Endowment for the Arts.”

The book is called America Lite — How Imperial Academia Dismantled our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats).

Professor Gelernter has been writing occasional guest posts for Power Line blog on the subjects he covers in this book, and having found them all interesting I finally decided to get the book for myself.

From the inside cover:

America-Lite (where we all live) is just like America, only turned into an amusement park or a video game or a supersized Pinkberry, where the past and the future are blank and there is only a big NOW. How come we know so little about the past, care so little about the future, and expect so little (except cynicism) from our culture, our leaders — and each other?

In this refreshingly judgmental book, David Gelernter connects the historical dots to reveal a stealth revolution carried out by post-religious globalist intellectuals who, by and large, “can’t run their own universities or scholarly fields, but are very sure they can run you.” These imperial academics have deployed their students into the top echelon of professions once monopolized by staid, steady, stately WASPs. In this simple way, they have installed themselves as the new designated drivers of American culture…”

Mere facts are disdained, “old-fashioned fact-based judgments like true are false” are no longer valid, and the teaching of actual history has been replaced by the teaching of “theories about history.”

By removing objective facts and absolute truths observable by all or arrived at by “common sense,” and inserting endless theories and tropes and feelings and gauzy visions of utopia, concepts that on the surface don’t make sense (“lead from behind,” “spend money in order to save money,”) and as such are only really understood by the most intellectual and enlightened among us, we clearly must abandon the attempt to think for ourselves and let these brilliant academicians do it for us.  And, says Gelernter, so we have.

“In fact, we have handed over the keys to the star pupil and teacher’s pet of the post-religious globalist intellectuals, whose election to the presidency of the United States constituted the ultimate global group hug.

How do we finally face the truth and get back into the driver’s seat? America-Lite ends with a one-point plan.”

And of course the jacket doesn’t say what that plan is. I’ll have to read the book to find out. I’ve already read the introduction and it generated enought thought for me to write an entire post in addition to this one (which I’ll put up probably tomorrow).

Even the back cover is fascinating (Click to enlarge):

 

The Creepy Obama Cult

The video at the end of this blog is about the creepiest thing I have ever seen. I found it in a piece on Human Events called “A Short Visual History of the Creepy Obama Cult.

I watched it  in astonishment, unable to fathom the cause of these people’s devotion. Clearly they aren’t really thinking, or even relating to reality. They have — or had — laid their own desires and fantasies into the persona of what was then Candidate Obama.

“We’re going to change the world!”

They say it over and over, but what does it mean? Change the world how? Well, a couple of them say…

“The world will finally respect us.”

Really? I mean… really?

This is delusional. Or perhaps merely naive, a fantasy indulged in by those who have no clue about life, about people, about history, about much of anything, it would seem.

“I want a cleaner world.”

So says a young mother (probably some sort of star but I don’t know who), as if all you need do is get the Ajax and a paper towel. Even then you have to deal with the leftover plastic bottle and the paper. And that’s not even considering where you’re going to get the plastic and the paper and the Ajax in the first place.

For example, I just saw an article in the New York Times today that said wind power will shrivel away without the millions of federal subsidies it needs to survive.  In fact, the industry is already shriveling and soon the tax credit will expire. Without it the wind business “‘falls off a cliff,’ said Ryan Wiser, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who studies the market potential of renewable electricity sources.”

And the biggest thing is that everything these people on the video have, wear, use — their clothing, their cosmetics, their cars, their cell phones, the very system they used to record the video and then to play it back — almost all of it is reliant on oil. Many things come from petroleum, plastic being a huge one.

A cleaner world? If we shut down the oil drilling here, that might make it cleaner here, though I doubt it, but what about in the Middle East? Do they really think that Middle Eastern drilling and refining operations are cleaner than ours? And just because they are on the other side of the world, do they think we can be free of them?

Power Line Blog cited a report that air pollution in the form of aerosol particulates from China is blowing across the Pacific and reaching our shores. “We estimate that the mass of aerosols arriving at North American shores from overseas is comparable with the total mass of particulates emitted domestically,” says an abstract of the report. Which means we could demand zero emissions of particulates from our industries, and it wouldn’t change a thing. Yet here in Arizona liberal politicians are campaigning to shut down the power plants and such, protesting against the building of a new copper mine which will provide hundreds of jobs, and urging for clean energy in solar panels and windmills… which don’t come free, as mentioned above. Not free to make, not free to install, not free to maintain.

The people in this video are like children, really. Living in a fairy tale. And all there is, for them, is the picture they want to see, and none of the nitty-gritty that goes on behind the scenes to make any of it happen. Even in the printing of a Fairy Tale Book you have logging, (or possibly paper recycling plants), machinery, paints, dyes, inks, power, buildings, trucks, oil… And a Fairy Tale movie? The list is endless.

Nothing comes free and easy in this world. And almost four years later now, we can certainly say it didn’t with  O….. BA….. MA!

Who Killed the Liberal Arts?

Recently I came across this article in the Weekly Standard by Joseph Epstein called Who Killed the Liberal Arts? And why we should care.”

In it he traces a history of how the Liberal Arts education in today’s universities has been degraded, from what was once intended to train free people how to think into a mess of lightweight exercises in political correctness and shallow group think. From a study of Western literature, philosophy and history to a crazy amalgam of gender studies, the worship of multiculturalism, and lightweight popular culture subjects.

It’s somewhat long, but worth the time. It’s the first time I’ve ever really read a description of what Liberal Arts was meant to teach, and the reasons and he gives a thoughtful analysis of how it all works together in our culture today in a sort of weird apprenticeship racket. All you need to know to be a journalist you could learn in the newsroom in a matter of months, he says, yet people spend four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn pretty much the same thing in a college atmosphere.

Anyway, I pulled a quote from the article that I found particularly interesting in light of his discussion of learning how to think:

Only years later did I realize that quickness of response —on which 95 percent of education is based—is beside the point, and is required only of politicians, emergency-room physicians, lawyers in courtrooms, and salesmen. Serious intellectual effort requires slow, usually painstaking thought, often with wrong roads taken along the way to the right destination, if one is lucky enough to arrive there. One of the hallmarks of the modern educational system, which is essentially an examination system, is that so much of it is based on quick response solely. Give 6 reasons for the decline of Athens, 8 for the emergence of the Renaissance, 12 for the importance of the French Revolution. You have 20 minutes in which to do so.

The idea behind the curriculum at the College of the University of Chicago was the Arnoldian one, abbreviated to undergraduate years, of introducing students to the best that was thought and said in the Western world. Mastery wasn’t in the picture. At least, I never felt that I had mastered any subject, or even book, in any of my courses there. What the school did give me was the confidence that I could read serious books, and with it the assurance that I needed to return to them, in some cases over and over, to claim anything like a genuine understanding of them.

I’m finding myself that I like to spend time thinking. That things don’t come quickly, especially if you don’t have the opportunity to reflect and simmer. Yet, as he points out we, as a culture, have filled up our lives with so many things, there’s rarely time for that. And if there is, one feels almost guilty indulging in just thinking…  The fast response is desired and praised, the slow one, well, not so much.

National Empty Chair Day

My Empty Chair

Today (Monday) was National Empty Chair Day, in honor of Clint Eastwood’s performance at the Republican National Convention last Thursday.  We saw it live, and I thought it was hilarious. It was clearly not a speech, but a performance.

However many on the left were unable to discern the difference. They jumped to the conclusion that this man, who is 82, was a witless, rambling old fool who’d lost his marbles to age. So sad. Poor old Clint.

Right.

He’s an ACTOR! Actors act like people they are not.

Eastwood has directed 8 movies in the last five years, is quite articulate when seen in interviews and was coolly, competently, persuasive in that Superbowl ad he did for Chrysler last winter (It’s Half Time in America). In addition, he ad libbed his entire performance in front of a huge crowd and much of the nation. It was the empty chair, in which sat an invisible President Obama, that required the teleprompter.

At first, I’ll admit, what he was doing seemed strange and even mildly alarming. Until he talked to the chair. And then repeated or replied to what its invisible occupant was saying as well.

I’ve seen sketches like this before, and in fact, I think it was Mark Steyn that mentioned the similarity to an old Bob Newhart bit, where he seems befuddled as he talks to an invisible cohort.  But in between Eastwood’s bouts of apparent befuddlement he let loose some real zingers.

“We own this country… Politicians are employees of ours….   They’re just going to come around and beg for votes every few years.”

“When somebody does not do the job, we’ve got to let him go.”

Anyway, the chair was such a hit, some folks decided to make this year’s Labor Day Holiday National Empty Chair Day. I first heard of it on Drudge, Power Line and Legal Insurrection, the latter suggesting people put out their empty chair, take a picture of it and then send them the photo. They got 100 photos the first night and the next day, between a continuing avalanche of photos and visitors from Drudge and Instanpundit, their server crashed.

So there was as LOT of interest in the empty chair. You can see some more pictures of empty chairs and accompanying decorations here at The Right Scoop.


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