Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Aside: One of the things that I have taken comfort with as the more “liberal” Jews have started bashing Israel, and have jumped whole-heartedly with both feet on the Moral Relativism Bus, is that at least the Orthodox have their priorities straight. As I sat in a California synagogue one shabbat morning, wishing I could disappear, because the guest speaker was haranguing us about the necessity of passing Obamacare, and anyone against it was against tikkun olam, and a whole lot of other nonsense. Other shuls, at other times, I would hear “divrei torah” that would twist and convolute a parshah into underscoring the “evils” of the Israeli “apartheid” regime. It seemed like so many Jews out there were as bad as the non-Jewish liberals in their venom towards Israel. I took comfort in the memories of sitting in nice Orthodox synagogues on the Upper West Side, where the only politics that were discussed were always focused on the support of Israel.
I read a little over a month ago that the rabbi at Lincoln Square saw fit to invite Peter Beinart to speak. On shabbat. I was so ANGRY, I drafted a letter to Rabbi Robinson... that I never mailed. But the upshot of the letter was that there are plenty of opportunities for members of Lincoln Square to listen to Peter Beinart speak. The man lives in New York, and has spoken in several venues around the city. But by inviting him to Lincoln Square, there is a tacit implication that the powers that be of LSS have given his point of view their imprimatur. After all, they provided him with a pulpit from which to broadcast his views.
Then I heard about the 92nd Street Y. While not an Orthodox venue, at least a very Jewish one, and like Lincoln Square, it has been known for decades as a cynosure of Jewish life in Manhattan. And like Lincoln Square, it is selling out. They invited Roger Waters—yes, of Pink Floyd fame, but also a supporter of the anti-Israel, anti-Semite “Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement. They may or may not have come to their senses—the event was canceled, officially because Waters has a “conflict.” The 92nd Street Y is apparently offering no other explanation. But they problems is—THEY INVITED HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Oh, but life gets richer still…
Yeshiva University, who invokes Torah in describing its mission, is honoring Jimmy Carter. Okay, technically, an entity within the University. But it is still Yeshiva University. The Cardozo School of Law’s Journal of Conflict Resolution is honoring him with the “International Advocate for Peace” Award. Nope, the Onion did not make this one up.
What is wrong with some people? Do they not realize what is happening in the world? Are these New York Jews so insulated from the outside world, from reality, that they do not see what is wrong with this?
There is a made-in-Hollywood legend that a person is safe from vampires in their home—unless they invite them in. Lincoln Square, the 92nd Street Y, and Yeshiva University have invited the vampire into their home.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Mut on Canto Talk Radio Catholics and California Rebel
Here's another link on the topic, at another great blog:
Fortnight for Freedom at Secular Apostate
And just because the fortnight will be coming to a close next week does not mean the end of the fight. This infringement on our freedom of religion needs to be fought against until victory. And we must continue to struggle to maintain our rights that our Constitution guarantees. Do whatever you can!!!
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Yes, this is only several weeks late. Actually, almost two months. And most people have moved on from blogging about the, uh, infamous “Life of Julia” slide presentation that the Committee to Reelect Our Fearless Leader threw together to tell us how, uh, important the government, and Our Fearless Leader, is to our lives. Well, here is my observation:
Has anyone else notices that “Julia” is also the name of the heroine of George Orwell's 1984?
The implications has my mind reeling...
And while you contemplate it, enjoy this haunting song, written by the Eurythmics for the 1984 film, “Nineteen-Eighty-Four,” starring John Hurt and Richard Burton (in what turned out to be his last role.)
“The people fighting the HHS mandate are only trying to preserve a status quo that has been in place since 1965; namely, that contraceptives and abortifacients are freely available everywhere in the US, but that churches don’t have to pay for them. The HHS mandate is not making contraceptives even more available than they’ve been before. Instead, it is seeking to shift costs onto employers, including religious organizations and individuals who are doctrinally opposed to contraceptives and abortifacients. And that is chipping away at the First Amendment.”
More specifically, the problem is that the federal government has defined what constitutes a “religious organization” in terms far, far, far narrower than most religions do. “Religious institutions” are exempt from the HHS mandate, but defined only as follows:
The Catholics (among others; the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod supports the Catholic church in fighting this) feel that part of their mission as a religious and as a religious institution, is beyond merely a place of worship. For example, to “give succor to the sick”--hence Catholic hospitals, (Uh, story of the Good Samaritan? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) and to “give succor to the poor”--hence other services provided by Catholic charities. (And Lutheran Family Services and the Salvation Army and a whole host of other religiously provided services...) And I am sure that some religious organizations (as more broadly defined by me, the Catholic Church, and most of the rest of the people in the US) feel that the services they provide through the hospitals, schools and charities they establish and run are secondarily involved in the inculcation of religious values: They fact that they are involved in running a hospital provides the inculcation of the value of giving succor to the sick, and so on.
The people who object to the HHS mandate feel that they are being forced to do something (as opposed to being PREVENTED from doing something, which makes the analogy of polygamy, whipping someone, etc., an inaccurate one*), and that is to pay for something that the find objectionable based on the tenets of their faith. While they very likely do care whether people working for them may or may not indulge in that to which they object, the REAL objection of those witnesses is primarily this: “You provide for exemptions from this rule for religious organizations, but then you proceed to tell us we are not one! What we are doing is an integral part of our faith--providing succor to the sick--and we do this as a RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION. Now, in order to continue to do so, and to not be forced to pay for something against our faith, we must now require that all employees be a member of the church and that we will ONLY serve those who are also members of our church. Which is also against our faith.”
And let's face it, the costs associated with buying one’s own oral contraceptives runs about, according to the news, $600/year, which, if you are employed (and if you are working for a hospital, well, you are employed) is not that much. (And apparently, if you buy condoms in bulk off the internet, it's cheaper still!) A quick Google search shows that there are even cheaper oral contraceptives, looking more like about $20/month (which is, in present dollar terms, about what it was 30 years ago when I was in college, when college girls had to pay for it themselves, because student health services at the state school did not cover it.) Women can get--and have gotten all along--prescriptions for oral contraceptives as requested. The people protesting the HHS mandate are NOT talking about getting involved in what goes on between a woman and her doctor....
No one is saying that birth control be banned. Or that women should not have access to it. And it is not just about forcing an employer to pay for something to which the employer has a moral objection to. And here it should be noted that employers have determined coverage since they started providing insurance as a benefit of employment. And a lot of places don't offer dental or vision. Employers negotiate co-pays, etc., with insurance companies. (My co-pay at Kaiser for one thing was $7; for the EXACT SAME SERVICE for someone else from a different employer was $10, and for another acquaintance it was $3.) Plus, there are already a number of medications not covered but certain employers' plans-some plans are golden, some are silver, and some pretty basic. And if employers are forced to pay for X, they will stop paying for Y which may actually be of benefit to more employees. (Such as vision, dental--or they increase co-pays for employees across the board for other other services.)
As I was saying...
NO ONE is saying that birth control be banned. Or that women should not have access to it. And it is not just about forcing an employer to pay for something to which the employer has a moral objection to. What the big fuss is about, and rightfully so, is that the Executive Branch of the United States Federal Government is getting in on defining what constitutes a “church”--that is to say, it is violating BOTH the Establishment Clause AND the Free Excercise Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. That is, the Federal Government is establishing a religion by way of defining what constitutes “religious organization.” And, more obviously, it is prohibiting the free exercise thereof by preventing religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, from giving succor to the sick, to the poor, etc., etc., etc.
Oh, I suppose one could say that technically speaking, Congress isn’t violating the First Amendment as it is not Congress that is making the law--it is the Department of Health and Human Services, which is under the Executive Branch. But the point is that the Federal Government as a WHOLE needs to keep its collective nose out of the establishment and free excercise of religion. It’s almost starting to smack of Mexico in the early to mid 1920's.
Since the Left loves Moslems so much, let’s use an extended metaphor they might understand, and might appreciat: Let’s say the local mosque runs a free optometry clinic as a charity. They do not limit access to the clinic to only Muslims. Nor do they limit employment to Muslims. Anyone can work there and anyone can come get their eyes checked. Employees of this clinic have great vision coverage--everything is FREE, except... enzymatic cleaner that uses porcine derived enzymes (which most do) There is a specific health benefit for using enzymatic cleaner--they take the yuck off contact lenses, keeping one’s eyes healthier. The employee in need of it can buy it himself, use something different, wear glasses instead, or find a job elsewhere (that may cover enzymatic cleaner but diddly in terms of, oh, let's say dental coverage.)
I think Employment Division v. Smith was problematic, but also not entirely applicable to the issue here. And I think people who are fighting the HHS mandate are placing too much hope in the Hosanna-Tabor v EEOC. decision. (What's-her-name was ORDAINED. How many doctors are? How many university employees are? Ministerial exemption? Probably, uh, no...) But I am not a lawyer, just a reasonably intelligent adult. Who would appreciate what any lawyers have to say about this...
* The picture below is from Wikipedia, and is of a group of men and women protesting Mexican President Plutarco Calles' law against public religious practices.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
“Eureka!” he cried out.
“Wait one gosh-darned minute!” came a voice from several trees over...
“Do you have irrigation on your orchard?”
“Yes, but that is not being changed or touched.”
“Still needs an MEP engineer’s Juan Hancock! Next!”
** Risk Level 2 because the ditch near his orchard, during a 50 year, 24 hour storm event may occasionally empty into a detention pond, which during a particularly wet winter once overflowed into the Criminy Creek, which emptied into the Santa Basura River, which, during the same wet winter, overflowed its banks and emptied into the Sacramento River...
** Ha! This I know from experience--they CALL it a “storage” fee, but it really is a “loosing-it-for-you-so-if-it-is-ever-needed-again-you-will-have-to-provide-us-with-another-set-or-three” fee.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
And I am not trying to change the topic here, but...
I found it particularly interesting in light of a rant I just recently posted on Facebook regarding the decline of theater studies in the university--both his article and my rant have to do with the deleterious effects of this wacky "postmodern" philosophy (for lack of a better word; "philosophistry" would be more accurate) on studies, in general. Both in science (Young) and in humanities (Me).
First off, here is an abbreviated list of "Introduction to Dramatic Literature" classes at a certain Major University. Now this it THE introductory course for freshman beginning to study theater:
- The Postcolonial and the Global: Power, Politics and Performance
- Performing Masculinities
- Performing Patriotism: Pride, Belonging and Dissent in American Culture
- Theater for Social Change
- Gender and Disability in Shakespeare
- Performances of Belonging: Citizenship, Difference, and Nation
- “Representing Trauma: the Performance of Mourning and Memory”
- Staging the Crisis
- Staging Gender: From Antiquity to the Early 1900s
- Performing the Rememory of History in the American Racial State
- Empire, Modernity and Modern Drama
- Theater as Danger: Performing Metafiction:
The most obvious thing about these classes (especially if you read the class description) is: A) Clearly some people have a hard time letting go of their dissertation topic; and B) MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY (and more disturbingly), is these classes are designed to teach the student WHAT to think.
Back in the dark ages, (about 30 years ago, when I was taking my "Intro to Dramatic Lit" classes), the intro to dramatic lit class was a survey course--we read the works of playwrights from the Greeks up to contemporary playwrights, and a healthy sampling of all. And we read A LOT of plays. We discussed them in class, but the conclusions were ones that we, as students, were free to draw. The humanities was trying to emulate the scientific method that Young describes....
I recall one particularly interesting class (one of the upper level undergrad courses) which was kind of a "before and after" sort of thing. We would read an early play, and then a later play based on it, or on the same subject. For example, we read Euripides's Hippolytus and then Racine's Phedre; Sophocles's Antigone, followed by Anouilh's Antigone; Plautus's Menaechmi followed by Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors; and so on. There was no going into reading these plays with a foregone conclusion: We read them to compare what was different about them, what about the playwright, the period, the culture, the language made these plays unique.
Fast forward 30 years...
Intro to Dramatic Lit classes TELL the students what they must think; and what is taught in these classes is taken as a given, a "truth," (ironically enough, since this is the PoMo crowd, after all.) Such as the evils of colonialism and that dead white men suck, for starters.
It does mystify me as to how feasible, how realistic it is to slap a Marxist interpretation on a play written by someone 2500 before Marx ever existed, someone who had no concept of what Marx would theorize about. Anouilh took Sophocles's play and adapted it--he turned it into a French play of the 1940's. But make no mistake--it is NOT the same play that Sophocles wrote, (not that there is anything wrong with that), it IS a Jean Anouilh play. And back in the dark ages, we read it that way...
The new crop of dramatic lit classes is all about theory and criticism. Starting with the freshmen. Who then read plays through the lens of the latest chic critical theory, and they are given to understand that this is THE ubermeaning of the work; THIS is what the play is ALL ABOUT. ...All because someone managed to slog their way through ten years of dissertation work, forgot everything else they learned, and now has to keep on teaching their dissertation, because they KNOW NOTHING ELSE!
Just thought I would share the course description for one of the above cited courses:
Introduction to Dramatic Literature: Performing Metafiction:
This course challenges its takers to rethink the conventional distinctions (audience/actor; reader/text; ...spectator/spectacle; life/art) traditionally imposed on, and by, aesthetic experience. We are accustomed to treating the art object as precisely that: an ob-ject that stands against, in front of, outside, and (usually) at a safe distance from, its consumer. But what happens when a beholder of, say, a museum-painting enters its frame and proceeds to participate in it (as Asia Argento’s character in her father, Dario Argento’s, 1996 B horror cult-flickThe Stendhal Syndrome, does)? Or when a psychoanalyst’s case study of a patient manifests the symptoms of the illness belonging to his patient (as Freud discovers himself doing in his case study of Schreber, a German high-court judge who believed God sodomized him with solar rays to conceive in his man-womb a Redeemer who would rescue the world from its Matrix-like delusions)? Or when characters become aware they’re characters and revolt against their ‘authors’ (as Will Ferrell tries to do in Stranger than Fiction)? Or when Don Quixote mis/takes himself to be a character in an epic romance? Or when two characters, at first fully-distinguishable from each other, inexplicably — unaccountably, impossibly! — morph into one another (as Jacques Moran, a private detective, and the man he’s pursuing, do in Beckett’s novel Molloy, or as Quentin and Shreve do in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!)? We will study these — and many other — metafictional scenarios to determine why, and under what conditions, responses to art become, themselves, works of art. Or, if you like, why and under what conditions aesthetic consumption becomes aesthetic production, and criticism becomes performance. In the process, your own — written — responses to art will come under special scrutiny. In this [course] we will continue to build on the exegetical and expository skills you acquired there (or in its equivalent) while advancing you to the next stage of composition: the multi-sourced research paper. But fear not those dreaded words! We will spend the first 13 or so weeks rehearsing, step by step — and very slowly — the process/es by which (humanities-based) research is conducted, so when the curtain rises on your own critical ‘performances’ at the end of the semester, you’ll hit every cue.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
- There have ALWAYS been “chickens little”: The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Remember Y2K? The planes were going to fall out of the sky! The cars would stop running! Our bank accounts would be wiped out! Before that, 1984? (Some Jews were really gaga since the Jewish year was also the root word for “destruction.” Tashmad? Tashmag? Something like...) Going all the way back, throughout human history. The WORLD IS GOING TO END! The END is NEAR!! They can be broken down into two groups of people: the saner crowd--who function on a daily basis, but buy into the latest “world-is-gong-to-end” fad; and the Hale-Bopp crowd, the real nutjobs. Both of these subgroups embraced the AGW theory with both arms, all the heart, and have held on tight...
- The treehugger crowd--another crowd that has existed for a long time. And to a certain extent, has done a world of good. Thanks to John Muir, we have some great national parks. They did help force us to clean up the environment in the sixties and seventies. This is the largest group because everyone loves trees--so treehuggers range across a spectrum from Republicans for Environmental Protection to Earth Liberation Front. The difference between the right end of the spectrum and the not-so-right end of the spectrum is that those of us among the conservative treehuggers balance human needs and reality against what those at the lefter end of the spectrum want. (e.g., the ratio of area for drilling oil in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the are of the WHOLE ANWR is roughly comparable to the area of Dulles to the entire state of South Carlina. And so we say, “Drill, baby, drill!”) Now, to a certain extent, some conservatives have jumped on the AGW bandwagon, but the further left you move along that spectrum, the more people have swallowed the kool-aid... (And the saner people are the ones now jumping OFF the bandwagon...)
- The Communists have been in a bit of a funk since the demise of the Soviet Union. THAT “experiment” didn't work, but that didn't dissuade them from their fantasy of a New World Communist Order. Along came AGW, and they adapted. Read my “Green is the New Red” from my slumbering blog. Anyhow, if you read that, you can see how they jumped on the Green Bandwagon, and seriously took it over. And REALLY steered it in that direction. (Check out the 10 Planks of the Communist Manifest comparison at my blog!)
- And of course, the people who have found a way to make money HAND OVER FIST on selling the People of World some new snake oil: Al Gore, GE, Kleiner-Perkins... This is a small slice of the people pie, but we're looking at GAZILLIONS of DOLLARS tied up in this. They are terriers (no pun intended) who will not let go of this... 'Cause it's a loooooooooooooot of sumullions!
- People looking for meaning in their lives, or some sense of mysticism, or something like that. These are the folks who probably went to church once or twice a year as children, or who were were brought to the smorgasbord of religious tasties by hippie-dippie parents who were members of the “God-of-the-Month.” (“This month we'll learn all about Shiva and Vishnu; next month we'll focus on Cernunnos, and after that, we'll see...”) Or who were dragged to church every week, but for whom it was just a painful affair: they grow up, equating Christianity with the cause of their childhood misery. (Or Judaism, for the Jewish crowd.) Not realizing that the REAL religion has little to do with a dull pastor, priest or rabbi. (Unfortunately, God doesn't personally vet all those getting ordained. Some clunkers slip by.) So, these people are looking for a religious experience. In the sixties and seventies, they became Hari Krishas. Today, their bible is “An Inconvenient Truth,” their God-dess is Gaia, and Al Gore is her prophet. They have made this whole thing a religion. And if you don't believe me...
- The people who get swept on in the latest fad. Usually college kids. In the 50's they were swallowing goldfish and stuffing phone booths. In the sixties, war protesting. Whatever shows that they are ON TOP of the VERY LATEST THING. This can include the fashionista type for whom Manolo Blahniks are soooo last year... Whatever is IN, or NOW, or CHIC, that is the train they get on, and AGW was the IN-NOW-CHIC train they boarded... Witness the Hollywood crowd...
All six of these groups have been ganging up on the rest of us. And with this almost unprecedented convergence of divergent groups, they have more power, money, organization, and connections than ANY single one of the individual subgroups had EVER had (outside of the Communists in the Soviet Union. And again, look how THAT turned out...) And lo, we now have “Cap'n Trade” being shoved down our throats, and the EPA getting more power than ever, and so on, and so on and so on... And so on...
(In an interesting irony, it is the people from Group 2 are the ones who are more likely to peel away from the AGW nonsense. They have less of a horse in that race. And for the most part, they tend to be a more sane, realistic crowd--except, of course, those people further left on the treehugger spectrum... and the ELF crowd is just plain, unsalted NUTS!!!)
Save the Planet! Vote Republican!