Thursday, April 27, 2017

The perversion lobby is out of control (social media attacks)

Writing this column days after being slapped with a social media suspension for saying the truth of the Kardashian-poisoned Bruce Jenner's appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight refusing to answer Mr. Carlson's question has allowed me to see the true form of “Bay Area Values” being imposed by elites on anyone who opposes their feelings.

During the episode of the Fox News program, Mr. Jenner (I refuse to use his Daytime Serial Drama for Men* gimmick) said he could not find any advantage of having men who claim to be women participating in women's sporting events, despite the contrary to incidents in New Zealand with weightlifting (man claiming to be a woman won national title), a mixed martial arts incident (man seriously injured woman in a woman's mixed martial arts event), and the previously mentioned incident we posted here regarding a lawsuit against CrossFit where the organisation's counsel sent a letter .

*In college, a few friends would get together and watch The Monday Night Wars every Monday night at the student union;  I had no idea of its popularity, but I learned they had called it a “soap for men”. A few times there was a pay-per-view  As we have referenced here in the past, the last “soap” went off the air in 2010, when the last daytime drama produced by a soap company ended.  These shows are daytime serial dramas, and “professional wrestling” would be called a male daytime serial drama, a derivative of these afternoon serial dramas being aimed at a feminine crowd.

The first I had heard of such stupidity was a 2002 movie filmed in Metrolina*, “Juwanna Mann,” where a man in a professional basketball league tries out in a women's league. Now we have seen the elimination of gender verification tests, and what standards are there next to be removed?

*Metrolina denotes a sixteen-county area around Charlotte.

In contrast to Mr. Jenner's spin doctors on Mr. Carlson's show, we must remember this:  Mr. Jenner was born with an X and Y chromosome, and the anatomy of a male of the human race. Notwithstanding hormone therapy or even surgery, he still has an X and a Y chromosome.  Sir, as the CrossFit letter to the competitor who sued to be in a women's division states evidently, he still has a genetic makeup that confers both physical and physiological advantage over women. No “sex reassignment surgery” will change any discussion. That's the genetic advantage CrossFit's attorney notes, Mr. Jenner and many supporting the perversion movement refuse to understand in order to advance an agenda.

Of course, the perversion movement takes advantage of elite cities and judges out of touch with an entire country to force their way when it was rejected, sticking their tongues out in front of everyone, and working to demolish any organisation (especially churches, Fox News, anyone with a Biblical worldview) that refuses to submit to their agenda. It is why Ted Cruz called out the Stonewall Values (which he referenced that drew the ire of New York City newspapers) being pushed at everyone else's expense. And after I answered Mr. Jenner by saying he is a male, and referenced that men should not be in women's events, I was reported probably by a perversion lobbyist and banned from social media for saying the truth.

Is there any truth left when the sexual perversion and humanist lobbies can dictate what can be said in society today?  Why is referencing CrossFit's letter to a male who claims to be a female wrong?  Why is saying the truth of Mr. Jenner wrong?  Why can a tiny group of crybabies impose their way as a CCCP Dictatorship?  I do not submit to these perversion lobbyists.  Why do we have to make their kayfabe be mandated as a “gospel” when the anatomical truth is banned?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Opera Wednesday

The title role of Benjamin Britten's 1945 opera Peter Grimes was created by (and likely for) Peter Pears, but from the late 60s on it was the province of the great Canadian tenor Jon Vickers. It was said that Britten himself was not particularly happy with Vickers' rough, almost brutish portrayal of Grimes (in contrast to Pears' more vulnerable interpretation), but for an entire generation of operagoers Vickers was Grimes.

Britten was quoted as describing Grimes as "a subject very close to my heart—the struggle of the individual against the masses. The more vicious the society, the more vicious the individual." It was and continues to be a story dramatically open to interpretation: was Grimes responsible for the deaths of his apprentices? Was he sexually molesting them? Or was he an innocent, persecuted by closed-minded villagers? Is Grimes victim or villain? Whether one prefers Pears or Vickers, the opera remains relentlessly intense - from the first bars through the famous, haunting "sea interludes," one knows that this will not end well.

From 1981, here is Jon Vickers in his final dramatic scene. Note the crisp enunciation of the English lyrics - a trademark of Britten's operas.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flashback Friday: The automated world

At dinner [Wolfe] started on automation. He has always been anti-machine, and on automation his position was that it would soon make life an absurdity. It was already bad enough; on a cold and windy March day he was eating his evening meal in comfortable warmth, and he had no personal connection whatever with the production of the warmth. The check that paid the oil bill was connected, but he wasn't. Soon, with automation, no one would have any connection with the processes and phenomena that make it possible to stay alive. We would all be parasites, living not on some other living organisms but on machines, arrived at the ultimate ignominy."

- Rex Stout, A Right to Die

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Opera Wednesday

Nothing too complicated this week. I'm not a big fan of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute); I've seen it once, and that's enough for me. But it has some delightful music, none moreso than the famous Overture, heard here in this 2006 performance with Ricardo Muti and the Vienna Philharmonic.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The losing of our historical reference points

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed in the 1960's put an end to observing proper holidays on their days that they are to be observed, giving three-day holidays, instead of observing why these days were observed.

Monday's Boston Marathon is one event affected by this law.  Most people today do not remember that prior to the 1969 change, this event was originally held only on April 19, unless it was a Sunday, when it was held April 20.  Can anyone identify why the Boston Marathon prior to 1968 was always held on April 19 (or if it was a Sunday, then April 20)?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

He is Risen

Matthew 28:1-7:

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

-------------------------
Christ is Risen!  And on the 275th anniversary of its debut, as an Easter piece, we celebrate with Händel's Messiah, and the ending of the Easter Motet of this sacred selection, that I participated in 2009 as a one-off at the church where my Sunday morning Bible study teacher's son and daughter-in-law (who died a few years ago of cancer) attend.  One of the choir members also shared a voice teacher with me for a year (Leah Hungerford, 2003-04).  (How can you attend church and be stuck with bad Top 40 hits when you can have the real material?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holy Week: He Was Despised

Part II of Händel's Messiah, as we've known, was released for Easter, and in 2017, is the 275th anniversary of the release of the Eastertide piece (which sadly, most do not see it in the liturgical calendar).

These selections from the grandeur of Georg Frederich Händel represent the Passion of the Christ. Yet they are rarely heard in most areas as the second (Easter) and third (Pentecost) are rarely heard in performances.  As churches are being sold to the river by Big Entertainment's push to influence the music ministries of churches to sing whatever they are pushing, and churches led by loud rock bands are starting to control communities (those self-help Life Enhancement Centres skipped church on Christmas Day when it falls on a Sunday and are sometimes "Universal Music Only" congregations, a reference to the "one translation only" churches), and other well-known churches are now singing the latest hits from Sacramento's KLVR-FM on screens, with no musical notation listed, generations are sadly losing the appreciation of the masterpieces as they are only fed Top 40 hits.  The consequences show when they are older, as they only associate church with parties and self-help, and not of studying God's Word.

But let's listen to a set of pieces today from Messiah that fit our Holy Week:


Friday, April 7, 2017

Baseball Week: Farewell, Mr. Cub, and thanks

If ever there was a player who exemplified the joy of baseball, the delight in playing what is essentially a kids' game, it was Ernie Banks. No celebration of baseball could be complete without a tip of the cap to the man whose entire career was a celebration. Would that he would have been able to see the Cubs win the Series last year.

E rnie Banks, the Chicago Cubs baseball star, was buried today in Chicago. His performance on the field was spectacular—19 seasons, an 11-time All-Star, the first National Leaguer to win back-to-back Most Valuable Player trophies, a total of 512 home runs, Hall of Fame first ballot in 1977. His character off the field was even more exemplary—a spirit of joy, optimism and enthusiasm that was contagious way beyond the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

Yes, Ernie Banks certainly was, for all the right reasons, Mr. Cub.

There were times, many probably, when that spirit was tested. Banks was the first African-American player on the Cubs when he joined them in 1953. Even as tributes flowed at the news of his passing last week at age 83 from a heart attack, references were also made to early ‘50s encounters that hadn’t been so welcoming. “People said terrible, racist things to him,” one long-time Cub fan recalled. “But Ernie just smiled right through it.”

And then there was the losing. The Cubs have become the longest-running “lovable losers” in major league baseball, if not in all of pro sports. They haven’t been in a World Series since 1945. They haven’t won one since 1908. In Ernie’s first 14 years as a Cub, they only had one winning season. Ernie played 2,528 major league games. None were in the post-season. (That futility is summed up in a riddle. “What did Jesus say to the Chicago Cubs?” Answer: “Don’t do anything until I get back.”)

Losing didn’t dampen Ernie’s spirit, though. “Let’s play two!” became his well-quoted catchphrase. He loved playing the game, it was all about the game, win, lose, whatever. It was the friendly, positive spirit of competition that he most enjoyed. That spirit infused Cub fans, it seems. It lingers at Wrigley, and perhaps in a few other, sadly vanishing, ball fields today.

I wasn’t a natural Ernie Banks fan. Growing up near San Francisco, I was a Willie Mays guy. I resented anyone crowding Willie’s spotlight. (With some justification. In 1958, when Banks became the first player on a losing team to win an MVP, he hit .313. Willie hit .347 that year. Just saying). But I always respected Ernie Banks and enjoyed watching Cubs games on TV, amazed at this slim shortstop who could pretty much do it all.

I realized in a new way this week how much I admired, and will miss, Ernie Banks. It took a Super Bowl to do it.

First it was the sports media machine pumping out endless, rancorous stories about possible cheating in the NFL, in what’s being called “DeflateGate.” Then it was the Super Bowl media day circus where one player in particular—Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch—became the poster-child for today’s arrogant, self-obsessed, pampered, obscenely overpaid, and repugnant professional athletes by ignoring reporters’ questions by smugly repeating  just one phrase (“I’m just here so I won’t get fined”) for nearly five minutes.

Apparently for Mr. Lynch, and many other pro athletes today, the joy has gone out of the game. They put up with it, grab their paychecks, and fly off to the Bahamas or Vegas or wherever they go to spend that money. They certainly don’t want to play two.

So, thank you, Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, for doing what you did. And more important, for being who you were. Thank you for leaving a legacy that hopefully will not diminish with your passing. We need people like you today. More than we know.

[Mitchell here - Steve had this very funny article about Ernie Banks a few years ago - would that it were true!]

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Baseball Week: We miss you, Harmon

It's often said that baseball is the most lyrical of sports, and few writers can capture that lyricism better than our own Steve Harris, who, writing about the death of Minnesota Twins legend Harmon Killebrew, reminds us all of the emotions that the game can bring, and why baseball - unlike football - will always be the National Pastime, if not the National Obsession. 

It is Tuesday afternoon, October 7th. I am sitting here in an office at 9th and LaSalle in Downtown Minneapolis, on an absolutely gorgeous autumn day. From my window I see blue skies, puffy white clouds, and I hear that the temp is in the mid-70s. Fall weather in Minnesota just does not get better than this. What a day for a walk around Lake Harriet, coffee with a friend at an outside cafe on the Nicollet Mall, and finally, once again we can say this...a baseball game.

Or can we? The Minnesota Twins are in the playoffs. (Hats off to them for a fine season). The Yankees are in town. A beautiful, many say spectacular, new stadium, an open-air baseball field, (taxpayer funded, by the way) is sitting there ready for action. So, let's play ball. Except...it is the Yankees. It is the Era of Bud. It is National TV time. So the game today (as was last night's) will be played at...night.

Ugh. What a waste of a day so rare. How sad that the joys of baseball, a spring sport, more a summer sport, a fall sport, yes, but NOT a cold-weather sport, will not be on display on a day like this in Minneapolis. I hope it doesn't get too chilly. I hope we don't have the sights of players with knit-caps, heavy jackets and mittens like we've seen in those interminable Red Sox-Yankee playoffs.

Then again, I kind of hope that the Twins can win some games and the playoffs get extended, and we play into later October, and on a much colder night we get a blast of snow. I would like to see how Bud would handle that. Maybe he would lead a parade of players and fans and hot dog vendors back to the Dome. Might as well.

We have lost a treasure, fall baseball on a day of sunshine and blue skies, and I'm not sure we even know it.

Yes, Harmon, we miss you.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Baseball Week: Yes, yes, no, no


As we continue our salute to baseball's opening week, I'm reminded of the end goal for each team: the playoffs and, hopefully, the World Series. Back in 2010 the Phillies' Roy Halliday slew baseball's great white whale, the post-season no-hitter. It was only the second such time it had happened in baseball's long history, and as I wrote at the time, it becomes even more impressive the closer one looks at it.

There was, not surprisingly, only one topic of conversation around the sports water cooler this morning, that being Roy Halladay's no-hitter in Philadelphia’s opening game against Cincinnati yesterday. As just about everyone knows by now, Halladay’s was only the second no-hitter ever thrown in postseason play, joining Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

Oddly enough, this was the very thing I had been planning to write about tomorrow. Not Halladay's no-hitter, of course, since he hadn’t thrown it yet, but Larsen’s. October 8 is the 54th anniversary of Larsen’s perfecto, and for the hard-core baseball fan that date triggers a Pavlovian response in much the same way that July 4 or November 22 or December 7 do to the historian.*

* I don’t mean in any way to equate Larsen’s no-hitter with these other dates, some famous and some infamous. It’s just that if you say “October 8” to the aficionado, many of them would immediately respond “Larsen.” It just does.

I’ve long thought that Larsen’s performance was perhaps the most remarkable in the history of sports, or at least baseball. This piece by Cliff Corcoran lays it out very well – we’ve had postseason baseball since 1903, when the first World Series was played. From then to 1956, a span of 53 Series (there was none in 1904), you had a maximum of 371 games that could have been played. In all that time, there was only one no-hitter.

Since then, we’ve added a Championship Series in each league (starting in 1969), expanded it from five to seven games (in 1985), and added a Wild Card round (in 1995), meaning that in the 53+ years since Larsen, you’ve had a maximum of 1,245 games that could have been played, or almost four times the potential number since Larsen.* And in all that time, with all the opportunities we’ve given them, no pitcher was able to match Larsen until last night. If that doesn’t meet the definition of remarkable, I don’t know what does.

* I know, many if not most of these series went less that the maximum, but you get the point.  And anyway, I didn't have the time to count all the games.

And why should this be?

Well, one obvious reason is that pitchers aren't conditioned to go nine innings anymore.  Their charge is to get six or seven good innings, then turn it over to the bullpen.  Which means today's pitchers may not have the physical or psychological fitness to go the distance, even if they're being fueled by the adrenelin of a no-hitter.  Halladay led the league in complete games this season, and I don't think that's a coincidence.

Then there's the pressure of the post-season.  This seems to me to be the explanation that makes the most sense.  Just because we're told by the television people that the postseason is "a whole new ballgame" doesn't mean it isn't true.  The pressure of a short series, combined with the national spotlight, was bad enough before 24/7 sports channels came along - now, it's probably been magnified three or four times.

(There is a flip side to this, however, namely that the pressure can work both ways, producing performances that might be beyond the normal expectations from a given pitcher.  That was certainly the case with Larsen, who was little more than a journeyman either before or after his perfecto in the pivotal fifth game*, and it might have played to Halladay's advantage in the crucial opening game yesterday.**)

* With a series tied at two games apiece, as it was in '56, the fifth game is always pivotal.  You could trademark it.

** See above.

This morning I heard someone saying that, statistically, there have been too many no-hitters in the postseason, or at least more than the odds would suggest.  I know, that doesn't sound right at all.  But, according to the stats, .1% of all regular season games result in no-hitters, whereas the figure is .2% in the postseason.  Whatever.  I'd guess, if I had to, that it might have something to do with the number of bad teams playing bad games in the regular season.  One could argue, as I do, that if the best hitters make the postseason, that makes it harder to throw a no-no.  But you could also argue, I suppose, that having the best pitchers in the postseason makes a no-hitter more likely.

In the end, I think this is something where you have to selectively ignore stats.  Fact of the matter is that we've had more than one hundred years of postseason baseball, and until last night there had only been one no-hitter.  If we have two or three more in the next decade, maybe we'll have to revisit the whole thing.  But until and unless that happens, I'm sticking by my original thesis that Larsen's perfect game was the most remarkable, the greatest, pitching performance of all time.  A no-hitter in the World Series would have been incredible enough; Larsen's perfect game, the first in 34 years, defies description.

And that makes Halladay's perhaps the second greatest.
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