Girl-Boy Wrestling, pro and con

You’ve doubtless heard of the young man in Iowa who refused to wrestle a girl who was also competing in a championship wrestling tournament.  Here are two takes on the matter.

The first from Caryn Rivadeneira, writing at a Christianity Today site:

When Joel refused to wrestle Cassy, he took an opportunity away from her. An opportunity for her to shine using her own God-given strength and ability. An opportunity to win or lose, fair and square.

I don’t mean to harp on Joel. I’m sure he’s a good kid who clearly meant well. These thoughts aren’t so much for him as they are for the rest of us as we wrestle with these sorts of issues all the time.

As Christians, when faced with less-than-best-case scenarios, we need to be in the business of affording others equal opportunities. Usually this means expanding our view of other people beyond how our culture would have us see them or how we think they are and getting it more in line with how Jesus sees them. Doing this usually means things get awkward. Doing this means we’re stretched way beyond our comfort zone.

Doing this means we might need to step onto a mat and wrestle, not despite our faith but because of it.

via Her.meneutics: The Argument for Girl-Boy Wrestling.

The second from my colleague Mark Mitchell, writing at the Front Porch Republic:

The gentleman is a social role that implies a recognition of forms and limits that constrain action even as those very forms and limits elevate the meaning and nobility of actions they enjoin.

Forms and limits are not welcomed in a culture that sees freedom as the highest good, a culture that fairly worships at the altar of individual choice. The history of the liberal project has been a steady and determined attempt to defy limits, to destroy forms, to expand the idea and practice of liberation to all spheres of existence. How can the idea of the gentleman, the essence of which necessarily depends on the propriety of limits, co-exist with the goals of liberalism? One admits of limits and finds nobility in respect for them; the other finds limits offensive and seeks to break down any hint of limitation, form, or residue of difference. When seen in this light, the gentlemen appears to be a throwback to an older age, an era that progress has left behind, an ideal embraced only by romantics and the hopelessly and helplessly nostalgic.. . .

It seems to me that Joel Northrup was raised to be a gentleman, and when he drew his first opponent at the state tournament, this ideal ran hard into the leveling impulse of the age. Or to put it in old-fashioned terms, gentlemen don’t wrestle with ladies. Reversing the sentence provides another truism: ladies wouldn’t dream of wrestling with gentlemen or of wrestling with anyone for that matter. Now I am on thin ice here, for if I embrace the idea of a gentleman, I am simultaneously embracing the idea of a lady. Doing so must appear, through the caustic lens of liberation, to be suggesting that ladies and gentlemen are substantially different and that a gentleman treats other gentleman in ways markedly different from the way he treats ladies. Precisely.

Richard Weaver once wrote that when the gentleman disappears so too goes the lady. Both ideals depend on each other and a society that provides the space for each will be far different from a society where both are seen as quaint relics from another time. Still it is heartening to see a young man attempt to uphold the ideals of the gentleman. Perhaps that singular ideal can be sustained during our long sojourn through the wilderness of liberalism. If and when we emerge on the other side, it may provide a hopeful reminder of what is possible and how a decent society might be constructed around ideals that foster acts of nobility, deference, propriety, and kindness.

via Gentlemen Don’t Wrestle with Ladies

Notice not just what side both arguments come down on but the assumptions and the implicit philosophies that lie behind their arguments.  Notice too that both writers are “conservatives” of one stripe or the other.  Both are Christians of one stripe or the other.

Which one makes the better case?  What can we conclude from these two arguments beyond the specific issue of boy-girl wrestling?

Conning the government

Thanks to tODD for pointing me to this story:

A onetime biomedical technician with a penchant for gambling, Mr.[Dennis] Montgomery is at the center of a tale that features terrorism scares, secret White House briefings, backing from prominent Republicans, backdoor deal-making and fantastic-sounding computer technology.

Interviews with more than two dozen current and former officials and business associates and a review of documents show that Mr. Montgomery and his associates received more than $20 million in government contracts by claiming that software he had developed could help stop Al Qaeda’s next attack on the United States. But the technology appears to have been a hoax, and a series of government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Air Force, repeatedly missed the warning signs, the records and interviews show. . . .

Justice Department officials declined to discuss the government’s dealings with Mr. Montgomery, 57, who is in bankruptcy and living outside Palm Springs, Calif. Mr. Montgomery is about to go on trial in Las Vegas on unrelated charges of trying to pass $1.8 million in bad checks at casinos, but he has not been charged with wrongdoing in the federal contracts, nor has the government tried to get back any of the money it paid. He and his current lawyer declined to comment.

The software he patented — which he claimed, among other things, could find terrorist plots hidden in broadcasts of the Arab network Al Jazeera; identify terrorists from Predator drone videos; and detect noise from hostile submarines — prompted an international false alarm that led President George W. Bush to order airliners to turn around over the Atlantic Ocean in 2003.

The software led to dead ends in connection with a 2006 terrorism plot in Britain. And they were used by counterterrorism officials to respond to a bogus Somali terrorism plot on the day of President Obama’s inauguration, according to previously undisclosed documents. . . .

C.I.A. officials, though, came to believe that Mr. Montgomery’s technology was fake in 2003, but their conclusions apparently were not relayed to the military’s Special Operations Command, which had contracted with his firm. In 2006, F.B.I. investigators were told by co-workers of Mr. Montgomery that he had repeatedly doctored test results at presentations for government officials. But Mr. Montgomery still landed more business.

In 2009, the Air Force approved a $3 million deal for his technology, even though a contracting officer acknowledged that other agencies were skeptical about the software, according to e-mails obtained by The New York Times.

Hints of fraud by Mr. Montgomery, previously raised by Bloomberg Markets and Playboy, provide a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of government contracting. A Pentagon study in January found that it had paid $285 billion in three years to more than 120 contractors accused of fraud or wrongdoing.

via Government Tries to Keep Secret What Many Consider a Fraud – NYTimes.com.

This fiasco raises a number of issues:  (1)  The blind faith in technology on the part of people who don’t know that much about it. (2) How the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing in our government, including in its anti-terrorism activities that were supposed to get all co-ordinated after 9/11 (3) Why the government thinks it’s competent to run health care or the financial system when it’s so cumbersome as to fall for scams like these.

When the government is unionized

So the largest trade union in the country these days is that of government workers.  Does that strike you as odd?  George Will, in the context of a column on what’s going on in Wisconsin, notes some paradoxes:

Such unions are government organized as an interest group to lobby itself to do what it always wants to do anyway – grow. These unions use dues extracted from members to elect their members’ employers. And governments, not disciplined by the need to make a profit, extract government employees’ salaries from taxpayers. Government sits on both sides of the table in cozy “negotiations” with unions. . . .

Walker’s calm comportment in this crisis is reminiscent of President Reagan’s during his 1981 stand against the illegal strike by air traffic controllers, and Margaret Thatcher’s in the 1984 showdown with the miners’ union over whether unions or Parliament would govern Britain. Walker, by a fiscal seriousness contrasting with Obama’s lack thereof, and Obama, by inciting defenders of the indefensible, have made three things clear:

First, the Democratic Party is the party of government, not only because of its extravagant sense of government’s competence and proper scope, but also because the party’s base is government employees. Second, government employees have an increasingly adversarial relationship with the governed. Third, Obama’s “move to the center” is fictitious.

via George F. Will – Out of Wisconsin, a lesson in leadership for Obama.

The White Rose

Yesterday was the anniversary of the execution of three German university students, devout Christians, who spoke out against Hitler on the basis of their faith.  In this account, contemplate their words that got them guillotined:

On February 22, 1943, Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and Christoph Probst were executed by guillotine in Munich, Germany. Their crimes? Anonymously distributing leaflets criticizing the German government at the University of Munich. They were members of the White Rose, an underground student group that should inspire every American who loves the cause of liberty.

The White Rose was comprised of a dozen or so University of Munich students, including Probst and the Scholls. They were active when very few participated in opposition to the Nazi regime. After German defeats at Stalingrad, many Germans silently feared for the future of Germany, but scant few ever put their lives on the line through deeds. . . .

Between March 1942 and February 1943, the White Rose wrote and secretly produced anti-Nazi leaflets. They copied them on mimeograph machines and literally left them lying all around Munich. They stenciled anti-Hilter messages on the sides of buildings. The Gestapo went wild. Nobody else in Germany was doing anything of the sort.

White Rose leaflet four captures the totalitarian corruption of language as well as a view of Hitler justified by hindsight:

“Every word that proceeds from Hitler’s mouth is a lie. When he says peace, he means war. And when he names the name of the Almighty in a most blasphemous manner, he means the almighty evil one, that fallen angel, Satan. His mouth is the stinking maw of hell and his might is fundamentally reprobate. To be sure, one must wage the battle against National Socialism using rational means. But whoever still does not believe in the actual existence of demonic powers has not comprehended by far the metaphysical background of this war.” . . .

The fourth White Rose leaflet spoke of a need for a continuous watch, because we will never reach the End of History:

“Everywhere and at all times, the demons have waited in darkness for the hour in which mankind is weak; in which he voluntarily abandons the position in the world order that is based on freedom and comes from God; in which he yields to the force of the Evil One, disengaging himself from the powers of a higher order.”

The White Rose Martyrs

[The three who died, from left to right: Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst.]

via Pajamas Media » The White Rose: An Anniversary of Three Executions.

UPDATE:  Sophie and Hans are described in the Wikipedia article as “devout Lutherans.”

Battle of the eighth graders

Webmonk alerted me to a post on Freakonomics about a test for eighth graders from 1895.

The urban legend site Snopes labeled this as “False.” But the only false part of it seems to be the claim that it shows a decline in educational levels from then to now. The Snopes writer says that any test will look hard if you haven’t studied for it.

But he doesn’t dispute that this is an actual test from 1895. In fact, here it is from the library that holds the original document.

What this does show is what eighth graders studied and were expected to learn in 1895.

Take a look at the math section and compare it to this eighth grade math test from today. What can you conclude from the comparison about what was taught in the respective classes?

Finally, speaking of eighth graders, consider this.

HT: Webmonk

New Zealand earthquake

Lest anyone assume that earthquakes only devastate poor Third World societies, consider what has happened in New Zealand:

New Zealand’s prime minister says at least 65 people have died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch.

John Key said the toll was expected to rise further, adding: “We may be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day.”

The tremor caused widespread damage as it occurred at a shallow depth of 5km (3.1 miles) during lunchtime when Christchurch was at its busiest.

The mayor of New Zealand’s second-biggest city says 120 people have been rescued from the ruins.

The country’s deadliest natural disaster in 80 years struck at 1251 (2351 GMT on Monday), 10km (6.2 miles) south-east of the city. . . .

TV pictures of the aftermath of Tuesday’s disaster showed scores of collapsed buildings in the South Island city of nearly 400,000 people.

Shocked survivors could be seen wandering the rubble-strewn streets, which cracked open as the ground beneath was liquefied by the tremor.

Police said that the dead included people on two buses which were crushed by falling buildings.

via BBC News – New Zealand earthquake: 65 dead in Christchurch.

Pray for these folks.  And all of you Californians, aren’t you worried even a little bit?


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