Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

The New York Times runs an article about how the national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are seeking to address concerns about shrinking membership as they celebrate 100 years of boy scouting in the US. The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978, with 2.8 million boys currently in the Scouts.

To judge from the commentariat at the Times, you would think this is entirely the result of the BSA remaining firm in their ban of gay scout leaders and statement that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with obligations in the Scout Oath.” Not to mention saying that boys who refuse to recite the Scout Oath because of its references to God and reverence may simply not have a place in the program. Commenters claiming to be Eagle Scouts line up one after another in the comments to announce that no son of theirs will ever be a member of the Scouts while it remains homophobic and theocratic.

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Michael Scott Resigns From Dunder Mifflin

Sunday, July 4, 2010 \AM\.\Sun\.

Michael Scott, the head sales manager of Dunder Mifflin is calling it quits at the end of the 2011 television season.

The Office is one of the few shows that I enjoy watching because the comedy and writing are top-notch and just as importantly, it isn’t as depraved as most shows on television.

Viewing The Office is like watching elementary school cliques try to behave as adults.  It’s entertaining and sometimes difficult to watch, especially when the Michael Scott character embarrasses himself to the point that I cringe at the tv set.

Regardless, the show will definitely be different without him if they choose to continue, which I hope they do.


Bye Bye Big XII, Hello Pac-16!

Saturday, June 5, 2010 \PM\.\Sat\.

The college football 2010 expansion scramble is on!

The Pac-10 is flexing their muscle for the first time in many years and I’m not talking about winning championships, I’m talking about dinero, mullah, the almighty dollar!

As I have mentioned previously, the Pac-10 will not expand unless it includes Texas or Colorado.  Not Utah or BYU.

Colorado brings in the Denver metropolitan T.V. market and Texas brings in… the entire state of Texas with a nationwide following that is only eclipsed by the University of Notre Shame Dame.

So what has happened since then?

To summarize all the rumors these past three days, the Pac-10 will take Texas, Colorado, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State.

But the Pac-10 needs to hear from those schools, specifically Texas, before the end of 2010 in order to be in a position to negotiate a new television contract for their college football programs.

Wow!

This is beyond what I expected but it certainly is intriguing and prudent.

It’s prudent because Texas wants Texas A&M in ANY scenario available.  The Big-10 didn’t bring Texas A&M to the table in prior rumors and that is why those rumors died down.

How did this all come about?

There were various variables that occurred simultaneously to bring us to this point.

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College Football, Pac 10 Wants Texas and Colorado

Saturday, February 13, 2010 \AM\.\Sat\.

The Pac-10 is seeking to expand for the first time in 33 years when they last added my two alma maters, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University (sometimes referred to as Temple Normal Women’s Teacher College).

Speculation has been rampant with initial reports announcing the the University of Utah had accepted and will become the 11th member, but those were quickly shot down (sort of).

Not since the Texas legislature blackmailed both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University into retracting their acceptance into the Pac-10 in 1994 have rumors been so rampant as to possible candidates.

The Pac-10 is the premiere all-sports conference in the country, more importantly, they have the most athletic and superior football programs as well.  No conference comes close with NFL-level talent to that of the Pac-10’s.

Why the expansion?

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Thomas The Right Wing Tank Engine

Saturday, December 12, 2009 \AM\.\Sat\.

Hattip to the ever vigilant Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal.  My kids loved Thomas the Tank Engine videos when they were little back in the nineties.  Memories of those times still brings a smile to my face when I see some Thomas the Tank Engine trinket for sale in a store.  Now I learn that I was not only entertaining them, I was also indoctrinating them in my political views.

A Canadian academic, surprise!, Shauna Wilson, has disclosed the political subtext underlying the Tank Engine stories:

The show’s right-wing politics shows the colourful steam engines punished if they show initiative or oppose change, the researcher found.

She also highlighted the class divide which sees the downtrodden workers in the form of Thomas and his friends at the bottom of the social ladder and the wealthy Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt, at the top. Read the rest of this entry »


The Conservative Bible

Saturday, December 12, 2009 \AM\.\Sat\.

This is pretty funny, but at times it makes me cringe.

Nonetheless it is humor so don’t take this seriously at all!


Fiscal Health Care Reform: The Publics Option

Friday, December 11, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama continue to spend, spend, spend away money we don’t have.  With the public option now firmly established in the current Senate version of the health care bill, Election 2010 comes to mind.

Kick the bums out.

I love democracy.

(Biretta Tip: Glenn Foden of NewsBusters)


You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

Friday, November 6, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

Okay, that’s a heckuva long title for a blog post, but it also happens to be almost perfect for the subject of this particular entry at The American Catholic.

On Tuesday, the voters of the state of Maine — surprisingly — rejected same sex marriage (SSM) and reaffirmed that marriage in Maine is between a man and a woman. Naturally, SSM supporters were shocked and outraged (the Catholic Church appears to be the early target), while supporters of traditional marriage were overjoyed with the results; Maine, after all, isn’t exactly in the Bible Belt.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), was typical of the latter: “Every time Americans vote on marriage, traditional marriage wins.” And she’s right: when it comes to ballot initiatives, SSM is 0-31.

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No Islamic Holy Sites Destroyed in 2012 Movie, Fear of Fatwa

Thursday, November 5, 2009 \AM\.\Thu\.

Grand Mosque of Mecca

Due to the fear of a death threat in the form of a fatwa from Muslim scholars, movie director Roland Emmerich chose not to shoot any scenes depicting the destruction of Islamic holy sites in his new end-of-the-world film, 2012.  Though Roland Emmerich says this did not stop him when filming scenes depicting the destruction of Christian landmarks such as the Sistine Chapel, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.  He wanted to make sure his views of opposition to “organized religion” were not soft-pedaled in the movie 2012.

Of course, “organized religion” is a euphemism for the apostolic churches of the Catholic and Orthodox faiths.  Hence why you’ll see the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica topple over in the 2012 film and not the Ka’aba inside the Grand Mosque of Mecca collapse.

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Charles Carroll: Our Catholic Founding Father

Saturday, July 4, 2009 \PM\.\Sat\.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was a delegate to the Continental Congress and later United States Senator for Maryland. He was also the only Catholic to have signed the The Declaration of Independence. One of the wealthiest men in the colonies, it is reported that — upon fixing his signature,

a member standing near observed, “There go a few millions,” and all admitted that few risked as much, in a material sense, than the wealthy Marylander.

(The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737-1832, by Kate Mason Rowland).

A new biography, American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll (Lives of the Founders) (ISI) will be published in February 2010. (Tip of the hat to Carl Olson). The author, Dr. Bradley J. Birzer, was recently interviewed by the Washington Times:

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The Degenerate David Letterman

Saturday, June 13, 2009 \PM\.\Sat\.

David Letterman Degenerate

[Updates at the end of this post below]

I enjoyed viewing David Letterman when he first came out.  He was nerdy, goofy, and most importantly funny.  I eventually stopped viewing his show not because he wasn’t funny anymore, but because I was no longer in college and I needed a good nights rest for the real world, ie, a job.  Once in a while I would catch his show and remember fondly my days of cold pizza and late night study sessions.

I was well aware of his politics, but unlike most liberals, conservatives do have a sense of humor, especially at our own expense.  I was able to suspend my politics to enjoy good humor because I loved to laugh.

Sadly Mr. Letterman went too far recently in one of his jokes.  Maybe he has been doing this for awhile, but I haven’t noticed since I no longer watch his show for the reasons I mentioned above.

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If Obama Is Spock We Are Doomed!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 \AM\.\Tue\.

Spobama

Maureen Dowd wrote a column last month in which she compared, tongue in cheek, Obama to Mr. Spock from Star Trek.  Jeff Greenwald of Salon also sees a resemblance between Chicago’s “gift” to the country and the first officer of the Enterprise.  Bill Whittle of Pajamas Media, takes great joy in informing us in a very entertaining video here why having an intellectual in the mode of Mr. Spock as president is very bad for the nation.

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Overwork in the Age of Multi-tasking

Wednesday, June 3, 2009 \PM\.\Wed\.

The weekend’s WSJ had an interesting article about work hours — the hours that people think they work, and the hours they actually do.

Over the past two decades of rapid technological deployment and globalization, it has become an article of faith among the professional set that we work sweatshop hours. Sociologist Juliet Schor started the rumor with her 1992 book, “The Overworked American,” which featured horror stories of people checking their watches to know what day it was.

Then God created the BlackBerry and things got worse. In late 2005, Fortune’s Jody Miller claimed that “the 60-hour weeks once thought to be the path to glory are now practically considered part-time.” In late 2006, the Harvard Business Review followed up with an article on “the dangerous allure of the 70-hour workweek,” calling jobs that required such labor the new standard for professionals. The authors featured one “Sudhir,” a financial analyst who claimed to work 90-hour weeks during summertime, his “light” season. He’s got nothing on a young man I met at a party recently who told me he was working 190 hours a week to launch his new company.

It was a curious declaration; I would certainly invest in a start-up that had invented a way to augment the 168 hours that a week actually contains.

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A Taste of Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 \AM\.\Wed\.

One of the things I love most about our country is that it is not a state built to give expression to a particular “nationality” in the sense that swept the world like an plague in the 19th and 20th centuries. Our country shares a set of political ideals and cultural touchstones, but it is also a glorious mix of different traditions which we, as a nation of immigrants, have brought with us and continued to develop here.

In honor of which — and because it seemed to me that perhaps we could use a “getting to know each other” thread around here — I take the liberty of cross posting the following from my personal blog:

The feast of the nativity of Our Lord has traditionally been a time for feasting and the gathering of family and friends. And since taste and smell are powerful hooks for memory, many of us have intense connections to various Christmas foods and drinks. The other holiday here in the US which is heavily food-centric is Thanksgiving, yet with a few familial variations, the Thanksgiving food palette is pretty well defined. Christmas food traditions, however, are pretty various.

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What Is Middle Class

Saturday, November 29, 2008 \PM\.\Sat\.

When one reads 19th century British literature, one of the constant sources of tension is as to who is “a gentleman”. As used in this context, it was a term that applied not merely to manners and honor, but to economic status. A gentleman was not “in trade”. He did not have “a job”. He might own estates which he oversaw, though if he actively worked them his case became much weaker (“gentleman farmer” was more often a term of dismissal as approbation.) He might be a clergyman or a doctor (but not a surgeon — cutting flesh and sawing bone was not manual for a “gentleman.) He might be a military officer. But generally to be a “gentleman” one was expected to live off one’s investments and devote one’s time to either society or unpaid accomplishments. Many accomplishments in fields ranging from literature to philosophy to economics to science during the time period were the work of “gentlemen” who pursued these fields as “hobbies”.

I don’t think this was necessarily a good or healthy attitude towards work, but it’s interesting to me that in the modern US we have nearly diametrically opposed social/economic prejudices. The idle rich could not be more scorned, and it is the object of everyone to claim membership in the “middle class” and ideally to claim “working class roots” as well.

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Is Religion the GOP’s Downfall?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 \PM\.\Tue\.

Everyone seems to have their own idea of what it is that the GOP lacks these days. Kathleen Parker seems to think that the big problem is its lack of a columnist with the prose style, intellectual rigor and cultural sensibilities of a Maureen Dowd — and in her most recent Washington Post column she tries to fill that void. [HT: Cranky Conservative]

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I’m bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

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What Makes Music American?

Sunday, November 23, 2008 \PM\.\Sun\.

Tito and Donald have instituted a worthy tradition of posting music on the weekends here at American Catholic, and so as the weekend winds to a close I thought I would attempt by own contribution to the genre, though with a characteristically analytical slant.

I’m not sure how it is that one can say that a piece of music “sounds like” a particular country. And yet some pieces of music very clearly have a regional tone. For instance, Vaughan Williams orchestral music simply sounds like English countryside.

While I don’t think I could describe what it is that makes something sound American, the following are some of the most American-sounding pieces of music that I know of.

Jerome Moross received an Oscar nomination for the score he wrote for Big Country, the outstanding 1958 western staring Gregory Peck, Charleton Heston and Burl Ives.

The movie itself is very much worth watching, and the score is one of my favorite movie scores. This video illustrates the main theme with scenes from the movie.

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Lead Us Into Temptation: American Materialism

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 \AM\.\Tue\.

To speak of American “materialism” is…both an understatement and a misstatement. The material goods that historically have been the symbols which elsewhere separated men from one another have become, under American conditions, symbols which hold men together. From the moment of our rising in the morning, the breakfast food we eat, the coffee we drink, the automobile we drive to work–all these and nearly all the things we consume become thin, but not negligible, bonds with thousands of other Americans. — Daniel J. Boorstin

What’s wrong with American culture? This question has become prominent in Christian circles as the moral course of the United States becomes more and more frightening. The answer, in one respect, lies in the materialism of the American people. This is not materialism, in the philosophical sense, where all that exists is matter and one denies the existence of God — though that sort of materialism easily establishes this second sort. This materialism is the fruit of avarice and greed. It’s a common mentality — we’re all guilty of it — that we don’t really care about things per se; we know who we are without our possessions. Our sense of self is not bound to the material world. Of all the so-called “-isms” of our time, none has ever been more misunderstood, more criticized, and more relevant than materialism. Who but fools and the occasional nutty libertarian rise to its defense? It’s safe to say that while materialism may not be the most shallow of all the “-isms” plaguing the world, it certainly is among those that have triumphed.

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Catholic Teaching, Homosexuality, and American Life

Friday, November 14, 2008 \PM\.\Fri\.

Many facets of American secular culture is contrary to basic Christian ethics, which as a consequence, requires a response on the part of the faithful. One of these issues is “tolerance” and homosexuality. The Christian commitment to protecting and promoting marital dignity and the family is absolute. The profound temptation in politics, given the “us” versus “them” mentality is to lose a sense of charity that is due to our neighbor, even those with whom we disagree. This happens quite regularly; we even do it to those we love.

Just recently one of my roommates — who is entirely oblivious to my sexual orientation — made a discourteous statement about “fags.” It was hurtful. Given our friendship, if he knew I am homosexual, perhaps he wouldn’t have said it. But that’s not sufficient. I would rather he — because of interior conviction — would refrain from such comments, not simply because of his audience. This should be true of all Catholics.

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The American Identity Crisis

Monday, November 10, 2008 \PM\.\Mon\.

Now that America is post-Election 2008, the news media and political pundits — as well as both the Democratic and Republican parties — busy themselves with a host of questions. What went wrong? What went right? What could we have done differently? How can loss ground be made up in the 2010 Midterm Elections and again in the 2012 Presidential Elections? In many ways, people are baffled by the outcome of this election. A few people claimed that there was no way Barack Obama could win as he is the most liberal candidate to run for the United States’ highest-ranking office. Obama not only won, he carried the three major swing states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida and topped it off by turning Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia from “red” to “blue.” Clinton made the argument in the primary season that no Democrat since 1916 has made it to Pennsylvania Avenue without winning West Virginia. Obama didn’t carry West Virginia. It isn’t conclusive yet, but it seems that he even loss Missouri by a small margin — a state virtually no president (except one) has made it to the White House without winning for over a century.

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