Friday, August 24, 2007

"Simply Perverse"



But Rod Dreher isn't merely a non-Catholic writer. He is an anti-Catholic writer who for more than five years has gone out of his way to heap abuse on the Church and on those Catholics who did not join in his abuse.

As recently as yesterday, he took the opportunity offered by a scandal in his own Church, the Orthodox Church in America, to attack Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone by means of an attack on Bishop Gerald Frey, who retired seventeen years ago and died last week.

Just an inkstained journo doing his job and going where the story takes him? No; in the very same post, Rod writes that he "made a conscious prudential decision to keep [his] involvement with and concern in [OCA] church matters at arm's length." So scandal in the OCA is out of scope for his writing; scandal in the Catholic Church is, if no longer his bread and butter, at least good for leftovers.

Them be some mighty moldy leftovers, Tom.

He concludes this section of his post by stating "And to recognize him as, of all things, a Catholic writer, is simply perverse." I would argue that viewing Rod Dreher as still basically a "Catholic writer" is a temptation that many bloggers fall into. We'll use the comments below to track the responses to Tom's post, be they agreements or further disputations. But in my opinion, no Catholic blogger who links to Rod's blog can simply ignore the well-supported fact of his anti-Catholicism.

UPDATE: Rod states in the comments: "Before I left the Catholic Church, I was a hero to many in this same crowd, for standing up in public on matters regarding the abuse scandal, and saying what many of them said in private, over and over." Indirectly he's praising the folks at OCA News for being heroes since they are standing up in public on matters regarding the Orthodox Church abuse scandal and saying what Rod only says in private.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Funny Ebay Listing

Hat tip to my beautiful wife for sending me this this funny Ebay listing. A lady with six kids accidentally purchases a deck of Pokemon cards at the store that her kids put in the cart. So she posts it on Ebay, but not without a long piece of comedy writing in the Erma Bombeck tradition. Excerpt:

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They're in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say "Energy". I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn't work. I definitely didn't have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids' sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don't there's anything special about any of these cards, but I'm very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I'm not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Well, she definitely got her money back and then some. $142.51 is definitely overpriced for 44 Pokemon cards (I'm pretty sure). She had 865 watchers and around 180,000 hits on the auction page.


No more anonymous comments. Sorry, Diane.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Wordsmith Intellectuals"

This page is part of a larger essay penned in 1998, and many of you have no doubt read/heard of it before. I can imagine Limbaugh quoting from it; it's the kind of thing that is tailor-made for conservative talkers to quote from. It rings very true, and I have met many people who fit the description of a "wordsmith intellectual" like a glove. I would estimate that over 85% of them oppose or at least greatly distrust our free market system. He first introduces the "wordsmith intellectual" and demonstrates his intrinsic value in society:

Wordsmith intellectuals fare well in capitalist society; there they have great freedom to formulate, encounter, and propagate new ideas, to read and discuss them. Their occupational skills are in demand, their income much above average. Why then do they disproportionately oppose capitalism? Indeed, some data suggest that the more prosperous and successful the intellectual, the more likely he is to oppose capitalism. This opposition to capitalism is mainly "from the left" but not solely so. Yeats, Eliot, and Pound opposed market society from the right.

The opposition of wordsmith intellectuals to capitalism is a fact of social significance. They shape our ideas and images of society; they state the policy alternatives bureaucracies consider. From treatises to slogans, they give us the sentences to express ourselves. Their opposition matters, especially in a society that depends increasingly upon the explicit formulation and dissemination of information.

He then goes on to explain the primary cause of the superiority complexes that intellectuals develop: educational institutions or as they are commonly known by ignorant capitalists, schools:

What factor produced feelings of superior value on the part of intellectuals? I want to focus on one institution in particular: schools. As book knowledge became increasingly important, schooling — the education together in classes of young people in reading and book knowledge — spread. Schools became the major institution outside of the family to shape the attitudes of young people, and almost all those who later became intellectuals went through schools. There they were successful. They were judged against others and deemed superior. They were praised and rewarded, the teacher's favorites. How could they fail to see themselves as superior? Daily, they experienced differences in facility with ideas, in quick-wittedness. The schools told them, and showed them, they were better.

This leads to what Nozick calls a "plausible sociological generalization", which follows:

In a society where one extra-familial system or institution, the first young people enter, distributes rewards, those who do the very best therein will tend to internalize the norms of this institution and expect the wider society to operate in accordance with these norms; they will feel entitled to distributive shares in accordance with these norms or (at least) to a relative position equal to the one these norms would yield. Moreover, those constituting the upper class within the hierarchy of this first extra-familial institution who then experience (or foresee experiencing) movement to a lower relative position in the wider society will, because of their feeling of frustrated entitlement, tend to oppose the wider social system and feel animus toward its norms.

My thoughts.

The author points out that this stated sociological generalization is "intuitively compelling". I agree that there is much truth in this generalization and it shouldn't be dismissed even though other factors are involved. For example, I'm not altogether opposed to the idea that some academics might be able to see some problems in the wider world of commerce which those immersed in it are too close to said problems to discover.

But several of the folks I know who fit this description are almost driven insane by "the system" with it's many faults and shortcomings and their knowledge of what is wrong with it. I always think to myself that assuming these friends of mine, who are really good folks, are correct they will never be able to translate their theories into practice. This is because they are used to communicating to other intellectuals in academia and cannot speak the language of those in the wider world or those involved in commercial enterprises. For all intents and purposes, they might as well be a bunch of barbershop conspiracy addicts, supposing in their small world that they are the sole guardians of the secrets of the universe.

I would also suggest that those in the world of business and commerce are much more open to the suggestions of academics and other wordsmiths, placing them on boards of all kinds and buying their publications, than the typical intellectual is open to respecting an accomplishment in the world of business made by an entrepreneur, say, for example, a college dropout like Bill Gates who in many of their minds merely "got lucky". For this suggestion I have a very small amount of anecdotal evidence, so feel free to light me on fire for suggesting it. But keep in mind that the words and actions of a businessman are very often suspected of being born of ulterior motives while it seems that those of an academic rarely are.

Readers of this blog can all probably think of many people to apply this rule to, even in the blogosphere where the wordsmith skills often of many academics is tested and tried by the dreaded free market. There are countless articles and even whole books like this one) being written which decry the sad state of blogging as dominated by amateur smithies "outside the guild", so to speak. It's all very humorous to me of course; if they fear for their full-time jobs on account of some scrub bloggers it says a lot more about them than us amateurs and answers the question regarding who are the content-providers in the employ of an industrial complex.

But to be fair, I doubt most of them are motivated by fear when they criticize; more than likely it's the horror that they could be one degree -- a hyperlink, perhaps -- away from something with terrible grammar written by an uneducated hack. The library shelf is safe. The flattened plains of the blogosphere surely comprise a horrific realm to these giants whose ankles are ripe for the teeth of a thousand chihuahuas.

Thanks for reading my blog. For current commentary and what-not, visit the Est Quod Est homepage

Personality Crisis

Say what you will about Andy Nowicki (and I often do) he's right on when he says here that "Glam rock helped set the stage for punk rock, and thus merits appreciation. A world where punk never happened is a grim notion indeed." I hope you enjoy this next performance as much as I do.

(Warning: You might want headphones if you're going to listen to this at work.)

David Johanson (the singer) reformed the band last year, I guess. I don't know how good they are without Johnny Thunders? Alas, the good die young... 38 is young, right? Maybe I poke around some more on u-tube for some recent material.

But some of my favorite lyrics ever.

Personality Crisis

Well, we can't take it this week
And her friends don't want another speech
Hoping for a better day to hear what she's got to say

All about that Personality Crisis you got it while it was hot
But now frustration and heartache is what you got
(That's why they talk about personality...)

But now your tryin' to be someone,
Now you got to do something
Wanna be someone who cow wow wows
But you think about the times you did they took every ounce
When it sure got to be a shame when you start to scream and shout
You got to contradict all those times you were butterflyin' about
(You were butterflyin'...)

All about that Personality Crisis you got it while it was hot
But now frustration and heartache is what you got

And you're a prima ballerina on a spring afternoon
Change on into the wolfman howlin' at the moon

All about that Personality Crisis you got it while it was hot
But now frustration and heartache is what you got.

Now with all the crossin' fingers that mother nature says
Your mirror's getting jammed up with all your friends
That personality everything starts to bend
Personality when your mind starts to bend
Personality impression of a friend,
Of a friend, of a friend, of a friend, of a friend...
Personality wonderin how celebrities ever mend
(Look and find out on television!)

Personality Crisis you got it while it was hot
Frustration and heartache is all you got don't you worry

Personality Crisis, please don't cry
It's just a personality crisis please don't stop

Because you walk a personality,
Talk a personality.


Here's one for the "heh" file. When I read this post, I thought, "Well just because something is not a "Michael Moore propaganda piece" doesn't mean it isn't a propaganda piece.

Jeremy Lott demonstrates that the film mentioned, "No End in Sight", at least contains some propaganda by linking to a good article he wrote back in 2004 about the so-called museum lootings.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rockin' the House Down

In congratulating fellow blogger Andrew Sullivan on his same-sex wedding, Rod Dreher wrote the following on his blog:

Anyway, mazel tov, Andrew, and I hope your reception is at least as rockin' as Jenna Bush's will be.

At first, I wondered what he meant by "rockin'". Then I realized that Rod, being Russian Orthodox, may have been referring to this incident.

The Russian Orthodox Church has demolished a chapel where a priest conducted a marriage ceremony between two men.

The Chapel of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was apparently knocked down after local churchmen decided it had been defiled.

The "marriage" of Denis Gogolyev and Mikhail Morozev in Nizhny Novgorod scandalised the Orthodox Church and created outrage among ordinary Russians. The priest, Fr Vladimir Enert, was unfrocked after the men said they paid him a £300 bribe to ignore a ban on same-sex marriages.

A spokesman for the Orthodox Church said the chapel had to go as it had been desecrated.

So you get married in a little chapel and it literally brings the place down. That would be a story to tell your kids, if you were able to have kids.

Hat tip to CourageMan in this post. The link referring to the defrocking of the priest is broken, but that fact is worth noting also.

Just found it; here's the defrocking link. It's a darkly humorous narrative of simony and corruption. Reminds me of Dog Day Afternoon which is based on a true story. The Catholic Priest was mentioned in the film as having been defrocked as well. (I have to watch that flick again; that telephone conversation scene is priceless. And John Cazale, that guy who played Fredo in the Godfather? oh, man, is his character hilarious....)