Running Late

Last Sunday was Gaudete Sunday.  This is the last hour in which I can thus post this before it's overtaken by events. :)

Getting close now.


"Our bread it is white, and our ale it is brown."

On Cursing

A new book treats the question of obscene words, noting that just what qualifies as an obscenity has changed a lot over the years.  The Medievals weren't shocked by references to bodily functions, including sex, because of the relative lack of privacy at the time; they were shocked by blasphemy, which is why those who wanted to speak an obscenity made some reference to something holy.  The Victorians, who had privacy, made a big deal about words that related to sex or scatology.  

We're no different, she proves:
The real swear words of our time, she notes, are race- and gender-based epithets, which polite society has banned—words that, indeed, almost define polite society by their absence.‘Mother, Wilfred wrote a bad word!’‘MOTHER, WILFRED WROTE A BAD WORD!’
And sure enough, the reviewers (especially the British ones) have gleefully put into print all the once-prohibited words they know for fornication and excrement. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, gerunds, even adverbs—all-purpose bits of grammar that seem intended mostly to prove, among the writing classes, that their users want us to admire them for having broken free from the stultifying strictures of the linguistic past. Then, when they reach Mohr’s discussion of racial and sex-preference terms, they suddenly turn into prissy Victorian matrons, clicking their tongues in disapproval. A little euphemism, a lot of typographical gesturing, some elaborate circumlocution—it takes work to review a book about these modern unspeakables and not actually quote them. 

Mark Steyn:
 Here are two jokes one can no longer tell on American television. But you can still find them in the archives, out on the edge of town, in Sub-Basement Level 12 of the ever-expanding Smithsonian Mausoleum of the Unsayable. First, Bob Hope, touring the world in the year or so after the passage of the 1975 Consenting Adult Sex Bill: 
“I’ve just flown in from California, where they’ve made homosexuality legal. I thought I’d get out before they make it compulsory.”

Once Again, With Feeling

You are all (excepting one of you, our friend the orchestral musician) doubtless bored with my repeated commentary on the unity of beautiful music. I won't expound on it this time. I'll just give you a few videos to watch. You'll be glad you did.

Having Lots of Female Friends

Via this article on GWB, I learned that something called "Thought Cloud" exists.

Via Thought Cloud, I learned that it's problematic for a man to have too many female friends.

Is this right? When I was a boy, my elementary school did something that was at the time actually illegal: it took our standardized test scores on reading and used them to sort us into levels. We had an "advanced" class, a "medium" class, and a slow class (which wasn't given a name). Now girls mature faster than boys, especially in terms of academic work, so as a consequence I spent my formative years in a class with 26 girls and 4 boys, of whom I was one. Since we were sorted alphabetically, I was perforce surrounded by girls all the time except at recess.

From my perspective this has always meant that I learned early how to like and talk to girls, which has been a tremendous benefit. It turns out (boys, I am talking to you here) that girls are interesting, and have markedly different perspectives on life. If you're curious about big-T Truth, it's good to hear what other people with different perspectives have to say. If you're not interested in big-T Truth, you should rethink your life. As Aristotle rightly suggests, the contemplative life is one of the best ones available for our limited time here on Earth.

I think the author is worried about sexuality, which is a fair point. But learning to live with temptation is practicing the virtue of temperance, which is (as Aquinas will tell you) finally at the heart of every virtue. It's a matter of practice ("A virtue is a permanent habit," Aquinas says in his commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics; and habits are formed by practice).

So of course you should have friends who are girls (or, later, women), if you are a boy or a man; and vice-versa. It is wisdom to do so.


For this reason alone, it must be repealed.


OK, Now I've Heard Of Him

I remember Tex posted once about "Phil" Robertson, and without reading very closely I assumed she must be talking about "Pat" Robertson. It appears the two gentlemen share some views.

This is a very ordinary, traditional Christian view with pretty strong Biblical support. It's also a view that has a lot of philosophical support, and not just from Christian or religious philosophers: Kant takes exactly the same view in the Metaphysics of Morals, 6:277-8, all the way down to asserting that the issue is one of a violation of logic (or basic rationality).
Sexual union (commercium sexuale) is the reciprocal use that one human being makes of the sexual organs and capacities of another.... This is either a natural use (by which procreation of the same kind is possible) or an unnatural use, and unnatural use takes place with a person of the same sex or with an animal of a nonhuman species. Since such transgression of laws, called unnatural (crimina carnis contra naturam) or also unmentionable vices, do wrong to humanity in our own person, there are no limitations or exceptions whatsoever that can save them from being repudiated completely.
In the next paragraph, Kant goes on to define marriage as "the union of two persons of different sexes."

You're not obligated to be a Kantian, and I'm not one; you're not obligated to be a Christian either. But it's extraordinary to treat this as if it were a mere expression of hate. Kant, for example, has an argument for what it means to 'respect the humanity in one's own person' that applies here as elsewhere.

Kant is too important to the Left for him to be disappeared. I won't be surprised, though, if it becomes increasingly hard to find copies of his book that don't redact those paragraphs.


Resuming the War

Apparently Carlisle has succumbed to the general madness.
The U.S. Army War College, which molds future field generals, has begun discussing whether it should remove its portraits of Confederate generals — including those of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson....

It is the kind of historical cleansing that could spark an Army-wide debate: Lee’s portrait adorns the walls of other military installations and government buildings. Two portraits of Lee are on display at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.: In the Cadet Mess Hall is a painting of Lee when he was superintendent as an Army captain. A portrait of Lee in full Confederate regalia hangs on the second floor of Jefferson Hall, the campus library.
There's a good reason you shouldn't, which the article happens upon by accident:
In 1975, Congress enacted a joint resolution reinstating Lee’s U.S. citizenship in what could be considered a final act to heal Civil War wounds. The resolution praised Lee’s character and his work to reunify the nation.
It's a bad idea to undo "last acts of healing." But you do what you want to do.

Singing of Hard Times

Johnny Cash sang this one to an international hit.

Henry Rollins wonders about doing the same thing now.

Yeah, OK. So what does it mean to ride against the order we know?

War, does it not?

Iowahawk on Propaganda

He is mocking the current propaganda, but his early example is striking.

This one is the one I always think of. It's weaker than his example, though: it stops at the horror, and misses the quality of the angelic that follows.

It's a silly place

Ace of Spades can't decide if the post he found about the tragedy of antifeminist computer coding is fake or not.  The obvious answer is that it's both fake and not-fake, and there's no necessary contradiction, unless you're stuck in an andronormative phallo-logical space.

Ace's commenters have fun with appropriate 404 error messages for feminist coding.

Seeing voices

Sign language fascinates me.  In my elementary school, we all learned to signed letters when we read about Helen Keller, and I can do it to this day.  It was with some dismay that I learned as an adult how much more complex true sign language is and how difficult its fluent and expressive practice.  Of course, it's easier just to fake it.  I know you've all seen the stories already about President Obama's fake interpreter at the Mandela funeral, but you may not have seen this video.

Mark Steyn reflects on the security implications:
[H]ow heartening, as one watches the viral video of Obama droning on while a mere foot and a half away Mr. Jantjie rubs his belly and tickles his ear, to think that the White House’s usual money-no-object security operation went to the trouble of flying in Air Force One, plus the “decoy” Air Force One, plus support aircraft, plus the 120-vehicle motorcade or whatever it’s up to by now, plus a bazillion Secret Service agents with reflector shades and telephone wire dangling from their ears, to shepherd POTUS into the secured venue and then stand him onstage next to an $85-a-day violent schizophrenic.  In the movie version—In the Sign of Fire—grizzled maverick Clint Eastwood will be the only guy to figure it out at the last minute and hurl himself at John Malkovich, as they roll into the orchestra pit with Malkovich furiously signing “Ow!” and “Eek!”  But in real life I expect they’ll just double the motorcade to 240 vehicles and order up even more expensive reflector shades.
No doubt Thamsanqa Jantjie was channeling Rowan Atkinson.  My favorite bit is the "$15 million" towards the middle.

Way harsh

A lot of the North Korean press release about the chief nutso's purged uncle didn't come through very well in translation, but this part is clear enough:
[D]espicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him.
Few things fascinate me more than how one crazy guy can dominate a society:  the uneasy web of influence and privilege that keeps his henchmen in power over the populace, and the balancing act that keeps his henchmen from carving him up and serving him for dinner.  The old guard can't much enjoy seeing the kid start picking off members of their own ranks.  They probably have networks he can scarcely imagine, made up of people who must live in a perpetual state of crazed desperation.