- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Concerted decision

“The man’s former girlfriend worries about her own son, and his entire generation: ‘I was first aware that he [her son] was looking at pornography when he was 14. But how can boys not see it? Unless they make a concerted decision not to look at it, to delete it from their mobiles when it’s sent to them, or from their e-mails. You’d be making a singular, probably a unique decision.’

“Ah, there’s the key. Unless they make a concerted decision not to look at it. I’m reminded of the old-fashioned concept of custody of the eyes, one way Christian parents help their sons exercise some control over the encroachment of our hyper-sexualized culture into their psyches. To this end many parents go to great lengths to sanitize the media consumed by their kids, monitoring their Internet activity, choosing movies and TV carefully, previewing and editing out that one scene, skipping the commercials. And as parents make these moral judgments, for that’s what they are, the children learn that there’s a line between what’s okay and what isn’t. Eventually they draw their own line for themselves. What seems to be happening now is that many kids are growing up without understanding that a line exists.

“All this editing and vigilance is a lot of work and is wildly out-of-step with the world. It may invite ridicule or worse. But with the state of our culture, serious counter-culturalism may be called for. The idea is to protect children while they’re still forming; they’ll have plenty of time for the ‘real world’ of meat-market dating and relationships based on mutual physical utility when they move out. At that point, if they haven’t been immersed in porn, they’ll have a fighting chance to love and be loved. I’m not sure how secular parents handle this but would be interested to learn.”

“Jill” aka Pundette, writing on “Porn is bad” on Jan. 25 at the blog Pundit and Pundette.

Jay the winner

“As we all bask in the afterglow of Conan O’Brien’s tremendous final Tonight Show, I have some cold water to pour on this. There’s little doubt that, over the course of the rest of the year, the biggest winner of the late-night wars will be Jay Leno.

“Why? Because once Leno re-takes the Tonight Show desk on Mar. 1, he’ll begin one of his inexorable, inexhaustible efforts to regain the ratings lead over David Letterman, now not just his rival but his grand arch-enemy … And as much as it pains me to write this, Leno will probably succeed; it’s just a matter of how long it takes.

“Because if you think the vast majority of Americans who have long watched ‘The Tonight Show’ truly believes Jay is ‘tarnished’ or ‘the bad guy,’ as so many pundits have written, you’re deluded. Middle America still loves Jay, and the backlash to the backlash will be that Leno emerges just the way he’s been positioning himself: As the loyal underdog who’s now coming to rescue NBC’s late-night ratings. Damage control is already in high gear: It’s being reported that Leno will appear on Oprah, TV’s great anointer of forgiveness, on Thursday.”

Ken Tucker, writing on “Who’s the biggest winner in the late-night wars? Jay Leno. Here’s why,” on Jan. 25 at Entertainment Weekly

Haggis back

“Smuggled and bootlegged, it has been the cause of transatlantic tensions for more than two decades. But after 21 years in exile, the haggis is to be allowed back into the United States. The ‘great chieftan o’ the puddin-race’ was one of earliest casualties of the [mad cow disease] crisis of the 1980s-90s, banned on health grounds by the U.S. authorities in 1989 because they feared its main ingredient — minced sheep offal — could prove lethal. …

“For the past two decades, Americans of Scottish descent — of whom there are at least 6 million — have been forced to celebrate Burns’ night without a true haggis, much to their distress. There are stories of Scots smuggling in a haggis for their starving cousins, risking deportation in the process. Others are said to have secretly tried to create homemade, bootleg haggis, desperate to sample that particularly peppery concoction.

“Meanwhile, butchers in the US have tried, and failed, to make their own versions of the pudding without using the vital ingredient: sheep. ‘It was a silly ban which meant a lot of people have never tasted the real thing,’ said Margaret Frost, of the Scottish American Society in Ohio. …”

Severin Carrell, writing on “US to lift 21-year ban on haggis,” on Jan. 24 at the Guardian

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