Monday, April 26, 2010

Multi Multa; Nemo Omnia Novit - Blogging by Numbers!!

If the Latin in the title escaped you, it means "Everything tastes better with Nutella" - Caligula was a big fan of the stuff. He claimed the hazel-nutty goodness soothed his neurosyphilis. Actually it means "many know many things; no one knows everything", which is a good description for blogging by numbers. It might sound a little pretentious, like those people who decorate their kitchens with replicas of obscure French advertising posters from the 1920's (actually, I'm one of those people - which makes me a bit of a douchebag, I guess). I bring it up because there's been a rather curious debate amongst our friends at NRO over the habit of using a foreign word or phrase when an English one would have been equally suitable. John Derbyshire and James Bowman are probably the worst offenders (if this can even be considered an offense), but in Mr. Bowman's recent article The End Of History, he makes the best case against dumbing down society in his critique of Christopher Alden's rather flighty take on Don Giovanni.

"What else was Christopher Alden doing by taking away Don Giovanni’s tragedy and terror and making him into a rock star avant la lettre? What else was what Maria Aitken doing with As You Like It but converting Shakespeare into an extended essay in celebrity-worship? The idea in both cases was to make the works "accessible" to modern audiences — which sounds like a good idea until you reflect on what it takes to make something accessible to those with no interest in history."

I like fart jokes and making armpit zerberts by flapping my arms like an epileptic duck as much as the next guy, but I've often noted the weird trend of people using texting acronyms in conversation. OMG's were bad enough, but over the weekend Claire and I overheard people loudly exclaiming "Question Mark!" in the place simply saying (or asking) "pardon?" I don't even know where to begin with the myriad of problems I have with this, or the overarching implications of such a thing for our society in general.

Let the blogging by numbers begin.

1 - Alicia Lewis and Ashli Briggs like to dig through the trash. Around these parts we call them hobos, but over at the Huffpo and The New York Times they're the next Woodward and Bernstein. Lewis and Briggs, students at California State University, brought two bags of garbage to Attorney General Jerry Brown in a pathetic attempt to bring trumped up ethics violation charges against the university administrators under a vague public disclosure law. The students claim to have found five pages of a contract for an upcoming speaking engagement featuring Sarah Palin stuffed within 2 massive garbage bags of shredded paper.

The university has shot back, claiming (correctly) that they are "...protected by both a privacy clause in her contract and a state law that shields public university foundations from the Public Records Act."

The students are motivated by nothing other than pure hatred of Sarah Palin, who Attorney General Brown has stressed is in no way involved with the dispute. They are wasting both tax payer money and time trying to smear former Governor Palin's name by proxy. No public funds are being used for Governor Palin's speaking engagement, and the details of a private contract between the university and a speaker should be of no concern to anyone. The university has not violated any laws, but the students' very public appearances, garbage bags in hand, and the media's eagerness to imply impropriety has certainly left the University in a difficult position. Lewis and Briggs should focus more on their studies, and to quote The Narrator from Fight Club ; "...maybe you shouldn't bring me every little piece of trash you happen to pick up"

2 - The Hype will be updated less frequently in the coming months. My mother is battling cancer, and I'm sure you can appreciate that family concerns are my immediate priority. Mom is doing well and asks for your prayers. Well wishes and emails of support for her can be sent directly to TSH's mailbox at .

3 - Mark Steyn proposed an interesting scenario for contemplation on National Review last week;

"...imagine Neville Chamberlain in 1938 hosting a conference on the dangers of rearmament, and inviting America, France, Brazil, Liberia, and Thailand . . . but not even mentioning Germany."

True enough. If the president was truly committed to non-proliferation, he would have made actual global threats such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria the focus of the summit. That sort of bold action would have been, to quote the President, “what this moment in history demands".

4 - Our good friend Jonah Goldberg managed to finagle a sweet gig over at the American Enterprise Institute as a visiting fellow. I guess they figured he can't screw it up any worse than David Frum...At the very least, he'll show up. He may show up drunk, but he'll show up. I joke of course. Jonah Goldberg has not only become the face of National Review, he has repackaged conservatism to a new audience without compromising any of the core principals of our ideology - though I've always suspected he's reluctant to define conservatism as an ideology (see H Stuart Hughes). We wish Jonah nothing but the best in his endeavours to protect us all from a fiery death by being a staunch advocate for the latest in volcano lancing technology.

5 - Have you not heard?

6 - That is all.



Friday, April 02, 2010

Easter? What's Easter?

It's the end of the Easter weekend, a time when we remember the day the Easter Bunny rose from the grave to punish bad children by giving them bellyaches caused by cheap chocolate from Walmart. Each year we hide eggs in an attempt to confuse his spirit, in the hopes that he will leave our homes and families untouched until the next year.

I joke of course. The Easter weekend is a very integral part of the Catholic faith, as it is for those of other Christian churches and faith traditions. At one time, even those of a more agnostic mindset still used the occasion as a time to be with family and partake in the more secular traditions of the holiday - some universal, some long-standing and personal to the family. Observing tradition (my editor, the lovely Mrs. Leger, hates it when I repeat the same word too many times) is one of the cornerstones of preserving culture and heritage in our society. Leonard Cohen (a man who holds tradition with the greatest of reverence) foresaw almost 2 decades ago that we would one day be compensating for "the hole in our culture" with all sorts of superficial banalities.

I remember when we used to bemoan the commercialization of this or that holiday years ago. If only we could have flashed forward to the present day, to watch as 12 year-olds receive Ipods and X-Box's for Easter while their parents dismissively quip "It's just another weekend to me". In the blink of an eye, generations of a family's cultural identity - of joyous dinners, Easter Egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, and watching the Ten Commandments - is gone. They remain only as curious and dusty artifacts from an age that seems alien to us.

It reminds me of a scene from the brilliant, funny, and touching Canadian movie The Barbarian Invasions (if you've never seen it, leave work and rent it today to see what Obamacare has in store for you). The scene shows a melancholic Catholic priest walking though a basement filled with discarded statuary and relics, remnants of an odd phenomenon that occurred in Quebec in 1966 when, as the priest explains, "...everyone stopped coming to church, and they never came back."

And so it goes with our once-cherished holidays like Easter. Once upon a time kids got dressed up in their new Easter clothes, went to mass, came back and gorged liked Romans on ham (yeah, I get the unfortunate irony of that metaphor) or turkey if you're french, then ate chocolate until they went Linda Blair all over the kitchen floor.

Last year I took some comfort in watching parents and relatives scrambling to get the few remaining chocolate items at a local pharmacy on Easter eve, whispering into their cell phones like cold war double agents when they overheard there were still a few hollow chocolate hens to be had at Walmart. This year the shelves were still looking healthy by Easter Monday. The jerks haven't even discounted the Lindt gold wrapped bunnies yet - and I like my Lindt gold wrapped bunnies.

Let me indulge in an analogy (one my editor isn't completely buying into). There's an entire line of study dedicated to the year 1948. Much of it is left-wing academic nonsense that focuses primarily on the cottage industry of postwar victimization. You've probably heard the old mantra that 20- something year old alternative rock singers like to put into their songs to showcase their vapid intellect about how "They made it past the enemy lines, just to become enslaved on the assembly lines". This irritates me, because it blindly skips over millions of "The Greatest Generation" who took advantage of the GI Bill and forged a nation. But underneath the intellectual bravado lies a certain longing for a time gone by, a faded snapshot of a past that's but a fleeting memory.

We can't stop the march of time, but if we are to jettison tradition, it should be for a better reason than the misguided belief that any Sunday is just another Sunday.

Easter is important to me as a Catholic. I don't preach on this blog, nor do I preach in my personal life. I will admit the secularization of religious days of observance is a sad thing, but to see even the secular remnants be tossed away so easily is all the more tragic. We once watched Charlton Heston part the waves as Mom cooked turkey - or ham for you weird english people. Now moms and dads watch "Jersey Shore" as little Sally downloads the latest Lady Gaga tune to upload into the latest gadget she will soon discard. After all, it's just another Sunday, except with presents.

(Oh - Happy Passover to all our Jewish friends. The Obama administration has abandoned you, but this blog will forever be a steadfast ally.)