Same-Sex Marriage and Biopolitical Tyranny

Leithart:

In a 2013 essay evaluating the Parliamentary bill on gay marriage, John Milbank observes that British “legislators have recognised that it would be intolerable to define gay marriage in terms equivalent to ‘consummation,’ or to permit ‘adultery’ as legitimate ground for gay divorce.” In these decisions, “the legislators have been forced tacitly to admit the different nature of both gay sexuality and of gaysociality. But such an admission destroys the assumption behind the legislation and the coherence of what the legislation proposes to enact.”

Milbank doesn’t think it will stop there. If gay adultery has no legal force, then, on the assumption of equality, heterosexual adultery will also cease to be grounds for divorce. After all, “if the binding and loosing of gay and straight marriage are stipulated in different ways,” then the distinctions that gay marriage is designed to eliminate is reinstated. In Milbank’s view, “secular thought will not so readily let go of the demand for absolutely equal rights based on identical definitions. In that case, we face an altogether more drastic prospect. Not only would ‘marriage’ have been redefined so as to include gay marriage, it would inevitably be redefined even for heterosexual people in homosexual terms. Thus ‘consummation’ and ‘adultery’ would cease to be seen as having any relevance to the binding and loosing of straight unions.”

We Could Use Some Fire and Brimstone

David Mills:

It was his senior year, said the oldest man sitting round the table in the pub, and the first day of religion class in his Catholic high school the teacher handed out thin paperbacks printed on cheap paper. They’d had a real textbook the year before. A younger man remembered studying doctrine one year and coloring pictures the next. And the youngest at the table, a new father in his late twenties, said that all he’d known in his CCD classes was the lite version.

My companions at dinner were all victims of a revolution in catechetics. What most struck me as they talked was how sentimental was the teaching, and how light and thin it was. It sounded frivolous. The teachers may have loved the Church and the Faith, but they taught Catholicism as if it were a subject they didn’t really care about and didn’t expect their students to care about either.

The Smoke and Mirrors of Bourbon

From NPR:

Craft bourbon, like craft beer, is in the midst of a boom: In the past 15 years, the number of distilleries in the U.S. has surged from just a handful to around 600.

Why are Americans buying more bourbon? According to author Reid Mitenbuler, one reason is that we’re being seduced by clever bottles and throwback labels. Along with enticing branding, some of these bottles of “craft bourbon” boast hefty price tags. Take Pappy Van Winkle, a craft bourbon with “family reserve” editions that retail for thousands of dollars.

And yet “the term ‘craft’ is little more than an ambiguous buzzword,” Mitenbuler writes in a new book, Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey. Behind all the craft buzz, Mitenbuler says, are actually just some “carefully cultivated myths” created by an industry on a roll.

No Labels, No Drama, Right?

From the NYT:

“My Jeremy is coming to visit this weekend,” Maddy whispered to me one night while we were out for a friend’s birthday.

“Your what?” I asked. I thought I had misheard her.

“My Jeremy,” she repeated. “I’ve told you about him. His name’s Will. We grew up together in Washington. He’s visiting from school. My Jeremy.”

And just like that, a name — one I referred to often — became an archetype, a trope, an all-purpose noun used by my college friends to talk about “that guy,” the one who remains for us in some netherworld between friend and boyfriend, often for years.

I met mine, the original Jeremy, at summer camp in the Poconos at 14, playing pickup basketball by day and talking in the mess hall late into the night. Back home we lived only 30 minutes apart, but I didn’t see him again until 11th grade, when we ran into each other at a Halloween party in a Lower Manhattan warehouse.

The State of Red America

Sad reading:

In the fall of 1969, Merle Haggard topped the Billboard country charts for four weeks with “Okie from Muskogee,” the song that quickly became the anthem of red America, even before we called it that.

“We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee, we don’t take our trips on LSD, we don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street, we like livin’ right and bein’ free,” Haggard declared. “We don’t make a party out of lovin’, we like holdin’ hands and pitchin’ woo.”

Times have changed.

Today Muskogee, Okla., a city of 38,863, has nine drug treatment centers and acourt specifically devoted to drug offenders. A search for “methamphetamine arrest” on the website of the Muskogee Phoenix, the local newspaper, produces 316 hits.

In 2013 just under two-thirds of the births in the city of Muskogee, 62.6 percent, were to unwed mothers, including 48.3 percent of the births to white mothers. The teenage birthrate in Oklahoma was 47.3 per 1,000; in Muskogee, it’s 59.2, almost twice the national rate, which is 29.7.

From Idealism to Power–The Obama Presidency

From the Library of Law and Liberty:

As a presidential candidate in 2007 and 2008, Barack Obama made stirring pledges to respect the rule of law and to abide by constitutional limitations on certain presidential powers. He left no doubt that he intended to put an end to George W. Bush-era governing practices that many argued had resulted in a dangerous unleashing of unconstrained presidential powers. On such topics as initiating war, military detention, interrogation practices, rendition, domestic surveillance, candidate Obama strongly criticized the Bush administration for having violated longstanding U.S. constitutional and even moral principles. He went so far as to argue that the U.S. had lost much of its stature and credibility in the world due to Bush’s actions and that undoing the damage would require new leadership and an entirely different governing vision. Obama further promised government transparency, that he would never issue a signing statement to alter legislative intent, that indeed he would respect Congress’s constitutional-based powers and would build relationships with legislators rather than try to govern without them.

How to Keep the NSA from Turning Phone Conversations Into Text

Via the Intercept:

As soon as my article about how NSA computers can now turn phone conversations into searchable text came out on Tuesday, people started asking me: What should I do if I don’t want them doing that to mine?

The solution, as it is to so many other outrageously invasive U.S. government tactics exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is, of course, Congressional legislation.

I kid, I kid.

No, the real solution is end-to-end encryption, preferably of the unbreakable kind.

No one works 80 hours per week.

From Pacific Standard:

“Genius,” goes the oft-quoted Thomas Edison maxim, “is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” But in some modern American workplaces, the doctrine of hard work has been supplanted by a different mantra: Fake it until you make it.

That’s the conclusion of new research published in Organization Science, which suggests that, despite the fact that we’ve enshrined workaholism as a proxy for success in American culture, many of those co-workers who pride themselves on 80-hour work weeks are probably full of it.

The Apple Watch and Distractions

Counter-intuitive, but it makes sense, I think. (HT to Alan Jacobs):

My fear was that a wearable would be the most intrusive of all devices, bringing trespass even to situations where my phone was away, and I was engaged in other activities – eating up the last remaining uninterrupted portions of my life.

I was surprised to find that, instead, the Watch helped me regain lost ground.

The problem with notifications is that they occupy the junction of several unhealthy human characteristics: social pressure of timely response, a need for diversion, and our constant thirst for novelty. Mobile devices exacerbate that issue by letting us succumb to all of those at any moment. That’s not a good thing. I’m constantly horrified that much of Microsoft’s advertising seems to presuppose that working twenty-four hours per day is mankind’s long-sought nirvana.

With the Watch, we’ll be waiting for a long time.

Blendle–a New Model for Funding Journalism

Interesting–and hopeful–news here:

What if:
– You could read all the journalism you care for in one place
– You would only need to register once to read it all
– You would only pay for the articles you actually read
– You’d get your money back if you didn’t like the story
– No subscriptions
– No ads

That’s what we launched in The Netherlands exactly one year ago.

At the time, we used to pitch Blendle as “the iTunes of journalism”. But Blendle is not only about paying little if you don’t consume a lot. It’s also about the convenience of reading and paying with only one click. It’s about our focus on the very best user experience (with our instant refund policy being a good example). And it’s about the way we help users to find the premium journalism that they find most interesting.

Over the past 12 months we’ve proven in the Netherlands that there’s a new market for publishers, next to selling subscriptions, full issues and advertising. Without spending a single euro on marketing, we gathered over a quarter of a million users. We generate a very decent amount of money (I can’t say how much, unfortunately, only that it’s more than Apple generates for publishers) in our short existence. But more importantly: it’s money from people who weren’t paying for journalism before. My friends have never paid for music and movies, until Spotify and Netflix. And with Blendle, they’re paying for journalism, often for the first time in their lives.