Thursday, August 25, 2011

Catholic priest is murdered - post moderns cheer!

Yes, it's been a while, and I'm really wanting to jump start the old blog.  Was away for vacation, and then getting ready for school.  Things will slow down - hopefully - over the next few weeks.  I'm also wanting to rethink and reevaluate just how I do the blog.  Do I bring back the comments?  Do I try to engage in thoughtful discussions?  Do I just plow in with the usual 'Me and everyone like me is cool and hip, and everyone else is stupid and evil' that dominates so much of the blogosphere?  I don't know.

I know it makes it tough to resist the temptation to enter such low level debate when I see things like this story about a priest found murdered in Nicaragua.  It's not the story so much as it's the comments.  Basically they go something like this: We all know the Catholic Church is evil, all priests are rapists, so who cares?  This guy got what he had coming to him.  Never mind that the vast majority of Catholic Clergy, like the vast majority of most professions, was not involved in the scandal.  This is post-modernity. We don't suffer trifles like facts.  We just want our side to win.  And if it means the other side should be murdered while we blow beer out our noses laughing, all the better.

Remember - and I think this whenever I see such reactions - the Nazis who slaughtered and persecuted Jews were as often as not laughing it up when they were doing it.  Just like those torturing terror suspects in US prisons.  They weren't bemoaning the actions, they were yucking it up all the way.  Something worth pondering.

Anyway, while it's tempting to want to reduce myself to the level of such folks, I still feel torn.  It worries me where our society is headed, and things like this don't change that.  Still, I know it's more fun to get in and give as good as it's gotten.  I'll see I guess.  For now, that's my thought on seeing so many cheering over the death of a priest that, as of now, we know nothing about. It probably says what we fear the most - that despite assurances to the contrary, the only thing we've learned in the last 70 years or so is nothing at all. Maybe less than was known to begin with.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Boardwalk just isn't worth it

FWIW category.  I've long said that scooping up the low cost, low rent properties as early on as possible is the key to victory in the classic game Monopoly.  Turns out at least one math guru has run the numbers and concluded that's not as far off as some might think.  He at least agreed with me that those who obsess about Boardwalk and Park Place are not sure things when it comes to victory.  Also worth noting, buying up those Orange spaces like Tennessee and New York Avenue are worth the money.  Why?  They are landed on more than others because people leaving jail will inevitably land on them in addition to normal chances.  Oh, and hats off to my wife who insists the Railroads are really all that.  Despite being the son of a Railroad Engineer, my faith in the Railroads was always skittish.  But turns out they are a good buy, but with diminishing returns, as they can't keep up with the income levels once hotels enter the scene.  Altogether a fun article.  And maybe one that wouldn't hurt our nation's leaders to read, and a game that would be worth their while to play.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The economy is neither good nor bad but spin makes it so

We can rest assured that it will all be OK.  Warren Buffett has said we're a AAAA rated nation in his non-partisan and entirely objective opinion.  Besides, we are now being told that S&P's royally sucks anyway, is incompetent and nobody really cares what it thinks (as opposed to about a week or so ago when we were told we had to do anything to keep S&P from downgrading our credit rating).  Plus, President Obama has assured us that pundits are correct, and we are still a AAA country, since S&P and any downgrades don't mean anything.  And let's not forget, Barney Frank said that S&P was wrong anyway, since even had we missed the deadline last week, it shouldn't have mattered since we had plenty of money to pay our bills for some days afterwards.  So you see, all those weeks we heard how we had to come up with a deal or else the end of the universe would happen because S&P was threatening to drop our AAA rating, turns out to have been for nothing.  Of course it does leave us with the troubling, nagging question that if all of those saying we were going to die if our rating was slashed and the deadline was missed were actually wrong by their own admission, then doesn't that mean they could be wrong this time?  Nah.  I wouldn't worry about it.  No matter what happens, we can take comfort in knowing that it was all the Tea Party's fault anyway.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

In other news, S&P's downgrade isn't so bad after all

At least that's what they're saying in many news outlets, and that's what Democrats are insisting.  Take Barney Frank.  Why on MSNBC earlier, I heard him say S&P was wrong for saying there was anything big about the process of agreeing on the debt.  Why he insisted that even had we missed the deadline by a few days, there was still plenty of money to take care of things and avoid default.  Several news agencies have assured us of the same thing, and reminded us that this is just S&P after all, either it doesn't matter or it's all part of some vast [fill in the blank] conspiracy.  There are other agencies that haven't downgraded us, and in all likelihood, this won't impact the average American in any event.  Not that we shouldn't care of course.  But it isn't, you know, the end of the world or anything.              

Now, this does sound a little different from a week ago, where we were assured that missing the deadline would touch off Armageddon.  And of course we had to get the process in line and stop messing around with stalemates and cantankerous politicians who wouldn't compromise since it could cause something like S&P to downgrade, and that would be catastrophic. 

But you see, that was last week's undeniable truth.  That was the narrative of a week ago.  In the Internet age, 5 seconds is approximately 4.5 seconds past the average attention span, and what happened a year ago is about when the Pyramids were constructed.  The media, every bit a player in our age of punditry and partisanship over principles, stands by and aids or attacks according to its own ideals and agendas, not being overly concerned that anyone cares what is true.  In short, good luck finding out what is really true in our world. 

Think about that. Can we even know?  Sure, partisanship and punditry have been around since the beginning of time.  But there always seemed to be an umbrella of common values and common sense that said it was time to put the agendas and ideals aside for the greater concerns.  There was a point where someone, somehow demanded some shred of evidence and measured it against a collective fail-safe common sense of priority. Hence Republicans could go to Nixon and say 'You're out of here, you've crossed the line.'  Or Democrats could abandon Jimmy Carter's inept and impotent leadership and try to give Ronald Reagan a chance for the good of our country.  Or Republicans could, again, abandon George H.W. Bush because he betrayed their trust and demonstrated weakness in handling the problems of the day.

But somewhere between 1992 and 1999, when almost the entire left of our nation said ethics, truth, morality, character, perjury, sexual intimidation, affairs, slander and abuse of the office of president to carry it out, family loyalty, and just about any other trait no longer mattered as long as we had plenty of money (while standing by and watching economists warning of out of control debt be obliterated by the president's axe men), we became a country that said 'we don't care.'  Facts?  We don't care.  Data?  We don't care.  Promises?  We don't care.  Ethics?  We don't care.

We care about one thing: Our side winning.  And nothing can happen to this country that we aren't willing to allow to happen if only our side wins.  Truth?  What is truth?, Pilate asked Jesus all those years ago.  And by the 21st century, America has lost any ability or any concern about even trying to find an answer.  If only our side wins.

Happy Birthday Lucy!

I Love Lucy is one of my Mom's all time favorite shows.  If not the favorite.  I grew up listening to that theme (and thinking how cool it sounded), and watching the episodes.  I particularly loved William Frawley's grouchy portrayal of Fred.  Of course everyone is tossing out the accolades and the praise today, this being Lucial Ball's 100th anniversary of the date of her birth.  It's worth mentioning, however, that Desi - the man who loved Lucy - was every bit the brains behind the outfit, and many things that various stories have credited to Lucy today, in terms of innovation and production of the show, belong to him. 

She, of course, was every bit as important and creative and innovating, and it was her perfect comic timing that set the stage for all television comedians of the future.  But we shouldn't forget that Desi also contributed and, in fact, it was as a team that they left their mark and changed the way television would always be produced.  In many ways, their show was the Citizen Kane of television, teaching of what this relatively new medium was capable.  Its popularity is in a league all its own, and my Mom still enjoys regaling us with tales about how stores would close early on the nights Lucy was on, and the almost national obsession when she was pregnant and about to give birth.

And yes, they wouldn't have said pregnant.  And you know what?  Compared to what is out there today, it's a shame sometimes that someone decided it was time to say it.  Because look at where it has gotten us.  But that's for another post about another time that is no more. Today, it suffices to say 'Happy Birthday Lucy', you made us laugh, and changed an art form.  And that's not bad in a single life.

I leave everyone with one of the best skits from a show filled with them.  The show was so influential and so immitated that sometimes watching it can seem a bit stale, as we've seen it all before a million times.  But I Love Lucy was where it all came together for the first time, and in its day, it was like nothing anyone had ever seen.  Despite the time and distance from that era, despite the copies and imitations, some of the skits still look fresh and hilarious all these years later.  Several leaped to mind, but I found this one worthy of a look.  Laugh and enjoy.