13 February 2012

These Link Sausages Have Been Boiling All Weekend

... and therefore may seem a bit overcooked, and perhaps have burst their skins. Particularly the last one.

  • An interesting essay-op ed in the NYT this morning on the conflict between power and victimhood in Israeli politics and policy also has some interesting implications for Tea Party politics here at home, and perhaps most directly for the discrimination-against-christianity movement here in the Great Satan. (This is aside from the other perverse common thread among the three — de facto theocracy.) Mr Cohen rightly points out that memories that are far too raw on a personal level are being allowed to direct policy on a societal level when the societal context has completely changed. Unfortunately, he does not describe the feedback part of this loop very well... but then, it's a short op-ed essay, and describing the fallacies in alternating between inductive and deductive logic — particularly when a religious group is also an ethnic group (Jews are not Caucasians despite the typical skin tone, but Semites... as are Arabs) — is a bit too much for a Monday morning.
  • That said, this also calls into question the propriety not of the views (that's for another time entirely), but the method for expressing those views, engaged in by the US Catholic hierarchy concerning contraception. Leave aside the validity of the doctrine for a moment; since it's religious in basis, it doesn't have to be rational (and it isn't). The problem is that the Catholic Church is simultaneously a religious institution and purportedly a foreign power, complete with the exchange of ambassadors and protocol "requirements" that would treat morons like the cardinal currently residing in the Chicago archidiocese above the mayor and state's governor... or any other US official other than the President and Vice-President. Imagine, for a moment, the outcry if Sunni imams made the same demands after asserting the same political precedence. Imagine, for a moment, the outcry if the Mexican embassy made the same demands concerning the agriculture industry on the basis of the high proportion of Latin American immigrants in that industry. And yet...
  • Given that yesterday was Darwin's birthday, perhaps the imperative to "Adapt or Die!" is quite timely. H'wood (and N'ville) would do well to consider that, both literally/literarily and economically/financially. I don't see it happening, though, for a very simple reason: H'wood (and N'ville, and for that matter publishing in N'York) are psychologically wed to the inferiority complex reflected in a focus on power — not art, or even Progress of the Useful Arts — as the sole measure of value. (We'll leave aside, for the moment, that too many critics — including at times me, admittedly — have the same problem with different surface contours.) Perhaps, too, there's more than a bit of jealousy in some of the overtinkering that occurs in literary adaptations...
  • Speaking of symbolic significance, consider the death of a talent-challenged major personality I refuse to name (even in the linked URL) just before the Grammys. The mixture of sub-sophomoric material and highschoolish execution — as a truly dispiriting exercise, try listening to most of that performer's "greatest hits" with a metronome or tuning fork (or perfect pitch) handy, whether from live or studio performances, leading to great appreciation of the musicianship and adaptability of the backing musicians — blends with an almost stereotypically appalling personal life to guarantee at least two major multimedia biographical works entering fully funded production in the next eight months. Comparison to the preceding link sausage on this platter is not merely intentional, but required — it's part of the Iron Chef America-like progression of courses to add more slightly sour bitter notes, with just a hint of Scotch Bonnet heat, at this point in the meal.
  • From the Department of Actions Don't Have Consequences If You're Sufficiently Powerful, Do They? comes news that the NCAA intends to actually enforce its pathetic academic standards against a men's basketball powerhouse. Admittedly, I have no sympathy for UConn here for another reason: I'm a Division III guy myself, whose alma mater seems to do just fine, including in men's basketball, with teams that ordinarily start several National Merit Scholars who must confront notorious grade deflation (it sure didn't help my grades, especially as a freshman!). Or maybe I have some Linsanity schadenfreude from the success of a Harvard graduate in the NBA... partially driven by the absence of one-and-done and never-went-to-college teammates.

    UConn President Susan Herbst should be ashamed of herself for even requesting a waiver of these pathetically low standards, let alone when missing the mark by as much as UConn did for the relevant period. Perhaps she should instead just fire Coach Calhoun for a long history of recruiting players who couldn't — or wouldn't — hack the "student" part of "student-athlete" at a not-top-of-the-heap undergraduate institution. Regardless, these are the rules that UConn agreed to play by, and now we're supposed to have sympathy for kids who "inherited" the consequences of what they were recruited to do? And yet UConn continues to contribute its voice within the NCAA against paying athletes and otherwise treating them as employees.

    In this particular case, there really is a dualistic choice, Dr Herbst: student-athletes, or athletic-employees-entitled-to-take-classes. You and your institution chose student-athletes... so live with the consequences of your decision and stop whingeing like an entitled upper-class cricketeer from Eton or Harrow upset that his place in County Cricket has been usurped by a lower-middle-class kid from the East End who is a better player, a better teammate, and a better student than you are. (Those who were in England in the late 1980s probably know whom I'm referring to.) In short, grow up.