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Fifty Shades of Decadence, One Shade of ISIS

February 19, 2015

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The “Islamic State” has gone full Genghis Khan during the past week — beheading 21 Christians on a beach in Libya, incinerating 45 hapless souls in a northern Iraqi town, linking up with Boko Haram in Central Africa, establishing cordial ties with al-Qaeda, and watching contentedly as apostles of jihad inflicted death in Denmark.

From its origins as an insolent rogue state in the deserts of northern Mesopotamia, ISIS has turned itself into an international brand.  Alienated young Muslim males, resigned to perpetual poverty and defeat in this life, are buying its promise of apocalyptic glory. Kill infidels for Allah, be killed in return, enjoy eternal bliss.

As a cultural hypochondriac, I see ISIS as an especially aggressive cancer. The tumor has metastasized now, spreading its malignant cells throughout the Muslim world and beyond. I have no doubt that Libya, Central Africa, the Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan and Pakistan will provide much-needed nutrients for the growing tumors.

Malignant cells have already turned up in Europe, and Italy fears a deadly incursion from Libya. (Ironic that Libya encompasses territory that once belonged to Carthage, ancient Rome’s perennial foe during the pre-imperial era.) America seems safe for now, but it could be a matter of time before we see ISIS-inspired terrorist acts spreading to these shores.

Meanwhile, how was America occupying itself as the ISIS cancer flared up? We were flocking to see Fifty Shades of Grey at the local Cineplex. The bestselling bondage novel, now a major motion picture, set the all-time box office record for a February opening, despite less than stellar reviews.

I’ve never understood the appeal of pain and humiliation (or domination, for that matter) in the bedroom, so I’m hopelessly out of touch with this “BDSM” mania. (It’s no longer a simple S&M, of course, and I imagine they’ll keep adding initials as the trend expands to include pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality and other toppling taboos.)

Maybe I really should rechristen this blog The New Puritan. As a hardwired proponent of traditional Western values, I have to cringe at the oddly joyless decadence of contemporary American popular culture. Porn has gone mainstream, from the twerking posterior of Miley Cyrus to the numbing exhibitionism of Kim Kardashian to the current frenzy over handcuffs and leather harnesses. The innocently naughty cream-puff sexuality of a Marilyn Monroe, so alluring in its time, seems like a distant dream now.

I have to wonder how a culture steeped in dark debauchery will stand up to the militant vitality of ISIS and its legions. Yes, we need to cajole the established governments of the Middle East to fight ISIS and kill the tumor at its root. Egypt and Jordan have finally started to look alive, but it’s unlikely that the coalition will be able to beat ISIS on its own. If we eventually engage the foe in battle, as it appears we might, we could be looking at a new Hundred Years’ War.

You can capture territory, but you can’t capture religious fanaticism. Kill a thousand fanatics, and a thousand more will take their place. To win a conventional war against ISIS, we’d have to slaughter every last jihadist — an impossible (and not especially honorable) feat.

No, it will take more than the power of arms to stop this cancer. We need to show the jihadists that our way of life offers more than theirs… that our freedom opens the door to a noble and bountiful life.

I’m just not sure, given the current dilapidated state of American culture, that we’re in any position to tout its virtues.

Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate.

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54 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2015 9:00 am

    In large measure, you might assert that these behaviors are related. Younger muslims move into the fantasy world that is their so-called religion (mass murder, rape, and torture have a place in religion?) while Western youth decide that a book/movie about sexual bondage is where they want to spend their fantastical moments.

    I don’t see any of this ending well. To wit: it is my understanding that many Italians are worried about being invaded by ISIS. However, that worry is not translating into any meaningful action to forestall this (say by actually having an army to rely upon)/.

    So, perhaps the Italians will fantasize that this time, they will win the war?

    Who knows? I don’t.

    PS-Our fearless muslim leader (Barry) continues to deny the connection between ISIS and islam. Duh, how far up his ass can this guy’s head get?

    Selfie, anyone?

    Yolo, (whatever the hell that means)?

    • February 19, 2015 9:28 am

      Although I am clearly no fan of Obama, I do believe that he is exercising strategic semanticism in refusing to call ISIS what it is – an Islamist terror organization. I think that he believes that the only way to bring other Muslim nations into the fight is to steadfastly deny that ISIS is Muslim and brand them as heretics, rather than religious extremists.

      The problem with this is that it is not true. Or, rather, that it may be true, in an academic kind of way,but not in reality. Jihadis believe that they are fighting to establish a religious caliphate. The denial of this central fact makes Obama appear to be stubborn at best, delusional at worst.

      The problem with this, I think, is that academic and semantic posturing is not going to solve the problem. I agree with Rick that we can’t kill every last Jihadi, but we didn’t kill every last Nazi either. On the other hand, we did not seek to defeat the Nazis by offering them better job opportunities…..because we acknowledged that it was a perverted ideology, not only economic deprivation, that was driving Germans to follow Hitler.

      As long as we are lying to ourselves about the nature of the threat, it will be impossible to develop a viable strategy to defeat it. It is in many ways like BDSM fantasy, I suppose….cover the handcuffs and chains in pink fluff, and maybe the whips won’t hurt as much?

      (Rick, I like the “short form” essay)

      • February 19, 2015 9:32 am

        Spot on, Priscilla. I also think Obama is in fact, a muslim and every action he takes and doesn’t take convinces me that I am right. The guy is simply a dolt and a ideologue. Bad combination to have in a POTUS.

        Free community college for everyone!

      • asmith permalink
        February 19, 2015 1:18 pm

        I think the point of the whips in BDSM is pain.

      • February 19, 2015 7:52 pm

        Of course it is. But that was not MY point.

      • February 19, 2015 9:41 pm

        Priscilla: I think Obama is trying to make the distinction between mainstream Islam and jihadist Islam. He acknowledged that ISIS is an Islamic problem, although he does seem to go too far with the semantic pussyfooting — as in the name of the conference he’s been holding this week.

    • asmith permalink
      February 19, 2015 1:16 pm

      I would love to blame the current mess in the mideast on our clueless president.
      His foreign policy is certainly a disaster. The Teleprompter is out of sync. The Oratory is falling flat.

      But unless you are prepared to put boots on the ground and wipe ISIS out by force,
      and then move on to Libya, the Ukraine, Iran, ….

      It is hard to blame Obama for the mess that is the world.
      He has not helped fix it. Maybe he has made it a tiny bit worse,
      but honestly it is outside his power to do anything about.

      The mess in the world brings a spotlight to the limits of what the US government can do.

    • February 19, 2015 8:00 pm

      No one person or condition (except BUSH DID IT, of course) can be blamed for the current mess in the Mideast, but I think that this administration can be blamed for having either 1) no effective strategy to deal with it or 2) a strategy of cutting a deal with Iran at the expense of our long term ally and of our own future security, in order to have them crush ISIS for us.

      #2 might be an effective way to rid us of one set of religious extremists, but it will only replace them with another.

      But religious extremism can’t be the problem….

      • February 20, 2015 12:31 am

        Priscilla, there are many reasons that the situation exist in the middle east today. From the fact that Bush removed Sadam, who was brutal, but not as brutal as the current ISIS group, to the fact that the Bush administration removed all Bathist from positions of authority, unlike Japan and Germany after WW2, to the fact that Obama would not work out an agreement with the president of Iraq to keep troops there to his now inconsistent positions on what to do with the current mess.

        “You break it, you own it” Problem is we did not own it after we broke it. Leaving the former Bathist (who were Sadam’s brutal enforcers to fend for themselves allowed that brutality to morph into the current leadership of ISIS today. Many of Sadam’s follows are now directing the fight and they know how to make people do what they want. We see it everyday in the paper,

        The one thing that I do believe is Iran will become the more moderate (by comparison) of the middle eastern countries once ISIS has taken Libya, Iraq, and Syria and turned that country into a caliphate. The Kurds most likely will be eliminated as they will fight to the death, unlike most in that area not associated with ISIS. I find it interesting to try and think what Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will do once those other three countries become the old Iraq under the control of the Bathist again.

        Now to bring in some other controversial information, does this situation not fit into Revelations? I wonder.

      • asmith permalink
        February 20, 2015 8:59 am

        What is “an effective strategy” ?

        Do you honestly believe that the US can unilaterally resolve these problems absent the use of force ?

        The problems inside other nations need solved by the people of those nations. There will be no peace in the mideast until the people of the mideast want peace badly enough to confront these jihadi groups themselves.

        Yes, we could have done better, but we can not fix this.

        Yes, Obama has failed – but what is success ?

        Clearly he should not have withdrawn our forces from Iraq – but how many decades are you prepared to keep US troops stationed in afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere to keep these countries from devolving to civil war or being over run by violent nutcases ?

        We have the power to destroy most any military force on the planet in short order, but absent multidecadal occupation we can not bring peace and democracy to another country by force. The people of those nations must want it, and they must want it bad enough to confront the violent elements of their people on their own. I do not see that anywhere and to the extent it might be possible – we are an impediment.

      • February 20, 2015 9:58 am

        To answer your questions Dave:
        1.”What is “an effective strategy” ? I believe that an effective strategy is one that results in the defeat of ISIS….and by defeat, I do not mean “kill every last one of them” nor do I believe that America is obligated to do this alone. By defeat, I mean stop the advance of ISIS in the region, and neutralize its ability to control significant territory and to recruit thousands of foreign fighters willing to conduct terrorist attacks on the West.

        2.”Do you honestly believe that the US can unilaterally resolve these problems absent the use of force ?” No. Did I ever say that?

        3.”Yes, Obama has failed – but what is success ?” See #1

        4.”…how many decades are you prepared to keep US troops stationed in afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere to keep these countries from devolving to civil war or being over run by violent nutcases ?” I was not aware that I proposed that as a solution. Oh, right, I didn’t…..

    • February 19, 2015 9:43 pm

      jb: Agree about the Muslim fantasy world vs. the American fantasy world (although the “Fifty Shades” phenomenon was mostly driven by women). On Obama as a Muslim, not so much. (See my reply to Priscilla above.)

      • February 20, 2015 10:52 am

        Yeah, I don’t think that Obama is a Muslim. But, I do believe that he has natural empathy for Muslims, due to his upbringing and his associations. I would not have a problem with that, if he were more honest about it. I don’t believe that he is a Christian, either. And his dishonesty about that bothers me too.

  2. Ron P permalink
    February 19, 2015 11:33 am

    Does it really matter other than to Fox News what we call these individuals? Can we contain these individuals if the countries they are invading and the citizens they are torturing and killing do little about their actions? Why is it that the middle eastern countries can complain about American aggression, then ask for our help when their own citizens will do nothing other than run across another border and be willing to live in refugee camps instead of picking up arms and fighting for their own country. Seems like the Kurds are the only ones with balls enough to stand up to these invaders.

    I could care less if they call them terrorist, radicals or any other name. A Nazi was a Nazi and could have been called anything and their actions would have been the same. The whole world witnessed what they stood for. But the whole world (for the most part) picked up weapons and fought along side Americans to defeat the Nazi’s. Is that happening today? Is Jordan still flying missions or was that a pen prick they inflicted on ISIS right after their pilot was murdered? What about the Saudi’s? Are they waiting for ISIS to come to their country before doing anything?

    When the middle east citizens understand they will most likely die one way or the other, but fighting ISIS gives them a chance of survival, then maybe there will be enough individuals to defeat the enemy and begin the propaganda war needed to eliminate the threat for the long run.

    But getting back to Ricks comment about our interests in 50 shades of gray, I must remind you that there is a huge percentage of our population that probably has no idea what is happening in the middle east, Europe or in America today. If it isn’t something that tickles their fancy so they will shove their faces into a smart phone and search on that subject, they know nothing about the subject. So I suspect many in America would be like the people in the middle east. Not until the enemy was on their doorstep would they realize the enemy was near. And to what we call these people, when we can not even agree on a name (ISIL if you are a liberal, ISIS if you are a conservative), I doubt we will ever agree on what they should be called politically.

    • February 19, 2015 9:09 pm

      I think it does matter what you call it, Ron. It took a long time for anyone to call Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews (among others) genocide, and as a result it was denied and ignored for years.

      Global Islamic Jihad has some very specific goals, as well as strategies, just as Nazism did. A worldwide caliphate, sharia, destruction of Israel, death or enslavement of infidels, etc.
      ISIS is an apocalyptic death cult, driven by a literal interpretation of Sunni Islam and a belief in the righteousness of Jihad.

      But we talk about ISIS (or ISIL, if you prefer) having legitimate grievances and needing more job opportunities?

      We need to get real. Even if it means admitting that Fox News is not the enemy.

      • February 20, 2015 12:38 am

        We can focus all our attention on what to call this group like Fox is doing, but when there is no effort by those directly impacted by their actions, then I find this to be a waste of energy. Terrorist, Radicals, etc. They will not be stopped regardless of their label until the middle east countries are willing to die for their homeland.

        And therein lies the problem. They, other than the Kurds, do not have a homeland. They have TRIBES that control small portions of land, but do not really think of themselves as part of a country.

    • February 19, 2015 9:50 pm

      Ron: Yes, I doubt if most young Americans disconnect from their electronic devices long enough to worry about foreign events. (I should talk.) I can’t really blame them, in a way; when there’s so much ugliness out there, it seems natural to focus on frivolity. The problem I have with this BDSM stuff is that we’re creating our own ugliness right here. (Well, I guess they don’t think of it as ugly… I’ve just never seen its appeal.) Anyway, it’s as if all these folks are stoned on pleasure drugs while the enemy sharpens its swords.

      • asmith permalink
        February 20, 2015 10:17 am

        So BDSM is not your thing. I can draft a long. list of “no my thing”s

        I do not understand them – but I do not spend my time fretting over them or calling them ugly.

        According to Kinsey atleast 50% of us are into erotic biting.
        and between 5-10% occasionally engage in more serious BDSM.
        That likely means those interested in BDSM are more numerous than gays.

        I do not understand the popularity of 50 shades of gray. I have not read the book or watched the movie, but my understanding is the book is poorly written, and neither accurately portray the subject.

      • asmith permalink
        February 20, 2015 10:19 am

        The “enemy” seems to be fixated on the same drugs.

        Far too many “jihadi’s” are male teens with the ordinary – or maybe extra ordinary purient interests of male teens anywhere.

  3. asmith permalink
    February 19, 2015 12:50 pm

    Still worrying about all the wrong things.

    Not happy with ISIS – but what is it you want to DO about it ?

    All ISIS does is bring to the fore the inherent problem of government.
    We demand that it DO something to right all the wrongs we see in the world, but in reality it is pretty impotent.

    I think Pres. Obama’s foreign policy is disasterous.
    Yet at the same time I can not blame him for the messes in the world.
    I can not think of a foreign policy that he could have had that would have had a radically different outcome.

    I am not so despondent as you about the mideast, but ultimately it does nto matter.

    We could destroy ISIS in short order with boots on the ground.
    But then what ? How would defeating ISIS play out any different than defeating the Taliban or Sadam ? Unless you are planning to occupy parts of the mideast for decades, and kill large numbers of the people of the region – including innocents, as well as smaller number of US soldiers, you are not going to change anything.

    The mideast will change when the people in the mideast want change. It must come from them – not us.

    In the meantime we are less dependent on the mideast than ever.
    And government has had absolutely nothing to do with that.

    But back to my bigger point.

    When you ask government to solve a problem you are demanding the use of force.

    That is all that government can do with respect to ISIS.

    That is all that it can do with respect to any other problem.

    If you do not need force – then you do not need government.

  4. asmith permalink
    February 19, 2015 12:56 pm

    If a fixation with Porn weakens the west then Islamic Fundimentalists are paper tigers.
    The Obsession of ISIS and other Islamic Fundimentalist groups with Porn – particularly violent porn and kiddie porn is infamous.

    When Bin Laden was taken down – an extensive collection of very explicit modern pornography was found with him.

    Al Queda famously has inserted Jihadi messages into Porn clips, as a means of distribution.

  5. asmith permalink
    February 19, 2015 1:11 pm

    The New Puritian – absolutely.

    Sorry but not buying.

    There are alots of things I do not want and do not understand, and I even find revolting, that I do not feel compelled to dictate to others.

    I am straight. Male Homosexual images literally revolt me. If disgust is the measure for creating our laws, Homosexuality should be criminal.

    But that is the wrong measure.

    I have lots of gay male friends. I can appreciate their love for each other, and accept them as no different. Sharing the same rights as I.

    But I stay out of their bedrooms.

    The same goes for myiads of other activities both sexual and otherwise that people engage in.

    I know of few if any people whose private lives do not involve some activity that is
    outside societal norms and disgusting to some of us.

    Christian Fundimentalist ministers make a living trumpetting their disgust.
    Progressives are often only distinguishable by what disguests them.

    If you have not found something that interests you that disgusts many others, or something that disgusts you that others practice – then you are living in a very tiny bubble.

    I do not care what you are doing – so long as you are not initiating violence against others.

    I could care less what porn turns on Jihadi’s. The real pornography is their violence against others. That is all we should care about.

    If our culture today disgusts you – I am sorry. But you are free in your own private corner of the world to have things your way, whether I find that puritan or disgusting.

    You are not free to dictate to the rest of us what we may and may not do in our own.

    • February 19, 2015 9:35 pm

      Dave: How am I dictating morality? I’m just exercising my First Amendment right to express my disapproval. Big difference.

      • asmith permalink
        February 20, 2015 10:05 am

        What is “an effective strategy” ?

        Do you honestly believe that the US can unilaterally resolve these problems absent the use of force ?

        The problems inside other nations need solved by the people of those nations. There will be no peace in the mideast until the people of the mideast want peace badly enough to confront these jihadi groups themselves.

        Yes, we could have done better, but we can not fix this.

        Yes, Obama has failed – but what is success ?

        Clearly he should not have withdrawn our forces from Iraq – but how many decades are you prepared to keep US troops stationed in afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere to keep these countries from devolving to civil war or being over run by violent nutcases ?

        We have the power to destroy most any military force on the planet in short order, but absent multidecadal occupation we can not bring peace and democracy to another country by force. The people of those nations must want it, and they must want it bad enough to confront the violent elements of their people on their own. I do not see that anywhere and to the extent it might be possible – we are an impediment.

      • asmith permalink
        February 20, 2015 10:21 am

        The Puritians took moral disapproval well past free speech.

      • February 20, 2015 11:15 am

        Dave,

        What a trite comment. You should really stop that.

  6. February 19, 2015 7:43 pm

    What’s wrong with the comparison is it’s apples and oranges. On one side you have true evil. Yes, there is evil in this world and there is good and bad. Many explain away evil with relativism. Burning people alive, chopping off heads, murdering children, ethnic cleansing
    are the dynamics of evil and can’t be excused. No narratives of hardship makes evil right. No religion or nationalism justifies acts of terror. These perverted extremists must be beaten as we beat Hitler with the world coming together in strength.

    Fifty Shades is a diversion for people with too much opulence and time on their hands. It is foolish, a fad, and will do no more harm than rock and roll. Culture will shift back from the extreme and quality and art will win out.

    But evil must be looked in the face and defeated.

    • February 19, 2015 8:00 pm

      Well said, Ed. That said, I am not as optimistic as you are regarding the 50 shades deal.

    • February 19, 2015 9:30 pm

      Ed: I’m not implying that the “Fifty Shades” mania poses the same threat as ISIS. Far from it. But it does put me in mind of the decadent ancient Romans who were too preoccupied with amusements (and softened by them) to fend off the barbarian threats from northern and eastern Europe.

      • February 19, 2015 11:02 pm

        Amen, Rick, Amen.

      • February 20, 2015 12:47 am

        Rick, using 50 shades as examples of “amusements” might have been off target. Using smart devices as the example would have been more on target. People walking into the street and getting hit by a car due to not paying attention, people driving a car into an accident while they text into their smart devices and not paying attention and people attending activities and spending 95% of the time looking into devices instead of paying attention to the activity they attended most likely has the country not paying attention to what is happening around them today.

        When we do not communicate in a social gathering anymore, but text all our communication will provide radical groups the environment required to cause major damage to our country. They can hide within our borders, act like everyone else and carry out their radical extremism and go undetected until they carry out their mission.

      • February 20, 2015 8:52 am

        I would agree with this. The hypnotic effect of e-devices is pernicious and quite alarming. I have an old $10 phone, which candidly, I rarely use (it is largely for emergencies). I rent minutes in 6 month blocs.

        At my university, the Provost conducts meetings while checking her email on her laptop. I sit and wonder what this so-called leader thinks she is doing? No one would follow her to the vending machines.

        I go to meetings with a pen and paper and actually (gasp) look at, and listen to, the speakers.
        How quaint.

    • asmith permalink
      February 20, 2015 10:34 am

      “too much opulence”

      Otherwise known as a high standard of living.

      We should expect that as e become more wealthy as a society we will spend ever more time pursuing things that have less and less to do with survival and more to do with enhancing our enjoyment of life.

      Adam Smith hinted at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs over two centuries ago.
      Whether the analysis is economic of psychological – the subject is human behavior.

      First we address what we need to survive, then to thrive and then to enhance our enjoyment of life.

      Much of what we demand government fix, is merely society reaching a standard of living where we can now consider child labor, workplace safety, environmental quality, rather than mere survival.

  7. February 19, 2015 9:33 pm

    jb: I agree. The bondage thing might be a fad, but “pushing the envelope” to break taboos has been an ongoing pop-culture exercise since the ragtime era. Each generation pushes it a little further. We’re like the lobster in a pot that’s slowly coming to a boil.

    • February 19, 2015 11:03 pm

      Bingo, my friend.

    • February 19, 2015 11:43 pm

      I did see, today, while I was shopping at Target, some sort of blindfold, which was in a “50 Shades of Grey” -branded package. It was in the men’s deodorant and shave cream aisle. There were other items displayed with it…I didn’t even bother to look, but I would guess maybe little handcuffs and such?

      Seriously, sado-masochism at Target? The profane is mundane…..

      • February 20, 2015 8:47 am

        I have not shopped there since I heard about this.

    • asmith permalink
      February 20, 2015 7:52 pm

      Breaking taboo’s is far older than ragtime.

      Regardless, as our standard of living rises you can expect that we will spend ever more time on things that have less and less connection of survival and more and more to do with enjoyment. Some of those will be things some of us consider taboo.

      Taboo’s are one of those traits that tend to distinguish libertarians from the rest of society.

      I would recommend professor Haidt’s work on moral foundations.

      The identity that tends to place the highest weight on Taboo’s and disgust are conservatives,
      liberals fall in the middle with libertarians emphasizing disgust the least.

      Taboo’s and disgust may be evolutionary. Long ago survival may favored those with negative responses to some behaviors or things. But evolution is a path not a destination, and the same traits that may have ensured survival in the past may imepede our development today.

      I find the 50 shades of grey / islamic terrorist connection non-existant.

      Jihadi’s are penultimate authoritarians.

  8. paulgallanda@comcast.net permalink
    February 20, 2015 8:30 am

    Fine piece, Rick. Except that it makes me want to jump out of the nearest third-story window. I might have to sign-up for that one-way trip to Mars.

    • February 20, 2015 12:52 pm

      Paul: Thanks. I think it was Woody Allen who said, “If I can make just one more person miserable, I’ll feel that I’ve done my job.” Sometimes I wonder why I preoccupy myself with the world’s problems when there’s music and ice cream to be enjoyed. I think the key is to be able to switch off the unpleasant stuff like a TV and turn it back on just long enough for an hour or two of informed misery. I have to agree that Mars is looking good at this point.

      • Roby permalink
        February 20, 2015 3:08 pm

        “Sometimes I wonder why I preoccupy myself with the world’s problems when there’s music and ice cream to be enjoyed. I think the key is to be able to switch off the unpleasant stuff like a TV and turn it back on just long enough for an hour or two of informed misery.”

        That would be very, very good for your soul. Do that.

  9. Roby permalink
    February 20, 2015 10:53 am

    ISIS and radical Islam in general are an aggressive cancer. You can’t accept it metastasizing willy-nilly. Radical surgery followed by lifelong chemotherapy. It would be crazy to underestimate the threat they pose, let them have Syria and Iraq and they will have Iran and Pakistan next and set their target on Spain and Europe. We cannot take on 1.6 billion muslims, and we don’t need to as most are not involved in this cancer so we do need to parse our words carefully.

    I did see the movie. I basically avoid anything Hollywood and —> dark humor alert<— and wish that if some part of the US were to be attacked by terrorists it would be Hollywood. ( I did not really mean that, although Roman Polanskii could be beheaded and I would not grieve.)

    No, Good taste is not ever going to come back to the level of popular culture. That war is lost. We are incapable at this point of having any large scale cultural phenomenon that is based on wit, intelligence and good taste. I'm listening to Bach as I write this, that is my refuge for culture, the past. My time off from nattering here has been invested wisely in my violin, with beautiful results.

    • Roby permalink
      February 20, 2015 11:08 am

      God the ^%$#@ typos. I did NOT see the movie. Bleh.

      • February 20, 2015 11:15 am

        I thought it was a typo. I agree with everything you said about ISIS. Glad to hear the violin playing is going so well. Glad to see you back here among the nattering nabobs 😉

      • February 20, 2015 11:19 am

        I wonder if Dave would prefer to fight ISIS in Syria or on the shore of Long Beach island?

    • February 20, 2015 11:18 am

      Bach is a reliable refuge in an insane and inane world; add a glass of red wine and you can actually feel hopeful.

    • February 20, 2015 12:58 pm

      Roby: Yes, it’s good to see you among us once again. Chemotherapy is a good analogy for the ultimate long-term defeat of ISIS. But what form should it take? Propaganda? The mind-numbing elixir of American TV? Dropping leaflets from the sky? Aside from being religious fanatics, these radical Islamists suffer from poverty, envy, and genuine resentment of Western intrusions into their part of the world. Plus they seem to harbor an alarming level of primitive bloodlust. Maybe they should all listen to Bach.

      • February 20, 2015 1:39 pm

        I am sure that listening to Bach is punishable by death. That seems to be the default setting for islam.

  10. Roby permalink
    February 20, 2015 3:03 pm

    Hi Rick, I’m going to keep a low profile this time and argue with no one. Life is too short.

    I agree that they want to rid themselves of western intrusions, but they are going to find that their actions have achieved the opposite result. At the same time, they have the opposite drive, that to conquer the world, so the world can be forgiven for wanting to conquer them in return. I think (hope) that ISIS may be the final extreme that proves in the end to place a sharp limit on the force of radical Islam. At this stage, success is like oxygen to them, their revolting “successes” have grown their ranks by tens of times in the last year. You have to kill Isis by killing ISIS. Their hearts and minds are not available to us.

    If they truly resent poverty, then the outcome of a concerted action against them is going to show them that even greater poverty is the result of their war of conquest, they will have less poverty in the future by not wasting their resources trying to convert the world to radical Islam. At some point even religious fanatics who say that, “God willing we will defeat the infidels” will notice that God was NOT willing. At some point in the far future when the fact of total perpetual catastrophe as a reward for their Jihads has finally changed the fabric of their outlook on things then maybe we can try to help them. Right now, who wants to go there in peace to provide them with the good side of the west, who will be so foolish now and wind up being beheaded? Beat them into the ground for decades and we will see if they can change.

    This seems to be a turning point, we have to be very strong in making it a turning point in the direction of defeating medieval Islamic fanaticism.

  11. Roby permalink
    February 20, 2015 3:19 pm

    Hi Priscilla, Thanks for the kind welcome, which I can always count on you to provide no matter what a little sh%$ I may have been last time around.

    I know you wanted to know if I liked Dave Barry’s bad songs. The fatal flaw in my enjoyment of the book was that while almost everything he mocked was on my own list of pop genres that were far beneath my dignity as a 60’s purist back then, by comparison to what we have now and what has happened in popular music since the era he was harpooning, all but the worst of it was still something that somewhat resembled music, even if it was not my cup of tea. E.g., I certainly hated disco, now it has an almost lukewarm place in my heart if I think of hair metal or rap,various boy or girl bands, Britany Spears. My idea of bad songs is something even much worse than the ones he went after. The evolution of badness in pop music has dulled my senses.

  12. March 25, 2015 11:17 pm

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/25/saudi-arabia-launches-airstrikes-in-yemen-ambassador-says/

    Interesting when countries decide the USA is not going to be their sugar daddy and send our men into war they decide they have to do it themselves. And they did the same thing as Jordan and the UAE. They sent the planes and told Obama after the fact.

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