Saturday, July 25, 2009

Arresting the Cat

My sister reports that my nephew, who is 7, "got a disturbing police office kit with handcuffs, sunglasses, and a pistol. Tried to arrest the cat. Not sure what the charge was but
'loitering' comes to mind."

Mrs. G. suggested "Driving While Feline."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Are There So Many Family Values Sex Scandals Now?

Most of the people drawn to marriage promotion and family values politics just want to improve marriage and family values. Some people who make a public name for themselves as family values politicians, though, were drawn to the movement to fight their own temptations. They were concerned about sexual morality in the first place because they knew the desires they were suppressing in themselves.

The Republican Party hitched its wagon to the "family values" star a generation ago. When sexual orientation became a major political issue, that, too, became part of the sexual purity package that Republicans used to differentiate themselves from Democrats. Opposing homosexuality and excoriating adultery became almost obligatory for new Republican politicians. Some of the people drawn to the movement at that time had demons they were fighting in themselves. Some of them got elected.

And now the chickens are coming home to roost. There are so many family values Republicans in office with affairs and, more rarely, homosexual encounters in their past that there is a new family values sex scandal almost every week. This week's affair, by State Sen. Paul Stanley over an affair with an intern, follows sex scandals of Mark Sanford and John Ensign and Larry Craig and Mark Foley .... And, no doubt, more to come.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Black Marriage Promotion is a Great Thing

CNN's series "Black in America 2" tonight featured Nisa Muhammad, the promoter of Black Marriage Day. I honor her hands on work in boot camps all over the country to help black couples make or keep good marriages. Black Marriage Day is a worthwhile publicity stunt to push the discussion. African Americans have the lowest marriage rate of any ethnic group in the country.

I learned from the show that Muhammad was motivated by a story that is all too familiar for African Americans today. Her own parents divorced. She married, had five kids, and then divorced herself. She started her black marriage crusade as a single mother. Since then she has married, though she and her husband live in different cities. Muhammad is on the road much of the time.

The next Black Marriage Day is March 28, 2010. The difficulties that African Americans face are a national problem for all Americans. I believe that the low black marriage rate, especially for parents, is the single most important source of the gap between African Americans and other Americans. I think it is particularly important for white people to study and understand black marriage. We will include Black Marriage Day in our family class next spring.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Highest Status Group in the World

"The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity."

And who does Nelson Mandela call together to make the world better, using nothing but their personal charisma and the bully pulpit?

Honorary Elders

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Country Club Vs. Coffee House, By Party

From the Centre College Alumni Survey.

I asked "Is there a place, besides home or work, where you regularly spend time socializing?" This is a test of the "third place" idea, derived from the work of Ray Oldenberg.

I have noticed that coffee houses have a strong tendency to be left of center and Democratic. I don't think there is a distinctly Republican third place, but my guess is that the country club comes closest.

In the alumni survey, 138 said they socialized at the country club, while 164 socialized at the coffee house, out of about 1400 respondents. There was a 10% overlap between the two groups. The party ratio between the two third places:

Country club: Republican 54%, Democrat 30%
Coffee house: Republican 17%, Democrat 65%

(By the way, of the overlap group, 2/3rds are Democrats.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moon Landing

We were on the big family vacation of my childhood, a camping trip from Pennsylvania to Montana. That night we were listening to the car radio as we pulled into a campsite in North Dakota. Riveted. I was 9.

Neil Armstrong stepped on to the moon. And blew his big line.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Today's Perfect Irony: Big Brother (Amazon) Vanishes Your 1984

Amazon sells many copies of 1984. If you buy a book from them, and they change their mind about it, too bad for them. It is your property. That is what "property" means.

Recently Amazon created another nifty way to sell books, in the highly useful Kindle electronic book platform. They have sold many copies of 1984 in the Kindle form, as they have in other book forms. This week, though, Amazon stole back all the copies of 1984 that it had sold on Kindle.

Amazon is Big Brother. They should be ashamed of themselves. And this kind of anti-thought and anti-property theft will kill Kindle. I was going to get one. Now I will not, until they disable the "Amazon can steal all your stuff whenever it wants to" feature.