Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What is WRONG With Some People?

Good G-D Almighty! It’s been a terrible spring if you are Jewish and at least kind of care about it. It’s bad enough that there is increasing anti-Semitism worldwide, but hell, what one thought was among the safer places to be Jewish are going to hell in a handbasket.

New York City. And specifically, Jewish institutions.

The first bad news I read about had to do with Lincoln Square Synagogue. Back in my younger days, living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, some of us might brave the trek down there in our skirts and heel--on a nice day. It was a really good synagogue, with a nice mix of families--young, middle-aged and older families--and a nice mix of the younger, single crowd. It was a friendly place. And it WAS ORTHODOX.

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

More About the Fortnight for Religious Freedom

Here are a couple of the posts that inspired my "Fortnight for Religious Freedom" from the other day:
    The Scratching Post: Viva Cristo Rey
    Mut on Canto Talk Radio Catholics and California Rebel

And if you are not a regular reader of the Scratching Post or the Temple of Mut, I highly recommend that you bookmark both and stop by them regularly. KT Cat usually has some interesting and insightful things there. And some good cheezburgers! And Mut's observations are spot on--and you get a little dose of Egyptology in the bargain. It's all win-win-win!


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


On top of things, per my usual modus operandi...*

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.)

* Sarcasm alert! Which the sarcasm should be obvious, since I am clearly NOT on top of things when it comes to posting on this blog. Will try to do so more often!

Fortnight for Religious Freedom

I no longer live in California (and I never lived in San Diego) and it’s been ages since I last blogged, but I am getting off my duff to blog in support of the Fortnight for Religious Freedom, organized by the United Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to the Health and Human Services mandate. (What does this have to do with San Diego? It's thanks to the members of The SLOBS that I know about it.)Let me start off by quote something--I wish I could remember the source (and if you can let me know, I will cite it):
“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:
          1. “Has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose”;
          2. “Primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets”;
          3. “Primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets”;
          4. “Is a nonprofit organization”

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...

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...

* Though on the end, it may turn out that they are PREVENTED from giving succor to the sick, or from giving succor to the poor for that the only way they can not be forced to comply is to get out of the charity business entirely. And a truly sad day that will be for this country.
* 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

Oh, to be One with the Land! (in California...)

Once upon a time, long, long ago, on a beautiful autumn day, Isaac Newton went wandering around his brother-in-law’s apple orchard in California.* The sun got high in the sky, the day got hotter, so Sir Isaac decided to rest in the shade of the lovely apple trees. Being autumn, the apples were ripe, (and fire season was on everyone’s mind.) And while Ike was resting, an apple dropped from the tree right on to his noggin’.

“Eureka!” he cried out.
“Wait one gosh-darned minute!” came a voice from several trees over...

Yes, coincidentally, the CalOSHA inspector was wandering through the very same orchard, and saw what happened. “These are manifestly unsafe working conditions. Apples cannot fall straight down from the tree. They cannot fall any farther than one foot away from the trunk. They might hit someone on the head and create an unsafe working environment.” The CalOSHA inspector rushed home to type up the memo, and issued a citation to the farmer who owned the orchard, Sir Isaac Newton’s brother-in-law, Jeremiah Waldimple.

After weeks of agony, waiting for the worst from CalOSHA, Farmer Waldimple finally got the citation. He had to pay a fine, and make sure that no apples in his orchard would fall further than one foot away from the trunk. Having a famous physicist for a brother-in-law didn’t help, as Isaac Newton pointed out that thanks to the law of gravity, apples were going to indeed fall straight down. So Jeremiah put on his thinking cap and came up with what he thought was a solution.
He constructed a number of devices much like this, and began constructing them and installing them around his trees. At great expense. (He had over seven hundred trees in his orchard!) It was tough to do, considering the profit margin on apples was already pretty tight. But it was worth it to get CalOSHA off his back. But he had not gotten very far when, along came some pencil-pusher from the State Water Resources Control Board, and he said...

“Oh, no! This will never do at all!” and he gave Jeremiah a citation (which included a fine of thousands of dollars) because he performed all this work during the rainy season, in a Risk Level 2 area,** without filing a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan. Even though Jeremiah was not aware that what he had been doing had been considered “construction activity,” he still had to pay the fine, hire a QSD, file a SWPPP, train to become his own QSP for a measly $1,285, (this even though the regulations were changing in September, making for little appreciable difference between a QSP and a QSD, and Jeremiah was not sure how he would get a QSP on site during a “qualifying rain event” in a timely manner, and thus avoid yet more thousands in fines.) He also had to buy a turbidimeter (at $896) and a pH meter (at an additional $735.) And shell out $145 to join CASQA, a private non-profit, just so he could acquire the forms that the state required but would not provide to him free of charge. Even in PDF format.

But Jeremiah followed on everything and was under the impression that he was getting into compliance with both CalOSHA and the SWRCB. But no....
The very next day, a letter appeared in the Waldimple mailbox from the City of Santa Juanita. From the Building Department. It seems that the pencil-necked geek from the SWRCB ratted him out to the city, and the city sent him a letter telling him that his project was “red-tagged” and he would have to cease construction until he had filled out an application, paid the fees and got his permit.

Jeremiah heaved a big sigh. And went down to the city building department to find out exactly what they needed, and exactly what fees he had to pay. But it was Friday, and the city was closed every other Friday, in order to “save money.” So Monday, he went back. But no one was there. He waited an hour, two, and no one showed. It seems that Jeremiah had made the mistake of arriving at the start of the union-mandated mid-mid-morning break, one of six breaks the so-called “service” workers’ union required throughout the four hour work day, and since it lead directly into the lunch break, no one even bothered to come back into work between the two... Sure, the engineers were there to review drawings, sitting in their offices, but they saw no one since the person working the reception desk was a member of the Civil Service Employees International Union. And of course, on his break.

Eventually, however, Jeremiah saw someone. It seems that Jeremiah needed to supply seven sets of drawings, all signed off on by a civil engineer, a structural engineer, and MEP engineer, a registered architect.

“Okay,” Jeremiah said, “I can understand that a civil engineer might be needed for this, and possibly a structural engineer, but there is no mechanical systems, no HVAC, no electrical and no plumbing involved in this project.”
“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!”

Jeremiah didn’t even get a chance to ask why a registered architect... But off he went to comply with the City’s demands. And after thousands of dollars pressed into the palms of various engineers and architects, Jeremiah had seven copies of everything, and trucked them over to the city. (It was a lot of paper!) And fortuitously, he had finally figured out the ins and outs of the when someone might be at the Building Department to help him.

“Great!” Jeremiah felt relieved when he heard the city engineer exclaim that. But the counter-wonk continued, “Now, all we need is $5,634 for the plan checkers’ fee, a $1,654 fee for storage, and a $6,564 Design Review Commission fee.”

“What!? What is all that?”
“Well, first, we have to have an independent ‘plan checker’ review these drawings for compliance with city, country and state regulations. That is what the plan checkers’ fee is for. And you have to pay for it. Then once we get a final version from you that has addressed the plan checkers’ comments and incorporated their corrections, then we refer it to Design Review. They will meet, in public, and address the aesthetics of your project and determine if it your project meets the standards, policies and practices that will promote and enhance design of the City's built environment. And finally, we need to be reimbursed for the cost of holding on to all this paper you just dumped her. So at some future date, if someone needs to review it again, lo! There it will be!”***

“CalOSHA has required that I institute these changes within a very short amount of time. How long is this process going to take? And what do I do about CalOSHA?”
“Not my problem.”
Jeremiah kept his cool, took out his checkbook, and began writing the check...

Autumn turned into winter, and winter turned into spring. And finally, two miracles happened: The plan checkers finished their review, and the Design Review Commission put the Waldimple Project on their agenda. Whoo-hoo! But as Jeremiah read the plan checker’s comments, his heart sank. The devices, which were designed to direct falling apples in towards the trunk, were being criticized for... DOING JUST THAT! Because by doing that, Jeremiah’s Apple Tree Device was in violation of California Agriculture Code, Title 3, Division 9. But what about CalOSHA? Additionally, the devise did not provide sufficient ventilation for the lichens on the tree trunk.

Jeremiah thought about going back to CalOSHA, but decided the battle was fought better with the plan checkers. Besides, he had an important date with three of the most self-aggrandizing, self-important architects in town, i.e, the design review commission. So, off he went.... And about three of the longest hours later, he returned home, somewhat crest-fallen, but still resolute. He was a farmer. This was his orchard. He was a law-abiding citizen, and he would do his duty!

He needed to make some changes in the design: use recycled metals, make the device out of a mesh to allow the rain to droppeth gently straight onto the soil, plus, they wanted to see a half-inch scale model of the entire orchard decked-out in the Waldimple Device. Jeremiah sucked it up, and cut another check to another architect to build the model, while going back to the original “design team” to see about incorporating the plan checker’s idiocy, er, comments....

This went on and on for, oh, about a year. Back and forth and back and forth. And then... He got a letter from the California Department of Fish and Game. It seems, that to be in compliance with California Environmental Quality Act, Jeremiah needed to get an Environmental Impact Assessment (or Report, as in EIR, which is what lots ‘o people call it.) Jiminy Christmas! This meant hiring yet ANOTHER consultant!

Jeremiah’s brother-in-law, Isaac, thought it was time to leave. He loved his sister and her husband, but, well, physics and calculus were much, much simpler than the ins and outs of the bureaucracy of the State of California. And Jeremiah hired a “biologist” to get him his EIR. And after gazillions of sumullions, and another lost apple season, later, the darned thing came back. And the recommendation? Do nothing, let the orchard return to its natural state, and get the hell off Gaia’s land. Secondarily, do nothing, but let someone build 4000 square foot houses at a density of one per ten acres. Thirdly, leave the orchard, but erect no devices, use no pesticides and farm only using California organic farming standards.

Jeremiah packed up his family and all their belongings. He tried to sell the land, but years before, the local agricultural land trust had gotten the county supervisors to sneak through a measure that would only allow agricultural land to change hands if it was donated to... the very same agriculture land trust! So, Jeremiah just abandoned everything. He thought about joining his brother-in-law in England, but that place was crazy, too. Possibly crazier. So the Waldimple family decided to move to... Israel. Sure, they would be in danger of getting blown up by terrorists at a pizza joint or blown up by rockets fired by Hamas but even with that, it is a much saner place to live.

And this is why all our apples now come from South America.

* I know, I know. Isaac Newton was never ever actually in California. But roll with me on this...
** 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.

CalOSHA: The Occupation Safety and Health Division of the California Department of Industrial Relations which is supposed to “protect workers and the public from safety hazards through its Occupational Safety and Health, elevator, amusement ride, aerial tramway, ski lift and pressure vessel inspection programs, and also [provide] consultative assistance to employers.” Much better, and cheaper, to be on their bad side than on the bad side of the EPA! Speaking on which...
SWPPP: Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan. A burdensome document (and set of requirements) that address the following: potential sources of pollution which may reasonably be expected to affect the quality of storm water discharges from the construction site; practices to be used to reduce pollutants in storm water discharges from the construction site, and compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit.
QSD: Qualified SWPPP Developer
QSP: Qualified SWPPP Practitioner
CASQA: The California Stormwater Quality Association. A private non-profit that charges an arm and leg for access to the forms that the State of California “highly suggests” that you use for compliance with the requirements of the....
SWRCB: The State Water Resources Control Board. A Division of the California Environmental Protection Agency. On the Spawn of Satan scale, not quite up there with the California Air Resources Board for pure Evil, but darn close!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Postmodern Hell of Theater Departments

Williams Young has been posting a series of very interesting articles over at the “National Association of Scholars” site discussing the effects of postmodernism groupthink on science (and the scientific method) and how this has lead to the proliferation of the "global warming" nonsense. It is a very interesting read, and I highly recommend it.

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!

(BTW, not only can you get a BA in "Performance Studies" (AKA, theater) from a Major State University without taking a single class on Shakespeare, but you can get a PhD in Theater from a Major University Known for its Theater Department without reading a single play! Just theory and criticism... It's a sad state of affairs...)


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

Why are so many people drinking the GREEN kool-aid? (And why are the rest of us being forced to?)

Let me tell you my theory on the Anthropogenic-Global-Warming-Gone-Wild situation. In the normal course of events, there is always SOME group of people who get some sort of bug up their tuchas about something. But this big bug is getting shoved up the collective tuchases of the rest of us, because there are A LOT of people who have embraced this ginormous bug. Why? Why are so many people so infatuated with this metaphorical Gregor Samsa? Well, here is my theory:
  1. 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...

  2. 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...)

  3. 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!)

  4. 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!

  5. 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...

  6. 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!