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April 03, 2007


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Creepy?

* NZConservative thinks that conservatives ought to be more concerned about population growth than they are.

* Tyler Cowen recommends his favorite Monteverdi.

* The very idiosyncratic and droll Ilkka blogs again.

* Although I've linked to and written about the phenomenal -- and much too-little-known -- gospel-blues singer-guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe a few times, I've only just now awakened to the fact that a biography of her was recently published. Hmm, Beacon Press ... Not good: an earnest, political publisher ... On the other hand, the bio does sound thorough and careful. And where else are we going to find the information?

* Caleb Crain takes a shrewd look at some recent sales figures from the book publishing world.

* Tokenblackchic is hoping to make it to NYC. Tokenblackchic is a resourceful and funny short-video maker.

* The good news is that total income in America is rising like gangbusters. The bad news is that nearly all of the rise is going to the same tiny sliver of people.

* Anne Thompson raves about "Grindhouse," links to a hard-to-resist Bollywood version of "Pretty Woman," and lists some of her favorite Hollywood book-fiction.

* You can find podcasts with a lot of British authors here. I'm especially looking forward to a rare talk with the crime-novel genius Ruth Rendell.

* Here's video from some really virtuosic jet piloting.

* The biologist E. O. Wilson thinks there may be something to the idea of group selection.



posted by Michael at April 3, 2007


From the Department of One-Word Responses:

In what is becoming a trend among conservative Christians in the United States, girls as young as nine are pledging to their fathers to remain virgins until they wed, in elaborate ceremonies dubbed "Purity Balls."



Many fathers at the ceremonies also slip "purity rings" around the finger of their misty-eyed daughters or offer them "chastity bracelets" and other jewelry that the girls can entrust to their husbands on their wedding night.



She said some 1,400 Purity Balls were held across the United States in 2006, mainly in the south and midwest, and double that number were expected to take place this year.



One study conducted by researchers at the universities of Columbia and Yale found that 88 percent of pledgers wind up having sex before marriage.
"Unfortunately these young people tend, once they start to have sex, to have more partners in a shorter period of time and to use contraception much less than their non-pledging peers"


Posted by: Peter on April 3, 2007 1:45 PM

Oh yeah---it's creepy! Don't you just have the slightly nauseated feeling that these "daddies" have a higher rate of showing how much they "love" their daughters in non-mainstream, shall we say, ways? Ick.

Posted by: annette on April 3, 2007 2:19 PM

I guess at the opposite end ot the spectrum is the Neutered Dad.

I recently went to a high school event and saw a pretty, sluttily dressed girl being groped by a thugish looking guy. The dad, quite clearly a liberal yuppie, stood off slightly to the side, pretending he doesn't notice. He even looked slightly intimidated.

Posted by: PA on April 3, 2007 3:06 PM

Yeah, real "creepy" and "scary". Not nearly as scary as a teenage pregnancies or STD's, including AIDS. At least 12% held out. It also doesn't say if the girls started later than their non-pledging peers, or how many tend to have the dangerous liasons. How about a 14 year-old who's making the rounds? Now that's scary! Typical liberal--if it's not perfect, and contradicts the free-love principle, it must be scary, creepy, and ludicrous. I think people who can't or aren't encouraged to check their impulses are scary, creepy, and ludicrous. But I guess that's just me, being logical again, rather than relying on my feelings to determine personal morality.

Also the comment that a dad who wants his kids to wait implies that they are molesters and pedophiles is beyond scary and creepy. Obviously, no slander is severe enough for a concerned parent in the face of the liberal onslaught to dominate the minds and lives of said parent's children.

Posted by: BIOH on April 3, 2007 4:59 PM

BIOH, it's obvious from the study that things like Purity Balls are not effective. So your belief that Purity Balls should be held every night, a la Bon Scott, doesn't make sense if your goal is to keep teenagers safe. And come on, a father and daughter mimicking wedding rituals is just plain creepy. I'm all for protective parents, I am one myself. But this is ridiculous. And again, not effective.

Posted by: the patriarch on April 3, 2007 6:10 PM

I like the American flags all over the place in that Bollywood Pretty Woman song. They know their diaspora, they know how to sell, whether it's to the diaspora in Toronto, New York, London, Sydney :)

*Kind of weird to see that level on non-ironic and proud waving of the US flag in a Bollywood movie, if only as background color. Can you imagine a similar scene of suburban joy and happiness in a Hollywood film? Well, I suppose I can, but I don't watch Disney too much.

Posted by: MD on April 3, 2007 6:25 PM

These stories always make me feel a little sad. I think that many of these fathers who get involved in these things (and their daughters) are doing it out of confusion.

They are a father. They have a daughter. They see girls on TV and in reality looking and living like sluts, and they do not know what to do.

Like I said, I feel bad.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on April 3, 2007 6:48 PM

How the hell do you know if its effective or not? What exactly are your criteria--100% effectiveness? You know, the recidivism of drug addicts is incredibly high (no pun), and the stuff they do to try to get them off The Junk is pretty creepy too, but I have yet to hear any leftist call for a shut down of these programs because they are not 100% effective.

The question is, are more girls delaying sex or waiting until marriage for sex with this program or not? Obviously the answer is yes. That's why the leftist academics and journalists attacked the program. Of course abstinence works to reduce pregnancy and STD's. Abstinence programs do indeed work better than just sex-ed and a lassiez faire attitude. Not 100% but BETTER than the alternative. A girl mimicking marriage to her dad is indeed somewhat creepy, but so is killing a developing unwanted child and denying that its human. That is super-duper creepy. How about the creeps in the media and advertising that make sex objects out of 15 year old girls?

Its bizarre. Some people try to actually address and solve a problem of teenage pregnancy and promiscous sex, and leftists who hate self-control and self-denial make fun of them because the program is Christian (which they hate), and also self-denying. I guess the idea is to leave them to the media and peer pressure. You know, that could really solve a lot of the objections you have, because in the future, a lot of these girls, being illegitimate kids, won't even have a dad around to "marry". What a fine world that would be!

Posted by: BIOH on April 3, 2007 9:51 PM

it is creepy; same as that Bob Carlisle song "Butterfly Kisses" from a decade ago, if anyone remembers it.

also, check out this product.

Posted by: Will S. on April 3, 2007 11:42 PM

100% agreement with BIOH.

I see nothing creepy about it.

Nor do I think that fathers who love their daughters and want them to exercise self-control and self-respect in the face of the onslaught of our disgusting culture, where young women are treated like kleenex, are "creepy". It is not my style, what they are doing, but I respect the effort. My oldest daughter is 10. It will be an interesting next few years.

Posted by: Lexington Green on April 3, 2007 11:49 PM

Of course, here in the South, a small-print codicil to the purity vow makes an exception for dear old Daddy . . . .

But seriously: You're right, Will: "Butterfly Kisses" was creepy. There's a line in it about how now that the daughter is growing up, she can only kiss Daddy on the cheek. Makes you wonder: where the heck was she kissing Daddy before?

Posted by: Bilwick on April 4, 2007 8:44 AM

BIOH is right: this tendency to label men pedophiles at the drop of a hat is truly scary. Plus, methinks Annette is unfamiliar with the nature of southern manhood. Trying to imagine my midwestern father participating in such a ceremony...well, words fail...but a fine southern gentleman? No problem.

Posted by: CyndiF on April 4, 2007 9:48 AM

"How the hell do you know if its effective or not?"

From this study, quoted in the article:

One study conducted by researchers at the universities of Columbia and Yale found that 88 percent of pledgers wind up having sex before marriage.
"Unfortunately these young people tend, once they start to have sex, to have more partners in a shorter period of time and to use contraception much less than their non-pledging peers"

I'm not making fun of the program "because it's Christian," I'm making fun of it because it's fucking creepy. Even if it worked, I'd still feel put off by it, but I'd at least give it some credit. I'll also agree with you that some drug programs are on the creepy side, and abortions are beyond creepy. It's a creepy world.

Posted by: the patriarch on April 4, 2007 10:18 AM

Why not, you know, have a frank,private conversation with your daughter about sex and keep the lines of communication open during her teenage years.

Turning her sexuality into a public spectacle is unnecessary, bizarre, and creepy.

Posted by: James Dudek on April 4, 2007 10:20 AM

As the father of a 12-year-old girl, this goes beyond creepy in my book -- verging into child abuse. Extracting "purity" (love that word) vows from children in a marriage-like ceremony with their fathers? Does anyone really think that a pre-pubescent is mature enough in any sense to be making very public vows about her future sexual behavior? It's not like they're going to say no Daddy, I'm not going to "marry" you at age 11 to preserve my right to do with my body what I want to at age 20. This is putting a huge amount of psychological pressure on these kids. What do they do with those who sully themselves--hand out red-letter A's?

Yeah, our culture is full of sexed-up images of young girls. I want to create a bulwark against those images as much as anyone. But forcing kids to make vows that they're ill-equipped to comprehend isn't giving them the psychological and emotional resources they need to make their way in the world.

Posted by: Steve on April 4, 2007 10:29 AM

1. I never said ALL men who participated in Purity Balls were "pedophiles". Some probably are. But why the big ceremony in a white dress, dancing with daddy? Why not just make a promise? It's the ceremony that is "creepy"--and I think in the extreme.

2. In any event, it is somewhat horrifying that anyone thinks a girl pledging her virginity to her daddy is "healthy". Pledging her virginity to herself is, certainly. Pledging it to "daddy" and then turning it over to "husband" (turning the jewelry over on her "wedding night"?)is , at best, retrograde to the extreme. Why be subtle---just drag our a chastity belt and give the key to dad? I mean why doesn't she promise both mommy and daddy? Like a girl that age would be "making her own decision." Mostly, they would be making a decision which pleased daddy and mommy. I have a feeling she isn't doing much "choosing" whether she knows it at that point or not. Which is why she doesn't stick to it, often.

Posted by: annette on April 4, 2007 12:33 PM

What is the rate of kids having sex before marriage without this program? I think its hard to say what effectiveness it has is without making a comparison. You'll notice the article doesn't make one. I wonder why not? The reason why is that abstinence programs work better than the sex-ed and turning a blind eye programs. Only the jounalists won't let you in on it.

I admitted the marriage thing was creepy. I didn't read the first post thoroughly enough.

And I'm still not convinced that a lot of opposition to abstinence programs isn't anti-Christian and anti-religious.

As far as teaching your kid about sex and keeping the "lines of communication open", I can't believe that people here can't remember their own teenage years! As if kids don't lie, hide things from their parents, and aren't trying to have a life of their own outside of the family! Did you tell your parents you were using drugs and having sex? I didn't think so. Did you tell them about all the crazy and stupid things you did when you were out with your friends? I didn't think so. I sure hope you have a better plan than that, because there is at least an 88% chance that plan's a loser too.

The real way to reduce this stuff is supervise the kids like crazy. But now, since both parents work in most homes, and parents with teenagers want more free time for themselves, it doesn't happen. That doesn't even take divorce into account. Since people are getting married later and later, if at all, I hardly think its a big surprise that so many have sex before marriage anyway. What you want to do is to reduce the number of years and partners between now and then as much as practical to try to eliminate a big mistake.

Bottom line is that I still support any program that is trying to stem this tide even if it is only marginally effective, because its better than nothing, goofy and weird or not.

Posted by: BIOH on April 4, 2007 10:33 PM

There is something inherently, well, creepy, about a lavish celebration where fathers and daughters get together to celebrate the sanctity of the daughters' vaginas.

The balls are essentially treating the daughters' vaginas as daddy's little treasure, to be kept safe until they can pass daddy's treasure on to their husbands. This is "fucking creepy," BIOH, because in Western culture, at least, daddies are not supposed to take a close interest in their daughters' genitalia. Do you really need to be told this?

What if, as a way to "stem the tide" (your words) of divorce, there were big "fidelity balls," where daddies and daughters could extol the benefits of keeping daddy's big, hairy penis within the marital relationship. I mean, if you're not motivated to be faithful by your dumpy, overweight wife, won't you think of your daughter?

Posted by: James on April 5, 2007 1:32 AM

The point is that I don't consider having sex before marriage (or drinking or smoking pot) to be losing. I think these behaviours are normal and healthy if the person knows how to control their instincts and behave appropriately in those scenarios. It's not like you explode and die if you have sex before marriage.

Do I think my kids are going to make mistakes? Absolutely and that's what growing up is about. Pushing the boundaries and finding your limitations. I'll keep the lines of communication open so that I can teach them about what strategies to take to mitigate the risks associated with these somewhat risky behaviours.

So what if the program has a 12% "success" rate. Not making a public spectacle of my daughter's sexuality and not embedding some wierd Freudian father-daughter thing in my daughter is success in my book. A lifetime of therapy is not success.

Posted by: James Dudek on April 5, 2007 7:42 AM

James makes a point I think about a lot now that my son is 13. I did tons of crazy, stupid shit during my teens and early 20s. I don't think I'm unique that way. Do I, now that I am a parent and responsible adult, regret one second of that? No, I don't. Why? Probably because I turned out OK, which I attribute to my parents having raised me well and luck.

Now, this doesn't mean I will condone my son doing any of that. In fact, thinking back on my own youth, it scares the shit out of me to have my son approaching the age when all that stuff went down. But we've raised him with love and instilled as much personal responsibility and common sense into him as we can. What he does when he leaves the house is really beyond our control. If he screws up and we find out about it, he will have hell to pay. But we're also not naive enough to think he won't be doing at least some of the same stupid, crazy shit we all did.

So I'm wondering what those Purity Ball dads are thinking. Did they have pre-marital sex? Did they do some stupid, crazy shit in their youth? Probably. So why are they so insecure and fearful of their daughters' abilities to make good decisions? And do they feel the same way about their sons?

Posted by: the patriarch on April 5, 2007 9:58 AM

James'comments are simply ridiculous. Parents have always been responsible for protecting their kids, and the men responsible from protecting their daughters from other men, young and old. It is only VERY recently that this role has been battered down by leftists, and the results are plain to see.

I'm sure a lot of people are fine with the stupid things they did when young. Just like you said, its because they got away with it. Too many others are not so lucky. I think it takes a bit of getting older to see how the consequences play out in life. I was always taught that you set standards real high. Lower standards result in inferior results. These parents are scared for their kids, and their degree of involvement is directly related to how much they care about them, goofy or not. I would not go through with such a ceremony with my daughter, but that's me. I am, however, all for doing something that works.

You all realize that now, in stark contrast to many, many generations previous, the society at large does not promote your values, don't you? Previous generations didn't have to deal with that. None of the slugs promoting this irresponsible behavior give a damn about your kids. They are far more interested in their own ideology and getting what they want. You never see all the bad consequences on TV or the media, just the fun.

We all know the consequences, from drunk driving deaths, to run-ins with the law for drugs, to addictions, to unwanted preganncies, abortions, stds, depression, etc. Serious, serious stuff.

I think its funny when people call doing something stupid and wrong knowingly as "making a mistake". I guess its only a mistake if you get caught, eh? That ought to tell you about how well morals were taught and internalized. There are way to many kids who haven't internalized morality for a variety of reasons, and its usually because they have been shielded from real consequences. If you think the best way is for them to "push boundaries" until they get caught in a bad situation, that's not really much of a morality at all, in fact it says there isn't one above just doing and getting what you want. The sad truth is that most discipline in homes isn't about teaching self-control in order to reach a goal, but usually only about laying down the hammer when something goes wrong. Its no wonder that kids outside of the view of authority haven't internalized values--the discipline is all external. That's a recipe for disaster.

What these guys should do is take their daughters to visit an abortion mill, an STD clinic, a welfare office, etc. Take them to a jail, or a morgue, and let them see what the drug business is really all about, and what kind of people they are giving their money to. Let them know that decisions have real consequences. I teach that you don't do anything unless you want to pay the consequences, and this is what they are. That tends to make kids a lot more conservative, and less likely to "push boundaries".

Posted by: BIOH on April 5, 2007 1:56 PM

For what it's worth, the movie "Trainspotting" stopped me from doing anything stronger than pot.

I actually quite like the culture that we live in and I guess that means that I'll bring up my kids in a house that doesn't have as much hatred of society in it as yours.....

Posted by: James Dudek on April 6, 2007 9:26 AM

Re: Trainspotting. That flick glamorizes drug use like no other in recent memory. Cool clothes, cool music, cool cinematography, etc. I'm not really objecting to that, I think it's a fantastic movie. But it brings up something I've discussed with friends quite often. Is it possible to make a truly anti-drug movie? Does the transfer of the message to the screen inherently glamorize it for a certain percentage of the audience? I'd say yes.

And now this is way off topic.

Posted by: the patriarch on April 6, 2007 12:26 PM

I'd completely disagree that Trainspotters glamorizes drug use.

The one "clean" guy (Tommy, who's relationship is ruined by the pathetic Renton thieving his homemade Porno) who starts doing heroin during the movie dies when his brain explodes from toxic plasmosis (combined with AIDS). The addicts casual disregard upon the death of the baby, the withdrawal scenes where the baby haunts Renton. Renton diving into the digusting pub toilet to chases a methodone pill. Makes the whole business seem the opposite of glamorous.

It certainly did more to scare me off the stuff than any lame-o anti-drug public health commercial.

Posted by: James Dudek on April 6, 2007 3:17 PM

James, I'm using my personal experience and that of many people I know with regards to Trainspotting. While it certainly does make drug use seem unseemly to a large number of people, trust me that it had the opposite effect on another rather large group of people. The cultural impact of that movie is huge, for better or worse.

I'm wondering if you had ever experimented with drugs before seeing that movie. If not, then I can see where it could have a preventive effect on you. For those people who had experimented with drugs previous to seeing the flick, the extreme consequences portrayed in the movie probably had very little to do with their actual life experience using drugs, therefore they could incorporate the cool attitude and look of the film while discarding the anti-drug message, if there even was one intended.

Posted by: the patriarch on April 6, 2007 3:50 PM

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