Feminists Insult My Intelligence

Everybody loves feminists but nobody loves feminists more than the feminists love themselves.  Unfortunately, most feminists are also highly educated and equally resistant to common sense.  This results in some dubious psychological endeavors.

Just to be clear, I do not intend to rehash accusations (such as those by Phyllis Schlafly) that assert an inability among feminists to engage in rational thought and argumentation.  I spent a long time in a Ph.D. program and learned that feminists are quite capable of high-level intellectual endeavors.  It just seems that they also have this unexplainable fear of revealing this capability in public.

So what brilliance do most people get to see instead?

If a feminist finds your opinions unworthy, she (or he) is rather likely to simply turn her (or his) back and refuse to interact with you.  Let’s review, shall we?  Feminists believe that they can convert you to their opinion merely by depriving you of the pleasure of their continued presence.

We all know how well that works.  When someone starts acting like an insufferable asshole, I’m always willing to do anything possible to get them talking to me more.  Aren’t you?

On the flipside, they’ll often start interacting with you more when you start hinting at opinions that correlate more with their own.  When they do this, they think they’re using advanced psychological techniques to move you into their corner (or something like that).  The halfway intelligent person will respond to this by toying with the unwitting feminists.  You raise their hopes, then you let them down, and raise their hopes, and let them down, and on and on and on because many feminists aren’t bright enough to realize that non-feminists can recognize their tricks.

As for me, a very old friend recently told me that no one can be her friend unless they’re a feminist.  I’m not sure whether she thought I agreed with her but it’s telling that she sprung this on me while I was in her car as she drove us through the middle of nowhere.  I complimented her on her hair instead of  answering her comment and was able to avoid being stranded.

(Contrary to popular belief, feminists do care about their appearance.)

I’ll close this ever-so happy and enlightening post with an additional message to all the feminists who might still be reading this:  I love all of you.  The world is a better place because of all the diverse opinions out there.

Blogger’s note: My opinions veered closer to feminism until I went to graduate school and met real feminists.  Suffice it to say that those women (and men) inspired me to change my ways.  Who says you can’t find moral enlightenment at a secular university?

 

Self-Esteem Insults My Intelligence

Self Esteem Shop in Royal Oak, MI http://www.s...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By now, I’m sure we’ve all heard the complaints about today’s educational practices.  Them kiddies are constantly told how wonderful they are and everyone gets a trophy and they feel all warm and fuzzy inside until the flu arrives.  That practice may improve results in the classroom but I’m lazy and I don’t want to belabor the point.

Instead, I’d like to tell a tale of how a subset of these kids all live happily ever after.  These are the honors students and I belonged to this group, as did many of my friends.  I consider myself lucky to have been horrible at sports because no coach in his right mind would have given me a self-esteem trophy unless it had been made of dog poo.  I really was that bad, but my ineptitude bred positive results.  Honors students don’t survive (and arguably thrive, at least psychologically) through extended unemployment unless they’ve had a few bumps along the way before that.  Failure keeps me sane.

Otherwise, we honors students were constantly told how we were the smartest, the most talented, the most wonderful person in the class, in the room, in the world.   This caused many of us (fortunately again, not me) to assume a superiority complex as our identities.  Woe to the college teacher who has to burst that bubble.

Been there, done that, never going back.

Unfortunately, some honors students are idiots and they only grow stupider with age.  And thus begins today’s tale…

Once upon a time in a college not far away there was an honors student with overly inflated self-esteem.  At meals, he regaled his peers with how he was the smartest in his class.  His term papers never turned out well in college, but that was never his fault.  He blamed his high school… even though he always waited until the last minute to start researching.  And then he’d confidently inform all of us how the professor told him he’d done well for a [insert one: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, fifth-year senior, sixth-year senior, billy goat, etc.] when the horrors had ended.  And we’d hear story after story of these words that Mr. Self-Esteem couldn’t recognize as not-quite-praise.

And he didn’t graduate on time because, as I understand it, he wasn’t finishing his work as he was supposed to.  Nevertheless, he dutifully edified us on how he was outperforming all those freshmen and sophomores in his courses.  Impressive!  I’m sure his wife couldn’t contain her pride.

You read that correctly.  He married early in life and the couple had a pair of sons.  His wife had been the college sweetheart who always defended him when others would point out Mr. Honors Student’s poor time management skills.  I’m sure you don’t need to know the physical details on how those sons came into existence.

Or maybe you do, because the happy couple is fighting again and I’d be shocked if they don’t get a divorce this time.  I suspect he and his wife will immolate each other in the process, perhaps making the court decide that the sons would be better off in foster care.

I know enough about divorce to realize that soon-to-be exes often discount the amount of fault they hold for the relationship’s collapse.  But adults who were educated in the art of honors self-esteem face different problems.  My friend thinks he’s being insightful when he explains the situation but he reveals his incapacity for seeing that things were crumbling years ago.  He praises himself again but, as in college, he tears himself down in the process.

But…

This time he can’t escape or ignore the criticism coming from so many quarters because it so intimately affects his future life.  I visited him recently and he seemed to be litigating the case against his wife.  (Truth be told, the wife is another can of worms and she may have bigger problems than he has, again because of inflated self-esteem.  Maybe I’ll write about that another day.)  He also seemed to be litigating against me and occasionally against others he thought might testify against him in the event of a divorce.

Subtle…

This is rage.  This is realizing, perhaps all of a sudden, that people don’t hold him in as high esteem as he was trained to hold himself, realizing that so many people think he’s not quite there psychologically, remaining unable to let go of his self-esteem training and perceive things more clearly.

Then, add a dose of paranoia.  I had (and have) no intention of testifying against him in any future divorce proceeding because I’m not convinced the wife is any better.

Oh, and I think he may now believe I’m his sons’ biological father.

Newborn on scale

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suppose I’ll never know what inspired him to question his paternity so late, but I have a hard time believing he’d bring up the issue if he hadn’t already been tested.

In case you were wondering, I am not the father.  But thank you for asking and for your vote of confidence.  (His wife is rather lovely, so it’s a show of confidence that you think I could be the culprit.)

And now it’s time for the moral to the story.  If you feed a child a steady dose of empty self-esteem, the world becomes a binary of praise and the rare catastrophe.  In the end, criticism becomes more than criticism; it is the stripping of an identity someone has had for their entire life.  And just as a kitten presumably screeches if you try to skin it with a pocket knife (presumably, I said…), these no-longer-so-young people take these negative words as an affront to their entire being.  And then they claw and bite and pee on you until you put away the knife.  And so you learn to remain silent and gracefully permit the status quo.

There may be more than one way to skin a cat but there aren’t many ways to skin an honors student who can’t let go of the past.  As for me, I’m just annoyed because potential employers see my educational credentials and often assume I’ll be like my friend.  They tell you in school that hard work allows you to become anything you want but they fail to mention that you’re tattooing your own scarlet letter as you build yourself up.  You are judged by the company you keep and hard work doesn’t win you great company.

And so…

The next time your children want to do their homework, tell them to play outside or try a video game.  And make sure they lose sometimes.  Badly.  Being unemployed is also a great way to catch up on some fun, but it’s not such a positive experience for the wallet.

Unchanged Melodies Insult My Intelligence

Dies Irae

(Photo credit: suyensedai)

So…

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge deals with how music has impacted or represents your life.  My regular readers already know to be afraid of this.  Very afraid.

Fortunately for you, those fears are well grounded.  Out of all the tunes ever written, you can probably guess what I’ll be writing about.  (Hint: it ain’t Wrecking Ball.)

Today’s post will discuss the Roman Catholic funerary hymn Dies Irae.  It just screams my personality, doesn’t it?

For those of you who don’t know the song, here’s a version that some monks performed:

Even though religion didn’t figure prominently in my home life, I attended Catholic schools growing up.  You might say that I absorbed more religion than vodka in school.  That’s vodka, not wine.  The Church endorses an occasional sip of wine from an early age.  So, I suppose I absorbed more alcohol than religion as a child and that’s why I became such an upstanding citizen.

Although the schools offered strong academics, the religious content droned on and on like the monks.  That’s not to say that the monks lack talent, but they, like theological instruction, don’t connect with listeners unless the listeners possess a preexisting desire to drink it in.  I didn’t have that.

Wine, on the other hand, connects whether you want it to or not.  That post will have to wait, though.

Back to the story: I graduated from high school and never attended church again except for weddings and funerals.  I no longer had to appear religion-friendly because I was no longer subject to religious expectations.  During these years, I picked up a CD with another version of Dies Irae… this time by a goth band called Mantus:

No, I never took on goth dress or anything like that.  In retrospect, though, I find it rather amusing that a goth band would choose to sing Catholic liturgical music, even if it was originally for funerals.  I suppose that means the band, much like myself, never became anti-religion in any real sense.  The updated hymn also makes for a more substantial listening experience than the mindless Satan worship that comes from so many cheap metal bands; I guess that’s why I’ve never gotten rid of my old goth-style music.  Goths appreciate the classics.

And then I reached graduate school, an experience that would suffice to send anyone into a greater depression than the average goth band depicts.  Fortunately, I stayed psychologically healthy and made it through to graduation.  And then I became unemployed.  Normally, unemployment is supposed to be depressing but I’ve somehow remained happy.  I guess it’s a lot easier to deal with new problems if you’re glad enough to be free of where you were.  Unfortunately, I can’t use that explanation in a job interview because it counts as badmouthing former employers.

I probably need not inform you that I discovered a more upbeat version of Dies Irae.    I may be in a morbid state of affairs but I’m still cheerful when my intelligence isn’t being insulted.  Anyway, here’s the song:

I presume you want me to finally explain the point of this whole post.  So, here we go: if your music doesn’t fit your life, change your playlist to something more suitable.  Change is liberating, and there’s something in the new tune that will hold an echo of the old… even if that echo is heresy to your earlier life.

Since I’m feeling generous, I’ll give you a second moral to the story: funerary music is much more enjoyable when it’s not being played at a funeral.

Motivation Insults My Intelligence

English: President Barack Obama with the Nobel...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize only four years ago.  When pressed on the issue of why the committee had selected someone who had just taken office, people praised Obama’s departure from Bush-era policies and hoped the award would influence him to carry through on his promises.

(My regular readers are probably already wondering how I’m going to pull this topic off in my typical nonpartisan way.  I don’t blame them.)

So let’s review: A Democratic president won the Nobel for expressing disavowal of his unpopular Republican predecessor’s policies.  So: politics as usual and telling the people what they want to hear is Nobel-worthy.

I don’t bring this up to attack Obama.  Now that we’ve had the NSA controversy and drones and the continuation of Guantanamo Bay and similar things, I believe we can learn a lot from reviewing the Nobel Committee’s discredited motivations.

Most significant is the presumed ability to influence others who may have loyalties and beliefs one hasn’t considered.  This isn’t limited to the Nobel committee; I’ve seen it in my personal life as well.  “If we embrace you, you will consider yourself one of us; if we exclude you, you will realize the evil of your ways.”  Problem is, how many of us process self-reflections based on what a single individual (or group) believes?

Yeah, yeah, I know… peer pressure and all.  But it’s one thing to urge a person to do something and a completely different action when people assume that their opinion will be decisive.  After all, everyone has many voices clamoring for their attention.

Megalomania, anyone?  Classical and operant conditioning only work when you give me a treat or a punishment.  Your opinion of me counts as neither.

Of course, the Nobel Committee has something that the people in our daily lives do not.  The Committee can reasonably expect to be admired to at least a small extent.  But when people turn their backs on those who express views they disagree with, operating under the assumption that their disapproval (or approval) is meaningful to the person being ignored, someone needs to call the asylum. The people who do this only reveal their incapacity for dialogue and, in so doing, they become less credible people to take cues from.  As we can see from Obama, a person’s words, actions, and beliefs can change independently of the praise or criticism that emerge from so-called influential people.  In healthy individuals, motivation comes from the inside.

Ironically, Obama is no longer telling the American people what they want to hear… and the actions he’s promoting aren’t Nobel-worthy.  So perhaps the Nobel Prize is just a huge popularity contest after all.

“Popularity contest” isn’t the worst thing I could call the Nobel, so I’d like to close with a bit of dark humor.  Here’s the official announcement of Obama’s win from the Nobel website.  The committee’s clairvoyance will startle you:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Oslo, October 9, 2009

So who’s ready for an international party in Syria?  Maybe the U.N. will spring for drinks.

Junior High Insulted My Intelligence

I remember when the official letter from my school arrived.  I was an 8th grader at a Catholic school and they had never sent anything like that.  When my mother saw the envelope, she imagined the worst.

Or so she thought.

As it turned out, the principal was informing us of an information session.  Some of my classmates had been carving pentagrams into their wrists and drawing pentagrams on school property with white-out.  In response, the school administration had invited a visiting priest to present his expert understanding of Satanism and its manifestations.

Inverted Pentagram

The Satanic inverted pentagram.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suspect my razor-wielding classmates already knew everything he taught… but then again one idiot thought this was a pentagram:

Starofdavid

The Star of David.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And this brilliant student volunteered to draw the example on the chalkboard at the group session.  So as you can see, I did not attend Catholic school with the most Catholic (or intelligent) of classmates.

But I’m not here to talk about Satanism.  I’m here to talk about drugs.  Later that year, the school decided to sponsor some drug education activities.  Because our class had already proven its moral turpitude, the idea was reasonable enough.  You can’t underestimate how early some kids start with these bad habits.

And so the school’s guidance counselor led all of us to the parking lot and she started singing.  (Of course, we were expected to join in.)  Here’s the song:

If you’re drug-free and you know it clap your hands
If you’re drug-free and you know it clap your hands
If you’re drug-free and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re drug-free and you know it clap your hands

She may have also conveyed some real information because I vaguely remember holding a paper of some sort.  Nevertheless, the performance served as the main event.

This leads me to a useful rule of thumb:

If students are already dabbling in Satanism, children’s songs probably won’t keep them from drugs.  If anything, the musical ringleader will lose any credibility she may have had with the students.  Even with the clean and unmutilated ones like me.

I hope her exercise doesn’t reflect the techniques one learns while pursuing a degree in education, psychology, or counseling.