Previous month:
May 2013
Next month:
July 2013

June 2013

Elsewhere (96)

Jim Treacher notes the totally non-racist racial fixations at Netroots Nation, where the ‘progressive’ left rubs its collective rhubarb:

Sharon Kyle writes, “For social justice advocates, Netroots Nation 13 is the place to be… I was a member of the panel selection committee. As we prepared to make our selections, we were instructed to dismiss any panel that was comprised entirely of white males.” Good idea. Everybody knows that people with the same skin colour are all alike, and people of the same gender are all alike. What happens when you put together a bunch of people with the same skin colour and the same gender? I hope I never have to find out! I mean, what’s diverse about that? It looks really bad on camera. Well, that’s assuming they’re white males. If not, the preceding paragraph is racist. See, we must have diversity of appearance, not of thought. We need to get people of all races, colours, and creeds to come together and agree with Sharon Kyle. What’s the point of engaging in meaningful dialogue if other people are going to disagree with you? 

When faced with strident “diversity” blather, it may help to remember the acronym LETELU. Looks Exotic, Thinks Exactly Like Us.

CJ Ciaramella* mingles with the moral heavyweights at Netroots Nation:

There were “80 panels, 40 training sessions, inspiring keynotes, film screenings and other engaging sessions designed to educate, stimulate and inspire the nation’s next generation of progressive leaders,” according to the conference website… I found myself at a panel titled: Free your Ass: Defining and Creating a Progressive Sexual Culture. Panellist Favianna Rodriguez, a new media artist, talked about her explorations into polyamory and kink. “I’ll close it out with this image I created of an awesome sex party I went to,” Rodriguez said, displaying one of her paintings. It was full of psychedelic colours and an arrangement of Picasso-style figures entangled in various sex acts. Kind of like Guernica, but with erections.

Chris Snowdon on “health inequalities” and unspoken causes:

Public health folk would argue that such choices are not rational (because of hyperbolic discounting and suchlike) and sociologists would argue that they are not free (because accidents of birth make them more likely to choose the unhealthy option). I have little time for such arguments. Accusations of irrational consumption invariably revolve around the moral judgement of the accuser while choices, even if constrained by imperfect information and financial circumstance, are still choices. The fact that the smoking rate is higher in Glasgow than Sevenoaks, for instance, in no way predisposes a Glaswegian to smoke. It is not ‘victim-blaming’ to point this out.

Tim Worstall adds this.

And Jim Goad is amused by the cannibalism of the self-designated “oppressed”:

So much for transcending labels and viewing one another as individuals. These people want to institutionalise such labels. They balk at the concept of “assigned identity,” yet they also seem unable to live without it. So many of these multitudinous oppressed “identities” seem like nothing more than cheap cloaks to mask nakedly annoying personalities. People with bad personalities seem to have a built-in defence mechanism that makes them believe you actually hate them for any other possible reason besides their bad personalities. With all the banter about oppression, it’s hard to think of anything that stifles free speech and free expression more than such strident humourlessness.

Readers who wish to behold the endpoint of competitive victimhood are welcome to revisit this glorious incident. Part 2 here. And, because you’ll need them, some explanatory notes.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets. [ *Added via the comments. ] 

Friday Ephemera

Chick flick. // Farm your own insects, then eat them. // Following air through Facebook’s Oregon data centre. (h/t, MeFi) // Origami. // Optimism. // Pussy People: “What do the cats bring to the marriage?” // A machine that draws penises (badly). // Tactile comic books for the blind. // Coffee table of note. // Dogs versus citrus fruit, the great struggle of our time. // That towel will not allow you to fly. // Ladies, mouth your vowels and slim your face. // Not-quite-still movie stills. // Wine glass of note. // Ewok sushi. // Wipe your phone on your shirt. // Phones replaced with sandwiches. // The complete House of Cards. // Giant rodent hugs cats

Will No-One Think of the Artists?

I’d like to see every citizen receive a basic income of AUD$30,000 per year. No exceptions, no means testing. This is why.

Godfrey Moase, “activist and union organiser,” writing in the Guardian:

I once worked in a call centre where a few of the interviewers would be regularly rostered to do phone surveys about female incontinence products. Asking strangers whether they lost a teaspoon, a tablespoon or more in volume per occasion is a tough gig. Then again, the horror of the role was somewhat less visceral than that experienced by a worker I’d once represented who had to manually slit the throats of chickens at a poultry factory. At Centrelink, he had listed his occupation as “killer.” What strikes me about a dirty job isn’t that it needs doing – it’s that someone has to do it to get by. There’s no other choice for them.

A state of affairs that prompts a radical solution: 

Imagine the creativity, innovation and enterprise that would be unleashed if every citizen were guaranteed a living. Universal income provides the material basis for a fuller development of human potential. Social enterprises, cooperatives and small businesses could be started without participants worrying where the next pay cheque would come from. Artists and musicians could focus on their work.

One for our series of classic sentences, perhaps. But imagine the creative avalanche that would be unleashed by Mr Moase alone. 30,000 Australian dollars a year, extracted from others and given to him, could result in even more Guardian articles telling us that artists and musicians shouldn’t be expected to earn a living. Because, well, obviously, they’re artists and musicians. Or indeed “activists.” It’s a bold ambition, the goal of which, as one commenter conceives it, is to “distribute drudgery fairly” via some massive rota system, with dirty jobs – say, abattoir work and drain maintenance – being done, intermittently, by doctors, hair stylists and other random individuals with no relevant expertise. I can’t help thinking that’s been tried somewhere, not too long ago, with– how shall I put this – very mixed results. Though presumably artists and musicians would be exempt from this too.

In the comments Tim Worstall tries to shake some sense into Mr Moase’s skull. 


Elsewhere in the Guardian thread, a fan of Mr Moase says with a hint of triumph, “This universal income… makes employment optional.” For him (and no doubt others), that’s the goal. The sweet, sweet cherry of state-sanctioned slackerdom, all in the name of emancipation and virtue. “Submission to a corporation,” we’re told, “will not be mandatory for your survival on Earth.” Though leeching indefinitely on the skills and effort of others – who will be forced to submit to him - will be perfectly okay, apparently. And as regular readers will know, this is not an uncommon sentiment among our self-declared moral betters. Yes, Giving It To The Man™ by taking it from others. 

Louder Than a Speeding Bullet

I'm sure that cape isn't aerodynamic

If review aggregators are anything to go by, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel has offended professional critics much more than cinemagoers. Quite a few critics, perhaps those of a certain age, seem to be pining for Richard Donner’s decidedly non-threatening film from 1978. A film I also remembered fondly from childhood - until, that is, I watched it again a few years ago - and whose gentle tone Bryan Singer tried to recapture, resulting in the dull and horribly misconceived Superman Returns. So. Which version, if any, floats your boat? Richard Donner’s whimsical Superman: The Movie, with Christopher Reeve, turning back time and kittens stuck in trees, or Zack Snyder’s rather more earnest Man of Steel, with Henry Cavill, alarming first contact and 3D megadestruction? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. And spoilers, obviously. 

Elsewhere (95)

Chris Snowdon on booze, sponsorship and publicly subsidised temperance zealots: 

With tiresome predictability, Alcohol Concern says this must all be done for the sake of “children.” There is, it seems, no interference into adult pastimes that cannot be justified in the name of those who are prohibited from engaging in them. For the moral busybody, all the world is a crèche.

Peter Wood ponders the bean-counting world of campus gender equity: 

To be “representative of the student body,” approximately 55% of the 52 Title IX Coordinator positions should have been held by women. But in our sample, 83% are held by women. Likewise, women appear overrepresented in the staff positions of the relevant campus offices, but the level of overrepresentation was less than for the top positions (73.1 percent of the positions are held by women). Considering that the overwhelming preponderance of sexual harassment allegations are directed by women at men, the disproportion of women to men in the positions charged with interpreting and enforcing the sexual harassment rules is a legitimate concern. Are male students who are accused of sexual harassment likely to receive fair-minded treatment in these offices? 

Mark Bauerlein* on do as I say not as I do:

When white male President Mills pledges to press for race-based affirmative action, the right reply is this: “Well, then, sir, you must resign your post immediately and call for Bowdoin to hire a racial or ethnic minority in your place.” Keep it simple and direct. Every white male board member of the ACE should receive a message to step down. Let’s ask white male campus leaders to stand up for their own principles and do the thing they want everybody else to do. When white women acquire a disproportionate number of jobs in campus leadership, yet still call for more diversity, they, too, should be asked to withdraw. This is the logic of affirmative action, and if diversity proponents who are white follow it to its conclusion, they should relinquish their positions as soon as possible. 

Jennifer Kabbany notes the difficulties of gendered nouns:

The University of Leipzig has voted to adopt the feminine version of the word for ‘professor’ as its default. In German, professorin refers to a female professor while professor is the male equivalent. Under the new measures, written documents will use the term Professorinnen when referring to professors in general. A footnote is to explain that male professors are also included in the description. Physics professor Dr Josef Käs suggested the change as a joke because he was becoming weary of extended discussions about gendered language. To his surprise, the university board voted in favour of the idea.

And Theodore Dalrymple on jihad, entitlement and Michael Adebolajo:

It is not true that the society in which he lived offered him no opportunity for personal betterment. Adebolajo was for a time a student at Greenwich University, graduation from which, whatever the real value of the education it offered him, would have improved his chances in the job market, especially in the public sector. But it was at the university that he encountered radical Islam, that ideology that simultaneously succours people with an existential grudge against the world and flatters their inflated and inflamed self-importance. It also successfully squares the adolescent circle: the need both to conform to a peer group and to rebel against society.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. [ *Added, via Rafi in the comments. ]

Your Host’s Idea of Hell (2)

In my nightmare I’m sitting in this audience of socialists and communists, unable to leave, while other socialists and communists - more statusful socialists and communists - spend an hour telling me how “serious” they are, and how important and “dangerous” their ideas are. Amid references to Lenin, Marx, Gramsci and other totalitarian fantasists, I’m also told how much these gathered “radicals” value humility. After all, when a room full of unhappy leftists say they want to “break the government” and initiate a “revolutionary transformation of society” - in their own image – humility is the word that springs immediately to mind. Then, while I try biting down on my own neck, Laurie Penny starts to speak, at length, almost randomly. “We need to be talking seriously about trauma,” says she. Because “it’s quite difficult for the left to talk about how it’s feeling.”

A note of caution. The linked video – hailed as “a very good discussion” - lasts for the better part of an hour, and you won’t get that time back. Though there is, I suppose, a grim humour in listening to denunciations of the “elite” and the “establishment” from a blowhard Trotskyist who, like his peers, wishes to be those things, only much more so. 

Previously in hell

Friday Ephemera

Major crab migration. // Sunrises seen from Mount Fuji. // How to feed your hummingbird. // Sloth-facing, it’s a thing to add to the list. // Your very own Xbox gaming module. // Buzz Aldrin and Thomas Dolby need a little more rehearsal. // Bach, visualized. // Avoid that buzzing, crackling sound. // New York in colour, 1939. (h/t, MeFi) // Under construction. // Cows with luxurious coats. // The Guild of Evil’s partygoer cocaine gun still has some minor issues. // Three languages of politics. // Visualising sound with water. // Ladies sit at a table and read aloud while beneath the table an accomplice pleasures them, for art. (h/t, Peter Forsythe)

Shut Up, They Explained

The number of bureaucrats on college campuses exceeded the number of people involved in instruction as of 2005. And that’s on average. It’s just been getting bigger and bigger. And when you have so many people whose job is to police the daily lives of students – shock upon shock – they start overdoing it. The reason why college has gotten so expensive, and the reason why free speech and due process are in such trouble on college campuses, is one and the same.

FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff on the battle for free speech, the redefinition of ‘harassment’ and the selective uptightness of the “new Victorians”: 

Also from the video:

Continue reading "Shut Up, They Explained" »

Elsewhere (94)

Theodore Dalrymple on the cult and conformism of the graffiti artist Banksy, an avowed “anti-capitalist,” albeit with means: 

The most famous of the street artists represented, Banksy… has painted a museum attendant in an old-fashioned uniform sitting near a single framed “picture” consisting only of the word PRICK (or, in another version, ARSE). The first of these versions was sold — though admittedly not by Banksy himself — for about $300,000. He has also produced a print of an auctioneer taking bids for a “picture” that consists of the words I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU MORONS ACTUALLY BUY THIS SHIT. Banksy sold about 1,000 of these prints for $180,000 in total, but they were soon selling at auction for $5,000 apiece. This reminds me of the curious fact that a placebo pill has a placebo effect even if you tell the person taking it that it is only a placebo.

Banksy has guarded his incognito so that it has become, paradoxically, an important part of his identity as well as of his commercial appeal. But according to those who have investigated his life, he seems to have been born in Bristol in 1974. He was privately educated, which suggests family prosperity. From an early age, however, he appears to have suffered not from nostalgie de la boue, for he had never hitherto known la boue, but from envie de la boue, a longing for the depths. This common desire results from two ideological assumptions: that somehow the poor are authentic in a way that other social strata are not; and that prosperity, at least in our society, is something to be ashamed of, the product of social injustice or exploitation. The vulgar language in which Banksy expresses himself, which is probably not native to his original social stratum, is thus a form of expiation for the original sin of having been born to the prosperous and inauthentic.

There’s too much worth quoting so do read in full. Okay, one more:

Banksy painted the words DESIGNATED GRAFFITI AREA in an official-looking way on three whitewashed walls in elegant areas of London, and they were shortly covered with the horrible and idiotic graffiti that usually targets only concrete walls and tunnels. Banksy argues that all public space should be available for self-expression by the people, forgetting that the majority of the people may want to express themselves by leaving elegant blank walls elegantly blank. But then, they are only people, not the people, a crucial distinction in Banksy’s mind.

For more on the subject of graffiti and the thinking of its apologists, see also this.

And a mischievous Zombie ponders where Marxism meets the Tea Party:  

The formula to determine how much each employee gets to keep for living expenses is called “the tax code,” and those who contribute to the national product are called “taxpayers.” The managers deciding how the pile is spent are “politicians,” who are chosen every two years in a shareholders’ meeting called an “election.” This system worked pretty well for quite a long time — until recently. It is only within the last few years that something remarkable happened: The number of contributing “taxpayers” in the country for the first time has fallen to approximately 50% of the population. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed, retired, disabled or indigent citizens grew, as did the number of citizens who earned so little in part-time or low-paying jobs that they paid no taxes, as did the number of people labouring in the untaxed underground economy, as did the number of bureaucrats.

The end result of this epochal demographic and economic shift is that for the first time in American history, the people who actually work for a living and contribute to the common good — the “proletariat” in Marx’s version, and the “taxpayers” in ours — no longer control the company. Vote-wise, the scales have tipped in favour on the non-contributors and the bureaucrats, and suddenly they are the ones making the decisions about what to do with our collective gigantic pile of money — while those who actually created the pile through their work and tax contributions have become powerless. It is outrage over this very power shift that spawned the Tea Party, which is essentially a movement of taxpayers angry that they no longer get to determine how their taxes are spent. Historically speaking, the Tea Party movement can be accurately defined as a workers’ revolution.

As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.