Friday Ephemera
The Pan Handle Strikes Back

Elsewhere (111)

Via TDK, Theodore Dalrymple on rhetorical leverage and ‘progressive’ self-flattery: 

Professor Lakoff uses the term ‘progressive’ freely. Now there is a framing metaphor if ever there was one. What person of goodwill could possibly be against progress, that is to say betterment of the human condition? So if you are a person in favour of progress – in short, a progressive – only the malevolent could disagree with you.

However, there is a rather large question begged here, namely ‘What is progress?’ There is rarely gain without loss, and loss can easily exceed gain. Human action has unintended and unforeseen consequences, sometimes beneficial, often not. Progress in society is not the same as progress in internet speeds… It is possible for reasonable people to disagree… Yet Professor Lakoff seems to use the term ‘progressive’ as if those he calls progressives brought about progress ex officio, as it were, merely by virtue of their self-designation. This is a form of magical thinking.

I’m reminded of the modesty of Mr George Monbiot, a man who also deploys the word ‘progressive’ as if it were a talisman, and who dismisses his political opponents as dullards struggling with “low intelligence” and racial phobias. 

BenSix on learning to be mute and befuddled: 

These posters and drawing hardly seem to be the stuff of Voltairian pamphlets. They do not renew the liberal flames in me. What should inspire one, though, is the response to them. It is alarming that our national media feels that it cannot publish a drawing of a cartoon man for fear of violent reprisals. If people are scared to show innocuous cartoons, how might they react to a novel that may provoke controversy, or to academic research that might inspire outrage? …If, indeed, Rory Bremner is scared to joke, or Grayson Perry to make art, how many commentators, novelists and scholars have allowed their thoughts to be repressed?

And Jonah Goldberg on hammers, sickles and not saying certain things: 

In its opening video for the Olympic Games, NBC’s producers drained the thesaurus of flattering terms devoid of moral content: “The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures.” To parse this infomercial treacle is to miss the point, for the whole idea is to luge by the truth on the frictionless skids of euphemism.

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



the revolution that birthed one of modern history's pivotal experiments.

That's one way of putting it. How many millions were starved and murdered by this 'experiment'?


the revolution that birthed one of modern history's pivotal experiments

Sort of like Jon-Erik Hexum's experiment with a 44 magnum. Yet some people wish to rerun the Soviet experiment, claiming that they will get more favorable results.


“I asked, ‘Well what is going to happen to those people we can’t reeducate,'.... they estimated they would have to eliminate 25 million people in these reeducation centers."

Because socialism isn't at all like national socialism, no-siree bob.


"That's right -- "somehow," every single 501(c)(4) that the IRS selected to endure the time, expense, distraction and stress of an audit just happened to be conservative."


Btw, Suzanne Moore on Stuart Hall is priceless.

Dr Cromarty

Btw, Suzanne Moore on Stuart Hall is priceless

Oh, that Stuart Hall. I think I can guess her views on DLT et al.

carbon based lifeform

"Cameron Diaz Encourages Women to Keep Their Pubic Hair in Her New Book."


“Cameron Diaz Encourages Women to Keep Their Pubic Hair in Her New Book.”

Heh. Seems awfully specific.

A couple of days ago I was shocked to hear about the existence of space whales.


To see him (Stuart Hall) debate with a conservative was a joy. Just a flicker of pity – or was it contempt? "In the back of my head are things that can't be in the back of your head. That part of me comes from a plantation, when you owned me." God, that hit home.

Ah yes. I remember perfectly. When I was young, back in 1700. And I owned Stuart Hall. Personally. Yes, I remember that very clearly indeed.


"Cameron Diaz Encourages Women to Keep Their Pubic Hair in Her New Book."

Why would anyone want to keep their pubic hair in a book?


"but to see him speak was to be overwhelmed by his charisma, his eloquence, his desire to include everybody in the room..."My God!" I remember saying. "This man should be in charge of the universe."

Ah, leftists and their hysterically worshipful devotion to their Dear Leaders. Now there's a phenomenon with an unbroken history of happy outcomes and fulfilled expectations.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

TimT - I never liked "It's A Knockout" anyway.

I can't say I can remember owning any black people myself. That sort of thing would tend to stick in the memory.

Or was Mr Hall saying ownership is genetically transmitted? Can I sue for reparations for all the slave labour I've been missing out on?

To think I've been mowing my own lawn all these years when I could have been sipping mint julips while watching my husky black field hands toil under the fierce English sun. I think I could live with my crippling white man guilt if I no longer had to paint my own shed like some sort of peasant.


Internet Arguing Checklist:

1. Skim until Offended
2. Disqualify that Opinion
3. Attack, Attack, Attack
4. Disregard Inconvenient facts
5. Make Shit Up
6. Resort to Moral Equivalency
7. Concern Trolling
8. When all else fails, Racism!
Not to be confused with The Argument Clinic, though admittedly it's hard to tell the difference sometimes.

Also, I spent five solid hours on Twitter today arguing with people and not once was I called a racist.

There's gotta be some kind of award for that.

At the very least, cake.


Stuart Hall Graun piece

Actually some of the comments below the line in CiF are showing a distinct improvement these days. Here's the beginning of one tirade:

I'd rather see a slew of comments criticising Hall for being merely cock of the gigantic compost heap that is "cultural studies"; a complete load of pseud twaddle stuck in the 1970s that only receives the reverence in these pages that it does because so many of those in the "meeja" got their degrees in this drivel

Which seems to just about get it right.


To see him debate with a conservative was a joy. Just a flicker of pity – or was it contempt? “In the back of my head are things that can’t be in the back of your head. That part of me comes from a plantation, when you owned me.” God, that hit home.

You’d think a statement like that would, among adults, flag up some kind of mental warning. Something like, “this person is obnoxious and dishonest.” But instead it attracts fawning deference. Among idiots, I mean. People who use the words “intersectionality” and “the conservatism of academia” without a trace of irony. People who think such juvenile tricks amount to “eloquence,” “charisma” and “sheer moral force,” and who proudly recall saying, “This man should be in charge of the universe.” As with so many of her colleagues, I don’t think Ms Moore, our “award-winning Guardian columnist,” is hearing the words coming out of her mouth.

To think I’ve been mowing my own lawn all these years when I could have been sipping mint juleps while watching my husky black field hands toil under the fierce English sun.

I’m still laughing at those last three words.

Karen M

He was the reason I did cultural studies and went to work at Marxism Today in the 80s.

Well that persuaded me.

Chris N

Who didn't want to work Marxism Today in the 80's?


I love Suzanne Moore's idea of what it means to debate.




I love Suzanne Moore’s idea of what it means to debate.

Well, quite. And if you scan the retweets of Ms Moore’s article, all but one are favourable and many are gushing. It’s “outstanding,” “wonderful,” a “great, reflective, critical piece.” None of those retweeting seem to have registered the comment above, which rather jumps off the page, or what it implies. So much for all that “critical thinking.”



If I were a parent about to send my son or daughter off to college, especially if their studies were outside of STEM subjects, I’d feel obliged to warn them that they’d be entering an environment in which damaged and dishonest people may try to damage them and make them dishonest too.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

David - well it was roasting back in 2006. Only... 8 years ago? :(

Witwoud - debating most lefties is like arguing with the wife, but without the happy possibility of eventually being made a sandwich. Your facts and logic are no match for their superior feelings.

Taken to its scary biscuits extremes you get the cyber-coven of Witchy Wind, where it "goes without saying" that all men are nazi-dalek hybrid rapey killers. Denying it is "gaslighting" and further proof, although no proof is required, of your Y-chromosome automatically inducting you into the Evil League of Evil.

Because her feelings.

I blame Star Wars. "Search your feelings, you know it to be true", and the brilliant idea that when flying a spacecraft at ridiculous speeds through a narrow, heavily fortified trench under enemy fire what you should really do is switch off your targetting computer, close your eyes, and listen to your mystical intuition / voices in your head.

If Star Wars was realistic this would have resulted in the Death Star cleaners going EVA to mop bits of Luke Skywalker off their hull while Darth Vader celebrated crushing the rebel scum by choking a few more senior officers.

What I'm saying is, don't trust your feelings. Your feelings are like an angry bag of ferrets biting and clawing each other for control over your subconscious (I know mine are). Our feelings mostly come from the same parts of the brain our ancestors used when they were grooming each others' backs for tasty fleas and hooting at monoliths.

Sweet Vulcan logic is the way to go.


Sweet Vulcan logic is the way to go.

What’s interesting, to me, about this trend towards emotionalism is the assumption that feelings are somehow more reliable, more honest. As if one’s feelings couldn’t possibly be dishonest or unearned. Even the feelings one has just made up for the sake of appearance or leverage. And this from people who very often equate injustice with almost any unflattering notion or bruising of their vanity. As Fabian Tassano pointed out a while ago,

A mediocracy encourages people to react personally. Instead of considering whether something is true, people ask themselves, “How does this affect me? Should I have an emotional reaction to this?” An example. When I once suggested to my younger brother — who, like me, spent part of his education in the state sector — that state schools seem to be bad for many people, and to damage them psychologically, his response was, “Thanks a lot, that makes me feel really great.” The only way my brother could apparently regard the hypothesis that state schools are awful was in terms of a possible insult to himself. I understand my brother’s reaction, and I suspect many alumni of state schools have a similar attitude. The trouble is, if no one who attended a state school is able to have an impersonal/objective approach, and be willing to admit it was damaging, those responsible for perpetuating the state school system can go on doing so unchecked, while claiming the moral high ground...

There are certain issues that have become so ideologically loaded that not only are they taboo for discussion, but it is impossible even to come within a hundred yards of them, by alluding to them. Thought immediately stops, to be replaced by an emotional reaction. As the issues in question become more and more loaded, the radius of the area which is unanalysable increases. There also seems to be a desire to have as many such issues as possible, clogging up as large an area of thought as possible, since their number appears to be going up.

Tassano’s book Mediocracy is a sort of devil’s dictionary of modern dishonesty. Well worth reading.


From an Amazon review of 'Mediocrity':

"The cumulative effect... is rather weird; I found myself seeing (or rather hearing) mediocracy all over the place, particularly when listening to BBC radio 4."

One for the list. :)


One for the list.

[ Cough ] Amazon widget, top right. [ Cough ]


Tassano’s book Mediocracy is a sort of devil’s dictionary of modern dishonesty.

Being on the western side of the pond, I'm quite amused to note that the book's publication date is July 4.


Steve 2:

Sweet Vulcan logic is the way to go.

Well, only if the logic of the situation actually applies . . . . .

The advantage of logic is that as a tool it will weigh all the various bits and see what results can be achieved with that information available at that time. And has been noted(1), logic can be rigged.

The advantage of feelings is that they can at times supply a missing bit, direction to look at, something else to consider that has been missed--hence the screamingly vociferous feelings, on occasion.

The self defining worst case would be to state I feel that logic is most important in all situations.


What’s interesting, to me, about this trend towards emotionalism is the assumption that feelings are somehow more reliable, more honest. . .

Errr, no---My observation is that the demand for emotionalism is not because feelings are considered more reliable. The demand comes from logic consistently having that horrible issue of relying on fact, and then also confirming the facts, and requiring that someone else also be on hand to also process logic and fact, where the someone else may not arrive at the same conclusion, therefore again the facts and logic must again be rigorously assessed and confirmed.

The trend towards emotionalism is simply rooted in that the much easier practice is to simply scream I Want It Myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Way!!!!!!!!!!---where when the audience is mere hipsters, you'll either get your way, or you'll get to have an even greater source of such lovely, grasping, needy, angst . . . . . .

Hmmmmmmmmmm . . . . . There is that YouTube clip of several more-left-than-thou having a screaming fight over who is the more deprived, and why aren't the others recognizing that ?!?!?!?!---It's that one about defining women vs womyn vs trans vs male vs, Etc.

I'll posit that there has to be some sort of equally amusingly surreal video clip out there that also has several more-right-than-thou demonstrating the same scale of fallacy ridden, ah, discussion . . . .

(1) When doing that Googling, yes, you have to filter out the hard disc repair discussions . . .


As I’ve said before, it’s remarkable just how readily thoughts can be deemed improper, even scandalous, in a rush to be offended. The more ostentatiously, the better. It seems that quite a few people – often students or graduates – have been encouraged to identify emotionally with a set of propositions, and to react emotionally – vehemently - when those propositions are called into question, however cautiously. And so if you approach the notion of, say, “male privilege” in ways that aren’t expected – that aren’t authorised – this can be taken as some personal affront or an assault on all womanhood. It’s almost like mental agoraphobia.

A few years ago I posted some fairly light-hearted quotes on the subject of alleged male and female “privilege,” hoping to open up a discussion. This led to an exchange with a female commenter who claimed that the quoted lines of thinking were “contemptuous” and “misogynistic.” When pressed for an explanation, the commenter couldn’t quite say why. The accusation of misogyny was, it finally turned out, “somewhat intuitive.” Eventually we discovered that the quotes were potentially misogynistic if read in a certain way with a certain, rather loaded, attitude. And this was sufficient basis for umbrage, dismissal and exasperation. Exasperation so urgent it left no time to consider the actual points being made. A second commenter then suggested that intuition and feelings should be enough to determine the presence of misogyny or racism, regardless of intent or actual evidence.

Again, this was the thinking of people who’d been educated.

And this kind of prickliness is compounded by the use of fuzzy terms that make it much easier to short-circuit thinking. It’s no coincidence that emotional reactiveness coincides with the widespread use of so many tendentious terms, which either beg the question or turn meaning on its head. And so we get “social justice,” which, so far as it’s ever defined, seems to mean disregarding customary freedoms and instead giving even more power to the state; a kind of socialist cronyism. Or “diversity,” which typically results in dogmatic uniformity and a reliance on stereotyped identity groups. Or the comically self-congratulatory “progressive.”

If a discussion has to begin with a lengthy unpacking of self-flattering feel-good verbiage, it’s unlikely to get very far. By the time you’ve pointed out all the implicit conceits, you’re pretty much exhausted and everyone else is bored.

[ Edited. ]


Steve2 + Hal

Logic tells us nothing about the world. It is the a priori science of the formal relationships between both propositions and concepts. As such, it tells us only whether our reasoning is consistent and coherent, which is why false conclusions can be validly derived from false premises.

Emotionalism is indulged and irrational emotion, but not all emotion is irrational. Emotion motivates us, and with imagination is the foundation of acting morally. We can reflect on our emotions, assessing them for their appropriateness (eg consistency, relevance, intensity, likely effects on ourselves and others...), and this is part of living rationally.

Patrick Brown

Somebody called Sandra Y. L. Korn writes for the Harvard Crimson: "Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice... If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?"

Which seems to me to translate as "why should I have to put up with people who disagree with me when I already know I'm right?"


why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?

It’s good to know that Ms Sandra Korn, whose studies inevitably include “gender and sexuality,” thinks that finding things out must be subordinate to certain, rather fashionable political assumptions. Which is to say, her assumptions. It’s exactly the quality one hopes for in a modern intellectual.


As I’ve said before, it’s remarkable just how readily thoughts can be deemed improper, even scandalous, in a rush to be offended. The more ostentatiously, the better.

Here y'are.

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