Saturday, February 10, 2007

Weekend Off Topic

Three more notes on the Edwards flap, valuing fatherhood vs. caving to Muslim sensibilities, sports

  • One of the memes emerging from the Edwards-blogger deal is that regardless of who was offended, the important thing is that John Edwards did not cave in to the likes of Michelle Malkin and Bill Donohue.

    Sorry, that won't do.

    Donohue and Malkin are to proverbial stopped clocks (though they are more obnoxious in announcing what time it is -- maybe a stopped alarm clock that's stuck at the wake-up time) that are correct twice a day. This happened to be one of those times.

    One of the big weaknesses of the current Administration is ignoring news it didn't want to hear by demonizing the messengers -- Hans Blix, the UN, the French, etc. I expect better form the next Administration.

  • And it also won't do to bring up stupid things Donohue and Malkin have said in the past, as some have suggested.

    Nobody has hired Donhue or Malkin to work on their campaign.

    Which leads to something interesting -- the right has more than its share of rancid bomb throwers -- Coulter, Rush, Malkin, Hannity, and on and on. Yet they seems content to do the dirty work without dragging down the candidates by being closely tied tied with them. Democrats do things like hire Marcotte to work on the Edwards campaign, or put Michael Moore in a booth at the convention with Jimmy Carter. This doesn't make the right better than the left, in fact it might reflect better on the left since these folks might get involved in campaigns because they want to do more than just attack the other side. But it's an interesting note,

  • I've been reflecting on why this Edwards blogger thing bugged me so much. Obviously, it was my particular oxe that was being gored, so that certainly played a role.

    When it looked like they were going to be let go, I was going to base a post on this post by Jim Geraghty about whether this incident would cause the blogosphere to grow up a bit.

    What Edwards has done is send a signal that the coarsening of public debate is fine with him. Obvioously, this current Administration has made a lot of hay by name-calling its opposition into submission. Which is why I'm hoping for better from the next Administration.

    Obama may be the best hope for this.

    Ok, now I'm done with that.

  • Via Andrew Sullivan, fathers are not allowed at government-run playgroups in the Netherlands. Why? Because Muslime mothers may not attend if men are present.

    Yes, I know I've just spilled a lot of pixels about lack of repsect for my religion, but I do think there's a profound difference between not wanting people working for presidential campaigns to mix crude sexual language with references to God, and barring half the parents from a parent-child activity so as not to offend sensibilities.

    Things like this are a cultural sign post that for all the talk about eqaul partners, in the Netherlands at least, fathers take a back seat. Let's hope it doesn't spreaf.

  • First weekend with no (meaningful) football game, and I'm already counting the days until Opening Day.

    This year's transition is especially rough. My native and current sports markets are having a pretty rough winter season. They Flyers and Sixers are at or near the bottom of their leagues. The Blues have climbed back to respectability, but probably won't make the playoffs. There's usually at least one college basketball team among the Big Five (or Drexel) having a good year, but not this year. Same with Missouri, Illinois, and St. Louis U. The only ranked team around here is SIU-Carbondale, and I'm not sure I'm ready to go to the MVC.

  • On a related note, if the book club is still on, I've got the book.

  • Besides the backbreaking length, one on the things that's always bugged me about Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, besides the leering at cheerleaders, wanting to water down religion to a tepid ecumenical stew, and beating the same hobby horses (the blitz is stupid, the Sunday Ticket-DirecTV deal is unfair) to death, is the "Why am I the only one who picks up on this stuff?" attitude throughout the pieces. Last week's Super Bowl piece may have set a new record.

    To pick an easy target, Easterbrook several time expresses amazement that the Bears put the ball in the air against Indianapolis, writing several times, "IT'S RAINING, RUN THE BALL![sic, both for caps and punctuation]."

    Now, let's look at the postseason games both teams played. The Colts started by stifling the AFC's leading rusher, then shutting down Baltimore. They struggled against the Patriots, but more against Tom Brady than the run. They were obviously focussed on stopping the run, The Bears looked like they were about to let their lead slip away in the 3rd quarter against the Saints. They had become one-dimensional, and were going three and out. Then they opened up the playbook, Grossman made some plays, and the Bears pulled away.

    In order for the Bears to win, they were going to have to make some plays through the air. And Grossman had shown that he was more likely to make a few big plays than string together many little plays, as Manning was doing on the other side. They tried and failed, but that doesn't mean they were wrong for trying. And their efforts are not as easy to dismiss as Easterbrook makes it out. The MVP was the other teams's pure-pocket-passer QB (admittedly in a case of them having to give it to somebody on the winning team).


Dawn Coyote said...

Hi John. I'd still be glad to do a group discussion on that book, with whoever is interested in joining in. I haven't picked it up yet, but will do so today. How about we start next Sunday. How many pages do you want to read? Keifus was interested. Anyone else?

Dawn Coyote said...

Here's the link: The Echo Maker

topazz said...

more off topic stuff:

I seem to be back up to the height of my computer usage again - posting madly on the fray all day again today. Why does that make me feel like an alcoholic or over-eaters anonymous member?

Many reasons, most of all because of the opportunity for diversion and procrastination of other things; plus it's slow season at my work, it's February and bitterly cold outside and not much else going on. I'm taking an online writing class this semester that I started out loving, but now it feels like work too.

Keifus said...

As someone plummeting into hard-core agnosticism, I find the tiptoeing and kowtowing to the U.S. Christian community increasingly irritating. If I understand correctly (that is, unless I'm mixing it up with another story), then the Edwards staffers have blogs with sarcastic dismissals of Christian thought.

But some of the smartest and most (rhetorically) capable people I know do that. And I've even let a couple slip myself, especially when responding to deluded bozos like JV-12. You gotta understand what a tempting and ripe target all of that self-seriousness is.

I think the political system as a whole would be better off it took in a more honest cross-section of society. For all the honest god-botherers, how many others out there either don't care, or harbor a Mark Twainish unacknowledged loathing for the sterile Puritanical stuff? Why are they drowned out? It's not like they're horrible amoral creatures.

I appreciate your willingness to recast your pov from a different perspective, however.

Agree very much about Easterbrook. I sort of appreciate his departure from simplicity, but on the other hand, every year he gets tedious a little sooner. I mean, the dude admits he composes TMQ on auto- (complete) pilot. Didn't have the heart to read his superbowl writeup.


TenaciousK said...

Yes, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware of the Gray side, young master Keifus. Apathy, indecision, disillusionment; the gray side of the Force are they. Like cold molasses they flow, bogging you down in a fight. If once you start down the gray path of agnosticism, forever will it confound your destiny…

Keifus said...

Oh now, I'm not that far gone. It's just that I increasingly find religion (and especially organized religion) worthy of sarcasm. I think the stuff works best as a vaguely uplifting metaphor to, uh, humanize our constrained and basically aimless path through the universe.

Maybe I'll resurrect some "early Keifus" posts on my religious viewpoints, if I can stand to reread them anyway.

(And hey, one man's agnosticism is another's equanimity.)


TenaciousK said...

Oh, religious belief is inherently irrational. This quality has led to a lot of interesting thought and writing, however, by a few eminently rational people (and much, much more uninteresting thought and writing, by eminently irrational people).

I find it sort of fascinating (in a morbid sense) that people find virtue in their certainty. Despite all of the potential pratfalls associated with an active and open mind, this certainly seems preferable to refusing to consider anything that contradicts conclusions one refuses to examine.

Seems people will go to great lengths in the service of avoiding such re-examinations, too often at the expense of other people, whose pesky refusal to stop mentioning inconvenient observations and ideas can prove so vexing to the deliberately concrete.

That's a maddening (and in some circumstances, deadly) quality, regardless of who acts on it.

So I was kidding. Judgment day will surely find me firmly planted firmly on the top of a fence somewhere, while I contemplate the alternative interpretations of thermonuclear annihilation as the wrathful hand of good, or the ultimate proof of humanity's folly.

twiffer said...

agnositicism is such a vague term, isn't it? i've finally admitted that i'm an atheist, as i don't believe in a god. spiritual component of the universe? sure. god(s) as defined by the various religions of the world? nope.

one of the aspects of christian thought i find galling is the idea that words speak louder than actions. you can be an extraordinarily good human, but if you act in such way simply because you believe it proper, not because god told you to, you're still damned. because you didn't accept god, you were simply a good soul.

that's fucked up. i'd like to think that, if it turns out there is an omniscienst, omnipotent being controlling the universe (or multiverse, for that matter), it's a bit wiser than that.

JohnMcG said...


I don't think that's a universal Christian belief.

In case you haven't seen, Marcotte resigned. The whole thing probably turned out as bad as possible for Edwards. The netroots will think he caved, and we won't get credit for standing up for decency. I'd say he's close to doomed.

Don't think he would have beaten Clinton and Obama anyway.

TenaciousK said...

Thus revealing only one of the most problematic aspects of modern American politics: Over-reaction to an isolated, aberrant behavior, under the assumption it indicates a broader character flaw.

Schadenfreude said...

1. Agnosticism is for weinies.

2. Aberrant behaviour is indicative of an underlying character flaw (in this case, ther aberrant behaviour was in not standing up for freedom of thought, speech, etc., thereby proving that Edwards is unfit to be President).

rundeep said...

Atheism is not believing. Agnosticism is not caring. (not literally, just my definitions). I used to be agnostic, but now I care. No certainty, but a desire for the search (which is by all accounts better than finding out anyway. Finding out = death).

Most Catholics didn't care about the flap. I care less about it than I care about the Church's negligence vis a vis the safety of children.

JohnMcG said...

Well, I think the "white sticky Holy Spirit" thing was in aberration, but the resignation was in response to her review of Children of Men, which had the same attitudes without quite the vitriol.

She seems to see everything through the prism of her freshman women's studies course. Everything is motivated by misogyny.

She has the right to believe that of course, but that attitude is not an asset to a campaign.

TenaciousK said...

ab·er·rant (ăb'ər-ənt, ă-bĕr'-)
1. Deviating from the proper or expected course.
2. Deviating from what is normal; untrue to type.
The problem is, in this case, the reaction wasn’t aberrant enough. Standing up for freedom of thought, speech etc. would be refreshing and unique. Sometimes different is good.

Rigid beliefs are an indicator of closed-mindedness (not the same is firm beliefs). Agnosticism is a way of admitting you don’t know everything.

Schadenfreude said...


You know I generally respect you, but you've got to have a sense of humour, even about Jesus. That's just a non-Christian's sarcastic way of saying, "I don't buy it."


You have no balls. Really.

Take three deep breaths and practise saying, "I actually, really know something.", over and over until you believe it.

Agnosticism is a way of pretending to think without doing any of the actual work.

bEnder said...

It’s likely we will surpass 10,000 visits today.

Recommended: I assume you all read the bit about it in Joining WikiFray. I’ve switched the service we’ll use to ma.gnolia. This is one of those ideas that I like very much, but will remove if it doesn’t prove its worth (y’all don’t take to it). I’ve thrown in a variety of examples to give you an idea of what it’s good for.

Keifus said...

ender, Re. the recommended column:

Less than thrilled about a double-stop to get to whatever. Can they link directly to the actual site of the favorite item, rather than a bookmark which then links there. I don't think I'm alone in eyeballing the printed link text on the bottom of my browser before I decide to go there.

Also would personally think it'd be best if it advertises stuff outside the wiki neighborhood, but that may just be my thing.

And the rest: Weenie? I've been called worse. I enjoy some aspects of corporality--eating, sex--and if some nondescript "spirituality" is one of them, seems harmless enough to indulge it a little.

JohnMcG said...


Offense is obviously in the eye of the beholder -- I'm never going to be able to convince you it's offensive; you're never going to be able to convince me it's not a big deal. On that, we're agreed.

And I'm not one to go hinting for things to be offended by. If Amanda Marcotte wants to run a blog and run down Jesus, Joseph, and the Blessed Mother, go ahead and have fun.

Putting aside the offensiveness question, her post was bad argument. What person who accepts the Church's teachings would reader her post and reconsider, after she opens with that stupid Holy Spirit line? It's not an argument, it's a sneer.

And this is one of the things that the Bush Administration has done -- don't repectfully engage the opposition, but make jokes out of them and point and laugh at how ridiculous they are.

Maybe this works to get 51% of the vote, but it won't work to bring the country together to work to solve the problems we face.

I want something better.

Probably time to lighten the mood with another "Great teams" post.

switters said...

Ender: more MBTUs to add:


(Sorry for any misspellings. Say, you know what we really need around here? Trusted_Users! [I guess that'll be my next new fray nic.])

august said...

Ender -

Is it just a matter of adding a magnolia bookmark with tag "wikifray," or is there an additional step (enabling RSS, sending to group, etc.)?

Southern Gal said...

As long as the Left allows the Right to define them, then no, the Democrats will not win.

Why the Left did not learn this with Dean and Kerry I do not know(?) but thankfully it didn't work for the Right in the 2006 midterms.

If Edwards did cave to the likes of these bullies then he doesn't deserve to be President,imo.

I feel that if the blogger thing offended so-called Christians [I say so-called because most so-called Christians live their lives totally contrary to the teachings of Christ] so much it's because they wanted to be offended.

[Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log in you own eye? Mt 7:3, RS]

What's interesting is the Right has no problem supporting liars and those who practice abominations from their own party. Hypocrisy? I think so.

Twiff of the aspects of christian thought i find galling is the idea that words speak louder than actions. you can be an extraordinarily good human, but if you act in such way simply because you believe it proper, not because god told you to, you're still damned. because you didn't accept god, you were simply a good soul.

This also galls me. Many so-called Christians judge others who are not of their sect or those who are not religious as being damned and will be tortured in the so-called Christian's so-called hell for all eternity whether the others did fine works in their life or not.

These so-called Christians are certainly entitled to the religions but please don't try to foist them off on others who do not feel or believe the same and for God's sake, stop judging others...God doesn't like judgers.

TenaciousK said...

Schad: You have no idea. Seriously. You’re an odd one to be making allusions about someone’s genitalia, though.

Take three deep breaths and practice saying, "I don’t really know everything.” over and over until you believe it.

Agnosticism is atheism, minus the overconfidence.

Switters: very good list (esp. Shrieking Violet, one of my all-time favs, and notabel). Iso's not on the list?

What SoGal said.

august said...


nevermind. question answered.


I'll add the MBTU's.

Archaeopteryx said...

Keifus, once again I read a post that you've written that's exactly like something I would say, only said so much better than I would say it.

Schadenfreude said...


What you have yet to realize is that I really do know (almost) everything.

TenaciousK said...

If knowing all the answers could only mean you were always right...[sigh]

But then that Jennings fella' would be some sort of guru, or president or something, wouldn't he?

Oh wait - he's a Mormon? That can’t be right, can it?

Keifus said...

Arch, it was the way I went on about links and stuff, right? Caught that user interface just right?

(Consider posting sober? It works occasionally for me.) More seriously, I think I'll dig that one out tomorrow morning and post it on my blog if I got someone actually interested (possibly before your time). I reallly do shudder at "old Keifus" though.

K (I'm trying to say thanks)

Schadenfreude said...


I had a scathing response, but I'll just let it go at quiet amusement.

(As a for the record aside, I'm pretty sure I could beat Ken Jennings 3 out of 5)

TenaciousK said...

[poking my head out from under the covers...]

Schad: thanks, that's the reaction I was aiming for.

As an aside, I should probably point out that some people consider the purest manifestation of "g" to be one's ability to access random bits of information in response to stimulus accurately and quickly (though this is probably also a composite variable, made up of activation, suppression, indexing, etc., or modulation if you prefer - subsumes analogical reasoning*).

If this is true (I think it probably is), one of the best real-life implementations of this attribute is probably on that damn show (though I prefer Ben Stein to Trebek).

So if you could beat that guy 3/5 (and you'd know better than I would), then I am impressed.

Mostly, I pointed him out as representing some of the people I grew up around - demonstrably more intelligent, and demonstrably more deluded (no intended parallel on this dimension to present company should be implied).

Before I go hide my head again [work & personal stuff], I've been thinking about what Switters said in his GCW post [dude, you're not leaving the blog, are you?]. I think he and I share a belief about solutions - that an optimal (or acceptable) solution has to subsume extremes of the argument beneath it.

I dunno if Agnosticism could qualify, but it might just serve as a handy label for all sorts of explanations, independent of the degree to which they've been thought out.

Back to the unpleasantries of life, I'm afraid.

I'm glad you chose not to take offense. I hope you liked that second link?

[Pulling the covers back over my head]

*I'm sure Ghost could make some accurate observation about dated conclusions, though I should point out bleeding edge observations often turn out to be misinterpreted or wrong, and it most often behooves applied people to skeptically stick with the tried and true, though blunted, instruments that feel comfortable in their grip, and which they know won't turn or break under pressure.

august said...

Free speech my ass. This is politics, people. Edwards was trying to position himself to take some portion of the south. In fact, he's the only Dem who's expressed any interest in the South whatsoever. Members of his staff taking potshots at religion is for him the equivalent of Dukakis in a tank or Kerry goin' huntin'. It's a disaster.

I'm sure a different candidate might have "stood up for free speech" -- not because they are inherently more interested in the constitution, but rather because appearing to stand up for free speech against religious groups would have mobilized their respective bases.

Keifus said...

Re. game-show metaphysics. Bob Harris's Jeopardy book was an enjoyable read. I have to thank Schad for ever mentioning the guy.

See how it all comes full circle? Kum ba ya, kiddos.