The Tragedy of Jack

I just read a scary social criticism essay that discussed, among many other things, the self-destruction of feminism, and included this great bit:

But when that ends, and reality comes crashing down, it’s sad how quickly they scramble to validate the feminist lives they’ve led by simply telling themselves more lies. 40 is the new 20! Test-tube babies! MILF’s and Cougars! When, frankly, it just means nobody’s visiting you in a nursing home in the end.

And when I read that, I remembered Jack. That’s not his real name; I forgot his real name.

My dad died last July, and in the two months leading up to it, he made the rounds of a few hospital rooms and convalescent homes. In one, his bed was in a room with Jack, their areas separated by a curtain. Whenever I went to visit Dad, Jack would invariably interject himself into the visit, speaking up through the curtain, or even wheeling himself around it if he could get into his wheelchair.

He wasn’t a bad guy, but his desperate loneliness made him aggressive. Sometimes my dad would yell at him for horning in on his time with his family. He openly longed for attention. I tried to talk to him for a bit on each visit, though he clearly wanted more.

Once, when he’d asked if I had kids, he seemed joyously surprised at the total. I asked the same of him, and he scowled.

“No, never wanted them. Never liked them.”

The irony was sickening. Here was an old man who had chosen not to have any descendants, and now he was desperately lonely as he died.

As birth rates continue to drop, as our civilizational death spiral swings on, this scenario will become more common. In fact, it will explode exponentially. Soon, our nursing homes will be a bursting industry filled will dying invalids who never wanted to make a family, and who may bemoan their loneliness and dependence on strangers.

Contrast this with my wife’s grandfather, who had an army of three generations ready to care for him after a stroke.

If you’re a young person looking for a stable career, look into elder care. The 21st century will give you fantastic job security.

Highly Recommended Reading on Dysfunctional Leftists

Though I love Instapundit, I don’t usually go for Ed Driscoll’s posts. However, today he put up a rant that collates several other great sources into a powerful bit of observation. The essay is here. Solid, penetrating stuff.

In honor of the source…Read The Whole Thing.

Highly Recommended: Mockingbird

51IwBRUAXyL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_I think I’ve found a new favorite science fiction novel. Mockingbird, by Walter Tevis, is “set in a grim and decaying New York City in the 25th century. The population is declining, no one can read, and robots rule over the drugged, illiterate humans. With the birth rate dropping, the end of the species seems a possibility.”

The most amazing thing about this story is just how uncanny its dystopian vision is. Combine the most prescient parts of Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World and you have this. Actually, it mostly reminded me of Ayn Rand’s Anthem, but where that was just a skeleton of a fable, this is fully fleshed out.

I marked a couple of dozen passages about stupified dependency, obsession with self-fulfillment, and the joys of rediscovering civilization; there are just too many to quote. Instead, here is a picture of one page, where the hero shares a passage from a history book that explains how the world fell. I got chills. This was published in 1980. He saw where things were going perfectly.


It’s not just a simple tale of society falling apart, though. There’s genuine love and adventure and sadness. Part of it is a Shawshank Redemption-like prison story. Part is wilderness survival. And there’s even more than that.

Just as with another great dystopian sci-fi classic, The Children of Men (which was also about the decline of the human family), there is one f-bomb, powerful for its lone status. At one point, a suicidal robot tells a pregnant woman that she should have an abortion. Let’s just say that I wholeheartedly approve of her response.

Three Brock Turner Thoughts

It’s too bad people online aren’t talking more about this whole Brock Turner thing. Sorry, this is a serious issue and this will be a serious post. But that remark will come up again in my 3rd point.

So much already has been said about this case, but there are a few things that aren’t being said, or aren’t being said enough.

  1. Turner has been convicted in a court of law, after a fair trial. The spotlight on him is not based on prejudices or assumptions, as in the infamous Duke Lacrosse case, for example. We know this man is guilty. It’s sad that we have to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate judgment, but we do–witch hunts are increasingly common these days–and the scorn being heaped on Turner in this case is legitimate.
  2. In stories like this, where everybody is piling on one obvious side, I try to dig around to see if there’s anything relevant being ignored or buried by the media, anything that makes reality more complicated. There usually is. Only rarely are things as simplistically good and evil as the online mob wants them to be.One such case was when an 18-year-old woman recently sued her parents for college tuition–that one really seems to be little more than an entitled youth milking her parents against their will. And now, this Brock Turner case appears to be in the same boat–I can’t find anything that creates any gray area here. Sometimes things are just simple black and white.
  3. A lot of people are using this case as a platform to pontificate about rape culture. As with most of the Left’s pet causes, the existence of this bogeyman is a given. Actually, I think the outsized rancor this case is creating is evidence of the opposite–that there is no “rape culture” in America. If there were, then this would be just another case, eliciting no more emotion than any of a number of other identical cases. But that’s not the situation here–the sudden and passionate storm of anger seems more like this is finally something that can substantiate previously unfounded feelings, hence the desperation to make this seem like a typical case, and not the exception that proves the rule. Even angry protesters have to admit that this case is more brazen and corrupt than most any other we might cite.I also find it mildly baffling how many people are oh-so-bravely standing up to Turner on their social media platforms; apparently they want to make a bold statement to all the rapists they’re friends with online? Else, who are all these rants meant for, and why? Surely, this can’t be just another opportunity for young people to parade the fashions of their own righteousness around for the world to see, right?

    None of these observations about the vanity of our culture are meant to reduce the seriousness of this case itself, though. The rapist’s attitude, his apologists’ words, and the judge who erred in sentencing must prompt a conversation that in turn will lead to real reforms.

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Anti-Christian Irony

The Saturday Night Live clip below is very popular (over 3 million views in 2 days, so far), and perfectly illustrates the irony of our era: here we have a mainstream media giant disrespecting Christians for having the audacity to suggest that the mainstream disrespects Christians. Just let that one sink in for a minute.

In a related note, I recently read this review of the movie that that SNL skit was based on: God’s Not Dead 2. The reviewer at the AV Club writes six paragraphs about it: the start of the 2nd paragraph briefly mentions the narrative aspect of the film, and the 3rd goes into some examples of the cinematic quality of it.

But all the rest of the review is nothing more than a hostile denial that the worldview espoused in the film is valid. That’s it. No argument, no rationale, no further criticism of the film as a work itself. Just gainsaying the very idea that the film’s message could possibly have any value.

“My Grandfather Had a Life”

This essay will turn eight years old next week.  In the age of constant bombardment by media content, we’re lucky to remember anything specific from last week, but I think about this one essay all the time.  It is that important.

My title comes from this quote: “My grandfather was born in 1888 and he didn’t have a lifestyle. He didn’t need one: he had a life.”

Among the many other great parts:

I suspect that my grandfather’s life was real in a sense that my father’s life hasn’t quite been, and my life is not at all.
The crucial difference is my grandfather’s lack of self-consciousness, and that self-consciousness is a hallmark of the perpetual, infantilised adolescents we have all become, monsters of introspection hovering twitchily on the edge of self-obsession, occasionally aware that the life that exists only to be examined is barely manageable; barely, indeed, a life.

Note that the article ends with some very sane–and therefore radical–truths about adulthood.

Required reading.

Students as Winners and Losers

I still believe that every student can be a winner.  A winner is someone who shows up every day and works hard, caring about achieving results, even if they don’t often succeed.  You can get Cs and still be a winner.

But too many of you are comfortable being a loser.  Being a loser has nothing to do with talent or even results: it has to do with maturity as evinced by discipline and effort.

Some of you may think it’s rude to label someone as a loser, but I know that honesty can be a higher virtue than immediate kindness.  It’s a sign of a greater caring, a devotion to guiding you to success, even when you don’t care enough to improve.

This truth leads to even more important truths: being a loser is a bad thing.  It doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does make you a bad student, and being a bad student isn’t good.  If you have chosen to be a loser, you should feel bad about that.  You should want to change it and be a winner.

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Social and Political QUOTES: January 2014


  • “Fatherless families were also at least partly responsible for a national breakdown in authority and rising levels of crime. My view was backed in 1992 when three influential social scientists with impeccable Left-wing pedigrees produced a damning report.  From their research, they concluded that children in fractured families tend to suffer more ill-health, do less well at school, are more likely to be unemployed, more prone to criminal behaviour and to repeat as adults the same cycle of unstable parenting. But instead of welcoming this analysis as identifying a real problem, the Left turned on the authors, branding them as evil Right-wingers for being ‘against single mothers’.”  Melanie Philips, “Why the Left hates families: MELANIE PHIILLIPS reveals how the selfish sneers of Guardianistas made her see how the Left actively fosters – and revels in – family breakdown…


  • “I have been told that being hard on you Millennials will turn you against conservatism, that I should offer you a positive, hopeful message that avoids the touchy problem of your manifest stupidity.  No. There’s no sugar-coating it – your votes for Democrats have ensured that you are the first generation in American history that will fail to exceed what their parents attained. Embracing liberalism was a stupid thing to do, done for the stupidest of reasons, and I will now let you subsidize my affluent lifestyle without a shred of guilt.”  Kurt Schlichter, “Maybe Pain Will Teach You Millenials Not To Vote For Your Own Serfdom

“There’s No Such Thing As Normal!”

In my years of teaching, perhaps no pop-culture cliché has annoyed me as much as this.  I’ve heard dozens of earnest, zealous teens announce this one with a look of holy glee on their faces, ecstatic at the chance to show off how well they’ve internalized this bit of media indoctrination.

Whenever this line gets repeated, I, in my role as a teacher of the English language, feel compelled to address the error:

Me: “Yes, there is.  It’s in the dictionary.  Look under ‘N.'”

Teen: “But it doesn’t mean anything.  There’s no such thing as normal!”

Me: “Since you won’t look it up, or consider my point, I’ll walk you through this.   Continue reading

A Plea For Civility About Same-Sex Marriage

The video is a shorter version of this script:

The most common assumption today is that if someone doesn’t agree with changing the definition of marriage to include gay couples, it’s because they’re ignorant and hate gay people.  That’s wrong.  So assuming that someone who disagrees with you must be evil and stupid does not help make the world a better place.  It’s divisive and cruel.  It’s also an ad hominem attack and a straw man argument that should be beneath all of us.  I’m not going to make the case for traditional marriage here.  There’s something basic that needs to be done first.

I want to make five main points today:

First: Society doesn’t work well when we misrepresent people we disagree with.  We have to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

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A Lack of Failure In Schools

Some current received wisdom: failure is good for us because it’s a strong teacher, and American kids today don’t get to experience it enough because they’re bubble-wrapped through life.

Both ideas have a lot of truth to them, but there’s another that needs to get out there, too:

American kids do still experience failure–constantly–but it’s been completely neutered.

Young people don’t fear failure, nor do they learn from it, though many of them will fail test after test, class after class, all the way through their school career.

Why?  Because what happens after those failures?  Increased practice?  Shame?  Loss of privileges?

Nope.  Nothing.  After the vast majority of daily school failures in this country, for the average teenager, life will proceed normally, as if nothing bad had happened at all.

We, as parents and school personnel, not only don’t hold their feet to the fire, we actively intervene to soften the natural consequences of failure.

In a climate like that, how could students possibly be expected to learn anything about academics, much less life?  Where’s the incentive?

If anything, they learn that failure is harmless and that hard work is pointless.  These lessons would prove terrifying in the real world if the real world itself weren’t increasingly so bent on maintaining that status quo…


U2’s Best MLK Tribute

With MLK Day a week away, here’s an earlier version of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” than the one most know.  The first half sounds pretty much the same, but in the second half, you’ll notice that the track is extended, and Bono’s voice is even more passionate: he lets loose with an exuberant praise so unrestrained, his voice is audibly shredded raw by the end.

This holiday could use some of that passion.  Due in part to the rise of politicized tribalism, and all the myopia that engenders, Martin Luther King Day has long since become a staid formality.

Its celebration has about as much to do with the life and work of Dr. King as the celebration of Christmas has to do with Jesus Christ–the presence of the true meaning is nominal, at best, replaced by a simplified, commercialized, mainstreamed version, bland enough to suit the times, with just enough empty inspiration in it to give us some cheap, warm fuzzies without actually making us examine ourselves and change anything.

Christmas Without Christ

santa-kneeling-to-JesusChristmas without Christ

is like

vacations without work


sex without marriage


entertainment without edification


dessert without nourishment


diplomas without learning


citizenship without patriotism



Well, you get the idea.  There’s nothing wrong with the first part of each pair, but when taken without the second part, we only get a shallower version of it.  These pairs naturally come together, and when they do, the experience is far deeper and richer than when we try to just have the easy, fun stuff.

The tendency to claim the first part without the second is, ultimately, ignoring of the full value of the first part, rejecting the second part entirely, and a sad commentary on the short-sighted immaturity of the world.

Where Did All Your New Money Come From?

Last year I read this article about the many standard devices that are combined into a smartphone, and I considered getting one.  As I shopped around, though, a scary fact slapped me–while the initial cost of a phone could be reckoned with, the monthly fees would be impossible.

Articles such as here, here, and here tell me that most of you out there with smartphones are dropping about a hundred bucks a month to use those things.

So how is everybody affording this?  Whenever our water or power bills go up five bucks a month, we all complain about it until we’re blue in the face.  Riots practically ensue any time gas prices inch up a penny or two.

And yet, sometime in the last several years, as smartphones have become as common as ripped jeans, Starbucks cups, and lower back tattoos, the average American just happened to find an extra hundred dollars a month to spend, in the middle of the worst recession in 70 years?

Where the heck is all this new money coming from? Where was it before you had a smartphone and you were barely making ends meet?

I want answers on this because, without someone showing me the way that the rest of you are making this work, I have to assume the obvious–that millions of you are ignoring your budgets and sinking yourselves into debt each month so you can have the coolness and convenience of the fancy gadget that all the other kids have.