Previous month:
July 2019
Next month:
September 2019

August 2019

Friday Ephemeraren’t

As I’m still finding my feet after the recent festivities, I’m afraid you’ll have to use the comments to throw together your own pile of links and oddities. I will, however, set the ball rolling with a chap doing this better than you do; a lady clearly determined to do things the hard way; some hardcore embroidery; a fearsome beast’s underbelly; and, via Julia, a shadow of note.

Oh, and via Dicentra, you know it could happen.

His Skin Just Won’t Come Off

More fun times in the Clown Quarter, where our betters display their plumage:

The head of Western Connecticut State University’s psychology department shared his own qualms about being white on Tuesday, claiming that “whiteness needs to go away.” Daniel Barrett… goes on to muse about his personal tumultuous relationship with his identity… [and] proclaims that he is “blinded” by his own “whiteness.”

“Whiteness,” an allegedly deplorable yet oddly nebulous phenomenon, is apparently rooted in the “destruction of the environment” and the “total demolition of value,” including, we’re told, the destruction of “integrity, honesty… common sense.” Our theatrically agonised academic insists that “whiteness” has “no nature, no culture, no essence… no value or intrinsic meaning,” and yet it supposedly corrupts and befouls everything it touches and must therefore “dissolve into oblivion.”

Despite the author’s breathlessness and the list of physical and moral catastrophes supposedly caused by “whiteness,” and by “whiteness” alone, an actual definition of this uniquely malign phenomenon - which is simultaneously invisible yet blinding, intangible yet all-powerful - is left to the imagination. The nearest we get is a fleeting reference to the “concept of a white race,” which is bad, and the “power and privilege associated with being white,” also bad. Though details of the latter remain unspecified and mysterious. A vagueness that suggests no grasping of facts or ambition to explain, merely an airing of in-group credentials. 

It scarcely needs saying that allowing one’s children to be exposed to the unhappy mental contortions of Professor Barrett would not be the wisest way to spend tens of thousands of dollars. Though conceivably one might use him as an illustration of how minds can come undone.


In the comments, Lorna quips, “MAXIMUM VIRTUE SIGNAL.” In light of which, it’s worth pondering what kind of adult might feel a need to signal their virtue, or what they imagine as virtue, habitually, and in such ostentatious ways. I mean, if you’re about as virtuous as you think you ought to be, given whatever circumstances, why would you spend time and effort putting on a show? What kind of person feels compelled to seem virtuous – to pretend to be more pious than they actually are - and to a degree that involves contortions like those above? At risk of sounding ungenerous, I think it’s a telling activity. A warning of sorts.

And lest we forget, unwittingly comical virtue-signalling also afflicts professors of philosophy.

Did Someone Do A Verbal Boo-Boo?

At Indiana University Southeast, young adult intellectuals are being bathed in deep knowledge:

The university publishes and maintains a guide instructing students on how to “reduce bias in language” and offers some tactics for responding to others who use language they find offensive. One of these tactics is to “say ‘ouch!’” to others who utter “stereotypes, offensive or biased comments.” The university asserts that saying “ouch!” in these situations is an effective tool “simply to convey what was said had a negative impact on you, regardless if it was directed toward you.”

Presumably, saying “Ow, my status-seeking pretensions!” would be too on-the-nose.

The university offered examples of language that may require such a response, including phrases like “man and wife” or simply “wives,” as well as “mothering.” These phrases can supposedly “imply one group dominating over another group.” The university suggests instead that students use phrases like “husband and wife,” “spouses,” and “parenting.”

The terms mankind and man-made are also deemed outdated and upsetting, and therefore to be avoided, or at least met with sounds of feigned injury. The language guide, published by the university’s “diversity” department, is promoted as a way for students to “gain credibility.”

His Nuptials Were Impending

Posting will be, at best, intermittent for the next week or so, for which I apologise in advance. I can imagine the terrible, crushing impact this will have on your lives. However, I do have a half-decent excuse, in that, said interruption to normal service is on account of my getting hitched next week. To The Other Half, I mean. A civil partnership, with jewellery and ties and such. There are, therefore, things to be organised. And after 27 bloody years, I think I can consider myself sufficiently wooed.

Now that you’re all moved and tearful and engorged with bonhomie, I’m going to slyly remind patrons that this rickety barge, on whose seating your arses rest, is kept afloat by the kindness of strangers. If you’d like to help it remain buoyant a while longer, and remain ad-free, there’s an orange button below with which to monetise any love. Debit and credit cards are accepted. For those wishing to express their love regularly, there’s a monthly subscription option top left. And if one-click haste is called for, my PalPay.Me page can be found here. Additionally, any Amazon UK shopping done via this link or the search widget top right, or for Amazon US via this link, results in a small fee for your host at no extra cost to you.

Contributions towards covering the impending post-wedding bar tab, the likely proportions of which are now dawning on me, are of course welcome.

For newcomers wishing to know more about what’s been going on here for the last twelve years, in over 2,600 posts and over 100,000 comments, the reheated series is a pretty good place to start - in particular, the end-of-year summaries. If you like what you find there… well, there’s lots more of that.

If you can, do take a moment to poke through the discussion threads too. The posts are intended as starting points, not full stops, and the comments are where much of the good stuff is waiting to be found. And do please join in.

As always, thanks for the support, the comments, and the company. Also, open thread

Can You Spell ‘Bedlamite’?

Not that spelling matters, apparently:  

American University trains faculty not to judge quality of writing when grading.

It’s the world of the woke, where inversions abound.

Earlier this year, American University invited an outside professor [Dr Asao Inoue] to teach its faculty how to pursue “antiracist ends” through writing assessments… The training has now moved in-house, according to a faculty workshop taking place Thursday morning. Neisha-Anne Green of the Academic Support and Access Centre and Marnie Twigg of the Writing Studies Programme will lead the session, titled “How to Incorporate Anti-Racist Pedagogy in Your Classroom.”

Participants will be shown how to “revise course materials so they don’t accidentally promote or reinforce racist practices,” though the particulars are somehow both emphatic and opaque. We are, for instance, told that, “single standards” for language “kill our students,” which sounds just a tad breathless. There will, it seems, be lots of “redesigning assessment ecologies,” and quite a few “dimension-based rubrics,” which, via an as yet unspecified process, will upend “white racial habits of language,” resulting in some kind of righteous emancipation. In short, grading a student’s ability to convey their thoughts in writing - and to formulate thoughts by writing – is a manifestation of “white language supremacy,” an apparently murderous phenomenon, and therefore to be abandoned in the name of “inclusive excellence.”

Asao Inoue of the University of Washington-Tacoma is known for advocating that students should be graded based on the “labour” they put into their work, not the “quality” of the finished product.

According to Dr Inoue, teachers should “calculate course grades by labour completed and dispense almost completely with judgements of quality when producing course grades.” And so “critical information literacy” – a term deployed with an air of satisfaction – actually entails not being critical, or indeed literate. Dr Inoue, who denounces grammar as “racist” and “an unjust language structure,” has been mentioned here before, when boasting that a simple 495-word press release for his own “racial justice” Writing Centre took “over a year” to write. As if this reflected some profundity of thought, and not a more prosaic explanation.

Continue reading "Can You Spell ‘Bedlamite’?" »

I’m Just Going To Leave This Here, I Think

AI systems to detect ‘hate speech’ could have ‘disproportionate negative impact’ on African Americans.

If you’re laughing at the headline, you’re a terrible, terrible person.

A new Cornell University study reveals that some artificial intelligence systems created by universities to identify “prejudice” and “hate speech” online might be racially biased themselves and that their implementation could backfire, leading to the over-policing of minority voices online.


[Researcher, Thomas] Davidson said tweets written in “African American English,” or AAE, may be more likely to be considered offensive “due to […] internal biases.” For example, terms such as nigga and bitch are common hate speech “false positives.” “We need to consider whether the linguistic markers we use to identify potentially abusive language may be associated with language used by members of protected categories,” the study’s conclusion states.

“Human error” and “inadequate training” have been cited as explanations.

Update, via the comments:

Given the volume of research that’s subordinate to the conceit that anything reflecting poorly on a Designated Victim Group must therefore, by definition, be an unconscionable act of bias, it’s refreshing to see that the authors of the study do concede that the effect they denounce is most likely a result of statistical differences in actual behaviour:

Different communities have different speech norms, such that a model suitable for one community may discriminate against another… The ‘n-word’… can be extremely racist or quotidian, depending on the speaker… we should not penalise African-Americans for using [it].

However, the authors seem quaintly mystified by the fact that tweets by black people “are classified as containing sexism almost twice as frequently.” And whether the word bitch and various common synonyms should result in flagging and censure only when used by white people and other, as it were, unprotected categories is left to the imagination.

Also, open thread.

He Wants To Call You Names

Lifted from the comments

No other possibilities are conceivable.

It goes without saying chappie is an educator. Also needless to say, our educator chappie has form.

Given the self-satisfied ignorance on display - or malign perversity - I’m guessing Dr Kotsko doesn’t live in a neighbourhood rapidly being enlivened with Congolese and Somali borra gangs, whose social skills, and machetes, are so much in the news here.

Of course, it’s much easier to be dismissive of rapidly changing demographics and to disdain expectations of cultural common ground if your own immediate neighbourhood hasn’t yet been enriched by gangs of machete-wielding sociopaths, or by people butchering animal carcasses in the back garden, or newcomers struggling with the concept of electricity, or getting lively in the name of Islam, or just shitting on your doorstep, as happens in some of the more vibrant areas.

And yes, we’ve been here before.

Friday Ephemera

The fantasy bathrooms you’ve always wanted. (h/t, Julia) || Tiny animals on fingers. || His apple cheesecake is fancier than yours. (h/t, Elephants Gerald) || Cat-fur custom hats for cats. || Uranium in a cloud chamber. || Eh, close enough. || Tokyo, 1934. || A partial success. (h/t, Damian) || Painting with paper. || Dissolving pills. || People skills. || Ping pong Can-Can. || Supermarket scenes. || At least it was a manly scream. (h/t, Ben) || Imaging Earth. (h/t, Things) || There are tardigrades on the Moon. || “She has received many commendations for her customer service.” || Close encounter with a bluntnose sixgill. || Literature of note. || And finally, temptingly, you want one and you know it.

Her Big Fearless Self

He was white, you see, and obviously that’s another incriminating feature:

Eat feminism  become this.

Update, via the comments:

As so often, these little things are quite telling. I realise that gestures of politeness or chivalry aren’t always perfectly expressed, but it takes a certain churlishness, a practised sourness, to construe the above as some ill-intended act of patriarchal oppression, and therefore something to resist - before publicly congratulating yourself on Twitter. And as noted previously, it’s curious how all this feminist empowerment doesn’t seem to result in much stoicism or self-possession or mental resilience, just lots of narcissism, ingratitude and chronic whininess. Such that publicly disdaining the physical attributes – whiteness, maleness, middle-agedness – of the person offering to help you retrieve your overhead luggage – is deemed an act of woke piety. As if these were things for which a person should be disdained, along with their offers of help.

Via Ben Sixsmith. Also, open thread.