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April 2018

Woker Than Thou

Lifted from the comments because… well, apparently, this is where we are now as a culture

Full marks for woke contrivance.

You see, it’s not enough for a blockbuster film to feature lots of heroic women being no less feisty and capable than their male counterparts, or for said film to end with a call for help to a cosmically powerful female superhero. No, these ass-kicking female characters must also have certain woke-approved hairstyles. Which in fact at least four of them do. But that doesn’t count, somehow. Because what matters is contriving an excuse, however slim and improbable, for some feigned indignation. And the words “gender fascism.”

Elsewhere (270)

John Leo on standards versus appearances: 

The nation’s public schools are a mess. Only 37 percent of 12th graders tested proficient in reading and only 25 percent in maths. Yet the inability to read or do maths seems to be no barrier to college. Unprepared students are flooding into college in record numbers. The Bureau of Labour Statistics says 70 percent of white high-school graduates and 58 percent of black graduates in 2016 enrolled in college. In his syndicated column, Walter E. Williams asks, “If only 37 percent of white high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 70 percent of them? And if roughly 17 percent of black high school graduates test as college-ready, how come colleges are admitting 58 percent of them? It’s inconceivable that college administrators are unaware that they are admitting students who are ill-prepared and cannot perform at the college level.”

From the Walter Williams article quoted above: 

College professors dumb down their courses so that ill-prepared students can get passing grades. Colleges also set up majors with little analytical demands so as to accommodate students with analytical deficits. Such majors often include the term “studies,” such as ethnic studies, cultural studies, gender studies... The major for the most ill-prepared students, sadly enough, is education. When students’ SAT scores are ranked by intended major, education majors place 26th on a list of 38.

With that in mind, readers may wish to revisit this tale of modern educational wonders. As I said at the time, a school that has no discernible standards, academic or behavioural, and which makes no distinction between those who study and those who don’t even turn up, is in no meaningful sense a school.

And speaking of analytical deficits

A member of the pro-abortion club at the University of Minnesota-Duluth compared pro-life students to white supremacists during an open mic event last week. Throughout his [poetry] performance at the “Speak Out for Justice” event on April 21, Student Advocates for Choice member Reilly Manzer condemned the “pale faces” of the pro-life movement for criticising abortion.

Bear in mind that Mr Manzer - whose woke poetry is the obligatory feat of teetering pretension and outright psychodrama, and therefore loudly applauded - is, for many educators, an exemplary product of modern academia.

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

Friday Ephemera

A compendium of intriguing hairy stumps. || The customer is always right. || Automated cat noises. || The thrill of carrots. || Suboptimal driving conditions. || Diversity on demand. (h/t, Jonathan) || She’s an academic. || Returner 77 is a game. || The Room: Old Sins is also a game. || Good deed. || The Great Wall of China, in fog. || He fell well. || “Women’s art.” || “Postqualitative research.” || Riposte of note. || “Will there be construction equipment to move the heavy parts?” || His tiny worlds are more detailed than yours. || More BBC sound effects than you could shake a stick at. || New Zealand does not exist. || Four seasons in the life of a small Finnish island. || To reignite hope, or failing that, to shorten the fall. || And finally, refreshingly, the eternal quest for sambuca.

Annihilation Of Bourgeois Life Delayed Somewhat

Brace yourselves for crushing news

A radical socialist group at Indiana University-Bloomington is disbanding itself after realising that its efforts only reinforced the “bourgeois” nature of the institution.

Apparently, these tireless enemies of “patriarchy, white supremacy, socioeconomic inequality, and imperialism,” are outraged by “whiteness,” by “colonialism,” by “rape culture,” and by the cost of the campus policing that their own actions have made necessary. The group is also fatigued by the fact that bourgeois life has somehow resisted their full-spectrum onslaught. Specifically,

The radical group has been an active promoter of anti-capitalist vandalism on campus, and has distributed pamphlets that urged students to destroy the property of right-leaning organisations. In its lengthy public statement, the group goes on to argue that the university is indoctrinating students with neoliberal ideologies and is training the campus police, who they refer to as “slave catchers,” to detain and “murder” people of colour.

The campus environment, we’re told, “keeps bourgeois students in the bourgeoisie,” “reproduces class” - and worse, enables tomorrow’s “small business owners.” And so, the mighty Mao-lings will now direct their heroic and selfless efforts to “the larger community,” while plotting to “dismantle the capitalist settler-state of the USA.”

And remember, running a small, successful business is a sign of “domination” and therefore obscene. According to Oakland’s Mao-ling contingent.

Friday Ephemera

Impressive name, cunning plan. (h/t, Damian) || The thrill of golf. || Graph of note. || Scumbag interruptus. || Shades of grey. || Grace under pressure. || A substantial sedan. || Sculpted glass. || Lab shots of yore. || You know, for kids. || I remember CompuServe. || Because they’re so open-minded, you see. || Meme history. || Chillin’ in Harlem, 1978. || Edinburgh, 1920. || Variations on a theme. || News item of note. || Burly. || Savage. || The eco-friendly, waterless, multimedia urinal you’ve always dreamed of. || Can robots assemble an IKEA chair in under 9 minutes? || This thing here is one of these. || Aerial tour of an abandoned Chinese fishing village. || And finally, in forward-looking fashion news, a jumpsuit that flashes and vibrates whenever asteroids approach the Earth.

Elsewhere (269)

Douglas Murray on utopian thinking and ineradicable vices: 

To ‘destroy’ misogyny (or, for that matter, its opposite – misandry) you would have to arrive at a time when nobody of either sex… felt any need to seize on a secondary characteristic as a way to push their primary dislike. All divorces would have to go swimmingly. Men would pay alimony only with pleasure and enthusiasm. Conversely, any woman who caught their husband cheating would have to say: “Well that was just my husband: I wouldn’t want to express any conclusions about men in general.” Perhaps this is desirable. But achievable? Hardly. The trouble is some people – including some of the most powerful people on the planet – seem to believe otherwise.

Madison Breshears on overlooked gender gaps: 

What, if anything, do ballet and tech have in common? The obvious answer is that both fields show highly disproportionate gender distributions. Less acknowledged but no less relevant is this uncomfortable commonality: Both are industries where it pays to be in the sexual minority. I know, because I was a ballet dancer for 16 years. In the ballet world, men’s unfair advantage in hiring and casting is as widely understood and as rarely acknowledged as is the rampant anorexia. A less skilled male dancer is more likely to land a role or get a job than a female dancer of comparable skill. Due to the scarcity of men, the hurdles to a professional career are distinctly lower than they are for most women. Anyone who says something similar about women in the tech industry does so at their own peril.

Duke Pesta and Dave Huber on “white privilege” shaming rituals: 

There was a case at San Diego State University, where students were given extra credit for determining their level of “white privilege.” This was part of my own experience. We did a thing called a “privilege walk,” where you’re asked a bunch of questions designed to give the result the creators’ wanted. It gets a little ridiculous, in that one of the questions says, “I grew up in a two-parent household,” as if that’s some kind of inherent [white] privilege, doing the right thing.

And Jordan Peterson on IQ and its distribution: 

Continue reading "Elsewhere (269)" »

Burning Question

“Can pot make you a better parent?”

Asks the Guardian, in a classic-sentence-kind-of-way. It has to be said, even for the Guardian, it isn’t the most promising start:

An Oregon mother posted a photo last year of herself breastfeeding her baby while she took a bong hit.

This photo here, in case you’re curious. 

Naturally, the image went viral…. Jenn Lauder, an Oregon cannabis activist… chided the breastfeeder for exposing the baby to smoke and for the “optics” of the image. “That mom could have made better choices,” Lauder told me recently.

Happily, things soon mellow out a bit:

Yes, it’s jarring to see a woman in a quintessential act of motherhood with her face in a bong. But the reality is some parents believe cannabis improves their child rearing… Marijuana, as cannamoms and cannadads see it, relieves the tedium of parenting while helping them engage with their children. With marijuana, “I’m able to sit and play Legos for an extensive period of time… and make it more fun rather than something functional,” said April Pride, founder of Van der Pop, a line of stylish cannabis accessories for women. She said it also helped break up the monotony of spending more time at home. 

You see, they’re doing it for the kids. How terribly selfless and high-minded. Another imbibing parent adds, “There’s too much taboo about it. It’s the equivalent of having a couple of glasses of wine in my life.” Though I suspect that a parent knocking back several glasses of wine during the day, every day, to make playing with their child more fun, might raise a few eyebrows.

And then,

When a parent is an open cannabis user it can also change the tenor of conversations with kids about drug use. “Cannabis has strengthened the bond I have with my daughter because I’m honest about something that’s important to me,” Lauder said. “At age 10, she’s incredibly social justice minded.”

Oh dear. And it was going so well.

Update, via the comments:

For what it’s worth, I’m not disapproving of recreational cannabis use, though it’s not my thing. I find it incapacitating. But the Guardian article does feature a tangle of messages that aren’t entirely consonant and seem rather self-serving. We’re told that getting stoned while supposedly being responsible for small children, and talking with 10-year-olds about the joys of getting high, is “the equivalent of having a couple of glasses of wine.” As if parents getting pissed while looking after the kids, and as if 10-year-olds talking about mummy’s drug use, were in no way contentious. We’re also told that getting stoned while on duty, as it were, is a bonding exercise. Specifically,

Cannabis has strengthened the bond I have with my daughter because I’m honest about something that’s important to me.

But imagine someone saying my drinking is important to me. What would that suggest?

Via Julia

Big Ambitions

For those who missed it in the comments:

While fat activism has disrupted many dominant discourses that causally contribute to negative judgments about fat bodies, it has not yet penetrated the realm of competitive bodybuilding. 

Savour that sentence. Let it roll around your mind.

According to its author, Richard Baldwin, fat bodybuilding should be a thing that exists. Specifically, “a fat-inclusive politicised performance… embedded within bodybuilding,” in which the “assumptions” and standards of the sport would be “destabilised,” with the result that “everyone” can be “taken seriously,” regardless of their girth and athleticism. Competitors, we’re told, would “showcase fat through poses… that display fat in a body-positive way,” while wearing whatever commodious garments are deemed to enhance the, um, aesthetics of their gyrations. And hey, showcasing fat is what sport’s all about. 

It takes time to make a fat body. It takes even more time to make a politicised fat body. This is precisely the message fat bodybuilding should convey: the fat body is a body built by time and work and deserves to be respected.

These are the dizzy heights of Fat Studies scholarship.  

Unlike Mr Baldwin, I make no claim to being “dedicated to fighting oppression and promoting social justice,” but actually, it occurs to me that a fat body, by which the author seems to mean an ostentatiously obese one, is quite easy to arrive at, as it generally involves the abandonment of self-denial, succumbing to temptation by default, and a tendency to shun any avoidable exertion. Basically, torpidity and a lack of care. A point somewhat underlined by the unremarkable fact that the number of fat people exceeds by orders of magnitude the number of bodybuilders.

Via Darleen

An Unauthorised Departure From The Narrative

At the Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where annual tuition is north of $50,000, education is under way:

“Why is it okay to bring people to talk against their own people?” the student finally asked, though when [invited speaker, Burgess] Owens attempted to answer, the student again began complaining about the “structural racism” he has experienced. “Please let him answer the question,” the moderator interjected. “Let me finish talking!” the student shouted back. As Owens once again attempted to answer, the student reiterated that he was “not finished talking,” and continued to interrupt Owens. The moderator was eventually forced to shut down the question-and-answer portion of the talk, prompting cries of “white fragility!” from the audience.

You see, in the Clown Quarter, black people are only allowed to have one point of view

And note the woke student, here, who refers to Mr Owens as an “Uncle Tom,” before hurrying away with a self-satisfied grin. Moments later, just after Mr Owens mentions the importance of debate and showing each other respect, things go downhill