Archive for December, 2008

Addicted to Unrealistic Expectations

December 30, 2008

A couple of posts I’ve read today seemed related enough and interesting enough to post about here.

Addiction #1

One is that a recent study seems to show that romantic comedies are measurably bad for you.  They create unrealistic expectations, which go unfulfilled, which leads to unhappiness with one’s life.  This isn’t exactly surprising — neither the fact of it, nor the mechanism by which it works.  We discussed this a bit, once before.  But romantic comedies will always be popular, of course, because they let us vicariously live what we want our lives to be, and that’s the most powerful drug of all.

Addiction #2

The other is another recent study that shows that teenagers who take “virginity vows” are sexually active in exactly the same proportion, at exactly the same age, and with exactly the same number of partners as teenagers who didn’t take such a vow.   So, aside from being incredibly creepy — have I mentioned before how creepy these things are?  if not, let me say they’re creepy as a big ol’ creepy thing that goes creep creep creep — virginity vows don’t work.  At all.

Worse, one area where avowed virgins do differ from their non-vowing counterparts is in their use of protection.  They are much less likely to use any form of protection than teenagers who didn’t make a virginity vow.  So, basically, viriginity vows are great if you’re a fan of extreme creepiness, lying, hypocrisy, teen pregnancy, and STDs.  Or if you’re a parent of a teenager who just wants to feel better about your child’s [lack of] sexuality.  Otherwise, they’re not so great.  But, of course, the addicts in the latter category number in the millions, so we’ll continue to be stuck with all the evils of the former category.

Pelikan

December 27, 2008

Jaroslav Pelikan’s insistence on the continuity of Christian thought throughout its history — that is, on the essential consistency and sufficiency of that tradition — is very heavy-handed, in my opinion; nonetheless, this is a useful quote from him on the subject of religious tradition:

Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Tradition lives in conversation with the past, while remembering where we are and when we are and that it is we who have to decide. Traditionalism supposes that nothing should ever be done for the first time, so all that is needed to solve any problem is to arrive at the supposedly unanimous testimony of this homogenized tradition.

Knights Who Say…

December 27, 2008

Ezra Klein sort of joins the roundtable, not quite catching up with me, Bernanke, Yglesias, Paulson, and Spitzer.  He recognizes the problem, but can’t quite make a clear and specific recommendation on what to do about it.

Step Aside, Ambrose

December 24, 2008

An entry for an updated edition of Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary that may come in handy in the coming year:

so·cial·ized med·i·cine – any health care system that serves patients better than it serves the speaker.

Christmas Playlist

December 16, 2008

In the spirit of the season, I’ve made a quick playlist of some tunes that always get me in the holiday mood. Some are classics, some are newbies, and some are classics with a twist. Happy listening!

1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Cindy Lauper & Frank Sinatra) – Leave it to Lauper to capture the fun swinginess (did I make up that word?) of this song. It always makes me smile.

2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland or Ella Fitzgerald) – Judy’s got the sadness of the melody, but Ella picks up the cheeriness of the lyrics.

3. Christmas Time Again (Extreme) – Yes, a Christmas song from the 90’s band Extreme. And it’s fabulous. Play it, Nuno!

4. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Leon Redbone and Zooey Deschanel) – This is the version from Elf and includes 1/2 of She & Him.

5. On Santa’s Way Home (Marc Broussard) – Marc Broussard could sing anything and I would stop to listen. This is classic Broussard New Orleans goodness.

6. Little Drummer Boy (Bing Crosby & David Bowie) – I don’t know who thought to put these two guys together, but brilliant!

7. Must Have Been Ol’ Santa Claus (Harry Connick, Jr.) – “Happy ho ho ho to you.”

8. Christmas, Don’t Be Late (The Chipmunks) – Admit it. You sing along to “huuulahooop” every time it comes on the radio. I actually had the entire Chipmunks Christmas album as a child. My parents are amazing people.

9. Santa, Baby (Eartha Kitt) – Eartha’s got the perfect amount of sass to pull this one off without being sleazy.

10. Last Christmas (Jimmy Eat World) – I actually like this version better than the Wham original.

And then there’s the worst Christmas song ever. Apart from the general horridness of the song itself, it’s the weird delayed synthesizer delay that puts it over the top.

But they were first with the story.

December 4, 2008

A report from the BBC today went through the following versions in quick succession.

Version 1:  Security officials shot and killed 6 men at the New Delhi airport.

Version 2:  Shots were fired at the New Delhi airport.

Version 3:  A sharp sound was heard at the New Delhi airport.

Coming soon:  A Buddhist monk snapped open a Slim Jim at the New Delhi airport.  Film at eleven.

Knights Who Say…

December 4, 2008

Another knight joins the roundtable, as Elliot Spitzer (yes, that Elliot Spitzer) catches up with me, Bernanke, Yglesias, and Paulson.

The better policy is to return to an era of vibrant competition among multiple, smaller entities—none so essential to the entire structure that it is indispensable.

No kidding.

Clearing the Baffles

December 3, 2008

If, like me, you find yourself accumulating books at an alarming rate, and have found yourself so doing for, lo, these many years, this article from Laura Miller is a godsend.

I haven’t felt so good since my last colon cleanse.

Knights Who Say…

December 1, 2008

Another knight joins the roundtable, as Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson catches up with me, Bernanke, and Yglesias:

We need to get to the place in this country where no institution is too big or too interconnected to fail.

No kidding.

Pop Culture Round-Up

December 1, 2008

Since I have nothing of interest to add to the political discussion, I’ll stick to what I know.

Best Movie I Saw: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. There’s nothing like a Holocaust movie about children to get you in the Christmas spirit, eh? This one is told from the perspective of a young boy whose father is a German soldier. They live close to a concentration camp, and he secretly befriends one of the boys. The most poignant parts of the story involve the boy and his mother as they discover the truth about his father’s job.

Looking Forward to: Slumdog Millionaire  and Doubt, two extremely opposite movies that both previewed at the Striped Pajamas showing. Slumdog is about a boy who goes on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and Doubt is the story of a priest suspected of child abuse.

Best TV Show I Watched: I’m in mourning that Pushing Daises isn’t getting renewed. It’s gorgeous, clever, touching, funny. Plus, it stars Lee Pace. Sigh…

Most ARGH TV Moment: The frat boys making it to the final 3 of The Amazing Race. Has there ever been a less deserving team in the finals?

Best Thing I’ve Read: I’m working through some of the young adult novels mom has bought me in the past, and the best so far is Number the Stars, a story that takes place during the Holocaust. What is it with me and the Nazis? I also like to reread Little Women every Christmas, so hopefully I’ll start that soon.

Best Thing I’ve Heard: I haven’t heard the entire She & Him  album, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.