Friday, September 29, 2017

Hugh Hefner, R.I.P.

We are admonished not to speak ill of the dead, and yet sometimes the historical record makes an honest appraisal otherwise. It’s hard to know exactly how much responsibility Hugh Hefner bears for the decline of Western Civilization. Chances are if he hadn’t done it, someone else would have (nobody forced us at gunpoint, last time I looked). His legacy, such as it is – the imprint that he leaves behind as he shuffles off these mortal coils, bound for parts undetermined – is that of the bunny’s head, one of the most familiar corporate symbols in the world.

I don’t know, but I suppose Playboy is passé nowadays, considering the nudity in it is probably tepid compared to that which anyone can find online. But the bill of indictment, as it were, is a long one, for Playboy was but one step on a long downhill road that lead to the mainstreaming of soft-core pornography, the acceptance of female nudity for the purpose of titillation, the creation of an “ideal” body type that most women could never hope to attain without the benefit of airbrushing, the commodification of body parts in the form of breast enhancements and other kinds of plastic surgery, the ideal that the “modern man” could partake in sex with as little concern over the consequences as if he were drinking fine wine and sampling hors d’oeuvres while dressed in his tux and listening to cool jazz at the club. With all this going against it, it’s a wonder that the nuclear family has survived as long as it has.

The idea that Playboy was somehow unable to compete with what was available for free led the magazine to try eliminating nudity, an experiment that lasted only about a year before it became apparent that nudity, tame though it may be, was just about the only reason left to buy Playboy. And it’s true that, setting aside the lithe, tanned bodies that jumped from the pages (if one can), the magazine was known for a literary style, often introducing young writers whose works would become far better known, as well as established authors who’d mastered the short story. There were the provocative interviews, a type of long-form journalism that’s hard to find anywhere anymore, as well as lifestyle pieces that on occasion didn’t have anything to do with sex. Hefner himself was a champion of jazz, and a generous contributor to film preservation efforts, which are good things. But other, better, magazines had once contained the same kind of content only to disappear from the shifting cultural landscape. There was no reason for Playboy to be any different, so the nudity returned. At least it’s something, you might have imagined them saying in the boardroom, with a resigned shrug.

One can’t blame Hef for all the evil in the world today, of course, convenient though it might be. Larry Flynt took the stylish sophistication of Playboy to the next logical step, introducing graphic, hard-core porn to mainstream magazine stands. Helen Gurley Brown morphed Cosmopolitan, a grand old magazine, into a sex club for women. Stag films had been around long before Playboy, but there was still a sense of shame attached to it, the idea that it wasn’t something respectable men could afford to be associated with in public. Since the entire notion of shame was something that the modern man no longer need to be concerned with, though, the consequences of living the Playboy Philosophy in public were far more diminished, if not gone altogether.

Yet it remains true that the legacy of Hugh Hefner will mostly be that he made soft-core pornography mainstream, even respectable, and in doing so he lowered the bar for acceptable public behavior. The very existence of Playboy was another step down the slippery slope; its success in making porn fashionable accelerated the decline even more.

By the end Hugh Hefner was, I think, something of a joke. The Playboy Philosophy does not wear so well on a man in his 90s, and the site of his withered, wrinkled body next to the smooth, surgically inflated contours of his latest paramours, was not just painful, it was grotesque. One’s tempted here to insert a comment about Dorian Gray, but even that might be lending the scene an excessive dignity.

We can’t know the final disposition of Hugh Hefner – that’s way above our paygrade. We can only look at the visible: what he accomplished with his life, whether or not he did justice to the many talents with which he obviously had been born. Put it this way – I’ve lived far from a perfect life, but I wouldn’t want to have his record. In the end, he didn’t have to be Satan Incarnate to wreck havoc on the world; being one of his lesser, more insignificant minions was sufficient enough.

The Grand Guignol that Hugh Hefner left behind speaks for itself and will do so for eternity. May God have mercy on his soul.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Throwback Thursday:

Fox News's John Stossel recently had some interesting things to say about how the police have handled the violence in Ferguson. I think Bobby's right about the irresponsibility of the young man killed by police, but Stossel sounds a cautionary note that the police are hardly blameless, either, suggesting that the increasing militarization of police forces everywhere tells us something about what's happening in American, and that ain't good:

[The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson] notes that a man identifying himself as a veteran from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division reacted to video of police in Ferguson by tweeting, “We rolled lighter than that in an actual war zone.”

If authorities arm cops like soldiers, they may begin to think like soldiers -- and see the public as the enemy. That makes violent confrontations more likely.

Again, this doesn't excuse the violence of that segment of protestor who's looking for trouble (cough-cough-Al Sharpton-cough), and Stossel makes clear that lawlessness is never acceptable.  But this whole issue with the police is incredibly troubling, something that should have been addressed quite some time ago; but better now than later.  It's further evidence of why the Founders thought we needed a Second Amendment, and proof of their wisdom in understanding that the government, no matter who's in charge of it, should never be completely trusted.  As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."  We know that this quote has been misappropriated many times, for many different reasons, but there's still something to it, don't you think?

Where do we stand on that today?

Originally published August 26, 2014

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Opera Wednesday

No matter what it is that's bothering you, an overture written by Mozart can usually cure it, or at least make you feel a lot better. Case in point is this charmer, the overture to Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), first performed in 1782.* It's hard to imagine it not being just as sprightly to audiences at its premiere as it is to us today.

*The role of the benevolent Pasha, a non-singing part, was often played by Werner Klemperer, our beloved Colonel Klink.

This performance is by the Vienna Symphony, under the baton of Metropolitan Opera principal conductor Fabio Luisi, in a 2006 appearance in Japan. Enjoy.

Wish I'd written that: On idiots and knees and the Anthem

Idiots say idiotic things. It’s like apple trees produce apples…. The most charitable thing that one can say about her book is that it is complete stupidity, because if one didn’t accuse it of being stupid, one would have to say that it was a deliberate fraud.

- Belgian author Simon Leys, speaking in 1983 about Chinese Communist apologist Maria-Antonietta Macchiocchi, who had written a book in praise of the Cultural Revolution.

The thought had occurred to me to write something similar about the athletes using the National Anthem as a form of protest; most of them are, in fact, either dupes, because they believe the lies that are being fed them regarding some of the "injustices" being inflicted by the police, or idiots, because they willingly work to perpetuate those falsehoods, knowing them to be such. Whenever they open their mouths to speak, they simply confirm one or the other. As someone wrote the other day, if an athlete were to take a knee to protest legalized abortion in the United States, would he be so feted by the press and his teammates? I think you know the answer to that one.

There are, in fact, a lot of things wrong with law enforcement in America, things I've written about before (here, for example), and one would be stupid indeed to overlook it. There are a lot of things wrong with race relations in America; the idea of slavery as America's "original sin" is a profound one, and one we still haven't overcome. Still, the idea of multimillionaires who've clearly thrived in America getting down on one knee to protest "injustice" is laughable - no, idiotic.

Most professional sports teams are located in major metropolitan areas: have all the members of, say, the Cleveland Indians, Cavaliers, and Browns pitched in a million dollars or so* to go toward training police officers in hopes that this injustice will be dealt with, at least as far as law enforcement is concerned? I haven't heard anything about it. Does that mean that such an effort would be useless, that racism is so endemic to America that no amount of education short of reeducation will address it? If that is in fact the case, then what good do social protests to, since they'd have even less effect?

*I know that there are some players who truly can't afford a million dollars, those who are at minimum salary (which is still more than I'm likely to see in my lifetime), but I suspect LeBron James can make up that difference by himself.

The same goes for boycotting White House appearances.* I laugh at how shagreened the Golden State Warriors were when they were disinvited to the White House -an invitation that some of them had indicated they wouldn't accept in the first place. The team protested that this would eliminate the opportunity for dialogue on the burning social issues of the day (I can just imagine the quality of that discussion), but those like Stephen Curry, who'd already said he wouldn't go, apparently had already determined that a show of political defiance was worth more than the chance for dialogue. Look at it - these people can't even sing from the same page!

*Which I think are overdone to begin with. Why should the President be considered the nation's number one sports fan? Why should sports be that important? I'd like to see the institutional cult of personality that surrounds the presidency be eliminated for that reason, but it's another topic for another day.

In the end, the most damning thing one can say about the United States is that we as a people put so much stock in the opinions of celebrities and athletes in the first place. Haven't we heard them complain, usually after having been arrested or called out on some other kind of misbehavior, that they didn't ask to be role models in the first place? And yet now they decide they want to be social advocates? It is to laugh. Perhaps if we're that shallow, then we won't be capable of elevating our national IQ to the point that we can have a serious discussion on race, sex, politics, or anything else. Instead we'll just sit around trading opinions on the cover stories in People, Rolling Stone, Cosmo, Us, and Sports Illustrated (yes, it's come to that). We'll find out not only who's taking a knee, we'll also address such burning issues as whether or not Kylie's pregnancy will change things, if Jen's marriage will survive, the truth behind the breakup of Brad and Angelia, how to drive your man wild in bed, and other screaming headlines. They're all equally important.

Leys is right. They are, for the most part, idiots, so we should expect nothing less from them. Because, to paraphrase his words, in doing so we're being charitable. The alternative is that they're out-and-out frauds, and that wouldn't be a nice thing to say, would it?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Reaping what we've sown

In comparing textbooks used in religious schools and humanist schools, the books used by humanist schools promote liberal propaganda endlessly.  One of the most notable examples was glorifying the single American legislator who objected to sending the troops to battle days after Pearl Harbor was attacked by the merciless Tojo's forces representing Japan.  Others have been creating new liberal heroes such as Milk and Obergefell, and even Barbara Lee (the Congressman who refused to send us to battle after we learned Saddam Hussein was a terrorist, especially when he funded families of homicide bombers with cash for performing the terrorist actions;  Fox News' Neil Cavuto said those who paid families of homicide bombers who killed as many Jews as possible were just as much terrorists as the bombers.  As we've seen with the initial starts of protests against the American flag as a symbol of slavery, it references what Jason Whitlock calls "San Francisco Values" advanced by these textbooks of propaganda, and denouncing American historical events such as the American Revolution, War of 1812, and the Civil War.

In a recent commentary marking the 20th anniversary of Rich Mullins' death (see "The Cruelest Irony" on this blog for a reference to "My Redeemer" winning the GMA Dove Award for Song of the Year, since he was thrown from his Jeep without seat belt when he and song co-write Mitch McVicker were thrown from a Jeep on their way to a concert; the presenter was a triple MENCS champion), a columnist noted how the latest top-40 hits from the entertainment giants quickly replaced all songs of the past.  In the same manner as that in many churches, we are seeing that with those who disregard American history.  They remove all references to US history of the past and replace it with their "new narrative" of new left-wing heroes as we've mentioned in order to teach new generations only their new narrative.  As the Young America's Foundation noted, "Many on the Left have tried to turn (Patriot Day) into a 'day of national service' or a celebration of tolerance, instead of remembering that radical jihad attacked this nation because of our western values. "  Both of these go hand-in-hand with the shameful erasing of the past (see Deconfederatisation) and advancing the new heroes.

As such, look at the attacks on Francis Scott Key and Fort McHenry even in Baltimore, and the entire change in the "new narrative" they want us to advance.  Has a generation taught the Left's new narrative given us this fiasco?


 Ian Kissell, "How Rich Mullins Changed the Way We Worship," Relevant Magazine, 19 September 2017.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dr. Laura's point is being proven again

A video from the University of New Hampshire's Alpha Phi sorority is proving Dr. Laura Schlessinger correct regarding the cultural use of the N-bomb.

 In a moment that turned out to be the 72-year old Dr. Schlessinger's Waterloo on broadcast radio, she referenced the double standard with questionable language in an infamous 2010 incident.

Schlessinger:  Not everything that somebody says -- we had friends over the other day, we got about 35 people here -- the guys were going to start playing basketball. I was going to go out and play basketball. And my bodyguard and my dear friend, he's a black man. And I said, "White men can't jump, I want you on my team." That was racists? That was funny.  ("White Men Can't Jump" is a reference to a Woody Harrelson movie.)

Caller: How about the N-word? So, the N-word's been thrown around --

Schlessinger: Black guys use it all the time, turn on HBO, listen to a black comic and all you hear is November, November, November.  I don't get it. If anybody -- if anybody without enough melanin says it is a horrible thing, but when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing.

The video in question that reminds us of the Schlessinger incident was the sorority singing along with Kanye West's "Gold Digger" as it is playing on a jukebox.  The lyric in question they were singing was the chorus of the song, which goes, "Now I ain't saying she a gold digger, But she ain't messing wit no broke November, Get down girl go head get down".  That lyric is repeated often in the song, and the song also contains a few 25-point penalties for inappropriate language.

So the question is asked again -- why is the sorority being punished for singing along and playing a nasty song from Kanye West, but if certain groups play it, there is no problem.  Note too how many school choirs now sing the obscene ditty from one Cee-Lo Green known as "Foxtrot You" in their performances.

Is there a double standard in society?  This likewise is the same with certain groups.  How is it sexual perversion lobbyists have a right to write the laws, but everyone else is not allowed to play in the same sandbox?  As Antonin Scalia warned, how is it conservative Evangelical Christians are not permitted a seat at the legislative table when sexual perverts are?  The same goes with this incident at the University of New Hampshire.  How is it using the N bomb is acceptable for some groups, but not others?

Friday, September 22, 2017

A return to a classic

The two Republican candidates in the runoff election for United States Senator from Alabama, Roy Moore and incumbent Luther Strange, decided, after the former chief justice for the state's judiciary (removed following bogus charges filed by the Southern Poverty Law Centre that he refused to enforce the invented "law" on marriage in Alabama that was actually the feelings of a few in cities far away from Montgomery and rejected by the entire state 4:1), uncovered conflicts of interest with Mr. Strange's campaign by the "moderator" in the "debate," to participate in the classical debate format that led to the career of Abraham Lincoln, the classic debates between Mr. Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, better known as a Lincoln-Douglas Debate format.

This is a refreshing moment as Americans, angered by the arrogance of the Far Left in events such as court cases and popular culture that is out of touch with the entire country, have decided to call for the classic format that is a pure one-on-one debate format.  Those who debated in school will appreciate this format and a turn away from what the late Tony Snow called "glorified press conferences" that can easily be tilted.

You can read more about last night's debate here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Where's spellchkr when you need it?

TThe big news in sports today is that, according to CNN, there's apparently a new NBA team we weren't aware of, and in the Big Apple, to boot.

It's a team called the New York Nicks (short, one presumes, for Nickerbockers). Is this team owned by Nickelodeon, perhaps? Or maybe, because the team isn't very good, it's their way of saying they aren't worth a plugged nickel.

This obvious typo in the headline has been changed since the initial posting, but thanks to the miracles of technology, we were able to capture the original screenshot:

It probably didn't long for the editors to find this, although I'm somewhat at a loss as to why they didn't catch it in the first place. But, harking back to what Steve wrote about a couple of weeks ago (the "debarked" dog), it really gives you confidence in our media, doesn't it?

Originally published October 2, 2007

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The rot inside

In every man's past there's some dirt. It can be dirt that belongs to the past and not to the present. But it can be dirty enough to use to smear a person, smear him so good that he'll have to retreat from the public gaze. You aren't tied up in politics like I am so you haven't got any idea how really rotten it is. Everybody is out for himself and to hell with the public. Oh, sure, the public has its big heroes, but they do things just to make the people think of them as heroes. Just look what happens whenever Congress or some other organization uncovers some of the filthy tactics behind government . . . the next day or two the boys upstairs release some big news item they've been keeping in reserve and it sweeps the dirt right off the front page and out of your mind."

- Mickey Spillane, One Lonely Night

Originally published November 1, 2007

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Opera Wednesday

There is an opera point to this, if you can wait long enough. At first, however, it might seem as if the only opera we're talking about here is a soap opera, such is the feeling one gets when thinking about the stories we've been reading about for years about the "epidemic" (I think that's the word they used) of student-teacher sex affairs. Of particular interest to many was the number of female teachers who had become involved with young male students, many of them in their early teens. Some call these teenage boys "abused," others consider them "lucky." Whatever, clearly the answer to ending this scandal is to allow teachers to marry - wait a minute, my mistake; it's allowing priests to marry that's supposed to end sexual abuse of teenage boys.

Clearly, if we learn anything from this whole mess, it's that the theory that allowing priests to marry will eliminate the pedophile scandal is nothing but a red herring. First of all, it's not pedophilia but pederasty that drove the Church's scandal - that and a rejection by the priests involved of Catholic teaching.

This, however, is a matter for another day. What interests so many about this teacher abuse study is a fundamental question of human curiousity: what do these grown women see in teenage boys? There's something almost nauseating about the whole thing. What I find interesting about it is how this behavior contrasts so dramatically with how women used to behave, or at least how they were portrayed in popular culture. Forget for a minute whether or not that pop culture portrayal was an accurate one; what mattered, in order for the portrayal to be a successful one, was that it was plausible.

Nowhere is that more evident than in pulp detective fiction, especially that from one of the genre's masters, Mickey Spillane, and his greatest creation, Mike Hammer. Hammer is, to put it mildly, a chick magnet (as well as a magnet for bullets, fists, Commies, Mafia, and all sorts of other unsavory characters). And we're not talking about ordinary women here - just beautiful ones. Breathtakingly beautiful ones. Hammer, at first blush, would seem to be the most unlikely object of desire.

He is, by his own admission, not a handsome man. It’s true that women often meet him after he’s been beaten virtually to a pulp by some nefarious perp, who invariably winds up dead, either right away – in the “you should see the other guy” school – or later on, when Hammer fulfills his mission of revenge. It’s clear, though, that Hammer harbors no illusions about his own appearance, even in the best of times.

And yet women literally throw themselves at him. Within minutes of the initial meeting, they’re tossing off suggestions and bon mots at him that would make a sailor blush. To these invitations Hammer often reacts lewdly, taking advantage of some, distaining others. It must be nice to pick and choose that way.

Hammer is by no means unique in the world of detective fiction. Philip Marlow, for one, has the same, shall we say, problem (especially when he’s played by Humphrey Bogart), and easy sex with loose women is a staple of both pulp and mainstream mysteries. Even Nick Charles, he of the Thin Man series, is one of those men who women want and men want to be like. Nick is considerably smoother and more handsome than most of them, however, plus he has Myrna Loy to come home to, and so he remains above those kinds of temptation.

Nevertheless, what is it about these characters that causes beautiful women – far more beautiful than the men are handsome – to throw themselves at them with a speed worthy of a Puccini opera? The reason for this animal magnetism, implicit in the Hammer books, is a simple one: manliness. Hammer is a real man, not a fake – a man who knows what he wants, knows how to get it, and, most important, isn’t afraid to take it.

And this is what brings us back around to the central question asked at the beginning – why the epidemic of female teacher-male student affairs? What is it that these older women – some barely older, some much older – could possibly find of interest in these boys? One theory that I find plausible is that implicit in these actions is a rejection of modern malehood – the lack of manliness so prevalent in men today. As the metrosexual (if that term isn’t already passé) becomes a dominant archetype of the modern man, more and more women yearn for that old-style masculinity found in the likes of Hammer and others. Enough with men who seek to be in touch with their “feminine side.” To many women, this breeds doubt, uncertainty, an unwillingness to take the initiative – hardly qualities that make a man truly attractive. Hugh Grant may be the ideal man for those tissue-drenching chick flicks that Lifetime and Hallmark live on, but it’s not hard to imagine that a real relationship based on that Hugh Grant character would lead to frustration and exasperation before too long.

So, confronted with the lack of “real men” out there, and dismayed by the alternative - young men wrapped up in rude, crude and boorish Maxim-like behavior, women reject the choices presented to them by conventional society and instead turn to the raw material, the stuff that their dreams can truly be made of. In the handsome, virile boy in their classroom they find a boy eager to learn, eager to please, with much to offer in the physical sense; but also one not yet corrupted by sensitivity training. Perhaps he’s a rugged jock, or a boy who exhibits all the hesitant masculine boisterousness that teenage boys usually have. Or he’s untapped ground, one who can be shaped not by the demands of society to emasculate himself, but by the desires of a woman who thinks (however misguided) she can teach him how to be a real man.

This kind of thing is really nothing new however, as is shown by Richard Strauss’ comic opera masterpiece Der Rosenkavalier. The subject matter in this story, written in 1911 but set in 1740s Vienna, was the source of some controversy as well. In it, we have the Marshallin, a charming but aging noblewoman, who is involved with Octavian, described as “a handsome young man with an eye for beautiful women.” Through a series of impossibly convoluted twists and turns, Octavian loses his heart to the beautiful young Sophie, who herself is engaged to the inept and repulsive Baron von Lerchenau.

Although the Marschallin is captivated by her affair with Octavian and falls in love with him, she knows that eventually he will leave her for a younger woman - one more his age. Eventually, this happens, and in the heart-wrenching trio "Hab' mir's gelobt" she releases Octavian to follow his heart and go to Sophie, saying she loves him so much she only wants happiness for him, even if it is with another woman.

With this ending, Strauss hints at the natural law of things, that eventually people - especially young ones - gravitate toward those of their own kind, their own age. And I think that what people most strongly object to in these teacher-student affairs is the idea that the young are being robbed of their future, of their natural maturing into the world beyond their youth, in essence being trapped into a lifestyle (and the consequences) long before they're ready to accept - or even understand - that life. Thus, they are not victims of sexual abuse per se, but of the same kind of abuse that we see in advertising campaigns, in peer pressure, in a hundred different ways - the abuse of forcing children to become adults before they're ready. Some would say that the unfortunate, if not ironic, aspect of this is that in the teacher-student case this is often being done by women who refuse to grow up, who yearn instead for their own childhood, free of responsibility.

As I say, I’m no sociologist, so I don’t pretend that this is anything other than a theory that I find compelling. It also suggests, but doesn’t necessarily deal with, the immaturity that these women themselves exhibit, their own failure to grow up and act responsibly. It does, however, answer a great many questions. And undoubtedly it says a lot about the present state of masculinity – or the lack thereof – in the modern male. I don’t know if we should be more worried about this epidemic of schoolhouse abuse, or the cultural forces that may be playing a part in it.

Whatever the case, this whole phenomenon should cause us to look closely at what our culture has become - how we view childhood, what it means to be a "real man" (and how through our culture so many of the natural aspects of manhood are being stripped away), and how for so many nowadays, adulthood is something to be put off as long as possible.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What the Hill is going on?

ESPN's efforts to convince the public that the network has no liberal bias probably took another hit today, after this Twitter exchange in which SportsCenter host Jemele Hill (above, right) called the President a "white supremacist." Now, I don't know about your situation, but where I work, there's something called a "code of conduct" when it comes to social media, which includes bringing my employer into disrepute. For someone like Hill, whose public identity as an on-air talent for ESPN is considerable, I would suspect that the code of conduct would be a lot more stringent than it is for someone like me working at an ordinary place of employment.

Or is it? As the story indicates, ESPN disassociated itself with Hill's comments, but not with Hill herself. I don't know that anyone seriously believes that if the tables were turned, if Hill were a conservative white anchor who'd said something similarly disparaging about Barack Obama, that she'd still be an employee at the network. At the very least she'd be on suspension (or "administrative leave," as it's called most places) while the network attempted to measure the fallout.

The likely scenario here is a forced apology which may or may not be sincere, in which Hill regrets the embarrassment that she caused her employer, and allows as to how, in these highly emotional times, she let hers get the better of her, something which won't happen again., To which I would reply, echoing the words of one of our local radio talk show hosts, B as in B., S as in S. When ESPN can fire an announcer for using the word "guerrilla" to describe the tactics of one of the Williams sisters (because, you know, it's too close to the word "gorilla," which we all know is racially charged), then for something like this, the network should have no choice. Ask Curt Schilling if ESPN was as understanding when it came to his political commentary.

Hill's days at ESPN should be over, and it's almost embarrassing to have to point this out. If that happens, then I'll gladly apologize to ESPN for doubting them - until then, ESPN's claims that it does not have a liberal bias will rank right up there with the Tooth Fairy and the Man in the Moon for fairy tales that have the power to amuse little children.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Flashback Friday: Just how old is your granddaddy, anyway?

All together now, for the thousandth time: Words Mean Things.  Case in  point is this article, posted on yesterday.  In fairness to its author, Ryan McGee, writers don't generally do their own headlines, so he can't be to blame for the following:

We've all heard that old saying - "this ain't your father's..." or "this ain't your grandfather's..." and we know what it's supposed to mean - this isn't the way it was back in the old days. The point of this article is to suggest that the times are a changin', that things aren't the way they used to be.  Well, seeing this headline, I knew right away there was something wrong; I just had to do the math to make sure.

Now, let's say you're 25 years old, a good age to be a football fan.  Le'ts further say your father was 25 when you were born, and his father was 25 when he was born.  That would make your grandfather 75.  Assuming he was a football fan when he was 25, that would make it 1965, 50 years ago.  So, just for the hell of it, let's take a look at college football's top ten for the end of the 1965 football season:

Well, Michigan State certainly was in the top 5.  And in case you're thinking I'm nitpicking about this, let's go a little deeper: Michigan State was #2 the following year, 1966 (the year they lost the title by tying Notre Dame in the Game of the Century).  Just a fluke, you're thinking?  Very well; let's suppose your grandfather's top 5 started in 1960, when he was 20.  Sorry - Michigan State was ranked that year as well.  In fact, they were ranked #11, in 1960, #9 in 1961, #10 in 1963, and #20 in 1964.  In other words, although they were in the top 5 only twice (1965, 1966), they were ranked in the top 20 six times in the seven years that your grandfather might have been looking at.  And in case you think granddad's top 5 might have come when he was older, say in his mid-30s, that doesn't really hold up either: the Spartans were ranked #9 in 1950, #2 in 1951, #1 in 1952, #3 in 1953, #2 in 1955, #10 in 1956, #3 in 1957 and #16 in 1959.

In other words, Michigan State was pretty much a college football power throughout the '50s and into the mid-'60s; it wasn't until Southern schools started integrating, destroying the pipline that Northern schools such as State had built up in the South, that Michigan State dropped from the power rankings. Let's call that the '70s and '80s, which wouldn't be your grandfather's time as much as it was your father's.

Do you think I'm nitpicking too much?  All right, let's look at Mississippi then.  You'll note that in that 1965 poll, Mississippi ranked #17, the eighth year in the decade of the '60s in which Mississippi was ranked in the top 20.  Matter of fact, Ole Miss was pretty good in the early part of the decade, when your hypothetical granddaddy was in his early 20s, finishing #3 in 1960, #5 in 1961, #4 in 1962 and #7 in 1963.  Playing the devil's advocate and going back to the 1950s (as we did with Michigan State), we see that Mississippi was #7 in 1952, #6 in 1954, #9 in 1955, #8 in 1957, #12 in 1958 and #2 in 1959.  As was the case with Michigan State (though for different reasons), Mississippi's decline came much later on, in the '70s, '80s and '90s.

Which brings me back to the beginning question: just how the hell old is grandfather supposed to be?  I know there's always a tendency to look back in the past and think it's father back than it actually is; 50 years sounds like a long time ago, but it was actually 1965.  Taken in the most generous sense, a grandfather usually isn't going to be much younger than 40 when the first grandchild is born, and unless you're about seven years old (and if you are, you shouldn't be reading, especially when the swimsuit issue is out), you're going to have a hard time proving your grandfather didn't know a time when Michigan State and Ole Miss were in the top 5.

You could have avoided so much of this confusion simply by saying that this year's rankings "aren't your father's top 5."  Is this a case when the headline writer gets so caught up in the story (one-legendary programs making a big comeback, which itself is problematic considering Michigan State finished last year ranked #5 and the year before #3, meaning they aren't all that unfamiliar with the top 5 lately) that they write the headline to fit a preconceived notion?  Is it that the headline writer doesn't know much about football history or is so young that they can't remember the last time these teams were ranked so high?  Or is it that the writer was too lazy to spend five minutes Googling College Football Polls (as I did) to write an accurate headline?

Take your pick, but I wish these headline writers would do their homework.  I'm old enough to remember when Michigan State and Mississippi were highly-ranked programs, and I don't have any grandchildren (yet).  Please, I don't need to feel any older than I already do.

Originally published September 22, 2015

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Opera Wednesday

And now for something different - the great opera star Birgit Nilsson as the victim of a practical joke on the Swedish version of Candid Camera. You'll be able to understand most of it, but even when you don't know the words, you'll probably still get the jokes!

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