Thursday, September 28, 2017

Fuck Hugh Hefner. And a couple other guys.

Fuck Hugh Hefner.

I mean, I don't hate him for publishing a magazine featuring photos of nude women. As long as there are women willing to get nude for money and people willing to pay money to see women in the nude, I don't think it's anyone else's business.(Although looking at Hefner's opulent lifestyle I gotta think he did not pay those nude women nearly enough. Well, that's capitalism for you. The ones who provide the value never make as much as the pig who buys and sells that value.)
Anyway, I have no objection to Playboy Magazine. What I object to is everything else. I object to this creep promulgating the idea that part of the  accoutrement of the sophisticated, modern Playboy lifestyle was women as playthings (or "playmates" as he called them).!.jpg

Dressing up women as adult versions of stuffed animal toys and having them serve drinks to creepy, leering pseudo-sophisticates listening to jazz on their hi-fis and puffing on pipes really doesn't seem like it should have been a hallmark of urbane modernity.

Related image
Remember, fellas - if you achieve this level of success, you too can surround yourself with de-humanized women!

And of all the stupid tributes pouring out, this is maybe the absolute stupidest:

Hugh Hefner’s Legacy Is About More Than Sex

Hefner’s life will be derided as profane, but his work celebrates the sexual complementarity that has bound men and women together since the dawn of time.

Oh dear God.
Seriously, Hugh Hefner was the one who realized that penises and vaginas fit together?

Also, if that's his legacy, then how is his legacy not about sex?

You can read the whole article here if you want. I don't want to read any more about Hefner, because you know, fuck that guy,

Oh, and also. Fuck this guy:

 This is former unsuccessful football coach Rex Ryan. Rex Ryan is just so mad at Donald Trump!

"I'm pissed off," Ryan said on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown." "I supported Donald Trump.
"I'm reading these comments and it's appalling to me. Calling our players SOBs and all that kind of stuff. That's not the men that I know. The men that I know in the locker room I'm proud of. I'm proud to be associated with those people."
[These comments] are appalling to me... I never signed up for that.

Oh, sure. You definitely didn't sign up for that. You signed up for "Mexicans are rapists," but not that. You signed up for "grab 'em by the pussy," but not for this. Not for insulting football players! You know, it's one thing to make fun of P.O.W.s or mock a handicapped person, or encourage violence against protestors, but when he insults people you know personally, that is just a bridge too far!

It's the Joe Scarborough scenario. Scarborough promoted Il Douche as much as any FOX sycophant throughout the campaign and never had any problem with his divisive rhetoric until tRump took a shot at Scarborough's wife. Then suddenly he's all hashtag resistance man. Fuck Joe Scarborough, too.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Random Thoughts Interspersed with Serval Kittens

I hate this argument:

Pastor Robert Jeffress, the megachurch pastor who is one of Donald Trump’s official evangelical advisers, has attacked NFL players who protested racism and defied Trump.
Appearing on Fox News, Jeffress — who spoke at Trump’s poorly attended inauguration — said players who directly rebuked Trump after he demanded that the NFL penalize them should “be thanking God” because they don’t have to worry about “being shot in the head for taking a knee like they would be if they were in North Korea.”

Every time someone points out something that's wrong with America and would like to fix it there's always some jackass who trots out the "at least you don't live in. . ." argument.

Women are complaining about inequality? Hey, just be glad you don't live in the Middle East where you'd have to wear a burqa and be someone's property! LGBT people would like to not be treated as second-class citizens? Just be glad you don't live in Uganda. They kill gay people over there.

There's always some place where you'd have it worse. So what? That's not a good reason to not improve things over here.

Okay, I know that Republican candidates for any elected office are required to demonstrate their love for firearms, but I'm not sure ol' Roy is doin' it right.

Roy Moore Pulls Out Handgun During Campaign Rally

Dude. That is a lady gun. Where'd you pull that out of, your purse?
The whole point of waving a gun around on stage is to look like a tough guy to people who have no idea what a tough guy looks like. When you're daintily holding that little derringer like you just pulled it out of your garter, it kind of defeats the purpose.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is clearly in over her head.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested Monday that if NFL players who kneel during the national anthem at games are doing so because of police brutality, they should protest the officers instead of the song.
“I think if the debate is really for them about police brutality, they should probably protest the officers on the field that are protecting them instead of the American flag,” she said.

What does that even mean?

If you want to protest murder cops, you should protest these other cops who are just standing there doing their jobs? Are you saying you might as well protest them because it's only a matter of time until these cops also shoot some unarmed black men? 

“That’s not what I’m saying,” Sanders said. “I was kind of pointing out the hypocrisy of the fact that if the goal is, and the message is, that of police brutality — which they’ve stated — then that doesn’t seem very appropriate to protest the American flag.”

Oh thanks. That totally clears it up!

There's probably a template for this headline:

Trump Says NFL Ratings Are 'Way Down' Because Of Protests. They're Actually Up.

 All you have to do is fill in the blanks with two words or phrases that are opposites.
 "Trump says _______. It's actually____________."

Moms Reward John McCain With Cupcakes for Crushing Republican Health Care Efforts

 It is just so goddamm depressing that we have to have this much gratitude for elected officials who decide reluctantly to not kill a bunch of people.  Just not being a completely heartless psychopath apparently entitles you to being considered a damn hero now.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Roger Stone is a huge douche

Celeste Katz

Roger Stone has his plan—and his outfit—all laid out for when he appears before congressional lawmakers on Tuesday.

As to his strategy: “I will systematically go through the exact words of every committee member. I will take their exact words and I will shove them down their throats," he vowed.

Image result for i'm so scared gif

As for his clothing: “Blue will be the theme of the day, because it connotes authority,”
Respect My Authoritah!

“They're standing there with nothing in their hands," he said. "After months and months of investigation, hundreds of thousands of tax dollars, they still have no evidence of Russian collusion. None at all. None that would hold up in a court of law.”

Which is totally what an innocent person would say. "You have no evidence. Well, none that's admissible anyway." That line always worked on every episode of Law & Otder.

Enjoy prison, asshole!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It's Your Fault We Have Trump

I've seen a few of these lately. These weird articles from conservative writers that basically amount to "hey, liberals. It's your fault Trump got elected." Which is odd in a couple of ways. First because no it fucking isn't. I mean, I guess we bear some responsibility for not coming out in larger numbers to vote for HRC, but Trump is your fault, conservatives. You own this mess. And secondly, you voted for Trump, you wore the stupid hat, you cosplayed as him in Charlottesville. 
Some of you did this.

So why are you looking to put the blame on other people? You never hears conservatives saying "stupid libs, it's your fault we got Reagan" Or "Your political correctness is rthe reason Dubya got elected." Have you already fugured out that voting for Trump was a collossal mistake? 

Anyway, someone on the Twitter called my attention to this well-thought-out thesis:

Your Refusal To Date Conservatives Is One Reason We Have Donald Trump

Wow! Where to begin with this guy?

First of all do you want to date liberal ladies? Why would you want to date someone whose politics you find repulsive? Am I to understand that if left-leaning women were to say "oh hell yes I'd date a right-wing troglodyte," you'd be running to their doorstep with flowers and chocolates?

Also, maybe it's not "conservatives" that women are refusing to date so much as it is guys who look like this:

Jerrod Laber

When you look like someone who is legally obligated to let his neighbors know he's moved in, I gotta think that limits the pool of eligible ladies who are interested in you. Have you ever thought that maybe it's just you? I mean, most conservative fellas seem to have no trouble attracting a mate.

Anyway, back to the article.

Your Refusal To Date Conservatives Is One Reason We Have Donald Trump

OkCupid will let users indicate their support for abortion. This type of assortive mating is one factor that allowed for the rise of a candidate like Donald Trump.

Ohhhhh, assortive mating! Sure. Of course. And here I thought it was "economic insecurity" or "blatant racism" or "hatred for the strong woman" that Trump rode to victory, but clearly it was "assortive mating!" Oh, it's all so clear now!

The popular dating website OkCupid announced Wednesday that it would make the online dating scene a little easier for progressives who can’t risk interacting with someone with whom they disagree (imagine the horror!).

Oh my God! You people literally created Conservapedia so you wouldn't have to interact with any facts that don't jibe with your narrative. You've built an entire infrastructure of FOX News, am talk radio and websites like the one on which you are currently posting so you would never be inconvenienced by a dissenting opinion. And you're complaining about proressives who don't want to spend their evenings making out with someone who reflexively shouts "Benghazi!" every few minutes?

They announced a partnership with Planned Parenthood that allows site users to put a badge on their profile signifying support for the nation’s largest abortion provider, much the way Facebook becomes saturated with similar kinds of profile pictures during the newest disaster.

That seems eminently reasonable. Seems like it benefits everyone involved. Conservatives don't have to waste their time chatting up baby murderers and progressives don't have to have their time wasted by someone they're going to break up with as soon as he mentions that he doesn't believe she should be allowed to make decisions about her own body. It's a win-win. 
Oh, wait. I forgot. For conservatives, everything has to be part of a nefarious plot against them personally. Sorry, please continue.

It’s hard to not see this as a reaction to the rise of President Trump

Well, it is if you're not obsessed with Trump. But, sure it's hard not to see how a multi-million-dollar for-profit company, a division of an even larger corporation, would obviously be a part of a liberal conspiracy against the Turd Reich. Duh!

It’s hard to not see this as a reaction to the rise of President Trump, as Planned Parenthood has long been a political football tossed back and forth between left and right, although dating sites have never made such an overt venture into politics. But, in our current bizarre world of politics, this represents a widening chasm between those who are most politically active, causing people to see an opposing viewpoint as an all-out assault on their personhood. The irony is that the type of assortative mating OkCupid is encouraging is one factor that allowed for the rise of a candidate like Trump.

Gee, I wonder how that chasm got so widened? Who could have introduced this type of eliminationist rhetoric into the mainstream?,204,203,200_.jpg,204,203,200_.jpg

I guess we'll never know!

The Effects of Assortative Mating

Assortative mating is when someone partners and starts a family with someone of a similar background.

Oh. So. . . what almost everyone does? And has done since the dawn of time? And that's what caused Trump to be elected? How did it take this long?

Assortative mating is when someone partners and starts a family with someone of a similar background. It can be based on innate characteristics, such as race and ethnicity, or socioeconomic backgrounds. People have always engaged in assortative mating of some kind or another, but as social scientist Charles Murray explains

Woah, hold on there. 
Charles Murray? 
The "Bell Curve" Charles Murray? 
You're going to cite Charles Freakin' Murray?
You sure? You sure that's who you want to bring into this? 
All right, let's have it!

. . . as social scientist Charles Murray explains in his book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010,”

Oh my God, you couldn't pick a book with maybe a less racist-sounding title?

. . . as social scientist Charles Murray explains in his book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010,” there was a shift to a particular type of mating in the ‘60s which continues through the present day.
As cognitive ability became the most valued aspect of human capital––and the biggest predictive indicator for professional success––people began marrying others with similar intellect. Ivy League graduates marry other Ivy League graduates, and their kids do the same, and so on and so forth, causing severe economic stratification between what Murray calls the “New Upper Class” and “New Lower Class.”

Right. That never happened before the 1960's. Scions of wealthy families never married the daughters of the similarly well-placed until the Nineteen Fucking Sixties. It's not like the royal families of Europe all married each others' cousins or anything.

This is all developing at a time of increasing polarization in politics. . . 
Polarization is a result of the emotional reactions that politics naturally bring out in people. The most politically active are the most extreme of each group––the most likely to surround themselves with only the likeminded, and the least likely to give an inch to an opposing viewpoint.
These groups also vote heavily in primaries, which pushes candidates further left and right. 

 Yes, which is why the Democratic Primary was won easily by Senator Bernard Sanders oh wait!

 And, as represented by the ascendance of the Tea Party, they demand ideological purity.

And I suppose you have a similar example for the Left? 

We're waiting. . . .


Demagogues Love Tribalism

Assortative mating serves to intensify this polarization. It amplifies an already significant ingroup-outgroup mentality around contentious social issues. Social and cultural issues create severe disagreement because they trigger the emotional part of the brain: the disagreement challenges a core part of group identity. . . 
Trump was able to convince rural and working-class people that he was the answer to their collective malaise. Economic anxiety, which Never-Trumpers are so wont to point out as the reason for his success, is intimately tied to cultural issues, because the anxiety is seen as a product of unfair cultural decline.

Or, to put it more succinctly: Racism.

You didn’t lose your job because your skill set didn’t match a changing economic reality. Instead, it was the result of a rigged system that benefits the elite, liberal urban centers on each coast and their progressively government-dependent constituents, at your expense.

Are we going to bother pointing out what a load of bs that is? That Blue States contribute more to the federal government than they get back, while it is Red States who are suckling at the government teat?
Are we going to mention the way the system is actually rigged in favor of smaller-population rural Red States, in that a state like North Dakota gets the same number of senators as does California despite having fewer people than the city of Los Angeles? And how that system gives these small rural states an outsized influence on the Electoral College? 

In a less polarized environment, that schtick might be seen for the nonsense that it is. But in a world of ignorant voters and social stratification––in which progressives who live in wealthy ZIP codes and small-town conservatives share a mutual disdain for one another––you get stratification that populist blowhards can exploit.

Okay. Good. You acknowledge that this "schtick" is "nonsense." Good. But it's also nonsense to suggest that progressives are the wealthy elites while conservatives are good ol' salt of the Earth regular folk. 
But at least you seem to realize that the Trump voters are people who have been lied to over and over by the Limbaughs and Hannitys of the media hellscape, but somehow you still believe that these people voting for an unqualified senile malignant narcissist is a result of their dating habits? 

Humans naturally form groups, but when rampant partisanship is the foundation upon which the group lies, extreme politicians are those most likely to win their sympathy.

Hmm, interesting. Especially since, prior to the current occupant of the White House, the major party nominees for the presidency in the last few cycles have been Barack Obama, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton. Not an extremist among them. If this stratification has been going on since the 1960's, how is it that, for example, the Republican primary voters have managed to reject Pat Buchannan, George Wallace, Rick Santorum, Pat Robertson and Michele Bachmann without any of them making a real dent in the race? If this is a phenomenon that has been going on for five decades, shouldn't we have had a President LaRouche or a President David Duke by now?

If a progressive doesn’t want to date a conservative and vice versa, that’s perfectly fine. Everyone has deal-breakers. But as a political protest, this form of virtue-signaling is counterproductive in the long run.

Oh my God! Please, ladies. Please someone go out on a date with this creepy little weasel. It's the only way to prevent Trump's re-election! If Jarrod Laber doesn't get to second base with a liberal girl soon, he'll have no choice but to vote for Trump again! One of you gals is going to have to take one for the team.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Flashback friday - Rock Docs

The last few weeks I've been watching a lot of music documentaries on Netflix and Amazon. Here are some recommendations.

Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) Poster

Who Is Harry Nilsson?  (And Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him?)

I didn't know much about Nilsson. I knew the theme from Midnight Cowboy and the lime and the coconut song. And I'd heard about the legendary benders. I learned a lot from this movie about a brilliant songwriter and singer whose career and life were cut short by his own self-destructive impulses.

Family Band: The Cowsills Story Poster

Family Band: The Cowsills Story

I knew almost nothing about the Cowsills other than that they recorded the version of "Hair" that got played on the radio and that people thought of them as corny, like Sonny & Cher-type faux hippies or something? Any way, I had no idea that they started out as a serious rock band, that they were extremely talented, or that their career was sabotaged at every turn by their monster of a father.

Betty Blowtorch: And Her Amazing True Life Adventures Poster

Betty Blowtorch and Her Amazing True Life Adventures

TW: Talking about rape/incest

I had never even heard of Betty Blowtorch, but they apparently had at least one album out and had been on MTV or VH1 or both maybe? Betty Blowtorch was the band name of four hard-rocking women who broke out of the Los Angeles club scene and briefly flashed across the sky before their lead singer. Bianca Butthole, was tragically killed in a car wreck. Mostly they did raunchy sex-drugs-and- rock'n'roll type party songs with titles like "Shut Up and Fuck" and "Size Queen," but Bianca also sang an absolutely harrowing song about being raped by her stepfather and another about the breakup of her marriage. Even if you don't enjoy hard rock music, it's an interesting story full of interesting people and definitely worth a watch.

Feats First: The Life & Music of Lowell George Poster

Feats First: The Life and Music of Lowell George

Little Feat was one of those bands I had always heard of but never actually heard. All I knew about them was that they had some sort of connection to Ry Cooder and that they were highly thought of by other musicians. Turns out they were great, and Lowell George dying young might be the biggest loss for the music world since Jimi Hendrix passed.

Salad Days Poster

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington DC

The story of a moment in time in Washington Dc that somehow produced an astonishing number of great bands: Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Government Issue, Fugazi, Minimal Man, etc.

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man Poster

Scott Walker: 30th century Man.

I had no idea who Scott Walker was, but the movie description said something about him being one of the most influential musicians and it was produced by David Bowie, so I figured it was worth a look. I only watche maybe 2/3 of this one because, even though Walker is revered by luminaries from Bowie to Sting to Radiohead, I hated his music. I found it pretentious and silly, but that's just me. Obviously, when Brian Eno, Johnny Marr and Marc Almond all think someone is great, their opinion should carry a lot more weight than mine, so check it out. There's a good chance you'll love him.

P.S., It turns out I did know one of his songs, the Walker Brothers' "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore," which is a perfectly nice song.

The Past is a Grotesque Animal Poster

The Past is a Grotesque Animal

This chronicles the history of Athens, GA- based band Of Montreal. I'd been hearing about them for years, what with them being based just down the road in Athens, but I didn't really know anything about them. Turns out, they're pretty freakin great. And frontman/songwriter Kevin Barnes is a musical genius. And really the movie is as much a portrait of him as it is a document of the band and he is a fascinating character. You should definitely give this one a watch whether you're familiar with the band or not, even if it's not your type of music (think Flaming Lips or Arcade Fire, maybe?)

Fair warning, if you are offended by full frontal male nudity, there is a scene of Kevin Barnes performing on stage in nothing but a cumberbund, but it's fairly brief . I know how sensitive a lot of y'all are.

David Bromberg: Unsung Treasure Poster
David Bromberg. Unsung Treasure

If you've never seen Bromberg perform (I was fortunate enough to catch a show on one of his many farewell tours) he is not only a wildly talented musician, but a raconteur and showman and all-around extremely entertaining performer. This is a nice overview of his life and career interspersed with terrific concert footage.

Whatever Happened to Pink Floyd? The Strange Case of Waters and Gilmour Poster

Whatever Happened to Pink Floyd? The Strange case of Waters and Gilmour

Spoiler alert: What happened was Roger Waters is a jerk.
Okay, there's a lot more to it than that and this is definitely worth watching if you're even a casual Pink Floyd fan like me.

Beware of Mr. Baker Poster

Beware of Mr. Baker

(spoilers ahead)
I didn't know much about Ginger Baker, other than that he was the drummer for Cream. I had no idea he was a highlty respected jazz drummer before turning to rock and roll. I had no idea he had, at the height of his career, gone off to war-torn Nigeria to study African drumming techniques and play with Fela's band. I had no idea he had pretty much bankrupted himself buying polo ponies. And I didn't know he was a godamm maniac! The opening scene of the movie is  Baker breaking the filmmaker's nose with a metal cane.
This is absolutely worth watching even if you have no interest in music at all because Ginger Baker is just a wild man.

Lemmy Poster


Should you watch this? It's Lemmy. Of course you fucking should.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

We're Back Online. Unfortunately, so is David Brooks.

Hurricane Irma didn't manage to do any damage to the Chaos Compound itself, we're far too heavily fortified for that, but she did manage to leave us without internet access for a few days which, in a way, is even worse. Anyway, everything seems to have worked out all right. The cable came back up in time to record the Broad City premiere, and the internet came back in time for me to see this:

Harvey, Irma, Jose … and Noah

Does he mean NOAA? Because that would make sense. He must mean NOAA, right?

Nooope! He means Noah. The Old Testament guy.

Image result for gonna be good gif

Is there anything we can learn from hurricanes, storms and floods?

Oh my God, yes. So much. We can learn not to fuck up our environment because Mother Nature is a vengeful bitch. We can learn the importance of funding agencies like FEMA, NOAA, and the National Guard. We can learn which presidents don't care about which people.

So many things to learn.

Is there anything we can learn from hurricanes, storms and floods?
People have been asking that question for thousands of years, and telling stories that try to make sense of natural disasters.

Oh, I don't think so. I don't think that people have been asking for millennia "Is there anything we can learn from this flood/storm/hurricane we just went through?" I would suspect that after every such disaster, people learned something, or thought that they had. Maybe they learned not to build their village so close to the riverbanks next time. Maybe they learned that they hadn't been pushing enough virgins into enough volcanoes. I don't know, but I bet they took some lesson away from every calamity. I doubt they sat around wondering whether there was any lesson to be gleaned from it.

These flood myths are remarkably similar to one another.A researcher named John D. Morris collected more than 200 of them, from ancient China, India, Native American cultures and beyond. . . The most famous story, of course, is the biblical story of Noah.

Is it, though? Or do we just assume it is because it's the one we're familiar with? You think the billions of people in China and India might have another flood myth that they are more familiar with? Or does the Western myth automatically be the dominant one? Oh, it doesn't matter. It's just kind of annoying that Americans assume that whatever we're most familiar with is the standard for the world. I mean, there might be a singer in China who is known to more people than Elvis or the Beatles even if we Americans haven't heard of him. Whatever.

As the story begins, the human race is living without law, and as a result is living violently and badly. But there was one righteous man, Noah. God tells Noah to build an ark because He is going to wipe out the rest of humanity with a great deluge.
What does Noah say when he hears this? Nothing. Abraham protested to God when the city of Sodom was under threat of destruction. Moses protested when God was going to harm the Israelites. But Noah is silent. He doesn’t try to save his neighbors or argue with his God.

Rabbis and scholars have often judged Noah harshly for this. “He is incurious, he does not know and does not care what happens to others,” Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg writes. “He suffers from the incapacity to speak meaningfully to God or to his fellow human beings.”

So. . .he's a Republican?

“Noah was righteous but not a leader,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks observes. A leader takes responsibility for those around him and at least tries to save the world, even if people are too wicked to actually listen. Moral integrity demands positive action against evil. Noah, by contrast, opts to withdraw from the corrupt world, in order to remain untainted.

I'm sorry. Are you a theologian now? What does any of this have to do with our present-day situation of dealing with Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia and whoever is in line behind them?

Noah and his family get on the ark and Noah gently cares for the animals. Then the rain stops and it is time to go out and remake the earth.

Oh my GOD! We know the story! You just said it was thew most famous one.
Also. When the rain stops. That's not the time to get out of the boat. Floodwaters take a long time to recede. If Noah is dumb enough to go "oh good, the rain stopped, I guess I'd better go get a start on that whole re-making the earth project. Anyone know if there's a Home Depot around here?" If he's dumb enough to do that, he's gonna drown.

Okay, I'm off to rebuild the wor-- Aughhh!

Then the rain stops and it is time to go out and remake the earth. What does Noah do now? Once again, Noah is silent. He does nothing. He sits in the ark for another seven days twiddling his thumbs. He is waiting for God’s permission to disembark.

Or? Or? Or maybe he's waiting for some fucking dry land to show up? Maybe his boat ran aground on a god damn mountaintop, so maybe the entire surrounding area is under thousands of feet of water? Water filled with the bobbing rotted corpses of every man woman child and animal other than the small floating menagerie he's currently in?
I mean, I'm no Biblical scholar like our Mr. Brooks, but I seem to remember Noah sending a raven out and that bird eventually coming back because it could not find anywhere else to alight. No dry land, no treetop, no rock jutting out of the water, nothing.

 So if there isn't enough area to accommodate a raven, what are the odds that a family of 8 is going to find enough land to settle down and start incesting the human race back into existence?

Once again, the rabbis are critical of Noah’s passivity. One doesn’t need permission to go build the world. You just do it.

Um, yeah. . . if I just witnessed God killing every living person and animal on the face of the Earth, I don't know that I would sneeze without his permission.

Now God gives Noah a covenant. Moral laws are handed down, and Noah is told to go off and recreate. Noah seems to flee from this responsibility. Perhaps he has survivor’s guilt. He gets drunk. His sons find him lying naked and passed out.

Give him a break! Do you have any idea what kind of trauma this man has been through? Imagine floating around for weeks, hearing your friends and neighbors begging you for help as they slowly died and being unable to do anything to help. . . wait. I mean, I guess he could have. He could have at least tried to help some of his fellow human beings. Maybe save the babies at least. He could have at least tried.

Noah is a good man, but his story is a lesson in the dangers of blind obedience. The God of the Hebrew Bible wants respect for authority and deference to law. But He doesn’t want passive surrender.

Um, says who? You said Noah passively surrendered to God, never questioning him on even his most psychotic of mass-murder plans, and Noah is the only one who doesn't get punished.

Rabbi Sacks writes, “One of the strangest features of biblical Hebrew is that — despite the fact that the Torah contains 613 commands — there is no word for ‘obey.’ Instead the verb the Torah uses is shema/lishmoa, ‘to listen, hear, attend, understand, internalize, respond.’ So distinctive is this word that, in effect, the King James Bible had to invent an English equivalent, the word, ‘hearken.’

Why are you still talking about this? If you want to be an amateur theologian, there are forums for that. I'm sure you could get this published here:

Theology Online
Theology Online is a forum for discussing theology. Christian theology or just ... who have similar interests. At TheologyOnline you can discuss theology, religion, politics, and just about everything else. ... Individual debates take place here.

Or here:

Theology, Doctrine, and Dogma - Exploring the details of ...
52 posts - ‎20 authors
Debating Christianity and Religion - A debate forum for people of all persuasions.

Or you and Ross Douthat could set up a theological debating society in the New York Times breakroom. Why are you wasting column inches on the story of Noah?

Today we live amid many floods. Some, like Harvey or Irma, are natural. Others are man-made.

Oh my God, finally! Now maybe we can discuss the reasons we have come to the point in our history wherein these massive floods are the new normal. Hahahaha! Just kidding. During a flood is, of course, no time to discuss the cause of floods! That would be politicizing the disaster!

People are still good at acting individually to tackle problems. Look at how many Houstonians leapt forth to care for their neighbors. But we have trouble with collective action, with building new institutions, or reviving old ones, that are big enough to deal with the biggest challenges.

Oh! Oh! I know why! I know why that is!  Um, because one of our two major political parties has spent the last 30+ years pushing the idea that government is never the solution, that government is always the problem? Maybe because the residents of one side of the political spectrum have accepted as dogma that any collective action is "un-American" or "Communist" or, I don't know, something about "pajama boys" and "beta-cucks" or something. Anyway, we know who that party is. We know which side of the political spectrum these people are on. We know who is at fault for this state of affairs.

No. Not both sides. Try again. Think real hard. . .

That’s because we have trouble thinking about authority. Everybody seems to have an outsider mentality. Social distrust is at record highs. Many seem to swerve between cheap, antiestablishment cynicism, on the one hand, and a lemming-like partisan obedience on the other.

Not "everybody."
It's not "everybody's" fault that "social distrust is at an all-time high." That is the fault of the party that's been cultivating the bullshit "rugged individualist" ethos for decades. The party that specifically denounces any sort of collective action, from universal healthcare to labor unions. And the only people I've seen who "wwerve between cheap, antiestablishment cynicism, on the one hand, and a lemming-like partisan obedience on the other," are the people who spent 8 years swearing blind fealty to George W. Bush, insisting that every infringement on our civil rights was necessary to preserve freedom, then became virtual anarchists as soon as the black guy was in the Oval Office. And now those same people are waving palm branches and strewing their garments before the man they belive should restore "greatness" by any means necessary, checks and balances be damned!

The answer is the “hearken” mentality that Sacks describes. This is where Abraham succeeds and Noah fails. Abraham listens deeply to God and derives everything from his identity on down from Him, but pushes out ahead of the shepherd.

"pushes out ahead. . . ?" What" If you mean "pushes back" when God told him he was going to kill everyone in the Twin Cities, okay. That's true, and you made that point earlier. But you know what? God killed them all anyway.

Abraham pushes back when God says he's gonna kill a bunch of people. Noah just passively accepts that God is gonna kill a bunch of people. And in both instances, God kills a bunch of people. The very people he had said he was gonna kill. So what lesson are we supposed to get from thies two examples? No matter what you do, God's gonna kill who God wants to kill.

To hearken is to be faithful but also responsible, to defer to just authority but also to answer the call of individual conscience, to work within the system but as a courageous, creative force.

 To eat meat, but be a vegetarian. To join the Marines and be a pacifist. To buy a house and be homeless.

 Floods are invitations to recreate the world.

 Spoken like someone who has never experienced one. For anyone who lives in Houston or the Florida Keys or Cuba, etc. floods are not invitations to anything. Floods rob you of your home, your possessions, your livelihood and maybe your life. Only a smug wealthy prick like, say, David Brooks, could see the devastation of a hurricane and think "gosh, it must be nice to have the opportunity to remake your world!" Sure, if you're a smug wealthy prick like David Brooks, and you can just jet off to the Riviera or wherever while Sandy is ruining your Hamptons house, it's easy to see the storm as an opportunity to re-do things. "Oh, our beach house has been ruined? You know, I never liked the way the porch looked. Now we can re-build with a nice veranda! Oh, and marble countertops in the kitchen! I'm so glad we got this 'invitation' to recreate things!"

For normal people, floods bring nothing but sorrow, pain and desperation. Many will never regain what they lost. Some have lost friends or family members. They probably aren't looking at this as an invitation to anything except life in a FEMA trailer.

 Floods are invitations to recreate the world. That only happens successfully when strong individuals are willing to yoke themselves to collective institutions.

And if they aren't willing to do that, we know whose fault that is. And it's not "both sides."