From the 1982 album It’s Hard, this is probably The Who’s best song. Enjoy the official video of Eminence Front.
This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson: A Beat-up, Exhausted, and Terrified Republican Establishment. Excerpt:
On almost every contemporary issue there is a populist, middle-class argument to be made against elite liberalism. Yet the Republican class in charge seems ossified in its inability to make a counter-argument for the middle class. Never has the liberal agenda been so vulnerable, a logical development when bad ideas have had five years to prove themselves as very bad ideas. When Obama is all done he will have taken high presidential popularity ratings, a supermajority in the Senate, and a large margin in the House and lost them all — if only the Republicans can make an adequate case that they represent the middle class, the Democrats only the very wealthy and the very dependent.
The thing is this: I’m not all that sure that the Republicans really do represent the middle class any more. I’m not sure anyone does. The Democrats sure as hell don’t; they represent an odd coalition ranging from radical environmentalists, the Occupy Wall Street nutbars, and the San Francisco latte socialists to labor-union activists and a few last old Truman blue-collar Democrats. The GOP struggles to gather in what someone a few years back called the “Sam’s Club” Republicans – the small business, entrepreneur folks, the people that drive real economic growth. But they aren’t doing a very good job of that, either.
A big part of the GOP’s problem is their failure to adjust to a generational shift in attitudes. The up-and-coming generation is open to the Republican’s low-tax, small government message, but is resistant to the party’s social wing, which insists on government interference into other aspects of people’s lives.
It’s a pretty problem, and one that neither party seems to be able to wrap their brains around. Whichever one does first – and the GOP seems to hold an edge on the growing libertarian population – will have a majority advantage for some time to come.
So, something a little different today. Having spent some time in Japan, working, making friends and absorbing the culture, one of the things I’ve noticed is the tendency to animate movies and series that Americans would produce with live actors. Japanese animated media – “anime,” for those who aren’t familiar with the term – runs the gamut of most media, from truly awful to entertaining to deeply thoughful. Mamoru Hosada’s feature film Wolf Children is one of the latter.
The primary character is a college girl, Hana, who meets and falls in love with a rather strange young man. Kare slips into college classes, listens and takes notes, but is not enrolled in the school. He works for a moving company, lifting and carrying boxes, and in so doing amasses a formidable series of observations on human families and human behavior.
Finally, as their relationship deepens, he reveals to Hana that he is in fact a wolf that can take human form. The Western term would be “werewolf,” but Kare is not a vicious monster, but rather a rather gentle-natured, affectionate man who occasionally has to let his feral nature hold sway, shift to his wolf form and hunt, pheasants seeming to be his preferred prey.
The two have two children, a girl, Yuki, and a boy, Ame. Shortly after Ame is born, Kare dies, apparently killed in an accident while in wolf form and carted away by a garbage service – after all, to their knowledge he was just a dead dog. Hana is left to raise two strange children on her own.
Strange children they are indeed – half human, half wolf, with a decided tendency to flip back and forth between the two at inopportune moments. After a brush with child services and several uncomfortable encounters with other families, Hana leaves Tokyo and takes the children to an old, run-down house in the mountains, far from the city. There, she hopes, the children can grown into their unusual natures in their own ways. “If you could only be one thing, would you want to be human,” she asks them at one point, “or wolf? I want you to have that choice.”
It is the growth of the children, and that inevitable choice, that makes up the balance of the story. The tale has many facets; the growing acceptance and affection shown to Hana and the children by the local farming families and residents of the small nearby village, the experiences the children have in the small local school, their exploration of both aspects of their unusual heritage.
It ends up as a beautiful coming-of-age story, showcasing the children’s transitions – somewhat predictably, one goes in each direction, human and wolf. It is also a compelling illustration of the difficulty parents can have adjusting to their children’s choices, and to their growing maturity.
Wolf Children is probably Mamoru Hosada’s masterpiece. It is interesting, touching, engaging, and has that best of all movie features, a happy ending. Check out the trailer, and enjoy the film – it’s well worth the watch.
Let’s start with this, an idea I’ve given some thought to myself over the years: Get The State Out of Marriage. Relevant excerpt:
In Oklahoma this past Friday, State Representative Mike Turner boldly challenged, “whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all.” He floated a bill that would remove the state’s role of licensing matrimony. This was in response to a recent court order that strikes down Oklahoma’s definition of marriage as traditional one-man-one-woman.
Think about that for a moment. Take your time, I’ll wait right here.
Ready? Let’s move on.
Rather than defend the status quo, I’ll take a different tack; what good reasons are there for government to be involved in marriage? I can think of one; marriage has a legal component to it, in that it is a contract between competent, capable adults. (Normally a man and a woman, but that perception is somewhat in flux at the moment.) Now, contracts are written and agreed to between competent parties all the time without government involvement; government generally only becomes involved when one or more parties violates the term of the agreement in some way or another.
How is government involved in marriage? In one primary way: the issue of marriage licenses, usually at the county level. Why do we need a license – in essence, permission from the county government – to get married?
Many, many years ago, when I was a little tad, we lived on a farm near Fairbank, Iowa. Our neighbors were an older couple, Grace and Brownie, who formed a treasured extra pair of surrogate grandparents for me. I have a distinct memory of sitting with my mother in Grace and Brownie’s kitchen listening to Brownie, a stubborn, no-nonsense WW1 veteran and lifelong farmer, talk about his pursuit of a building permit to extend one of his farm buildings. Most of all I remember his lament that “these days you have to get a permit from the county to take a shit.”
That was in the late Sixties. Things have not improved since that time.
One could make an argument for building codes and the concomitant permits to make sure that those codes are adhered to, especially for commercial buildings. But marriage?
Removing government from the business of marriage makes a great deal of sense. It would make no inroads on the religious observation of marriage. Churches of all sorts could go right on conducting marriages exactly as they do now, with a little less paperwork. It would make no inroad on the secular observation of marriage. People who are not religious (like me) could conduct any type of ceremony or observation that suits them. Would some people forgo marriage altogether? Probably, yes; some people already do. The numerator may change some, but the denominator remains the same.
Here’s the real rub, though, and this is why advocacy of this could be a winner for the slowly-growing libertarian wing of the GOP: Removing government from the business of marriage removes the thorny issue of gay marriage from the debate.
“But Animal,” you might ask, “doesn’t that open the door for all sorts of domestic arrangements? Doesn’t that open the door to polygamy, polyandry, and all sorts of other polys?“
My reply: “Well, sure. But if government isn’t involved in the licensing of domestic arrangements at all, what changes? People all over are free to indulge in those kinds of domestic arrangements now, they just can’t get a license from the county to formalize it. And why should they?”
Now, I’m about as heterosexual as you can get, in case you hadn’t figured that out from my penchant for Rule Five cheesecake. I like women, and to my very good fortune women have always liked me. (Mrs. Animal most of all.) It’s beyond my capacity to understand why a man would be sexually attracted to another man. But then, it’s beyond my capacity to understand why people like watching football on television. And that’s OK; the fact that other people do those things doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t affect my marriage. It doesn’t affect my life. It doesn’t affect me if two men, or two women, or three men and five women, or two men and a rosebush want to live together and call it “marriage.”
I know there are religious objections to gay marriage; I’m not religious and I don’t share them, but I acknowledge the depth of conviction of people who do hold those views. This proposal can easily address that as well. Churches that object to gay marriage should be free to refuse to conduct them.
Removing the licensing requirement from the equation removes the controversy. It’s a good idea. This Oklahoma proposal should be taken on the road.
Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, a historian and scholar of classical times, a man whose opinion I respect, worries that we may now be in The Last Generation of the West and the Thin Strand of Civilization. Excerpt:
Over 90 million Americans who could work are not working (the “non-institutionalized” over 16). What we take for granted — our electrical power, fuel, building materials, food, health care, and communications — all hinge on just 144 million getting up in the morning to produce what about 160-170 million others (the sick, the young, and the retired who need assistance along with the 90 million idle) consume.
Every three working Americans provide sustenance for two who are not ill, enfeebled, or too young. The former help the disabled, the latter take resources from them. The gang-banger has only disdain for the geek at the mall — until one Saturday night his liver is shredded by gang gunfire and suddenly he whimpers (who is now the real wimp?) that he needs such a Stanford-trained nerd to do sophisticated surgery to get him back in one piece to the carjackings, muggings, assaults, and knockout games — or lawsuits follow!
Given that the number of non-working is growing (an additional 10 million were idled in the Obama “recovery” alone), it is likely to keep growing. At some point, we will hit a 50/50 ratio of idle versus active. Then things will get interesting. The percentage of workers’ pay deducted to pay for the non-working will soar even higher. So will the present redistributive schemes and the borrowing from the unborn.
Why does Dr. Hanson’s opinion matter?
From his biography: Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.
Dr. Hanson is a scholar with few peers, a dedicated student of history with a deep background in the rise and fall of past republics, including the Rome and Greek republics – two nations which were in large part the inspiration for our own republic. And it is familiarity with the manner in which those republics self-destructed that makes one pessimistic about our own future, for reasons Dr. Hanson articulates very plainly in this column many of his other works.
Dr. Hanson concludes:
Each day when I drive to work I try to look at the surrounding communities, and count how many are working and how many of the able-bodied are not. I listen to the car radio and tally up how many stories, both in their subject matter and method of presentation, seem to preserve civilization, or how many seem to tear it down. I try to assess how many drivers stay between the lines, how many weave while texting or zoom in and out of traffic at 90mph or honk and flip off drivers.
Today, as the reader can note from the tone of this apocalyptic essay, civilization seemed to be losing.
I wish I could find more reason to disagree with him.
Here tonight, for your cultural edification, is one of my favorite country songbirds, Miranda Lambert. First, one of her breakthrough hits, New Strings. Second, a favorite of mine, Only Prettier. Enjoy.
From the lovely and talented Lindsey Stirling.
I’m not sure what “dubstep” is, but Miss Stirling is an amazingly talented performer as well as a lovely little pixie. Check out her YouTube channel.