Monday, October 27, 2008

Boot to the head

A martial arts expert sneers at experts

I was trying, but failing, to walk past a bookstore. This happens all the time. Accepting my fate, I let myself get sucked inside. I wandered the aisles for a few minutes to see what books were being promoted in stacks on the front tables. I like to pick up the most ridiculous books and page through them, just for laughs. Did you know there's now The Complete Idiot's Guide to 2012? It is perfect for the complete idiot who thinks 2012 will be replete with mystical cosmic events, perhaps involving Mayans or space aliens (who—you never know—might be the same thing). It's a really accurate book title. And one of the authors claims to be the world's foremost expert in crop circles.

I put down the book for idiots and found another one. Book for idiots, that is. This time it was a book of trenchant political analysis by that well-known trenchant political analyst, Chuck Norris. The title is Black Belt Patriotism, and I nearly didn't bother leafing through its pages. But the impulse overcame my good taste (and good sense), so I dipped inside. Pay dirt! On pp. 90-91, Chuck tells us the sad tale of his nephew's encounter with the evils of public education (What, Chuck didn't help his nephew get into a proper Christian academy?):
My nephew Andrew Cox, who is a strong young Christian man, was in the fifth grade when his teacher, a young lady who had graduated from the University of Berkeley, told the class to write a report about evolution. Andrew said he couldn't do that because he didn't believe in evolution. He went on to say that he believed God was our Creator and creator of the heavens and the earth. The teacher gave him an “F,” instead of allowing him to write about what he believed in based on his own convictions.
Oh, horrors! The unfairness of it all!

Young Andrew was cleverly trying to establish a precedent that would have proved most useful in his future education, if only the edu-fascist from Berkeley hadn't thwarted him. (By the way, Chuck, it's the University of California at Berkeley, not the University of Berkeley. Make a note of that for the paperback edition.) You see, if Andrew had gotten his way, he could later have refused to write a report in humanities class about the Greek gods (because he doesn't believe in them), or an essay on Marxism in econ class (because he's not a Marxist, and only Marxists can do that), or even a term paper on Islam in a comparative religion class (because he's not a Muslim, praise be to Allah!). Andrew is a clever cookie, but the teacher didn't fall for it.

Chuck likes to think, though, that he and Andrew got the last laugh. And I fear he may be right, giving us the last groan. For now, at least.
[R]ather than believe that he was a glorified ape, he believed that he was a child of God made in His image. He is in Army Intelligence now, serving our country in Iraq.
Oh, damn.

While I sincerely hope that Andrew Cox comes back intact from his tour of duty in Iraq, you can understand that I might be a bit conflicted about the professional role he plays. A man with his critical thinking skills—a creationist—is helping to compile the knowledge base on which our Iraq policies are founded.

Oh, damn.

Addendum

You know what they need over at Amazon.com? I'll tell you. They need a check box on their search function so that you can tell it to forget your search after it's been accomplished. An “I didn't mean it” button. Having gone over to Amazon to refresh my memory about the pertinent pages in Norris's manifesto, I am now being offered other lovely items “for the Chuck Norris fan.” Hey, Amazon, I come to bury Chuckles, not to praise him. I guess I'd better go search now on lots of science and science fiction books to flush the martial arts out of Big Brother's memory. And the New Age crap, too. Preferably before 2012.

33 comments:

Yoo said...

[R]ather than believe that he was a glorified ape, he believed that he was a child of God made in His image. He is in Army Intelligence now, serving our country in Iraq.

I had always thought the problems we have in Iraq are because of incompetence at the top, but this might be an alternative explanation ...

Jim said...

I also saw this book last week and didn't get past the cover.
I hid my head in shame in that I once studied the same art.

Curious though, what makes a Martial Artistic who makes mediocre movies (at best) an authority, yet "liberal Hollywood" is non-authoritative?

Seriously, who cares? Do enough people actually care to make this book sell?

Jeff M. said...

How much of the book did you skim? I'm curious about the black belt and patriotism trope. Does he ever unpack that?

Zeno said...

Hey, Jeff, I saw about as much of Norris's book as I could endure. I got the impression that the "black belt" stuff was about "standing up" for America. You know, like when a little kid stands up to a teacher who assigns him stuff. America is all about God and creationism, after all. (So I suppose that evolution is "un-American". Where have I heard that recently?) Oh, and I remember something about the Bible being good, too.

DuckPhup said...

I thought Bruce Lee killed him, in 'Enter the Dragon'. Am I out of touch?

Tony Sidaway said...

What a mean science teacher. These propagandists for the reality-based community seem to be all too common, as noted recently by Gary Trudeau in his documentary cartoon series Doonesbury.

At a friend's school there was a particularly doctrinaire math teacher who marked him down for writing his conviction that the square of 7 is 14. They're everywhere!

Anonymous said...

You're looking for "View and edit your browsing history" on Amazon to remove the Chuck-centric recommendations.

www.amazon.com/gp/history/

Anonymous said...

I learned long ago that the term "military intelligence" was the classic example of an oxymoron, along with "jumbo shrimp."

Zeno said...

Thanks for the Amazon tip, Anon! Should have realized that it already existed.

The Chemist said...

You have touched on several issues that I must comment on. (If all your posts are like this I'll have to start coming here regularly.)

First the bookstore thing, been there. Don't worry, it marks you out as an intelligent person. Unfortunately if you're anything like me, you spend more money than you probably should on books.

Second thing: I totally skipped over Norris's book when I saw it, lamenting the fact that I ever appreciated his cameo in Bruce Lee's Return of the Dragon.

If I had known it would be a comedy goldmine though, I would have at least flipped through it.

Thirdly: Oooh goody, I can haz good Amazon suggestions!

Troy said...

Does repeatedly breaking things with your head bring you closer to god?

Tim said...

It depends on what you're trying to break, and how soft your head is.

Joergen Geerds said...

I would give the kid some credit. He got his F 10 years ago, and kids change their beliefs sometimes as often as they change their cloths. I hope that he grew up to be a decent person, and hasn't become part of the christian-taliban movement that is creeping up all over this country.

topologyrob said...

What's "math"? Maybe you mean maths?

Karen said...

I appreciate the Amazon tip, too. My problem is that I do a lot of Christmas shopping at Amazon, and then end up screaming every January/February, "No, you stupid machine, I don't care about that stuff!"

Joergen Geerds, I share your hope completely, but if the Kid is still being quoted by Uncle Chuckie, he probably still has his head in a fundie mindset.

Zeno, you're suffering from an incurable malady; it afflicts me, too, and I hustle past the doors of bookstores in fear of being sucked in. Alas, Amazon is no further than my fingertips, and equally alluring. My husband sighs, loudly, when he sees yet another box from Amazon arriving at the door.

Zeno said...

topologyrob: Maybe you mean maths?

Don't play innocent with me, Rob. You know perfectly well that "maths" is a term devised by Brits to torment children with lisps.

Karen said...

Topologyrob, "math" is the Yank version of "maths". We don't waste unnecessary characters here.

watercat said...

Jim, I feel your pain. I once taught the same art, and the Christians would pull their kids out, because we practiced meditation, which is of the devil.

bulbul said...

Oh, damn.
If there ever was a perfect time and place to use the F-word, this was it.

Ancient Brit said...

Karen, I'm not sure about the claim to not "waste unnecessary characters here".

I'm reminded of burgle vs burglarize, and burglary vs burglarization... :)

o_0 said...

Only reason that old Chuck got a career in the movies was because of that cameo in Return of the Dragon lol

He was one of those paid by the hour weekend students of Bruce Lee like many celebrities of the time. Probably an attempt to get into the films via Bruce.

Rob Clack said...

Karen, you should do what I do - get all your Amazon stuff delivered to your work address.

I just had to type blegoid into the Word Verification box. Sounds like it ought to exist. Anybody got any idea what a blegoid might be?

Interrobang said...

Anybody got any idea what a blegoid might be?

Since "blegging" is asking for money/donations/(sexual) favours/etc. using a blog, a blegoid is probably a subtle hint that one wants money/donations/(sexual) favours/etc. made using a blog.

My word verification word was "tosed." Apparently it just can't spell very well.

Anonymous said...

>> and the Christians would pull their kids out, because we practiced meditation

What was the big J doing in the desert for 40 days and nights then (hang on single male, mid thirties, virgin... BLASHPEMY ALERT)?

boremetotears said...

I am now being offered other lovely items “for the Chuck Norris fan.”

LOL. I hate that, too.

Eupraxsopher said...

>> and the Christians would pull their kids out, because we practiced meditation

What was the big J doing in the desert for 40 days and nights then (hang on single male, mid thirties, virgin... BLASHPEMY ALERT)?


Umm, playing World of Warcraft?

Regular Guy said...

Looking at the level of commentary within this blog and following posts, I find myself wondering how the opinions put forth here are of any actual value. First, no one (that is no one in their right mind) believes Chuck Norris has anything to say worthwhile. Second, because he is saying it at $20.00 an instance makes it all the more incredulous. Third, the comments about his book and the story cited make the whole of this group sound like a group of teenage girls using social pressure and reassurance of personal superiority via external affirmation biased within the social element seem to be a plausible critique of the dynamic happening. I am no Christian, but I can let someone take a position without resorting to name calling. How about a little constructive critiquing in order to further explore the ramification of the boy's reaction. Quite honestly, you all sound like a bunch of liberal wackos!

Zeno said...

Thanks for your comment, Regular Guy. Looking at the content of your remarks and the defensiveness of the your alias, you may want to consider that you wasted a bunch of time on something that doesn't interest you. That's really an unfortunate choice. Feel free to wander away and go do something that holds your attention.

By the way, you seem to think that "teenage girls" is a term of disapprobation, suggesting that you are a sexist moron.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Your right, I was disappointed by the quality of your post. But, I had already spent the time - in for a penny, in for a pound I suppose.

And by the way, your usage of the English language needs a little tune up. I suggest you perform a self-critique starting with the editing process. I would
then perform full self-diagnosis to see if you find any other glaring errors in your reasoning abilities.

And, thank you for inviting me to find another place to spend my time. But, I think I like it here. It's really quite thrilling to find such a prophetic place were minds can be exposed to ideas that help solve the problems rather than just spout puerile epithets and jeer at the inane. Spending time with this group will be like the rhetorical equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

I don't suppose you're used to someone who doesn't automatically agree with your penchant for petty bickering. Not in one instance have you offered a valid retort of the items I've critiqued. Coward!

Respectfully,

Zeno said...

I changed my mind, Regular Guy. You can keep coming back as long as you promise to continue to be this amusing. When someone criticizes the quality of my post and my use of the English language with the opening words "Your right," I am awakened to the fact that you are a humorist (intentional or otherwise) and your prose is to be savored for its entertainment value.

Anonymous said...

As much as I would like to slam you with another terse remark, you've caught me. I made a grammatical mistake. But you're attempt at using an adianoeta to mock me makes you look as foolish as the rest of your general viewers.

When are you going to address the issues I've pointed out? Or are you just going to continue attacking me personally for your flawed and psychotic comments?

I would rather explore the reasons behind the kid's behavior rather than bicker with you. Seems to me it would be a good dialog. But, if you can't manage to hold a discussion such as I have suggested we can continue to fling mud. Got anything worthwhile to post on your blog?

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for you to respond. Seems like you don't really care to defend your opinion...

Zeno said...

Oh, good. You came back.

I'm perfectly willing to defend my opinions. I am not willing to waste my time on you, however, since tackling trolls is a pointless endeavor.