Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Manspreading in Public, Womanspreading in Private

"Manspreading" is the tendency of some men to spread out and take extra space in public - on a subway bench, for example.  This is a real phenomenon, and the public-awareness campaign to encourage men to be more restrained is sensible.

Less noted is what I think should be called "Womanspreading" - the tendency of some women to take extra space when sharing a bed.  A humorous representation of the phenomenon is here:

I think there is a parallel phenomenon of "mansplaining" in a public setting, and "womansplaining" in a private one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spreading Democracy vs. Spreading Capitalism

There is a great divide in American foreign policy since World War II.

Some want to spread democracy.  Some want to spread capitalism.

Realizing this clarifies to me much of what has been muddy in why some of our interventions have been for good, and others for ill.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Correct Your Regrettable Habits

Take note of your moments of regret.  Literally write them down in a notebook.

Resist the natural temptation to repress them and move on.

Regrets are your best clue to which habits you need to analyze, and correct.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Most Republicans Support Establishing Christianity as the National Religion

Public Policy Policy has found that most Republicans support establishing Christianity as the national religion, by a margin of 57% to 30%, with 13% unsure.

The proportion rises to 68% among those who would like to see former Gov. Mike Huckabee become president.

The survey does not ask any further questions about the respondents' understanding of the Constitution or of Christianity.  My guess is that this position does not rest on a deep analysis of either.

Instead, this is the characteristic conservative loyalty to what they imagine to be "traditional" as being sacred.

The irony, of course, is that what is actually traditional in the United States is that we definitely do not allow an established religion.

Moreover, I am sure that that majority agreement among Republicans on establishing "Christianity" would disintegrate as soon as they got down to any specifics of which practices of Christianity they have in mind.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Marriage Opportunity: A Centrist Approach

I am happy to be among the original signatories of a new manifesto, "Marriage Opportunity: The Moment for National Action." 

The manifesto calls for the same pro-marriage position that I have been arguing in this blog for a decade.

What is new is that this statement supports same-sex marriage as good for the marriage movement.

I believe this is a centrist position.

The signatories, fellow members of the Marriage Opportunity Council, are from the left, right, and center on a number of issues.  The group includes people who previously opposed same-sex marriage, and those who have previously thought marriage an objectionable institution on the grounds that it was heterosexist or patriarchal or simply outmoded.  We come together on this statement now.

I hope, and expect, that this position will soon be the norm in the middle of political discussion.

Friday, February 20, 2015

David Brooks is Right That Religious Extremists Seek Glory, But Mostly Wrong That Nationalism Is the Best Cure

David Brooks has a sensible column about religious extremists.  What they want, he says, is not the mundane bourgeois solutions of the settled ruling classes - better education and more jobs.  Brooks is right that they have the "thymotic urge" for a glorious, heroic life.  This is an anti-Enlightenment urge that we still see in all cultures, especially among gangs of young men.

Brooks writes "You can't counter a heroic impulse with a mundane bourgeois response.  You can only counter it with a more compelling heroic vision."  This is correct.

However, Brooks goes on to say that the best available heroic vision is nationalism.  Here I think he errs.

Nationalism is the religion of the modern masses.  It is better than nothing.  But nationalism has the great drawback of producing nation-state wars, which are even worse than terrorism.  The Islamic State is trying to create a Sunni Arab nation-state precisely to mobilize that nationalist impulse.  In that they are trying to go Al Qaedi and its imitators one better, to create a more enduring, modern structure.

But nationalism is not a great religion.  It falls far short of the beatific vision.  It is a very limited god.  It may be a help in countering gang-level visions of the heroic impulse, but it is itself a dangerous prescription.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Martin Luther Toy is a Hot Seller

This story would be amusing just for the fact that a Martin Luther Playmobil toy exists at all.

That it is selling out is even more amazing.  

As we approach more Reformation semi-millennium anniversaries, I hope for a whole Diet of Reformers.  Can't wait for John Calvin.