August 10th, 2008

wart

I'm just a miscellaneous kind of person

Okay, here's the post on miscellaneous things that I promised. And boy, are they ever miscellaneous!

1. I don't object to giving kids unusual names, but can't you at least choose something that SOUNDS like a name, rather than a seemingly random noun or collection of letters? And what is with the trend of names that rhyme with "-aiden"?

2. Pizza Hut appears to be going down the same road as Domino's, in terms of offering a whole bunch of stuff that isn't pizza. Now, I don't think diversifying is a bad thing, but didn't they get by for years selling very little other than pizza? And I don't think pizza consumption has gone down, so maybe people are just tired of going to a sit-down restaurant and waiting around for a while to eat something they could just as easily pick up and eat at home. I like Pizza Hut, but I haven't gone there in a while (largely because bethje doesn't like it), and I think there are plenty of local places with better pizza. Still, Pizza Hut's pizza does have a unique flavor, and I wouldn't mind eating there again at some point, if they manage to remain in business.

3. I often use highlighters at my temp job, and they run out of ink really quickly. Maybe I need to start bringing my own. I've really never been big on highlighting things (I never did it in my textbooks, for instance), but I kind of need to at that job.

4. I think "tough love" really only works on tough people, and probably not even all of them. For a lot of us, harsh treatment is just going to make us more upset, not more likely to change.

5. Here's a survey with questions I actually thought were kind of interesting, courtesy of slfcllednowhere:
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Woozy

O'Reilly vs. Tollydiggle

Somehow, Bill O'Reilly has the uncanny ability to come off as crazy even when I basically agree with him. In Chapter Nine of Culture Warrior, he describes a case in which someone raped a little girl, and was sentenced by Judge Edward Cashman to only sixty days in prison. I can agree that that's absurd. But O'Reilly doesn't stop there. Instead, he keeps going, and argues that the whole idea of criminal rehabilitation (or "restorative justice") is stupid, referring to a system in which people "believe in 'repairing harm' for both the victim and the offender" as "madness." Now, I seriously doubt that this child rapist can become a productive member of society. I also think, however, that therapy for such people is a good idea, because even if THEY learn nothing, mental health professionals can learn about THEM, and perhaps find ways to avoid similar situations in the future. And really, if this guy were locked up in a mental institution, he'd still be away from society, under heavy guard, and supported by taxpayer money. If O'Reilly's accounts are correct, this judge made some bad decisions, but I agree with him that "punishment is not enough," at least not in many situations.

One thing that I find particularly interesting is that, when criticizing Cashman, O'Reilly says that "[m]aybe in the Land of Oz," he'd be "a 'competent, caring, and conservative' trial judge." What's funny about that is that my favorite Oz book, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, has a significant bit about "restorative justice." In Chapter 15, the Emerald City jailer Tollydiggle says:

"We consider a prisoner unfortunate. He is unfortunate in two ways--because he has done something wrong and because he is deprived of his liberty. Therefore we should treat him kindly, because of his misfortune, for otherwise he would become hard and bitter and would not be sorry he had done wrong. Ozma thinks that one who has committed a fault did so because he was not strong and brave; therefore she puts him in prison to make him strong and brave. When that is accomplished he is no longer a prisoner, but a good and loyal citizen and everyone is glad that he is now strong enough to resist doing wrong. You see, it is kindness that makes one strong and brave; and so we are kind to our prisoners."

So maybe Cashman really WOULD be a good judge in the Land of Oz. O'Reilly also uses an Oz reference when talking about Nancy Pelosi in Chapter Eleven, saying, "She is a top S-P standard-bearer who lives in a virtual Land of Oz. And to her I have only one thing to say: You better knock it off, lady, or I'll throw water on you and take your shoes." Wait, I thought the Wicked Witch wanted to take DOROTHY'S shoes. Well, except in the movie, the two Wicked Witches were sisters (something that wasn't mentioned in the book), so the one from the West presumably had more legal right to the shoes than anyone else did. But Billie Burke's Glinda gave them to Dorothy, and then didn't even tell her she could use them to get home until after she'd been repeatedly threatened with all kinds of harm. Makes you wonder who the true villain of the film is, doesn't it? But I digress.

Elsewhere in the chapter, Bill claims that sex education for young kids and rulings in favor of children's privacy are meant to "mentally separate children from their parents," and compares this tactic to those used by (among others) the Nazis. He then writes, "I'm not saying these people are little Adolfs." Yeah, right. Is there ANY reason why someone would mention Hitler in an argument other than in hopes that people will think, "Well, HE was really bad, so whatever this person is talking about must be, too!" O'Reilly makes several other Nazi comparisons in the book, yet he chides George Lakoff and Ward Churchill for doing the same thing. Quite frankly, I think these comparisons are so overused, and usually in such stupid ways, as to make anyone using them seem like they can't come up with any REAL argument. Hasn't O'Reilly heard of Godwin's Law?

One of O'Reilly's arguments against sex education for young kids, as well as other things that he sees as secular-progressive indoctrination in public schools, is that "parents have a right to bring up their own kids according to a specific belief system." Sure, parents should have freedom to raise their kids as they see fit, but only within reason. What about when parents are wrong? Bill says elsewhere that he disapproves of racism, but allowing parents to raise children in their own belief systems presumably means that racist parents should be allowed to instill those values in their kids. I have a lot of problems with the school system, but the fact that it exposes kids to viewpoints other than their parents' isn't one of them.

Near the end of the chapter, Bill suggests that the fact columnist Richard Cohen was attacked via e-mail after criticizing Stephen Colbert's White House Correspondents dinner routine was "karma" for when he made mean comments about O'Reilly and his viewers. He also used that term in Chapter Seven when gleefully mentioning Al Franken's lack of success with Air America (although I have to say that it's only from O'Reilly that I've heard Air America isn't successful) and "[h]is 2004 follow-up book" (WHAT 2004 follow-up book? According to Amazon, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them came out in 2003, and The Truth (with Jokes) in 2005). I realize that O'Reilly was hardly the first to use the word "karma" in this way, but does anyone else think reducing a Hindu concept of the workings of the universe to "you were mean, so someone is mean to you" is disturbingly mundane?

I had originally wanted to cover the entire second part of the book in one post, but this ended up being so long (especially once I got off on Oz-related tangents) that I'm going to have to save Chapters Ten and Eleven for another entry.