Friday, January 14, 2005

Campaigning For a Saner Valentine's Day

The Vermont governor opposes the straitjacketed "Crazy for You" Valentine's Day teddy bear. He and others say it is offensive to the mentally ill. Would it be offensive of me to suggest that their getting so worked up about this is a trifle, um, crazy?

A word on the title of the last post...

I in no way mean to malign a noble animal by comparing it to bureacrats and "educators"; the term was used in lieu of more accurate, but less flattering, ones as a way of softening my comment. One must be ladylike, after all.

More Liberal Tolerance? Or Are They Just Jackasses?

A Florida college bans a Christian student group from showing The Passion of the Christ; they claim it is because the film is rated R (aren't most college students old enough to see R-rated films?), although in the past they have allowed a live performance called “F**king for Jesus” that "involved a character simulating sex with and masturbating to an image of Jesus." After the group complained to the college president, the leaders were pulled from class and administrators demanded they apologize in writing.

Presumably due to the negative attention these actions led to, the college has since moved against the No Shame Theatre that showed "F**cking for Jesus" ("the name of the play has been changed on the IRCC chapter’s webpage and the link to the script has been removed, although the script remains accessible elsewhere on the project’s website") and has decreed that from now on faculty advisers must attend all student group meetings.

If you visit the college's website>, you will find that their slogan is--wait for it--"Where Students Come First".

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Listening to Stories and Their Endings

Arts and Letters Daily is one of my favorite sites, because I can always find a link to something interesting there.

Here's links to two articles I read today:

The first is a good article about endings in art. In the second article, an English professor confesses to a love of listening to recorded literature; this is less good than the first, but it struck me.

I've come to love audiobooks myself. It is not just that some readers/actors do such a wonderful job of making each character in a novel sound distinct. It is not just the convenience of being able to do something else while "reading" a book or that listening to an audiobook keeps one from getting bored while exercising or doing mundane tasks. It is not just that some literature cries out to be read aloud. It is all that and more. It is that listening to someone tell us a story--even a recorded voice telling us a written-down story--touches something primal in us. Humans are storytellers and also story-listeners, and some part of us remains forever hunkered down by the fire, listening to a really great story build toward a satisfying end.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

According to the news, the crematory operator in Georgia who was found to be dumping bodies on his property instead of cremating them has now pleaded guilty and been sentenced in Tennessee (he'd already pleaded guilty and been sentenced in Georgia). My disgust for this man's actions is not so fresh as when I first heard about it, but it is still there. At least this man could be charged with crimes. Consider the widespread acceptance of the works of that European artist who encases dead human bodies--in varying levels of skin and musculature exposure--in plastic and poses the corpses doing various things. Chesterton said that, even in a society of atheists, the dead man is sacred. We've coarsened since Chesterton's time.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Who Was Che?

"The fog of time and the strength of anti-anti-Communism have
obscured the real Che. Who was he? He was an Argentinian revolutionary who
served as Castro's primary thug. He was especially infamous for presiding over
summary executions at La Cabaña, the fortress that was his abattoir. He liked to
administer the coup de grâce, the bullet to the back of the neck. And he loved
to parade people past El Paredón, the reddened wall against which so many
innocents were killed. Furthermore, he established the labor-camp system in
which countless citizens — dissidents, democrats, artists, homosexuals — would
suffer and die. This is the Cuban gulag. A Cuban-American writer, Humberto
Fontova, described Guevara as "a combination of Beria and Himmler." Anthony
Daniels once quipped, "The difference between [Guevara] and Pol Pot was that
[the former] never studied in Paris." "

Today on the Corner Kathryn Jean Lopez suggested that people ought to print that paragraph from Jay Nordlinger onto index cards and carry them around to give to people wearing Che tee-shirts.

Another possibility for countering Che-Chic is wearing a Reagan shirt. See . That's not the only possibility of course. I'd like to see young people (Che Chic is mostly worn by the young) wearing Che-like shirts of people opposed to communism. Why not have shirts with Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Winston Churchill, or even Lech Walesa? So what if no one is mass marketing them? There's a lot of websites out there that tell you how to make your own stencils from photographs you've altered in Photoshop (or even Word). Why should young liberals be the only ones with cool DIY clothes?

A Word to Barbara Boxer

Hey, big girls don't cry. Not in Congress, anyway.

Looking at the news...,2933,143640,00.html China plans to outlaw gender selective abortion (aborting because you're carrying a female.) Wonder if Planned Parenthood and NOW will be yowling about this latest threat to women's rights.,2933,143645,00.html A hooker in Florida turned her customer in to police after she saw kiddie porn on his computer. Good for her. Even though she had reason to avoid the police herself, she overlooked her personal interests to do the right thing.,2933,143433,00.html One country's government puts out a comic book-style pamphlet telling its citizens how to flout the laws of a neighboring country. People in the country whose laws are being violated should be outraged, right? No, not if you're the US and the laws are immigration laws. After all, where's the problem with millions of people who can't get into the country legally just sneaking in? Our economy can absorb them all. If there aren't enough jobs for them all, surely welfare can support them all until they get jobs. And they're all good, upstanding, law-abiding folk, right? It's not as if coming into the country illegally would appeal to, oh I don't know, criminals? What, you say terrorists might like to take advantage of easy, illegal entry--geez, what planet are you from, Paranoia-tron? Nope, I see no problems here at all, and anyone who does is obviously just mean-spirited.,2933,143633,00.html An arrest was made in the 1964 Civil Rights slayings in Mississippi. The case was reopened and "just last month, an anonymous donor posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to murder charges". Post a large reward and you get the information you want. Well, we'll see how it goes.
I never rejoice when old men (the arrested man is 79 years old) are arrested for crimes they committed decades before, but murder is serious business and if the arrested man is guilty, I can't say I feel sorry for him, either.

And what is the deal with female teachers having sex with underage boys? (There's two new stories of it.)What grown woman ever looked at a twelve-, thirteen-, or fourteen-year old boy and say, "Whooh, I gotta get me some of that!" Okay, older teens who have the bodies of grown men, sure you might look--and if you've got an ounce of sense, stay away--but fourteen-year olds?! Maybe female teachers having sex with male students is some new perk the teachers' union has lobbied for, but I think I'd confine myself to the eighteen-year olds, preferably ones who work out. At least they look like adults and aren't jailbait (except maybe in Utah), even if they do tend to lack the, ah, control of older men.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Could I have been wrong?

Okay, maybe Barbie IS a whore.

Edited 3/6/10 to delete image link. There used to be a link here to a picture of a really slutty-looking Barbie doll or dolls, but at some point the linked address changed to a porn site. I apologise if anyone followed this link after it changed.

"Honoring" the Troops?

'Anyone who was serious about honoring the fallen troops would honor what they accomplished, not just the price they paid. '

A well-worth-reading article by Thomas Sowell on MSM's choosing to highlight American casualties, rather than accomplishments.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Fewer Women Using Birth Control

The above link is to a Washington Post article titled "More Women Opting Against Birth Control, Study Finds." It begins like this:

"At a time when the medical community has been heartened by a decline in risky
sexual behavior by teenagers, a different problem has crept up: More adult women
are forgoing birth control..."

Umm, why is that a problem? Isn't that one of those personal choice things? I thought we were supposed to be in favor of people choosing to do their own thing, be their own person, etc. Could it be that the people who think grown women choosing to forgo contraception is a problem only want women to choose what they--the supposed experts--want them to choose?

Basically they find grown women choosing not to use contraception a problem for two reasons: those women might have a pregnancy they didn't intend, and the "wrong" women might be having more babies. Admittedly, the latter is not stated explicitly and if I am being uncharitable in assuming its underlying presence in some of the concerns stated, then I ask pardon. As to the first, why has our society come to believe that we should plan every detail of our lives? That it is our right to control every single thing that happens to us, even life and death? I am not unaware of the complete upending of your life that an unexpected pregnancy can cause (hardly any woman can be oblivious to that), but is it really such a tragedy to become pregnant when you hadn't planned on it? Must everything happen on schedule? Is there no room for messiness and the unexpected in our lives? Are we really so devoted to efficiency and orderliness now?

There are a number of peculiar things in this article and it touches on a lot of topics that could be discussed (such as whether the government should fund contraception or, for that matter, births), but I'll confine myself to commenting on a paragraph near the end.

"In some cases, women and recent generations of physicians have been scared off
from certain types of birth control or simply not trained in products that
disappeared from the market."

Huh? If the products aren't being made anymore, you can't use them anyway, so whether you've been scared off them or trained in their use is beside the point.

" Of the women using birth control in 1995, 7 percent reported using an
intrauterine device, or IUD. That figure fell to 2 percent in 2002, a drop
Trussell attributed to "the legacy" of the Dalkon Shield IUD, which was
off the market in 1974 after causing infections that killed at least
18 women."

The Dalkon Shield fiasco may explain why only 7 percent of women were using an IUD in 1995, but I can't see how it had anything to do with a drop to 2% in 2002. All the bad publicity over the Dalkon shield was back in the 70s; it made many people scared of all IUDs, and so there was a big drop in use. But by the early to mid-eighties the talk and lawsuits had died down and, while you'd sometimes come upon a "everybody knows IUDS are dangerous" attitude if you mentioned them, the subject was pretty much dead. There were still IUDS on the market and a few women still used them. Docters were still free to recommend them to their patients. I do not think that the specter of the Dalkon Shield suddenly rose from the grave after 1995 and caused even more people not to use them.

My Favorite Marriage Quote of All Time

From that wise old jester, G. K. Chesterton:

"... the wise old fairy tales never were so silly as to say that the prince and
the princess lived peacefully ever afterwards. The fairy tales said that the
prince and the princess lived happily ever afterwards: and so they did. They
lived happily, although it is very likely that from time to time they threw the
furniture at each other."

You have to have been married for a while to appreciate that.

Tolkien's Birthday

Today is Tolkien's birthday. Here's a couple of links:

Crisis magazine has also run some articles about Tolkien over the years. (Crisis is worth a visit, even if you're not interested in Tolkien.)

If you'd rather listen than read, go to
and search for "Tolkien".

"It Can Move People To Tears"

This doctor seems to be where I was on the subject of abortion, up until maybe three years ago.

"...I appreciate that life starts early in the womb, but also believe that
I'm ending it for good reasons. Often I'm saving the woman, or I'm improving the
lives of the other children in the family. I also believe that women have a life
they have to consider. If a woman is working full-time, has one child already,
and is barely getting by, having another child that would financially push her
to go on public assistance is going to lessen the quality of her life. And it's
also an issue for the child, if it would not have had a good life. Life's hard
enough when you're wanted and everything's prepared for. So yes, I end life, but
even when it's hard, it's for a good reason."

I think she's being disingenuous in her last line, though: "How could people think it's wrong?" Once you accept that life begins at (or close to) conception, even if you still think it is okay to end it, you know why some people think it's wrong.

I can't help but wonder if this doctor isn't going to become more uncomfortable with this, because she already sounds ambivalent. She says providing abortions can be hard and can move you to tears and that she finds it's a good day when a woman changes her mind and leaves without the abortion.

(I got the link to this article from the Corner.)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

More Time-wasters for the New Year & Crafty Memories

Anita's Paper Dolls

(These dolls are from British television programs, the original Star Trek, and Sophia Loren; the best doll is probably the Patricia Rutledge, because of all the Hyacinth Bucket clothes, but let it be noted Sophia Loren is totally hot-looking even when she's one-dimensional and made of black lines.)

I got the above link from this list of links:

Along the theme of paper toys, there's a guy who has a toy theater you can make by printing out and assembling some free pieces he has on his site.

I've not actually made any of those things above, but they look fun and they are free. When I was a little girl I made paper dolls by cutting pictures out of a sewing pattern catalogue my grandmother had; my dolls were too flimsy to play with, having no backing, but I had them. I could pull them out of their cigar box and look at them, which was satisfying enough, although it couldn't really compare to the great pleasure of looking through the big book, choosing only the best pictures, and carefully cutting them out. As the Craftster slogan has it, rock is dead, long live paper and scissors.

And I'd like to have a toy theater. It's part of my fascination with dollhouses. I have a vague memory of making a toy theater out of cardboard once, but I was rather hampered by the facts that I'd never actually seen a toy theater (only read about it in Five Dolls and the Duke years before) and that I was a grumpy teenager, not a kid who'd play with the thing for hours after I'd made it; I lacked Chesterton's ability to return to childhood play. There was also the usual obstacle my crafting desires had as a girl: lack of supplies.

Our Lady of Weight Loss

Today was the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Today is also a day that millions of Americans start a diet. Connection? There is one, sort of. Check out Our Lady of Weight Loss, which I found linked to on a craft site (Crafty Chica's, I believe.) Here's the story: Our Lady of Weight Loss is run by someone who lost fifty or more pounds after she decided, in response to hearing a "voice", that she should make weight loss an artistic experience . While making her first piece of weight-loss art, she found herself thinking about how she helped her mother make deliveries to the nuns at Our Lady of the Snow, how the nuns were always nice to her even though she was chubby, and how it would be nice if there were a saint for weight loss. And so she invented Our Lady of Weight Loss.

I love Mary and I am a Catholic, so I feel slightly ambivalent about Our Lady of Weight Loss. The weight loss art is fun, but the use of Marian imagery in at least some of the collages is questionable. More serious is the watering down of traditional religious devotions and the conflating of one religious tradition with others; one idea at work here is that all religions are about the same, so you don't have to take any of them seriously or even bother trying to understand the differences. But it doesn't really bother me. As I said, the art is fun, and the whole spirit of the thing seems to be one of lighthearted fun. I see no mockery or deliberate attempts at disrespect. Ignorance, yes, mockery,no; and ignorance is not a sin. And remember that the woman started the Our Lady of Weight Loss thing partly in response to a memory of nuns being kind to her and a perceived need of help.

Mary is a great converter, drawing people closer to the Church who would never listen to someone talking at them about the Trinity or a need for repentence. If the weight loss artist or some of the people seeing her images become, because of those collages, even no more than a little friendlier to the original images, then that could become a hole in their spiritual shells for truth to shine through. I think it is a good sign that there seems to be a small upswing in pop culture Marian imagery, even when it results in an Our Lady of Weight Loss instead of a more traditional-looking Virgin of Guadalupe handbag; many of the people using these images may be doing so more out of faddishness than any notion of piety, but any attraction to Mary, however small, can become the first step on the road home to the Church.

Worth pointing out again that this relatively positive secular use of Catholic imagery came about because a woman remembered some nuns being nice to her as a child. Think how many Catholics have left the Church solely because some nun or priest or fellow parishioner was rude or mean to that person. Another person's misbehavior is no excuse for leaving the Church, of course, but people do leave because of things like that, all the time. Like it or not, we're all seen as representatives of our faith, and if we treat other people callously, they may well believe it reflects on the Church, not on our bad execution of what the Church teaches. Just one more reason to think about how we treat others. (We'll see if I remember that next time someone cuts me off on the highway.)

For anyone interested in the real Mary and weight loss, I've heard of two things, a Yahoo group called Our Lady's Weigh and a program called Light Weigh. I've tried neither, but they sound as if they might be sensible. Light Weigh seems to be eating only when hungry and turning to God rather than food for non-physical hungers, and the Our Lady's Weigh seems to be your basic support group but with a Catholic focus.

For a secular weight loss idea, there's the "No S Diet". I've read this guy's page, and his concept is simple and sensible. A diet with three rules and one exception: No sweets, no snacks, no seconds--except (sometimes)on days starting with "s" (that's Saturdays, Sundays, and Special Occasions.) Pretty self-explanatory, but there's a page about it that is short and interesting.