Long enough to reach the ground

How can Mitt Romney recall childhood memories of Detroit’s Golden Jubilee? That event, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the American automobile, took place June 1, 1946 — “fully nine months before Romney was born.”

David Barton offers one explanation. “Biblically,” the fraudulent non-historian says, “life begins before conception.”

This may also explain why Barton himself is able to “remember” things like what a devout, prayerful Christian Thomas Paine was.

Speaking of Romney, Buzzfeed speculates that his “trees are the right height” line may have been an elliptical Hemingway reference.

The literary reference it called to mind for me was more recent: Woody Allen’s Side Effects. Specifically, it reminded me of his one-act play The Query — an extended riff on a joke attributed to Abraham Lincoln in which the 16th president was asked “How long do you think a man’s legs should be?” and he replied, “Long enough to reach the ground.”

* * * * * * * * *

Back in the 1990s I remember being puzzled by fundamentalists’ hatred of The Berenstain Bears. I heard several iterations of the same complaint — that these children’s books about talking bears were insufficiently patriarchal. Years later, via Jim Newell at Wonkette, I finally learn the source of this weird objection: Charles Krauthammer.

It seems that back in 1989 the conservative columnist took a break from cheerleading for war and torture to complain that Papa Berenstain was “a wimp” who does too many chores around the house and fails to keep his woman in line. Mother Bear, Krauthammer said, was the sort of woman he “always dreamt of drowning.”

Charles Krauthammer dreams of killing women. And cartoon bears fill him with rage.

OK, then.

Somewhat related, from Raw Story: “Upper class people more likely to cheat

People from the wealthy upper classes are more likely than poorer folks to break laws while driving, take candy from children and lie for financial gain, said a US study on Monday.

* * * * * * * * *

Phil Plait: Ten tons of pure sodium, dropped into a lake.

(Now it can be told: Senior year of high school, my best friend and I volunteered to help a schoolmate with his Eagle Scout service project. We helped him repair a footbridge at our school that had become shaky due to “erosion.” The truth is that erosion wasn’t to blame, and we weren’t volunteering out of altruism, but out of penance for a misguided experiment involving a flooded brook and a fist-sized chunk of sodium. Totally worth it.)

A few more things I thought were kind of neat:

Stay in touch with the Slacktivist on Facebook:

Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 83: 'Today's Gospel reading'
Scenes from the class war (5.25)
Clobber-texting isn't a principled hermeneutic: A horrifying case study
'Game of Thrones' and the Bible
  • Anonymous

    Shame on Mitt Romney for having a false memory.  I guess that makes him unqualified to be president.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    For quite a while now you’ve been advancing the same argument.  That argument has never varied.  It has always been one thing over and over again:

    No one should ever be held accountable for their actions.  Anyone is free to do anything without any kind of repercussion.  Responsibility counts for nothing.

    All that needs to be done is to find some vaguely related thing on the other side and it’s all ok.

    Is there any limit to your belief that no one should be held accountable for anything?  If a Republican committed murder would you just link to a site about the so called “Clinton bodycount” and act as if that canceled everything out?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Hey now, cut aunursa some slack. You can’t reasonably ask someone to consider any criticism of any conservative person or piece of conservative ideology because

  • Lori

     

    Hey now, cut aunursa some slack. You can’t reasonably ask someone to
    consider any criticism of any conservative person or piece of
    conservative ideology because… 

    if he does he’ll have to really think about why he became a Republican during the reign of Bush the Lesser. That’s too embarrassing to contemplate, especially when, unlike Dennis Miller, for example, one is not making a tidy living off it. He might have to acknowledge that it was pants-wetting fear, and not some true lack on the part of the Left, that lead him to run to daddy. That’s a tough thing to swallow.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Here, have a hankie. And a cookie. You’ll feel better.

  • Anonymous

    No, Romney’s incompetence, blithering bigotry and failure to be a decent human being disqualify him to be president.

    You twit.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Wow. I knew Krauthammer was a jerk, but I didn’t realize he was completely bonkers.

  • Daughter

    Fundies hate the Berenstain Bears? Seriously? They’re about as wholesome as they come.

    As for Papa, I just saw him as the typical dad of much of American entertainment: slightly clueless.

  • Anonymous

    Even Ward Cleaver helped with the dishes.

    How can anyone hate the Berenstain Bears?

  • Matri

    “Biblically,” the fraudulent non-historian says, “life begins before conception.”

    So which is it? At conception or before conception? Are they calling each other liars, or are they calling God a liar?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

  • Anonymous

    Life may begin before conception, but if specific memories of temporal events begin before conception, we’re getting into an area that in general, Christianity has ignored.

  • Anonymous

    A. Saying life begins before conception is the logical endpoint of conservatives’ view on sex.  It actually makes sense that they oppose contraception, in that any act of sex could potentially lead to a human life.  So the choice, with either anti-abortion or its endpoint, anti-contraception, is that the people promoting it are either radical beyond the dreams of over 90% of the population, or they are willing to make exceptions because they don’t believe it anyway.  e.g., if you believe abortion is murder, why do you think it’s okay in the case of rape?  You wouldn’t support killing a four year old because he was the product of rape, would you?  Clearly, then, you don’t treat abortion as equal to murder.

    B. “Berenstain Bears?”  Sounds like part of the international Jewish conspiracy to me!

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    “Berenstain Bears?” Sounds like part of the international Jewish conspiracy to me!

    You’re thinking of the Build-a-Bears. My daughter was involved in their evil mall-indwelt cabal when she was two for a day.

    They are so cuddly-evil…

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    I was sorry to learn that Jan Berenstain died today…I grew up on those books and have many fond memories of reading them.

    But now that I’m buying them for my son, egads, do I hate the new Christianized line of them. Too many words, the art quality has deteriorated, the plotlines ramble, oh and they preach. With about the subtlety of an iron skillet in the face.

    Now they’re pretty much unpalatable to all but a tiny minority of Christians, who won’t read anything that doesn’t preach about the Bible and Jesus and God in the most overt, over-the-top fashion.

    Give me the original ones any day.

  • FangsFirst

     

    But now that I’m buying them for my son, egads, do I hate the new Christianized line of them.

    There was a weird murmur about these back at Borders (by which I mean my store specifically) once we realized this was occurring.

    Well, let’s be fair.

    Once I realized and started pointing it out to people.

  • hapax

    But now that I’m buying them for my son, egads, do I hate the new Christianized line of them

    [boggles] 
    The only Stan & Jan Berenstain book I recall reading was the really sweet one on sex instruction that my parents bought for me.

  • Amaryllis

    Oh, Wislawa Szymborska!

    Here’s a selection of choice quotes on How To (and How Not To) Write Poetry.

    —-
    RIP Jan Berenstain.

    And lord how that takes me back. I remember when Mama Bear was considered a threat to all right-thinking families– Krauthammer wasn’t the only one.

    (And I’m sick to death of men who refuse to listen to women because they had a teacher they disliked back in the second grade, or some girl beat them out in the spelling bee.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I think it’s obvious what happened. The guy who wrote the computer program for Romney’s memories forgot to put a partition around memories of events that occurred before the time when he was “born”. It’s actually a pretty easy bit of software to code; in Visual Basic, for example, I think you would put an End Sub statement in between the two other statements.

    (Though, of course, I think the conservative Romney runs on something even more retro, like COBOL)!

    No, but seriously, that’s actually a pretty common psychological effect. I can’t remember the name, but it’s basically when you’ve had an event described to you in such vivid detail that you remember it almost as if you had seen it. There were people who talked about seeing the Twin Towers go down on 9/11 who were asleep or not near a TV at the time. That’s probably what happened in Romney’s case. His dad was involved in that event and probably talked about it a lot. He might have even had pictures of it or souvenirs from it, all of which came together and melded with Romney’s memory to the point where he really imagined that he was there even though he wasn’t born yet.

    *(It’s also possible to induce false memories of events; this can take a darker turn with things like the South Ronaldsay child abuse scandal and other related cases of mass hysteria, where children were induced by inept or unscrupulous investigators into “remembering” abuse that never actually happened).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Re events and memory

    Ronald Reagan used to confuse his acting/movie experience with the real thing when he recounted “WW2 experiences”.

  • Lori

    Reagan mixed up his fact & his fiction while talking to other world leaders. IOKIYAR

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s obvious what happened. The guy who wrote the computer
    program for Romney’s memories forgot to put a partition around memories
    of events that occurred before the time when he was “born”. It’s
    actually a pretty easy bit of software to code; in Visual Basic, for
    example, I think you would put an End Sub statement in between the two
    other statements.

    “Obama wants you to think we’re running out of oil, but I have seen a stegosaurus collapse from an old wound, decay along with many of its fellows, and be pressed and heated until the result was the crude oil we so desperately need – and, my friends, that didn’t look too hard to me.”

    No, I agree that it’s probably an honest mistake. I occasionally remember things that, it later turned out, I totally dreamed. (There’s this one shopping centre I end up in in all my anxiety nightmares that, let me tell you, I could navigate blindfolded, even though it’s just a composite of other shopping centres and doesn’t actually exist. Granted, I’m usually naked, not blindfolded.) I don’t think it has much bearing on whether he’d be a good or bad President. (Bad.)

    But we can totally mock him for it. Just as conservatives – and us too, for that matter! – can totally mock Obama for that “57 states” business. Because, in both cases, that right there is kinda funny.

  • Anonymous

     Also, why do people still believe that oil comes from dinosaurs?  Oil comes from plankton.

  • Hawker40

    “(Though, of course, I think the conservative Romney runs on something even more retro, like COBOL)!”

    No, Mitt Romney does not run on COBOL.  COBOL was invented by Admiral Grace Hopper, the USN’s first female admiral.  As good patriarchists, Mitt’s programmers wouldn’t use something invented by a woman so lost to her proper place as to become a admiral in the oh so manly United States Navy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    True. Though I think does sound the Massachusetts Romney XLR02 model though. That guy doesn’t sound so bad.

    In March 2002 during his run for governor, Romney told the Lowell Sun that “On a personal basis, I don’t favor abortion. However, as governor of
    the commonwealth, I will protect a woman’s right to choose under the
    laws of the country and the commonwealth. That’s the same position I’ve
    had for many years.” Also, during the 2002 governor’s race, Romney’s platform stated, “As
    Governor, Mitt Romney would protect the current pro-choice status quo in
    Massachusetts. No law would change. The choice to have an abortion is a
    deeply personal one. Women should be free to choose based on their own
    beliefs, not the government’s.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And back in 1994 he said he’d be better than Ted Kennedy on gay rights! *cue uproarious laughter*  I had a little writeup about it. :P

  • Anonymous

    I’d never heard that before about the Berenstain Bears, but you know what? 
    Of course.

    Of course the right would have nothing better to do with their free time than to shit on children’s books.
    Of course the Berenstain Bears would fail whatever sniff test they came up with that day.

    The only culture these guys would allow from here on out is John Wayne movies and Lawrence Welk records. Just white guys shooting Indians and dancing to accordion music, for the rest of time.

  • FangsFirst

     They might find themselves in trouble with a few odd John Wayne movies. Not much thanks to Mr. Morrison himself, but….

  • Tricksterson

    Which ones do you have in mind?

  • FangsFirst

     It does take some knowing and analysis, but The Searchers is generally taken to be an indictment of white racism against Native Americans.

    Admittedly, only one off the top of my head, but I haven’t watched many westerns in a while.

    And this, again, is not about Wayne himself. That was up to Ford on that one.

  • Lori

     

    It does take some knowing and analysis, but The Searchers is generally taken to be an indictment of white racism against Native Americans.

    I think the final shot of the film weighs in on the side of making a point about racism and a lot of other negative things embedded in the “iconic” image of the Western. As you say, that’s Ford, not Wayne.

  • FangsFirst

     Yep. But to many it remains “a John Wayne movie,” and basing such associations on lead actor (versus director) is, of course, pretty common.

    I seem to recall a few odd others where the portrayal was also in the Fort Apache vein, as I was surprised, since I’d always been told “old westerns were always intensely racist and portrayed Native Americans as less than human.”
    To be sure the exceptions are just that (exceptions, implying a minority) but there were more than none, for sure, and more than a simple handful even.

  • The Lodger

    White guys shooting accordions, however, would be an awesome idea.

  • Tricksterson

    Or accordians that also function as guns.

  • FangsFirst

    I first imagined The Lodger’s comment as someone firing a gun that uses accordions as ammunition/projectiles…

  • Tricksterson

    I took it as people shooting at accordians.

  • FangsFirst

     After realizing I was focusing it through the lens of my own absurdity (ie, stopping once I went “AWESOME! ACCORDION LAUNCHER!” and rethinking how likely it was that someone actually said that) I’d say my inclination was to agree with that sentiment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Or accordians that also function as guns.

    I’m pretty sure Weird Al has done that.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Granted, I do not agree with all the lessons the Berenstain Bears have to impart.

  • Miles

    “Upper class people more likely to cheat”
    correlation or causation?

  • Lori

     

    “Upper class people more likely to cheat”
    correlation or causation?  

    The fact that conditioning people to think of themselves as higher status lead to more cheating at least suggests some form of causation.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It’s also no surprise to me that rich people have a habit of thinking the rules don’t apply to them anyway.

  • Anonymous

    As if Romney wasn’t bad enough already, now he has to taint Hemingway, too? Is nothing sacred?

    Particularly since, apart from Spanish fascists, I can think of very few people Hemingway would dislike more than a conservative Ken doll that didn’t even have the decency to take a noseful now and again.

    Also, if “Hills Like White Elephants” is any indication, Papa wasn’t particularly pro-life, either. Or pro-“normal” sexuality. Or pro-order. Or pro-censorship. Or pro-rich people. I don’t think he had much politics, and thank god for it, but what he did have never struck me as particularly conservative.

  • P J Evans

    One person I know has a story about a large chunk of sodium being catapulted (literally) over a fence into a swimming pool. Where the teachers were having their end of the school year party. The chunk of sodium was large enough, and the mass exit from the pool was both large enough and sudden enough, that a large amount of the pool water left at the same time.

    In my college chemistry lab, we got to play with small piece of sodium wrapped in perforated aluminum foil before being dropped in a beaker of water. It was fun.

  • seashell

    My Fundie Uncle refused to read the Berenstain Bears to my sister because in one of the books they said something like–we are animals too (that we are all related due to common ancestry) 

    and my Grandmother refused to read the Care Bears to me because they “lived in the clouds” – which is where god and angels live NOT bears – Obviously

  • Tricksterson

    Well, yeah, before the Care Bears kicked their pansy asses to hell and back.
    The Care Bears are more badass than you think.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    I thought Romney was doing a Kayser Soze. “Tree. Height. I love… lamp.”

  • Don Gisselbeck

    I loved the sodium explosions, but then one of my many vices is watching explosions on youtube.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I loved the sodium explosions, but then one of my many vices is watching explosions on youtube.

    George Dyson, son of physicist Freemon Dyson, wrote a book titled Project Orion, detailing the titular Project Orion that his father worked on to design a spaceship that was driven forward by riding the shockwaves of nuclear detonations.  Showed a lot of promise, but the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty nixed its development during the Cold War.  Anyway, there is a chapter in that book called “The Free Expansion of Gas” and it begins with this sentence: 

    “Physicists love explosions.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You see the cesium in the bathtub one? I love that. XD

  • Rikalous

    The study tested whether they would take candy from children? I guess there’d be an ethics problem with testing whether or not they’d kick puppies. 

  • Lori

    The study tested whether they would take candy from children? I guess there’d be an ethics problem with testing whether or not they’d kick
    puppies.  

    Technically the subjects weren’t taking the candy directly from the children (and said children did not actually exist). Of course given the outcome I wonder if the subjects would have eaten even more candy if they actually were taking it right out of the kids’ hands.

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

    I think the answer is rather obvious.  Romney does indeed remember that parade from his youth, as he claimed.  And now, I’m going to have to insist on seeing his long-form birth certificate, and there’d better not be anything funny about the kerning.

  • Huh

    I don’t know anyone who’s played with sodium, but there’s always the Chalk Speed Bump:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1310044/Canada-3D-Road-Safety-Speed-bump-girl-crossing-road-appears-drivers.html

  • Anonymous

    On the Romney memory, come on now. No one here has ever confused some event they were told about as a child with an actual memory? Let’s concentrate on Romney’s actual lies that hurt actual people; heaven knows there’s enough material there.

    I had no idea when reading those books to my kids that I was subverting the patriarchy. I’ll make sure to preserve them for my grandchildren.

  • Lori

    Musical instrument as weapon = bagpipes, not accordion. 


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