Various & Sundry, 8/30/13

Friday, August 30, AD 2013

Kevin William’s Modest Proposal

Kevin Williamson thinks Allison Benedikt is right – rich liberals have a moral obligation to send their kids to public school. And he has a way to make it fair.

People hold capital in the form that brings them the best returns, and for the modestly affluent professional class, your lawyers and high-school principals and such, holding capital in the form of a nice house in a neighborhood with good schools provides the maximum return. Ms. Benedikt, savvy social observer that she is, concedes that “rich people might cluster.” (Might?) That the main trend in socioeconomic migration over the last few centuries or so seems to have escaped her here is not my particular concern, but it should be pointed out that the enemies of private education generally fail to consider the extent to which that rich-guy clustering provides advantages beyond high-quality schools. The development of social and professional networks, prestige, learning high-status habits and manners, etc., all are enormously important perks associated with living among the well-to-do. (I believe it was WFB who observed that a sufficiently motivated student could get a Yale-quality education practically anywhere, but that’s not what Yale is for.) The difference between a summer job answering phones at your neighbor’s law firm and a summer job mowing grass (or, more common, no summer job at all) is considerable. Redistributing funds is not sufficient; we have to redistribute people.

What we obviously must do, therefore, is turn rich white liberals out of their homes.

Ideally, they would relocate to the very worst neighborhoods, where, applying the Benedikt principle, they would do the most good. But I do not really care where they go, so long as they go.

Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you

They didn’t transfer feasts to Sunday, that’s why.

That said, I wouldn’t volunteer to change places.

Good to see fascism is still alive in Germany

At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 29, 2013, in what has been called a “brutal and vicious act,” a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, forcibly removing all four of the family’s children (ages 7-14). The sole grounds for removal were that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were taken to unknown locations. Officials ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing their children “anytime soon.”

Just Timberlake as the Riddler?

Couldn’t be any worse than the choice for the next Batman.

Ya Think?

A House panel says that Obama needs Congressional approval before attacking Syria. What, do they think this is a constitutional republic with clearly delineated lines of  authority?

Hot Summer Snark

Larry D announced the winner of the summer’s hottest contest.

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22 Responses to Various & Sundry, 8/30/13

  • “The sole grounds for removal were that the parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.”

    I guess they still view kids as property of the Reich.

  • “What we obviously must do, therefore, is turn rich white liberals out of their homes. Ideally, they would relocate to the very worst neighborhoods, where, applying the Benedikt principle, they would do the most good. But I do not really care where they go, so long as they go.”

    We can also have them surrender their jobs to people of color in the interests of affirmative action. Although in regard to the person of color who took the place of Allison Benedikt, it would doubtless be a merit action replacement.

  • Germany’s ban on homeschooling is the silencing of dissent against the inept school system, the propagandizing of the captive audience of minor children without parental consent and the unauthorized usurping of the parents’ role as first educators of their offspring. The state, as an artificial sovereign person constituted by real sovereign persons, the citizens, cannot own or otherwise evict parents of minor children or their rights to dissent from public school for as long as the children remain minors without informed consent to attend, or not, such public school. Such informed consent remains the sole property of the mother and father, offices of vocation of which the newly begotten individual sovereign person makes of a man and a woman when they conceived the new human being.

  • “What we obviously must do, therefore, is turn rich white liberals out of their homes. Ideally, they would relocate to the very worst neighborhoods, where, applying the Benedikt principle, they would do the most good. But I do not really care where they go, so long as they go.”

    Good news.

    In the last two decades, there has been a growth of urban, interracial neighborhoods, of course solidly liberal in their politics. All white neighborhoods have in their voting behavior moved to the Right, indicating that white conservatives are getting their desire to see their liberal neighbors move away.

  • “In the last two decades, there has been a growth of urban, interracial neighborhoods, of course solidly liberal in their politics.”

    It is called gentrification Kurt, meaning poor blacks get out. Your average limousine liberal would sooner eat ground glass than live where poor blacks reside. The largest demographic trend for blacks is blacks moving to the suburban and rural south over the past ten years.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/us/25south.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  • Don,

    Yes. White college educated liberals have followed your advice with too much enthusiasm. Though the first to arrive are the first to complain about the neighborhood losing its vibe when more follow your advice.

    And yes, Blacks are moving to certain areas in the South where they and their white neighbors are turning those locales liberal. Seven counties around suburban Atlanta voted for Obama last time around. We used to be lucky to win the city of Atlanta.

    My point remains. Find me a neighborhood that is diverse in race and class and that is where you have the most liberal voting whites. Look at the most conservative voting precincts and there you have the lion’s share of all white housing.

    If it is a singularly liberal principle that we would be a better society if rich and poor; Black and white, were more likely to live side by side, we liberals (though not in my case) have some hypocrisy.

    If that is a universal principle, then we liberals do a better job than our conservative fellow Americans in living that way. Not that we are all are not just a pilgrim people trying to make our way in this fallen world the best we can.

  • “And yes, Blacks are moving to certain areas in the South where they and their white neighbors are turning those locales liberal. Seven counties around suburban Atlanta voted for Obama last time around. We used to be lucky to win the city of Atlanta.”

    Dream on Kurt. The Republican party has never been stronger in the South in regard to Congressional representation and control of state legislatures. In 2012 the Republicans completed the process by taking control of the Arkansas legislature, a legislature controlled by your party since 1874, the end of Reconstruction. Long term if I were a Democrat strategist I would be alarmed rather than heartened by the fact that the South is now home for 57% of the nation’s blacks. I think that their adherence to the Democrat party will weaken over time, as fewer of them remain in urban centers of the North. Additionally their migration makes northern states, look at Michigan, much more competitive for the GOP. We shall see how all this plays out in the years to come.

    “My point remains. Find me a neighborhood that is diverse in race and class and that is where you have the most liberal voting whites.”
    Not really. Racial diversity has long existed in the South in communities where whites vote almost entirely Republican.

    As for liberals and living arrangements, the bluest enclaves in the country, outside of black inner city districts, tend to be rich white urban areas, where almost all racial minorities are effectively kept out due to cost. As the Marxists were wont to say, this is no accident.

  • The Republican party has never been stronger in the South in regard to Congressional representation and control of state legislatures. In 2012 the Republicans completed the process by taking control of the Arkansas legislature, a legislature controlled by your party since 1874, the end of Reconstruction. Long term if I were a Democrat strategist I would be alarmed rather than heartened by the fact that the South is now home for 57% of the nation’s blacks.

    That is true. The Democratic Party is pretty much done for with native southern whites. Our residual support among white rural southerners is kaput. Minorities, native and transplant, as well as transplanted whites will be the only Democratic base in the South and they are growing but along way off from becoming a majority. We’ve seen no data of movement of southern Blacks away from the Democratic Party.

    Additionally their migration makes northern states, look at Michigan, much more competitive for the GOP. We shall see how all this plays out in the years to come.

    Yes, that is an open question. Michigan has an open Senate seat in 2014 which the GOP seems to already have given up on. Not a good sign for them. Minority population growth through birth rates and immigration has been enough that even with Black migration to the South, it has not meant a decline in the minority population in northern states.

    As for liberals and living arrangements, the bluest enclaves in the country, outside of black inner city districts, tend to be rich white urban areas

    I’m looking at my Election Data Services breakdown, as that is what my Republican friends most often use. It shows the predominately white Democratic voting areas to be: 1) Along the Quebec border (ME, NH, VT, NY); 2) Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area; 3) the Upper Midwest dairy region (WI, MN, IA); 4) the Minnesota Iron Range; 5) Eugene, OR; 6) Everything in coastal California.

    I’m looking at the five wealthiest counties that are 70% or more white non-hispanic. Hunterdon (NJ), Douglas (CO), Somerset (NJ) and Morris (NJ) are all deep red. Los Alamos (NM) voted strongly for Obama but has a Republican county government.

    Are you still using Romney’s data guy?

  • “1) Along the Quebec border (ME, NH, VT, NY); 2) Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area; 3) the Upper Midwest dairy region (WI, MN, IA); 4) the Minnesota Iron Range; 5) Eugene, OR; 6) Everything in coastal California.”

    Too broad a focus Kurt. There are plenty of Republicans in all those areas. My focus is on the wealthiest regions of the country, also tending to be the whitest. Obama won eight of ten of the wealthiest counties in the country:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/obama-wins-8-10-wealthiest-154837437.html

  • Too broad a focus Kurt. There are plenty of Republicans in all those areas. My focus is on the wealthiest regions of the country, also tending to be the whitest. Obama won eight of ten of the wealthiest counties in the country

    OK. My wonderful colored coded map gives three shades of blue and three shades of red and those areas all show deep blue. But one could delve deeper.

    Of the ten wealthiest counties in the country, Romney won handsomely in 91% white Huntington (NJ), 93% white Douglas (CO), 70% white Somerset (NJ) and 82% white Morris (NJ). Obama won widely in Los Alamos (NM), Fairfax (VA), Howard (MD), and Arlington (VA). He won narrowly in Loudon (VA). All of these counties have large minority populations, as high as 38% minority in Howard, Arlington, and Fairfax.

    So it seems rich + white votes Romeny. Rich + diverse votes Obama.

  • Actually Kurt, the richest county in the country is Nantucket County in Massachusetts. It is 89% white and went for Obama with 63% of the vote. White and rich is Obama country.

  • While Montgomery, Howard, Arlington, Loudon and Fairfax counties may be considered diverse in the sense that within the sprawling landmasses between the county lines reside pockets of non-whites living in ghettoized communities amongst themselves and middle class whites, the rich (and white and generally liberal) live in quiet seclusion in fortified mansions. So while the public schools of Silver Spring in Montgomery are somewhat diversified, Thurston Abercrombie Smith III of Bethesda will not likely be going to school with anyone named Jorge Valencia.

  • “Thurston Abercrombie Smith III of Bethesda will not likely be going to school with anyone named Jorge Valencia.”

    But of course. Jorge Valencia’s father might be, “shudder”, a Yale man! I am sure Jorge’s mom would be welcome however into Thurston’s home: good maids and nannies are so hard to find for the uber rich.

  • Paul & Don,

    Bethesda Chevy Chase HS is 42% minority. By comparision, North Hunterdon HS in Romney country is 10% minority.

    Again, are you still using Romney’s data guy?

  • Bethesda Chevy Chase HS is 42% minority

    I assure you Thurston Abercrombie Smith III is not attending Bethesda Chevy Chase High School. But keep googling, Kurt. I’m sure eventually you’ll happen upon a tidbit that actually makes it sound like you’re familiar with the subject area.

  • Paul —

    Whatever shortcomings it has, I’m the only one here citing data rather than gut feelings.

    My understanding is that Thurston Abercrombie Smith III lives in Republican Potomac rather than Bethesda and attends the Tridentine Latin Mass in Mongomery County when his driver can’t get him to the Anglican Use service in Baltimore. The only African American he knows is the waiter at the Metropolitan Club.

  • My understanding is that Thurston Abercrombie Smith III lives in Republican Potomac

    Emphasis mine. Yep, you’ve sure got your finger on the pulse of Maryland.

    attends the Tridentine Latin Mass in Mongomery County

    You see Kurt, if you knew anything about the area instead you could have said that he and his driver went to the EF at St. Johns’s, in Virginia because a) it’s actually closer to Potomac, and b) located in a much tonier neighborhood than where the lone regular EF Mass is Montgomery County is celebrated over in Silver Spring.

    I’m the only one here citing data rather than gut feelings

    No Kurt, you’re trying to google your way into being informed about an area of the country I actually live in.

  • Paul —

    We need to get together for drinks as it seems we are neighbors. The Metropoltian Club is near my workplace but they don’t even like me looking at their doors as I walk by. I’m sure you’re a member. Invite me anytime.

  • Kurt – You live in the DC area and call Potomac “Republican”?

  • Apologies Kurt, I thought you lived in the Midwest.

    That said, ditto Pinky.

  • Paul,

    Native of Wisconsin now living in exile. Therefore if you want to buy me that drink it would only need to be a beer.

  • Kurt,

    As long as it’s Leinenkugel and not Miller, that’s cool with me.

Narcissism in Music (or, “How Gregorian Chant can Save the World”)

Friday, May 6, AD 2011

Last week National Public Radio ran a story called “Narcissism on Rise in Pop Music Lyrics.” It opened up with,

On this very day in 1985, the number one song on the Billboard Top 100 was…”We Are the World” (“We are the world. We are the children.”)  Fast-forward to 2007 when Timbaland’s “Give It to Me” featuring Nelly Furtado topped the charts: “…love my a$$ and my abs in the video for ‘Promiscuous.’ My style is ridiculous.”

So more than two decades ago, we were holding hands and swaying to a song of unity, and these days, we’re bouncing to pop stars singing about how fabulous they are.  Psychologist Nathan DeWall has had the pleasure of listening to it all for research, and he found that lyrics in pop music from 1980 to 2007 reflect increasing narcissism in society. And DeWall is an associate psychology professor at the University of Kentucky.

Dr. DeWall proceeded to explain:

I was listening to a song that, really, one of my favorite bands, Weezer, had on one of their albums recently, and it’s called “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived,” and I kept wondering, who would actually say that out loud?  “I am the greatest man that ever lived. I was born to give and give and give.”

The ironic thing is it’s a song about how I’m the greatest person in the world, but it’s to the tune of “‘Tis A Gift To Be Simple,” which is a song about humility. And so what I wanted to do, instead of relying on self-report measures of personality like narcissism, I wanted to actually go into our culture, our cultural products, which are tangible artifacts of our cultural environment. And so, for that, I thought maybe song lyrics would be a very good jumping-off spot.

What we found over time is that there’s an increasing focus on me and my instead of we and our and us. So, for example, instead of talking about love being between we and us and us finding new things together, it’s mostly about how, you know, for example, Justin Timberlake in 2006 said, “I’m bringing sexy back. Yeah. Them other boys don’t know how to act. Yeah.”

There is no doubt that DeWall is correct.  Pop music is becoming more narcissistic.  The broader, age old question is: Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?  The answer is probably some of both.  Our culture is increasingly narcissistic.  In the spirit of the NPR article, which was about music, I wish to propose a possible antidote for narcissism: the liturgy, specifically liturgical music.

Unfortunately, we must first distinguish between music that might be heard in any given liturgy and liturgical music, properly speaking.  While the Catholic Church has been plagued with bad versions of the four-hymn sandwich for decades, the fact remains that Holy Mother Church has given us a liturgical hymnbook: The Graduale Romanum,  In this book, one will find the ancient Gregorian chants.  But what many will be surprised to find is that the Church has given us specific chants for every Sunday of the year in the places that we currently sing “hymns.”  For any given Mass, there are prescribed chants for the Introit (think here of the “Opening Hymn” you are used to hearing), the Gradual (“Responsorial Psalm”), the Offertorio (“Offertory”), and the Communio (“Communion Song”).  Most of these date back more than a thousand years.  Of course, in the Graduale Romanum, one will find the chant written in Latin.  However, vernacular versions of these exist.  What is key is that the liturgical rubrics, while they permit hymns, call for a preference given to these chants.  Vatican II itself held that the Gregorian chant tradition should enjoy a “pride of place” in our liturgies.

Why do I see this as an antidote for narcissism?  The surest way to deal with this problem is to give people the sense that they are not the center of reality, nor are they the source.  The Cartesian turn to the subject has flipped classical metaphysics on its head so that people come to view reality as what is in their own minds rather than what their minds encounter on the outside.  The liturgy is a reality that is given to us, not one that is created by us.  In fact, it is in the liturgy itself that we find our own fulfillment.  When we go to Mass, we participate in reality itself, something that is much bigger than us.  If we see the Liturgy as something that we fit into rather than something that fits into our lives, we can come to understand that we are not the center of reality: God is.

The problem is, as has been observed on several observations over the past decade, there is an increasing narcissism even within the liturgy itself: both priests and people come to think that the liturgy is something that can be created and recreated with the fickle winds of changing culture.  In fact, the lack of narcissistic language in the new translation of the Roman Missal has been pointed out in comparison with the current, defective translation.  Currently, there are several places in the texts that seem to order God to do certain things and to give a primacy to the people over the divine.  The new translation, being more faithful to the Latin, has sought to correct many of these errors.  What remains to be fixed is the same problem in the hymns that are often chosen for Sunday worship.  Many of the modern hymns focus on man rather than God (think here of “Gather Us In,” or the ever-elusive “Sing a New Church Into Being”).  Quite simply, these hymns are self-centered rather than God-centered.

Contrast this with the use of the Graduale Romanum.  These chants have been given to us by the Church, each carefully constructed around sacred texts in order to serve as a sort of lectio divina for the readings of the day.  Indeed, when Gregorian chant is properly performed, it seems as if it is not of this world.  Part of that is due to the inherent structure of the music, for chant lacks a strict meter (though it has an internal rhythm of its own).  Unlike a hymn, which marches forward towards a climactic conclusion, chant allows the listener to rest in contemplation, a mirror of the eternity which we, God willing, will experience someday.  But another part is due to the words, which become primary (unlike modern pop music, where the words are often a later add-on to an already existing rhythm/chord structure).

Perhaps the most important point, however, is the fact that the music of the Mass inevitably (forgive the pun) sets the tone of the entire celebration.  It stands to reason, then, if we employ a music that is provided for us by the Church (not to mention encouraged by the rubrics), then the people will better understand that the liturgy itself is given and not created.  If they come to understand the liturgy, which is the objective center of reality, in this manner, then they will come to see that they are not the center of reality.  Thus, my rapid fire, probably incomplete, but hopefully coherent, argument that an antidote for the rise in narcissism is Gregorian Chant.  Save the liturgy, save the world.

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5 Responses to Narcissism in Music (or, “How Gregorian Chant can Save the World”)