Previous month:
April 2014
Next month:
June 2014

May 2014

Elsewhere (123)

Heather Mac Donald on the assumptions and pathologies of a “racialised worldview”: 

According to the Supreme Court, the only reason why schools should be allowed to discriminate against more academically qualified applicants in favour of less qualified black and Hispanic applicants is that those “underrepresented” minorities will bring otherwise missing perspectives to the classroom and cafeteria. But if each individual is in fact sui generis, then there is no reason to believe that selection by skin colour will lead to a non-random introduction of additional viewpoints.

Ah, but race goons and “diversity” hustlers do seem to regard minorities not as individuals but more like spices. And all those exotic brown people taste the same, apparently.

Michael Totten on the glorious Havana that tourists never see: 

In the United States, we have a minimum wage; Cuba has a maximum wage — $20 a month for almost every job in the country… Even employees inside the quasi-capitalist bubble don’t get paid more. The government contracts with Spanish companies such as Meliá International to manage Havana’s hotels. Before accepting its contract, Meliá said that it wanted to pay workers a decent wage. The Cuban government said fine, so the company pays $8–$10 an hour. But Meliá doesn’t pay its employees directly. Instead, the firm gives the compensation to the government, which then pays the workers — but only after pocketing most of the money. I asked several Cubans in my hotel if that arrangement is really true. All confirmed that it is. The workers don’t get $8–$10 an hour; they get 67 cents a day — a child’s allowance.

And Tim Worstall on a certain Guardian columnist and his deep, deep guilt about “our pointless hyperconsumption”: 

Sadly, George Monbiot has gone off on one again. Decrying the fact that we neoliberals in the Anglo Saxon capitalist style world don’t feel guilty enough about despoiling Gaia. The poor in other places, being as they are not Anglo Saxon and also sanctified by their being poor, care a lot more. We are sinners as a result.

Tim goes on to note some important ways in which Mr Monbiot’s feelings are misplaced. And readers may wish to ponder George’s urge to romanticise poverty and pre-modern living, an urge perhaps best expressed in his claim that “we” should be more like the peasants of Southern Ethiopia, who “smile more often” than we do and whose fields “crackle with laughter.” These noble, laughing peasants may live in homes constructed from leaves and packing cases, and they may have Stone Age sanitation and alarming child mortality, but at least they’re not being “isolated” by sinful material trappings, like dentistry, double glazing and TV remote controls. Think I’m kidding? Think again.

Continue reading "Elsewhere (123)" »

The Modern Way

Three items, thematically related. First, the world of the arts, where some things just won’t be tolerated by those who know what’s best for us. Like artist and writer Bill Drummond

It not only offended me morally and aesthetically, it also went against everything that I feel political discourse should be about. Thus there was nothing for it.

And so vandalism ensued. Followed, obviously, by self-congratulation in the pages of the Guardian, where Mr Drummond conjures the obligatory post hoc ambiguity. Is it “a mere publicity stunt?” he asks, as if that were in doubt. “By doing this have I added to the political discourse in the country in any sort of positive way?” Apparently Mr Drummond is making us think, an activity impossible without his intervention, while saving us from the things we mustn’t be looking at. It’s a pattern we’ve seen before

Then academia, where talking, it turns out, is now considered violence

Lauren Steele, the Cambridge Student Union Women’s Officer who organised the protest, rejected these calls [for discussion]… A statement issued by the pro-choice protesters, derived from the text of the leaflets handed out to passers-by, argued that “Debate is a conversation of power, where the objective is to win: to overpower the other side. This is violence. It is not ‘discussion’.”

Because being contradicted is distressing for a narcissist. Imagine the indignity. Therefore words must be redefined, and redefined again, until talking equals violence and debate becomes impossible. And then, well, the rest of us must comply or risk being denounced as violent haters. Why, oh why, don’t you people CARE™ about the feelings of narcissists?

And finally, in case you missed it in the comments yesterday, there’s this rather passionate incident:  


Evidently, when walking past a loon holding a placard about the post-mortem comeuppance of “masturbators, drunkards, fornicators and homosexuals,” the obvious thing to do is to suddenly assault the man, repeatedly, while braying like a donkey. And then screech with inexpressible outrage when further assaults are interrupted. Readers may wish to imagine how our somewhat inarticulate Social Justice Warrior might have behaved if a similar placard were being held by a bearded adherent of another religion.

With hat tips to Kate and Mr X.

Friday Ephemera

When trees fight back. // Every kid wants Batman teeth. // Vibrating constipation pills. // Blood worm. // Crows and coat hangers, the great mystery of our time. // Perfect shots. // Portable swing. // A tempting offer. You go first. // At last, scorpion pizza. // The fire makes it go faster, right? // Max and Ralphee. // Fermented herring explosions last for six hours. // Lava meets surf. // Lost cities found by satellites. // Synopsis of note. // All of Bach, performed weekly. // A guide to rappers’ vocabulary. // The jogger’s bell. // Brothers. // They call them knobs. // Math or maths? // Minimal tweeting. // Made of sand. // This is one of these. (h/t, PootBlog) // And finally, a live feed from orbit. Can you see your house yet?

Not of History, I Hope

Ms Barlow describes herself as “a green and leftwing schoolteacher.”

Another educational triumph.

In the comments Karen adds:

My grandfather would be surprised to hear that WWII was the Allies’ war against “the blood lust of unfettered capitalism.”

Quite. Though I suppose it pays to remember just how intellectually degraded teacher training can be. It’s progress, people. 

Via Christopher Snowdon

It’s a World of Wonder

When skimming through the Guardian and Observer in search of something notable after a bank holiday break, some days you’re really spoilt for choice. I mean, would you rather hear about how conventional grammar (and an aversion to “most tastiest”) is obviously “right-wing,” according to Harry Ritchie, or would you be more tempted by Nick Baines’ account of eating his wife’s placenta? Both as a garlic taco and liquidised as a smoothie, albeit one that’s grey and with a grim metallic taste. Because apparently eating afterbirth is “a modern obsession.” 

Perhaps you’d be compelled by Tracy McVeigh’s conviction that “rewards don’t make anyone happy,” and that two-year-olds, the universal yardstick of human selflessness, are being rendered grasping and unfeeling by “post-industrial capitalism.”  

And then there’s the causal conundrum facing both the Observer’s Daniel Boffey and the Guardian’s Owen Hatherley, a man whose deep socialist wisdom has previously enthralled us. Mr Hatherley takes a break from telling us that alternative pop music is impossible without an Arts Council grant and urging us to share a toilet and kitchen with people we may not like, and turns his mental cutting beam to even more pressing matters: “Can places turn you into a Tory?” asks he. 

A question supposedly answered by left-leaning researchers who claim, in Mr Hatherley’s words, that, “Moving to some Stepford-like place in the home counties, where you will regularly encounter a close-knit network of conformist locals, has the effect of dragging you rightwards.” We also learn that, “richer people tend to vote for their own interests.” Assumptions somehow not extended to nobler beings like Mr Hatherley and his peers, or to those utterly non-conformist leftwing students who, being so altruistic, wish to extract as much money as possible from strangers who vaguely resemble their parents. 

Or maybe you’d rather hear about the 51-year-old performance artist arrested in Paris for gyrating around the Eiffel Tower with a cockerel tied to his penis? See? Something for every appetite.

With tips of the hat to Julia and Mr Eugenides

Elsewhere (122)

Franklin Einspruch on government intervention and unintended consequences: 

[Tuition fees] go up faster than inflation every year because we have generous Federal loan programmes with low interest rates and low selectivity. Easy loans stimulate demand, and higher demand drives up prices. You may think that the colleges should steel their wills and ignore the fundamental dynamic of the market, but as James Howard Kunstler put it, capitalism is not a belief system that you can subscribe to or drop out of, it’s more like gravity. Let that process continue for decades and you’ll put tuitions through the roof, with wildly different consequences for the rich and the poor. In other words, the state worsens inequality by mitigating the risks of lending. This isn’t academic at all. It is a consequence that will keep repeating itself until we quit causing it.

And Kristian Niemietz on the needy dynamic of political correctness: 

A positional good is a good that people acquire to signal where they stand in a social hierarchy; it is acquired in order to set oneself apart from others. Positional goods therefore have a peculiar property: the utility their consumers derive from them is inversely related to the number of people who can access them… PC-brigadiers behave exactly like owners of a positional good who panic because wider availability of that good threatens their social status. The PC brigade has been highly successful in creating new social taboos, but their success is their very problem. Moral superiority is a prime example of a positional good, because we cannot all be morally superior to each other. Once you have successfully exorcised a word or an opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from others now? You need new things to be outraged about, new ways of asserting your imagined moral superiority.

None of which will be news, I think, to regular readers. And hence the theatrical agonies about patriarchal cupcakes, insufficiently considerate spellcheck software, the serving of meals, racist hair, racist grammar, and the unspeakable crushing horror of the heteronormative barbecue. Also, Ace coins the term “the Cognitive One Percent.” I wonder, can neurotic, competitive signalling be redistributed?

And should you need to display your own moral elevation, feel free to tickle the tip jar.  

Friday Ephemera

About bloody time, giant robot slippers with giant robot sound. // Yes, someone ate this. From green eggs and ham to the great beige unknown. // Quantified toilets, because someone needs to know. // The Kentucky meat shower of 1876. // How to survive a lightning strike. // How to see without glasses. // Self-cleaning car, but only on the outside. // Thumbles. // Relics. // Feminist biology. // Christopher Walken has all the moves. // Marshmallow kitties. // Manual action scent diffuser. // The urge to squeeze. // Turn it 90 degrees. // Colosses. // How to bag your comics properly. // Ventilators and packing chips. // Calculating pi with a pump-action shotgun. // And finally, doodle in the air with a 3D printing pen. 

Elsewhere (121)

Thomas Sowell on political dogma versus education: 

Attorney General [Eric] Holder’s threats of legal action against schools where minority students are disciplined more often than he wants are a sweeping and damaging blow to the education of poor and minority students across the country. Among the biggest obstacles to educating children in many ghetto schools are disruptive students whose antics, threats and violence can make education virtually impossible... The idea that Eric Holder, or anybody else, can sit in Washington and determine how many disciplinary actions against individual students are warranted or unwarranted in schools across the length and breadth of this country would be laughable if it were not so tragic.

Ah, but reality be damned. Morality be damned. We must have racial quotas in school discipline. It’s the progressive way. Because nothing says fairness like dishing out excuses according to how brown a student is. And attempting to reduce disruption and violence by punishing it less when racial quotas have been reached... well, what could possibly go wrong?

Via Ted, a white male student named Tal Fortgang does as instructed and checks his privilege: 

I actually went and checked the origins of my privileged existence, to empathise with those whose underdog stories I can’t possibly comprehend. I have unearthed some examples of the privilege with which my family was blessed, and now I think I better understand those who assure me that skin colour allowed my family to flourish today.

Perhaps it’s the privilege my grandfather and his brother had to flee their home as teenagers when the Nazis invaded Poland, leaving their mother and five younger siblings behind, running and running until they reached a Displaced Persons camp in Siberia, where they would do years of hard labour in the bitter cold until World War II ended. Maybe it was the privilege my grandfather had of taking on the local Rabbi’s work in that DP camp, telling him that the spiritual leader shouldn’t do hard work, but should save his energy to pass Jewish tradition along to those who might survive. Perhaps it was the privilege my great-grandmother and those five great-aunts and uncles I never knew had of being shot into an open grave outside their hometown. Maybe that’s my privilege.

Naturally, Mr Fortgang is immediately berated by his betters, those more pure than he, and denounced as a “privileged piece of shit.”

Continue reading "Elsewhere (121)" »