Saturday Brunch, November 23, 2019

Hello, friends, and welcome to the weekend. Ready for some brunch?

A Mexican church claims it has “accidentally” erected the largest baby Jesus statue in the world. “There is a space of between 26 feet between the ceiling and the floor and I ordered a statue measuring 21 feet, but I never intended to make it the biggest baby Jesus statue in the world,” Father Rodriquez  said.

Upon its completion, the church began investigating the sizes of other baby Jesus statues around the world and found that the previous record-holder was just 16 feet tall and 661 pounds. Rodriguez says he’s contacted Guinness World Records to confirm their new, inadvertent record-beater.

No word yet on if it’s also an accident that the Baby Jesus looks uncannily like Phil Collins

Notice the priest on the left bottom

Speaking of dead ringers…did you know that there is a biopic about Harriet Tubman now out, that took 25 years to get approved and produced. And this nugget: The film’s screenwriter and producer, Gregory Allen Howard, says when he first started working on the movie in 1994 that one studio executive suggested Julia Roberts to portray the legendary slave turned abolitionist. Yes, that Julia Roberts.

Allen recalled how “the climate in Hollywood … was very different” some 25 years ago.

“I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,’” Allen explained. “When someone pointed out that Roberts couldn’t be Harriet, the executive responded, ‘It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.’”

In fairness, they could be twins:

Julia Roberts and Harriet Tubman aren't exactly twins.

Time to ditch Gauguin? The French painter who died in 1903, is still popular with curators, but he had sex with teenage girls and called the Polynesian people he painted “savages.” Now, some museums are reassessing his legacy. The national gallery in London features “Tehamana Has Many Parents” (1893). It pictures Gauguin’s teenage lover, holding a fan. The placard now reads: The artist “repeatedly entered into sexual relations with young girls, ‘marrying’ two of them and fathering children,” reads the wall text. “Gauguin undoubtedly exploited his position as a privileged Westerner to make the most of the sexual freedoms available to him.”

The girls were as young as 13 or 14.

“Exotic Eve” (1890)

Ashley Remer, a New Zealand-based American curator who in 2009 founded, an online museum focused on the representation of young girls in history and culture, insisted that in Gauguin’s case the man’s actions were so egregious that they overshadowed the work. “He was an arrogant, overrated, patronizing pedophile, to be very blunt,” she said. If his paintings were photographs, they would be “way more scandalous,” and “we wouldn’t have been accepting of the images,” she added.

But some worry that re-examining the past from a 21st-century perspective could lead to a boycott of great art. I worry that we are still considering Gauguin a great artist.

In other art news: Police raids across Europe have led to the retrieval of 10,000 stolen artworks and 23 arrests. Picasso’s electrician has been convicted (again) for possessing stolen goods. The former electrician and his wife claimed that the works by Picasso in their possession were gifts.

“Meth. We’re on it”: That’s South Dakota’s slogan for a new campaign against methamphetamine addiction. Critics have called it tone-deafImages from South Dakota's anti-methamphetamine campaign.

Rejected options included “Meth: Just Do It” “Meth: for Real Men” “Meth: Fun, Cheap, Wacky” “Meth: Bringing Families Together”

What is a “Jeopardy!” showdown? Three record-breaking players — James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter — will compete against each other in January.

Secularism in France: a 70-year old Catholic nun was informed she couldn’t live in a publicly funded retirement home unless she gave up her religious habit and veil. The retirement home’s managers told her that to honor the country’s laws around secularism, she could not display any signs of being part of a religious community.

“Religion is a private matter and must remain so,” the retirement home’s letter to the nun read, according to Agence France-Presse.

Alain Chrétien, the mayor of the eastern town of Vesoul, where the home is located, apologized for the situation on Tuesday and pledged to help the nun find a spot in a public retirement home.

Beijing criticized a New York Times investigation that exposed how China forced as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years. More than 400 pages of internal papers obtained by The Times reveal how top-level policy led to the creation of the camps in western China where inmates sometimes undergo years of indoctrination and interrogation.

Ladies, we’re just saying...“Semen seems to help female fruit flies remember things better.”

Late-night comedy: Stephen Colbert joked that Rudy Giuliani “seems more like a Molotov cocktail — used by Russians and full of alcohol.”

By the way, let’s talk about a man named Andrew, one of the longest-serving members of the Trump administration (since March 2017). Age: 31 Job: Coordinating professional athletes visiting Trump. Salary: $90,700 a year Qualification: He golfs….and his father is Rudy Giuliani.

Besides helping to arrange sports teams’ visits to the White House, Andrew often joins the president on some rounds of golf. Beyond that, well, it’s not quite clear what he else he works on “‘He doesn’t really try to be involved in anything,’ one former senior White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid. ‘He’s just having a nice time.’”

Image result for well that's precious meme

Did you watch the Democratic Presidential debate this week? Likely not; it had the lowest ratings of any of the debates so far. There might have been more candidates than viewers. Andrew Yang supporters are angry that their candidate didn’t get to talk very much and Joe Biden’s supporters are angry that theirs did. “We have to keep punching at it, and punching at it, and punching at it,” Biden said, “it” referring to domestic violence. Ouch.

Biden also caught heat for saying that he ‘came out of the black community, in terms of my support.’  He added that he had the endorsement of “the only bl– African-American woman that had ever been elected to the United States Senate.”

He was referring to former Sen. Carol Mosley Braun. Unfortunately, he made the comment with Sen. Kamala Harris, the second black African-American woman elected to the Senate, looking on.

Gotta say this about Biden: he’s never afraid to say the wrong thing.

Amy Klobuchar gave the best back-handed compliment of the night, to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg : “I have all of the appreciation for your good work as a local official”.

Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.

Staying put: A smaller share of Americans are moving each year than at any time since the Census Bureau started keeping track in the 1940s, according to new data.

Tesla unveils electric pickup: The angular “Cybertruck,” which the company hopes will rival Ford’s best-selling F-150 line, has a stainless steel exterior and a triangular roof. Production begins in 2021. The design is….interesting Image

The flying wedge starts at 40k, but you will need to fork out 70k for a three-motor 4-wheel drive version. Spendy, but the truck is supposed to be “bullet-proof”, because, ya know,  Tesla owners always live in the rough parts of town. Unfortunately, the demo about the “unbreakable windows” didn’t go quite as planned:

Related note: A prototype of a Tesla mini-van was also leaked this week:

Exclusive : Tesla cyber bus

Edinburgh University decided to return a set of skulls to Sri Lanka. This has been criticised by historians who fear Britain’s museums risk being stripped of objects which are crucial in explaining to future generations this country’s place in the world.

Some of the country’s most respected museum curators and antiquarians have expressed their concern over the growing number of artifacts and works of art being returned to countries from which campaigners say they were “stolen”.

They fear that far from providing a just restitution of objects stolen from their countries of origin, returning works of art paradoxically risks denying Britain’s history as a former imperial power and coloniser.

After Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, police pulled over a man for his 4th OWI, they noticed his license plates were not exactly …legal. In fact, they were home-made. Out of a beer box.Officer Scott Schoenwetter showing off beer plates

Guess what? It’s almost Thanksgiving. You know what that means: the war on Christmas is about to begin.

Speaking of Christmas, the Alton Town Council (in England) spent £20,000 on this 16 foot display:

Some people have questioned the display

Some residents are nonplussed about the giant skiing Marmot: “I just don’t understand! Whatever it is, it has no relevance to Christmas, it’s embarrassing and just plain ugly…. “So is this what we have paid for as a community? A fancy skiing giant rodent….”Did the three wise men ride these instead of camels? Or did the shepherds watch their marmot flock by night?”

An Utah woman could be forced to register as a sex offender after appearing topless in front of her step-children in her own home. Tilli Buchanan was charged with three counts of misdemeanour lewdness involving a child after appearing topless along with the children’s father in their home last year. Ms Buchanan’s lawyers are contesting the charge, arguing it is unfair to treat men and women differently for baring her chest.

She said she and her husband were working in their garage in late 2017 or early 2018 and removed their shirts to prevent them from getting dusty. She told the court that when the children, aged nine and 13, entered the garage she “explained she considers herself a feminist and wanted to make a point that everybody should be fine with walking around their house or elsewhere with skin showing”.

“It was in the privacy of my own home. My husband was right next to me in the same exact manner that I was, and he’s not being prosecuted,” she said after the court hearing.

Well, that’s it for this weekend, friends. What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

106 thoughts on “Saturday Brunch, November 23, 2019

  1. No, that actually comes from another bit of Medieval theological weirdness — “Bridal Mysticism”, the expression of religious ecstasy in erotic language. (Usually associated with cloistered nuns.)


  2. A lot of anti-whatever slogans do.
    Don’t know what they pay PR firms to come up with these, but they’re paying way too much for the results.

    Remember “Wear your WIN Buttons”? “Whip Inflation Now”?
    And MEOW? “Moral Equivalent of War”?

    It’s the official version of slacktivism — “Just tap and swipe on this icon for World Peace”.


  3. I’m not saying anyone should get a pass. But hiding the paintings under a bed somewhere seems a rather infantile response. Let’s try to understand. Then judge if we must.


  4. And it is apparently a short step from the Baby Jesus of the Homunculus theory to Jesus is My Boyfriend of evangelical subculture.


  5. But, in addition to that, I’m not really sure that Gauguin’s era, or Gauguin himself, did not have access to the moral understanding that depredation of indigenous peoples, and of helpless young girls, was wrong. I think sometimes European men went to colonial outposts, at least partly, because they could more easily, and with fewer legal impediments or risks, get away with things they couldn’t have at home.


  6. I get what you’re saying, but then what artists/performers, and what cultural productions, of a previous era should we criticize for their moral positions, and who and what shouldn’t we? If Gauguin and his art get a pass, and we consider his art legitimate, should we also give a pass to the all the white minstrel show performers who wore blackface, and consider their shows legitimate art forms for their era, since we can’t apply our eras morals to their very different time and place? You see the problem? Who is in, and who is out? Why should Gauguin be in, but the minstrel show performers out? Because we like the former’s art, but not the latter’s?


  7. Right after Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself in his cell, I believe. Turning on Gauguin, though, strikes me as applying 21st Century US morals to an entirely different time and place.


  8. Why is a 70 year old nun seeking a public retirement home in the first place? Are there no retirement homes for nuns? If not, why not? It’s not like the Catholic Church can’t afford to take care of the religious in their old age.


  9. Weeeell… the impulse to suppression is a bad one to indulge. Even with the best of intentions it never ends well. And besides, when did we all get so precious and dainty?


  10. The fate of the American Church will be much worse than persecution. It will be open indifference. As attendance dwindles nobody will much care anymore. Opposition energizes – indifference demoralizes.


  11. …most places won’t give you a loan without a %15-20 down payment on the cost of the house, which is sort of hard to save up for when you paying so much in rent.

    Does FHA and/or VA still offer starter loans that need only a 3-5% down? That’s how I was able to start. (Though there are also Mortgage Insurance fees involved, which is another reason to refi once you’ve paid off enough that the Insurance is no longer needed.)


  12. Besides, a little bit of for-real hostility/persecution may be just what evangelicalism needs to slap some spiritual sense into it.

    Be Careful What You Wish For.
    Most of those Third World Christians would gladly trade in their Godly Persecution for the conditions American Christians live under.

    This blog and others have scrutinized the “Persecution Porn” in our Evangelical Bubble (by Christians who have NO idea what REAL Persecution is — and it’s not saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” NOT Xmas). Pity those 22 Copts are unavailable for comment.


  13. Especially since for a long time artistic convention on Baby Jesus was to make Him look like a miniature adult (based on the Homunculus theory of Medieval Theology, where Jesus was by definition born Perfect and adults are the perfected form of children). The result was Baby Jesus drawn as if He needed to have his prostate checked, BAD.


  14. That’s what they said on morning drive-time.
    They called it “The Trapezoid”, not a truck.
    They also said Elon Musk gave a pretty good recovery from the “bullet-proof window” demo/Most Embarrassing Moment..

    A few months ago I read in some business or auto industry magazine that there was a startup underway for another Electric Vehicle company specializing in SUVs/Offroad Light Trucks. Maybe Tesla had to come up with a response.


  15. Just pay a bit more than the invoice states, applying the extra to the principal. Even a little extra early in the loan has a large effect in the long term.

    That’s the trick I used.
    If a fixed-rate loan, it drops the length of the loan. If variable-rate, it drops the payments slightly.

    If you can afford it, refinancing to a shorter-duration loan (from 30 to 15 year) also helps. Worked better when I was owing as rates were higher and more volatile then than how.

    I’ve been through two real-estate boom-and-crash cycles (and got soaked on the first). If you can buy “on the crash” soon after a collapse, do so.


  16. I have a prostate problem which means when I gotta go, I GOTTA GO.

    There have been times driving to work where I’ve come close to exploding and drowning everyone. The closest I’ve come was once where I tried close to a dozen gas stations, eateries, etc. Every one had locked down their restrooms as an Anti-Homeless measure. I finally found one before the dam burst.

    And if I tried in a bush and got seen, I would have been charged with a sex crime/registered as a sex offender. THAT’s how paranoid Displacement Behavior it’s gotten where I am.


  17. My wife and I could not afford $1600 a month, and maybe not 1100. We pay less than 700 for a one bedroom/one bath apartment in central PA, and our rent is about $300 less than average. One unmanageable health or financial crisis could put us on the street; there are a lot older folks in our situation.


  18. Speaking of dead ringers…

    Does not surprise me.
    I once saw a REAL Hollywood pitch sheet.
    Judging from that, the pitch sessions you see in South Park are accurate, if not understated.

    I would like to see a Reality/Game Show called “High Concept”, where they present actual Hollywood project pitches to contestants, who have to vote on (1) Best, (2) Worst, (3) which are for real and which are bogus, and (4) a special “HAVE YOU GONE STUPID?????” award.


  19. I live in a sprawling Florida city where they are continuing to build new apartments like mad. It appears supply is way over demand. So you can get a really nice 3 bedroom, 2 bath condo or apartment for 1,600 dollars a month. There are many for less than that, down to 1,100 dollars. I saw one large PRIMO condo overlooking the river for 3.600. We are talking primo. That was the most expensive I saw.

    BTW, no state tax

    I saw one stat recently suggesting Florida was a top 5 for financial stability of the state.

    No rent control of course.

    I have a house I’ve lived in 4 thirty years.


  20. “Richard Hershberger says
    November 23, 2019 at 8:44 am
    My wife and I live in a semi-rural semi-exurban area.”

    Okay Richard – what exactly is semi-rural, semi-exurban?

    Can you name a local we might recognize without giving away where you live?


  21. I don’t know all the financial ins and outs. All I know is that wages have not kept up with housing prices, either owning or renting. There are properties in my neighborhood (“starter homes”, so for people at the lower end of the economic scale, 3bed 1-2bath) that are occupied by 2 families, especially if they are renting rather than buying, because rents of these properties are nearly TWICE what a mortgage payment would be. I live in a rural area that has been economically depressed since my childhood, but housing costs constantly rise all the same. If you don’t have a Government job or work for one of a few stable businesses, it’s a very scary balancing act. This is one reason we haven’t moved. I hope to God I don’t have to be a renter again – at my age, nearing retirement, I doubt I could afford it. If I had to live on Social Security alone, I’d be homeless.



  22. I agree. Registering her as a sex offender for this is monstrously disproportionate to what she actually did.


  23. It is very much a cultural decision. But it certainly doesn’t warrant registering as a sex offender.


  24. I think topless in front of step children or natural children of a certain age would be crossing a boundary and is not advisable.


  25. Poor nun for whom the habit is a part of her identity in this world . . . . I feel sad for her. Here, we still have places where the sisters can go to retire and in later life be nursed in old age, but the numbers of sisters has fallen. I remember when the nuns had to change their traditional habits for something simpler, Sr. Maria, our school counselor told us that her ‘wings’ (she was a ‘Daughter of Charity’) were a part of her head, and she was going to miss them very much, they were so dear to her.

    well, anyway, we await a coming ‘dominionist’ take-over, I suppose, maybe something like ‘Gilead’ and I envision Pence as the first grand pooh-bah (a little Saturday hyperbole, forgive me); but maybe, we will survive even that as deep in the DNA of our people is a wish to be able to be free, and after a while all of the lies and the shenanigans and the utterly foolishness going on will reach critical point and people will sit down and say ‘enough’, hopefully before November 2020. End of rant.

    Praying for that sister, that someone looks out for her. At 70 years old, it’s hard to change anyway.



  26. I can’t believe the Alton Marmot has made it here! We don’t even have Marmots.

    Alton is about 12 miles from where I am now, & I used to be the Youth Worker in Charge for the District Council in the town.

    Why they chose to do this will forever be a mystery.


  27. Yep. Boggles me too.

    But I’ve lived alone for maybe 5 week’s total, my entire adult life. Living alone is fiscal insanity.

    Culture doesn’t have to make any kind of sense. 😦


  28. Does anybody but me get a flashback when they look at the blouse Julia Roberts is wearing in the photo? I swear the pattern is moving, maaan…

    I am certainly not defending Gauguin’s personal behavior, but it is worth noting the unconscious association we have between great art and morality when in reality there seems to be none whatsoever.

    The picture of big ole Baby Jesus reminds me of a Gahan Wilson cartoon. RIP 1930- 2019


  29. Yeah that was my bad, I just hadn’t done the math correctly. That’s what happens when you let feeling get in the way of facts. It has been galling to look at how much I have paid and how little has been paid off, but that is, as you said, just how it works.


  30. Here in Boston, our rents are now even higher than New York City. It’s kind of crazy. But, what I also find crazy is people who insist on wanting to have their own apartment instead of sharing one with friends. For some people the dream of having “their own place” is so strong that they’ll pay through the nose (and even go into debt) to make it happen.

    And then people complain about feeling lonely and isolated.


  31. “When you are foreclosed on you are left with nothing” That somewhat depends on the housing market. If I can see that I won’t be able to make my payments, and the housing market is good, I could still sell before I get to the point of foreclosure and possibly pay back the loan with money to spare. But that requires a descent market and the foresight to known when to call it quits.


  32. That’s just how a mortgage works – if you want every single payment throughout the course of the loan to be for the same amount, then at the start of the loan the payments are going to be mostly interest instead of principal. The only way to avoid that would be for the mortgage payments to be larger at the beginning.

    Of course, that’s also why trying for a 20-year loan or making extra payments early on, if you can afford it, can make such a huge difference in how much interest you pay.


  33. > Rental rates are insane.

    One can also look at high rents as an “Opportunity Tax”. Rents in many metro areas DO correlate to available jobs. So, it may look “insane” to pay $3,200 a month for an apartment; but if it is within ~2 miles of 100,000+ jobs; that can be a way for certain demographics to ‘buy’ a stability they cannot otherwise achieve.


  34. > If you need to relocate, this is a real concern.


    > I knew that the value of my house was going to fall,

    One needs a place to live, so yep, the market may go up and down, but the need for a place to live is constant. If one is Long Term than Ownership makes sense – as I sit here as a fourth-generation resident of the neighborhood – but that is not very many people.

    Say only 9% of American’s move in a year – that is still 28 MILLION people. And how many teeter on the edge of Moving for Housing and Employment reasons.


  35. > most places won’t give you a loan without a %15-20 down payment

    Makes me an Odd Leftists to say this, but that is a GOOD THING. We’ve seen the alternative.


  36. > fairly cheap housing area, but I’ve been shocked lately at the price of renting a home

    That’s the thing; cheap is relative to local wages. And those ‘in the know’ use H+T (Housing + Transportation) @ 50% rather than H @ 30%, because one is often a $1:$1 trade off for the other. But American’s have a real blind spot, almost pathological, regarding T.

    > It costs far more to rent than it would to pay an actual mortgage.

    I’m not so sure. Those of us with some financial stability tend to SERIOUSLY underestimate the cost of Ownership. Like, if I R-E-A-L-L-Y need to come up with $13K to repair a roof or a sinking foundation I can. The MAJORITY of American households would be completely broken by such an event. And any equity they had accumulated would be out-the-window.

    > So why don’t people buy?

    Well, there has to be something available to buy. On-market housing in regions with healthy job markets are THIN. The Powers-That-Be have done everything in their power to make the creation of new housing as difficult and expensive as possible.

    > Now obviously there are some perks to renting

    Also employment stability matters. It is ‘easier’ to lose your job when you rent. The bottom half of America changes jobs a lot.

    > paying more than what a mortgage costs you are left with nothing

    When you are foreclosed on you are left with nothing.


  37. Darn it! You are making me defend banks! There is oh, so much to criticize about banking, but this isn’t it. Rather, this is implicit in having a fixed monthly payment. Early on it is mostly interest because there is so much principal that there also is a lot of interest that needs to be paid. Or, to put it another way, if we say we are applying that payment to the principal, then the interest goes unpaid and rolls over into the principal. So only a little bit goes to pay down the principal. As the principal is gradually lowered, this lowers the interest, so more of that fixed monthly payment gets applied to the principal.

    You can backdoor your way around this, if you have extra money early on in the loan. Just pay a bit more than the invoice states, applying the extra to the principal. Even a little extra early in the loan has a large effect in the long term.


  38. So France is trying to do to Muslims what Hungary and Poland are doing, but its dishonest tactics result in more friendly fire casualties…underneath, they’re birds of a feather.


  39. My wife and I live in a semi-rural semi-exurban area. We bought out house about twelve years ago. This was right at the peak of the housing market. It was obvious, at least to me, that the market was poised for a crash, or at least a downturn. We bought anyway because my wife was pregnant and the one bedroom apartment we were in obviously wasn’t going to cut it.

    Based on that paragraph, one would think that we made a terrible decision to buy. To the contrary, it was the correct decision. Once the crash hit, prices went down but banks stopped lending. I don’t know if we could have gotten a mortgage. As for continuing to rent, those prices never went down. We considered renting a townhouse the the complex were we were living. It is considerably smaller than the one we ended up buying. I recently looked up what they are charging. It is more than my mortgage payment, including property tax and homeowner’s insurance. Rental rates are insane.

    Why don’t more people buy? We don’t anticipate ever moving out of the area. I tell my wife that I am going to dig a six foot hole in the back yard and crawl in. Given this, liquidity wasn’t a concern. Buying and selling a house is expensive. If you need to relocate, this is a real concern. So too are the vagaries of the market. I knew that the value of my house was going to fall, but I also knew that it would go back up eventually. If I had to sell when the value was down, I would have taken a bath. Knowing that I wasn’t going to sell, the commitment made sense.


  40. Well I know they are front loading their profit, I said morally good. Even if the borrower defaults, they still have the property, as well as the payments that have been made, and they only loaned you 85 or 80% of the value of the property (remember the down payment). I understand the lender wanting to protect their investment, but at the same time there ought to be fairness in the process. It is not really fair if after 50,000 dollars in payments you have only paid off 10 to 15 thousand of principle.


  41. “it is hard to find a clear line between a “little” real persecution and all-out persecution, and even if a clear line were visible, movement from one side of it to the other could happen so quickly it make ones head spin.”

    Agreed, and my comment was half in jest. On the other hand, the New Testament has a LOT more to say about faithful Christianity generating persecution in response than it does about faithful Christianity leading to political and social power.


  42. I see this incident as the (fascinating) intersection of two strains of intolerance. France of course has a long history of anti-Catholic feeling. (See: Revolution, French) Usually, though not always, the church has the political strength to defend itself. The second strain is anti-Muslim feeling. Everyone knows that the the law is aimed at traditional female Muslim dress. Usually everyone discreetly overlooks the awkward detail that traditional female dress is awfully similar to many traditional nuns’ habits. What happened here is that the retirement home broke the unwritten rule and observed that the written rule prohibits the habit. The mayor’s response that of course we didn’t mean Catholic nuns is honest bigotry.


  43. That’s how money-lending works in capitalism. The lender transfers as much of the risk as possible to the borrower.


  44. “Fortunately in the United States the notion of being “American” has never gained legal traction.”

    Not for lack of trying on the nativists’ part. :-/


  45. Another thing, and now I’m just rambling, that burns me when it comes to taking out a loan to buy a house is the lending institution amortizes the loan so that you are paying mostly interest up front. So if you have a thirty year loan you can make payments for five years and still not make a lot of headway towards paying off the mortgage because you have mostly just paid interest and not principle. Now maybe someone financially smarter than me can tell me there is a perfectly good (as in morally good) reason for this, but personally I think this should be illegal.


  46. I live in what is considered a fairly cheap housing area, but I’ve been shocked lately at the price of renting a home. It costs far more to rent than it would to pay an actual mortgage. So why don’t people buy? I don’t know all the reasons but one that often strikes me is that most places won’t give you a loan without a %15-20 down payment on the cost of the house, which is sort of hard to save up for when you paying so much in rent. Now obviously there are some perks to renting. You aren’t responsible for the major repairs of the house (unless you caused the damage), and you don’t pay property tax or insurance for the house (renters is much cheaper). But after thirty years of paying more than what a mortgage costs you are left with nothing, whereas if you paid off a mortgage you would at least be left with the asset of the house.


  47. The other side of this is that in some European countries (Hungary and Poland for example) newly ascended illiberal nationalist governments are passing and implementing laws that privilege forms of Christianity as part of their project of ethnic identity and homogeneity. There is a connection in this with your observation about how France has tried to police Muslim “integration”; that’s how they’re doing it in France, but in Hungary, Poland, and some other European countries, they’re trying a different tack, one that reduces secularism and increases Christian identitarian influence. Both tacks are scary.


  48. “””Frozen in Place: Americans Are Moving at the Lowest Rate on Record”””

    This data is really disturbing.

    I live in a “Housing Crisis” city, and while ~9% of Americans move in a year …. 48% of renters within the city limits move within a year. Just less than half, move, every year; for what the article calls “housing reasons”

    And zooming out; of the 3,045 counties in America, only 16 – – – that’s 0.5% – – – have housing which is affordable at 30% of their AMI (Area Median Income). 16 out of 3,045. [the “Housing Crisis” is pretty much everywhere, just visible in different ways]

    Everything points to a society/economy where the bottom 1/3 – 1/2 now live in a fiscal meat grinder.


  49. For me, they’re paintings, so… do whatever you want with them. There are plenty of other paintings.


  50. Sure, but much of this started trying to police the “integration” of Muslim immigrants into “French society”.

    The problem, IMO, is the notion of Frenchness -> making people “French”. Rather than ‘simply’ citizens of a sovereign state. Fortunately in the United States the notion of being “American” has never gained legal traction.


  51. Certainly Christians shouldn’t expect their religious beliefs to be catered to by society and law, and some inconveniencing of Christian practices should not only be expected but accepted in a secular liberal democracy. But it is hard to find a clear line between a “little” real persecution and all-out persecution, and even if a clear line were visible, movement from one side of it to the other could happen so quickly it make ones head spin. But to require that as a condition of decent housing in a publicly funded retirement home a 70 year old nun must surrender all signs of her association with a religious community (what exactly would that entail?) that is an intrinsic part of her life and identity is clearly a step in the direction of more than a “little” persecution.


  52. “The fact that some of the subjects and themes of his paintings were the same as the objects of his perverted depredations is the problem here”

    My thoughts exactly.


  53. And if conservatives here weren’t so gung-ho about imposing *their* religious convictions on the rest of society, I’d be more sympathetic. Yes, secularism has gone bonkers in France, but we’ve got the opposite problem here.

    Besides, a little bit of for-real hostility/persecution may be just what evangelicalism needs to slap some spiritual sense into it.


  54. Re: Gaugin: The fact that some of the subjects and themes of his paintings were the same as the objects of his perverted depredations is the problem here with regard to the exhibition of his art today. I would be in favor of removing the pieces that were in effect celebrations of his depredations, rather than removing all his art; I’m not familiar with his work, so for all I know the morally problematic ones may be his most acclaimed paintings, but I think that would be the right way to go.


  55. Imagine walking unawares into your parish church one Sunday morning, and seeing that not-so-sweet looking giant Baby Jesus. It’s an illustration of how poor taste among Christians is not just an American evangelical phenomenon.


  56. “Religion is a private matter and must remain so…”

    Taken too far as a social and legal prescription for the place of religion in society, as the posted article and others I’ve read about French secularism suggest is happening there, this idea necessarily leads to the suppression of not only religious beliefs but also freedom of speech. I side with conservatives in being alarmed by this tendency in secular Western liberal democracies, and opposed to what appears to be its metastasis.


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