Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bully for You

Interesting article at PajamasMedia about the real way to deal with bullies at the other end of the link.  Apparently, Lady Gaga is not just someone who wears meat to her gigs.  She is perfectly capable of being ridiculous on other subjects.

The article touched a nerve in me, making me recall my days in high school, having to deal with a daily shower of shinola for being the fat kid.  And that was just the kids, don't get me started on the phys ed coaches...

Anyhow, interesting article.  As Reformed Trombonist, I posted a response there, am reproducing it below...

As Jean Shepherd wryly said in the classic movie, “A Christmas Story”, in the world of boys, “you were either a bully, a toady, or one of the nameless rabble of victims.”

Bullies of any sort make me steam with a white-hot passion. It’s been forty years since I was in high school, but to this day the memories still smart. If I could change only one decision I had ever made in my life, I would go back to my high school band and give a knuckle sandwich to the senior who had ruined my entire ninth-grade year. Yes, I too was an easy mark — a fat kid who just wanted to get along with everyone. (Apparently, there’s something very satisfying about picking on the fat kid — I don’t know what that is, but I did get to share in the experience.)

The justice behind giving a fat lip to a bully is something many women just don’t seem to get. [Note:  judging from several of the other responses, this was probably unfair.  Apparently, some women do indeed get it. -- Lee]  Since the schools are essentially run by women’s sensibilities, it never surprises me, but always disgusts me, when I hear about some school where the victim gets the same punishment as the bully when he fights back.  Challenge it, and you get to sit in the reviewing stand for the Parade of the Bromides. E.g., “Fighting is wrong, period.” And the ever-popular, “Violence never settles anything.” Pardon my French, but bull-loney. No one believes that hitting a bully is the sort of “Let’s save the world!” grand cosmic-justice solution that gives liberals a tingle up their leg. Rather, it’s a modest but effective conservative solution to an age-old problem — namely, man’s inhumanity to man, junior edition. It’s all about making the world a better place, one miserable bully at a time.

At my high school, at least once, justice was served with a cherry on top.

In my eighth-grade band class (our high school was 8-12), there was the saga of (I’ll call them) Joe and Dino. Joe was our best trumpet player, but he was a trouble-maker of the worst sort. Not a big guy, just mouthy and bullying when he thought he could get away with it. And Dino was his favorite mark. Dino was a big kid, still sporting some “baby fat”, but was so clumsy and spastic he almost seemed mentally retarded (which he wasn’t). Though he was a head taller and much larger than Joe, Dino just wasn’t aggressive, and Joe loved to ride him mercilessly — constant mouthing off, shoving, etc. Well, a couple of years passed, and what happened to Dino was no less dramatic than watching a chrysalis sprout into a butterfly — by the time he was sixteen, Dino looked like an NFL tight end. I’d guess he was about six-four, probably 240 pounds, and chiseled. For the most part, Dino was still a big Twinkie on the inside, but not completely — Dino’s attitude was slowly changing, too. Unfortunately for Joe, Joe’s wasn’t. It was inevitable. We all kept wondering, when is Dino going to do it? And then one day, it happened — the news spread all over school that Joe had bullied Dino one too many times. The evidence was splattered all over the hallway. I would have given a hundred dollars to have seen it. The next year, Joe transferred to a different high school. I’m still hopeful that the experience made him a better person.

It would be an interesting psychological study to follow bullies and their victims into adulthood, to see how their personalities developed. How many of the bullies experienced a moment of self-awareness and came to their senses? How many of their victims overcame their cowardice later in life? And what were the consequences for those who didn’t? Maybe there are some happy endings there, for both. Redemption is a beautiful thing.

But I doubt it works out that way in every case. A couple of years ago, my brother started working at the local mill again after many years of living and working elsewhere. He asked me, hey, you remember so-and-so? This particular so-and-so had once been the most feared bully at our high school. I said, yeah, what’s he like now? My brother answered, “Like a sad old drunk.” A year later, so-and-so’s name was in the obituaries, not even sixty.

At the end of life, wouldn’t it be awful to be remembered as the worst bully at your high school? I guess even bullies deserve some compassion.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Difference Between Men and Women, Installment 11672

Men are concerned with the way high-fidelity speakers sound.

Women are concerned with the way high-fidelity speakers look.

This appears to be an immutable truth. Guys want big, awesome sounding speakers the size of your living room wall. They want amplifiers that weigh seventy pounds and put out 300 watts per channel. When Jim Morrison sings about Texas radio, or Anton Bruckner is spinning out one of his glorious symphonic ideas, guys want it to rock the house.

Women, on the other hand, prefer stereo speakers the size of a pair or earrings, powered by an amplifier you can hide under a Longaberger basket. To a woman, stereo equipment should arguably be heard, but never seen. This is one reason why Bose is so popular. To most guys, it sounds good enough, and it will blend in nicely with a woman's living room decor.

But for some of us men, Bose is not enough. This built-in conflict of interest makes for some, shall I say, interesting discussions in the course of a marriage.

To a woman, the following conversation makes perfect sense.

Husband: "Sweetheart, Sam has an old pair of AR 19s for sale, he's only asking $400. Is it okay with you if I buy them?"

Wife: "How big are they? Do you really need another pair of speakers? I think the old ones look fine."

However, reverse the parameters and the following conversation is best to be avoided:

Wife: "Sweetheart, I found a new wall hanging and bought it for our living room. It was only $400."

Husband: "I think the old wall hanging sounds fine."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Abolition of Men

Below is my response to a book review of Kay Hymowitz's Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys.  The review, in my opinion an insightful one, was by Dr. Helen Smith, a psychologist who is well-known as "The Instawife" to readers of Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit web site.  However, Dr. Helen's review is not from a Christian perspective, but a professional one.  My response, as always, is from the Reformed perspective:

Anyway, here is my response:

As with most problems in this world, we have a sad situation brought about by poor theology. Or, perhaps more precisely, the failure of Western Christian nations to teach good, stout theology.

Feminism is the direct result of men’s selfishness and weakness. Women need to be loved and cherished. It is their due, and they know it. If men will not love them and cherish them, women shall get their revenge the best way they know: by beating men at their own game. What we have today, in government, in the workplace, in the popular culture, is that women are exalted and glorified, while men are derided and ridiculed. Women have gained the upper hand and are reveling in it.

Paul cemented his reputation among feminists as a woman-hater when he wrote that wives should submit to their husbands. How silly and forlorn that all sounds today. But what Paul wrote immediately after that somehow gets lost amidst the thunderclaps of indignation: Paul instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church — that is, willing to lay their lives down for them. It’s a two-way street: as women need to be loved, men need to be respected. It is their due, and they know it. If women will not respect them, men will get their revenge by stealing women’s purity and exploiting them at the most base level of animal function. If men are to be accorded no more respect than opportunistic wolves, then let’s howl.

What we have here is an untenable situation. As George Gilder wrote in Men and Marriage, each civilization faces a continuous invasion of barbarians — namely, their own children. For channeling the potentially destructive power of young men into constructive endeavors, nothing beats a family headed by a husband (who should be providing a daily example on how to treat women in a godly way) and cared for by a wife (who should be providing a daily example by showing their young boys the rewards of responsibility). Without such training, young men shall seek respect on the streets, and in the bars and boudoirs. Our prisons are filled to overflowing with such men.

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, a situation that can’t be sustained won’t be. Christianity has failed to teach these truths, and so Islam beckons these young men with half of it. As it did for so many years, Islam would crumple like a wad of cellophane against a strong West with a robust Church that was less concerned with being trendy and more concerned with teaching sound theology. But that West has been dead for over a century. Meet the new, improved, atheistic, feminist West. When you’ve lost the young men, you’ve lost. I give us a generation, two at tops.
Be sure to read Kay Hymowitz's extended pout in the Wall Street Journal, the gist of which is that the dissolution of society doesn't go with her new outfit.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lee's Martini Recipe

Here we go, for liquid paradise:

1 1/2 shots of a very good gin
1/2 shot of vermouth
two inch strip of lemon rind

Mix gin and vermouth in shaker filled with ice

Shake shake shake
Shake shake shake
(Shake your booty)
(I'm dating myself)

Shake until your hands cannot stand how cold the shaker has become. For me, that's about 256 shakes.

Pour gin and vermouth into a martini glass.

Twist the lemon rind over the martini glass contents and then toss it into the mix.

If you're especially ambitious, twist another lemon rind onto the rim of the martini glass.

Voila. Fluid Nirvana.

My good buddy Jay, bass trombonist with the Omaha Symphony, taught me how to make a martini. But I don't make it the way he taught anymore. Jay likes an extremely dry martini. Essentially, he merely coats the ice with vermouth and then tosses out any residual vermouth before adding the gin. He also sometimes "shakes it naked", i.e., without any vermouth at all. I have tremendous respect for Jay in practically all areas of expertise, and in particular his expertise in mixology. But I have since learned that I prefer a less dry martini. Gin and vermouth are two drinks that are quite rough by themselves, but which smooth each other out. (On the opposite end of the spectrum, Manhattans -- a mixture of sweet vermouth and whiskey -- are rough, even though the components are quite smooth by themselves. Go figure.)

There seems to be some controversy on what, exactly, constitutes a good gin. If money is no object, I prefer Beefeater. Jay introduced me to Beefeater martinis, and I have never found a better gin. However, Beefeater is very pricey -- here in Virginia, it's about $45 per 1.5 liter bottle. Ouch. I save the Beefeater for guests. For everyday martinis, I use good old Seagram's, which is less than half the price and pretty darn good. (Debbie actually prefers the Seagram's; it's a milder flavor, but still fairly complex.)

Some folks are Bombay Sapphire Gin partisans. Don't want to start a fuss or anything, but I don't get it and never will. When Jay taught me the art of the martini, he stressed that Bombay Sapphire was every bit as well-respected as Beefeater. So, not too long afterward, Debbie was out of the house, and so I decided to stage a private taste-test. I had one Beefeater martini, and then one Bombay Sapphire martini. I didn't like the Bombay martini, but I had to make sure, so I had another. Not at all happy with the results, I called Jay to register my displeasure. He wasn't home, so I vented on his answering machine. The next time I saw Jay, he told me, "I wish I had saved that rant, I could have made a million bucks with it." Then, in his best Foster Brooks voice, Jay verbally reproduced my message: "Jayyy, thish ish Lee. I'm here to tell, you, hiccup, Bombay Sapphire makesh an infeer... inferrioorrr martini!"

I've experimented with gins a bit. Hendricks is a recent newcomer. It's half again even more expensive than Beefeater. Very hoity-toity. I like it okay, but to me it tastes like a gin made for people who don't like gin. Part of the charm of gin is the in-your-face herbal fisticuffs. In that regard, Hendricks is a relative sissy on a shelf full of brawlers -- it acts like it's ashamed of being a gin and would really rather be a vodka. Most of my experimentation has been at the low end of the market, in search of a gin that can compete with Seagram's. Haven't found one yet. Gins in that sector of the market are manufactured for gin & tonics. Or British sailors. Gordon's Gin, for example, is an excellent gin for a gin & tonic, and cheaper even than Seagram's -- but is a bit violent on the martini sipper's superior palate. If I say so myself.

I've also experimented with dry vermouths. Don't bother. Martini & Rossi's Dry Vermouth, at about $9 a bottle, is almost twice as expensive as the competition -- but in truth it appears to have no competition. Buy the M&R. Don't waste your time on inferior vermouth.