David Thompson
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March 31, 2021

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Squires

a student’s ability to convey their thoughts in writing - and to formulate thoughts by writing – is merely a manifestation of “white language supremacy,” an allegedly lethal phenomenon

Lethal it could be, to the egos and to the careers of his own kind.

David

Lethal it could be, to the egos and to the careers of his own kind.

The word parasite came to mind. And there’s an inexhaustible supply of rubes, delivered every year. Or, as noted previously,

Once again, so-called educators, self-styled champions of “social justice,” seem to function more as narcissistic saboteurs. In that, if you were shockingly spiteful and wanted to undermine the practical life chances of minority students, and leave them resentful, unskilled and racially fixated - and heavily in debt - it’s hard to see what you’d do differently.

And yet it goes on, and is applauded.

David

I’ve mentioned before how at my own state school there were several educators who felt that teaching even basic grammar was insufficiently forward-looking and therefore unnecessary. Consequently, at secondary school, my long-suffering German teacher was amazed to find that his ‘A’ stream students had no idea what a subordinate clause was and had almost no formal knowledge of grammar at all. As a result, the poor chap ended up spending large chunks of every lesson, for months, providing remedial English tuition to some of the brightest kids in school. So that we could eventually learn some German.

Similar views are still propagated by, among others, the Marxist, poet, and BBC regular Michael Rosen, who tells fellow Guardian readers that “there’s no such thing as correct grammar.” For Rosen - whose own grammar is of course carefully crafted - learning the rules of the national language is both oppressive and inegalitarian and should therefore be frowned upon. Presumably, Mr Rosen doesn’t believe that other people – poorer people or people with browner skin – should be offered the same tools to get on in life – the tools he employs. Perhaps they’re expected to compensate with proletarian gusto and ethnic charm.

Karl

at my own state school there were several educators who felt that teaching even basic grammar was insufficiently forward-looking

I had precisely the same experience when moving from a modern school who taught by "osmosis". The French teacher uttered a series of guttural French noises, the class repeated them, and we were then expected to absorb the language as a baby might.

When I changed to a much more backward school I discovered that there was an actual grammatical structure to both foreign and English languages and that books existed detailing these features which greatly facilitated their apprehension.

I never looked back.
Or should that be forward?

John Lewis

End of year ping. (For tax purposes you understand).

David

End of year ping. (For tax purposes you understand).

I’m more than happy to be implicated in any grey-area accounting practices you may indulge in. And bless you, sir. If you must be stuck in traffic, may scandalous gossip ease the passing of time.

David

The French teacher uttered a series of guttural French noises,

They do that, you know, the French.

[ Glares across English Channel, shakes fist. ]

David

Hm. Funny how a ping from my PayPal app really improves my mood. Feel positively jolly.

ConfusedTech

The French teacher uttered a series of guttural French noises

I always remember my first French language lesson when I was about 12. The teacher walked in to 30 kids who had never taken a French lesson in their life and proceeded to tell us entirely in French which page to turn to in our new textbook. The teaching went downhill from there really. I can understand how immersion language teaching can work (a colleague of mine learned English that way) but it is madness to ever think that technique could work with one hour long lesson a week.

A few years ago a read a book about National Servicemen were taught Russian & Chinese in the 50s so they could eavesdrop on radio transmissions. The author who had been one of the soldiers taught that way explained how it was only possible because all the 18 year olds selected had been to a selective School and had passed their Latin 'O' level so understood the rules and structure of grammar. The author had become a school teacher at a selective school after he left the army but resigned in the 70s when the school went comprehensive. At that point the Latin teaching was dropped as most of the kids weren't capable of it and he was expected to teach using the immersion method something he described as an impossible task.

Nikw211
    At the heart of racist discourse is the logic of categorization [... ] It creates haves and have-nots.

This point has been raised before, but I'm still curious as to how this same logic of Inoue's would apply, if at all, to excellence in sport and athletic competition.

If the same logic is applied, I wonder how effectively it translates into actually successful outcomes?

I'm not against encouraging the participation of all in sport - for fun, for health, for camaraderie, and for a dozen other benefits of taking part in team activities or track and field and so on.

But not even the most delusional or slow-witted child fails to learn the lesson that differences in height, mass, speed, strength, intuition and so on applied to basketball or soccer lead to consistent and regular failure or success in those events.

The short, fat, asthmatic girl with the jam-jar spectacles can show as much grit and determination as any of the others on the volleyball team. She may even win the admiration of team mates and spectators - but outside of feel-good Hallmark made-for-TV movies she is hardly likely to contribute to her team's success while at the same time she may actually be a principle reason for its failure.

And if the same logic is not applied to sport and athletic competition, what reasons are given for why not?

This is taken from a post entitled "Chapter 1: Racist Discourse as a Field" on Inoue's own blog, Infrequent Words:

    If you want to group people by race, socioeconomic status, or geographic habitation (where they are from), group them by how they talk. If you want to create an unfair system that privileges one group over others without naming any group, make one group’s ways of talking the standard by which privileges and opportunities are dolled out in the system. If you want that system to not look racist, then ignore the connections between racial groups and the languages they use. Ignore the fact that one group made the language standards and their language is racialized, as all languages are.

There are so many fundamental errors in this one short paragraph (e.g. "all languages are [racialized]") that it's a challenge to pick out the most egregious of them. Even so ...

    [G]roup them by how they talk ...

This suggests that everyone writes the same way that they talk - we do not, not even in text messages is that true. And since the focus is on writing and not on speaking he already seems to have fallen at the first hurdle by not recognising these are two entirely different capabilities.

Certain disabilities aside, all children learn language and can speak before they reach the first grade. Writing is another matter entirely and requires more specific and focussed instruction.

A child writing the letter 'o' when they mean 'a' or 'k' when they mean 'c' and so on will have a hard time making themselves intelligible by writing e.g.'dO goT sed orn de matj' for 'The cat sat on the mat'.

This makes me wonder whether Inoue extends this 'hands off' approach to spelling and orthography. For if he does, how will he be able to tell which child is dyslexic and and which child simply needs to develop the accuracy of their spelling? Or perhaps Inoue thinks this does not matter and no intervention is needed?

    [M]ake one group’s ways of talking the standard by which privileges and opportunities are dolled out in the system

Apart from the fact that, again, he is using talking and writing as if they are interchangeable - they are not - he is now also assuming that there is no necessary reason why language A happens to be the standard over language B and that if B were to replace A, then the only consequence would be to see "privileges and opportunities" awarded to group B and not group A.

This is such an embarrassingly idiotic premise that I can fairly feel my cheeks flushing just reading it.

For one thing, the standard version of any language, especially in its written form, is one that everyone has to learn. No child outside of an as yet unwritten sitcom is raised to write in the form of a government policy, executive summary or master's degree thesis.
These are highly specialised forms of writing that no one has more access to than others as a result of the dialect they speak at home.

His assumption is presumably that it is only an accident of history, more or less, that has resulted in language A becoming the standard over language B. And in a way, yes, that is literally true - English is the official language of the USA for quite specific historical reasons.

However, it completely ignores the fact that language A has developed and evolved in response to the needs and purposes that it has been put to in an ever more complex and technologically advanced society such as the USA.

General American English is not the standard because "white" people speak it at home (quite apart from the fact that almost none of them if not actually none of them do), but because of the uses it is put to.

You could not simply replace General American English with African American Vernacular English and see no change but in who receives the "privileges and opportunities are dolled out in the system."

And if by some means African American Vernacular English were to become a new 'standard' it would of necessity rapidly transform and evolve from what it is now in order to fit purposes that go beyond mundane things like what you did that day, who won last night's ball game or can you get me some more orange juice from the store and so on.

And that's just one paragraph of this.

If that weren't enough to make me despair, the thought of a whole army of die-hard supporters ready to leap in to his defence on the grounds that as a self-confessed anti-racist scholar he must be right in whatever he says and whosoever would dare to question his ideas must by default be a foaming at the mouth racist terrified of losing his/her privileges in a white supremacist cissexist heteropatriarchal system.

David

There are so many fundamental errors in this one short paragraph… that it’s a challenge to pick out the most egregious of them.

Well, the basic premise, the assumption on which all of this is piled, is laughably impractical and indeed perverse. If the wider population regards being inarticulate, imprecise and unable to write in an adult manner as warning signs - say, in terms of employing university graduates – then that’s unlikely to change. People will make those kinds of judgments widely and for the foreseeable future. They are not generally wrong to do so. A job application littered with basic errors of spelling and grammar, and which has clearly not been proof-read, is sending a message. One that will be detected.

And encouraging university students - because, again, that’s who we’re talking about - to give employers the impression that no education has in fact taken place - and that they don’t much care whether they are clearly understood - doesn’t seem likely to achieve much of anything. At least, nothing positive. Dr Inoue is encouraging students to waste their time, and money, and prospects, by shouting at the rain.

To say nothing of the fact that the people most obviously indulging in the “racist discourse” of “categorisation” are very often inhabitants of the Clown Quarter. Which is to say, people such as Dr Inoue.

anon a mouse

dO goT sed orn de matj'

A fine band name.

In Wales, perhaps...

Nikw211

(Not trying to outstay my welcome, but ...)

Not entirely unrelated, this:

    In late September 2020 children at Pimlico academy in central London took down a union jack that had been erected outside their school. The flag was then taken to Churchill Gardens, a large housing estate nearby, where more than half of the schools’ pupils reportedly reside, and set alight to resounding cheers [ ... ] the pupils accused the school’s management of racism, claiming that the new policy [on school uniform and dress codes] would penalise Muslims and those with afro hairstyles.

School uniform was not the only thing found objectionable:

    Another source said flying the union jack had been unnecessarily antagonistic and had fostered division.

And now this:

    Over the weekend the school walls were daubed with graffiti, which has since been removed. Photographs seen by the Guardian included criticism of the union jack that remains permanently erected outside the school: “Ain’t no black in the Union Jack …” There were also calls for [Daniel] Smith [the Head] to be sacked. Other graffiti said: “White schools for brown kids are u mad” and: “Pimlico Academy … run by racists … for profit!!!”

When I read that the graffiti had included “Ain’t no black in the Union Jack …” I was for a moment dumbfounded.

For someone of my generation, “Ain’t no black in the Union Jack …” was a chant associated with overtly racist movements such as the National Front and the British National Party. It was the kind of thing skinheads in stonewash jeans and 18-hole bull's blood Doc Marten's used to chant while giving Nazi salutes.

Yet if I've understood that report correctly, protestors have apparently used “Ain’t no black in the Union Jack …” as an anti-racist statement. Even accepting that it must have been intended as an ironic inversion of that once well-known racist slogan, it seems an absolutely incredible thing to willingly dredge up from the past. Still, on the other hand, it casts the slogan “White schools for brown kids are u mad” in an even more alarming light regarding the attitudes of whoever daubed that on the wall.

Sometimes, all this feels like finding yourself faced with a dangerous lunatic who insists that you are to blame for his having handcuffed himself to you (a fact he vehemently denies), who keeps demanding you give him a key you have never had, and who therefore finally decides that there is no other way for him to gain his freedom from you, his oppressor, than by trying to throw himself into the path of every passing truck, somehow believing that he will come out of it unscathed.

anon a mouse

Also - "dolled out" seems a bit... odd, no?

asiaseen

Don't these idiots (I'm being polite) understand they are promoting apartheid - or is that what they want?

Burnsie

Per Insty yesterday, here's what happens when these kids hit the job market:

https://www.thecollegefix.com/campus-diversity-program-accused-of-having-toxic-environment/

"Among the allegations was that women of color were told their writing was not eloquent or effective and that microaggressions were common, according to the March 16 report.

“There were lies about my performance which relates directly to white supremacy culture at ADVANCE,” said Maria Ozor Commer, a former program employee and a central source in the Daily’s investigation."

Hoisted by their own petard, sure, but it's still a disgrace to brainwash kids into believing that grammar is racist.

Karl

Ah, I think I'll relax with Aldi's Espresso Machine

WTP

protestors have apparently used “Ain’t no black in the Union Jack …” as an anti-racist statement. Even accepting that it must have been intended as an ironic inversion of that once well-known racist slogan,

It's this. Very much this. Control the language, control the minds. AIUI from reading excerpts, essays and such, Noam Chomsky was pushing this Orwellian understanding. But whenever I would try to point this out to people I would learn quite quickly how few college educated people had any idea who that was, or cared one wit about Orwell. If noticed at all it was just something to laugh about. Now we've reached a point where one can read entire essays that go on for pages and still have no concrete evidence that the author believes in the subject thing or it's exact opposite. It's as if the word 'literally' no longer literally means 'literally' and there are no consequences for such. Perhaps it is for the good if it causes Skynet to meet the same fate as the Tower of Babel.

Daniel Ream

If you want to group people by race, socioeconomic status, or geographic habitation (where they are from), group them by how they talk. If you want to create an unfair system that privileges one group over others without naming any group, make one group’s ways of talking the standard by which privileges and opportunities are dolled out in the system.

It's 'oww' and 'garn' that keep her in her place; not her wretched clothes, or dirty face. Why, if you spoke as she does, sir, instead of the way you do - you might be selling flowers too.

George Bernard Shaw may have been a hoary old socialist, but he wasn't wrong about language and classism.

David

told their writing was not eloquent or effective

Mediocre students have been hustled into higher education (and debt) as if simply being there will somehow, dramatically, boost their IQs, while universities continue to lower standards in order to hide the obvious problem. With the result that, as Duke Pesta noted, it’s all but impossible, career-wise, for a professor to fail 40% of his students, even if 40% of his students really shouldn’t be there. And as universities approach the cognitive barrel bottom in order to achieve unearned “diversity” quotas, the more these issues will be apparent. The more contortion and dishonesty will be required. Most likely, as above, any shortcomings in competence will be blamed on some gaseous “white supremacy culture.” It’s farcical.

anon a mouse

as if simply being there will somehow, dramatically, boost their IQs

Well, in these former colonies, the "degree" has become a "job checkmark" (See Griggs vs Duke Power) with no bearing on one's actual edjumication. You see, Kolledge is now required for just about anything.

Including Sushi server.

Jeff Guinn

... explains that his book discusses “grading literacy performances more broadly” — namely, by judging “final course grades purely by the labor students complete, not by any judgments of the quality of their writing.”

And here I'd thought Marx's Labor Theory of Value had been comprehensively rubbished, even among those with powerful antibodies to the glaringly apparent.

If you want to group people by race, socioeconomic status, or geographic habitation (where they are from), group them by how they talk. If you want to create an unfair system that privileges one group over others without naming any group, make one group’s ways of talking the standard by which privileges and opportunities are dolled out in the system. If you want that system to not look racist, then ignore the connections between racial groups and the languages they use. Ignore the fact that one group made the language standards and their language is racialized, as all languages are.

Fine. Let's run with this.

As it happens, there are writing genres where meaning very much matters, and that meaning can only be conveyed by widely agreed rules on grammar, syntax, logic, etc.

I suspect the good Dr. would not prefer the results of his turd-polishing grading standards writing, oh, say, manuals for the installation and maintenance of high voltage power lines.

Instead, they will be perfectly suited to careers as SJWs — a field where supply nearly infinitely exceeds demand.

pst314

The word parasite came to mind.

That word cannot be used too often. Nor is it unjust to apply it to the supposedly more moderate "liberals" who hire, promote, subsidize, and defend these parasites.

Governor Squid

I have a My Woke Lady production in my head where Act II consists of a pissed-off Eliza convincing Freddy to "Show Me" his love by breaking out the Antifa drag and throwing bricks and Molotovs at the Higgins house. (All bankrolled by Alfred's newfound riches, of course.)

George Bernard Shaw may have been a hoary old socialist, but he wasn't wrong about language and classism.

Unsurprisingly I'm not the first to make this connection.

Uma Thurmond's Feet

Karl, thanks so much for the link. I'm lovin' him! I'm especially loving the YT commenters, some of which are quite funny, and many wondering if he's for real (I suspect he is).

I'm also reminded of an excerpt on Althouse about "Grumpy old white dudes" trying and failing to make money from writing.

Meanwhile, James Hoffman has 784K subscribers and a video with over a million views, of him taking on an espresso machine from Aldis. And Steven Crowder with more than five million subscribers commentating on the news. Heck, Scott Adams draws viewers on YouTube and it's just him and a camera and a cup of coffee.

Like the Kinks sang, you gotta give the people what they want.

Adam

Students graduating without language skills, ignorant in math, deficient in technical subjects will not fail - if they are BIPOC/LGBTQ++. To the contrary, they will be hired quickly, receive high performance ratings and be promoted swiftly to the upper echelons of management.

Darleen

As when we learned that grading a student’s ability to convey their thoughts in writing - and to formulate thoughts by writing – is merely a manifestation of “white language supremacy,” an allegedly lethal phenomenon, and therefore to be abandoned in the name of, and I quote, “inclusive excellence.”

Amazing how individuals afraid of black literacy have come full circle.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

The word parasite came to mind.

"Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts", only a racist would think something like that would be "parasitic", look at his CV, before being An Academic™ for the last 23 years he had a job, excuse me, Industry Post, for 16 months after all.

“Grading, because it requires a single, dominant standard, is a racist and White supremacist practice,” he adds.

It is such a racist and yte supremacist practice that it is practiced in every country on the planet without regard to race, creed, color, or religion. It never ceases to amaze me that this lot can continue to spout things that are so obviously antipodal to reality, and not only continue to get away with it, but be lauded as Deep Thinkers™.

A related discussion regarding admissions tests.

The French teacher uttered a series of guttural French noises...

To quote the immortal Robert Benchley, "There are five French vowels, ong, ong, ong, ong, and ong.

APL

“Ain’t no black in the Union Jack …”

Of course there is no black in flags of Somalia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, and many others. Is that why Blacks leave those countries ?

Severian

As a youth long ago, I thought about joining the US Army (this was decades ago). I got far enough in the process to be sent off to take their languages exam. Still the hardest test I've ever taken (I have a PhD, for whatever that's worth). It simply assumed you knew English grammar cold - you got a set of rules for an imaginary language and 10 minutes to memorize them; the rest was oral.

Can't imagine what it's like today. It's possible a lot of our military blunders stem from the lack of competent people able to learn the required languages.

ns

And here I'd thought Marx's Labor Theory of Value had been comprehensively rubbished

well, yes, Jeff, unless you REALLY want to believe. The Prof is putting his Marxist theory into practice, but as he is not the one who is harmed when it fails I'll give him no credit for that.

Ain’t no black in the Union Jack …

I am gobsmacked how often a modern'anti-racist' practice is the same as a racist practice from decades past. It used to be considered racist to not educate or mis-educate minorities.

I haven't read the prof's book, but I'm willing to bet it isn't written in the way the prof is advocating his students write. I doubt his Ph.D. thesis is written that way. Is he trying to prevent his students from achieving the success that he has? Trying to restrict the competition in his field? This looks like class warfare to me ;)

And yet, for pointing this out, I'm the racist?

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Bear with me, this is highly intersectional of sub-standard academic performance (the author having been dropped from a surgical residency), white supremacy, and, from the last thread, Asians being set upon.

Behold, the real reason for black on Asian crime, not that you expected anything different. What is worse is all the ninnies agreeing with this (not that that is really surprising anymore either).

MC

Coffee machine chap was amusing. All that fuss! He ought to get a Nespresso instead.

Faarnsworth M Muldoon

He ought to get a Nespresso instead.

OTOH, he could just dump a Number 10 can of grounds into a 5 gallon pot of boiling water and enjoy coffee as served in the finest MKTs everywhere, and quit complaining.

David

Behold, the real reason for black on Asian crime,

Imagine that being your mental landscape.

Previously.

Squires

Yet if I've understood that report correctly, protestors have apparently used “Ain’t no black in the Union Jack …” as an anti-racist statement.

Anti-racist as defined by a standard wherein “smash the white man!” is not only accepted as an anti-racist sentiment, but as a required element.

Sometimes, all this feels like finding yourself faced with a dangerous lunatic who insists that you are to blame for his having handcuffed himself to you...

It only feels that way because it is that way.

Don't these idiots (I'm being polite) understand they are promoting apartheid - or is that what they want?

Maybe and precisely, respectively. That is, they desire the sort of racialist madhouse Mandela ushered in, but in circumstances where they will have so many more potential victims to toy with.

Some may recall Muhammad’s promise to his followers that, come the Last Day, every true and faithful believer would have his own Jew to slay.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

Meanwhile, back to standardized testing, a congressman does not make the point he thinks he does (NY is not covering itself in glory with its politicians lately).

Sam

Out of curiosity how is Dr Asao Inoue’s grammar?

Thought so.

exdemocrat

Good stuff here: https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/03/31/at-last-the-myth-of-institutional-racism-is-collapsing/

Sonny Wayz

"privileges and opportunities are dolled out in the system"

If we were referring to someone with an appreciation of the language, I'd assume this was supposed to be 'doled' out, and was a typo.

But it is difficult to be certain...

pst314

a congressman does not make the point he thinks he does

If what he does can accurately be called 'thinking'.

Steve E

Coffee machine chap was amusing. All that fuss!

We used to say anal, as in anal retentive. Given observed behaviours on youtube and other social media, it is, perhaps, time to revive the usage.

I can't be the only one who wanted to bitch-slap the chap.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

...and now for something completely different, well not really, more Marvel/Star Wars wokeness.

Darleen

Prescient

Daniel Ream

Prescient

Well, they do say economics isn't a real science.

WTP

Yeah...Sagan....another pathetic part of 5he problem. Who was ever seriously clutching their crystals and consulting our horoscopes? There have always been such people in the margins and always will, but they weren't who he was signaling about. You know to what 'superstition' he was truly referring, correct? And while he was spewing this sort of content, he was bringing along his own protege of a secular blind faith, the insufferable Neil deGrasse Tyson. And as Daniel Ream also points out, the great scientific mind of Sagan was a proponent of letting the "smart" people, like him of course, run things via socialism. Seriously, I never understood what people saw in that guy. Especially relative to Feynman and so many others like him who were also popularizing science, just not as their main purpose. Aside from restating facts that other real scientists discovered about the universe, the billions and billions schtick never resonated with me. He sounded like some sort of religious fanatic himself. Well, to me anyway.

Daniel Ream

I never understood what people saw in that guy

Like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, he was personable and amiable. The type of personality necessary to do science well is meticulous, detail-oriented, and introverted. Scientists generally make poor science advocates. What Carl Sagan, Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson really are is salesmen, selling Science! as an idea to non-scientists. That a little agenda-mongering sneaks in there along with the Science! is a feature, not a bug.

Most scientists hate salesmen because salesmen's personalities and motivations are generally the polar opposite of scientists. In a sense, all salesmen lie for a living.

Daniel Ream

the great scientific mind of Sagan was a proponent of letting the "smart" people, like him of course, run things via socialism

That bollocks about the infant mortality rate is easy to debunk, too: countries define "infant mortality" differently. The US counts infant deaths that occur any time after a live birth, whereas most countries in that list do not count infant deaths that occur a short time after the live birth as an infant death (they're coded as miscarriages or stillbirths). That artificially depresses their numbers.

It's a common canard, and easy to debunk, and it's fun to watch people who spout the factoid sputter and blink and BSDO when you point out the two numbers aren't comparable because they're measuring different things.

Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat

I am, theoretically, a grownup (61). Would any grownups reading care to comment on this?

https://www.salon.com/2021/03/29/i-want-to-be-more-like-ramona-quimby-beverly-clearys-patron-saint-of-messy-girls-as-an-adult/

As a grownup, would you model yourself on a fictional 10-year-old? I found this weird to the point of needing treatment.

(Beverly Cleary, Ramona’s creator, just died a couple of days ago.)

David

Out of curiosity how is Dr Asao Inoue’s grammar?

Unsurprisingly, Dr Inoue’s speech and writing are generally delivered in conventional grammar, with no inept spelling or mismatched tenses. Though the inevitable woke pablum has to be hacked through.

But then he, unlike his victims – sorry, students - has a cushy job.

Daniel Ream

Would any grownups reading care to comment on this?

Millenial writers are stuck in a kind of permanent retarded adolescence?

I found this weird to the point of needing treatment.

I didn't, but working in the software industry I work with a lot of millenials so I see the behaviour. What's happening is an entire generation of "adults" has been coddled and shielded from any of what used to be the typical adolescent shoulderings of responsibility until well into their early twenties. The legal system hasn't caught up, though, steadfastly insisting that 22-year-old college graduates are statutory adults and responsible for themselves. The result is a bunch of recent college grads thrust abruptly from a safe, coddling, infantilizing environment without meaningful consequences into a harsh world that does not revolve around them and their self-absorbed feelings; a world where someone is going to have to clean up that toothpaste and go buy some more. Someone who, very likely, had other plans for their afternoon and is none too amused by her childish antics.

Of course the little dears are going to constantly yearn for childhood. Bless their little hearts.

Apropos of nothing, I tried watching WandaVision. I made it 8 minutes into the first episode. I don't know how this made it past test screenings. I thought David was exaggerating about how tediously it treated the core conceit; mea culpa, David. Mea maxima culpa.

It doesn't help that Paul Bettany is playing his character far more like his Chaucer from A Knight's Tale than the actual Vision.

David

I tried watching WandaVision. I made it 8 minutes into the first episode. I don’t know how this made it past test screenings. I thought David was exaggerating about how tediously it treated the core conceit; mea culpa, David. Mea maxima culpa.

I hate to be right. No, that’s a bald lie. But yes, the mismatch of almost uniformly gushing reviews and what’s actually offered, the thing you’re stuck with, is quite something. The first three episodes in particular seem determined to repel interest and corrode any enthusiasm, not just for the series, but the wider Marvel project. It’s a flat joke and they keep on telling it. The supposed Big Reveal of the last two episodes, is, to say the least, underwhelming and certainly an insufficient pay-off for all the tedium that preceded it. The whole thing was much too busy being meta to actually be good.

[ Added: ]

Falcon and the Winter Soldier also seemed keen to stamp out any interest on my part. There’s only so much laboured and pretentious racial politics one can stomach. Black victimology, expressed without subtlety, isn’t something I’ve much appetite for. Hence, one cancelled Disney+ subscription.

Nikw211

[T]he mismatch of almost uniformly gushing reviews and what’s actually offered, the thing you’re stuck with, is quite something.

It was just such a mismatch as this, of "uniformly gushing reviews" of often incredibly mediocre and/or glitchy games, that was arguably very much the real background to GamerGate.

A clique of mostly West Coast based graduates, many of whom it soon transpired had little interest in actual gaming, writing ever more overtly politicised reviews apparently with a view (pace Stalin) to engineering the souls of the nation's youth.

It was this, really, that provided the tinder for sparks tossed on it by the allegations regarding Zoe Quinn's personal life (certainly not a widespread epidemic of misogyny as claimed).

People often roll their eyes whenever I mention "GamerGate" as if it's an irrelevant piece of ancient history, but I always feel they miss the main point which is that the real consequence of GamerGate was that for very significant numbers of people, the mask slipped from the Mainstream Media and you saw the corruption that lay behind it and how little it had changed since Evelyn Waugh wrote Scoop in 1938.

Most notably, in the way the story has been decided upon long in advance of any actual 'reporting' on the matter, in the way journalists evidently see themselves not as reporters but as opinion-formers and kingmakers, in the intensely jealous way they guard over that power and how quick they are to band together to destroy anyone who dares suggest that journalism is anything less than a selfless and heroic occupation.

David

for very significant numbers of people, the mask slipped from the Mainstream Media and you saw the corruption that lay behind it

See also the James Damore / Google Memo Saga, which likewise revealed a wilful, often shocking, dishonesty on the part of supposedly statusful journalists and broadcasters – a dishonesty engaged in widely and with eerie uniformity, most obviously in the left-leaning media.

Nikw211

a wilful, often shocking, dishonesty

Absolutely.

And let's not forget the absolutely disgusting show trials of scientists Matt Taylor (2014) and Tim Hunt (2015), when the effortlessly talentless gleefully ruined the reputation of the exceptional.

Or for that matter, the Isla Vista murders, also in 2014, of Eliot Rodger.

Rodger's written and spoken statements alone made it obvious to even non-experts that this was a young person with quite severe psychological issues - yet this was not only flatly denied as a leading cause by many in both social and mainstream media, but that the deep-seated hatred of women was a normal part of everyday life and that Rodger was simply expressing what most men think and believe.

And later how the tragedy was quickly transformed by one Professor of Gender, Media and Sociology into this statement during a live, public debate:

    So we had this kind of debate [on rape culture and male entitlement] after the Isla Vista shootings in California, where Eliot Rodger gunned down six women

At the time, she was a Lecturer in Media and Communication with both a BA and a PhD in Journalism Studies - and yet apparently she could not even be bothered to look up the fact that Rodger's victims were in fact four men as well as two women.

Yes of course, we all make mistakes - but that cannot apply here since that comment was made as part of a prepared, opening statement in advance of a panel debate. She therefore really has no excuse for getting such a crucial detail so hopelessly wrong.

Something similar seems to have come about in response to the report from The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. I am seeing claims everywhere that the report denies the existence of any kind or form of racism in the UK - something you do not even have to look at the report to know is false.

And yet that claim is being everywhere at the moment.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

I found this weird to the point of needing treatment.

Also this: San Francisco (of course) school board VP makes tweets racist tweets, first blames Trump (of course) and refuses to resign but is stripped of committee assignments, so is suing the school board and individual members (of course),

...seeking cash damages for "spiritual injury to her soul" which she will suffer "in perpetuity, for the rest of her life."

She also quotes Pastor Niemoller per this guy who has the court documents for anyone wishing to wade through them.

pst314

See also the James Damore / Google Memo Saga, which likewise revealed a wilful, often shocking, dishonesty

That malevolent dishonesty is grounds for campaigns of public criticism aimed and destroying the journalists' reputations and careers. Those who do evil should not be tolerated.

pst314

San Francisco (of course) school board VP makes tweets racist tweets...is stripped of committee assignments, so is suing the school board and individual members (of course)

Grounds for public criticism aimed at making her too toxic to employ in any position of "public service".

svh

“standards… are white supremacist,”

Idiocracy was not a how-to guide.

pst314

Like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, he [Carl Sagan] was personable and amiable.

Yes, that was a key factor in his success as a popularizer. I met another scientist who attempted but failed to start a third career in popularizing science: He was a good explainer but he didn't have the spark that made Sagan so appealing.

Most scientists hate salesmen because salesmen's personalities and motivations are generally the polar opposite of scientists. In a sense, all salesmen lie for a living.

As a matter of fact, I once met a physicist who knew Sagan well. He did not have a high opinion of Sagan's personality.

Karl

a congressman does not make the point he thinks he does

He's a congressman??

As far as I can ascertain, he is bewailing the notion that a tree-climbing test might exclude candidates who are unable to climb trees. I'm sure any potentially racist implications in the monkey being the clearly favoured aspirant are entirely inadvertent.

Daniel Ream

The whole thing was much too busy being meta to actually be good

Unspoken subtext: Wanda clearly watched Seth McFarlane levels of retro TV growing up in...Sokovia.

I keep coming back to the Season 5 episode of Supernatural that did precisely the same story arc, with precisely the same beats, and precisely the same jokes, and yet managed to do it in 47 minutes.

There’s only so much laboured and pretentious racial politics

I felt the same way about DC's Black Lightning, which started out with a good premise but spent so much time wallowing in cartoonish racial and sexual agenda-mongering that I couldn't stomach it. I miss Dwayne McDuffie.

pst314

Prescient

Well, they do say economics isn't a real science.

I'm not surprised that Sagan would have embraced all sorts of crackpot social theories. Many people in the STEM fields are abysmally ignorant outside their specialties, getting their opinions others. What's more, they have a natural tendency to favor endless growth of the government that funds them.

pst314

And as Daniel Ream also points out, the great scientific mind of Sagan was a proponent of letting the "smart" people, like him of course, run things via socialism.

Not the only one. Isaac Asimov never met a liberal policy he didn't like, and although he would freely deplore conservatives he was strangely silent about communists although he knew quite a few.

asiaseen

she will suffer "in perpetuity, for the rest of her life."

One or the other, dear, one or the other. Unless she is, of course, An Immortal.

pst314

He's a congressman??

Leads to some speculation about the intelligence and character of his constituents.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

He's a congressman??

TBF, we had one who thought Guam would tip over if more Marines were stationed there, one who asked if a Mars rover would see the flag Armstrong planted, one who claimed that if there was a ban on high normal capacity magazines we'd eventually run out of bullets, and the other day Alexandria Khrushchev Cortez made a statement that saying there was a surge at the border was wrong because they weren't insurgents.

OTOH, occasionally one hits it out of the park: “You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the senate [or congress], though.”

anon a mouse

Idiocracy was not a how-to guide.

Just "civilization" carried out to it's logical conclusion. I recall that by the 5th century, "civilization" couldn't figure out how to tear down a Roman aqueduct...

Sagan would have embraced all sorts of crackpot social theories

Not just social - recall his "nuke winter" speeches on Saddam's oil fires after GW 1...

sH2

doesn’t seem likely to achieve much of anything, beyond a cycle of failure and disaffection, and more self-flattering fantasies of racial persecution.

It's a feature, not a bug.

David

It’s a feature, not a bug.

Well, you have to wonder how the objections above, which are hardly esoteric, have somehow, apparently, escaped Dr Inoue. Despite these problems being obvious, glaringly so, they don’t seem to figure in his thinking. It should also be fairly obvious that encouraging teenagers to displace responsibility – to regard almost any shortcoming or failure as someone else’s fault, as proof of “systemic racism” or “white supremacy” - is not an act of kindness or “compassion.” It just propagates a kind of moral neoteny.

And when teenagers are being told that they deserve a place at university, and deserve to be thought intelligent and rewarded accordingly, while feeling entitled to disregard customary standards and expectations of competence, as if learning even basic skills were somehow unnecessary, this is not a recipe for success or any sense of lasting personal achievement. The only people who seem to benefit are the ones being paid to peddle this woo.

Again, the word parasite.

Karl

Jonathan Kay has a delightfully sardonic article Weaponizing Social Justice to Protect School Administrators and Discredit Whistle-blowers up at Quillette.

Karl

I can't be the only one who wanted to bitch-slap the chap.

Ah, that Aldi Coffee Guy. I must admit I'm torn. On the one hand yes, he's obviously an utter self-opinionated tosser. On the other, you have to admire his aplomb. He knows full well what he is and seems to be revelling in it. Snide, supercilious bastards like the magnificent A. A. Gill often make great reviewers or critics. Provided it's not you they're criticising, of course.

Karl

Here's Jonathan Kay in a more thoughtful opinion piece on how good intentions also hurt indigenous academics. Though the term "academics" there is doing some heavy lifting.

pst314

how good intentions also hurt indigenous academics.

Would an indigenous academic be someone who was born on campus and never left?

ComputerLabRat

And when teenagers are being told that they deserve a place at university, and deserve to be thought intelligent and rewarded accordingly, while feeling entitled to disregard customary standards and expectations of competence, as if learning even basic skills were somehow unnecessary, this is not a recipe for success or any sense of lasting personal achievement.

This.

Except it is a recipe for success, but not as we would define success. The ground is being prepped for the next level. They've already got it to where these kids are "entitled to" and "deserve to" graduate from high school without doing any work, learning anything, including to read and write, or even to show up to school. Then these same "graduates" were told they were entitled to and deserved to be admitted to college, where they are now being told they don't need to learn anything there either, and in fact are so special that holding them to the same standards everyone else is held to is harming them, and they are entitled to and deserve jobs. The next step is to force employers to hire these same uneducated, miseducated, entitled students to jobs because to actually expect them to perform tasks and behave according to workplace standards is Racist, -phobic, and Harmful to BIPOC, BAME, and whatever the BLTQWERTY++ group wants to be tagged as today. And there is a post and a fisking of an article on this very fine site, for each of those things. With the rise of anti-racism, critical race theory, BLM, and the trans mafia, employers are being prepped to hire people who obviously can't do the job, or else be canceled. It hasn't gone completely mainstream, partly because some jobs are too much like hard work, or don't pay enough,for most of these types, and there has been no cry for Equity in those fields.

Adam

A former First Lady of the US was noted for her lack of language skills, but notably graduated from a prestigious law school and held a number of executive positions for which she had no experience or aptitude. These jobs consisted largely of attending meetings, signing letters, and appearing at public events to demonstrate the virtue of her employing organization.

Microbillionaire
I am gobsmacked how often a modern'anti-racist' practice is the same as a racist practice from decades past. It used to be considered racist to not educate or mis-educate minorities.

Perhaps you will be less gobsmacked if you consider that miseducating minorities is key to the functioning of the Anti apparatus.

A competent, educated black man can thrive on his own skills.

An incompetent, ignorant black man can't, but he can get into a codependent relationship with the Antis.

The mechanism looks roughly like this:
-The Antis tell an incompetent, ignorant black man that he's just as skilled as anyone else, and he deserves the best jobs because competence is a white supremacist myth
-The rest of the world tells the man that he's a dumbass who should fuck off to remedial schooling, not come here putting on airs
-The man believes the Antis because it's flattering to believe them and he's lacking in self-awareness, and pledges loyalty to the Antis as they're treating him as [he thinks] he deserves
-The Antis make morality-noises about how they are the only ones who love poor unfortunate put-upon black men, and the rest of the world is racist.
Repeat ad nauseam.

There might be a paper in this, if sociology were a healthy science. Since it isn't, I can only pass on what I heard in the comment sections of the internet, describing the four-stroke engine above. It's a wicked, abusive mechanism, but a very effective one. It produces large amounts of loyal, cohesive footsoldiers. This is what a command structure in the culture war looks like.

cc

Everyone needs to be able to write clearly and read with comprehension. When we hired a handyman, the guy who was a mess (truck full of junk, couldn't return calls or give a quote) was rejected even though white. The hispanic guy gave a careful written quote with nice formatting and he built our deck. My black plumber friend had to write a very important long letter and had me proof it--it was very close to perfect even before my help. Secretaries are expected to be able to spell and catch mistakes, no matter what color they are. The bigotry shown by such educators as this post is stunning, but so is their laziness--because in fact charter and religious schools have been teaching kids to read and write for a long time so it can be done.

David

There might be a paper in this, if sociology were a healthy science.

[ Rummages in bin for out-of-date jar of olives, slides it along bar to Microbillionaire. ]

On the house.

Daniel Ream

When we hired a handyman, the guy who was a mess (truck full of junk, couldn't return calls or give a quote) was rejected even though white.

It's the "no brown M&Ms" thing. Even if a job doesn't necessarily require good writing skills, those skills are a useful proxy for attention to detail, adherence to standards, coherence of thought, and willingness to go on record.

Rafi

Even if a job doesn't necessarily require good writing skills, those skills are a useful proxy for attention to detail, adherence to standards, coherence of thought, and willingness to go on record.

This.

Dr. Chaotica

Isaac Asimov never met a liberal policy he didn't like, and although he would freely deplore conservatives he was strangely silent about communists although he knew quite a few.

It's worse than that. He was born in Soviet Russia when Lenin was running the country. His family (poor rural Jews) fled to the U.S. when he was three. He was, of course, too young to understand what was turning his native country into a totalitarian hellhole. As an adult, he was knowledgeable enough about history that he wrote many books about it. But somehow, he never managed to see how close his own political views were to those of the communists that his parents had saved him from.

(I'm not exaggerating. Asimov was 21 years old when Germany invaded the USSR. If he had still been living in Russia, he would have been drafted into the Red Army and thrown into the meat grinder of Germany's Eastern Front. His chances of surviving the war would have been insignificant. Emigrating to the U.S. literally saved his life.)

pst314

It's worse than that.

It's even worse than that:

He was a member of the Futurians science fiction club, which was full of Communists who wanted science fiction (publishing and fandom) to be thoroughly ideological--Stalinist even. (Frederick Pohl was at the time a card-carrying Party member.*)

In his two-volume, 1500 page autobiography (In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt) he specifically criticized Robert Heinlein and John W. Campbell for their conservative opinions, but he did not even mention the Communist ideology of the Futurians.

In his later, shorter autobiography I, Asimov he does mention the Futurians but describes them merely as "anti-fascist":

The splinter group had broken off because they were activists who felt that science fiction fans ought to take a stronger anti-Fascist stand, while the main group held that science fiction was above politics. Had I known about the split I would have resolutely sided with the splinter group, so that by [accidentally] ending up there I came to the right place.

Here he employed a common Communist lie, characterizing Stalinists as anti-Fascists and soft-pedaling their goals as "taking a stronger stand" rather than "make science fiction a vehicle for Communist propaganda". Again, Isaac Asimov lied. He lied to protect the reputations of people who worked for an evil ideology.

pst314

It's worse than that.

In his two-volume autobiography he said that he would not criticize the Soviet Union because they allowed his parents to emigrate to America. Given what I wrote above, I think we can safely conclude that he was lying about his reasons.

pst314

If he had still been living in Russia, he would have been drafted into the Red Army and thrown into the meat grinder of Germany's Eastern Front. His chances of surviving the war would have been insignificant. Emigrating to the U.S. literally saved his life.

He did say something to that effect in his autobiography.

WTP

According to Wiki, it's worse than that:

Paul Krugman, holder of a Nobel Prize in Economics, has stated Asimov's concept of psychohistory inspired him to become an economist.
OK, so aside from the robot rules thing, and the fact that I for some stupid reason frequently confuse him with Arthur C. Clark, I can't think of anything about him that stuck with me. And I had my doubts about the viability of the robot thing. Still do.

Steve E

I for some stupid reason frequently confuse him with Arthur C. Clark

I thought I was the only one.

pst314

And I had my doubts about the viability of the robot thing.

I'll come right out and say that it's pretty much bullshit, but it served the purpose he intended, which was to write stories about robots that were *not* Frankenstein monster stories.

pst314

I for some stupid reason frequently confuse him with Arthur C. Clark

Interesting, since their styles seem distinctly different to me. For one thing, Clark's stories tend to have a lonely feel to them, which may have to do with the fact that Clark was a solitary child.

Daniel Ream

I for some stupid reason frequently confuse him with Arthur C. Clark

All the SF author pedos tend to blend together after a while.

And I had my doubts about the viability of the robot thing.

People badly misunderstand the Three Laws. The entire point of the Three Laws is that they don't work. Every single story that uses them as a plot element is explicitly about the fact that they don't work in a practical world.

Richard Cranium
Ah, that Aldi Coffee Guy. I must admit I'm torn. On the one hand yes, he's obviously an utter self-opinionated tosser.

I've watched several other of his videos. He's a coffee oriented engineering-type nerd. He takes measurements of how many grams of coffee that he used that were ground to a specific level of fineness (which he as shown in a microscope, IIRC) that had so many milliliters of water heated to so many degrees (Celsius, at that) poured over them with such-and-such filter over so many seconds of time.

He hated the Aldi machine because it didn't do anything close to what his research told him is needed to make a really good expresso.

I guess this could also be an argument that I'm also an utter self-opinionated tosser; "tosser" doesn't have quite the same impact in the rebellious colonies as I guess it does in the motherland. I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed or fluff up like a pleased parakeet/budgie who bit the living *bleep* out of your finger when you put it in its cage.

(Looks at screen name and realizes that fluffing up is in order.)

In fairness, he comes off to me as a bit of a smarmy know-it-all. OTOH, he has videos where he shows how he measured stuff and how he heated his water, and all the other stuff you'd do to get (what he believes) to be to best cup of coffee. Monomaniacal dedication to a thing may be disturbing to watch, but as long as that person takes notes, we can benefit from the gained knowledge without being disturbed with the way that knowledge came about.

Richard Cranium
People badly misunderstand the Three Laws. The entire point of the Three Laws is that they don't work. Every single story that uses them as a plot element is explicitly about the fact that they don't work in a practical world.

I won't argue against the fact there are edge cases that screw up almost any system.

I will argue that the earlier stories (IIRC, the later ones attempted to show that what is good for individual humans is bad for the entire species/universe) showed that the 3 laws worked almost all the time to the betterment of the robot/humanity interactions.

He didn't write a billion of those stories, after all. Somewhat like our current safety systems works much more often than not.

Richard Cranium
Somewhat like our current safety systems works much more often than not.

Sigh.

Somewhat like how our current safety systems work much more often than not.


(Yes, works in the original has now become work.)

Daniel Ream

He's a coffee oriented engineering-type nerd

Having worked in product engineering, this is exactly what good product engineers do. Exhaustive tests over the range of all your parameters to determine the desired balance of cost, quality and production time ("good, fast, cheap - pick any two").

When the first batch of Google's Chromecasts were failing QA at a rate of 33%, we were engaged to improve the design and fab process to both reduce BOM cost and finickiness of the fab process. We had an army of co-op students doing excruciatingly boring tests for months.

pst314

All the SF author pedos tend to blend together after a while.

What? No allegations that Isaac Asimov was a child molester. As for Clarke, I am still unclear how young his boy toys were: late teens? middle teens? It's all very unclear from what little I saw.

pst314

I won't argue against the fact there are edge cases that screw up almost any system.

I will argue that the earlier stories...showed that the 3 laws worked almost all the time to the betterment of the robot/humanity interactions.

Agreed. Edge cases. He consciously started writing those stories as a reaction to what he saw as the prevalent robot-as-Frankenstein-monster theme. And of course without edge cases causing trouble there would be no entertaining stories to tell.

Uma Thurmond's Feet

"He hated the Aldi machine because it didn't do anything close to what his research told him is needed to make a really good expresso."

Since he also drank the espresso, I assume that taste was involved as well.

He's amusing to watch, and I loved learning about the process. I'm also glad that he's the one willing to do the finicky experimenting and not me. A functioning Mr. Coffee is all I need to make a dam good cup of coffee.

pst314

(IIRC, the later ones attempted to show that what is good for individual humans is bad for the entire species/universe)

I will defer to you on the details of his later robot stories, as my memory is vague, but I recall that in those later stories he was rethinking/critiquing his earlier ideas. I think he also did some reassessing in his later Foundation stories (but the first three volumes are the only ones I remember.) Authors do that sometimes: Note how Larry Niven's Beowulf Schaefer stories (written in the 60's and 70's) became much more dark when he collected them in 1994 in Crashlander: In the original stories the United Nations was more benign whereas with the framing material and new stories in Crashlander the UN is much more sinister.

Daniel Ream

also did some reassessing in his later Foundation stories

The Mule was his explicit rethinking of the notion of benevolent technocracy and the inevitability of history after witnessing Hitler and Stalin's impact during WWII.

pst314

The Mule was his explicit rethinking of the notion of benevolent technocracy and the inevitability of history after witnessing Hitler and Stalin's impact during WWII.

No, I think you are mistaken: There was nothing in the episode of the Mule or in the final volume of the trilogy (Second Foundation) to indicate that Asimov was having such doubts: The Mule was merely the mutant wild card which could not be predicted by Psychohistory and which the secretive Second Foundation existed to deal with. Furthermore, he portrayed the Second Foundation as the benevolent savior of the Seldon Plan. I myself found its secret manipulation of people to be sinister, but I don't think Asimov saw it that way; rather its manipulations were laudable because they were for a highly desirable and beneficial end.

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