10-11-14 Hodgepodge

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Leftist Attempts to Defend Football

Jonathan Chait, attempting to defend one of the left's new whipping boys, football, makes lots of valuable points, but I was amused by the following passage:

Football tends to attract boys suffering from testosterone poisoning, and certainly it is far from a surefire cure. Perhaps we'd all be better off if boys could be guided into totally peaceful pursuits, but not all teenagers are cut out for chess club. Football channels boys' chauvinistic belligerence into supervised forms, shapes them within boundaries, and gives them positive meaning. These virtues, like those often attributed to the military, can feel like clichés imported from an earlier era -- and yet discipline and directed ambition are, as every social scientist knows, the bedrock of success in adulthood. And also like the military, that other bastion of social authoritarianism, football has actually changed with the culture -- its disregard for player safety and its misogynistic conflation of weakness with femininity have shrunk from the norm to the hoary exception. To cite just one example, over the last dozen years, the program Coaching Boys Into Men, which uses coaches to teach male athletes to respect females, has flowered nationally. Football has fallen victim to the paradoxical dynamic by which liberal culture's awareness and sensitivity have succeeded in reducing violence but in so doing made the problem of violence seem even more anachronistic. [my bold]
Testosterone poisoning? Can the left become any more derivative or second-handed? How is replacing the misogynistic error of equating moral weakness with a caricature of femininity any better than the misandrous one of equating barbarism with a caricature of masculinity?

Weekend Reading

"If you like the idea of being self-employed someday, start now by developing a 'self-employment attitude.'" -- Michael Hurd, in " 'Work for Yourself' Applies to All of Us" at The Delaware Coast Press

"If you start to unfavorably compare yourself to others, stop!" -- Michael Hurd, in "The Antidote to Envy" at The Delaware Wave

"[P]oorly designed [Electronic Health Records] can impede physician workflow and jeopardize patient safety." -- Paul Hsieh, in "Did Bad EHR Software Lead to Ebola Patient Being Sent Home?" at Forbes

My Two Cents

Hurd's article on self-employment reminds me of an imperfect analogy I once drew between having an employer and being self-employed: Having an employer is like being self-employed -- and having only one client. As Hurd indicates, this situation can make certain things easier, but it also has major pitfalls. Whatever "security" comes from that situation is due to a trading-off of the insulation -- from the loss of that client -- that other clients could bring.

Keeping the Raccoons Out

From an article about one man's effort to solve the problem of raccoons getting into Toronto's trash bins, while not making it too difficult for humans to use them:
"We've devised all sorts of ways of protecting our garbage, which all fail," says Michael Pettit, an associate professor of psychology at York University, who has studied the history of animal behavior, including that of raccoons. The success of the city's aggressive raccoons have struck fear into the hearts of Torontonians. Even Toronto Mayor Rob Ford confessed to the media that his family was too frightened to take out their trash. "Everyone I know has had to evict a raccoon from their house," says Pettit. "Everybody has a raccoon story."
The solution -- which will soon undergo a massive field test -- appears to be to create a latch that requires an opposable thumb.



Grant said...

How, exactly, is being derisive towards an effeminate male misogynistic? Whether or not effiminate traits are inborn in some men - and therefore beyond the province of morality - the fact is that "chauvanistic" football players (honestly) believe that they are not inborn. Given that, where their derision comes from is not a dislike of femininity per se, but a dislike of weakness. Their unstated premise is not that be to feminine is to be weak, but that to be feminine - WHILE BEING PHYSIOLOGICALLY MALE - is (ie: femininity can be a strength, but only if possessed by a woman). These football players believe that a man's masculinity, or lack of it, is a choice - and therefore any man who fails to acquire his deserves condemnation (just as any man who fails to acquire education or virtue is also weak because of it. Notice pro football player's curious preoccupation with their off-the-field image - as "smart and sophisticate").

But, of course, leftists won't allow themselves to think it through that deeply - because if they did they would also call into question the leftist belief that masculine men think that WOMEN (precisely because they too are feminine) are also weak, and therefore can have their rights infringed upon. Leftists need to, as you said, equate barbarism with masculinity - and therefore can only analyze caricatures of it (ie: men who are physically strong, but mentally dull).

Gus Van Horn said...


You bring up an issue I hadn't focused upon, and in doing so help me realize something about what is going on with the caricatures of masculinity/femininity and morality. We're not really seeing equation, so much as package-dealing.



Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you write, "Testosterone poisoning? Can the left become any more derivative or second-handed?"

I followed the link on the phrase "testosterone poisoning." The Wiki article gives Alan Alda as a first source back in 1975. Man, like I needed any more reasons to dislike that phrase (which I found clever for about 15 seconds after the first time I heard it).

That brought back flashbacks of, no, not M*A*S*H, but of a dreadful Woody Allen film, Everyone Says I Love You, in which Alda plays a typical New York liberal exasperated because his son has become a conservative gun lover. But all is happy at the end! It turns out he had a brain disorder, and once it's cured he's back to rights (meaning, of course, lefts). And, sad to say, the rest of the movie doesn't rise above it. I like the comment quoted on Wiki:

Among the film's strongest detractors was Jonathan Rosenbaum, who described it as "creepy" and claimed "this characterless world of Manhattan-Venice-Paris, where love consists only of self-validation, and political convictions of any kind are attributable to either hypocrisy or a brain condition, the me-first nihilism of Allen's frightened worldview is finally given full exposure, and it's a grisly thing to behold."

A lot of people really liked it; I simply cannot fathom their appreciation for it--they say it's charming, I found it a creepy, tiresome exercise in amateurs singing and dancing while Woody Allen licked his navel clean. (It's not often a movie would be improved if the director had just stuck to gazing at his navel.) And no, it's not because of its politics, but because its political jabs and the rest of it just aren't the least bit witty.

--Or, who knows, maybe I was just in a gruesomely bad mood when I saw it...Nah, I'd have broken lots of things if I'd been in that bad a mood. I didn't, so I figure it was the movie's fault. And more to the point, the friends I saw it with worship Allen, and they hated it too.

Gus Van Horn said...

"... Alan Alda as a first source ..." Knowing that made me dislike the phrase even more.

Regarding that movie, I think I'd rather see Woody Allen licking his navel than that.

Steve D said...

‘create a latch that requires an opposable thumb’

The key is that it would have to require the use of two opposable thumbs for obvious reasons.

However, the solution is easy. Place a full cinder block on the top of the garbage bin. It is too heavy for a raccoon to move and so it cannot get to the garbage. It has to be a full cinder block, though. They are strong enough to push a half cinder block off the bin.

Gus Van Horn said...

"They are strong enough to push a half cinder block off the bin."

Hmmm. That strikes me as knowledge I may have to use some day.