- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mixed messages

“Movies get a lot right and a lot wrong. The ‘wrong’ stuff tends to happen when movies (and TV) get all ‘deep’ and metaphorical and ‘what if’ on you - ‘hey, what if there was a Jewish suicide bomber, huh??’; ‘Hey, let’s make the aliens stand-ins for black South Africans’ (even though the ‘invaders’ were in fact white guys. Whatever!) …

“And sometimes, like in ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still,’ reality sinks the message and the filmmakers don’t even realize it: the utopian liberals who filmed TDTESS pretty much admitted that: people from different nations will never cooperate even during (especially during) the Biggest Emergency Ever; science and academia don’t have all the answers; most people don’t like being scolded by (Al Gore) grim, robotic know-it-all technocrats - even if their warnings are true; and their beloved UN is a useless piece of crap.

“But Hollywood liberals put out the movie anyway, with a straight face, and still think it’s all deep and profound.”

- Kathy Shaidle, writing on “What movies get wrong” on July 4 at her blog Five Feet of Fury

It’s a girl’s world

“The main reason Americans seem to prefer girls, however, is that people don’t want to deal with boys anymore. Girls are serious, compliant, well behaved and not afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder or any of the names we have attached to boys’ rough-and-tumble ways. Boys have just about been written out of schools, where the curriculum has been totally revised to fit girls’ tastes.

“When my sons started in grade school, I was amazed at how the teachers (mostly female) continually used the word ‘feel’ for ‘think.’ (‘What do you FEEL about the story Lisa has just read?’) Math no longer involves manipulating numbers but interpreting long word problems that are supposed to be ‘more representative of real life.’ The main scientific discipline is ‘environmental science,’ which mostly means lamenting human activity (most of it dreamed up by men, of course) while trying to feel closer to nature. In progressive Berkeley they are talking about eliminating advanced science labs altogether because women and minorities don’t find them interesting.

“When boys arrive at elite colleges they are likely to be subjected to ‘orientation programs’ in which they learn they have spent all their lives oppressing women and that all their natural impulses are now illegal. They will soon find the swim team, the wrestling squad or some other favorite sport no longer exists because, under Title IX, not enough girls would go out for equivalent sports.”

- William Tucker, writing on “The End of Men, The Beginning of What?” on July 7 at the American Spectator

Pride goeth

“A friend recently expresses chastened sentiment. ‘Great books and good philosophy,’ he sighed, ‘don’t really help us become virtuous, do they?’ Well, mostly no, they don’t. In my youth I hitch-hiked across America many times, worked all sorts of jobs, and spent a great deal of time with people who could barely read and write, much less read great books. My conclusion:

“God is not a respecter of persons. Virtue and vice are spread pretty evenly across social classes and educational levels. (Although different social classes have different characteristic virtues and vices, so it’s not the case that everybody tends to be the same.)

“In the main, reading makes one more articulate, not more wise. It’s a good thing to become articulate about the small margin of wisdom one has gained in life, so I commend reading to my students. Furthermore, for certain kinds of people, perhaps you and perhaps me, reading provides a crooked, but useful path to greater wisdom. …

“Though we should beware. Educated folks, especially college professors like me, tend to compliment ourselves with the thought that intelligence gives us an advantage. Hardly. Intelligence only gives us leverage, which like other forms of power mostly magnifies our virtues and vices rather than guides them. Intellectual vanity is more refined than crude arrogance about how much money you make - and it is therefore more difficult to see in oneself and more difficult to dislodge.”

- R.R. Reno, writing on “Virtue and Intelligence” on July 7 at the First Things blog First Thoughts

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