It appears that getting bitch-slapped in two world wars has not taught the Germans any manners. During a visit by President Bush to the German legislature, Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse ambushed him in introductory remarks that chastised Bush both for not signing the Kyoto Accords on global warming, and for refusing U.S. submission to the International Criminal Court. This was followed by a petulant little protest on the chamber floor by the obligatory coven of unreconstructed communists.
Bush, to his credit, did not point out that any nation with a penchant for Nazism, Gunter Glass, and David Hasselhoff had best keep its schnitzel-bloated yap shut.
I have several semi-connected things to tell you about today. The title of this post is dedicated to the end of another season of television, and my attention-deficit mood is inspired by the same venue:
From the Proud To Be an American Department: In a wooden box on my dresser I have cufflinks, a Purina Mills checkerboard pocketknife, an American flag lapel pin, and two Beretta clips holding .380 hollow-point rounds.
We bought our two-year old, Stephen Caleb, some Matchbox cars at Target last night. He digs cars. At night he gets three or four in his little hands and holds them tight, so that I have to pry them loose to get his pajamas on, and then he snatches them right back. He clutches them to his chest while I read him stories, and while we say prayers, and while I sing to him as he's lying in bed. In the morning, he's sprawled sideways with little cars strewn about the bed, like a giant who has demolished a city before falling asleep on the wreckage.
The receipt from Target had this informative note at the bottom:
"DID YOU KNOW WE HAVE A PHARMACY? FAST, FUN, and FRIENDLY Pharmacists here 7 days a week to serve you."
Who wants a "fun" pharmacist? Friendly, yes. Fast, only within reason. But fun? Fun is switching a high-powered laxative for someone's Viagra. I don't want a playful pharmacist. I want anyone handling my drugs to be deadly serious.
Not that I use Viagra, mind you. That was just an example.
I used to do a lot of corporate training, speeches, etc. I still do a little of that, but don't tell anyone. Whenever I would talk to people about the ubiquitous corporate vision statement, I tried to get across to them that the words should be in plain language, and they should mean something to the people who do the work. I contrasted this with 99% of the vision statements I've seen, which look like they were written by aliens who are impersonating humans, but who haven't quite got the lingo down yet. My favorite vision statement, up until yesterday, was from the Miracle Brewing Company:
We Make Good Beer and Sell It.
Yesterday, however, I saw a vision statement I like even better. It was, interestingly enough, from another beer company, Oaken Barrel Brewing:
We Brew It. We Drink It. We Sell What’s Left.
If you fax them your resume, tell them Tony sent you.
When I get home from work I like to put Caleb in the baby jogger and go for a run. It's hard work, pushing 60 pounds of jogger and little boy, and he doesn't make it easy. He's well-behaved enough, but he's a chatterbox; he has this overpowering need for a response to everything he says. It's like having a second wife. Here's a typical example:
Me: (puff puff, puff puff, puff puff)
Caleb: "Airplane, Daddy."
Me: (puff puff, puff puff, puff puff)
Caleb: "Airplane, Daddy.
Me: (puff puff, puff puff, puff puff)
Caleb: "Airplane, Daddy. Airplane.
Me: (puff puff) "Mmmhmm." (puff puff)
Caleb: "Daddy, it's a airplane. Airplane daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Air - plane Dad - dy.
Me: "Airplane. It's an airplane." (wheeze, puff puff)
Let the Children Come (Provided Their Parents are Suitable)
CNN hosted this interview with a woman whose part-time career as a stripper has led her 5 year-old daughter's private Christian school to threaten expulsion. This is one of those stories where everyone involved needs a good kick in the pants.
Let's start with Mommy. She claims she took the job to pay, in part, for her daughter's tuition. Fair enough, although I wonder if there weren't other ways to raise the $400/month tuition, given the impressionability of little girls, and the general obligation of a mother not to signal to her child that removing one's clothes for money is something desirable.
What grates is not the mother's reliance on a variation of that classic stripper's story, "I'm doing this to pay for school." It is, instead, this reply to the interviewer's question whether she might have anticipated that a Christian school would have problems with her behavior: "I understand that line of work is not understood by a majority of people . . ."
A show of hands, please; how many people don't understand what a stripper does? I've noticed this tendency in morally marginal professions; practitioners assert that what they do would be rightly perceived to be within societal norms, if only people understood it properly. I remember watching a talk show years ago on which a pornographic film neophyte explained that she hadn't actually engaged in sex for money, that it didn't "count" because it was just acting, and that people not in pornographic films just don't get it. The fact that practitioners need these cognitive screens, of course, is prima facie evidence that they are, in fact, violating social norms of which they are otherwise fully cognizant.
And now for the school. This touches a nerve because there is, in my city, a popular Christian school that does not accept children of unbelieving parents. I know a woman, a Buddhist, who would very much like to enroll her child in this school, and who says further that she doesn't mind at all that they would teach her child Christianity. The doors, however, remain closed to this child, and to others who would most benefit, if one takes Christian teachings seriously, from its services. (This does not appear to be a question of limited space, by the way; this parent would gladly pay to have her child taught there, yielding funds for additional capacity if needed.)
So the school where the stripper's daughter is enrolled has in their midst a child whose parents are divorced, and whose mother removes her clothes for paying strangers. I would think that it would stick in their throats, this admonition of Christ: "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." But perhaps he was not speaking of this child, or of my Buddhist friend's child. Perhaps Jesus really meant to say, "Let the children come to me, so long as their parents are believers and steady contributors to my churches, preferably white and upper middle class, with a penchant for soccer and ski trips, and a tendency to vote Republican."
I suppose we shall all find out in our own time. Were I in charge of these Christian schools, however, I would like to err on the side of letting in the "wrong" sorts of children. I don't think Christ will look so kindly on those who let his lambs go unaided.
For those of you keeping a calendar to chronicle the fall of western civilization, be sure to enter May 14th, 2002. This is the day the NCAA announced that it would begin using synthetic basketballs in its tournament games, in lieu of the traditional leather balls. This comes in response to pressure from animal-rights loons like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. (Here's a poser: did I just insult PETA, or the loons?)
It isn't enough that these meddling celery-munchers have ruined McDonald's french fries; now they want our basketballs (and if you think that isn't a metaphor for their ultimate agenda, you obviously haven't met any of the androgynized hipsters who comprise the animal-rights throng).
Here's a snapshot of what's in store: "pleather." It's what the WNBA uses. The WNBA. It's probably produced by the same people who make Naugahyde, and vinyl siding, and -- may they all suffer permanent ACL damage -- Astroturf.
But, according to Shannon, the PETA spokesdrone whose name is as sexually ambiguous as every PETA protester I ever had the misfortune not to run over in my SUV while wiping cheeseburger grease off my leather jacket, "it's hard to put a price on a cow's life."
Don't think it will stop with basketball. These people are never done. They're going after baseball and football next. And then they're coming after your food. They won't be satisfied until we're all shuffling about with iron deficiencies. And can you imagine what football games will be like, as we choke down tofu dogs and give weak cheers to undernourished players as they fumble about, trying to keep hold of their slippery, PETA-sponsored plastic football?
It's time to retaliate, people. Go eat some meat. I don't mean a Taco Bell Chicken Soft Taco, either. I'm talking about a substantial portion of an animal -- enough that they have to kill another one just to fill your order. Recall that scene in "The Untouchables," when Sean Connery explains to Kevin Costner's Eliot Ness, "If they bring a knife, you bring a gun. If they send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue!" That's the mindset we need here. Every time these parsley-chewers get together at the local alternative book store to sip herbal tea and plot their next move, we need for them to envision legions of angry carnivores happily putting Elsie, Lamb Chop, and Foghorn Leghorn to the knife in a glorious act of epicurean retaliation. It may mean that a few of us kick off a year or two sooner, but remember, every war has casualties.
I'm going to go grab a cheeseburger right now, and kick my neighbor's dog for good measure. I expect you all to do the same.