All Quiet on the Western Front

Got a metric tonne of shite to do so I may be quiet this weekend.

I’ll probably go see Frost/Nixon and feel dirty about it.

My mom used to be a serious Frank Langella fanatic. I’m not kidding. She saw Sphinx–in a movie theater!–every day for a month, I think it was. She could recite dialog.

It was because of her that I saw, on opening day, Masters of the Universe in the Cinerama Dome! And the only other guy there, besides us, was James Noble, who played Governor Gatling on “Benson”.

The following year, she actually met him on the set of “Dr. Paradise”, a TV pilot that never got picked up. I think that was the end of her interest in him. Langella is a phenomenal actor, and absolutely fills a room like only a polished stage performer can, but when he’s off, he’s a mousy little guy and kind of effeminate.

Like all actors.

Except John Wayne.

And Rock Hudson.

The Double Standard

A good buddy of mine who, in his own words, was a “man-ho” during his single years once told me that he planned to tell his sons to get whatever they could (sexually, if that’s not obvious) while they could. I asked him, in all innocence, if he would give the same advice to his daughters, and he demurred.

(I do this sometimes. I’ll ask a question in innocence and trip up someone, and then sort of feel like a jerk.)

Now, he obviously enjoyed himself. The women he was with for the most part enjoyed themselves, I think–though I’d guess a few didn’t believe him when he said he wasn’t going to settle down–he was extremely popular. He didn’t seem to hold them in contempt.

But he didn’t want that for his daughter. Very clearly. He was repulsed by the idea, I would say.

Cognitive dissonance emerges.

I sort of understand the madonna/whore thing better: There are women you “date” and women you “marry”. (Though I’ve wondered if they’re not good enough to marry why would you date them? And shouldn’t good marriage material also be good date material?)

I also think, logically, one wants one’s children to have good sex lives, within the parameters of whatever morality one subscribes. (I think that viscerally, one also doesn’t want to actually think about it much.)

I guess what I wonder is, if it’s really just that the “whore” side of the madonna/whore duality has become more acceptable, or if–sexual revolution or no–people still feel like they’re sinning when, uh, fornicating, and if the evidence of that is a rejection of that lifestyle for their daughters at least.

Or is it just a hold over?

I hear more from women that “women aren’t wired” to have the sort of sex that the sexual revolution has freed them to have. It’s even reflected in some movies (like the Judd Apatow oeuvre) as a defect for women to pursue casual sex. (I guess that isn’t too much different from the past; the lead female is never vigorously active with a bunch of different men.)

I guess I don’t get what’s going on. I think the old way, however hypocritical, was better. We all agreed that virginity, monogamy and fidelity were optimal, even as we fell short of it. But maybe I’m just a killjoy.

I should say that I’m writing here from the viewpoint of the individual. I think it’s pretty clear that society would clearly be better off with virginity followed by lifelong fidelity. (Limited polyamory could theoretically provide stronger family structures, as long as fidelity was strictly kept.)

Conversations From The Living Room, Part 9: Working Class Wizards

“So, what happens if the court finds Harry guilty?”
“He gets expelled from Hogwarts.”
“Well, then what?”
“Does he have to go to wizard Trade School or something?”
“Is Wizard Community College like Wizard High School with ashtrays?”
“Does it ruin his chances at being the Minister of Wizardry? Will he end up having to get a wizard journalism degree and running for governor of Wizard Alaska?”
“Don’t you wonder about these things?”
“Maybe it’s in the book.”

Beating A Dead Hobby Horse

I was looking at some articles from a guy I found through my old pal Esther on Twitter.

He’s got one labeled “Why Linux will crush Windows 7”. First thing that amused me was in the comments, the same old Microsoft astroturfers hawking lies about Linux and how great the next version of Microsoft’s bloated old OS. (It’s always the next version that’s going to be the good one.)

But what was really funny were the latest comments (here). That’s right: An op-ed on Operating Systems has turned into a flame war on Proposition 8 and homosexuality.

Only on the tubes, folks.

Budgets and Waists

I did a quick little download of the family’s expenses for 2008.


The #1 expense, far and away? Food.

And my kids are so skinny, too! What’s up with that?

Mortgage and taxes are neck-and-neck for #2. Taxes are the actual #2, but I don’t break out sales, real estate, auto licensing and insurance taxes, employer payroll taxes, gas taxes, utility taxes–actually, taxes would easily surpass food if I bothered to count them all.

But that’d be too depressing.

Have You Seen The Little Piggies?

I don’t know if it’s all the tweetering or whatever, but I do see a lot of folks pissed off over the “stimulus” bill.

Oh, hell, let’s not call it a stimulus bill, it’s just Christmas for Democrats. (Hey, they won, right? That means they get to do whatever they want!)

But let us also not forget that this little moment at the trough which–worst case scenario, could be Obama’s FDR to W’s Hoover, giving us fourteen years of really bad times instead of six years of moderately bad times–was brought to you by the Republicans.

Starting with GHWB and culminating with W and his what-me-veto? attitude to Congress, the Reps sold out Reagan and the Contract with America, wasting the political capital and goodwill those two mini-revolutions had garnered.

In fairness, I saw grass-roots Reps and bloggers like Malkin and Ace criticize the spendthrift Congress and W at the time, but the point is, Reps should treat government expansion like kryptonite. Limiting the power of government requires only that you have the forethought to realize that the other side will soon be weilding that power.

Now that the Dems are in power, what they should be doing is looking to limit government power in civil rights areas: House cleaning at the DHS, amendments to the Patriot act, all that stuff they said they were going to do. They would do well to do relax the War on Drugs, too, given the way they bitched about that in the ‘80s but that Clinton never seemed to be able to get around to cutting down on.

Bonus: you can cut down on all those areas and then you have more money to redistribute!

It would also make sense that the Dems, the self-proclaimed voice of the working poor and middle class, would severely curb illegal immigration, which really hurts those two groups and the unions.

They won’t, of course. You know that joke–may have originated with “The Simpsons” but it feels a lot older–about “backing a dump truck full of money into my driveway”? Our elections basically do that to the winning party.

Reps win when they have a Reagan or a Gingrich enforcing discipline. If the discipline is in, they’re unbeatable. (Which makes the whole McCain for President thing a tragic joke.)

Obama is one of those figures–he can get what he wants–but the Dems seem to get elected by promising rainbows and ponies. The main concern, however, is that rainbows and ponies have already been promised, and we’re at the point where paying for them has become a serious issue.

More than a serious issue: An economy crippling, nation buckling, can’t-be-avoided-much-longer disaster.

I’m fairly confident that our Congress will avoid it for as long as they can.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

You know, I love that song. More and more over the years. I think first when I heard that the grandfather of modern Islamic terrorism and all-around killjoy Sayed Qutb pointed to it as a symbol of Western decadence.

There is a real richness, though, to the song, and it brings to mind (in its own 1950s way) the seduction poetry of the Renaissance.

But I digress. As much as I like the song, I look at Freeman Hunt’s pix of her fallen tree and reflexively think, “Is that a movie set? People don’t actually live places like that, do they? Good Lord, places like that don’t actually exist, do they?”

I’m only partly kidding. (One of my first jobs was on the lot at Warner Bros. when they were filming the second “Batman” movie which–as wintry and snowy as it looked–was entirely on a sound stage wth massive air conditioners, while it was So Cal hot all around.)

When I was a child we had a cabin in Lake Arrowhead which we would visit. I have some fond childhood memories of playing in the snow. Getting there was dangerous and nauseating, as my father was wont to take the Rim of the World drive at 50 mph. But it was a little like Disneyland or something because we’d go up Friday afternoon and be back by Sunday night. (I don’t think we ever missed school/work.)

So, in a very real way, snow is a toy or a prop, something you visit, not some place you live. (More recently I was in Philadelphia for the biggest snowstorm of 30 years and managed to drive in it, though I can’t say I enjoyed that.)

I think about it because I think California is pretty much doomed. And I suspect the rest of the sunshine belt is next. Moving some place cold and even desolate may be a necessary step to trying to preserve freedom.

Which sucks because it’s really, really nice here.

I remember watching a nature show on Pompeii, and they interview the people, and ask them, “Hey, that thing could go off at any minute, why do you stay?” When they respond, “Well, the weather is great and the wine is great and, after all, everyone has to die sometime,” I have to say I understand the sentiment.

I Think I Know What I’d Do

Dr. Melissa writes of people in the recent airline crash into the Hudson. One, who suffered a bloody nose, is ponder that most American of questions: “How much money will make me whole again?”

I like to think, in the same position, I would refuse any money.

The flight was a victim of an act of Vengeful Gaia. The airline suffered real damages–more real damages than the passengers, I would guess. (What does a tow cost from the Hudson for a 747? Was it a 747?)

The pilot produced the best possible outcome (even if our Althouse pal rhhardin dismisses the landing as a trivial example of competence).

Wouldn’t you feel a little wrong about taking money from a company that had done nothing wrong, had in fact done everything right, and was likely to suffer more than you in the long run?

Or would you just feel like you needed to be compensated?

Homeschooling and Subversion

I’ve been twittering lately; although I’ve been on Twitter for a year or so and aware of it for longer, I hadn’t figured out what it’s for until lately. (It’s kind of a rogue comment thread or a slow chat, where you read various short messages from people throughout the day. Ultra-mini-micro blogging, if you like, without the central blogging personality.)

Anyway, I won’t name names but one twitterer is homeschooling and wondered aloud (twittered) if she was teaching subversion. Since Twitter doesn’t lend itself to responding to something really old (you know, like 16 hours or more) I thought I’d respond here, since it’s also worthy of more than 140 characters.

The answer is, yes, you are teaching subversion. There is no way around this, and there’s really no political angle to it either: Conservative or liberal, if you are homeschooling you are saying that the state-run school is not adequate to the task it sets for itself.

Whether this is because they teach poorly, or the wrong things, or the social aspect–it doesn’t matter. “Universal education” is one of the first social programs–one of the first ways our government set out to accumulate power for itself, and it has been the most disastrous.

You could say the same thing is true for private schools, except the government has its hooks in those as well. They try to get their hooks into homeschools also by mandating curricula and testing, but fortunately for the homeschool crowd, government competence isn’t boosted in the policing area either.

More importantly, however, you are probably not using the same tactics used by schools to control children. (At least, I hope you’re not.) There was a time where schools controlled children through appeals to morality. That is, you were expected to be moral, to work hard, to fulfill expectations: Your sin was not using the opportunity your forebears had given you.

Not to idolize too much, of course, because the threat of physical force was there and very real. And even in bygone days, homeschooling could be quite superior to even the little red schoolhouse.

Schools now are half-prison/zoos and half re-education camps. They’re so bad at the education part, only the most deluded die-hard school promotrs will even try to suggest that a child gets a better education at school. Mostly they say, “Well, what about socialization?”

Ah, yes, what about socialization? Isn’t it important that your child learn to get along with others? To experience the peer pressure that demands conformity? That promotes consumerism as the highest goal? Isn’t it important, in other words, that your child learn to “go along to get along”?

How else will he learn to take orders from the government and his corporate masters? How else will he know happiness, if not by being able to buy the exact same stuff as everyone else, and like the exact same stuff as everyone else? How will he learn the correct things to think? (I’ve mentioned here the argument I had with a woman who disliked my approach of presenting data to children and letting them work out their own opinions: “What if they end up thinking the wrong things!”)

When we did the Creative Wealth financial program (about a year ago), The Boy was one of two kids (out of 120) who was willing to really speak out. Over the years, and especially as a teen, The Boy has become less gregarious than he was a child, so he was markedly different from the other boy speaking out. His drive to speak came from a desire to express an opinion, or to point out what he saw as a logical flaw, not as a desire for attention. (He’s sort of at the “shun attention” phase, actually.)

I’m not patting myself or any other homeschooling parent on the back, here, but I am saying that there is an implicit message in homeschooling, and few parents are going to work as hard to recreate the soul-crushing dynamic–that confluence of peer pressure, absolute authority, and bad education–at play in a school. It’s something you couldn’t do if you wanted to, I don’t think.

The result is going to be someone with enough independence–and a very good starting example–to challenge the status quo, the state, or anything else that most people end up thinking of as immutable and irresistable.

In other words, a subversive.