Surprised By 80

My Dad will be 80 tomorrow. In the morning we’ll all load up and make the three-and-a-half hour drive into the hills of southeastern Oklahoma to the ancestral home to join the celebration. Dad and Mom will have every one one of their 10 grandchildren with them at church Sunday morning–an increasingly difficult feat to pull off these days.

Eighty years is a milestone my father is clearly astonished to see. His own father died  of prostate cancer in his early fifties almost 50 years ago. When dad reached his fifties, he  had some health problems of his own and had to wonder if perhaps he might be making an early exit, too. But he rallied.

Twelve years ago, my folks allowed their friends and family to throw a big 40th wedding anniversay bash for them. Why? Because they were confident neither of them would make it to their 50th. But they did. So we had an ever bigger event two years ago.

Two years ago . . . that’s when it became clear something was not right with Dad’s memory. I wrote about his diagnosis of Alzheimers in this space two years ago this week.

In the intervening months, he’s fought hard and fought well. And, true to form, knowing the path the disease was leading him down, he’s been diligent to make sure everyone was taken care of and all loose ends were tied up. That’s what good men do.

But tomrorrow . . . we’ll just celebrate. I guess you could say Dad’s having a surprise birthday party. It’s a party for a birthday he’s pleasantly surprised to be having.

Random Friday Links of Interest (Or Not)

Jonah Goldberg on the betrayal and death of the free enterprise system:

My school years validated! Researchers discover the value of daydreaming.

The Bears are Coming

Whatever happened to Bob the Tomato? Veggie Tales Exclusive:

All My Trials

Hot, with astonishing levels of humidity this weekend. Last night the air was thicker than a taxi driver’s accent. On cue, we developed an A/C problem today. Help is on the way first thing in the morning.

Speaking of technologies on which I’ve become utterly dependent . . .

Last Friday morning my MacBook refused to boot up. Drove the catatonic laptop to a local Apple store and bellied up to the “Genius Bar.” Diagnosis: Bad logic board. Prescription: 5-7 days at the Mac hospital.

That means borrowing Mrs. Blather’s laptop this week and doing without most of my email addresses and contact information. Inconvenient, to be sure. But to put my travails in perspective . . .

A friend of a friend took his family out for a big birthday celebration a few nights ago as big thunderstorms were rolling through the area. They returned home to find a smoldering ruin where there house used to sit. Lightning had taken all they owned with no opportunity to salvage even a family photo album or treasured keepsake.

Not all inconveniences are created equal. I think I’ll stop bellyaching now.

Another Thought on Liberal Intelligence

I wrote the previous post right before turning in last night. As I was drifting off, I was reminded of a wonderful quote by William F. Buckley about the cluelessness of smart people. He famously said:

I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard.

The current bunch of Ivy Leaguers running the government on behalf of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid troika represent a massive validation of Buckley’s insight.  In the name of creating and saving “jobs,” they have been relentlessly waging war on the nation’s job providers–small and large businesses.

Clearly, I’m not smart enough to understand how that makes sense.

Apparently "Intelligence" is Overrated


Get comfortable. I feel an essay coming on.

Actually, this one has been germinating for a couple of weeks . . . ever since I saw a flurry of discussion last week about a study published in the journal of the National Institute of Education titled, “Conservatism and Cognitive Ability.”

I know you will be astonished to learn that some liberal academics decided to study the intelligence of conservatives and found us inferior to liberals in the smarts department. This research is of a time-honored tradition in academia–a previous shining example being a 2003 study funded by the NIH which posited that conservatism is actually a form of mental illness.

This is nonsense only a tenured Ph.D. can excrete and it has been ably given the thrashing it so richly deserves by other conservatives elsewhere.  (conservatives who miraculously summoned the mental capacity and grip on reality to read the research and respond.) See here, here and here for example.

Let’s set aside questions about the intellectual honesty of liberal academics and the unexamined presuppositions and agendas they bring to their research. Let’s just stipulate for a moment that liberals really are more intelligent than conservatives. If that is the case, then IQ is of little value in evaluating existing conditions and determining the wisest course of action.

Why is this so? Because history has shown liberals to have been wrong on virtually every important policy question of the last 100 years, with the qualified exception of the civil rights movement.

  • In the 1920s, liberals were wrong about the Russian revolution and the nature of the nascent Soviet Union.
  • In the 1930s liberals were wrong about the New Deal.
  • In the 1940s through the 1980s, they were wrong about the Cold War.
  • In the 1960s liberals were wrong about the “war on poverty” and put in place policies that destroyed the urban family and destined two entire generations of young black men to prison.
  • In the 1970s they were wrong about forced busing, the Shah of Iran, unions, and the sexual revolution.
  • And in the 1980s they vilified Reagan on a myriad of issues on which he has since been vindicated.

There is a great research paper waiting to be written about why it is intelligent liberals are consistently dead wrong in their publicl policy prescriptions. But don’t hold your breath. Conservatives in academia stay stealthed

Famous “intellectuals” like Noam Chomsky and Susan Sontag are inarguably brilliant in their fields. They are also comically wrong about most things political.

Just today, Slate’s Camille Paglia, a very, very smart liberal wrote this paragraph (emphasis mine):

Barack Obama was elected to do exactly what he did last week at Cairo University — to open a dialogue with the Muslim world. Or at least that was why I, for one, voted for him, contributed to his campaign, and continue to support him. There is no more crucial issue for the future of the West, whose material prosperity masks an increasing uncertainty about its own principles and values. Religion, abandoned by the secular professional class, will continue to be a major marker of cultural identity for most people — even more so during periods of economic or political instability. But the now widespread stereotyping of Islam as medieval and inherently violent and intolerant ensures eternal war. Visionary leaders are vitally needed on both sides to call for mutual understanding and rational coexistence. Yet, post-9/11, troublingly few voices of Muslim moderation have emerged.

There are two real howlers packed into that highlighted sentence. First, Ms. Paglia confidently asserts that viewing Islam as “medieval and inherently violent and intolerant” is “stereotyping.” Seriously. This is sort of like decrying the stereotype of professional basketball players as athletic and inherently tall.

Then she asserts that it is this stereotyping that “ensures eternal war.” Again, this is a serious liberal intellect at work here.

As I suggested in my headline . . . apparently intelligence is overrated.