A note about comments and blocking people

Every five or six days, I get an angry or hurt email from someone demanding to know why they’ve been blocked.  In approximately 100% of these cases, I haven’t blocked the person.  What it is, is Disqus (and sometimes the Register commenting system) nets someone’s comment for mysterious reasons that make sense only to the borg brain.  That’s all. It happens to me, too — sometimes I can’t even comment on my own post.  Sometimes I post a comment, and it shows up, only to disappear later.  Why? Who knows? Not me.  If I block you, I will generally tell you why.

My comment policy is not strict.  Don’t be incredibly and repeatedly offensive, and don’t threaten anybody.  That’s about it. I can alter this as I see fit, without warning, because it’s my blog. You don’t have any right to be heard on my blog; but I don’t have any particular desire to micromanage how stupid and awful you wish to appear in public.

That being said, the A #1 way to make sure I don’t block someone is to insist that I block someone.  When I write in public, whether here or on the Register or on Facebook or in magazines or wherever, I set myself up for a 24 hour stream of nonsense, and believe me, that stream ain’t drying up anytime soon.  One way I deal with it is to remind myself that it’s my choice how much nonsense I want to put up with.  If I want it to stop, I stop it. If I don’t care, I let it go. It’s my decision, because it’s my blog.  I cannot overstate how important it is to me to own that decision.  If you know of a better, fairer, more sensible way to run a combox, then start your own blog and go for it.

Okey doke?  Sorry if this is crabby. I’ve had a brutal sinus head cold for a week now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have writing deadlines, and radio interviews, and six-layer cakes to bake, and dinner to cook, and doctor’s appointments, and homework to check, and teachers to placate, and dog pee to mop up, and sacraments to prepare for, and so on. I’m tired and mean and doing my best to get stuff done, and I don’t need any advice on how to do it better.


Speaking of parents as primary educators of children. . .

I’ll be speaking about parents as primary educators of their children on the Son Rise Morning Show this Friday morning.  Seven of my children will be at school, and the other two will be watching Dinosaur Train.  The baby will be yelling, ‘WHERE ‘DUC-TER????” every time the Conductor goes off the screen.  The dog will be pawing frantically at the door of my bedroom, where I do radio interviews, because the only, only, only way he wants to spend his time these days is playing Lonely Dog Rodeo on top of my bed.  He weighs 140 pounds and is not allowed on my bed, but he tries.

Catch the excitement here, Friday, around 8:50.


Oh, New Hampshire.

We got our dog, Boomer, when he was one year old.  It wasn’t a name we would have chosen, but it suits him pretty well; and we didn’t want to confuse him, so we kept the name, and we’ve been calling him Boomer since Christmas.

Today I dug up his vet records so I could get his license.  Turns out . . .

I guess I’ll go git it engraved on his colla.


I think Taylor Marshall May Actually Be the Walrus

Look, I know Taylor Marshall is a good guy.  He is a courageous and clear spoken advocate for the faith (a little bit of “NFP is for when you’re schizophrenic or in a concentration camp” kookiness notwithstanding); and he has that wonderful, alt-universe-Johnny-Cash face:

But this aggression will not stand, man:  Marshall asks,  Did the Beatles Promote Abortion?

Marshall zeroes in the covers for the albums Sgt. Pepper and Yesterday and Today as evidence of the Beatles’ sinister influence.

Let’s look at Sgt. Pepper first.  Now, I will concede that the title song itself is neck deep in the hyper-self-aware, absurdist, non-specific smug condescension that dogged the second half of the Beatles’ career.  It’s technically a good song, but if I never heard it again, I would shed no tears.  Ditto for “She’s Leaving Home” (a “STFU, Paul” moment if ever there was one.)  “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” — meh.  But the rest of the songs are all good, some of them great.

But Marshall (oddly, for someone commenting on musicians) doesn’t mention the music.  Instead, he dutifully lists the names of all the people who appeared on that wretched cover:


Ah, the cover.  I’ve read a bit about what it’s supposed to represent, but I think what it really comes down to is a bunch of young guys who started playing in sleazy bars when they were teenagers, and abruptly got pushed around so much by their own talent that they needed to show the world that they’re done being cute.    I remember doing edgy, baffling montages like this when I was about 17.  You want to be taken seriously, and you’re hanging out with a bunch of arty types, and you feel like Making a Statement, even though you don’t exactly have anything specific to say, beyond, “I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!”

Only the Beatles had more money to spend, so this is what they came up with.  That’s the statement they’re making when they stick together Shirley Temple and Oliver Hardy and Aleister Crowley:  hey, lookit us!  It is not, as Marshall says (italics his),”a collage of intellectual poison” — although Marshall struggles manfully to describe everyone in the most sinister terms he can muster, including:

  • Mae West (occultist, actress, sex idol)
  • W. C. Fields (comedian/actor, alcoholic)
  • H. G. Wells (socialist, eugenist, [sic] author, advocate of the “World State”, open critic of Catholic Church)
  • Marlon Brando (homosexual, actor)
  • Lewis Carroll (author, alleged pedaphile) [sic]
  • Marlene Dietrich (bisexual, actress, singer)

“Marlon Brando, homosexual, actor?”   “Lewis Carroll, alleged pedophile?” I ‘m sorry, when you come up with descriptors like that, you gotta turn in your “I understand stuff” card.  I’m relieved, at least, that he didn’t come up with anything bad to say about Johnny Weissmuller.  I love Johnny Weissmuller.

The fact that Weismuller is included here, along with Shirley Temple, Tom Mix, Dylan Thomas and Fred Astaire, says one thing to me:  “Things!  And the other things!  We’re awesome and edgy because look at all the things, oh man!”  But in Marshall’s analysis, this is “an assembly of occultists, political socialists, eugenists, homosexuals, and sexual provocateurs.”

So here is your first clue that Marshall is not going to offer an especially perceptive analysis of the Beatles.  His list reminds me of someone who wants to prove that the American flag has its roots in Freemasonry because, as all scholars know, that odious color blue is so closely associated with Masonic ritual, duh. Never mind the red and white because holy cow, how can we overlook the obvious significance of blue?  Blue!!!

Moving along.  Marshall describes the cover for The Beatles: Yesterday and Today:

Marshall says,

The four Beatles are wearing white doctor’s coats covered with flesh and decapitated babies. John looks mildly pleased. And Paul looks happy, even delighted. Ringo looks depressed (“Am I really doing this?”). George Harrison looks straight up evil. I feel like George is giving me the bird with a dead infant’s head.

This is just gross.

Okay, I’m with him there.  It’s also naively executed.  They were trying a little too hard to be ever so shocky-wocky, leaving us feeling like Ringo looks.  Marshall continues:

Pause. What did this represent in 1966? John Lennon said it was a commentary on the Vietnam War. But I don’t see what physician smocks with dead babies has to do with the war. Yes people are dying in each, but still. Kinda weird.

For what it’s worth, the Parliament legalized abortion in the UK with the Abortion Act  of 1967 on 27 October 1967. Abortion was being hotly debated in the United Kingdom when this photo was taken.

Or, they are wearing butcher’s coats, and it is a commentary on the Vietnam War — something along the lines of “killing is bad; and yet we are rock stars.  Isn’t this edgy as crap?”  Oh, and Harrison looks “straight up evil” because that’s his face, circa 1966.  He had bad teeth and was not yet coked to the gills.

Marshall concludes:

My conclusion is that there is something really dark about the Beatles. It’s not just a happy “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da Life Goes On” quartet. There is something sinister here. This album cover just screams it. It’s not normal.

I used to think that the great “evil minds” infecting the 20th century were men like Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Michael Foucault. However, I think the biggest wrecking ball of Western culture might have been resting in every American’s record collection (or iPod) – John, Paul, Ringo, and George!

Okay. I actually agree with him, if not his analytical technique: as with 99% of musicians, playwrights, painters, poets, novelists, sculptors, and bloggers worth reading, there is something really dark about the Beatles, and some caution is a good idea. I encourage my kids to listen mostly to the earlier stuff, where their technical brilliance can be enjoyed unimpeded with the navel gazing muzziness that came later.  We have discussed how people in Hell are probably holding hands and singing “Imagine” right now; and I have taught them to identify the sitar, when played by a white man, as the sound of bullshit.

But . . . oh, I don’t even know what to say.  I’ve said it so many times, and I don’t know if there’s any way to persuade people who don’t already see it so clearly.  We’re Catholic. Our main job isn’t to apply “censor” bar across everything that doesn’t come straight from the Baltimore Catechism.  We take what is good. We’re supposed to beexperts at identifying what is good.  We’re not supposed to be screaming meemies who bite our lips and blush every time someone dips into a minor key.  We’re supposed to use sifters, not dump trucks, when sorting through culture.

My daughter says that most of her friends only know two Beatles songs:  “Yellow Submarine,” and “Eleanor Rigby.”  Lord, what a shame.  No musical education is complete without:

  • And Your Bird Can sing
  • Blackbird
  • Back In The U.S.S.R.
  • Can’t Buy Me Love
  • Drive My Car
  • Got to get you into my life
  • I feel fine
  • I need you
  • I’ll follow the sun
  • Paperback Writer
  • Revolution
  • You  never give me your money
  • You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
  • Something
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Taxman

So much heartache, so much loveliness, so many moments of pure music, written by people who are in love with music.  Did the Beatles confuse its fans and popularize bad ideas?  Sure. But they used their God-given talents to produce music which elevated the world in a real, valuable, irreplaceable way.  Everything that is good sings the praises of God, and the Beatles were good.  Really good.  As long as they were together, they worked in the service of the muse, and they produced something great.

I really do like Taylor Marshall, but I don’t like the world he seems to want to live in.


Just enough Gores and Gateses; too many Africans

In the interest of environmental responsibility, Al Gore suggests that all African women should bear four children.

This is, at least, what Al Gore surely anticipates when he speaks of “making fertility management ubiquitously available” to African women.  He says that “If you get the health improved, if you get the availability of contraceptives, then families will voluntarily choose to have less children.”  Surely he and Tipper had good health and access to contraception when they bore their four children.

Following Gore’s example, African women should also, presumably, voluntarily choose to live in a 20-room, 10,000 square foot mansion that uses approximately four times more energy than the typical home in the neighborhood.  In addition, each African mother should maintain a luxury apartment in San Francisco. In order to save the environment, Mr. Gore encourages all African women to take several plane trips every year, and only to charter a private jet “when necessary.”

PIC African woman carrying baby and firewood “And don’t forget to buy some carbon offsets to make up for that cooking fire you’re planning, missy.”

Oh, pish tush, you will say. Al Gore’s racist hypocrisy is old news, low-hanging fruit, as it were.  It’s easy to pick on a bloated lout like him; but his point still stands, yes?  Even if the first world did their fair share to reduce environmental costs, rather than palming it off on impoverished villages on the other side of the world, those third world women would be better off if they’d just put a cork in their outrageous, unthinking fertility.  They’d be healthier, wealthier.  They’d be happier.  Why not flood them with contraception?

Here’s why, according to Obianuju Ekeocha, a Nigerian woman who actually lived in one of those impoverished African villages —  and who actually knows what it’s like to see the kind of aid that Westerners want them to have.  Her open letter to Melinda Gates is from 2012, but it deserves to be read over and over again.  She says:

I see this $4.6 billion [in contraceptive aid] buying us misery. I see it buying us unfaithful husbands. I see it buying us streets devoid of the innocent chatter of children. I see it buying us disease and untimely death. I see it buying us a retirement without the tender loving care of our children.

Please Melinda, listen to the heart-felt cry of an African woman and mercifully channel your funds to pay for what we REALLY need.

She then goes on to describe the true needs of African families.  And here is Ekoeocha’s follow-up from August of 2013.  She explains:

[M]ore educated African women almost always choose to have fewer children (but mostly by natural methods rather than artificial contraceptives). So rather than fill our defenceless under-aged brides with Depo-Provera — which is more like a general anaesthesia that will numb them to the brutality of their reality — we can better empower them by giving them an education, which becomes the lifeline by which they can climb out of poverty one girl at a time.

Is that what the likes of Gore and Melinda Gates really want — truly educated girls?  Do they respect African women and African culture enough to help them make their own choices?  Or is that too much trouble to go to for a bunch of dark-skinned global parasites?  Do Gates and Gore and their ilk show any interest in listening to the true concerns of actual African families?  Or is all their wealth just funding another chapter in Western imperialism, where, rather than exterminating Africans directly, we brainwash them into exterminating themselves?