Monday, August 06, 2012

On the Recent Sikh Temple Shooting

I've always had much aloha for the Sikh people.  Did you know that every male Sikh is surnamed "Singh", which means "the Lion" in Sanskrit, or that male Sikhs are required to carry a sword at all times?  How cool is that?

It was with great sorrow that I saw the recent coverage of the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  Early reports were calling it "an act of domestic terrorism", whatever that meant.  From recent coverage of shootings by the mainstream media, I was reluctant to buy the story that it was a case of religious or ethnic violence.  Media accounts indicated that three priests were shot, which would indicate someone with a detailed knowledge of the facility and with Sikh ritual.

But it turns out that the shooter was racially and culturally motivated - he was a dirtbag skinhead.  And the likelihood is that these priests of God stepped in to defend their people, as good priests in every religion are commissioned to do.

To me, the greatest commonality in all of these shootings is the isolation of the shooter.  I don't think more laws are the answer.  The recent mass shooting in Norway is an example of their ineffectiveness.

But there did not appear to be anyone close enough to raise warnings about either this shooter, or the Aurora shooter - someone who would talked to people in authority about the potential danger, or to just talk to them about what a bad idea it was.

It didn't used to be this way - social loners were more rare even thirty years ago, and they were not empowered to make decisions that would have this kind of impact.  At least not as a rule.

Friday, August 03, 2012

What the Chik-Fil-A Thing is All About

I noted a lot of antipathy, real or manufactured, to the Chik-Fil-A pheonomenon on Wednesday and later.  From both sides of the aisle, so to speak.  Someone said something to the effect of, "This isn't a real story.  With all that's going on, why are we getting so excited about fast-food chicken?"

Well, I'm here to tell ya'.  Cause ya' see, I'm terribly excited by this.  In fact, I just came back from my first trip to Chik-Fil-A.  Today is Friday, two days after CFA Appreciation Day and the day of the supposed Homo-Kiss In.  I didn't see any gay action at CFA at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, but the line for food was blocking the path to the rest of the food court.

The chicken sandwich, while not revolutionary cuisine, was probably the best fast-food chicken I've ever had.  Tasted very moist and fresh.  The service was outstanding.  The woman who took my order had a badge that said "Serving 11 Years".  You don't see that too often in the fast-food biz.

Why'd I go?  To shove it up the ass of the liberal elites, so to speak.

What folks don't seem to realize yet (and this is always the way) is that the Progressives have become the conservatives.  The Chik-Fil-A Eat-In was a protest movement.  The old boss would post signs that say "Hippies Need Not Apply".  The new boss posts signs that say "Traditional Values Not Welcome".  To the city elders of New York, Boston and Chicago - I say "shove it, sirs".

Side story - I posted somewhere online about joining a prayer protest against the HHS Contraception Mandate.  Someone online asked, "Do you think that's a good thing to do - holding signs and chanting about the evil government?"  Can't you see some old-timer saying that to a hippy back in the 60s?

I'll grant that it is a weird flip-flop.  The salt-of-the-earth people rising in revolt against their effete-intellectual leadership.  I think we're going through a bizarre cultural shift at present.  The children of the sixties have become our new mainstream and the result is bizarre juxtapositions like Bruce Springsteen, arguably the richest man in New Jersey, singing songs about the evils of private property.  And without irony, mind you.  In total seriousness.

Based on the Chik-Fil-A Inquisition, I will make two predictions:
  • There will be a backlash against Progressives in general, and homosexuals in particular.  Things like this, and this, and this are examples of folks using power to defend values that a lot of people just don't hold.  As I've said before, hard economic times tend to make people more conservative, and I wonder if some of these folks are going to find the bottom dropping out on them.  A Catholic friend used to say, "You know when all of this blows up, we're going to have to defend the homosexuals, right?"  And it's true - I don't promote violence against anyone, but there's violence a' comin'.
  • The same-sex marriage debate isn't going anywhere.  Folks that think that Alabama's rural populace is going to sit by while you redefine marriage in their state are sorely mistaken.  To hear some people talk, you'd think that gay marriage is a fait accompli.  Not by a long way, sonnybuck.  Maybe if you live in Manhattan, or, let's say, 50 miles from the coast.  There's a lot of red on that map.


This Made Me Laugh

Mike Tyson says seeing Brad Pitt with his ex turned him to 'a wet noodle'

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Of CrossFit and Personality

Those in my life are aware that I've been "CrossFit Crazy" for about a year now.  It's been a great thing for my overall health - I dropped about forty pounds last year and have kept it off.  I've met a lot of fitness goals, etc.

CrossFit is a pheonomonon that grabs hold of a lot more than the hour or so a day that a lot of us do it.  It is something that gets into your way of thinking in a lot of good ways.  It's about doing something all out - till you drop down from exhaustion.  It can be doing an intense MetCon - or picking up clutter around the house.  That sounds funny, but we all know how exhausting our day-to-day can be.  Sometimes doing that "one more thing" feels like the thing that will break us.  CrossFit is about preparing a mentality that we are always ready to do that one more thing.

CrossFit is also a huge financial enterprise, and it is largely the brainchild of one man - Gregg Glassman.  "Coach" as he is affectionately called (or "Couch", not so affectionately) is not much to look at himself.  He's short, has a slight paunch, and walks with a limp.  He says he spends more time promoting CrossFit than doing it.  He can't be accused of pioneering anything new in fitness, but rather rolling the whole thing together and making into a "movement".  And it is a movement.

I've seen personally that Coach Glassman is willing to do some pretty, uh, well, frankly, he's willing to do some horrible things to protect the organization he has created.  I've seen ths before in certain personality types - folks that are great at building a movement through the sheer force of their personality.  These folks are able to move mountains to realize their dream, and seem capable of doing just about anything.  Anything, that is, except ceding power and being vulnerable to the people that they love.

The story is that Coach Glassman's ex-wife, Lauren, who he divorced two years ago, is planning to sell her 50 percent share of CrossFit, Inc. to a private equity firm for 20 million dollars.  Coach Glassman is rallying the troops against this, but in many ways it seems like the denoumont of a story that involves all kinds of manipulation, betrayal, as well as huge piles of money.

Some background can be found here for interested parties.

I've personally sworn off of anything related to corporate CrossFit after seeing the way "HQ", as it is known, deals with people who cross them.  This includes frivilous lawsuits, character assasinations, sending anonymous letters to the workplaces of critical bloggers, and all kinds of general douchebaggery.

I'm hoping that this corporate oversight provided by a professional equity investment firm would help bring Crossfit, Inc. from a vanity project run by a meglomaniac entraprenuer into a responsible, ethical, and valuable company.  So I'm rooting for this sale, while the CrossFit community is rooting for the opposite.  We'll see how it turns out.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Born Again Virgin

I liked this short fiction from Dappled Things:

Some of the comments are fairly screwy - it's like they're written by myopic, underdeveloped, lonely adult children.  Sigh.  I guess it's hard being faithful today.

Return of the Mack

I've been blogging at the Worcester Telegram on a weekly basis, but I'm feelin' the need for more outlet. So I'm reviving this blog for short thoughts and other ideas that I want to put to pen on a more frequent basis.

My T&G blog is located here: Grown

No comment yet on themes, content, or frequency.  I'm just gonna write when I feel like writin'.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On the Changes Children Bring

I've been thinking a lot lately about how much children change your life. I had a dream the other night that I lost one of my children and it's difficult to describe the panic that I felt. Sometimes a picture of my son makes me think, well, it makes me think terrible and touching things.

Anyhow, what I would liek to do is demistify some of these changes for people without children, or even for people with children. There are some amazing changes that come with children, not without meaning.

When the kids came, I wasn't overwhelmed. I was talking to my accountant, and he described his feelings on the day of his daughter's birth as 'a rush'. I didn't feel any rush. Due to complications, my wife was scheduled for a c-section about three months before the birth. We showed up at the hospital without any of the prototypical drama associated with births - it was like showing up for a normally scheduled appointment, which it was in fact. Once we were in the hospital, the attitude of the staff was so efficient and professional that worrying actually seemed out of place. I was worried about my wife, of course, but it was so far out of my control that I felt almost like I was getting in the way. They pulled each of my children out; my son silent and my daughter screaming, each covered with associated detritus and quickly spirited away by an overweight nurse to another room where they were... well, I have no idea what they did in the other room. I had no desire to cut anything, although I was very interested in looking, which they did not let me do. I was told to sit down when I tried to peak over the curtain.

So later I was in a room with my wife, who was a little out of it due to the anasthesia, and my new children. The nurses, as they were throughout our stay, were helpful, senstitive, and on the spot. They seemed the most comfortable with the situation. I was kind of dumbfounded. I had been around kids for years, having five nephews and nieces by this time. I had been there. There was no rush, just completion. I was happy, but it was hardly unexpected that two children would appear. We had been to ultrasounds every month, we had talked about it almost constantly, we had planned, moved, and prepared for eight months. I was not shocked, nor was my wife (as far as I could tell).

We brought them home - to their home, where they would live. That was a moment, but again, not unexpected. I read somewhere that what makes a family exceptional is that children intuitively understand that they are unconditionally accepted at home. My house would be the place where they would be received, always, forever. Like I said, it was a moment.

Up to now, and for the next few months, the only emotion elicited by the kids was exhaustion - if that's a feeling. They were lots of work. I posted to Facebook at one point saying "I think I have this parenting thing figured out." What I meant was that it was just a lot of work and you have to keep working and hope your wife keeps supporting you. It was twins, and let me tell you, it's a lot of work with twins. But there was no whopping emotional feeling associated with caring for them. It was just work.

One thing I noticed during this time was how much less I was thinking of myself. Many of the neuroses associated with the late teens and twenties I now attribute to having too much time and energy. Getting four hours of sleep a night for weeks on end, with a night off, then for weeks more, takes it outtaya. I was wishing that I was back in my twenties, with all of the associated youthful energy. One of the guys in our Multiples Birthing Class was 55 and having triplets. For goodness sake, I'm glad I wasn't him. In any case, you wanna stop thinking of yourself, have some kids. Or don't, I guess there's lots of people out there that are still crazy with kids. But I found it to expend a lot of energy leaving me with little time to think too much about myself.

So now I think about who I would kill if something should happen to my kids and panic in dreams about losing them. It kind of snuck up on me. I don't know if I'm just dense, or what. Probably dense. But here I am, crazy about my kids and thinking about them often. Which isnt' so bad - it's another way to take the focus off myself, where it doesn't need to be.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

On Women and Politics

A progressive friend of mine who is a computer programmer once remarked that he sometimes felt like cultural mores were like pieces of code created by another programmer that he stumbled across while performing edits. They sometimes appeared useless, but he was hesitant to delete them for fear that they were performing some essential function in the program. I love this analogy, and I think it is apt.

I bring this analogy up in this space, again, as it pertains to a topic that is on my mind a lot lately: women's suffrage. Believe it or not, there was a day and age in which the idea of women voting was thought ludicrous by both men and women. And it wasn't that long ago. A personal hero of mine, G.K. Chesterton, was distinctly opposed to women's suffrage. Of course, expressing this view now is enough to get you locked up in a sanitorium, or at least enough to get you ruefully ignored. Come to think of it, if you promoted the idea that women should not have the vote in a place like Northampton, MA, then I think you would have a very long day.

Here's what I'm noticing: women are naturally more sympathetic than men, and tend towards leftist politics. They desire security above all else, and are naturally unwilling to be hard on those in naturally difficult circumstances. I suspect, and this is not a comprehensive analysis of the situation, that our drift to the left politically is directly aligned with women's suffrage. And I also highly doubt that abortion will ever be illegal in a republic with women's suffrage.

Chesterton's difficulty with women's suffrage was that it created a division within the household. In the operation of the household, it was necessary to have a unity of action and sentiment. Men and women were forced to work together to a common end, and this was a good thing. Hopefully, a man's decisions were tempered by his wife's feelings and sympathy, and vice versa, her sentiments were tempered by his practicality and desire for action.

What we have now is a society where the sympathetic sentiment and practicality are sundered. There is no longer unity of action.

I think that this is the root of the 'politically correct' culture that we now currently live and breathe. There is this air of division, and in some places being 'masculine' is an exercise in cultural revolution. A witness to this is the Dodge Charger advertisement during the Super Bowl which trumpeted the car as "Man's Last Stand". Men feel cornered, but they also feel that acting like 'themselves' is somehow an act of violence. Men are not allowed to be men.

I believe this has a larger effect on the culture, and its impact is especially felt in the collapse of Fatherhood in the United States.

The solution? That's a subject for another post.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Movie Review: The Hurt Locker

So, I had The Hurt Locker on my Netflix list and then my neighbor foisted a stolen copy upon me. I felt bad - I didn't want to make a fuss with my neighbor about the illegal copy.

Anyways, I was looking forward to seeing the movie. There was a lot of buzz. For example, a reviewer on the DVD box called it "one of the defining movies of the decade". Hey, now, you don't hear that very often.

In broad strokes, the movie is about a team of soldiers in Iraq in 2004 whose job is to defuse Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). It's obviously a high-stress job. The movie, in part, is about the dichotomy between the daily adreneline rush active duty soldiers experience and the monotony of civilian life when they are not deployed. More on that later.

The movie is a very good (it seems) depiction of the life of our soldiers in Iraq. It is interesting to me that so few of this type of movie have been made. It seems that most Iraq War movies are intended only to disparage either our government (c.f. George W. Bush) or, what's much worse, our soldiers. This movie doesn't put our soldiers on a pedastal, but nor does it tarnish their much deserved reputation for bravery and service.

I'd be interested to hear a veteran's opinion of the authenticity of the movie's depiction of life for our soldiers in Iraq.

I'm not sure how much of a cohesive 'theme' this movie has. I think, in large part, it is just asking you to experience the daily life of these men and to have some sympathy for what their service does to them mentally - especially in the near-daily brushes with death and violence. It's a worthy message.

An unfortunate, and neither unexpected nor unrealistic, element of the movie is the contrast between the 'excitement' of active military duty and the 'boredom' of civilian life. Of course, it's more than just 'excitement' and 'boredom'. Soldiers of every nation go through something that can't really be related to anything in civilian life. Living your life under contstant threat of a violent death does something to you. On the other hand, it is also true that ordinary life is too often identified with a boring life. Ordinary life is not boring.

Upon reflection, the movie may tell this story, too. Sometimes it's easier to face an IED than your wife. Courage comes in many forms, and is just as necessary in the ordinary events of life as it is in the extraordinary.