Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.


Thursday, August 07, 2003  

Old Fashioneds Department: Not the drink, the kind of people. The kind of people who, although they're "up" ( or "down") on all the latest that pop culture blurts out at us, they still live by the "old fashioned" values that so many people in pop culture sneer at. People like James Lileks.

This story has irritated me from the start, and it has nothing to do with Rev. Robinson’s sexual orientation. The guy left his wife and kids to go do the hokey-pokey with someone else: that’s what it’s all about, at least for me. Marriages founder for a variety of reasons, and ofttimes they’re valid reasons, sad and inescapable. But “I want to have sex with other people” is not a valid reason for depriving two little girls of a daddy who lives with them, gets up at night when they're sick, kisses them in the morning when they wake. There's a word for people who leave their children because they don't want to have sex with Mommy anymore: selfish. I'm not a praying man, but I cannot possibly imagine asking God if that would be okay. Send them another Dad, okay? Until you do I'll keep my cellphone on 24/7, I promise.

Who are you to judge? is the standard response, and I quote Captain James T. Kirk when asked the same question by Kodos the Executioner: who do I have to be? I’ll tell you this: my nightmare is losing my daughter. The idea of leaving her on purpose is inconceivable, and I don’t care if Adriana Lima drove up the driveway in a '57 BelAir convertible, tossed me the keys and asked me to drive her to Rio, it ain’t gonna happen. I made a promise when I married my wife, and I made another when we had our daughter. It's made me rather cranky on the subject of men who don't stick around. They're letting down the side. They're reverting to type. They're talking from their trousers.
No, he's not an evangelical born-again Christian. But in this case, he gets it exceedingly well.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:44 AM
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Wednesday, August 06, 2003  

They Just Don't Get It Department: In 1939, a University of Iowa speech expert conducted an experiment to "unravel the mystery of stuttering." In the experiment, a group of orphans -- none of them stutterers -- was subjected to badgering and criticism to see if psychological pressure caused children to stutter. Now, three of the experiment subjects have brought a lawsuit against the University of Iowa "over lifelong psychological problems they say stem in part from the 1939 experiment."

The problem here, in my opinion, is in the reactions of some "experts" to this.

Many speech experts and therapists agree the experiment was highly unethical by today’s standards, but not necessarily by the standards of the day. And they say the case has done little to diminish Johnson’s pioneering achievements.
“From the 2003 perspective, he conducted a hugely unethical project,” said Arthur Caplan, head of the University of Pennsylvania’s bioethics center. But 60 years ago, ethical rules did not exist, and experiments were done using minorities, disabled children or prisoners “because you didn’t think of them as morally equivalent to others.”

If the "ethical standard of the day" says that treating orphans that way was OK, then the ethical standard is an ass. These people seemingly have lost sight of the absolute, unchanging moral principle that "all men are created equal." The idea that you should protect the weak and defenseless is not a new one, after all. Whether or not the researchers of the day had an agreed-upon set of "ethical standards," what this man did was morally repugnant.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 10:01 AM
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What He Said Department: John Derbyshire over at the Corner:

This is a dreadful event, a triumph for the forces of death over the forces of life. Robinson cheerfully acknowledges that he is an active homosexual. The Bible is perfectly clear that homosexual acts are sinful. Our Lord gave sinners strict and clear instructions: stop sinning, and repent your past sins. Robinson is in brazen violation of fundamental Christian doctrine. Nobody has to be a Christian; but if you are going to call yourself one, you should follow the rules. Further, Robinson abandoned two little girls in order to indulge his sexual urges. (His supporters are glossing this like crazy. They tell you--they are telling me--that his wife was entirely on board with it, and the whole family get together once a year and dance round a maypole together singing "Kumbaya," or some damn thing. Well, if his wife was agreeable, she is as big a moral criminal as he is. Little girls need their Daddy around. If Robinson doesn't know that, he is not fit for any position of responsibility, anywhere. If his wife didn't fight tooth and nail against his abandonment, she is no Christian woman. What did Mrs Robinson say when the tots asked: "Mommy, why has Daddy gone away?" Millions of ordinary Americans struggle through worse crises every day, and come down at last on the side of social responsibility and Christian duty. Robinson came down on the side of Woody Allen: "The heart wants what it wants." Feu!) That he could become a bishop in my church sickens and disgusts me. We can show tolerance and Christian obligation towards deviant minorities without handing them the keys to the house, can't we? Apparently not, not today, not in America. For shame! For shame!

Update: In a followup to this post, Derbyshire quotes a woman who was, along with her children, abandoned by her "gay" ex-husband.
Put aside my emotional trauma (although 22 years have passed and I have been remarried for 15 I have NEVER recovered from his betrayal), my girls have suffered a sure and steady form of abuse, just by having to live through this. I made a conscious decision not to poison them against their father's lifestyle, thus raised them not to be intolerant of gays, but intolerant of people who lie, cheat and betray. I allowed him visitation until he started putting posters of naked men in his bathroom, and moved a guy in. From then it went to dinners only. But the damage continued. Their struggle with a sexually active gay father, and what it means regarding their own sexuality, their angst with their peers (which continues today) to say nothing of what they must think of me for loving such a man ...well, it's too complex to explore in this venue.
Go read it all.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:08 AM
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Tuesday, August 05, 2003  

Mark Your Calendars Department: September 19 is National Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrr!

And ye'll be needing a pirate name to use, then, or ye'll be nothing but a landlubber! Me? I'm Dirty Tom Flint!

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 3:15 PM
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Mythical Writings Department: If you've ever wanted to create text using Tengwar, the Elvish "alphabet" invented by J.R.R. Tolkien, this site will get you started. The fonts have been available for some time, but this is an excellent guide and has links to some useful tools to make the job easier.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:25 AM
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Piggyback Department: How do you move a space shuttle from California to Florida? Like this.

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "heavy lifting."

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:13 AM
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