Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

I believe in Santa Claus

Posted by sanityinjection on December 25, 2015

For a very long time, parents have struggled over what to tell their children about Santa Claus, and particularly the question: At what age should we tell them the “truth about Santa Claus”?

We know certainly that this dilemma dates back well over 100 years, as evidenced by the now-legendary 1897 newspaper editorial popularly known as “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”. In that piece, which subsequently became the most reprinted editorial in the entire English language, New York Sun editor Francis Pharcellus Church answered a little girl’s letter with an emphatic declaration that Santa Claus not only exists, but that his existence is necessary.

We can certainly sympathize today, 118 years later, with Church’s assertion that the children of that day “have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.” Is it wise, we still wonder, to encourage our children to continue to believe in something – or someone – that can’t be seen or heard? (Never mind that most of the religions of the world propose exactly that.)

As is so often the case, the problem lies not in the answer but in the question. In asking what to tell children about Santa Claus, we have created a false dichotomy, in which our children must either believe in Santa as a living being who magically flies around the world, physically enters their homes on Christmas Eve and leaves them presents, or they must reject him as nothing more than a fairy tale for the ignorant. We can hardly be surprised that such a choice is as unappetizing as that rock-hard, decade-old fruitcake that is still being regifted among our friends and relatives every year.

If we want our children to have an adult understanding of Santa, should we not begin by having an adult understanding of him ourselves – one that allows for nuance and incorporates something of philosophy? Church pointed us in the right direction when he wrote that Santa “exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist”. I can recall in my childhood, on Christmas Day there would be presents under the tree with tags that read, “FROM: Santa Claus”, but they didn’t all have my name in the “TO:” line.  Some were addressed to my mother, and some to my father. In this way, I was taught early on that Santa Claus isn’t just a figure who brings toys to children, but represents something much more universal.

Coming as he does at the one time of year when we are encouraged to forget our woes and try to be kind and generous to one another, is it not an honest answer to say that Santa Claus is the personification of the spirit of human kindness, generosity and love – particularly toward children, but really toward everyone? (I welcome you to go back and watch the classic 1947 Christmas movie “Miracle on 34th Street” and ask yourself if the little girl played by Natalie Wood is the only character whose life Kris Kringle affects for the better.) If we choose to imagine that spirit as a jolly fat bearded man in a red suit, is that wrong? What is the correct visualization of a spirit?

We ought to be able to say, without hesitation, that Santa Claus truly exists as long as we can know the joy of giving; as long as we are capable of feeling love for friends and family, and kindness toward strangers; as long as we have not forgotten that man does not live by bread alone, but that we all from time to time need something – or someone – to inspire us to rise above thinking only of ourselves. People who believe in Santa Claus are people who can love. When parents tell their children about Santa Claus, they are not perpetuating a childish fairy story; on the contrary, they are telling their children about the very nuanced and multifaceted concept of love in a simple way that children can accept and understand. If, as we grow older, we come to have an enlarged understanding of that concept, it does not mean that we must discard or reject Santa Claus, any more than we reject 2+2=4 when we have learned to do algebra. Let us not become so one-dimensional in our thinking that, like Shakespeare’s Horatio, we earn Hamlet’s admonition that “There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

So let me state as vigorously as Church did over a century ago: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. To tell children otherwise is to do them no favor. I am past the age of forty, and I believe in Santa Claus, and I plan to keep on believing in him.

Posted in Current Events, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Why Rachel Dolezal’s race deception matters

Posted by sanityinjection on June 17, 2015

If you’re an American and you haven’t been living under a rock, you are surely aware of the recent controversy surrounding Rachel Dolezal, who until recently was the president of the Spokane, WA chapter of the NAACP. Dolezal resigned after her parents revealed to the media that while she has frequently claimed to be black, she is in fact white. It also emerged that while a student at predominantly black Howard University, Dolezal sued the university alleging racial discrimination against her because she was white. Dolezal continues to maintain that she considers herself to be black.

Some questioned why the racial identity of a person should matter so much. If Dolezal, or anyone else, wants to identify herself as black, why should that be anything other than a personal matter? The NAACP has pointed out that you don’t have to be black to head one of their chapters.

Indeed, in an ideal world, I would agree that it shouldn’t make any difference.  The reason that it matters is that in the USA, African-Americans have been declared to be a protected class by virtue of the long history of racial discrimination against them, and can therefore be the recipients of various accommodations through “affirmative action” programs, particularly in hiring and academic admissions. When a person chooses to list their racial status on an application, hoping to qualify for affirmative action, it is no longer simply a personal matter. It is a public one.

Dolezal has made her racial identity a public matter on multiple occasions. Ironically, the first time was her lawsuit against Howard, in which she publicly identified as white. More recently, she has reported herself as the target of multiple hate crimes for being black, most of which authorities now believe were fabricated. Why on earth would anyone do this?

As the Daily Mail’s Dominic Lawson writes:

Rachel Dolezal is merely the most spectacular example of the growing phenomenon of people posing as victims — itself the consequence of a culture which portrays victimhood as a form of moral superiority…It is what comes of putting ‘victims’ on a pedestal once accorded to genuine heroes.

People like Dolezal seek to be viewed as victims because it gives them – among certain segments of society, particularly in academia and the media – a measure of respect and attention that would normally have to be earned by actual accomplishments, which is much harder to do. She clearly learned from her failed lawsuit against Howard that she could never be truly viewed as a victim as long as she was white. So she began attempting to be perceived as black – not least by moving to Northern Idaho, where there aren’t that many actual black people around for comparison. Like Walter Mitty, she worked so hard at this goal that she not only persuaded other people, she ended up persuading herself as well.

As a society, we can remove the incentive for frauds like Dolezal by ceasing to provide special advantages to anyone based on their status as a minority – racial, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever. Giving a minority individual preference in any situation does nothing to undo previous discrimination, but in fact constitutes a new act of discrimination. Would we provide the victim of a robbery restitution by committing a robbery against someone else and giving the stolen goods to the first victim? Without affirmative action and the societal celebration of the cult of victimhood, there will be no more Rachel Dolezals.

Posted in Current Events, Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A conscience in Hollywood?

Posted by sanityinjection on April 2, 2010

Normally the film industry does not receive much attention here at Sanity Injection, as I tend to believe they receive far too much of it to begin with. But I thought it would be nice to start off the month of April with some positive praise. So our subject today is actor Neal McDonough.

McDonough is one of those actors you have probably seen and would recognize (he has sort of a distinctive face) without necessarily knowing his name. Anyway, he’s appeared in a number of movies and TV shows over the past several years. The reason Mr. McDonough comes to our attention today is his recent sacking from a new ABC TV series just three days into filming. According to Nikki Finke over at Deadline.com, McDonough refused to participate in steamy love scenes with co-star Virginia Madsen. McDonough is happily married and a faithful Catholic, and feels that getting naked on screen with an actress is incompatible with his marriage vows.

Apparently, McDonough has made this reservation clear in past projects he’s worked on, including ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”. So it’s not as if they can claim that he suddenly sprung it on them at the last minute. More likely, the show’s producers didn’t really believe that a Hollywood actor would actually have morals that couldn’t be bought for enough money. Still, if the love scenes are integral to the project, and McDonough won’t do them, it’s right for all parties that they find someone else, and McDonough foregoes the money he would have made to stand on his principles.

The point is not whether any of us agree with McDonough’s beliefs. The point is that he was willing to stand up for those beliefs even when doing so cost him wages and potentially could label him as “difficult” to work with. You can imagine what it must be like to take such a stand in the middle of a Hollywood culture that views nothing as sacred and any values beyond the worship of glamour and special effects as strictly for the hicks. How many other actors and actresses might there be out there who are similarly uncomfortable with things they are asked to do for roles, but lack the courage to say “No”? Nor is the film industry the only walk of life in which people face such choices – it happens every day. The pressure is always on to conform, to go along with what is expected of you by the culture that surrounds you. It is not easy to defy that culture in favor of an ethos that may not have any outside support at hand. Being true to what you believe is right in the face of pressure is something to be admired no matter where or when it is found.

Posted in Current Events | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Thoughts on Super Bowl XLIV

Posted by sanityinjection on February 8, 2010

A few thoughts in the aftermath of the New Orleans Saints’ upset victory last night:

Drew Brees played very well, and no single player is more deserving of the MVP award, not to mention the recognition as a top-flight quarterback he has long deserved. Yet, in a game touted as a matchup between two high-powered offenses, the truth is it was the Saints’ defense that won the game, with multiple goal-line stops of the much-vaunted Colts’ offense, and of course the interception that sealed the game. None of what Brees did would have mattered if the Colts had been allowed to convert on their drives. The age-old saying “Defense wins championships” was no less true in this Super Bowl than it has been in most of them.

In turn, much of the credit for the inspired play of the defense should go to Saints head coach Sean Payton and his defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The Saints are not loaded with household names on defense – linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive back Darren Sharper being perhaps the best known until yesterday. But the Saints have done a tremendous coaching job with this unit, which has quitely played very well all season, and was particularly well prepared over the last couple of weeks for the supposedly unstoppable Colts offense. The Saints worked on facing the no-huddle and on blitz packages designed to put just enough pressure on Peyton Manning to give the Saint’s secondary a chance to make plays. Which is exactly what happened.

Finally, Payton deserves credit for some key decisions. The onside kick to start the second half was not only a bold move, but an unprecedented one in Super Bowl history. Payton correctly judged that it was worth the risk of giving up good field position to the Colts, given that Peyton Manning had just proven he didn’t need it by engineering a 96-yard drive. Then, the successful challenge of the 2-point conversion play. Make no mistake about it: The Saints players executed well on the field, but the roadmap to victory was drawn by Sean Payton and his staff. They outcoached the Colts, who have practically bragged about the fact that their head coach is basically just a  cipher for Peyton Manning. Manning calls the plays and runs the practices, and he does it well, but I think the Colts coaches relied on him too much and failed to game plan well enough for the Saints.

That is not to criticize Manning, whose one ill-timed interception should not obscure a good performance on his part. The Colts overall played a good game; they did not lose the Super Bowl so much as the Saints won it. Media members who are reviving whispers of Manning being a “choke artist” should be ashamed of themselves. Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game, and deserves to be mentioned alongside names like Montana, Young, Elway, and Staubach. Two days ago, sports analysts were debating whether he may be the best ever at the position. Yesterday’s result should not stifle that debate. If you doubt, go back and look at the stats from previous Super Bowls and see how many interceptions were thrown by the *winning* quarterbacks.

Rather, one might ask if a greater commitment to the running game by the Colts might have helped to keep the Saints’ offense off the field. Running backs Addai and Brown performed well when called upon, and the offensive line run blocks well. Surely the Colts did not draft Brown just to take fake handoffs from Manning.

Overall, the quality of the football on the field was high. There were few penalties, and only the one turnover which is rather remarkable. I would suggest that this had something to do with the fact that the #1 ranked teams with the best records in each conference were facing off against each other – no wild card teams or improbable Cinderellas here. Though you do have to like the back story of the Saints and the city of New Orleans.

For me, the enduring image that I will take away from Super Bowl XLIV will be that of Drew Brees after the game, surrounded by the celebrations, choosing to share his moment not with the crowd but with his infant son, conversing with him and kissing him affectionately as if he was home on his living room couch and not, for the moment, the center of the modern universe.  Brees’s son of course could not have had any understanding of what was going on, but Brees’ choice says a lot about what his priorities are, and set a strong example for millions of other men watching: Family is more important than anything else. If we learn nothing else from Super Bowl XLIV, let it be so much.

Posted in Current Events, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

McCain calls out federal census for $2.5M Super Bowl ad

Posted by sanityinjection on February 5, 2010

Senator John McCain wants to know why the federal government is spending $2.5 million on a 30-second commercial to air during the Super Bowl. The commercial is to remind people about this year’s 2010 federal Census.

McCain said, “The census happens every 10 years. Everybody knows it happens.” While that may not be entirely accurate among the non-political crowd, the simple fact is that the Census is not optional. We are required by law to participate. Why should the feds be spending $2.5 million to convince us to do what we have to do anyway? It’s like airing an ad that says, “Remember, tax day is April 15, don’t forget to pay your income taxes.”

Given the state of our economy, couldn’t we either have refrained from spending the $2.5M that we don’t have, or at least spent it on something helpful? In McCain’s words, “We shouldn’t be wasting $2.5 million taxpayer dollars to compete with ads for Doritos!”

Of course, this is red meat for conservative voters, and McCain is facing a conservative challenger in the Arizona Senate primary. But it’s also right up McCain’s alley as a long time spending hawk.

Posted in Current Events, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Florida’s Tim Tebow to star in pro-life Super Bowl ad

Posted by sanityinjection on January 27, 2010

It’s been a while since there was anything controversial about the commercials aired during the Super Bowl. But this year promises to be different.

Even if you don’t follow college football, you have probably heard the name Tim Tebow. Star quarterback for the University of Florida, Tebow is the first player ever to win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and the first to both rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season.

Now set to enter the NFL draft this spring and begin his professional career, Tebow has made an unusual choice. He has agreed to star in a Super Bowl ad sponsored by conservative Christian group Focus on the Family. The ad tells the story of Pam Tebow (Tim’s mother)’s difficult pregnancy, during which she was advised by doctors to have an abortion to protect her own health. She refused, and gave birth to Tim.

There are two interesting aspects to this ad. First is the fact that nobody can remember a political issue ad such as this airing during the Super Bowl before. CBS – the network carrying the game this year – used to have a longstanding policy against “controversial” ads, but they have since loosened their rules. Except during a Presidential primary year, there’s rarely anything big going on politically when the Super Bowl is played, so there’s little incentive to spend the megabucks to pay for such an ad. Needless to say, pro-choice groups are lobbying CBS to kill the ad; surprisingly, CBS appears to be standing firm for the moment.

The second question is whether this is a good decision by Tebow. Well known at school as a devout Christian, no one doubts the sincerity of his motivation. But the NFL tries hard to avoid political controversy. Tebow and whatever team he ends up playing for will want fans to be eager to buy a Tebow jersey regardless of their political views. If taking a strong stand on this issue alienates half the fan base, that will cost Tebow and the NFL real money. I could even imagine certain teams rating Tebow lower on their draft boards over something like this.

Of course Tebow should not have to forego the right to speak his views simply because he plays football. There are many, many NFL players who are pro-life and also quite public about their Christian faith. But there is a difference between answering questions honestly – like beauty pageant contestant Carrie Prejean did – and going out of your way to shove your views in everyone’s face, like Barbra Streisand. Focus on the Family and its leader James Dobson have been particularly prone to controversy in the past. Choosing to associate yourself with them for your first foray into politics is like choosing to associate with Al Sharpton for your first foray into civil rights.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to have these kinds of ads during the Super Bowl? Is Tebow doing the right thing by speaking out?

Posted in Current Events, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The 2009 Clown Awards

Posted by sanityinjection on December 30, 2009

As the year winds to a close, I thought I would present the 1st Annual Sanity Injection Clown Awards to the public figures who have behaved like the biggest clowns in 2009:

Scary Clown: The Scary Clown Award goes to Venezuela’s Thug-In-Chief, Hugo Chavez. While Chavez’ antics may seem ridiculous from afar, they are a very serious thing indeed if you live in Venezuela or one of its neighbors. Between periodic claims that the US and Colombia are planning to attack, and gradually stripping Venezuelans of their judicial, speech, assembly and property rights, there’s never a dull moment with Chavez the Clown. Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before the audience at this circus is not allowed to leave.

Embarrassed Clown: The Embarrassed Clown award goes to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Sanford the Clown couldn’t just have a simple extramarital affair like a normal politican. He had to have one on another *continent*, and compounded his mistake by not trusting any of his staff with the truth so they could cover for him. This is one of those circus acts where you just cover your face with your hands rather than watch.

 Too Many Balls In The Air at Once: This award goes to Tiger Woods – and I’m not talking about golf balls. Woods’ stupidity lies in not in his decision to screw every bimbo in the Western Hemisphere, but in his decision to get married in the first place. Had he remained single, Woods’ busy sex life would never have been an issue. Now he’s managed to alienate his fellow golfers and some of his sponsors. As a result, the Tiger Woods Show will be taking an extended hiatus – sorry circus-goers, no refunds.

Chatterbox Clown: Was there any doubt this award would go to Vice President Joe Biden? Almost every month the White House has had to do damage control because of Biden the Clown’s inability to keep his mouth shut. Biden’s eruptions wouldn’t be such a concern if he wasn’t so frequently on a different page than the official White House positions. Nevrtheless, the Biden circus never fails to entertain the audience.

Sad Clown: It wasn’t long before Richard Heene’s tears proved to be the tears of a clown, when it was discovered that he and his wife’s anguish over the supposed dangerous balloon ride of their son Falcon turned out to be a faked stunt designed to secure the Heenes a place on reality TV. The real tears should be shed for Falcon, both for having to be raised by parents with such warped values, and for having been named “Falcon”. The best thing about the Heene Circus is that it is over.

Angry Clown: I have to go with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on this one. Although Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is arguably as much or more of a clown, and the one who got Khamenei in trouble to begin with, Khamenei’s angry rants are truly clownish in their obvious attempts to blame everything from torture and killings of protesters to the regime’s dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons on the US and Israel. Has anyone ever seen this guy smile or say anything nice about anybody? Furthermore, Angry Clown’s behavior has alienated more and more of Iran’s Muslim clerics, on whom he ultimately depends for the legitimacy of his rule. What once looked like a routine political protest could now well be heading for full-fledged civil war.

Finally, I apologize for the startling omission of Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA). Since this blog adheres to general standards of acceptable language, I am not at liberty to write exactly what type of clown I believe Congressman Frank to be, though if you are familiar with the Congressman, you can probably guess – it begins with the letter “a”.

Posted in Current Events, Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

2009 in review

Posted by sanityinjection on December 29, 2009

Now why would I go and write a year in review column when Dave Barry’s already done it for me? It’s long, but it’s a must-read – it actually gets funnier as it goes along.

And if you find yourself having trouble recalling which things actually happened and which are jokes – well, that’s sort of the point:

http://www.miamiherald.com/living/columnists/dave-barry/v-fullstory/story/1397654.html

Posted in Current Events, Domestic News, Foreign Affairs, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Carbonhagen

Posted by sanityinjection on December 7, 2009

hy-poc-ri-sy /hɪˈpɒkrəsi [hi-pok-ruh-see]

–noun, plural -sies.

 

 1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.

2.  The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness. (Thanks to dictionary.com)

 And so we have the theme for the international climate summit taking place this week in the Danish city of Copenhagen. You may recall that this is supposed to be the moment when all the world’s countries agree to abide by severe restrictions on carbon emissions in order to save the world from its complete and imminent destruction at the hands of ManBearPig, er, I mean global warming. Of course, anyone who has been following the news leading up to the conference knows that major nations have already refused to do anything of the kind, so much like its infamous predecessor, the Kyoto treaty, the Copenhagen conference has failed even before it began.

Nevertheless, you might think the event might at least have some propaganda value in showing all the world’s leaders being green and earth-friendly for a week. Right? Wrong. Consider the following:

  • “We haven’t got enough limos in the country to fulfil the demand. We’re having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden…We don’t have any hybrids in Denmark, unfortunately, due to the extreme taxes on those cars.” – Majken Friss Jorgensen, managing director of Copenhagen’s biggest limousine company

 

  • The airport says it is expecting up to 140 extra private jets during the peak period alone, so far over its capacity that the planes will have to fly off to regional airports – or to Sweden – to park, returning to Copenhagen to pick up their VIP passengers…According to the organisers, the eleven-day conference, including the participants’ travel, will create a total of 41,000 tonnes of “carbon dioxide equivalent”, equal to the amount produced over the same period by a city the size of Middlesbrough.” – Andrew Gilligan, The Telegraph

 

  • “That is the amount of carbon dioxide produced by more than 60 of the world’s smaller countries in an entire year — combined.” – Charles Hurt, New York Post 

The great irony of Copenhagen is that any agreement (most likely, an “interim statement” full of sound and fury and signifying nothing) could be achieved through the modern technology of teleconferencing, or simply handled through the UN in New York where all nations are already represented. Either way the carbon footprint would be exponentially lower. But surely, the value of having climate activists, world leaders, and self-righteous celebrities all coming together to backslap each other in front of the cameras justifies generating enough carbon to sink an island nation – doesn’t it?

And therein lies the point. While we are being told that everyone is going to have to make changes in order to fight global warming, the truth is that it will only be us normal folk who will actually have to sacrifice anything, while our wealthy celebrity betters continue to jetset around the world drumming up “publicity for the cause”. Their true creed is not that all emissions must be lowered, but rather that they get to decide who is worthy of permission to emit. And by their criteria, celebrity TV appearances are much more worthy than say, jobs for working families or being able to commute to those jobs.

Thus, I return you to the definition at the beginning of this post.

Posted in Current Events, Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The death of decorum

Posted by sanityinjection on December 4, 2009

Today’s sad chapter in the breakdown of our society comes to us from the state of Maryland. Dana Hanna was standing at the altar getting married to his fiancee when he reached into his pocket for his mobile phone to update his relationship status on Facebook and send a Tweet. The minister  – the only person other than Hanna who was in on the joke – paused until Hanna was finished, then pronounced the couple man and wife. Apparently the video of the wedding – posted on YouTube, of course – has become a viral hit.

As with anything on the Internet, Hanna’s stunt has drawn both praise and criticism. Responding to critics, Hanna said, “I was having fun at MY wedding!” In fact, this response only makes the point more clear: At this profound moment of his life, Hanna apparently was not thinking about his bride to be, or the friends and family in attendance to share in his special moment. He was thinking about HIMSELF and how many other random people he could get to PAY ATTENTION TO HIM.  In doing so, he displayed no regard for those close to him, including his bride, who later Tweeted, “Can’t sleep, very anxious about this new fame. What will become of it?” Doesn’t bode well for a future of making important decisions together, does it?

Hanna typifies the lust for fame that has become one of our society’s strongest and most widely-held values, not to mention the narcissistic certainty that every little detail of our lives must be endlessly fascinating to everyone else. How did we get to the point where people would rather be widely known for being a jackass than not widely known at all?

Posted in Current Events | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »