From The Atlantic on how the elderly want to continue to stay in their homes as they age:
But shifting seniors to aging at home is going to require a much bigger commitment on the part of everyday Americans—like the Domino’s woman—to pitch in and help their aging neighbors thrive. It’s going to require neighbors to check in on one another all the time; it’s going to require college students to provide care to the aged and infirm; it’s going to require that everyone thinks more about the elderly people around them, and volunteer to take them grocery shopping or shuttle them to a doctor’s appointment. (Yes, including you.)
“Are there strategies that could be used in order for people to stay in their communities for as long as they can and not break the bank? The answer is yes,” said Lawrence Force, the director of the Center on Aging and Policy at Mount Saint Mary College and a proponent of this strategy, told me. “The only thing you have to change is the attitudinal perspective of what kind of supports are out there naturally already.”
The “attitudinal perspective” that needs to change isn’t about support, but about domesticity.
Once upon a time we did have multi-generational households and a strong sense of community. And I admit, then we also had a smaller proportion of the long-lived infirm as elderly medicine prior to World War II was more palliative than pro-active. But while I often see laments about the loss of the family and community village, modern life counsels against actually participating ourselves. Elderly care, like childrearing and homemaking, is domestic drudgery, work beneath anyone with an education. In fact, society often encourages universal higher education so that people don’t have to engage in domestic drudgery. Worse, elder care is domestic drudgery that doesn’t even have the sugar coating of cute kids or Pinterest perfect home decor. But as we eventually learn, we cannot put off the care of our elders indefinitely.
To some the “obvious” solution is to seek government support. Personally, I’m not a fan of the idea of seeking government money so that we can pretend the situation is all in hand. The elderly still end up in group care, only with the false comfort that the powers-that-be are taking care, allowing we, the young to go on about our merry lives. Care of elderly relatives requires advance planning and the willingness to think beyond any given moment, for both aging Boomers and their children.
But as a culture we focus on what works best for us right now. The Boomers did it and many flatly refuse to consider their changing needs. They taught Gen X to do it and we are too busy with our lives to take time out to care for the infirm. Eventually, Time has his way with our moment to moment decisions.
The second trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally sparked some excitement for me. I still wonder why the Force needed to “awaken” as supposedly that’s what it did at the end of Return of the Jedi, but still, fan girl glutton for punishment that I am, I want to be excited about this new movie. And so I will grasp at anything that gives me hope. And I’m not alone. From Fan Girls Going Rogue, comes this analysis of Princess Leia in Salon:
But I have always felt, keenly, that Leia was shortchanged by that original trilogy. Her story of torture at the hands of the man who turns out to be her biological father is conveniently backgrounded; her trauma at seeing her planet blow up, at the hands of her father, is similarly ignored. Leia has a story that is never told—a princess who turns out to be adopted, who chooses to make her life about resistance instead of acquiescence. When Luke first meets Leia, she is making flirtatious wisecracks in a prison cell, following her life’s total devastation, to a man wearing a Stormtrooper’s uniform. There is so much written there that is never given voice, a story of a woman who is at the very end of her rope.
I concur with the qualification that Leia didn’t start out as an afterthought.
The characters’ backstory and strengths were often left unstated in the first two movies. This was one of the things that made Star Wars and Empire great. They effectively implied character, most notoriously in the Han Shot First debacle.
When George Lucas decided that Han shooting Greedo before Greedo could fire made beloved Han too harsh, fans wailed because it is the small moments, often the ones that pass without comment that allow us to define a character. The original scene in the cantina told us volumes about Han’s character. It said that he wasn’t a straight up nice guy. He was decisive, calculating. He looked out for himself, perhaps to a fault. And he wasn’t stupid. What idiot would let the baddie take the first shot at close range? Beyond changing Han’s character, the edit also flattened his character arc. The more you make him warm and fuzzy at the beginning, the less it pulls at your emotions when he comes barreling in to shoot Vader off Luke’s tail. We expect second-shot, nice Han to join the fight over the Death Star. (We might wonder if he will miss the shot, so I guess we should be thankful that some dramatic tension remains.)
The same holds for all of the Leia moments. But unlike Han and Luke, her story never closes. Like Saraiya at Salon, this has bothered me for years. I wrote it up in an underrated heroines piece here a few years ago:
The anonymous twin sister of Luke Skywalker and daughter of Darth Vader, Princess Leia is a young Galactic senator dedicated to ridding the Star Wars universe of intergalactic imperialism.
Seasoned, gray-haired generals take instruction from her not because of her physical prowess or her political position, which has no more force as neither her world nor the Galactic Senate exists any longer, but because of her smarts, endurance, dedication, and sacrifice. She possesses super powers, but she doesn’t know that she has them, much less how to use them. Furthermore, while Lucas kept it vague to maintain his PG rating, the floating needle, a lovers’ kiss, a disgusting lick, and a metal bikini all hint at rites of passage or horrible violations. Lucas did not exempt her from the vulnerabilities of womanhood.
She endures and overcomes these challenges of state and sex without tapping into anything more than her own courage. Princess Leia should hold a more vaunted place in the heroine pantheon considering the iconic popularity of Star Wars. I used to think she didn’t get her due praise because Lucas did not understand her character, admitting in one of the many “making of” shows that when he was writing the final confrontation between Luke and Vader he had not yet worked out “the significance of the sister.” I’ve also suspected that Carrie Fisher playing Leia while in the bowels of heroin addiction hampered her ability to bring much power to the part by Return of the Jedi. Neither helped the character, but I think if she punched Han or sliced Jabba up rather than strangling him, we’d have more respect for her.
Lucas didn’t bother to close her story. The Extended Universe tried, but unlike many fans, I thought they failed. There were a few exceptions, Death Star, Tatooine Ghost, and the more recent Razor’s Edge. The nadir was The Courtship of Princess Leia, a truly awful bit of storytelling. But usually, the authors turned Leia into a modern everywoman who just happens to be in space. That is merely a setting change and far, far less interesting than an examination of how the rules of the far, far away galaxy effect a heroic soul.
From Rich Cromwell at The Federalist, “Six Reasons to Lie to Your Kids About Santa Claus“:
Santa doesn’t deserve scorn. Maybe he doesn’t deserve love either, but, if nothing else, he does deserve a commuted sentence. Here are but a few reasons why.
Cromwell had me convinced at number six, which is essentially GK Chesterton’s idea that Santa Claus is fun and wonderment secretly doing the work of Christianity. I also generally agree with Cromwell’s other reasons to lie to kids about Santa, for instance, silly lying to kids can be fun and adults tend to take the need for constant literal truth too seriously.
(Of course, our obsession with relentless realism probably grows out of the erosion of trust from the breakdown of families. It is a simpler thing for married moms and dads to make up stories about bedtime velociraptors when the kids can easily draw the line between truth and teasing. For fractured families, the issue can be a little more complicated. But that is a more serious topic than I want to put before anyone on Christmas Eve.)
I think, however, that Cromwell missed a seventh reason to lie to your kids about Santa Claus, one that I discovered when I faced explaining the truth about Santa to my eldest children.
The new Star Wars teaser trailer for Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released yesterday. I see what they are trying to do: give people hints of the movie to whet their appetite. That’s what a teaser trailer is supposed to do, of course. But there are no hints of a story. None. The most notable element of the trailer is a new lightsaber, a lightbroadsword really. It has already inspired a meme.
— Dustin Sandoval (@DustinMSandoval) November 28, 2014
As the Twitterverse also noted, Star Wars has already been mocked for gadgety lightsabers. Phineas and Ferb got there this summer. Of course, that spoof aired on the Disney Channel so they might’ve planned it for maximum social media buzz for the trailer. So either they are uncoordinated and don’t realize they are walking into a trap of mockery other Disney teams designed or they are focusing on PR gimmicks. Neither option bodes well for the story.
— NAchow (@nachow) November 28, 2014
I admit there may be some pessimistic expectations at work. The weak storytelling of the prequels probably dampens most people’s hope for better movies this time, but the trailer does nothing to give us hope. The first trailer invoked a story with “a boy, a girl, and a universe.”
The trailer for The Phantom Menace was brilliant. The fact that the movie didn’t deliver doesn’t change the excellence of the trailer, which teased the visuals and the music with the story. I watched it hundreds of times. “Every saga has a beginning…”
A few weeks ago, the potty-mouthed princesses came to the Internet. The pro-LGBT equality, anti-racism and anti-sexism advocacy group FCKH8 used the young girls to shock us out of our supposed reverie over our hateful ways. The little girls used the sassy black women stereotype (watch their body language, head bobs and all. I was surprised the cultural-appropriation guardians didn’t denounce it for that reason alone) and dropped f-bombs among repeatedly debunked facts.
As Julie Borowski asked in a parody video, “What’s more offensive? Having little girls drop f-bombs for shock value or using the same debunked facts over and over?”
The potty-mouth princesses have returned, this time to drop f-bombs on domestic violence. This new video is even more offensive than the first video, both for makeup and its stereotyping of men.
A Catholic friend attended her church’s All Saints’ service on Saturday. She came over afterward to visit and help me with some stuff and told me about the lovely service. She mentioned something she still finds odd. The saints are often depicted with the instruments of their torture. St. Lawrence of “Turn me over, I’m done on this side” fame carries a grill, St. Catherine carries a wheel. Here are 10 of the more brutal martyrdoms.
We found this disconcerting for two reasons: one, the memory of what happened to those people. These were not quick deaths. Two, such tortures are still happening to Christians today. (Warning for graphic links, although the Daily Mail has pixelated them.) Beheadings and crucifixions still plague us. As does sexual slavery. According to the videos there, the blue and green eyed girls fetch a higher price.
When I went to church the next day (I’m Anglican and we do All Saints on the Sunday closest to November 1st) this is exactly what one of our reverends gave his sermon on. Our tormenters don’t let up. That’s what we are supposed to remember on All Saints’ Day, perseverance in the face of anything.
Sally was right when she complained in the Peanuts Thanksgiving special that it was too soon to learn about another holiday because she wasn’t even through with her Halloween candy yet. And she couldn’t have had that much candy as she’d spent Halloween in a pumpkin patch with Linus, and her brother came home with a bag of rocks.
With Halloween, the US candy calendar begins. Now, I’m not a strict candy limits mom. When my eldest was three years old, we hit about half a dozen houses. This was in Eaton Square, an area of London that was just coming up to speed with American traditions for All Hallows Eve, so we aren’t talking about a ton of candy. I let him eat to his heart’s content. My mother did not approve, but as she cautioned me, Patrick got about half way through his bucket, then stopped and asked for water and if he could have the rest tomorrow. His tummy didn’t like all the candy, he told us. I beamed, of course, and let him watch The Great Pumpkin before bed. (He slept fine, by the way.)
Much will be written on Katha Pollitt’s “abortion is normal” movement. I’m sure I will write more on it later after I at least read some of the book. But for the moment, here’s one thing that caught my eye in her introductory article in The Nation:
Roe v. Wade gave women a kind of existential freedom that is not always welcome—indeed, is sometimes quite painful—but that has become part of what women are.
One thing Roe v. Wade didn’t do, though, was make abortion private.
…Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion in Roe v. Wade was all about privacy, but the most private parts of a woman’s body and the most private decisions she will ever make have never been more public.
And why is that? She seems to blame terrible conservatives and their abortion-clinic regulations, which is a tenuous claim. Why wouldn’t those like Pollitt who want abortion accessible for women to be able to use as they see fit prioritize safe clinics? The regulations are about safety, which of course restricts access. Even if abortion is completely normalized, it’s not as simple as, for instance, trips to the health spa.
In the 36 hours since Beyonce’s muzzled, splayed, headless, and otherwise sexually submissive VMA performance, we’ve seen a comedy sketch at the Emmys that somehow is a setback for feminism because it objectifies women’s bodies. Mollie Hemingway heaped plenty of scorn upon that little inconsistency. But I’m still left wondering how any feminist loved Beyonce’s performance.
Yesterday afternoon, Jessica Valenti went up at the Guardian with this gem of an observation about Beyonce’s performance. After expressing her excitement about Beyonce putting “feminist” “literally in bright lights,” she talked about celebrity popular pressure:
I’m glad that [Taylor Swift] another celebrity with mass appeal – to young women, especially – is touting a movement necessary for gender justice. But the singer-songwriter calling herself a feminist for the first time in the same week that she released a video in which she twerks and crawls through the disembodied legs of women of color shows that it takes more than identifying as a feminist to understand feminism. (Perhaps as Swift browses the feminist section of bookstores she could pick up something on racism and cultural appropriation. Maybe she could read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as Beyoncé clearly has?)
I agree with Valenti that it takes more than identifying as a feminist to understand feminism. I am on record claiming that women rallying around a term about which they know little is the major problem of the movement. But Valenti’s position is that the problem with Taylor Swift’s understanding of feminism isn’t the objectifying nature of twerking, but that Swift is stealing the dance moves of women of color. Women of color are the ones who twerk. That is the essential assumption of the cultural appropriation argument. Maybe Swift isn’t the one in need of a book on racism.
My first notice of last night’s VMA performances came from my “Camille Paglia” Google alert. Someone wanted a Paglia analysis STAT. Curious, I checked my feminist feeds for some reaction context. They were either glowing about Beyonce’s Divine Feminism, asking as MTV did, “What more could we have asked for?” or silent.
Then I watched and I understood.
I’m all for sexy women. Being a feminist shouldn’t mean that old trope about not ever being sexy. But I’m more than sure that feminist thought fights against the notion of women as primarily a sexual being.
So I admit, I am stunned to find proud feminists this morning, like Jessica Valenti who is waiting to pounce upon the expected irrelevant feminism article, heaping praise on a performance by a scantily-clad Beyonce, with glitter-lubed backup dancers in thongs presenting their asses to all in face down submission, singing songs with refrains such as, “I can’t wait to get home and you can take my cherry out” and “Bow down bitches”.
All this from the performer who will feature prominently on the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack. (Beyonce sings the song in the trailer.) In case anyone is unfamiliar with the feminist implications of 50 Shades of Grey, here is a lengthy but worth the read book review notable both for the declaration that even people who see a distinction between bondage sex play and misogynistic aggression consider 50 Shades solidly in the misogyny category and that Twilight–that nadir of women’s empowerment– is a much more nuanced and tolerant story. (I put both Beyonce’ s VMA performance and the 50 Shades trailer after the jump as neither are safe for work.)
In “Yes, Katy Perry, Babies Need Daddies,” D.C. McAllister wrote about Katy Perry’s declaration to Rolling Stone that this is 2014 and she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. But McAllister just touches the tip of the iceberg on both Perry and children’s need for fathers.
Perry is being more callous to her future child than the typical woman who realizes that she wants a baby, doesn’t happen to have a partner, and, therefore, for her convenience decides that she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. Perry left her marriage to Russell Brand a few short years ago because he was ready to have a baby and she wasn’t. From a piece I did in 2012 on pop rock and the hookup culture:
In her movie Part of Me, Katy Perry addresses her divorce, essentially stating the Love Myth. “I thought to myself, ‘When I find that person that’s going to be my life partner, I won’t ever have to choose [between my partner and my career].”
Before anyone thinks that this is just the silly and self-centered musings of a Hollywood starlet, this notion of easy love that never requires compromise passes for thoughtful feminist discourse these days.
Perry saw her husband’s desire to start a family as trying to force her to slow down her career when she didn’t want to. To be perfectly blunt, she chose her career over her marriage and her future child’s ability to have a father. She doesn’t have the typical excuse that she was unlucky in love and is now hearing the ticks of her biological clock pound in her ears.
Women’s frustration at being used as pretty props in music videos isn’t new and isn’t limited to country music. One of Lily Allen’s recent offerings, “Hard Out Here”, makes the same point as Maddie and Tae do in their debut, “Girl in a Country Song”—women aren’t just ornamental—but Maddie and Tae do it better. By using role reversal and putting the boys in the painted-on cutoff jeans, they successfully achieve the absurd to skewer the use of women as props. Lily Allen’s raunchy choreography and slow-motion closeups didn’t provide enough contrast to typical music videos to achieve the skewering. Plus, Allen’s song was about female physical exploitation in general yet all of her backup dancers doing the crotch slapping choreography were women of color. On the whole, her video leaned more to the hypocritical than the satirical.
Here are both videos for comparison. Allen’s “Hard Out Here” is after the jump as it is NSFW.
Common law, case law, moves slowly. It basically crowd-sources notions of fairness and justice over time and turns them into rules. Normally this works well. But when the assumptions that informed the common law were faulty, then precedent drags positive change.
We can see this happening in child custody arrangements. The precedents set in the 1970s when the divorce rate rose were informed by Freudian attachment-theory studies in the post-war era on orphans, as they were the most commonly found victims of fractured families. As attachment theory developed, psychologists started studying mothers and young children. It seemed a logical first layer of detail to examine given the expectations that women took care of the children while men worked outside the home.
When the divorce rate rose in the ’70s and courts had to start declaring custody arrangements, the experts recommended primary mother care because they didn’t have data for anything else. From a 1992 “Origins of Attachment Theory” paper in Developmental Psychology:
Although we have made progress in examining mother-child attachment, much work needs to be done with respect to studying attachment in the microsystem of family relationships (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Despite studies by Belsky, Gilstrap, and Rovine (1984), Lamb (1978), and Parke and Tinsley (1987) that show fathers to be competent, if sometimes less than fully participant attachment figures, we still have much to learn regarding father attachment.
Formal studies of children in broken homes didn’t really start until the ’80s when there were children of divorce to study and a fierce need for relevant data. And the father and child arrangements that the data recommend look little like the modern arrangements formed under the inertia of legal precedent.
I’m sick of this post. Not the specific post, “The Stay At Home Mom Conspiracy Theory,” but the gist of the post: career woman goes home and is shocked to find that motherhood is more intense, boring, messy, fractured—difficult, than she thought. That the details and difficulties of motherhood surprise career women is a commonplace complaint that hasn’t quite settled on a cliche to describe it.
“Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be this hard?” she, and countless others, ask. We tried, or at least some of us did. But during their office days, women don’t like to hear about stay-at-home motherhood. First, career women rarely listen to anything that contradicts what they think they know. Second, most stay-at-home moms, when faced with the vacant stare mask of disapproval, stop telling the truth. Much like the author did. (Oh, the confidence gap is not so much a gap as a canyon with many caves and crevices.)
Usually I have more sympathy for women surprised by realities—elder women do withhold a considerable amount of information from younger women—but failure to acknowledge and express some regret about past complicity in the silencing of stay-at-home moms buries my sympathy in annoyance.
I am not one of the SAHMs who stop telling the truth. (I blogged as An American Housewife precisely because I refused to perpetrate the notion of a “mere” or any other “no really, I’m smart”’ adjective modifying “housewife.”) So I offer some truth for after the shock: motherhood doesn’t have to follow the covered-in-spit-up-with-no-time-to-shower format that typically sees women run screaming back to the office in avoidance or plunging into motherhood in full submersion. It can be sane. But to get to sane, women have to stand against conventional wisdom and peer pressure. To use the Mommy Wars analogy, sane is walking though the crossfire and ignoring the bullets as they wiz by. (Don’t worry, they’re blanks.) In my experience, fewer moms want to hear about how to do that than want to listen to facts about motherhood.
There isn’t so much a conspiracy as a crisis of confidence in which women hide behind assumptions or seek safety in numbers. Nothing gets solved. And the same posts get written again, and again, as if it is all a surprise.
image via shutterstock / Gladskikh Tatiana
For Easter this year, Whole Foods sold Organic Timothy Grass for kids’ Easter baskets. The story sounds good, as usual—plastic is toxic and the stuff in the Easter baskets lingers for years on the planet. Not mentioned is how prevalent shredded, recycled paper has become for baskets or how the plastic grass lasts and gets reused year after year. That is, the menace of plastic grass is overstated. Also not mentioned in the real grass is great story, the price of the real grass.
As I first learned about the grass clippings in a Tweet from @johnrobison, “Salute the marketing geniuses at @WholeFoods for selling grass clippings for $23.96 a pound – More than good steak!”
A few months ago, Rhonda Robinson posted about a poor neighborhood that “ran off” a Trader Joe’s opening. The gist of the article and comments assumed the neighborhood had elevated politics over health and made a bad decision. She concluded, “The Portland African American Leadership Forum would much rather see empty decaying buildings in their neighborhood than give up their victim card.”
I doubt the neighborhood would rather keep vacant buildings. I also doubt that they objected to a grocery store opening. They likely objected to a Trader Joe’s opening.
Almost as dreaded as writing a cover letter or the first minutes of a job interview, I was stuck in one of those new group settings that needs an icebreaker. The coach made us each ask a question for everyone to answer. I asked, “Dogs or cats?”
I got compliments for a simple, illuminating question that didn’t risk TMI. Over the years, I’ve become a connoisseur of such preference questions. London or Paris? City or countryside? I think I’ve discovered a new one in Game of Thrones.
Female fans of the show like all of the badass women (who Elle has helpfully summarized and ranked by style) but I’ve noticed a strong preference for either Arya or Daenerys. Those who ship for Arya tend to think Dany is just cool and vice versa. So I started comparing their characters.
Both are women of privilege and duty. They are the younger daughters of two of the houses competing for the throne. They are no-nonsense, take charge women who maneuver over obstacles in their path with courage, cunning, and self-reliance. But Daenerys does it by embracing her femininity. She birthed and nursed dragons after the premature birth and death of her son, an event brought about by magic to revive her husband, a man she seduced to love after her brother traded her to marriage for an army for himself. Men give her their sword. She leads as a mother; that is the name the slaves she has freed have given her. When told by her new handmaid “Valar Morghulis” or “all men must die” she replied, “But we are not men.”
Arya, in stark contrast, overcomes her challenges by hiding her femininity. She escapes and evades capture by cutting off her hair and posing as a boy. She spies on her family’s enemies by posing as a cup boy. She is on course to become a dangerous stealth warrior and fights with a small sword given to her by her brother which she named Needle, a reference to her sister’s embroidery needle. “Sansa has her needle and now I have mine.”
The differences in Daenerys’s and Arya’s characters track with the major fracture in feminism: will women achieve equality by mimicking men or by or by unleashing feminine power?
So Arya or Daenerys?
For the record: London, Dogs, countryside, and Daenerys, unequivocally Daenerys.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in in December of 2012 as “The 5 Most Underrated Pop Culture Heroines.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.
Recently, I argued that we like heroines who act like men and so writers construct stories enabling women to physically compete. So what about the female characters that don’t act like men?
If writers don’t have a female character fight for herself and by herself, then we typically ignore them. Sometimes we ridicule them. If given the opportunity, we rewrite them. Then, we complain that there aren’t enough of them. There are many, and the comment thread on the last article mentioned a few. These are my favorite five.
5. Princess Buttercup, The Ignored Heroine
In The Princess Bride, Buttercup lives on a farm and falls in love with a quiet and dedicated farm boy. The boy, Wesley, goes off to seek his fortune so he may marry Buttercup, but his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Buttercup despairs for Wesley’s death. Years later, the prince of the land choses her as his bride. Powerless to refuse him, she agrees. Soon, Wesley returns and rescues her and the land.
Targeted by an evil prince for her beauty, but with no physical way to resist him — no superpowers — Buttercup relies on her courage and wits to keep the prince and his henchmen at bay until help arrives. With Wesley’s help she escapes and together they save the kingdom from a needless war. But she got rescued and does not physically fight. She engages in elegant verbal sparring, of which I’d provide a video clip, but I can’t find any of those scenes online. They aren’t popular enough that anyone thought to upload them. I’ve rarely seen Buttercup mentioned as a feminist favorite even though The Princess Bride‘s cult following rivals Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s. Strong-willed and spirited she might be, but she’s just not manly enough to merit much attention.
Back in 2012, the blog Face in the Blue published the excellent post, “In a Mass Knife Fight Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?“ I commented at the time that this would be a valuable history teaching tool, especially for young boys trapped in girl centered education. (And I did hear from my middle school history teacher who was sorry he never thought of such a lesson plan.)
Now there is another. From The Meta Picture comes “If WWI was a bar fight“. It starts:
Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria’s pint. Austria demands that Serbia buy it a whole new suit because of the new beer stains on its trouser leg. Germany expresses its support for Austria’s point of view. Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit…
As we know, no one calmed down. The post continues and, just like the knife fight post, prompts some good history discussion in the comments as well as a few comments consistent with national stereotypes. I found it when one of my girlfriends, now a college history professor, posted a version of the picture captioned “The teacher who made this is a genius. This is by far the best way to learn about anything.” I wouldn’t go as far as best, but it certainly is a good way to learn. Read it all.
Note: the original text appeared a few months ago at imgur.com, but the discussion at The Meta Picture is more substantive, so I used that version. Imgur also has “If Facebook existed during WWII“, another post I recommend.
Image via The Meta Picture.
One of the many proofs of Sarah Palin’s stupidity was her foreign policy musings. Vice presidential candidate Palin thought that she knew something about Russian motivations. She thought that a weak and confused response from the U.S. regarding Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia would eventually embolden Russia to invade Ukraine.
The experts thought this foolish. Everyone who listened to the experts thought her dumb. (See comments to Camille Paglia’s 2008 praise for Palin.) Even as late as last week, fine foreign policy minds thought a Russian invasion of Ukraine an improbability. They were caught by surprise.
Who wasn’t caught by surprise? Simpletons like Sarah Palin for one. Mitt Romney, for another. My sister-in-law works for a Ukrainian company. Russian takeover scenarios have loomed over her professional life and our family dining room discussions. My husband and I had no problem explaining the events to our children (10, 8 and 6 years old) this morning. The only thing they didn’t get was why anyone was surprised by Putin’s move. “Don’t the experts know geography and history?” my 10 year old asked.
It is quite simple. It’s geography, really. Russia has many natural resources, all difficult to transport within and out of the country. Ukraine has seaports that don’t freeze over for months out of the year. Russia doesn’t. Russia’s national interest, military and commercial, needs the ports. She has seized them before and is doing so again. The fine point, nuanced politics that experts at State are ever so expertly analyzing? Those just signal the timing.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine isn’t surprising. It’s on schedule. And even Sarah Palin could see it coming from her porch.
Babysitters acquired, my husband and I went on a double date with his brother and our sister-in-law last weekend. We all wanted to see The Monuments Men. With a promising ensemble cast and a great story to tell—the Allied soldiers who rescued masterwork art from the Nazis at the end of World War II—it was our unanimous choice. In hindsight, we should have gone to the The Lego Movie.
I didn’t find The Monuments Men quite as disappointing as The Times of London review, but I agree with the specific complaints: the cast wasn’t challenged by the script and the story was off for tone and accuracy.
For me, the problem became clear when George Clooney’s character wrestled for the second, or perhaps third, time with the question of whether art was worth a life when they lost their first member in defense of Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges.
Clooney is not a talented enough actor to cause me to forget I’m watching George Clooney. Listening to him give a fundamentally conservative speech about preserving the knowledge of the past jarred me out of the story. It is also why I instantly picked out a detail. The dialogue referred to the artists, that if we didn’t preserve their works it would be as if the artist never existed.
But great artworks aren’t about the artist. Masterpieces grant to us knowledge or an example of master craftsmanship that inspires us to greater achievement ourselves. The masterworks are worth defending not because they tell us the master existed but because, as a whole, they represent history and knowledge that we could not replicate.
Given most of the stuff Hollywood churns out, it didn’t surprise me that they couldn’t see the distinction.
No. She feels like she did but isn’t certain she could. From her weekly column, “Did I Move?,” again on immigration:
We’re living in a different country now, and I can’t recall moving! Had I wanted to live in Japan, I could have moved there. Had I had wanted to live in Mexico, Pakistan or Chechnya — I could have moved to those places, too.
(Although maybe not. They all have stricter immigration policies than we do.)
Yes, most places have immigration laws that would shock American open-borders supporters. My “favorites” are the report and deport laws for immigrants who fall pregnant. Expats trade immigration stories often and quickly learn what Milton Friedman thought obvious: welfare states need to restrict immigration. Racism and other forms of discrimination affect how the immigrants are treated after entry, but the welfare state closes borders and deports workers.
Europe is giving us a view of our possible future. From “Europe is falling out of love with open borders” in The Guardian, about upcoming elections expected to further restrict Europe’s open borders [emphasis mine]:
The usual use of obvious statistics showing that fit, young, ambitious immigrants pay more taxes and use fewer public services holds less sway than more tangible local examples of the pressure new eastern European families are putting upon already overstretched maternity wards and infant schools. Immigration, though usually good for the migrants concerned, is a bosses’ charter. Those with the upper hand range from owners of big food processing, care or hospitality companies to those in the middle classes cooing about how polite, hardworking and reasonably priced the eastern European workers are.
Of course, achieving such a huge U-turn on our continent will take time. The expected triumph of the extreme right and extreme free traders in six months’ time must finally wake us up to the need to put border controls and economic security at the heart of the debates about future alternatives.
Open immigration or generous welfare laws: eventually only one survives.
This week Ann Coulter “defended” Chris Christie. The governor is not a bully, as the papers suggest; he is only a weak-willed politician:
The gravamen of the media’s case against Christie on Bridgegate seems to be that he is a “bully” — which I painstakingly gleaned from the fact that the governor is called a “bully” 1 million times a night on MSNBC and in hundreds of blog postings and New York Times reports.
Christie is not a bully. If anything, he’s a pansy, a man terrified of the liberal media, of Wall Street, of Silicon Valley, of Obama, of Bruce Springsteen, of Mark Zuckerberg, of Chuck Schumer. It’s a good bet he’s afraid of his own shadow.
I cannot disagree. Other than preferring she left out the fat jokes, I only wonder why she would write about Christie at all at this point. Christie hasn’t been a serious interest since that lukewarm GOP convention speech, which Coulter skewers well. Why is anyone outside of New Jersey talking about him anymore?
I don’t think this is Coulter’s fault. She is following the news. Last week that led her to immigration and this week Christie—these are topics the legacy media and the GOP smart set want to debate, not topics right-leaning voters are actually concerned about right now. We expect, and the research Jonathan Haidt gave us some supporting data, that the left doesn’t understand our concerns. But the larger problem is that the GOP smart set doesn’t understand us, either.
Chris Christie fell into the untrustworthy-pol pothole months ago. Move along already.
Preparing for the Houston Ice Storm 2014, Part Deux, I hit the grocery store. I was in that ready-alert state of mind that allows a person to see details usually missed. The promotional-items section at the front of the store caught my eye, as Kroger has designed it to do. They featured a new brand, Simple Truth. I think the product was potato chips, but I don’t recall because the name grabbed my attention.
A bunch of ideas came to my mind. One, the name reminded me of the Innocent and Honest juices that annoy me so. These juice brands show up at parties, and when kids are running amok, tattling and the like, the names make me wonder if the branding is some sort of wishful thinking. Innocent even has a little halo in the logo. Honest goes for word play with Honest Tea, Honest Aid, and Honest Kids. The kid juices come in an annoying punch pouch that supposedly catches spills but actually makes the pouches almost impossible to puncture with the plastic straw. I avoid Innocent and Honest brands as a rule.
Two, I got an ear worm from Jonah Goldberg. I have a few of his old articles about consumer morality memorized. (I started reading him back in the days when one still had to print, rather than bookmark, favorite articles. I read them more than once.) The Simple Truth triggered this quote to playback:
Perhaps it was when Nietzsche pronounced God dead that so many decided to do His job themselves. Today, we are our own priests. Our truths are own “inner truths.” Our morality is bought retail.
I’ve seen this morality bought retail everywhere from furniture to fashion to food. A few years ago, I blogged about a WSJ article on triple-figure designer jeans. I wrote, “For the hefty price tag you get a pair of jeans and a public statement that you have enough money to afford such jeans and that you care about workers and the environment. … Fab jeans and good works for a couple hundred bucks–no actual action required.” I got comments about how cool this was. My sarcasm went largely unnoticed.
Ann Coulter got a copy of Phyllis Schlafly’s yet-to-be-released report on a meta-study of immigration statistics. The overall conclusions aren’t surprising to anyone with basic knowledge of U.S. history:
Immigrants — all immigrants — have always been the bulwark of the Democratic Party. For one thing, recent arrivals tend to be poor and in need of government assistance. Also, they’re coming from societies that are far more left-wing than our own. History shows that, rather than fleeing those policies, they bring their cultures with them. (Look at what New Yorkers did to Vermont.)
This is not a secret. For at least a century, there’s never been a period when a majority of immigrants weren’t Democrats.
From her article I gather that the Schlafly report merely updates the numbers.
But, as Coulter notes, this non-secret doesn’t deter the GOP elite, who are poised to capitulate to Obama’s State of the Union rhetoric about making 2014 a “year of action with or without Congress.” The GOP masterminds think that Democrats and Republicans can work together on immigration reform. Obviously, and per usual, they have failed to consider either the views of the GOP base or their own long-term political interests.
Leaving aside the political folly of changing the subject from the epic and continuing failures of Obamacare, the kind of immigration reform on which the Democrats will “work with us,” it will expand and harden a welfare class in the United States serving none but the Democratic power elite.
Immigrant assimilation isn’t an option. When immigrants assimilate, they don’t vote reliably democratic anymore, but current education policy stalls the assimilation and our culture of non-judgmentalism, the refusal of the successful to preach what they practice, locks the new immigrants into the servant classes.
With a permanent and growing welfare class, Democrats can recreate a patronage system and consolidate power the Boss Tweed way. Lest anyone think that a overly dramatic historical allusion to political corruption, two weeks ago, the New York Times published an article (“The Forgotten Virtues of Tammany Hall“) written by Terry Goldway, the author of the forthcoming revisionist history book “Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics.” It is nostalgia for the days Democrats used immigrants as pawns.
We are seeing the start of a Tammany Revival. And somehow the GOP elite thinks it a good idea to assist in this scheme. They won’t even get votes for this assist, only temporary patronage, very temporary patronage.