Books

Elsewhere (214)

Via dicentra, the Z-Man on the ongoing disappearance of mainstream media comment sections

The reason news sites are killing off comment sections is two-fold. One, it is usually where you get the bits of the news story our betters edited out in order to maintain the narrative. The “Minnesota man” in the story is identified in the comments as Jorge Gonzalez, an illegal from Guadalajara. It’s where the “suspect wearing a red shirt” is identified as a black guy named T’Q’ull Ferguson with a Facebook page full of pics of him holding a handgun and a bong. The comment sections have become a leak in the system. The other problem, especially for opinion sites like the Spectator, is the comments have become the place that makes the writers cry. Sure, there’s lots of inane chatter, but it is also where some smart people post corrections and point out the many glaring logical errors. [Opinion writers] have fragile psyches, so seeing their mistakes highlighted for everyone to see, right under their posts, is a source of constant distress.

Ed Driscoll has more. See also this

Somewhat related, Christopher Snowdon on Oxfam’s dishonesties

If you look at the BBC’s inequality report you will find no challenge, no rebuttal and no response from anybody who disagrees with Oxfam’s warped interpretation of the data. Whether it knows it or not, the BBC is complicit in the fabrication.

Thomas Sowell suggests some election year reading

If you are concerned about issues involved when some people want to expand the welfare state and others want to contract it, then one of the most relevant and insightful books is Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple. What makes Life at the Bottom especially relevant and valuable is that it is about the actual consequences of the welfare state in England -- which are remarkably similar to the consequences in the United States. Many Americans may find it easier to think straight about what happens, when it is in a country where the welfare recipients are overwhelmingly whites, so that their behaviour cannot be explained away by “a legacy of slavery” or “institutional racism,” or other such evasions of facts in the United States. As Dr Dalrymple says: “It will come as a surprise to American readers, perhaps, to learn that the majority of the British underclass is white, and that it demonstrates all the same social pathology as the black underclass in America -- for very similar reasons, of course.” That reason is the welfare state, and the attitudes and behaviour it promotes and subsidises.

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Elsewhere (211)

Heather Mac Donald on race hustlers and riots: 

For the last two years, President Barack Obama has seized every opportunity to advise blacks that they are the victims of a racist criminal justice system. We should not be surprised when that belief, so constantly inflamed, erupts into violence. Even in his remarks at the memorial service for the five murdered Dallas cops, Obama had the gall to trot out his usual racial vendetta against the police, even though he was fully on notice that cops were being killed because of it… Obama’s indictment ignored, as usual, the astronomically higher rates of black crime that fully explain racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, Obama hasn’t uttered a word in condemnation of the lawless behaviour in Milwaukee, two days into the events. […]

And as important as the political stoking of that hatred is the academic race industry that keeps black victimology at a fever pitch. The 2015–2016 school year saw an outbreak of delusional self-pity among black college students across the country. They claimed to be discriminated against by faculty, administrators, fellow students, and academic standards. Never mind that many allegedly disparaged students were attending the colleges in question only because of racial preferences, despite having test scores that would automatically disqualify white or Asian applicants. Never mind that nearly every waking hour of a college administrator is devoted to the cultivation of a separatist racial consciousness among black students and to dreaming up new racial sinecures for faculty and other administrators.

For an example of that victimology, and the behaviour being excused by faculty and staff, see this surreal episode. Note the impunity and inversion of reality. And note the description, by the university’s vice provost for student affairs, of blatant racial thuggery as “a wonderful, beautiful thing.”

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Nowadays

The Ladybird Guide to Leftwing People. From the chapter Leftwing People Are Funny:

Leftwing people have “enlightened comedians” who make jokes on “panel games.” These are broadcast on the television and BBC Radio 4. The enlightened comedians make people laugh at rightwing people, whom they consider stupid. In the olden days, comedians made jokes about Irish people, but these comedians weren’t clever like the enlightened comedians.

Instead of the Irish people, the enlightened comedians make jokes about working-class people. Because they care, they use special words like “Glaswegians,” “Sun readers” and “UKIP supporters,” so the working-class people will not notice.

Working-class people do funny things like drinking Monster energy drinks, eating Haribos and watching television. This is funny and the enlightened comedians are helpful because they point at them and laugh, so we know who to laugh at as well. It is very funny and we all laugh because we are enlightened too.

Oh, there’s more. Via Christopher Snowdon


Literary World Unveils Doomsday Machine

The only power we have as authors is if we unionise and go on strike.

Amanda Craig, novelist, mouthing what I fear may be another classic sentence for our series.

Via Tim Worstall, who has more.

Update:

Spotted by Chester in the comments - Fintan O’Toole, literary editor of the Irish Times, calls for a “national arts strike” to extort further cash from the taxpayer. “The public has to be reminded that it really does care,” says he. And until more wallets land on the bonfire of publicly funded art, the nation’s creative titans should “close the arts centres” and “hold no poetry readings.


Avoiding Squalor

Isolation almost invariably means poverty and backwardness. You’re not aware of how the basic things of life are done differently in other parts of the world, and so people who are isolated will keep doing things the same way for centuries or thousands of years. For example, when the British landed in Australia, they found the Australian aborigines living at a Stone Age level. The aborigines had no idea of iron. Australia is one of the great sources of iron ore in the world.

Thomas Sowell discusses retrogressive culture, the importance of geography, and leftism versus success: 

Previously. And before that. And Sowell’s book The Vision of the Anointed is pretty much a must-have.  


Elsewhere (167)

Eugene Volokh on the now-official “microaggression” of criticising leftist assumptions:  

I’m happy to say that I’m just going to keep on microaggressing. I like to think that I’m generally polite, so I won’t express these views rudely. And I try not to inject my own irrelevant opinions into classes I teach, so there are many situations in which I won’t bring up these views simply because it’s not my job to express my views in those contexts. But the document that I quote isn’t about keeping classes on-topic or preventing personal insults — it’s about suppressing particular viewpoints. And what’s tenure for, if not to resist these attempts to stop the expression of unpopular views?

If, for example, you don’t regard a person’s melanin level as both a fascinating detail of their being and an inexhaustible license to invoke victimhood and deference, then you’re probably committing a microaggression. And the publicly-funded University of California thinks you may be “sending denigrating messages” and “creating a hostile learning environment” because you aren’t awed and enthralled by how brown a person is.

Charles C W Cooke finds a modern echo of an old George Orwell quote: 

“We don’t want to hear about these bourgeois writers like Shakespeare,” says [Californian school teacher, Dana] Disbiber. “Worry not, teaching him helps the progressive cause,” replies [New Republic columnist, Elizabeth Stoker] Bruenig… When politics is everything and everything is politics, nothing escapes the commissar’s judgment. It is one thing to analyse art for its political content — critically necessary even – but it is quite another to subjugate one’s view of that art to one’s politics.

Of course Orwell, like Shakespeare, is - to use Disbiber’s parlance - a dead white male, and worse, a critic of piously narrow attitudes like those of Dana Disbiber. We must therefore regard both authors as insufficiently progressive and entirely devoid of relevance.  

And in other thrilling academic news

Utah Valley University, with an enrolment of about 34,000 students, is trying out a staircase with lanes. Lane one is for walkers, two for runners and three for texters.

Feel free to share your own links and snippets below. It’s what these posts are for. 


Such Details Are Beneath Her

Readers of this blog will, over the years, have marvelled at the outpourings of one Polly Toynbee, the Guardian’s foremost social commentator and hand-wringer in chief, a woman voted “the most influential commentator in the UK” and whose views regularly grace the programming of the BBC, for which she was formerly a newsroom social affairs editor. “Polly Toynbee’s influence is perceived to be huge in British public life,” wrote Julia Hobsbawm of the media analysts Editorial Intelligence. “Her columns resonate in Whitehall and beyond.”

From high atop those resonating columns, Ms Toynbee delivers her various pronouncements, including a conviction that “left-wing people are more intelligent and just generally better people,” i.e., better than thee and me, and a demand that taxes must be raised “to pay the state to become the best possible nanny to all babies.” There’s also her belief that “disruptive 16-year-old boys” should be taken out of class to spend a term being taught the finer points of dance, thereby resulting in a “transformation in the whole year group.” When not curing inner-city classroom delinquency with the thrill of modern tap, Polly tells her readers that obesity isn’t chiefly a matter of inactivity and overeating but instead has a more pernicious cause, i.e., a lack of socialism

It is inequality and disrespect that makes people fat.

To bolster this radical insight Ms Toynbee made a number of further claims regarding economic inequality and expanded waistlines, each of which proved to be either misleading or untrue. And chunkier readers should note that waiting for a socialist revolution probably isn’t the best way to lose those extra pounds.

Our imperious champion of the poor has a famously intermittent relationship with facts, logic and mathematics, such that an entire website, Factchecking Pollyanna, was devoted to providing detailed corrections of each week’s errors and distortions. Sadly, this effort to bring factual accuracy to the finest Guardian journalism became dormant some years ago, its anonymous author possibly having collapsed under the weight of the endeavour.

Happily, however, Tim Worstall has now published the best of that legendary blog in book form, so that another generation may bathe in Ms Toynbee’s blunders and fumbling with numbers. Amid various examples of Polly inverting statistics and misreporting figures by several orders of magnitude, as when she inflated council tax benefit changes by a mere 5,100%, the volume includes such moments of high journalism as Ms Toynbee telling the world that 142% of people were dissatisfied with Tony Blair, and a 21-word sentence containing no fewer than five factual errors.

If you buy the book via this Amazon link, or via this one here for readers in the U.S., your host will receive a small fee at no extra cost to you.  


Reheated (40)

For newcomers, more items from the archives.

The Humble Among Us

Novelist Brigid Delaney wants a nicer flat in order to write about those non-creative people. You, taxpayer, come hither.

As a member of our creative caste, Ms Delaney wants to capture the buzz and thrum of city life. She wants to inspire “recognition” and above all “empathy.” It’s just that she’d prefer not to empathise too much with those non-creative people. Say, by working for a living and paying her own bills. And who will write about those ordinary people and their non-artistic lives if we don’t encourage Ms Delaney and her peers to live way above their means, at our expense, in places they can’t afford? Places they can’t afford because what they create isn’t as vital to the public as they might wish.

Pearl-Clutching Pornographers

Campus feminists combat “male-centricity” by making unerotic pornography and rubbing eggs on their breasts.

As some readers may be intrigued by the notion of all-female feminist pornography, here’s a brief description: “It begins with a group of girls sitting around a library table taking their shirts off. As the film progresses, the girls engage in activities including kissing, rubbing eggs on their bodies and twerking around a chicken carcass.” The finished political opus, titled Initiation, also features the somewhat lacklustre use of a riding crop and extended scenes of floor-wiping. 

Militantly Nude

A San Francisco “nude-in” reveals more than intended.

Some may register a whiff of disingenuousness in exhibitionists accusing their critics of being repressive and stuffy. Exhibitionists may be eager to dispense with clothing in incongruous locations – say, a traffic island in the middle of a busy intersection - but they desperately need an audience, preferably one that’s embarrassed and unwilling. San Francisco is remarkably well-equipped in terms of nude-friendly clubs and amenities, including a nude beach and nearby nudist colonies. What’s revealing is that such venues weren’t deemed sufficient for our wrinkly radicals. And while I doubt many readers here are prone to fainting at the sight of withered genitals and subsiding buttocks, they may conceivably object to being made an accomplice to someone else’s psychodrama. As one young lady points out, “Unwanted exposure to scrotum is never okay.”

And I’m told it’s possible, if not wise, to while away an hour in the greatest hits, now updated. 


Elsewhere (125)

Tim Worstall reads The Lancet, where socialism trumps reality: 

Lifespans are still getting longer, communicable disease continues to reduce, age adjusted cancer rates are falling: there’s simply no evidence at all that the health of the population is declining. So, given that we’ve not got any sign whatsoever of declining health, it’s very difficult indeed to say that increasing inequality is causing something that isn’t happening.

And again here. When supposedly learned people talk unironically about “social justice,” a good mental response is “yellow alert.

Some random thoughts from Thomas Sowell

In Thomas Piketty’s highly-praised new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, he asserts that the top tax rate under President Herbert Hoover was 25 percent. But Internal Revenue Service records show that it was 63 percent in 1932. If Piketty can’t even get his facts straight, why should his grandiose plans for confiscatory global taxation be taken seriously?

Why indeed? 

And via D in the comments, Aurelius marvels at the wonders of modern academia. Specifically, the winning oratory in the Cross Examination Debate Association’s national championship. I implore you to watch the video of highlights. It’s a thing to behold, serving as both a bold new standard for eloquent persuasion and a measure of the education these young ladies have received. Here’s a very brief transcript:

Uh, man’s sole “jabringing” object disfigure religion trauma and nubs, uh, the, inside the trauma of representation that turns into the black child devouring and identifying with the stories and into the white culture brought up, uh, de de de de de, dink, and add subjectively like a white man, the black man!

Go Team Dada. Embrace the jive.

As always, feel free to share your own links and snippets below.


Marxist Revolution Delayed Again

Due to a copyright squabble among our would-be overlords

A radical publishing house, Lawrence & Wishart, which at one time was connected to Great Britain’s Communist Party, is demanding the removal from the Marxists Internet Archive of the Marx-Engels Collected Works — hardcover books that sell for up to $50 a pop… “What they are doing is actually restricting the masses’ ability to get these writings because they found a potential revenue flow by digitising the works themselves and selling some product to universities,” [said David Walters, a marxists.org volunteer]. “We think it’s the opposite of a Marxist approach.”

From the comments there, this tickled me: 

It seems counterproductive, in that you may have to live with capitalism in day to day affairs, but you would think the one item that you would work towards absolutely free, society ownership of is the instruction manual for making your desired mode of existence come to fruition, when that mode of existence depends on an informed, versed-in-Marxist-theory populace.

I think what made me laugh is the word “populace.” In my experience, the most willing readers of Marx and Engels, practically the only readers, are credulous middle-class college students, especially those with obnoxious personalities

Via Instapundit