Thursday, January 8, 2009

You Can't Spell Satan without "Namaste"

I saw a charming and brief story on FOX morning news today about a south side Chicago school where they are using yoga breathing and stretching exercises to help calm the kids before lessons to great effect. I'm not a regular practitioner of yoga, but I did take classes years ago and still benefit from some of the relaxation tricks I learned. I've done breathing exercises before particularly stressful tests, and I can't recommend strongly enough having your palms face up when you're back in the dentist's chair. As complicated as the problems with our public school systems are, it was nice to see a story about a simple change (occupying less than a minute of time) that was making things better. I thought about blogging it, but couldn't get past the warm feeling to find an asshat angle. Until... I ran a google search to find the clip I saw on FOX this morning. And then I discovered controversy! Breathing exercises are a violation of the separation of church and state!

Here's school yoga in practice:

“I see a lot fewer discipline problems,” said Ruth Reynolds, principal ofColeman Elementary School in San Rafael. Her observation of the school’s 6-year-old yoga program is that it helps easily distracted children to focus.

“If you have children with ADD and focusing issues, often it’s easy to go from that into a behavior problem,” Reynolds said. “Anything you can do to help children focus will improve their behavior.”

In 2003, researchers at California State University, Los Angeles, studied test scores at The Accelerated School, a charter school where Guber sits on the board and where students practice yoga almost every day. Researchers found a correlation between yoga and better behavior and grades, and they said young yogis were more fit than the district average from the California Physical Fitness Test.

And here's school yoga on drugs:

Despite mainstream acceptance, yoga in public schools remains touchy. Critics say even stripped-down “yoga lite” goads young people into exploring other religions and mysticism.

Dave Hunt, who has traveled to India to study yoga’s roots and interview gurus, called the practice “a vital part of the largest missionary program in the world” for Hinduism. Hunt, of Bend, Ore., and the author of “Yoga and the Body of Christ: What Position Should Christians Hold?” said that, like other religions, the practice has no place in public schools.

“It’s pretty simple: Yoga is a religious practice in Hinduism. It’s the way to reach enlightenment. To bring it to the West and bill it as a scientific practice for fitness is dishonest,” said Hunt.

If you want to read a nice calm explanation of why Christians needn't feel spiritually threatened by yoga, go here. If you want to read a meandering rant about the inanity of most separation of church and state arguments, continue on with me.

First Amendment disputes generally bore me, because I'm as close to an absolutist as possible while still acknowledging the "fire!" exception. The atheists/agnostics/whatever they're calling themselves these days, they are right. Christmas Trees are pretty, but the state and religion will survive without displaying Christmas Trees on government property. "Under God" really shouldn't be in the Pledge of Allegiance. The only way it survives is because of ceremonial deism, which is to say the words "have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content." And every time some Christian group freaks out about a limitation of their ability to encroach the government sphere with symbols of their faith, they pretty much prove the damn point that the separation of church and state is good for protecting freedom of conscience.

Any faith that crumbles for want of a creche display in the capitol building wasn't worth having. And any faith that desires to promote its cultural dominance should not be able to use the government as its instrument. But many Christians do not accept this, and so they wage hysterical fights against the (imaginary) War on Christmas. Washington State was recently the scene of a kerfuffle surrounding the hodge podge of "holiday" related displays that included an atheist solstice celebration that noted that Christianity is myth and superstition. So they had demonstrations, counter-demonstrations, calls to "chase out of the house of God [sic] all the unbelievers and evildoers," and finally a protester noting that she was not with the people who carried "Atheists go to Hell" signs, but felt her attendance was "a way our family decided that we had to stand up for Jesus."

No doubt, failing to attend that protest would be seen in the eyes of the Lord as the equivalent of denying Him three times before the cock crowed. And never mind that the Capitol building isn't the "house of God" and reports of atheists demanding equal time at religious pulpits are unheard of. Details, details! We should all stop over-reacting.

But it never stops. The same insecure bullying impulse that demands public space to promote religious symbols looks at breathing exercises that help children focus as a sinister plot to promote Hinduism, or, heaven forbid, encourage children to "explore." First they taught your kids yoga, next thing you know the kids are requesting first editions of the works of Madame Blavatsky for Christmas after reading Isis Unveiled online. And we can't have that.

post script: how awesome is it that kerfuffle is in the firefox spell check?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Reminder: Montel Williams is a Collossal Asshat

Everybody seems to love Montel Williams. Why wouldn't you? He's a hell of a guy. He has a charitable foundation and everything. I'm telling you though, there are a couple of things about his show that drive me to drink.

Americans are relentless in their bloodthirsty pursuit of baby-daddies and Montel never tires of exploiting the indiscriminate incubators of their spawn. The younger, poorer and dumber the better. To make the cut these days you have to be a 13 year old middle school dropout with at least 3 potential fathers, one of whom is related to you.

I remember a few months back when the news reported that groups of high school girls were forming pacts with each other that they would all try to get pregnant before they graduated. It took me a while to put two and two together here. This sort of thing certainly wouldn't have happened in my day. Recently, it hit me. These girls aren't trying to get knocked up because they want babies. They're just trying to get on T.V.! Montel has created an entire subculture of wanna-be teen mothers.

Not content to exploit his guests however, Montel goes on to facilitate the fleecing of his audience by regularly featuring world renowned con artist Sylvia Browne. She gets the whole hour once a week to make up bullshit and lie to people and it's little more than an infomercial for her books and services. This bitch has a new book to promote every damn week! I'm pretty comfortable stating that people who believe psychics tend to be pretty stupid and people who are pretty stupid tend not to have much money. So for Montel to encourage this flim-flamming fraud to take what little money these people have in exchange for false hope and lies is a dick move to say the least. As long as this woman appears on his show, Montel Williams has absolutely no credibility whatsoever. I'm fairly confident he gets a portion of her sales.

It gets worse. I guess I should have seen this coming. It's the perfect storm of Montel show asshattery where Sylvia Browne tells a member of the audience that her daddy ain't her daddy.

Now that's just mean. Montel Williams have you no shame!? Do you not care how many lives you destroy in your quest for ratings?

I want Phil Donahue back.

Wish I were dead? Want to have my babies? Email Barstool Pundit

Friday, January 2, 2009

I demand more Mexicans!

When our Dear Leader, Barstool Pundit, started this blog it had an obvious mandate - calling out asshats. Knowing him in real life, I never would've suspected that he would feel strained for material. And then he set the bar high with his funny pictures. Sure, everyone likes funny pictures, but that's hard work man. Hard. Work. So the Christmas season rolls around and BP is too busy fishing at the boats, BD and I are off doing family duties and no one is in the mood to make fun of asshats. There is no limit to asshattery in the world, but their is apparently a limit to our patience for describing it. Which is a nice long intro into me liberating myself from the asshat mandate and just posting whatever the hell I want. Today, it is Mexicans. I want more Mexicans in Missouri.

I'm a tolerant person, open to different cultures and not demanding that they eradicate their culutural traditions down to binge drinking days. But I want Mexicans for a selfish reason. (I say Mexicans, although Latino would be the more appropriate term, simply to counter all the disparaging talk directed at "Mexicans"). Missouri lost its bell-weather status because we don't have enough Hispanics in the voting population. Upon reading that, I decided that we needed more Mexicans. And then last week, I read in the Star that the population in WyCo is like 24% Hispanic. And for the first time in my life, I was jealous of WyCo. All those nice Mexicans across the border, why can't they love us!!?? (I know some of the answers, no need to go there today).

Demographically, Hispanics (classification I've never understood, but I'm not Mr. Census Bureau, so there you go) are going to push whitey into a minority group sometime during my lifetime. It feels a little weird, but I'm ok with it. I have little doubt the vestiges of white privilege will long outlast our majority status despite the best efforts of right minded people. Some people respond to this demographic certainty by encouraging more white baby making, or limiting non-white immigration. I think that won't work and it's not very american. I'm more of a mind to welcome and encourage our hispanic friends as the (great?)grandparents of our future overlords. Corrupt them with our liberal ways. The Republicans have given us a great opening with their xenophobia and racism. Let's take it.