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August 10, 2019

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such a deep, intellectual ideology.

More to the point, how beautifully it embodies Jesus' teachings of love for everyone.

If Howe is the guy I think I'm remembering from my RedState days, he's a pretty good guy.

I completely agree that the culture war thing is not productive. I even get why many evangelicals think other people look down on them, because a lot of people do, to a greater or lesser degree.

That said, evangelicals generally think people who don't share their values are going to hell, and are quite often fine with making things they disapprove of for reasons of religious conscience illegal.

Which us... problematic for the rest of us. And makes compromise difficult.

But yes, all of the things that make it impossible for Trump to be anything but a divisive and polarizing figure seem to be exactly what his supporters love about him.

You can flip the bird to your neighbors, and to the world, but it's hard to walk that back.

I suppose it comes down to this. (White; I know less about black) evangelicals are mostly focused on the Old Testament. (To be fair, the same seems to be true of other fundamentalist Christians as well.) When it conflicts with Jesus' teachings, they ignore the unequivocal words of their messiah in favor of the older teachings.

Needless to say, they will vehemently deny it. But for most purposes, they simply are not Christians at all. There is a joke that Orthodox Jews refer to Reform Jews as "Episcopalians". Like most jokes, there's something there at the core. I'd say that, while they aren't Christians, their behavior is closer to Christ's teachings than that of the evangelicals.

i'll accept that Dreher et al have made a bargain with themselves that they will support Trump because they think the alternative is worse.

but the problem i have is that their panic and despondency about the alternative has been manufactured for them. they're cowering in fear of a Fox News caricature of what the left wants. and the conservative fear machine keeps them panicked and donating and voting R. it's the same mechanism that gives us our insane gun situation, actually.

it's surreal, reading what they think the left is up to.

it's surreal, reading what they think the left is up to.

I don't buy their sincerity.

Evangelicals are a mix, like every other group. For some of them, the prospect of the rest of the world going to hell seems like part of the attraction. But a lot of them are just trying to do their best, like everybody else.

To some degree, the whole "we have the absolute truth" thing ends up being kind of a trap. It's hard to have an open mind if you think you're going to go to hell if you get something wrong.

As a current member and active participant in a UU community, I can also tell you that liberal believers can be as judgemental as anybody else. My own church service today featured a sermon that seemed to mostly be about how narrow-minded evangelicals were. There was a good point in there somewhere, but it ended up being kind of... narrow-minded.

Everybody has flaws.

What I will say is distinct about evangelicals is their sense of themselves as a beleagured minority, protecting the kingdom of heaven from constant attack. It's both a terrifying and a self-aggrandizing way to think about your place in the world. People who aren't like them aren't just some other kind of people, they are at some level threatening. With the greatest threat being that your own - the believer's own - faith or faithful practice might be somehow undermined.

Temptation and danger everywhere. It can be a tough way to live, unless you immerse yourself in a community of like-minded folks. The defensiveness and the reactionary social and political impulse just kinds of comes along with that.

It presents a challenge to people who don't share their beliefs. Nobody is really trying to get evangelicals to not be evangelicals, but they nonetheless are threatened by, or at least challenged by, the presence of people who don't believe or live as they do.

From my own personal history, I know a lot of people who are at various points along the spectrum from hard-core evangelical, to not so hard core, to self-described "recovering" evangelicals. Most of the folks I know are no longer hard-core, due to life beating their sense of certainty out of them. As it will. Most of them still actively pursue some kind of faith, they're just less focused on Leviticus now. As it were.

The millenial-and-younger evangelicals are far less into the whole culture war thing. Long time coming, but that at least is encouraging.

Just want to point out that not all "evangelicals" are right-wing "evangelicals."

Reverend Barber, for example, is an evangelical. He talks about "slaveholder religion" which is what right-wing evangelicals are all about.
For a brief time, I was a member (and maybe I still am, because I certainly haven't disassociated, but I don't go to church) of the United Church of Christ. They are "evangelicals". In fact, they are often in people's face about social justice issues (to the left), although not about believing in some form of dogma, which seems to be pretty loosely held thereabouts.

If right-wing "evangelicals" want to preach social justice issues, they need to be a bit more forthcoming about the theological basis for that. They are insincere, ignorant fools, who are basically pod people. I don't like them, and I don't apologize for it. I have to put up with a couple of them for family reasons, and I manage to be polite when it's necessary. But that completely depends on their willingness to avoid politics, because I'm not going to lie to them.

but the problem i have is that their panic and despondency about the alternative has been manufactured for them. they're cowering in fear of a Fox News caricature of what the left wants. and the conservative fear machine keeps them panicked and donating and voting R. it's the same mechanism that gives us our insane gun situation, actually.

***

What I will say is distinct about evangelicals is their sense of themselves as a beleagured minority, protecting the kingdom of heaven from constant attack. It's both a terrifying and a self-aggrandizing way to think about your place in the world.

Truer words were rarely spoken. Except here. Words as true as this are quite often spoken here.

Nobody is really trying to get evangelicals to not be evangelicals, but they nonetheless are threatened by, or at least challenged by, the presence of people who don't believe or live as they do.

Granted there's nobody much deliberately trying to convert the evangelicals in particular. (Of course, they have to put up with Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormon missionaries, just like everybody else.) But that's not the threat.

The threat is that alternative views, merely by being visible, will seduce them away from their faith. Or some of them, especially their kids. Which is a huge incentive to keep those alternative views hidden, if they cannot be suppressed altogether.

To my mind, it reflects a pretty poor opinion of your own beliefs if you think your fellow believers will depart if they are so much as exposed to a different idea. But maybe that's just me.

The threat is that alternative views, merely by being visible, will seduce them away from their faith. Or some of them, especially their kids. Which is a huge incentive to keep those alternative views hidden, if they cannot be suppressed altogether.

That is called autocracy, not religion.

Certainly some autocracies have a similar fragility in the presence of alternatives.

Certainly some autocracies have a similar fragility in the presence of alternatives.

Yes, indeed. It's the same exact thing.

Open thread, so I'm just going to jump in out of nowhere.

New Opeth coming out soon. New Chelsea Wolfe. A bunch of other stuff to look forward to in the world of heavy and dark music. But despite that, I'm playing catch-up.

There's always those bands that you hear and know about that you appreciate, but that just don't click with you at the time. Leprous from Norway were in that status for me since 2011. Then last week I decided to check them out again to see what they had been up to. Been listening to their most recent two albums fairly constantly since.

Heavy and melancholy. Progressive. Rhythmically complex in a syncopated, jazzy way (not a math metally way). Sound like pretty much no one else on the planet.

Leprous - Bonneville (youtube)

That is called autocracy, not religion.

I would ask what's the difference, but I suppose there have been one or two religions that haven't aimed to rule the world. (Wicca comes to mind.)

Still, for a lot of the history of the western world the distinction has been blurry, at best. Or what was the "Holy Roman Empire"? What was the Inquisition about? What were the religious wars that followed the Reformation fought over?

Etc.

(And no, I'm not going to engage if McKT shows up to whine that I'm picking on Christianity and the West. I speak as someone both sides of whose family were taught that the other side was going to hell. What kind of a vicious thing is that to teach children?)

To my mind, it reflects a pretty poor opinion of your own beliefs if you think your fellow believers will depart if they are so much as exposed to a different idea. But maybe that's just me.

Well, no, it's that ordinary people are too stupid to be trusted. I grew up Catholic. To read my Baptist grandma's copy of "Hurlbut's Story of the Bible" was a sin that would have condemned me to hell for all eternity if I hadn't found out -- after I read a lot of it -- that I wasn't supposed to, and had my sins dealt with in the confessional.

Bah.

Admittedly, extending my response to wj about the "poor opinion of your own beliefs," it's a little bit of a different dynamic with denominations that don't have a hierarchy along the lines of the Catholic Church, where the sainted pedophile protection ring clergy knew best about all things. But it seems to me to be a generalization or relative of the proposition that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." We are weak, we have to be protected from ourselves and each other.....

The threat is that alternative views, merely by being visible, will seduce them away from their faith. Or some of them, especially their kids. Which is a huge incentive to keep those alternative views hidden, if they cannot be suppressed altogether.

Not entirely, wj.

Evangelicals certainly have an authoritarian streak, so part of the motivation, IMO, is simply not wanting other people to live in ways they disapprove of. This is not entirely because they don't want their kids exposed. It's partly because they just don't want you to do that.

And what byomtov said.

Or why fight so viciously against same-sex marriage? My getting married has *nothing* to do with them. They just don't want me in the world. Since I'm here, they want me to pretend I'm not.

Fuck 'em.

The Focus on the Family crowd believe that exposing children to homosexuality (and any sort of normalization or mainstreaming of it) will damage a child's spiritual development and endanger healthy gender formation. Healthy gender formation being a strict binary with females submissive to patriarchal males who are submissive to pastoral and biblical authority. And a subset of them believe that actual demons exploit that damage and use it as a step towards spiritual possession.

So, yes, pretty much patriarchal authoritarianism, with a side order of Invasion of the Body Snatcher on the pentecostal end.

Or why fight so viciously against same-sex marriage? My getting married has *nothing* to do with them.

My sense, perhaps incorrect, is they think that people generally, specifically their own children, will find homosexuality irresistably attractive.** So it has to be demonized, lest that happen.

That is what, in their minds, your marriage has to do with them. Having it allowed makes demonization much more difficult.

** If they would accept that homosexuals are gay because God made them that way, it might be different. But because they insist that it's a choice....

I suppose there have been one or two religions that haven't aimed to rule the world.

Very successful religions have two things in common. They're against anything which reduces fecundity, and in favour of government authority.

These have the effect of gaining government support, and multiplying the religion's followers.

Very successful religions have two things in common. They're against anything which reduces fecundity, and in favour of government authority.

And yet there are a number of successful religions which include celibate monastic orders. Which would tend to reduce fecundity, at least to the extent that celibacy was maintained.

Concerning temptation there are basically two views. Either getting tempted means that your faith is weak (Satan goes for the easy prey) or that your faith is very strong (Satan goes for the high quality targets*). The latter is used as a favorite excuse by 'faith leaders' for getting caught in what they publicly condem, the former is to keep the sheep in line and the hierarchy intact.
It's an unresolved question whether those strong in faith should actively seek temptation to train their spiritual immune system and to prove its strength or if it should be avoided at all costs ('and he that loveth danger shall perish therein' Eccl.3,26 (or 27 in other editions)).
Of course the original idea (kept by Jews and Muslims but mostly dropped by Christians) is that G#d Himself is doing the tempting for uneffable reasons of His own.

*a common trope in legends about popular saints like e.g. St.Anthony.

Very successful religions have two things in common. They're against anything which reduces fecundity, and in favour of government authority.

#1 was the fatal flaw of the Shakers.

"But because they insist that it's a choice...."

Those who make that claim have just outed themselves as in-the-closet homosexuals.

Since sexual orientation is no more a choice than being left-handed, but in or out of the closet? Totally a choice.

reading Dreher, i get the feeling that he's upset about gay marriage because it stains the pure Christian morality of the US, and that his god will judge us all for it.

Is "belief" a "choice" according to Dreher?

--TP

I go both ways.

I write and throw left-handed.

I use eating utensils and do pretty much everything else with my right-hand.

Dreher was born into Methodism.

He converted to Catholicism in 1993 and then, ostensibly because of the pedophilia/corruption scandal in the Catholic Church, he again converted, this time to Eastern Orthodox, itself a result of schism with Rome in the 11th century.

It has always seemed to me that the least Christians in toto could do before attempting to convert me is make up their minds among themselves first.

They do, but many times over. And whatever they convert to, becomes the latest and greatest orthodoxy/heresy.

Plus, you have to get new uniforms and hats, like when I change baseball/softball teams.

As in all human religions.

On the big questions, I'm not qualified to answer, being a member of the Church of Unorthodox Ambiguity, and rather enjoying doubt.

This phrase from Dreher's Wikipedia page regarding his Benedict Option: "the idea that Christians who want to maintain their faith should segregate themselves to some degree from a post-Obergefell society becoming ever more filled with hatred."

Hate started the day after Obergefell.

See, when Janie, finally, after having her essential nature in the personal matters of love denied, discriminated against, shunned, closeted, and in some cases violently attacked by organized religious zealots for roughly .. forever, sez eff off as answer, it's hate in Dreher's increasingly strident opinion, particularly of Janie's choice of whom to love and spend her time with is codified in to law.

Somehow, Dreher believes Janie her life under sanction of law is a threat to the practice of his religion, as if the law sez Dreher must marry Janie if she so proposes.

Janie requests that Christianity stop hating her essential human nature in matters of love.

The request itself is then termed hate by the haters.

So they get to hate (and all of the societal punishment that comes with) pretty much with impunity forever, but Janie expresses some middle-finger raising indifference to that behavior, and now Dreher sez "Why do you hate us and drive Christianity into the closet?"

As with all conservatism among nationalistic and religious purists, the victims of their purity are required to give up their victimhood too, so orthodox conservatives can claim first place in victimhood, after being in first place since Constantine.

Frankly, from my standpoint, I think orthodox Christians kind of miss being victims and martyrs, as they were in early Rome.

It strengthened the brand, as our ridiculous society might say.

Them was the days.

But yes, both Christians and gays should not be victimized in those countries where both are.

Regarding McKinney's objections, I've already noted his opened mind, and his church's on matters of gay marriage, but it might be some small comfort to both McTX and Janie that the tension and insults between believers and non-believers is as old as the first idol carved from neolithic flint, which I realize both are aware of.

I'm reading "The Problem of Democracy" regarding John and son John Quincy Adams condemnation of the cult of personality in democracies and a sideboard is the elder Adams' full-throated condemnation of Thomas Paine's ridicule of organized Christianity.

Adams hated Ben Franklin too.

And on down the line.

If we could have a meeting of the Founders today, it would be cage match.


Excuse the missing words and other clumsiness.

JDT, a good laugh in the morning is a wonderful thing. I would pay to see the cage match...

I hadn't though much about your point that Christians can't seem to settle on one flavor (even though I have watched it in my own family). Ross Douthat has the seat right next to Dreher in that regard.

JDT, a good laugh in the morning is a wonderful thing. I would pay to see the cage match...

I hadn't though much about your point that Christians can't seem to settle on one flavor (even though I have watched it in my own family). Ross Douthat has the seat right next to Dreher in that regard.

From James Carse's "Finite and Infinite Games" -- I'm sure I've quoted it before, because it's one of my all-time favorites. Funny that the occasion keeps arising :-)

Augustine, the most famous convert of antiquity, was puzzled that he could have held so firmly to so many different falsehoods; he was not astounded that there are so many different truths.

Excuse the double post! I have no idea how that happened....

I'm planning a road trip in September ... hiking and camping in Utah, some Grand Canyon, down to San Diego and then slowly up Highway 1 to San Francisco to see an old friend. Lots of beach time and staring at the ocean.

But I'm taking Augustine's Confessions with me to read for the first time at the suggestion of a few people, including my now 90-year old former Philosophy professor from college, and Dreher, in passing, oddly enough.

But I'm also taking Kerouac's "On The Road" with me, which I re-read when under locomotion every few years.

The metaphor of the pilgrimage, central to many religions, appeals to me.

Probably take some Walker Percy too for review.

Existential walkabout.

To what?

Whatever.

Augustine's Confessions gave me the impression that his most poinsonous teaching (original sin) came directly from him being annoyed by the cries of his own (out-of-wedlock) child.

Dreher believes Janie her life under sanction of law is a threat to the practice of his religion

Life in the US would be greatly helped by a crisp definition of what "exercise of religion" means.

I'm reading a history of the doctrine of the trinity, which is pretty interesting. One of my take-aways is that the break between the Eastern and Western Christian traditions started long before the 11th C.

It's also remarkable how enormously large arguments can stem from the inability of words in one language to translate directly into another.

People will argue about anything. They'll argue about whether arguing is good or bad.

Monkeys with big brains.

I go both ways.

I write and throw left-handed.

I use eating utensils and do pretty much everything else with my right-hand.

And I'm just the opposite. I write right-handed -- with a language written left to right, it's the way to go if you can. (If I'd grown up writing Arabic or Hebrew, likely I'd write with my left hand.) And I throw right handed just because, growing up, it was almost impossible to get a right hand glove. Another feature of the Golden Age of the 1950s in rural California.

But for most other thing things, especially those requiring strength, I favor the left hand to some degree. Always have.

I once got shown a cute test for whether, left to yourself (i.e. unchivvied by school teachers), you would be left handed or right handed. Fold your hands together, interlacing the fingers. Which index finger is on top? Sure, you undoubtedly can do it either way. But which one happens when you're running on automatic?

then slowly up Highway 1 to San Francisco

It's a beautiful ride. Especially the stretch from Santa Barbara to Monterey.

Enjoy!

But for most other thing things, especially those requiring strength, I favor the left hand to some degree.

I think Janie and I had this discussion way back, but my non-expert theory on this is that the dominant hand is the manipulator with more fine motor skill. The non-dominant hand is for gross stabilization, with more strength, particularly isometric strength. (Someone with actual expert knowledge of this sort of thing could weigh in and correct or validate what I'm saying, as the case may be.)

Fold your hands together, interlacing the fingers. Which index finger is on top?

So I should be left-handed if this is really a thing.

But which one happens when you're running on automatic?

but what does it tell me?!

Whatever.

Whatevertialism definitely has possiblities.

People will argue about anything.

Says you.

perhaps a better "innate" characteristic is whether you are right- or left-eye dominant.

A characteristic that you need to know to properly aim a rifle.

Because, sure you can be dextrodextrous or sinestradextrous or even ambidextrous or amphidextrous.

Me, I proudly represent the adextrous community. Also lovers of greek prefixes also, too.

BTW, wasn't there some little tidbit in the xtian NT that exhorted believers to do their worshipping in closets? Maybe someone should lock Dreher in on. For his own good.

I'm overwhelmingly right-handed and right-footed (also strongly right-eyed). OTOH, both hands seemed to be equally good at learning individual finger movements (touch typing) and moving odd combinations of fingers at the same time (woodwinds, oboe and various clarinets). Interesting thing about the woodwinds is that for most of them you use all four fingers and thumb on your left hand to play, but your right thumb is basically a prop to hold the instrument up.

but what does it tell me?!

Whether you are "naturally" right handed. Or were bullied into it.

perhaps a better "innate" characteristic is whether you are right- or left-eye dominant.

We may have had this discussion before, but you can tell by framing a distant object, like a doorknob, say, in a triangle formed by the putting your thumbs and forefingers together. Having done that close each eye in turn and see which one, when open, still has the object in the frame. That's the dominant one.

You aim with your dominant eye, which explains why a large percentage of major league baseball players are "cross-dominant," right-handed with a dominant left eye or vice versa - when batting, they aim with their front eye. This theory does not explain why I, right-handed and left-eyed, could never hit a baseball, or even a softball, for beans.

As an aside, I once met the team optometrist for the Dodgers, who told me the average MLB player has 20/12 vision, with some reaching 20/8.

Anything labeled "a modest proposal" is almost sure to be fun. This one is.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/08/19/modest-proposal-trump-administration-buy-canada/

Whether you are "naturally" right handed.

if right is on top, or bottom?

Despite throwing and writing from the left side, I bat right-handed in baseball and softball (very unusual; Ricky Henderson was probably the best known ballplayer among maybe a dozen), which was established when I was very young.

My dominant eye is the right one, perhaps by accident.

At 11 years of age, I lost (nearly lost the eye altogether) most of my sight in my left eye (playing catch, the ball was thrown over my head into the woods and while retrieving it a branch snapped back and a twig went directly thru the center of my left eye; cataract surgery etc, before lasers. I retain some vision but it's not really correctible, thus I don't use the eye).

I was told I'd probably never play baseball with any effectiveness again.

Yeah, well.

But I continued batting right-handed and I've been told that I wait on the ball, aiming with my back eye, unlike anyone else in my peer group has experienced. My power is opposite to right-center field but I can turn on the ball as well when necessary.

I still have slight double vision, but over the years, my brain doesn't notice it anymore via its adaptable compensation. Sometimes, in the past, it would take me a couple of practices to get used to the reduced depth perception as well, but then I'd be fine in center going back on the ball the rest of the season.

By the way, I retired from the game at the end of last season, solely to devote more time to travel after 40-some years of playing ball March thru October each year.

I achieved more and all that I thought possible in both games at the amateur level.

Oddly, too, both my strength and fine motor functions are in my right hand, except for writing, which I rarely do anymore anyway.

I can't comfortably lift weight above a certain height from the left side like I can from the right side (frayed rotator cuff; too many diving catches and partially separating my shoulder about six times), but even last summer at age 67, I could still throw guys out at third base from fairly deep center field .... left-handed, naturally.

I'm weirdly wired, but you guys probably figured that out some time ago.

When I joke that I'm crazy, I twirl the index finger on my right hand near my right temple.

Whether you are "naturally" right handed.

if right is on top, or bottom?

Sorry, I should have been more clear. If the right index finger is on top, you are naturally right handed. Contrawise if it's the left index finger. Just how strongly you are one or the other is a seperate question.

My left thumb is on top when I lace my fingers together.

That means when I pray I'm left-handed and yet when I flip the bird, I'm right-handed all the way.

I've done everything ass-backwards since the beginning.

Left index finger on top too.

Just looked up the stats.

As of a few years ago, there had been 522 major league ballplayers in game history who throw lefty and bat righty, that's gotta be out of tens of thousands, if not six figures who do otherwise.

Nearly all of the group were pitchers, not position players.

This theory does not explain why I, right-handed and left-eyed, could never hit a baseball, or even a softball, for beans.

According to your framing test, I'm left-eyed. (I'm also right-handed.) I never played much baseball, but I could hit pretty well in pick-up and gym-class games of softball without much to speak of in the way of practice. Occasionally, I would crush the ball, like jogging-around-the-bases homeruns because I put it that far past the outfielders.

But I never got acclimated to fast pitching. I could consistently hit the ball on the slow speed (45 MPH?) at a batting cage on the few times I got needled into to going. Anything faster than that, and the ball was past me before I started to swing.

Just how strongly you are one or the other is a seperate question.

I don't know if this matters, but when I try to lace my fingers my right index finger on top, it feels very unnatural. It's not subtle.

I don't know if this matters, but when I try to lace my fingers my right index finger on top, it feels very unnatural. It's not subtle.

Me too. Yet I'm pretty strongly right-handed, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't manipulated or bullied in that direction as a child.

Once a long time ago, before the internet and politics colonized my brain, I used a few brain cells to notice that when I soap up at a sink or in the shower, I always roll the soap one way and not the other. It feels very unnatural to try to reverse the motion. It also makes me wonder how many other little things there are that reflect handedness somehow, that we never notice.

I played the piano as a kid...can still sit down and play almost as well as ever, which was never past choir accompanist level. As with typing: both hands are fairly equal. I learned to play the fiddle at the age of 40, and can play a few guitar chords, and can't imagine changing hands on either one. I think it would be easier on the fiddle, because bowing doesn't involve the finger dexterity that finger-picking a guitar does. (Imagine being Jimi Hendrix....!)

*****

Baseball: I was never very good at it, but could hit almost as well lefty as righty. Couldn't throw left *at all.* Mostly threw "like a girl" (well, my dad didn't want me to have my own baseball glove, that was for boys, so he certainly wasn't going to play catch with me). Then lost the ability to throw decently at all after hurting my arm. Wouldn't have needed to, except in those days I often served as a practice catcher (FSM help me) for my ex, who was a fast pitch softball pitcher. That activity did improve my eye for batting: it was catch the pitches or die, when we practiced.

*****

John Thullen: did you mention last summer that it was your last playing baseball? If so, I missed it. That seems an occasion to take note of with some kind of salute or ceremony.

So I salute you! And send good wishes for a great trip up the coast with Augustine and Jack.

me: I think it would be easier on the fiddle, because bowing doesn't involve the finger dexterity that finger-picking a guitar does. (Imagine being Jimi Hendrix....!)

But as I think about it a bit more, and try to imagine switching hands, it seems like my right hand would have a much harder time taking over the left hand's usual function, than the left taking over the right's. But that might also depend on whether the strings were reversed: that is, I feel like my left hand could strum about as well as my right, if the strings were oriented the same way (lowest pitch on the bottom, etc.).

Sorry, I should have been more clear. If the right index finger is on top, you are naturally right handed. Contrawise if it's the left index finger.

Research I can find online reports "marginal association between handedness and hand clasping".

I write right-handed. I kick a ball right-footed. I bowl, bat, and play racquet games right-handed. I clasp my hands with my left thumb on top.

Speaking of left...what's up with Archie Carter?

Speaking of left...what's up with Archie Carter?

As an aside, I once met the team optometrist for the Dodgers, who told me the average MLB player has 20/12 vision, with some reaching 20/8.

And as the players age, or perhaps simply weren't gifted with that kind of vision initially, MLB has no qualms about allowing players to get Lasik'ed to have vision that good. But steroids are bad? What are they going to do about the first player who has an artificial elbow put in?

i've never switched hands on the guitar, but just making the basic chord shapes in the air as i sit here, my right hand is doing a pretty good job of coming up with the shapes, even if i don't look at what i'm doing. weird. my right hand even knows the various scale patterns.

maybe i'll try switching. maybe i won't suck if i do it backwards.

Michael Cain: I don't have time to go on at length at the moment, but I got into a big argument with a relative about this a few years ago, based on the question of why a football player could wear a knee brace that probably made his knee less vulnerable than the unprotected knees of the other players, but a bicycle racer couldn't use cold medicine.

My relative, being an old curmudgeon, was so nasty to me for raising this question, even in a very musing, abstract way, that I almost left the party. But I think it's a fair question, and it will only get harder to answer as researchers develop ever fancier ways to repair and enhance bodies.

Then there's the question of gender and sports....

Thanks, Janie:

Baseball been berry berry good to me.

Genghis Khan and the US Constitution.

MLB has no qualms about allowing players to get Lasik'ed to have vision that good. But steroids are bad?

I'm familiar with some serious negative effects of steroid use. But not of Lasik. Do you know of any?

Then there's the question of gender and sports....

I'll venture a prediction. Eventually sports will use a standard based on the level of natural steroids (especially, but not necessarily exclusively, testosterone). Over the threshold and you're in the "men's" group. Under and you compete in the "women's" group. What your plumbing is at the moment, or how you "identify" is irrelevant.

Since the average for men is 7-8 times the average for women, there would seem to be plenty of room to put a threshold which would not impact the vast majority of individuals. At most, there might need to be some caveats about what level you had at any point after puberty, to deal with those who build up a lot of muscle before transitioning to female.

I'd expect they would still ban any other steroids.

Over the threshold and you're in the "men's" group. Under and you compete in the "women's" group.

Then there's people like sprinter Caster Semenya with a sexual development abnormality that puts her testosterone levels higher than the normal range for woman but much lower than the normal range for men. As a result (doing this from memory, so details are suspect) her skeletal and muscular development following puberty were "somewhat" male-like. She's not at all competitive with world-class male sprinters. But, as one of the people high up in international track and field put it, since we can now identify girls with the problem and train them, and if they are allowed to compete in the women's category, it's only a matter of time until all the women's records will be held by sprinters with this particular abnormality.

it's only a matter of time until all the women's records will be held by sprinters with this particular abnormality.

I would never suggest that this is an easy issue to deal with, but let me just point out that all the center positions in the NBA are held by players with an abnormality that makes them seven feet tall. And I wouldn't be surprised if everyone who holds records in track and field has "abnormalities" of some sort, if only we knew how to fine-tune our genetic and physiological testing to a fine enough grain. Secretariat had an abnormally big heart....

It's a messy problem.

And the whole problem has a deep connection to our oh so human obsession with winning. Without that, we could be happy continually improving our personal best, or just playing the game.

There are a couple of choices. You can lump everybody together, and those with useful anomalies will dominate. You can make a binary division, and achieve the same in both groups. Or you can make multiple classes, . . . and achieve the same repeatedly. It just depends on how granular you care to be.

all the center positions in the NBA are held by players with an abnormality that makes them seven feet tall. And I wouldn't be surprised if everyone who holds records in track and field has "abnormalities" of some sort,

And don't forget those guys with 20/8 vision. ted Williams was reported at 20/10, and rumored, inaccurately to be 20/3. Sounds like an abnormality to me.

I agree with wj's implicit argument that the problem with steroids is that they are harmful and they work. That they work means that it eventually becomes necessary to take them to compete, and that process works its way down, inevitably, to college and high school sports.

Best to stop it.

What are they going to do about the first player who has an artificial elbow put in?

Well, Tommy John surgery is getting close, and MLB has no problem with it, though John himself has been alarmed by the fact that it is spreading among teenagers, and has campaigned against that. I think this supports the steroid ban.

Sure, and 2+2=4, all done.

But it's not a math problem. I think it's going to make fighting over wedding cakes look like...dare I say a piece of cake?

E.g.:

https://usatodayhss.com/2019/conn-transgender-track-title-ix

https://www.boston.com/news/high-school-sports/2019/06/20/connecticut-high-school-track-transgender-athletes-respond-discrimination-complaint


My "sure" was in response to wj @7:49, if that wasn't obvious.

Research I can find online reports "marginal association between handedness and hand clasping".

I write right-handed. I kick a ball right-footed. I bowl, bat, and play racquet games right-handed. I clasp my hands with my left thumb on top.

That research is 1974. It was somewhat supported by an article in 2012 but the biggest and latest study I can find:

Abstract: Hand clasping (HC) and arm folding (AF) are bilateral limb postures which are subject to lateral preferences. Previous research suggested that left HC and left AF are “canonical” among European populations, i.e., generally preferred by right-handers. However, evidence on the associations of handedness with HC and AF to date is sparse and inconsistent, with studies mostly relying on relatively small sample sizes and arbitrary classifications of handedness. Utilizing latent class analysis for handedness classification, we present data from two large and independent middle-European samples, a discovery (n = 7,658) and replication (n = 5,062) sample. Our results indicate that right HC, not left HC, is overall preferred and that right-handedness is associated with right HC/left AF, and left- and mixed-handedness with left HC/right AF. Moreover, lateral preferences increased with age, and men had a higher preference of right HC, independent of handedness. We discuss our findings with regard to the generalizability of previous results.

(Ulrich S. Tran, Ingrid Koller, Ingo W. Nader, Jakob Pietschnig, Anne H. E. Schild, Stefan Stieger, Elisabeth L. Zeilinger & Martin Voracek (2014) Lateral preferences for hand clasping and arm folding are associated with handedness in two large-sample latent variable analyses, Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, 19:5, 602-614)

Pitchers are now undergoing multiple Timmy John surgeries during their careers.

Tommy John's son works with young baseball players and is warning that the procedure is out of control, with 57% of the patients operated on under the age of 18, some of them returning a second time.

His Dad agrees.

I played little league and high school ball and lots of pickup but now sons of friends of mine are playing 100 games a year at the age of 13 and 14, and experiencing stress fractures and other repetitive motion injuries.

Their still developing skeletons and musculature are not mature enough to stand the physical stress.

Youth sports is big business and the kids are way over-organized by zealous coaches and parents for the prestige, somehow thinking their kids are headed for a life in sports.

It's like they are training gladiators.

My buddy, whose kid is a really good 14-year old player, has shelled out probably more than $10,000 in hitting and pitching lessons in the last five years.

One of his teams has five uniforms -- practice, home games, away games, tournament games, and the fifth I guess for team photos.

It's nuts.

Like everything Americans get a hold of in this deracinated modern age, we up the ante and create an expensive aura of bullshit about and over everything.

Only the best, like Jurassic Park. Then, everyone gets eaten.

Just give me a clearing in the woods on an early summer day, the grass roughly mowed, some gunny sacks for bases, and an extra ball for when we lose the first one. A sister at second base.

Anyone bring a sandwich?

Play until the cicadas sing the sun low in the sky, and nod off at the dinner table, my glove in my lap.

Tommy John III is a chiropractor.

Just give me a clearing in the woods on an early summer day, the grass roughly mowed, some gunny sacks for bases, and an extra ball for when we lose the first one. A sister at second base.

Amen

One of his teams has five uniforms -- practice, home games, away games, tournament games, and the fifth I guess for team photos.

Reminds me of the fol-de-rol (and expense) required to have your kids in dance classes, as a couple of my former co-workers do. Or the "extreme cheerleading" that one of my great-nieces is involved with.

As you say, "an expensive aura of bullshit." And someone is making a lot of $ out of it.

It does really seem like a bunch of people with more money than they know what to do with. And some seriously misplaced priorities when it comes to child rearing. (At 10 or 15, sports should be about fun. Not a full time career.)

It does really seem like a bunch of people with more money than they know what to do with.

Anecdata, I know, but the people I know who are doing this stuff are very much not people who have more money than they know what to do with. Quite the contrary, in fact. Maybe more well-off people lead the way and other people feel like they have to keep up with the Joneses...? I dunno.

Just give me a clearing in the woods on an early summer day

I was born in Queens and grew up mostly on Long Island.

Gimme a street with minimal cars parked on it, some chalk to draw bases, and either a Spalding (for stickball) or a spongeball (for baseball, so we don't break stuff). We mostly played spongeball, with stickball the ball goes a lot farther and the street wasn't that long.

As an aside, Spaldings are also good for punch ball and handball. We didn't have a good wall for handball in my neighborhood, but we did occasionally play punchball. If you're going that way, it has to be a Spalding hi-bounce. You got them at Woolworth's. In principle, there were other pink rubber balls available, but they were not worth considering.

No pitching, the batter just tosses the ball and hits it. Teams agree in advance if it's no-bounce or one-bounce. More than one-bounce is possible for little kids, but nobody age 10 or over would consider it.

We had rules generally categorized as "interference" to manage the inevitable reality of all of the crap - power lines, maple trees, cars - that co-exist with and impinge upon our chalk-enscribed baseball diamond. If after being hit, the ball encounters a tree limb or a power line or a street lamp or whatever, any fielder can call "interference!" and it's a do-over.

I lived on a street that ended in a hill, with a storm drain at the bottom. If the ball somehow escaped our fielding skills and found its way down the hill, the owner of the ball had a claim to be compensated for the price of a new ball, *if and only if* he called "dibs" before the ball went down the drain. Failing that, he was SOL.

There were a couple of families on the block who got bent out of shape if you ran around on their lawn, so we tried to not hit the ball on their property. And, there were folks who would lose their sh*t if the ball hit their car, but that was less obvious, so we mostly got away with that. If you got caught bouncing a line drive off of somebody's car, you're probably call the game and go do something else.

And, of course, nobody slides on asphalt.

If we wanted to actually play hardball, we could all jump on our bikes and ride over to the middle school, where there was a proper ball field. Mostly, we didn't bother.

Good times.

Now that I think back on it, not Woolworth's, but Charles & Sons.

"The antidote? Making free time and free play once again normal, legal and abundant:

The areas where children once congregated for unstructured, unsupervised play are now often off limits. And so those who can afford it drive their children from one structured activity to another. Those who can’t, keep them inside. Free play and childhood independence have become relics, insurance risks, at times criminal offenses."
Kim Brooks in The New York Times: We Have Ruined Childhood — But a Let Grow Play Club Could Work Miracles

"I'm familiar with some serious negative effects of steroid use. But not of Lasik. Do you know of any?"

Best people to ask would be serious visual astronomers. AFAIK, they're staying away from Lasik.

Let Caster Run, from three years ago yesterday:

Perhaps the most uncomfortable truth that this controversy forces us to confront is that there’s no such thing as a level playing field in sport. As much as we like the idea of athletes winning through hard work, guts and spirit, the fact is, much of it comes down to born talent. Most competitors never had a chance.

In the end, the real question to ask is: What is the purpose of sport? Is it more important to provide uncomplicated stories that make us feel uplifted, or to celebrate extraordinary human effort and performance? My vote goes to the latter. Participating in sports taught me to feel powerful in my body, and I’m glad that no one put limits on how strong I could be. When Semenya takes to the line on Saturday, I’ll be cheering for her every step of the way.

Having helped coach little kids for several years, and watched my kids' generation as they grew from five-year-olds on the soccer field to eighteen-year-olds on the basketball court, I think that the capacity for "hard work, guts, and spirit" is a talent of sorts, perhaps more subject to environmental and psychological influences than height or weight, but certainly not entirely a matter of the athlete's "choice." I would add to that list: coachability. Some kids are wonderful to coach and soak up everything they can, partially making up for perhaps having less physical talent than others, some kids don't absorb a single thing you tell them.

On a tangentially related topic, there was an interesting documentary recently by Martina Navratilova exploring the possible repercussions on women's sport of allowing trans women to compete therein, and it included a lot of very interesting scientific research into the various differences. She was a sensitive and empathetic explorer, with (in my opinion) a pretty rare ability and qualification to speak on this subject. No final conclusions were drawn; it's a vexed and tortured subject.

Russell reminded me of the amount of wiffle ball and stick ball I played in the summer as a kid. (Stick ball mostly because there were neighbors from South Philly. I don't know how much of a thing it was in the burbs otherwise.) Maybe that was why I could hit pretty well. More practice than I realized.

Another game we played once in a while was half ball, which was like stick ball, but with the ball cut in half and imaginary base runners. You could play with only 2 players per team if need be.

Women athletes such as boxers, MMTs aren't too happy when they've worked hard to be at the top of their sport. Then someone steps into the ring, beats the crap out of them and puts them in hospital.

MMAs

we played kickball in my neighborhood. our giant front window was right in back of first base. my dad hated that game.

I was just googling "The Handmaid's Tale" and the first question under the "People Also Ask" header was "Is The Handmaid's Tale A True Story?"

I don't even know what to say about that.

Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make ignorant and uninformed.

Open thread, so I'm just reading an article from the NYT Magazine called Neil Young's Lonely Quest to Save Music, in which the last sentence of the following paragraph made me smile, although I wouldn't be surprised if that is not a universal reaction here:

Neil Young is trapped in a cycle of second- and third- and fourth-guessing, which is an affliction that is not unique to his brain. To escape from this cycle, he is continually forcing himself back into the moment and then trying to capture that feeling and energy, which is a specific kind of artistic choice. That larger cycle, combined with his magnificent control over his art, is what makes him such a uniquely vital and generative artist, at an age when peers like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger have become skeletal holograms of their former selves.

I don't even think of Neil Young as being a peer of those others, even though I know on a rational level that he is. He's defying the passage of time, like he's from some far-off corner of the universe where such things are different.

Actually, I just finished that article, and it's very well worth reading in full. Extremely interesting, and actually quite moving in many ways. Another extract:

But Young hears something creepier and more insidious in the new music too. We are poisoning ourselves with degraded sound, he believes, the same way that Monsanto is poisoning our food with genetically engineered seeds. The development of our brains is led by our senses; take away too many of the necessary cues, and we are trapped inside a room with no doors or windows. Substituting smoothed-out algorithms for the contingent complexity of biological existence is bad for us, Young thinks. He doesn’t care much about being called a crank. “It’s an insult to the human mind and the human soul,” he once told Greg Kot of The Chicago Tribune. Or as Young put it to me, “I’m not content to be content.”

I freaking love Neil Young. He is a self-directed dude.

One of my favorite recorded musical moments is his solo on "Cinnamon Girl". It is one note, repeated over and over for the whole solo, until they get back to the big riff.

It works, because it's Neil Young, and you know he just does not give a damn what anybody thinks about the fact that he just played a one-note guitar solo. Apparently that note just sounded great to him, so he didn't see the need to play any others.

I can't think of anyone else who could pull that off.

His playing on Cortez the Killer still takes the top of my head off, every time.

"But Young hears something creepier and more insidious in the new music too. We are poisoning ourselves with degraded sound, he believes, ..."

At one time the Waltz "was called disgusting, dangerous, an “obscene display … confined to prostitutes and adulteresses”, and worse."

But I don't pay any attention to music so I can't claim to know anything about it.

And no one anywhere has proven GMO seeds are poison in any way.

is there any harm in telling people what they're eating?

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