Friday, May 28, 2010

Hawkeytown Indifference

So the Stanley Cup finals start tomorrow night, and I'm wondering if I may be the only person in Chicagoland who couldn't care less what happens to the Blackhawks.

Hailing, as I do, from Minnesota, and (1) remaining bitter that Norm Green moved the North Stars to Dallas in 1993, and (2) refusing, on principle, to root for any team whose name is a collective noun, for years, I've been a man without an NHL team.

All I'm hoping is that the series is a sweep (regardless of who sweeps who), because I'm growing tired of all the extra pre-emptings of Milt Rosenberg on WGN.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What "Comprehensive" Sex Ed Is Really All About

The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health is at it again.

In 2006, ICAH held its annual fundraiser at Playboy's executive offices.

That event—view the invitation here [PDF]—included a VIP reception with Playboy CEO Christie Hefner, the daughter of Hugh Hefner, who founded the magazine in 1953. Several years ago, Christie decided that the company could make more money by producing increasingly harder-core pornography—something that even her father was reluctant to do for a long time.

The next year, their annual fundraiser featured a stripper.

At this year's event on June 15, ICAH will be honoring sex advice columnist Dan Savage with the group's "Sexuality Activist Award."

The fact that Savage is being honored tells us everything we need to know about ICAH's values and the advice they believe should be given to kids.

On his website, Savage recommends things like group sex and encourages his readers to enter amateur porn contests. For the sake of propriety, most of the advice he gives I won't even mention obliquely.

He also ridicules a support group for pornography addicts by claiming "porn addiction is bulls***."

This despite reams of evidence showing how devastatingly harmful and addictive porn really is. (For but one example, witness pop singer John Mayer's candid admission that he would rather watch porn than form a new relationship with a real woman.)

In its press statement [PDF] announcing this year's event, ICAH blames "harmful abstinence-only-until-marriage messages that have proven inaccurate and ineffective" for the alarmingly high rates of pregnancy and STDs among teens.

Yet the evidence for successful abstinence education programs continues to mount, and meanwhile, it's increasingly clearer that the message of Condoms, Condoms, More Condoms, And Even More Condoms doesn't, you know, work.

So let's review:

For 3 of the last 5 years, the honored guests at ICAH functions have included the CEO of Playboy, a stripper, and a lurid sex columnist.

And they expect the people of Illinois to believe they have our children's best interests at heart when they push for so-called "comprehensive" sex education.

How stupid do they think we are?

Related Coverage on the Generations for Life Blog

[Cross-posted at Pro-Life Action League and Generations for Life]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Clarity on Torture"

Sean Dailey has an editorial currently up on the website of Gilbert Magazine that's titled, appropriately enough, "Clarity on Torture".

Here's an excerpt:

Do we really need to get into the nuts and bolts of what constitutes torture?

Yes, we do. Most will agree that taking a power drill to a man’s shoulder or pulling out his fingernails with pliers for punishment or to extract information is torture. But when the subject is waterboarding, clarity vanishes again. Some consider waterboarding to be mere psychological torture — which, as we’ve already established, is morally indistinguishable from physical torture.

But waterboarding is not a harmless dunk in the tub, as former Vice President Dick Cheney once likened it, and it is not psychological torture. In waterboarding, a subject is strapped to a gurney. His feet are elevated slightly above his head. A cloth is draped over his face. And water is poured on his face so that it enters his nose and mouth and flows into his lungs. CIA interrogators are instructed to pour the water immediately after a detainee exhales, to ensure he inhales water, not air. They use their hands to “dam the flow” of excess water from a detainee’s mouth. And detainees who are scheduled for waterboarding are put on a liquid diet, to minimize the risk of death should they inhale their own vomit.

This procedure became official American policy in our so-called War on Terror, but it was not always so. Waterboarding has been condemned by the United States government since at least 1898, when American soldiers were court marshaled for waterboarding prisoners during our occupation of the Philippines following the Spanish-American War. In World War II, we hanged Japanese war criminals for waterboarding American and Allied troops. In the 1980s in Texas, a sheriff and three of his deputies were convicted by the Justice Department for waterboarding prisoners to extract confessions.

And yet, there are those exceptions: American security is at stake. If waterboarding saves even one life, isn’t it worth it?

If torturing a terrorist suspect saved a city from destruction, or if it saved even one life, it would still be a barbaric, savage act, unworthy of a civilized society. If expediency were enough to justify an immoral act, then abortion would be justifiable.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

You Don't See That Every Day

Like many schools, the grade school down the street from Haus Jansen has a sign in front on which are displayed various messages — most often, school announcements: "Spring Break: March 29 - April 2" or "Congratulations Mr. Brown on 32 years of teaching", or platitudes: "Knowledge is power", etc.

But notice the message that's there now:

Of course, our local school district isn't alone:

I wish every entity that the State of Illinois owes money to would likewise shout it from the rooftops. It might just help wake people up to how mind-bogglingly corrupt and financially mismanaged this place is.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Best. Spoof. Ever.

Not only that, it won the Papyrus Font Award!

Mark Shea comments thusly:

The layers of post-modern irony and metanarrative are thick as leaves in a Vermont forest in October, but dayum is this funny and spot on.

Cradle Catholics and Emergents have an almost impenetrably different understanding of what "worship" means. For Emergents (following their Evangelical parents) worship is profoundly bound up with music (the most disincarnational of the arts, unless you happen to be the one playing it). Evangelicalism, being leery of the Incarnation whenever you encounter it today tends to focus a lot on the verbal and auditory as distinct from the physical and tangible. So the Eucharist is "magic" but worship in which the believer moves himself into a "state of worship" is, well, worship.

Inevitably, it results in the sort of thing spoofed here.

I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with him about music's being disincarnational, but I can't argue with him about Evangelical Protestantism's inherent leeriness about the Incarnation as it is encountered today through various means, including, but by no means limited to, the Sacraments.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What Books Do You Own?

JivinJ links to a WaPo profile of Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List in which Jason Horowitz writes:

Dannenfelser, wearing a striped beige jacket and a necklace of silver spheres, came out of her small office, where books about the importance of women in the life of Pope John Paul II ("Wojtyla's Women") and an anti-Democratic screed ("The Party of Death") sat in a short bookcase.

I do not wish to discuss here the merits of either book mentioned (in part because I haven't read them).

But it seems odd that this detail even warrants a mention. What's the implication? Is it that if someone has a book in her bookcase, that she therefore presumably agrees with all (or at least most) of the arguments its author makes therein?

Personally, I think that when someone owns a book, it means that person owns a book, and any further extrapolation by someone else is made at his own peril.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Interesting Take

Among the various retrospectives I've come across in recent days marking the Pill's introduction 50 years ago this month, probably the most unique I've seen thus far is a First Things piece titled "Beyond the Pill: Looking for the Origins of the Sexual Revolution" from military historian Stuart Koehl.

Therein he offers some observations that are sure to prompt some garment-renting and teeth-gnashing among those who go in for the notion that The 40s And 50s Were Great But The 60s Ruined Everything:

Because of its scope and intensity, World War II shattered an existing moral consensus, creating a socially unstable situation in which “ordinary” morality was jettisoned. People lived very intensely and with the knowledge that everything, including life itself, was transient. The typical American serviceman in World War II had four sex partners, not counting prostitutes. Venereal disease rates for U.S. servicemen in Europe and Australia reached epidemic proportions that eventually required the military to license and regulate brothels. As Kipling wrote, “Single men in barracks don’t grow into plaster saints”.

While soldiers were fornicating their way across Europe and women on the home front were in contact with men on the war assembly lines, the number of “Dear John” letters received at the front and in the POW cages constituted a real threat to morale. One received in 1944 by a POW in Stalag Luft VII read: “Dear John, I hope you are open-minded, because I just had a baby. His father is a wonderful guy, and he has enclosed some cigars for you”. Of course, most men and women were not promiscuous during the war—just as most men and women today are not—but enough were to have a lasting impact.

After the war, everything was supposed to return to normal, but of course, it did not, and many trends conspired to ensure that they would not, including unprecedented prosperity, social and physical mobility—which broke down traditional ties of family and community, a burning resentment of authority among servicemen and a more relaxed attitude toward sex, growing out of the wartime experience.

For a generation that grew up in uniform, hypocrisy was not seen as something necessary for the smooth running of society. If the boomers grew up rebels, it’s because their parents encouraged rebellion even while outwardly conforming to social norms themselves. Everybody liked sex, and many broke sexual barriers, though still exercising discretion and obedience to form. But, looking at the divorce rates between the late forties to the mid-sixties, one can already see the incipient breakdown of marriage owing, in part, to hasty wartime marriages combined with the stress of servicemen reintegrating into civilian society. ... One prominent feature of many marriages then was the pressure on men to marry women whom they impregnated, resulting in shotgun weddings and “premature” births. Fortunately, it was at a time when a man just out of high school could get a high-paying, semi-skilled job with union protection. It would be safe to wager, though, that many of those marriages collapsed once their children were grown.

Many of the behaviors predisposed by the pill were already common, albeit covert, features of American life once the pill became available. The pill added fuel to a smoldering fire; it didn't start the blaze, but it certainly accelerated it and ensured its spread. The greatest damage done by the pill has been to women. It shifted the onus for avoiding pregnancy to women, absolving men of responsibility for unwanted pregnancies, which, in essence, made sex into a casual activity. Men no longer had to marry the women they impregnated, which, in turn, made legalized abortion inevitable, again leaving women to bear the psychological and moral consequences. So as we mark the anniversary of the pill, we should spend more time trying to understand the social forces that caused us to react to the pill as we did, allowing us to discard a long-standing moral consensus, leaving only sexual chaos and uncertainty.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Third Secret - Did The Pope Lie?

Asks Pat Archbold in the NCR.

The answer:

Um, no.

I have exactly no patience for those who believe that Pope John Paul II was part of some nefarious cover-up of what was supposedly really contained in the Third Secret of Fatima given to Sr. Lucia.

If you're going to cantankerously oppose what the Vatican says regarding Marian apparitions, you'd probably be better off paying no attention to them at all.

[HT: Creative Minority Report]

Abuse of Power?

Note that this guy was not some Fred Phelps devotee going around saying "God hates fags" or something similarly doltish.

Rather, he was publicly proclaiming his belief that same-sex acts are sinful.

And for that, he was arrested.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Render Unto Daley?

Let me begin by saying that I think bottled water is by and large a stupid idea.

Call me old-fashioned if you must, but I still cling to the antediluvian view that it's just fine to drink water out of, you know, the tap.

That said, I recognize that there are times when having bottled water on hand is convenient.

So while I never have, and never will, buy bottled water for consumption within the confines of Haus Jansen, there is an occasional need to buy it for work-related events.

Knowing that we'd need some in the near future, I saw that 24-packs of half-liter bottles were on sale for Jewel for $2.50. And despite the limit of 4, that's still a deal I couldn't pass up.

So I picked up 4 cases on the way to work yesterday morning.

As the cashier was ringing me up, I thought my total sounded high, but it was getting on toward 9:00, and I needed to get to work, so I didn't think much more of it.

But when I got to work, I glanced at the receipt and noticed that there was a "Chicago bottled water tax" of $1.20 tax per case ($.05/bottle).


I then vaguely recalled having heard something a bottled water tax a while back, but I'd never hitherto bought bottled water in the city of Chicago, so I'd forgotten all about it.

I then had to consider my options: keep it, because of the hassle of returning 4 cases of water back to the store. This would mean, of course, having to live with myself knowing that I coughed up nearly 50% [!] of the price of the water in taxes — which utterly kills the deal's couldn't-pass-up-ability.

Or, of course, I could take it back, and then get 4 more cases at another Jewel outside the city limits, where there is no such infernal bottled water tax.

If you know me at all, you'll know which option I chose.

I took it back this morning, and I'll get 4 more cases on the Jewel in Oak Park tonight — a mere block off my normal route home.