Friday, June 29, 2007
That said, I do fantasize about certain modes of living.
Random widget -- check it!
Edit: the widget above was for some momentary amusement: as is usually the case, the choices proffered do not line up with my interpretations of them. A common limitation to this sort of human reduction is a limited imagination. I note that "warfighting" (or some facsimile) was not one of the options...
On a related topic is one of the questions I have been meaning to explore: how does someone who would be perfectly happy as a member of the warrior class remain engaged in the day-to-day world of business?
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Ladies: if'n yer gent ain't a provin' his love, well, the honeymoon's over...
Does he still run out in the rain to open an umbrella above your head? If you wait by the car door, does he spring forth to open it?
Gentlemen: make proof of Love an everyday occurrence, and by simple force of habit the bond will be formed, able to weather inevitable droughts and clouds of locusts. Every day you neglect the proof is three days to get back to where you were. Do the math.
Marriage, while beneficial to both parties, is particularly beneficial to the man: health, wealth, and happiness flow as a byproduct of marriage maintenance. Do your part, secure your future--and that of your progeny. Appy Adam Smith: attend to your wife for your own selfish reasons and, by gum, the whole marital organization and economy will benefit.
Remember, men: There is no such thing as Love, only proof of Love.
First: I never thought it was a "good" idea or, more accurately, I thought it a good idea if we were in it to win. My response was going to go something like:
Invading Iraq: good idea, bad execution (and WMDs were not a crock; indeed, finding stuff in the desert is no small task. But, for the sake of argument, let us say that our intel was wrong: which is worse, being proved wrong about the EXISTENCE of WMDs, or their ABSENCE?).
My sense is that the US no longer has the stomach to win a war--the socialist/pacifist/marxist movement has really succeeded in sapping our country, our schools, our spirit. For example, we went to great lengths to secularize our stance (remember W's back-pedaling on the word "crusade?"), when we should instead have "hit 'em where it hurts."
Personally, I would have published a rank order of important (read: holy) sites and, Israel-like, worked my way up the list toward Mecca, varying the damage between destruction and utter destruction (that's a Classics joke for you biblical scholar out there; you know, the diff between the Greek pollumi and apollumi... ah, forget it...).
Here: I found one of my relatively impassioned notes from early in (cue scary music) THE WAR ON TERRORISM; let's see how things have held up, shall we? This, from a personal note to a friend, in 2003:
When discussing the current state of affairs, I often refer to an image of you, circa [some time in the '80s] post fall of the Berlin Wall, putting your two fists together, knuckles to knuckles, and explaining that the two superpowers had brought a certain, if uneasy, stability to the world, and that the post Soviet Union world would degenerate to pre-WWI balkanization.
Voila, et nous ici.
From my knee-jerk, extreme-right viewpoint, the US is under attack. Thousands have been killed. That the enemy is not circumscribed by some geographical construct should be of no concern. (For a prophetic take on this I refer you to the 5-minutes-from-now Neal Stephenson novel Snow Crash.) The President is obligated to protect this nation ("nation" as concept); that his own people have been so coddled (or addled) by peace that they would rather bleat statements pro Iraq (choosing a man who has used mustard gas on his own people over the leader of one of the freest countries the earth has yet known) causes me physical distress. The communists (remember communists?) thought that the only thing keeping communism from succeeding was those pesky capitalists, and if those capitalists would all just disappear (or be disappeared), then life would be good.
Isn't life in North Korea good?
That islam, in addition to being a pernicious political system, also happens to be a "religion" (something we are required to "respect"), means little to me. That islam's adherents feel the need to transfer blame for their failed politico-social system (I mean, why else would G-d visit utter poverty and disarray on his chosen people--and wealth on the infidel--unless that infidel were in league with the devil and must needs therefore be destroyed?) and are therefore "victims" and not to be blamed is also of little import to me.
This. Is. War.
We did not choose it, we did not start it, but we had better finish it. If we want our daughters to walk freely and without fear again in these United States, then we'd better be willing to spend a few years in some very ugly times and supporting some very ugly policies. France be damned.
I leave you now with a few words from A Few Good Men, with which I have no doubt you are already familiar:
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee I think I'm entitled to them.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!
Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
Jessep: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.
Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
Jessep: You're goddamn right I did!!
Monday, June 25, 2007
Steven Rhoads, author of Taking Sex Differences Seriously, agrees with Prof. Putnam that women are much more social. But he focuses more on what he views as innate differences between the sexes. Men, he argues, are "fundamentally more selfish." Unlike women, "they're simply less interested in people. And they're less empathetic." According to Mr. Rhoads, the trick to getting them to volunteer lies in appealing to men's egos, even their sense of duty and heroism. "Men need to be needed," he tells me. "Make it clear: We need you and this is really important."
Fundamentally more selfish. Less interested in people. Less empathetic. Need to be needed. Respond to ego appeals.
Yup, yup: sounds about right.
Friday, June 22, 2007
I never met Mr. Vonnegut (although, weirdly, I met his brother, and under interesting circumstances and at an important time), and I cannot find the quote, but I believe he spoke of male puberty--when he was 70 or so--as something like "getting up onto a bucking bronco around age 12, and only just recently being allowed to get down off the damn thing, and with relief."
Somewhen in my early twenties, I asked my father, "Dad, does it ever end?" He knew what I was talking about. "No, not yet." I asked him again ten years later--admittedly after his stroke, his ex-patriation, his heart attacks--and he did not know what I was talking about. That said, even under his burdens, it turns out that he had a girlfriend (or at least a woman that wanted to be his girlfriend).
On my run this morning, I was thinking about how much to reveal--for business reasons, I do not think I will explain the extent of the handicap under which men operate, how often their minds stray toward the physical, how each interaction is assessed for its potential, even when the potential is, in reality, zero (which is irrelevant, given men's talent for compartmentalization--for good and ill--and their ability to simultaneously consider what I might as well term 'alternate universes,' i.e., situational outcomes "under other conditions").
'Nuff said. I like my job.
P.S. Went looking for the quote, found a MUCH more eloquent post regarding Vonnegut's death from Humble Viewer
The author reminded me that "Ray Bradbury will be next--he'll be 87 this August. And I'm not trying to jinx Bradbury--besides, that old Gothicist would probably be happy to see his mortality batted around like a shuttlecock. I'm simply watching the seconds tick on the deathclock of my youth."
Deathclock of my youth. Raises the hairs along my arm...
Dandelion Wine was a good one; thanks Ray.
I saw Mr. Bradbury direct a stage version of Something Wicked This Way Comes. I rode my little motorcycle over the mountains to see the show four or five times, including the pre-opening (with post-play discussion with Mr. Bradbury). The play knocked my socks off.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
WSJ had a scary Op Ed piece yesterday on abortion. [ed. note: I am generally agnostic with regard to Roe v. Wade; while I personally find abortion abhorrent under most circumstances, other individuals are free to wrestle with their consciences or take it up with their Creator or What Powers That Be; abortion is killing, but the world justifies killing under many scenarios... We must each live with our own decisions, and I am not your judge.] The WSJ piece links abortion to the current state of affairs, but most signficantly (I think) to the rise of single-parent households, the single most corrosive aspect acting on society today.
According to the WSJ, it seems that, once again, the realization of certain Marxist/Feminist aims had unintended consequences that ended up hurting more women (and children) than it helped. Males, knowing that any unintended offspring could simply be aborted, are free to say "hey, it's her CHOICE to keep the baby; I'm outta here!" So, men are free to deny their responsibilities under the rubric of FREEDOM OF CHOICE. Oi.
This ties in with the other factors undermining boys. Top-down analysis: boys are no longer required to mature into men (the Nintendo-in-the-basement option); bottom-up analysis: no father in the home = no fatherly role model. So, no man to say "Son, that Axe body spray is pretty quee-, uh, smelly"; "Son, at 10, you do not need three showers a day--go get dirty!" That is, no one to point out the absurdity of modern marketing and the queering of basic boyhood.
That there is a market for a book explaining how to SKIP STONES (and engage in other DANGEROUS activities) is a cryin' shame.
Indeed, while I am deeply proud and satisfied to be the progenitor of a gaggle of girls, the one aspect of regret I suffer in not having a boy is that some boy is bereft of a stable family unafraid of proper role modeling (whether you, dear reader, agree with my outlook or not, at least I have an opinion on the matter... Children thrive on black and white--grey is confusing--and they are free, later and upon analysis, to make up their own minds, n'est ce pas?)
One other random thought about being a man: the other day, a certain men's organization to which I belong held its annual end-of-season bash. While discussing my desire for an RV, one of the Fellows said he had a friend who was selling one. The next day I got a call--the Fellow from the dinner said "my buddy wanted to get about $10k for the camper, but seeing as you're a Fellow, he's willing to take $7k..."
"Seeing as you're a Fellow..."
[The above was only one example--and a fairly lame one--better examples flow to places you would likely disbelieve...]
You see, men take this stuff seriously.
My wife asks "why don't you allow women?" My reply is that "then we would feel silly--becaus it IS silly, but it is also deadly serious; women, being generally smarter and more sensible than men, would not take it...seriously."
Random anecdotal support: my girls LOVE Mythbusters. I have noticed that when the team are exploding something (or starting some process), there must be a countdown: "3...2...1...". The men take this VERY seriously (even when the countdown is essentially meaningless), always using the same cadence and tone. The women, recognizing the non-essential nature of the countdown (because lawyers, producers, and safety examiners are likely surrounding them, just off camera), apply to it a cavalier manner, just doing it because it must be done, not because (as it is for men) WITHOUT THIS COUNTDOWN THE WORLD MIGHT END.
Hey, I said it was random and anecdotal... but pay attention next time you are watching Mythbusters.
Where was I going with this? Oh, the need for men to GROW UP, accept the yoke of responsibility (really, it's okay, you'll learn to love it), and teach your children well.
Monday, June 18, 2007
My children are being prepped to attend "away camp." Big bucks, but the investment is well worth it. Not that we are real "helicopter parents," but it is useful for children to be out on their own (with appropriate, other-than-mama supervision).
If I could put together money enough quickly enough, retiring to the life a full-on seasonal camp counselor would be high on my list of lifestyles... I would consider a high-school math teacher, but I am unimpressed with other people's children (one assumes that those willing to send their children away to camp for the summer might share at least SOME of my self-sufficient outlook...).
On a related subject (and related, I suppose, to Father's Day as well), let us acknowledge and accept: Different Parenting Styles
Friday, June 15, 2007
Reade's video testimony
History, analysis, and commentary on the case can be found at: Durham in Wonderland
Anonymous Bosh said...
RE: Manning up and controlling the tears.
I used to be a tough SOB, loved my career in the military, hunted for pleasure, poor as dirt (but no longer).
I have posted maybe twice on this case (and I have been following since the very beginning). Lemme tell you something:
I had to close my office door during testimony so my freakin' subordinates do not see my crying.
This whole g-dd-mn case strikes to the heart of being a man, of the danger we face in a time when roles are changing, when "classism" and victimhood trump individual effort and initiative.
Among nightmares for a man, being attacked by a woman (and then by "the authorities") ranks right up there. When a woman strikes you, you can't strike back; hell, you can't even explain yourself without looking foolish.
Why did Reade cry? Because the whole thing is absurd, overwhelming, and damn frightening. You will note he did NOT cry when confronted with the New Black Panthers--fear does not make us cry. Emotions become overwhelming when you force a man to ADMIT and EXPLAIN his fear (rather than confront it), to REVEAL his vulnerability, what we sometimes call "weakness"; THAT is what is just too much for the action-oriented, non-introspective, somewhat-less-sensitive half of the population.
Reade was attacked in a way that left him unable to respond. In re-telling the story, in sharing his helplessness (utter humiliation for a man--not just a male but a MAN), the only outlet--in the formal courtroom context--for the resulting psychic turmoil was through his freakin' tear ducts!
Mine too, g-dd-mnit.
Reade is more man than most of us can ever hope to be--and some males really resent that.
God bless you, Reade Seligmann.
[ed. note: where I wrote "Reade is more man than most of us can ever hope to be--and some males really resent that," I should have said "certain elements--males among them--really resent that." I was referring to, e.g., academic Feminism, socialism, marxism, entitlism, victimism, communism, and the general undermining of Life as we know it.]
Tangent: that old chestnut regarding infinite monkeys + infinite typewrites x infinite time = the works of Shakespeare was bugging me on my run this morning. Point is, it has been proven. Once you allow for change (and Darwin), monkeys + time indeed DOES = Shakespeare. Proof? Uh, we have his works. That is, we monkeys evolved (if you believe in that sort of thing) enough for one of us to produce (admittedly, sans typewriter) Romeo + Juliet.
Tanget the Second: speaking of running--these days I am up to about 60+ miles per week, not even enough to start Pfitzinger's marathon training (recommended minimum of 70 mpw). Sheesh. Lemme tell you something: 60 mpw takes a LOT of time (and effort). While I am sufficiently blessed (see point the first) to, if I wanted, have enough flexibility to go up to 100 mpw (hey, sleep is over-rated, really), I am not sure that I am really that committed. To those of you mortgage-carrying, children-rearing, family-loving folk pushing upwards of 60+ mpw (or below 2:50 for a marathon) I say: bravo!
Main post: I was laughing a bit today at a quick memory. I was a geek in high school (popular among the "band rats," "TAG fags," and, believe it or not, certain elements of the "burnouts," and, absurdly, certain girls in classes ahead of me...). When I showed up for track sign-up in the tenth grade, the coach (my trig teacher), said "Can I help you?" I said, "I'm here to sign up for track." He looked around, then said, "You?" To his credit, he recovered and quickly added "That's great, great, really great. Okay then."
What I was laughing at though was the first day I wore my varsity jacket. All eligible athletes had earned their jackets the prior evening at an awards ceremony. In the morning, the hall was lined on either side with football players all proudly displaying their jackets. And I in mine.
I started down the hall, saying to the first locker-leaner, "Hey, nice jacket!" He shoved me completely across the hall, into a locker-leaner on the other side. As I righted myself, I winked at him, gave him my best Fonzie finger-point, and said, "Hey, nice jacket!" In this manner, I made my way down the entire length of the hall, being shoved from one football player to another, complimenting their jackets. Not one football player succeeded in knocking me down, or even, really, messing my hair.
Have I mentioned that I am blessed?
You are too.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
And, gents, I am proud to report I had nothing to say, that is, Life need NOT be that way...
Have I mentioned how freakin' LUCKY I am?
I. am. DAMN. lucky!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I believe myself, these days, to be a relatively upstanding fellow--never been arrested, always seen as a "good kid," fairly respectful of 'da man.' Let me tell you about my youth...
Age...9? My friends and I found some cars (probably '50s vintage). We liked the "diamonds" on the front seat (you know, shattered safety glass). We decided to make more. In the end, we had smashed all avaible glass... This theme returns, later.
Age...10? My friends and I spent the afternoon throwing rocks through the windows of a greenhouse (the old-fasioned kind, many-paned in wooden frames). I am horrified, now, by this memory.
Age...11? My friends and I found a whole parking lot of what seemed, to us, abandoned cars. Our response? More diamonds! LOTS more diamonds. Then for good measure we broke into (literally--we broke the door down) the adjoining garage. Stuff in there seemed a lot...newer. And, in retrospect, that backhoe we ransacked, maybe that wasn't as abandoned as we thought.
Age...11? My father caught me in my fort (under a trash heap), having just put out the fire I had been building. This turned out to be my final pyromaniacal exploit. You see, after the firedrips, the brush fire episode, the burn marks on my bedroom floor, the call from my friends' parents regarding the burn marks in their closet, and now, the trash heap, well, my father had had enough. For my own safety, he beat me with a stick. A big stick.
I never lit a fire again.
Which turned out to be a good thing, because my firebug friends were arrested the next week after having set an entire field on fire. (BTW, one of those friends is now a local newscaster in the MidWest; I wonder if he, too, is horrified by his boyhood vigor.)
My pals and I regularly broke into people's garages, barns, and other outbuildings, sometimes doing mischief (what we, today, call "vandalism"), sometimes not.
One of my friends recalls when he and his sister broke into someone's summer home and spent the afternoon gluing down all movable items: the phone, the dishes, canned goods, furniture. He shudders in the telling.
I have never, however, tipped a cow.
None of these acts were done maliciously per se (indeed, I would argue that "right" and "wrong" were as of yet a bit grey for me); all were done sober (indeed, alcohol and drugs have never played any part of my life or activities).
Believe it or not, there are other items that I simply cannot type (no harm to small animals, but difficult to relay nonetheless).
Sometimes, it is good to grow up.
Monday, June 11, 2007
My father did not want me to attend MIT (and I didn't); he wanted my socks to match (which they do, sometimes).
I think it is different for girls.
Why would I be happy were my daughter to attend MIT (yah, I know, gettin' way ahead of myself here--but tempus fugit, my friends)? Well, in addition to a top-notch education (and one that minimizes the chances of wasting time in, say, Sociology), I would argue that the men are gentler (smellier, to be sure, but gentler as well).
So, we segue now to my views of the world: boys are getting (even more) crass; girls, too. How do we reverse the trend? Engaging youth in pursuits other than music and popular "culture" might help. We are witnessing a tremendous bifurcation in society--forget "The Haves" and "Have Nots," forget race, we are seeing those who forego aspiration and those who aspire for...too much. Hyper-slacker vs. Hyper-Type-A (and resentment--and redistribution of wealth--are sure to ensue).
When I was a senior in high school, I spent much time discussing G-d and religion with some Apocalyptic Lutherans (as I called them...or sometimes "Apoplectic," whatever got more of a rise). They dressed plainly, were forbidden to dance or to listen to most genres of music, and got in trouble for talking to me (yes, it's true, they did). For them, Satan was in the radio, the TV, and, well, in me.
After years and years of contemplation, I think they were right.
Is it important that I am, at best, agnostic (at worst, atheistic, if "worst" is the correct direction...)? No. Mr. Satan need not be "real" to be real, i.e., to exert influence. Do I perceive Evil in radio, TV, the Intertubes, popular "culture," Paris Hilton? Damn straight I do! Redirectors of effort, tempters from the grindstone of success, attacker of physical safety, underminer of health. It's all there, it's all true. Satan is among us. Or whatever his secular humanist counterpart is.
Let's see: for G-d we have D-rwin; for Satan...um...Madonna? Heff? Hmmm...have to work on that one.
I no longer listen to popular music--my children can distinguish Sibelius from Copland (and delight in being able to identify composers when I cannot...). Oh, and they kick my ass in karate, too (the youngest already knows a few moves), so don't get on me about sports! Soccer, in my opinion, is bad for the knees (especially for growing girls), and my town has a way of recruiting top talent and then grinding them down into injuryland (another form of Satan...).
So, for those of you who come across this blog and want to respond "ur kidz r gonna be geekz!" or "poor babies" or "FREAK!" go right ahead--it's all right, it's okay; yours will work for mine someday!
As an aside--I had a chance to interview a very successful woman last week. She credited her parents' limiting (to the point of exclusion) exposure to television as one of the factors of her success (music lessons was another). I questioned her deeply regarding her mother's full-time status, whether that influenced her in a negative way (a common complaint of Feminists being that stay-at-home moms discourage long-term success in their daughters). On the contrary: she found her mother to be inspirational; further, she felt it important to reward her mother's struggle and sacrifice (her mother gave up a university career to stay at home for 18 years!) with success. Our interview was cut a bit short as she had to jet off for her youngest sister's graduation from law school.
As we say in Colorado: Face!
Thursday, June 7, 2007
For you runners: I rarely laugh out loud when reading, but some of you (most of you?) will likely identify with the followingp>
And this I add merely to cement my reputation as a right-wing conspiracy theorist (which I am not, more like a "confluence" theorist...):
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
I was assaulted on my way to the office today (yes, this pleases me in a perverse way). Littering really bothers me, so when I saw a couple drop their losing lottery tickets to the ground, I picked them up with a "lemme get that for ya; the trash is just up ahead." The guy went ballistic--chest to chest, in my face, his bad breath and spittle getting all over me. He explained all that he wanted to do to me, but when I invited him to make good on his offer he wasn't quite sure what to do. His lovely wife, with baby strapped to her chest, no less, dropped her cigarette in order to poke me in the chest demanding that I back of from her dear hubby (that part was a bit weird--clearly they were made for one another).
The guy then backed up, went to throw his $3.35 iced coffee at me, but Newton's laws being what they are, managed to get the bulk of it on his $100 Official MBA team shirt. Nice. As for me--I stand by my L.L.Bean "stain resistant" slacks--the coffee that made it to my leg beaded up and rolled off (although my socks got wet).
After their departure (never a cop when you need one), the skittish crowd that had, apparently, been cowering behind mailboxes and street lamps tsk-tsked the couple's behavior, touching my hand about how "you were right to do that," etc. Where was my back-up when under attack, I ask you? (Reminds me of the time in high school when, confronted by a few football players and refusing to back down, my band buddies--complete with heavy instruments--neatly dissolved; thanks, buds.)
The guy would've wiped the pavement with me, but no matter. Littering--especially blatant, mindless littering--really bugs me.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Monday, June 4, 2007
Haven't had a checkbook since 1996. Still don't have an ATM card (and you folks using a debit card--what is WRONG with you?!).
Brag: my credit cards pay me 5% for EDP (everyday purchases such as gas, groceries, and drugstore items); 1% for all else; 2% on the weekends (uh, yep). I ask again: you folks using a debit card--what is WRONG with you?!
One thing I loved about the military: stuff just "happened." I always knew what clothes to wear (and they were free), eating and sleeping accommodations were always available, and money just appeared in my account. Oh, and the harder I was willing to work, the more I was paid (in the military, this means volunteering for jump status, combat duty, that sort of thing...). I just needed to focus on my "job" (which I loved, really).
In my civilized, civilian life, I still want things to just "happen." My wife buys my clothes (she enjoys shopping--I despise it--and clothes are really just a uniform), stocks the food, and runs the household as she sees fit. She appreciates that I maintain the yard, vehicles, and machinery, as well as some of the longer-term assets (e.g., retirement savings, life insurance policies, and other items).
Men: when you got married, it was for life, right? Put your money where your mouth is: once you have a child or three, consider signing over all assets to the wife & family; it's quite freeing, really, and ensures that rough patches will be "worked through" rather than abandoned. Or soe I hear: I haven't really had a rough patch in this here marriage... But then, I am a right-wing atavist, right?
What other stats... Hmm... What do people really wonder about or want to hear with regard to men?