Matt Yglesias String (cont.)
October 20th, 2015

How’s that Yoga Instructor Economy working out? Not so much.

Of course.


America’s First Low-Fertility Commercial?
October 14th, 2015

Courtesy of Galley Friend B.F., this Subaru commercial is (a) the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen on TV; and (b) the first explicitly childfree, low-fertility rate add I’ve seen in the States. Creeptastic.


The Big Loser from the First Dem Debate
October 14th, 2015

The big winner, obviously, was Hillary Clinton. More on that over at the Standard.

But the more I think about it, the more I think that Clinton’s performance last night might have hurt the GOP outsider candidates–Trump, Fiorina, and especially Carson.

My sense is that for the last six months engaged Republicans have assumed that Clinton was the walking wounded and that she was going to be an easy take-down for whoever gets nominated from the Historically Awesome Field.

Instead, last night was a reminder that Clinton is a formidable figure in her own right. And that even when she has half a year’s worth of problems that would kill any normal candidacy, she just keeps plugging along and fighting. She never gives up. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate what an asset her tenacity is, is a fool.

I suspect some Republicans watching last night were reminded of this for the first time in a long time.

Consequently, I suspect that you can beat Clinton with an outsider who has no experience in electoral politics suddenly looks a lot dicier. If you’re a Trump supporter or a Fiorina supporter, maybe you can convince yourself that your candidate is uniquely tough. But if you’re a Carson supporter, I suspect you came away from last night thinking My guy is not prepared for this kind of anarchy.

My guess is that at least some Republicans watching the Dem debate were moved to re-appraise their assessment of Clinton and what it will take to beat her. And if so, it wouldn’t surprise me if Rubio is helped somewhat, because the core of his pitch is that he’s The Natural.

In part, I suspect that the rise of the Republican outsider candidates has been fueled by the belief the Clinton is weak, make it less of a gamble to support untraditional candidates. If Republicans believe that she’s strong, they may decide that they need the strongest traditional candidate available to beat her. And that’s Rubio. Hands down.

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The PC Multiculturalism of Disney Fairies
October 12th, 2015

It’s real, and it’s spectacular.

Endnotes and digressions:

*I actually like the Fairies series. Quite a lot. The movies may be direct-to-video, but they’re nothing like the DTV schlock of my childhood. Writers have spent time on the scripts and the animation is lush and inventive. John Lasseter gets executive producer credits on all of these movies and while I don’t know how much oversight he’s giving the Fairies productions, you can see that his fingerprints are now all over the Disney animation culture.

*I’ll take the Fairies over Dora, Manny, and the PBS kids junk every day. Legend of the NeverBeast has the best exploration of death and loss I’ve ever seen for 5-year-olds.

*There’s a lot of great voicework in the Fairies movies, but Rosario Dawson might be the best performance in the series, so I’m in no way complaining about her at Nyx. If I was King of Hollywood, I’d put Rosario Dawson in just about every movie. She’s great.

*Tinker Bell is voiced by Mae Whitman, akak Ann Veal. (Her?) I’ve found that while I can’t hear any of Bland in Tinker Bell’s voice, when I watch Arrested Development I hear Tink every time Ann talks. Weird.

If they every work in an Easter egg about a May-Ann-Egg, I will lose it.


The Christmas Virtues
October 7th, 2015

Well, here we go again. This is why I’ve been AWOL the last couple months. The Christmas Virtues shipped off to the printer today and will be in stores before Black Friday.


The Continuing Adventures of Pope Tambourines
October 5th, 2015

Theodore Dalrymple is even tougher on Francis than I am–see here:

Pope Francis is not a subtle thinker, let alone a theologian of distinction. When interviewed on his aircraft after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, he let it be known that if someone insulted his mother he could expect a retaliatory punch or slap, making a physical gesture to illustrate his point. This is not exactly the doctrine (if I have understood it aright) enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount; and one could not imagine John Paul II or Benedict XVI making so foolish or crude a mistake under the complacent impression that he was charming the world thereby.

Francis’ propensity to run after false gods, most of them fashionable in the constituency to which he evidently wants to appeal, no doubt accounts for his popularity. He is not so much prophetic as bien pensant; and where he does not yet feel able to alter doctrine in a liberal direction he is evasive and even cowardly, afraid to court real distaste or opposition by clear expression of what he means. . . .

Who and what are calling fundamental relationships into question? After all, fundamental relationships do not call themselves into question: someone must do it in the name of some doctrine, some belief, or other. The Pope’s resort to the passive mood is indicative of his moral cowardice in confronting the opponents of what the Church believes in. Those opponents he knows to be militant and aggressive, and to confront them openly, in so many words, would lead to his fall in the popularity polls. Therefore he evades the issue with vague and oily declamation. It is one thing to be peace-loving and conciliatory, it is another to surrender by means of avoidance of the issue.

Such cowardly avoidance was evident also in the way in which he dealt with the problem of religious fanaticism. ‘We know,’ he said, ‘that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.’ This may be true in the abstract; Christian fanatics in the United States may on rare occasions shoot a practising abortionist, for example. There are Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist fanatics; but the wholesale persecution of religious minorities, and the perpetration of violent acts in a host of locations around the world, is confined to Islamic extremism. It would have been better for the Pope not to have broached the subject at all than to have dealt with it in so pusillanimous a fashion.

And so on. You can stop him when he’s wrong.

The real big news from Rome over the weekend, though was this Reuters headline: “Vatican sacks gay priest after highly public coming out.”

Sounds like quite a story, eh? Firing a priest just because he came out as gay? What happened to “Who am I to judge?”

Turns out, though, that the problem wasn’t that the priest in question–Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa–is gay. The problem is that he has a long-time gay partner.

I know what you’re probably thinking: Why can’t this nice gay priest just enjoy his healthy, loving relationship in private without the Church getting all up in his business? #youdoyou #yolo

Well, it seems that the Church only finally decided to step in because Monsignor and his gay lover were about to stage a protest outside the Vatican in advance of the synod in order to advocate for  . . . well, that’s not clear, exactly. More gay-married priests? Or something?

At the risk of being too judgmental, this is a scandal. For two reasons:

(1) Monsignor Charamsa isn’t just some random parish priest. He’s a member of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Someone put this guy in the office that looks after Church doctrine.

(2) What are the odds that none of the other priests working at the CDF knew about Charamsa and his gay lover/beautiful life-partner? Think about how any small office works and multiply that intimacy by a thousand, since these are priests who have (or should have) relatively little space for private lives. I would be shocked if Charamsa’s lifestyle choice was unknown to his brother priests. I rather suspect it was an open secret. And maybe not even an open secret.

If the Church was serious about its own doctrine, it would defrock Charamsa, conduct an investigation into who knew what within the CDF, and then defrock any other priest who knew and said nothing.

But don’t hold your breath. And in Charamsa’s defense, I bet he’s rock-solid on climate change.

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Rand Paul Deathwatch
September 30th, 2015

Several months ago I wrote that Rand Paul (1) almost certainly would not be the nominee; and (2) was likely to underperform his father’s results. I got a lot of angry email from Paul people telling me to go jump in a lake. None of them–literally, not one–explained what Paul’s path to the nomination was. But hey.

Now the Rand death-watch is officially on: Rand Paul Super PAC Goes Dark.

The next debate is on October 28, four weeks out. What would you put the odds of him making it to Boulder?

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The Greatness of Sonny Bunch
September 25th, 2015

Look, everything on Everything’s A Problem is great. But Sonny’s genius is in the little things. Like this fall-over-funny throwaway line in an entry about the problematic nature of pumpkin spice lattes:

I love fall. I love sweater weather, I love crisp cool air.

Me too. My layering game is unmatched, son.

Santino is the best.