Time Out of Mind

One of the hazards of being a daily editor/aggregator is, you come unstuck in time. Not the hands of the clock, mind you. I have a great sense of what they have to say to me. I can convert quickly from Lynden time to Chicago time to DC time without effort and to London and other time zones with only a little effort.

But I have a hell of a time knowing what day it is, because I’m always shifting from one day to the next and back to do my job. For instance, right now, without checking, I’m only pretty sure that it’s Wednesday. No, I wouldn’t be willing to bet any money on that.

And if you thought all of the foregoing simply an excuse to close the night out with a Dylan song, well, I won’t argue the point.

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Move Over, Fat Tuesday

Friday is National Donut Day. I saw this advertised at the local supermarket Food Pavilion and assumed it was just a tasty ruse to get more customers through the door by bribing them with free donuts and coffee.

But it turns out, no, National Donut day is a real thing. It even has a website, with a countdown clock to lend it scientific credibility. The site tells us National Donut Day was “created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.” That is one delicious sacrifice.

Homer Simpson

Stupid, Smug and Wrong on Gay Marriage

The first response to this Real Clear Policy column by Jim Antle was a mix of about equal parts smug, wrong, and stupid. It reminded me again a) why I tend not to write about gay marriage, and b) why I established this blog’s restrictive comments policy.

The commenter attempts to summarize Antle’s arguments against gay marriage back to him thus, “‘It’s gross, mostly because they can’t have kids, and childless/infertile couples are too insignificant to matter and should get over themselves.” He charges Antle has abandoned the good fight and “simply shift[ed] to a different goal: namely, keeping those AWFUL homosexuals (boohoohoo) from raising kids” and then says some stupid things about sociology and the March of Science.

The question at issue in this whole debate, which Antle grasps but most of the people on the other side strain mightily to ignore is, What is marriage about? Is it about sex, love, rights, recognition, or what? Why does the institution exist in the first place in such a way that governments have taken a justified interest in it?

A lot of us can answer unambiguously that marriage is about children. As Antle writes, “sex between men and women frequently produces children. Even when that is not true in specific cases (childless couples, the infertile), it is indisputably true in general.” And thus “Heterosexuals need an institution that channels their sexuality into something fruitful, that makes adults responsible for the children they create, makes parents responsible for one another, and curbs male promiscuity.”

Is gay marriage compatible with this objective? Probably not, is Antle’s considered answer. He entertains the idea that gay marriage could exist as something “similar to married priests in the Catholic Church: an exception to the rule for people in a unique set of circumstances that doesn’t alter the basic character of the institution,” but offers us good reasons to doubt that will turn out to be the case.

Antle concludes, “Men, women, and children need an institution that does what marriage does. The question remains how well marriage can perform its vital functions when redefined to make men, women, and children optional.”

Along the way, he makes a few important distinctions, including the observation that most opponents of gay marriage don’t really want to, well, ban it: “We don’t want the cops to interrupt gay weddings, throw both grooms in jail, or interfere with anybody’s financial arrangements or hospital visitation rights.” In fact, “virtually none” of the reasons for defining marriage as between one man and one woman “have anything to do with stigmatizing gay people.”

I’m tempted to close this post with a Carly Simon joke (“You’re so vain / you probably think this wedding is about you”) but, perhaps not.

Hey Mitt Romney, Want My Vote?

Then put this guy on the ballot.

Rand Paul

Sean Higgins’s Grandfather, RIP

The logo for Jeremy Lott’s Diary is modeled on the logo for a stand-alone blog that I once owned and sort of operated. I say “sort of” because, at my request, a friend named Sean Higgins took it over. He did all of the posting there for years. This created problems for Sean. People were constantly asking him, “Wait, why are you blogging on JeremyLott.net? Is that a pen name or something?” We eventually had to include a picture of both of us so that he could say “No, look, there’s Jeremy and there I am standing next to him.”

I say this by way of introduction to Patheos readers. I will undoubtedly post links to Sean’s pieces here from time to time. Maybe he’ll even take this blog over at some point. Today, Sean gives us an obituary of his grandfather, Robert “Bob” Higgins, a World War II vet from the European theater who “came within an inch of death at least five times in the Big One, all but one of those times during the siege” of Bastogne.

Sean explains the importance of that siege: “Control of Bastogne was key to the Battle of Bulge: Literally all the usable roads ran through it.” So of course the Germans “surrounded the town and demanded surrender.” But Bob Higgins’s unit wasn’t budging: “[The Germans] received a one-word response from the 101st: ‘Nuts.’ An American medic helpfully translated this into German as ‘Du kannst zum Teufel gehen,’ which, roughly speaking, means, ‘You can go to Hell.’”

As Bob Higgins explained it to his grandson, “We were paratroopers. Landing behind enemy lines was what we were trained for, so when the Germans said, ‘We have you surrounded,’ we thought, ‘So?’ We were always surrounded.”

From Sean’s description, his grandfather sounds like one hell of a guy. Always sorry to see one of those old soldiers go.

Californians: Do Not Read This

Today: I woke absurdly early this morning in Lynden, Washington and decided to go for a walk and get breakfast at Dutch Treat. There was a slight chill in the air at 6:20, it had rained recently and the sun was still fighting with the cloud cover. In all likelihood, it would rain again. Did I reconsider or go grab a jacket or an umbrella? No. It did rain on and off on the way to the restaurant, but I never for one moment regretted my decision.

A few years ago: My younger brother Andrew had just moved to Kansas City, Kansas to work as an assistant baseball coach at MidAmerica. He was going out and the weather forecast called for rain. A friend told him he’d better take an umbrella. He said, “Why? It’s just rain.” I got a call after. When people in Kansas tell me you’d better take an umbrella, a very wet Andrew told me, you had better take an umbrella.

The usual rap on western Washington is that it rains so much here. And it does, but “rain” means something very different here than in much of the rest of the country. Rain here is usually light and sporadic and not altogether unpleasant. The real issue is that it’s cloudy a lot and therefore can be depressing.

Of course, we play up both of these things to convince Californians to stay put. Given that our state has a moderate climate, a lush landscape and no personal state income tax, the rain is the only thing standing between us and sky-high property values.

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So a Pessimist and a Fatalist Walk into a Bar…

They belly up. The pessimist says to the fatalist, “I’ll buy this round. What’re you having?” The fatalist points to one of the regulars to his right, says, “Give me what Bob’s having. It’ll probably kill me.” The pessimist nods, says, “Well, eventually. Make that two.”