Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE. My long-term readers may wonder what has become of some of my former favorite figures of fun in whose grills I am less up than once I was. Sometimes I wonder the same thing.

When I heard the Catholic Church has decided that the 60s made their priests fuck little boys, I was put in mind of that early adopter of the POV, Rod Dreher. He's brought me great joy over the years. For several months, though, Dreher hasn't been blogging much, apparently on the orders of his employers at the Templeton Foundation. He is still authorized to spread the Good News in major media, as with this Washington Post op-ed, in which he tells again how he removed his family from Catholicism and the "loosey-goosey moral teaching in Roman parishes" to the Orthodox Church, with its "seriousness about sin... the long liturgies, the frequent prayers, the intense fasts... Men love a challenge, and that’s exactly what Orthodoxy gives them."

This sounds like something from an artisanal tour of the World's Finest Religions, which suggests to me that Dreher is still the Crunchy connoisseur, judging morals by mouth-feel -- as does his slam on the "dreary parish life" found "often among the ethnically-oriented older parishes that see themselves as little more than the tribe at prayer." The locals don't know what they've got, it seems, and that's why they need professional converts like Dreher to curate the icons and bring in celebrity guest cantors.

So I wandered out to see what's been doing with Old Crunchy. I see he is on Twitter, addressing the sacred ("Progressives tear down taboos around sex, and are shocked when men turn into beasts") and the mundane ("I've been off sugar & starch for a month now -- never felt better").

He appears also to have become embroiled in a controversy over pseudonymous postings at an Orthodox site, which activity, it is suggested, runs afoul of his Templeton strictures. If there's anything to this -- and I'm not about to take the word of religious maniacs on anything -- I am in sympathy with Dreher here, not only because he's already been savaged on this account by the likes of Robert Stacy McCain and Dan Riehl, who hate him for his deviation from traditional wingnut doctrine. Dreher's inability to stop talking is to me his most charming feature, though (perhaps because) it leads him into buffoonery. And if his problem is that he couldn't refrain from blogging even after his masters cautioned him, that just endears him to me all the more.

While I was on this memory trip I looked in on James Lileks, another onetime alicublog mainstay. Along with his column and his Bleats, Lileks now contributes to Ricochet, a clearinghouse for high-toned wingnuttery. Lileks' dispatches there are what you would expect: Snarls at liberals, including those reportedly within the Muslim Brotherhood -- "does he believe," Lileks says of James Clapper, "these liberals won’t make common cause with the 'conservative' wing the moment they got their hands on all the levers?" And he's got a point -- isn't that what liberals do in the U.S. Congress?

So he remains politically engaged, but in short bursts. Back at the Bleat, from what I can see, he mostly leaves off national news and contents himself by explaining how "the rot" pervades his day-to-day life, often evinced by the insufficient helpfulness of clerks and laborers. Here's a recent example: A deliveryman wouldn't drag some fabric rolls into a store for some nice ladies.
“What a jerk,” one of them said. “I understand he can’t help for legal reasons, probably, but he was just so unpleasant.”

Stop and think about that: can’t help for legal reasons. The modern assumption: if you do anything outside the tightly defined parameters of your job, and something happens – say, you swing around an enormous roll of fabric and knock over a dressmaker’s dummy, and it’s scuffed – there will be LAW INVOLVED, or at least something in your file that recounts the regrettable consequences of your decision to cast heed to the breeze and help two women drag the stuff from the curb to the store. He couldn’t even take the items off the pallet.
I was waiting for the more specific Big Gummint corollary -- something about labor unions or OSHA, or how customer service has declined since FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court -- but then Lileks mutters:
Or he just didn’t want to. He didn’t have to and he didn’t want to.
Maybe that just makes it worse. This Bleat also contains Part III of Lileks' war with insolent bicycle shop employees: "Nothing like a bike shop to remind you how the economy would look if capitalism was abolished and pot legalized."

Now for the button, thanks to commenter Halloween Jack: A return visit to Annie Jacobsen, not a member of our regular cast past or present but a guest star, who in 2004 freaked out over Arabs on a plane, who turned out to be not terrorists as Jacobsen feared, but musicians. For this misapprehension and the notoriety it brought her, Jacobsen was rewarded with gigs at Pajamas Media and the Los Angeles Times.

Jacobsen is now promulgating a new terror-in-the-skies story, this one having to do with the Roswell UFO incident. Per Time:
What really crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, was not an alien ship, nor was it a weather balloon as previously speculated by many, according to Jacobsen. In fact, she says, it was a Soviet spy plane. And it was controlled by disfigured adolescents, two of whom survived the crash.
So those photogenic corpses weren't aliens after all -- they were Commies! Even better: They were mutants created by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele on Stalin's orders to look like aliens and thus throw America into turmoil. Son of a gun -- Jonah Goldberg was right!

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