Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Baby, it's cold outside

Dear Hannah,

One thing that seems to have escaped feminists' notice in the controversy over Baby, it's cold outside is that the song is a duet.  Perhaps never in the history of rape or music has anyone ever toured with their rapist for the express purpose of singing about being raped.  And this is for two reasons.  The first is that singing about it would be painful for the woman; and the second is that it would be dangerous for the man.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

This week in hate

Dear Hannah,

The New York Times has a new feature titled This week in hate.  Listing a series of hate crimes dating back to November 16, it totally fails to mention November 28th, when a young Somalian man in Ohio ran his car into a lot of pedestrians, got out of said car, and then began stabbing Americans at random.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Social media: an apology

Dear Hannah,

In retrospect I may have "suffered" what is commonly known as a "lapse in judgment."  Any references on this Facebook account relating to the someone known as Richard Gere and any acts he probably did not commit have been removed on account of a) their slanderous nature and b) the impropriety of sharing the allegations themselves; and prove 1) that I can in fact be fouler in the pursuit of hilarity than I prefer and b) that I occasionally require some forgiveness for said acts of impropriety.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In defense of socialists

Dear Hannah,

Let's say for a moment -- hypothetically -- that someone out there had a son and the son hit his head and hitting his head sent him into convulsions; and the going into convulsions sent the man's wife into a panic, and the panic sent her to the hospital, and the hospital sent her to a room.  And let's suppose that the room was empty, and she wondered where the doctor was, and the doctor appeared for five minutes and then disappeared again; and she was given no medicine, and she waited for three hours, and at the end of it all she was sent home without anything more than a recommendation to see another doctor -- and that almost a month later, after receiving absolutely nothing more than a recommendation, she received a bill.  The original charge: $1200.  The cost after insurance: $350.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

In defense of fake news sites

Dear Hannah,

The great value of a page like Shares from your Aunt is it proves what we already knew about the elderly: that they're too old.  Perhaps nobody since the turning of the millennium has pretended to be an aunt so well, and done it so convincingly that our aunts are likely to take the posts seriously.  The author gulps the wildest assertions and conspiracy theories.   He mangles minor facts in ways so embarrassing that he ends up making them important.   He crusades over the stupidest and most irrelevant things.  Each of which comprises the gist of the web page, and the web page comprises the whole idiocy of our aunties.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Concerning improper use of the word Moron

Dear Hannah,

I will begin this letter by expressing my disappointment with H.L. Mencken; and being disappointed (perhaps unfairly) because H.L. Mencken was not G.K. Chesterton.  The beauty of G.K. Chesterton wasn't only that he was right (whenever he was, that is); it was that he didn't have to tell you when he was.  His genius eked from every line; even when he was being ridiculous.  Mencken was distasteful not only enough to be right (when he was right), but to insist that he was right when he thought he was right.  And the way he insisted he was right was by insisting others were morons.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Why everyone hates Ayn Rand

Dear Hannah,

Perhaps in the history of mankind there has never been so enjoyable a teaching as Objectivism from so unlikeable a teacher as Ayn Rand.  Jesus Christ was so magnetic that He spent His days ruining dinner parties and insulting His followers -- and despite this He was so fun that even the children loved Him.  Joseph Smith was so popular with women that he felt forced to reintroduce polygamy to the Americas.  Mohammed was so interesting that he was illiterate and still ended up with one of the most propagated books in all of human history.  Ayn Rand's insults stung more than her teachings soothed.  The men who should have naturally been her allies ended up becoming her enemies.    

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The perils of naming yourself

Dear Hannah,

One thing that I realized after reading a very thoughtful (and extremely Catholic) essay by Anthony Esolen, was that, in the war over gender pronouns and in nearly everything else, it's generally a terrible thing to name yourself.

Monday, October 24, 2016

In praise of Milo Yiannopoulos

Dear Hannah,

I'll admit upfront that I hated Milo at first.  It was something about the way he treated fat women.  He made himself too much of an ass, taking the issue far beyond the heresy of leftists and turning it into something personal -- something regrettable by anyone who has an overweight mother or a sister.  The people against "fat shaming" (even if what they're against is only stating a preference for fitness) are really against health and beauty and taste, and thus are asking for every ounce of their thrashing.  The overweight, on the other hand, are only overweight; and so long as they aren't demanding admiration for their fatness, or forcing us to say that everyone is beautiful, may make us wince at the thought of them in a bikini, but often make up for their unattractiveness with what we refer to as a personality*.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The American Dream and its critics

Dear Hannah,

Because I was in college I've done several things I wouldn't do now, at the top of the list being a beer bong with more than seven types of hard alcohol, voting as a Democrat, and reading Michael Moore.  The latter of these took place in small apartment after I quit riding the white horse and picked up some Chomsky, and involved a book much longer than it needed to be about something like Oprah Winfrey becoming president.  It was brilliantly titled Dude, Where's My Country?  One of the chapters has stuck with me more than the one about Oprah being an ideal presidential candidate, however, and it had to do with the fraudulence of the American Dream.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Welfare queens and their defenders

Dear Hannah,

If the editors of The Atlantic had ever seen Lost, they might remember a scene when Sawyer the con-man explains his father's philosophy of stealing.  It runs in short that no matter who you are or what you do for a living, you're either taking or giving too much -- but you're never getting what you deserve.  The whole world is alternating between stealing or being stolen from.  The professional thief (and maybe even the saint) argues that he's separated from humanity only in name.  A saner man would say that the difference between the thief and the rest of us is a matter of degree.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

On wankery

Dear Son*,

I'm convinced that a major reason Americans are dumber than our ancestors is because so many of us are wankers.  Almost nobody talks about this, but a man's ability to be excellent is directly connected to whether he's spent himself sexually.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Are women as good as men?

Dear Hannah,

At this point it can very safely be said that feminism from its inception was a bait-and-switch.   We know this because from the beginning feminists were telling us they were as good as men, and now the arguments from feminists center around the fact that they aren't.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mothers and other villains

Dear Hannah,

It seems we have a conflict of interest.  Somewhere within the last couple of years you've decided life is intolerable without music; which is unfortunate because I think life is intolerable with it.  In this regard you came about a decade too late.  Sometime around 2008 someone stole all my cd's and I came to the realization that silence and I were better off than I thought; and my theory, to the best of my ability, has to do with the fact that the things coming out of my brain were more interesting than any music I could put into it.

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Room of One's Own: a review

Dear Hannah,

Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own has the honor of being the first time I've heard patriarchy used as a pejorative and haven't wanted to throw anything at anyone.  Most other times it's said with imbalance; not as though there were moderate and radical ways of saying patriarchy as an insult, but as though the woman who was saying it was imbalanced in general.  None of that is visible here.  None of the blaming of "rape culture" for a man making a pass or a woman making a mistake; none of the irrational calls for an equal wage that isn't equal; none of the blaming society when a woman is fat and she knows it; and none of the crusades against slut-shaming when a woman is dirty and flaunts it*.  Virginia Woolf is sensible, but not in a manly way.  She's a hundred years old and a breath of fresh air.  If feminists knew where they came from they'd be embarrassed at the place where they stand.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The case for Cat Stevens

Dear Hannah,

My original response to Cat Stevens becoming a Muslim and changing his name to Yusuf Islam was calling him a traitor.  My opinion, as with anyone else who trades England for Islam, is that he's still a traitor; but as there are many different brands of traitors out there, what kind of a traitor is the question we ought to be asking ourselves today.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Goodbye to the 68'ers

Dear Hannah,

Anyone who was a child in America during the 90's will tell you how he was repeatedly molested by stories about the 60's.  It was everywhere, back then; the 68'ers having all grown up and many of them gone into cinema to tell about how things were in the good old days of radicalism and free-spirits and new ideas and easy lays with pretty women.  The recollections were more sad than anything else, and every picture you saw had the miserable tint of nostalgia; not as though you were experiencing the 60's themselves, but as though you had missed it and it had been lost forever, along with somebody's youth.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Between the World and Me: a review

Dear Hannah,

Fear is the basis of this book.  Fear of the streets, fear of the schools, fear of the police -- fear of losing control of one's body, and one's life, and one's family.  Lots of men have lived it, but few have been able to eloquently explain it.  Ta-Nehisi Coates took the task upon himself and did it admirably here.  Between the World and Me is a painful search through race and history to understand the suffering of the black American.  Like most Americans, Coates quickly finds the reason for the suffering.  Like most of our Democrats, his cure is worse than the cancer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Fire Next Time: a review

Dear Hannah,

I don't trust either the book-knowledge or the judgment of modern activists, so I'd originally intended to read Frederick Douglass or W.E.B. Dubois as my introduction to black literature.  But skimming through an informal list of the Greatest Essayists of All Time and seeing James Baldwin pretty high on the chart, and also seeing him frequently and reverently quoted by Black Lives Matter activists, I decided to pick up The Fire Next Time and give him a go. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Some sympathy for the historical American jingo

Dear Hannah,

It's become very fashionable to ask us to walk a mile in a man's moccasins without wondering what it's like to be chased by someone with a tomahawk.  Nearly everyone feels comfortable condemning Andrew Jackson for how he treated the Indians.  What they have not felt comfortable doing is asking themselves how it would feel to be born in a country you didn't found and have a strange-looking group of illiterate, jobless, pagan wild-men show up at your neighbor's house and scalp all your best friends.  Whether or not this is Jackson's experience is irrelevant if this was the experience of many American settlers.  To have a savage at your doorstep, ready to strike at night and oftentimes beyond the reach of the law, would eventually affect your psychology in ways a modern man would consider "unfavorable."  The only good Indian is a dead Indian is a cruel thing to say.  But we wonder how many cruelties a man had to witness or hear about before he was capable of saying it*.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Random thoughts on the unpopularity of populism

Dear Hannah,

The fact that a party named specifically after democracy can be especially opposed to populism is a phenomenon too appropriate for the times we live in.  Perhaps no other era in the history of mankind has ever botched the idea of representation so badly; and we know this because the worst governments possibly in the history of the world have almost all recently claimed to be republics*.  History's nastiest theocracies, in fact, soiled with the blood of honest askers and unintentional heretics, are substantially less offensive than our leftist "republics;" and if there's anything to be learned in the matter, it's that allowing anyone to label himself is just as much a human right as our ability to judge him by it.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A bigger problem than plagiarism

Dear Hannah,

When a presidential candidate's wife, known for stumbling though broken English, gets on a stage and plagiarizes a speech, the most important thing to say about her plagiarism is that it probably isn't her plagiarism.  In fact, we may safely say that in an overwhelming majority of cases like these, the speaker was probably not aware that the speech she had given had already been given.  Her job, if she really was more than slightly involved in it, was to simply approve what was written, and then read it to the public.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Age of Bad Reasons

Dear Hannah,

The Atlantic asked its readers whether they think reason or emotions are currently directing the affairs of the nation, and this all worries me greatly.  Not only because I lack faith in the people giving the answer, but because I lack faith in the quality of the question.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Officially the worst wedding speech I have ever given in a dream

Dear Hannah,

As the title has already given you an idea of what this is about, here is the speech which I actually gave about ten minutes ago in my dream:

Friday, June 10, 2016

On the death of Anthony Bourdain

Dear You,

Saturday, June 9th, the year of our Lord two-thousand and eighteen.

So you've found it.  This essay, placed neither at the front nor the back of this collection, was purposely hidden from everyone except a few adoring subscribers -- the die-hards.  It was hidden simply because I don't want anyone beyond a few people to read it.  I've thought several times about writing something like it and tossed it, only to find the subject resurfaced its ugly head again and again; and now that I don't know what to do with it I'm leaving it here -- with you.  The late-night blog searcher.  Perhaps one of my grown children or my wife finding it after I've passed.  Anyone but the casual peruser, the rando who found me on a third-rate right-wing magazine, wanted to see what else I agreed with him about, and tossed me aside when I couldn't deliver.

Anthony Bourdain passed this week.   Whatever's been gnawing at him these past few months or maybe his whole life finally got him and he hung himself.  Left behind two ex-wives, an eleven-year-old daughter, and a few million bewildered fans who loved him for his easy-going manner, his grace in conversation, his worldly knowledge, and what appeared to be a heart of gold.  Tired eyes, but a kind soul.

Truth be told he really did look tired.  Like the kind of man who'd done a lot but seen too much.  The kind of man who takes others around the world and shows them all the interesting stuff in all the strange places -- which is what he did for a living, and why the world fell in love with him.  He didn't love the world back.  He was entertained but not smitten.  He was 61 years old.

Matt Walsh, following Bourdain's death, immediately wrote an article about our suicide epidemic:  the typical Christian conservative piece -- artless, obvious, the whole gist of it in the over-sized, lousy goddamned title -- "maybe your kids don't respect you because you don't spank them" or "what really lies at the root of our suicide epidemic."  The kind of title that appeals to the man looking not for a new perspective, but a confirmation of his current one.  Walsh's perspective is that Americans wouldn't commit suicide if we'd only adopt his Christian perspective.  He never considers that the reason we don't believe in it is because we don't believe in it.

The truth is that Walsh is boring as hell but, like most Christian conservatives on most of our issues, he has a heck of a point.  The big thing you have to consider when God leaves the picture is whether or not you'll off yourself.  Without God there is no end here but a bad one.  You can get it over quickly and on your own terms but you can't end it nicely; and what the future holds, the death of a spouse or a child, the fall of a great nation, tragedy after tragedy leading to a black, cold, sun-dying-out oceans-rising-up everything-you-know-going-down-the-drain after-today, is absolutely terrifying.

Bourdain tried romance, the standing eye-to-eye with a woman he loved and holding her hands and promising to love her until the day that he died; he tried it at least twice and it failed him.  We have no idea whether his 11 year old daughter loved him and respected him, but considering his stylish fatherly appeal we can only assume the best.  He made millions and was followed by a nameless, faceless horde of adoring followers whose love he probably suspected and at any rate couldn't feel, got near the top of the Anglo-American celebrity game, realized he couldn't go much further, and decided to stop where he was.  In his mind there was no God to welcome him, no Father to judge the bad guys he toured around the world to and met face-to-face, no love which overwhelmed all the hate he saw, no magic to reverse the course of the universe.  He turned off the world like a light switch, and has passed into God-knows-what but probably oblivion.  We miss him and he doesn't miss us.

We have no idea what effect his death will have on those who knew him.  We know Kate Spade killed herself right before him but don't know what effect it had on him.  We know his death sends a signal to those around him that life can be dark and success is fleeting and for many of us it's garbage -- even if we live far outside the dump; even if like Solomon we're living in a palace.  We know that getting to the top and reaching the bottom is often the same thing, and that the relatively pain-free struggle somewhere in the middle is the best place to be, and thank God our dreams are just beyond our reach so we can't shatter them.  We've known the top is a lonely, disappointing place ever since we read Ecclesiastes; and that the end of the book was a reminder that everything is pointless unless there's something beyond what you can see.

The idea of slitting your wrists or blowing your brains out is a comforting thought in times of distress, but this isn't something you tell your children or your wife or anyone you want to keep going -- anyone you need to keep going.  In theory, alone in your room with your problem du-jour, suicide is a great option.  In practice, like free love, it's terrible.  And it's fun to imagine that all the best people would keep going and the worst of us would kill themselves; and maybe we might encourage the worst of us to do it.  But this is rarely the way things work out.  In truth the best of us kill ourselves and the worst of us go on being the worst.  It's what makes them the worst.  The brazen acceptance of worstness.  We lose Robin Williams and Anthony Bourdain and get left with Harvey Weinstein and Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham.  The angels have hearts that are too heavy to fly.  The pigs in the mud have nowhere to fall.

So we encourage our loved ones to go on living and make a blanket policy out of it.  We say suicide itself is the enemy and create hotlines for anybody whatsoever when we really just want to keep somebody particular.  We value the lust for life because we love a few others, and wonder whether we're among the "few others" others want to keep going.  The policy has nothing to do with whether life is worth living, or whether all life is precious, or whether it's less painful to die than go on.  We argue this way because we don't have any other way to argue.  Please stay with us isn't for the criminal but for our family.  We say suicide is sad and it is -- because those who commit it are either a waste or don't know what a waste is.

I've gone through two times in my life when I was very serious about killing myself, first when I lost my first love and the second when I lost my first God.  The fact that I'd get over it both times and go on to be happy was completely unknown to me each instance, and beyond this completely unfelt.  Hope can be lost before a future is lost.  We have no idea what's around the corner and think that because we don't know it we can't have it.  Pain is so real and despair is so touchable that they can outstrip not only our memory but our imagination.  We become blind to the possibility not even of happiness, but of not being in pain.

Many of us don't make it past this point and end it all there.  But it isn't ended there.  Had I ended it the first time I would have put a hole in my parents' heart, and that hole would have never gone away.  Had I ended it the second time, my despair would have been transferred, in addition to my parents, to my wife and my child.  Suicide ends your pain by paining only the people who love you.  The question the suicide asks is not whether he pains his loved ones, but whether the pain of death is unavoidable, and which of them feels it first.

Your fellow traveler in life, dear reader, in happiness and occasional despair,

Monday, June 6, 2016

How to love yourself like a man

Dear Hannah,

Richard Baxter, a man I consider to be the greatest of the Puritan ministers, once wrote in The Reformed Pastor that the sincerity of a deathbed conversion was extremely unlikely.  The reason he knew this was simple.  He would visit lots of people on their deathbeds, get a profession of faith from them, and then lots of them refused to die.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Welcome back to the Dark Ages

Dear Hannah,

The Huffington Post has gone too far by calling Jesus a transgender, but the Romans called Christians cannibals and to me getting called transgender is a step forward.  The problem with Christians isn't that they cross-dress but that they cross-count.  They think one is three and three is one and if you didn't agree with them in a whole millenium they'd kill you.  They think bread is body and grape juice is blood and if you didn't assert it they'd light you on fire*.  Whether this is better or worse than dressing up like a woman isn't a matter of opinion.  What the Huffington Post claims is kinder than what Christians have actually been.  No -- you don't call Jesus a she-male.  But beyond this you don't murder a good mathematician.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Winston Churchill's easy mother

Dear Hannah,

Whether or not Winston Churchill's mother had more than 200 lovers as George Moore told us, she had enough lovers to find him favor wherever he went and whatever he wanted to do.  It appears almost as if he owed his career to it.  To those of us familiar with the English from shows like Downton Abbey or the Hornblower series, a sex life as promiscuous as hers seems almost anathema to the stiffness of their manners and the rigidity of their morals. And yet that's the sex life she had.  If it was only her we could leave the matter and go on to other issues; but as any act of sex takes at least two, it's only safe to say she wasn't alone.  She was with the king -- and many other prominent men in England, Germany, France, America, and apparently the English colonies.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Never trust a "non-judgmental" person

Dear Hannah,

When atheists first began to undermine the power of religion, I think they meant to keep us from arguing about all kinds of silly things.  As it turns out, we're still arguing about silly things; the difference being that now we're responsible for being silly.  Before the advent of modernism you could blame your ridiculous arguments on the idea that God had said it.  Now if we're caught in the clutches of any trendy and backward philosophy, we say it's because a man had said it.  We've gone from being idiots on accident to being idiots on purpose; and with everything bad we've lost by losing the Pope, we've added a hundred more by enthroning our professors.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why we still go to church

Dear Hannah,

An honest inquirer asked me this week why I plan to raise you in church when I have very publicly left the Christian religion.  And since it might seem insincere for me to leave a religion while being a part of it, even telling the pastor and others that I'm an apostate, I suppose somebody deserves some kind of an explanation.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A defense of my almost indefensible language

Dear Hannah,

A very kind gentleman has written me this week and asked me why I used the term "blow-job" in a letter to a three-year-old girl.  One of the reasons I can think of is that these letters aren't actually written to a three-year-old girl.  They're written to you, of course; but which version of you is a matter of utmost importance.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A waste of Cicero

Dear Hannah,

One time, when Cicero was in the middle of an argument with Metellus Nepos, Nepos questioned Cicero's nobility by repeatedly asking who Cicero's father was.  Cicero, knowing that Nepos's mother was easy, replied that I'd ask you the same question, but your mother's made it very difficult to answer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

An objection to my latest essay on Spike Lee

Dear Hannah,

My editor (God bless him) has rejected the last essay on the grounds that I was unfair to Spike Lee.  The fact that Spike Lee is unfair to everyone else is absolutely beside the point if my editor was right; and since I believe a sense of fairness is what separates men like me from Mr. Lee, I've decided to give him something of an apology.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Concerning the first 30 minutes of Spike Lee's Chiraq

Dear Hannah,

I just finished the first 30 minutes of Spike Lee's Chiraq, which I expected to be a good movie with a bad message, and was surprised to find that it was a very bad movie with a sort-of good message.  For years we've heard Spike Lee's name associated with cinema, and had every reason to believe it was because he was a good filmmaker.  Now that I've seen part of his film, I realize I'd only heard about him because he's a loud filmmaker.  Like the Black Lives Matter movement, he's someone to be watched not because you want to watch him, but because he wants you to watch him.  It's notorious in the world of entertainment that any publicity is good publicity.  Spike Lee is well aware of this, and as he lacks the talent to make us love him, has had the prudence to have us hate him.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Some obscure sayings of Solomon and Franklin

Dear Hannah,

Many of the wisest sayings may be unclear to any but the wise. Reading Ecclesiastes, you might be tempted to take in much wisdom is much grief, and assume that wise people grieve because they know the way things might have been.  Knowing the way things ought to be done, of course, leaves plenty of room for grieving about things going unnecessarily wrong; but no more room than the average fool has when he considers the way he thinks things could have gone right. The nature of ignorance is not to know little or nothing, but to believe we know rightly when we actually know wrongly.  The idiot faces exactly the same frustration as the genius.  He says the world is a mess because nobody listens to him, and feels powerless to fix it.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jesus texting

Dear Hannah,

All joking aside, I can't be too hard on Ms. Young and her Jesus Calling for the very simple fact that I've been in her shoes.  I've had a couple of instances in my life when I thought I was speaking for God Himself, and both of them turned out not only to not be God, but to not even be the best version of me.  If you can imagine actually believing in God and then realizing you'd been speaking wrongly for Him over a series of years, you might imagine a knot developing in your stomach.  And there's a part of you that wants to blame it on the people who told you God said it, and there's another part of you that blames yourself for thinking too highly of your thoughts.  Either way, you find yourself unwilling to do it again -- especially after the second time it happens; and beyond this you become extremely skeptical whenever anyone claims to be preaching the will of God too.  At least, that is what you do if you have a conscience and you think.  For people like Ms. Young and the majority of the "spirit-led" women in the church, it's obvious to me that they think very little about anything at all*.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Paul the Apostle

Dear Hannah,

HG Wells once wrote in his Outline of History that Paul was responsible for refashioning the Christian religion.  From what I can tell this seems to be unfair.  Not only because there were twelve actual Apostles to keep him from doing it, but because Paul had a very different mission from Jesus Himself.  The whole purpose of Jesus was to start the Christian religion.  The job of Paul and the Apostles was to figure out how to organize it.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A note on the generosity of Myanmar

Dear Hannah,

I refuse to accept that Americans can be second-place in anything -- even in obesity.  It just means we haven't given it our best.  We've all seen our southerners, and if the Mexicans can beat us in gluttony they can beat us in anything.  There's only one trophy I'll allow us to get in silver, and it happens to be the one we got for philanthropy.  The Charities Aid Foundation reports that we've been beaten by Myanmar, and all I can say is good for us.  The only reason Myanmar ranked higher is because the people of Myanmar are dumber.  The only way we could be better at philanthropy is if the CAF ranked us worse.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Against positive news

Dear Hannah,

Westerners watch too many shows about serial killers, but there are way worse things to be obsessed with.  What we have to worry about isn't that people are sharing stories of people murdering people, but that people are sharing videos of people helping other people.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thoughts on the Academy Awards

Dear Hannah,

Anyone tolerant enough to have seen the first 20 minutes of Birdman knows that the Academy Awards are a matter of opinion -- and the opinion is oftentimes a bad one.  This is because, whatever the people at the Academy Awards would have us believe, there's no other way to judge a film than by the way it makes you personally feel.  There's no science of film criticism, and (whatever Jeremy Bentham said) there will never be an accurate mathematical formula for measuring happiness.  The question on America's mind should never be whether the Academy gave an award to the right movie or people.  It should be whether they gave the award to the right feeling.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A timely rediscovery of Aaron Burr

Dear Hannah,

Nearly everyone knows that Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton, but almost nobody knows that Burr was wanted for murder while he was the vice president.  Few people are aware that Aaron Burr was even the vice president at all; and fewer would expect, given the historically serene nature of contemporary politics, that an American vice president has ever been wanted for murder while in office.  Nixon nearly went to prison for eavesdropping.  Bill Clinton was impeached over a series of consensual blow-jobs.  Because of the Hamilton affair, Burr was wanted by two states on charges of homicide.  He essentially spent part of his vice-presidency in hiding.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Joe Rogan vs the Book of Genesis

Dear Hannah,

People love to talk about Mother Nature, but they rarely capitalize on our being Her children.  They never consider that maybe like everything else in the universe we're doing what She intended -- even in doing the things She never would have done without us; even in destroying what we perceive to be natural.  They call it the state of nature when we haven't done anything to change nature itself.  They say that things are natural before we touch them, and unnatural after we do.  The birds make their nests out of twigs, and the twigs are considered natural when they're made into nests -- and only because the birds never think of doing anything else.  A government, unlike an anthill, is considered alien; almost as if it was made out of spirits and miracles -- or made out of mutants and toxins.  A condo is considered a blemish and a hornet's nest a necessity.  We recognize everything as natural except everything we do.  We recognize everything as necessary except what we need.  We secretly believe in the divinity of man because we consider him the only foreigner in the universe.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Well-behaved women

Dear Hannah,

My favorite feminist slogan is well-behaved women seldom make history -- because they've forgotten that almost nobody makes history.  Among women, the number of people who make history is even fewer; and the number's even smaller when considering their jackasses.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Concerning "Dear White America" in the New York Times

Dear Hannah,

The great irony of a hunger strike is that it does nothing to prove the morality of the hunger striker.  It does everything to prove the morality of the man he's striking against.  Millions of horrible people have been willing to die for horrible causes, and we have only been the worse for it.  Far fewer have been willing to save the life of a suicidal enemy.  And if you do happen to go on a hunger strike and win, the only thing you've done is proved your enemy cares more about you than his cause.  You can only win a hunger strike against a person who cares about people.  You can only defeat your enemy if your enemy is actually a saint.  Gandhi may have saved the Indians from the English.  We can only wonder how successful he would have been against Al Qaeda.