Monthly Archives: March 2019

Credentialism Ruins Everything

The minute a profession starts thinking of itself as a profession it’s finished, because henceforth “actually doing the job” will come second to “advancing the guild’s interests.”  Not for everyone, of course.  Most doctors, I imagine, just want to practice medicine.  They probably even feel they’d be much better off without the elaborate apparatus of “the profession” — the American Medical Association, their specialty associations, the unique social status of “being a doctor” (there are a lot more downsides than upsides to this, if you really think about it).  They no doubt feel this… until someone outside of it starts badmouthing the guild, or someone inside causes the profession to lose standing.  Then they close ranks.

The reason for this — if you want to slap an academic-sounding label on it — is “the reification of the bureaucracy.”  Even if 99 out of 100 doctors, say, just want to practice medicine, there’s that last guy who makes “being a doctor” his life’s work.  He joins all the associations, and because that kind of guy is basically just Trigglypuff with better hygiene and lower BMI, he quickly rises to a position of influence in every organization.  He lives for the bureaucracy.  Which means he’s a politician, and there it is.

If you want more examples, look no further than the original guilds, the craft associations of the Middle Ages.  Any settlement big enough for actual cash money to change hands in it soon had an exquisitely class-conscious group with lots of actual, but no formal, power.  Your smart tyrant co-opted the politicians from the merchant guilds, made them de facto nobility and bade them act like it — that gave you the Renaissance.  Your dumb (or merely nonexistent) tyrant let the merchants’ resentments fester — that gave you the Reformation, and the whole catalog of ideological murder that followed.

This, more than anything else, explains the death of the American university.  You can yell about the evils of affirmative action, feminism, etc. all you want — you’ll hear no argument from me — but the guild mentality set all that up.

Consider my own ex-profession, History.  This was a conservative discipline within living memory.  And not a namby-pamby cuck kind of conservatism, either — the only place in America you’d hear the fundamental wisdom of the 19th Amendment questioned was a humanities seminar.  History is the art of putting two and two together, and accepting the consequences.  Clio may be the muse of History, but our god is Saturn.

Alas, it’s also a job, and if you do it right, there’s not that much for a Historian to actually do.
“Explaining what happened” for even the best-attested event takes a lifetime of study.  The Historian’s most basic tools aren’t documents, but people — you need to have long experience of people to make informed historical judgments.  Here again, within living memory History professors were guys who did stuff.  Even when I was an undergrad, back at the dawn of the Clinton era, you’d have a much better chance of finding a combat veteran among the History faculty than the public at large.

You can see where this is going.  Because there’s not much to actually do in the day-to-day, the younger members of the guild used “being in the guild” as a fun way to pass the time.  This was even more the case in “disciplines” where there was never anything to do, such as Philosophy and English Lit. (the grandparents of all Angry Studies; most of the barmiest ideas in academia actually proceeded from the latter).  Since the job of “shaping young minds” obviously entails that the shapers are qualified to do the shaping, this led, naturally, to the notion that smelling one’s own farts in one’s ivy-walled office just is enlightenment.

So why not affirmative action, feminism, all the rest?  There’s nothing outside the guild, after all, and since we in the guild decide what’s best for the guild — and can force students to parrot it back — we can make “being enlightened” our life’s work.  It doesn’t matter what happens out in the real world, because there is no “real world.”  The only thing that’s real is the next meeting of the tenure committee…

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Midweek Quick Takes

I got nothin’, so here’s this.

Dear Liberals: We’ve already elected a politician’s airhead son who loves to cosplay as a Mexican when he’s not driving drunk.  He’s from Texas, too.  His name is “George W. Bush,” and y’all didn’t like him much.  PS voting for the White guy is racist.  Time to get over your “Beto” fixation and vote Kamala.

There are lots of ways to phrase “Occam’s Razor,” but the one I like best is: Eliminate unnecessary assumptions.  There are, of course, necessary assumptions — “assume a spherical chicken” comes to mind — but most times, people start “assuming” stuff when they’ve already determined their conclusion and are trying to retcon the facts to it.  The more assumptions you make, and the more fundamental those assumptions are to your reasoning, the bigger balls-up the final product will be.

Consider Marxism vs. capitalism.  The “capitalist” assumes that both sides in an exchange think they’re getting the better of the deal.  That’s not an assumption — nobody knowingly takes a worse deal.  Marxism, on the other hand, assumes that not only is every exchange really a theft, but that both parties know it.  It’s Marxism’s central tenet, which is why Marxism has a body count upwards of 100 million.

Fox News informs me that “Former Obama White House Counsel and Clinton-linked attorney Greg Craig may soon be charged by the Justice Department for engaging in illegal unregistered overseas lobbying.”  Heh.  Of all the lies we’re required to believe these days, perhaps the most galling is that Democrats are ever held accountable for anything.  One of three things is going to happen to Greg Craig: 1) nothing, or 2) so much nothing that he’ll immediately be hired as an “expert analyst” by CNN.  The only other possibility, 3), is that he already let something slip that Herself might consider damaging, in which case he’ll mysteriously commit suicide by shooting himself six times in the head, then jumping off a gorge for good measure.

I’m betting on 2), though, because the banana republicificaiton of America is substantially complete.  Coonman is still Virginia’s governor, Fairfax is still the Lt. Gov., Chiquita Khrushchev is still in Congress (even though it’s clearly in the Party’s best interests to kangaroo-court her ass into outer darkness asap), and so on.

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The Validation Business

Back when anthropology was a real discipline practiced by serious people — e.g. before Franz Boas unleashed his disciples on the world — anthropologists distinguished between religion and folkways.  Religions have an intellectual component, an interpretive tradition; “shamanism” or what have you doesn’t.  Take a gander at one of the pre-Boas classics, e.g. Lucien Levy-Bruhl‘s How Natives Think.  “Natives” have their creation myths, of course (that seems to be a human universal), but their lives are so suffused by magic that the term “magic” itself doesn’t even really make sense.  Levy-Bruhl says, for instance, that natives call a path which has fallen into disuse “dead.”  In other words, everything has its genius loci; when the spirit departs, it becomes dangerous, and the path dies.

You only get proper religion in cities.  The Romans had their “gods of the hearth,” sure, but since all gods were originally nature gods their religion, like all religions, got more and more “theological” as the city got bigger and endured longer.  It’s no surprise, then, that the world’s major religions all developed in heavily urbanized areas.  Nor is it surprising that Christianity, the Jewish heresy par excellence, made rootless cosmopolitanism one of the cornerstones of the faith.

The one is a logical extension of the other.  Out in “nature,” where life is short and brutal and death is always lurking just over the hillside, the “supernatural” is an everyday experience.  How else can I explain the fact that the lion looked right at me, but didn’t eat me?  It was the juju of this particular path, or the totem I was carrying, or the dance I did before leaving, or whatever, take your pick.  There’s no “logical” explanation for it, but since humans are hardwired to find connections, if we can’t find one we’ll invent one.

Life was short in ancient cities, too, but nobody got eaten by lions in the subura.  Instead, people in cities died of disease — a far more mystifying death, because you can at least see the lion.  Similarly, out in “nature” it’s obvious why we starved to death — the fields are right there, and you can see the dead crops.  In Rome, the wheat came from Sicily, if not Egypt.  You’d already be on your deathbed from hunger before you heard that there was a plague of locusts on the Nile.  “Appeasing the gods,” in other words, was a much trickier proposition, and the higher up the social scale you went — the more materially secure you were, in other words — the tougher it got.

Hence, theology.  Only a culture that had been heavily urbanized for thousands of years could come up with Original Sin, or the caste system (with its origins in the idea of reincarnation).

Extend it out another couple thousand years.  Two hundred years ago, we were so materially secure that we felt we could dispense with gods entirely.  That it was the persistence of belief in “gods,” in fact, that perpetuated what little misery remained.

But a funny thing happened: We’re still miserable.  We should be deliriously happy — we have everything anyone could ever possibly need.  We’re so prosperous that our poor people die of heart disease.  We carry devices in our pockets that deliver every conceivable entertainment.  There is no corner of our globe that can’t be reached in 24 hours.  We have stuff just lying around the house that mighty Ozymandias, King of Kings, would’ve traded half his empire for — aspirin and air conditioning, for instance, and that’s just the first letter of the alphabet.  Throw in “antibiotics” and he’d trade you the remaining half, without ever even needing to get to “B.”

If we’re unhappy, then, we have only ourselves to blame; God checked out in 1883.  But that can’t be right, so we’ve concocted a grotesque series of god replacements, each more elaborate than the last.  “Intersectionality,” for instance, makes the bizarreries of medieval theology sound completely reasonable and totally sane.  You can’t appease gods that don’t exist, so you have to rejigger the entire material world — only when it’s impossible for anyone, anywhere, to be unhappy will you stop being unhappy.

In effect, it flips theology on its head.  The great thing about religious belief — properly religious belief, theological belief — is that it almost entirely ignores the outside world.  Life’s in the struggle, which is why “natives” always seem so happy even in the midst of great material deprivation.  Urban dwellers have to deprive themselves, and that’s why theology is so great — you can never actually win in the struggle against yourself, so since it’s the fight that gives life meaning you’ll never lack purpose.

Our intersexual genderfluid overlords, though, can’t do that, because the fundamental presumption of #wokeness is that you’re the exemplar this sick sad world needs to follow.  Your behavior can’t be wrong, even if it’s obviously self-destructive.  Hence the entire industries devoted to telling the #Woke that the very things that are making them miserable are, in fact, making them deliriously happy.  It’s not that you need to change; it’s that the world needs to change — the entire Earth and everyone on it needs to get with the program already, so that you’ll feel better about being so much better than they are.  When you consider that this is the entire point of modern higher education, and that there are now over a trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt in America alone, you can see just how urgently Humanity needs to get its shit together and get #Woke.  Free college for everyone!!

Seriously — that’s how they “think.”  Liberalism is the validation business.  Look at it that way, and what they do makes more sense.

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It’s a Photoshop Life

When I was young, “authenticity” was the watchword.  We young folks had it; our parents — the dreaded Boomers — didn’t.  Their avatar was Bill Clinton, a sociopathic poonhound who could sound like he was right there on the bridge of PT-109 next to JFK when he wanted to, but always acted like a hippie cult leader.  To us, therefore, the greatest sin was hypocrisy.

The naivete of youth, right?  My friends and I really thought Pearl Jam was going to win against Ticketmaster, because Ticketmaster was a greedy corporation run by soulless yuppies and Pearl Jam, the darling cash cow of Epic Records — a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music International — ummm….. wasn’t?  Because they wore flannel or something?  Like I say, the naivete of youth.  Smarter folks than me have been deceived by the A&R man, even though we all knew better.  The point is, “authenticity” was something to be striven for, even though we knew we’d never fully have it (and how could you even know if you did?).  Gen X is finely attuned to cognitive dissonance, because we experienced so much of it in ourselves.

Which makes us pretty much the worst possible people to be in charge during the Social Media Revolution.

Just so we’re on the same page: I keep banging on about how new Social Media really is, and here are those numbers again: The early social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter) date from the mid-Aughts; the really brain-melting ones (Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, et al) are less than a decade old.  The first mostly-online generation is in college now; the first fully online generation is just entering high school.  The next generation — the truly Internet-addled one, the generation that’s been hooked to blinking touchscreens since infancy, the kids who will slog through a 140-character tweet like it’s War and Peace — is still in elementary school.

This kind of cognitive dislocation is impossible for us to fully grasp.

The closest we can get is a metaphor.  In a good response to a Z Man piece on “Beto” O’Rourke, the commenter calls O’Rourke a copy of a copy.  He’s a wannabe Bill Clinton, who was himself a bush-league JFK impersonator.  This metaphor makes sense to us, because we grew up in a world where copies were physical things — a big humming machine that smelled like burning sand sent a light saber-looking bar across a plate of glass, and a few seconds to minutes later, a piping-hot sheet of paper got spit into a tray.  Even text lost a little bit of fidelity, but reproductions of photographs degraded noticeably on even the best machines.  Photocopy the copy, and what was once a brilliant hi-res photograph looks like amoebas fornicating.

But photocopiers don’t exist anymore.  Not in the way pre-Facebook generations understand them.  Sure, there are a few dinosaur machines still out there, but even for us old folks, most of our “copying” is digital.  Certainly all of our mass copying is, and that means no fuzz, no graininess, no loss of resolution at all.  The printer spits every image out straight from a data file.  You can make a million copies of the same image, and each one will be perfect down to the last pixel.  More importantly, there’s no such thing as a “copy of a copy.”  Why bother trying to physically duplicate what’s already a data file?  I’ll just text it to your smartphone, and then you can turn out a million perfect-to-the-last-pixel reproductions for yourself.

See what I mean?  We grew up in a world where imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, because even the most perfect copies had detectable flaws and the better the reproduction, the more time and effort it took.  They are growing up in a world where “originality” doesn’t even exist, because “copies” aren’t just indistinguishable from “the real thing” — because it’s all just data files, copies are the real thing.

And that’s before you get to the ubiquitous Photoshop-ization of everything in modern life.  Look at anything on DeviantArt.  Is any of it good?  But wait — before you answer, ask yourself the opposite question: Is any of it bad?  How can you possibly tell?  Again, remember that this is a generation completely comfortable with the word “remaster.”  As in, “Here’s Gustav Mahler orchestrating Beethoven’s 9th… but we’ve cleaned up the strings, auto-tuned the vocal, and re-engineered the drum track.  Plus we cut that last movement, because it’s overplayed.”  Telling any one of these kids that their stuff looks like knockoff Roy Lichtenstein is an insult, all right, because Lichtenstein didn’t even have Photoshop and so all his stuff looks worse than the knockoff it is.  Plus he’s a dead White male, soooo……

What I’m trying to get at, I guess, is that this generation won’t understand why Lichtenstein was a significant artist (and for the record, I’m not a fan), because the terms don’t even make sense anymore.  It’s not (just) historical ignorance.  Show them the side-by-side of “The Bedroom at Arles;” they’ll get the context they need.

What they won’t get, because they can’t, is the significance.  “Lichtenstein thought that Van Gogh paining looked cool.  He ran it through an Instragam filter and posted it.  So what?”  Art isn’t just a conversation with other artists; it’s a conversation with the truth both artists are trying to express, and that can’t possibly make sense in a world where every single thing you see, read, and hear is easily manipulable.  By anybody.

This explains, I think, the upcoming generation’s unparalleled ability to forget, to ignore, to crimestop.  Nothing you do really matters, because in some profound sense, you’re not really you at all — you’re a collection of traits, each selected a la carte from a million identical, and identically reproducible, elements.  I often quote a joke I stole from one of the few funny Simpsons episodes of the new millennium: “Nobody’s better than anybody and everyone’s the best at everything.”  It’s funny to us — that is, to the pre-Facebook version of humanity — but in a very real way, I sense, this is the post-Facebook generation’s life.  If every element of everything can be assembled willy-nilly, and the result perfectly reproduced an infinite number of times, then nobody really is different from anybody and everybody really is the best at everything.

Or not, because it doesn’t really matter anyway. That Vincent guy must’ve thrown a picture of his bedroom through a “Van Gogh” filter on his iPhone.  It looks like shit, and so does the one that Roy guy did — what is this, one of the early game apps?  Horrible graphics.  Drag-and-drop both of them into the recycle bin, and start over.  As many times as you want.

That’s why O’Rourke has a decent shot in the Democratic primary.  Just don’t sound like too much of a lunatic — not hard, considering the rest of the field — and let the voters decide that it’s ok to vote for the White male just this once more.  What are we up to, the third “reboot” of Spider Man this century?  Compared to that, a reboot of Bill Clinton is no big deal, and since the alternative is Donald Trump…

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The Grand Mufti of Main Street USA

Harsh truth time: We can’t beat Trigglypuff.

That seems ridiculous.  Trigglypuff is, after all, a pathetic excuse for a human being.  But as I mentioned yesterday, it only takes a few of these critters to utterly destroy an institution.  Because here’s another thing that seems ridiculous: In all my years in academia, I never met a Social Justice Warrior that wasn’t already on the faculty.

I don’t even know if I ever actually saw one among the student body.  Oh, I’ve seen plenty of tattooed blue-haired nose-ringers.  I’ve had more than a few of them in class, in fact.  But those are just fads.  When I was in college, Liberal Arts majors dressed like basketball-playing lumberjacks.  I myself had a few flannel shirts and a sweeeeeet pair of Chuck Taylors, but I could neither fell a tree nor hit a jump shot.  The key word in the phrase “college kids” is, after all, kids.

Tl;dr — in order for a student to rat you off to the Thought Police, they first have to be paying attention.  In most of my classes, most of the time, I could’ve replaced my lectures with the juicier parts of Mein Kampf and no one would’ve noticed.

But it only takes one, because Trigglypuff is actually the Terminator — she can’t be bargained with, she can’t be reasoned with, and she absolutely WILL. NOT. STOP. until she gets what she wants.  She has 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year to get you, and she’ll use all of them — every minute, every second.  You have to sleep sometime; the Trigglypuffs of the world — who by definition have access to powerful prescription psychotropics — do not.

The harsh reality, then, is this: Since we can’t beat ’em, we have to join ’em.

I don’t mean we have to become Social Justice Warriors ourselves.  What I mean is that we need our own 24/7 on-call goon squad.  Normal people, of course, don’t join goon squads, so we need to get some abnormal people posthaste.

Hypothetically, the best way to do this is to set up one of those storefront churches that you see in the ghetto, but make it a mosque.  Muslims are, of course, the ultimate protected class — change your name to Achmed Raheem al Shabazz, swap out your ball cap for a kufi, and do whatever you like.  You can tell feminists, gays, trannies, etc. to fuck off right to their multi-pierced faces, so long as you do it in the name of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

It sounds too cynical to work, but consider the sad state of the males trapped in the “education” system.  They can’t talk to girls, because even if they’re among the dwindling minority of college girls who aren’t tatted-out, face-shrapneled shrikes, they’re still carrying around 20 years of third wave feminist indoctrination.  I can’t tell you just how rude, arrogant, and demanding most college girls were to me, and I was a professor! Nor can they talk to other guys, because on campus, the collective noun for “a group of boys” is “rape culture.”  College boys are lost, directionless, isolated.  They have no pride, because how could they?  They’ve been in the American educational system all their lives, where nobody’s different from anybody and everyone’s the best at everything.

Give that kind of guy a clear, bright-line code and watch what happens.  Give him a space in which to interact with men, as a man.  Give him a way to compete that isn’t “competitive abasement to ever-changing feminist dogma.”  Who can be the most uncompromising in the defense of his new faith?  There’s a way for everyone to excel at something when it comes to living the religious life.  Give them their pride back.

That’s how you get a “normal” goon squad.  Hypothetically, of course.

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College on “The Spectrum”

You’ve probably heard that the Department of Justice, having arrested all the terrorists and drug traffickers, finally turned its mighty eye to the grave national security threat that is college admissions.  Various Hollywood types, including Aunt Becky, joined assorted CEOs and other rich douchebags in bribing their kids’ way into elite colleges.

Mmmmmm….. Aunt Becky.  Yes, I’ll wait.  Has everybody gotten that out of their systems?  Ok, proceeding:

To Normals, the idea of paying a third-party facilitator to bribe your kids into college is so dumb, it makes anti-sense.  Surely rich guys know how college admissions work?  You don’t take “the Hubert J. Buttpimple Memorial Thru-Hole” to get to the library because ol’ Hubert was some kind of outstanding alumnus.  It has his name on it because his kid was dumber than a box of rocks, and the college wouldn’t touch Junior unless Daddy ponied up the cash.  Since “donations to the general scholarship fund” are too obvious even for this age of idiocracy, you “donate” a park bench or something, and everyone pretends to believe that park bench is really worth $1.2 million.

In the same vein, Normals understand that elite colleges collect famous people as zealously, and with as much regard for academic excellence, as they do Diversity Pokemon.  Surely no one believes that a guy like James Franco — the star of Your Highness and the writer of the Tori Spelling classic Mother May I Sleep With Danger? — got into Columbia because of his IQ?  This is the guy, you’ll recall, who — though a rich, famous, and handsome movie star — begs random not-quite-18 year olds for hookups via text message.  It’s well understood by all parties that admitting him is a marketing move.

In other words, we Normals think, if you’re Lori Loughlin and you want your kid to go to Ivy League Tech, you simply call up the Dean of Admissions and do lunch, where over free-range arugula he’ll tell you that the college could really use a few new chairs for the cafeteria…. or that the theater department could really use an Aunt Becky Chair in Applied Aromatherapy, depending on just how bad the kid’s SAT scores really are.  There’s no need to fly in a “test proctor” from Tampa, or photoshop your kid punting a football, or any of the other idiotic shit the “Key Worldwide Foundation” (what, was “Acme Import/Export” taken?) actually did.

Now, part of this is just the ever-accelerating Third-Worldification of the United States.  Every crapsack nation on Earth has its prestige university, where all the children of the elite go.  But since it’s, you know, the Third World, the elite’s kids don’t actually have to go there; they’re set for life no matter what they do.  So the school maintains its elite rep by charging out the wazoo for hustlers to buy their kids places there.  It’s a time-honored system, going all the way back to medieval Europe (and colonial America too, of course).  So long as nobody actually believes the hype — that a kid with a diploma from Ivy League Tech is a certified genius because he’s got a diploma from Ivy League Tech — the system works.

Alas, we believe the hype, because the United States of America is now Autism Spectrum Nation.

No one who matters in modern America has a clue how social interactions work.  The reason Lori can’t simply do lunch with the Dean is because neither of them could figure out how to handle it.  The Dean knows he can’t come right out and say “five hundred large and the kid’s in”… but he also knows that Lori can’t process a subtle hint like “we’d love to help you, Mx. Laughlin, but alas, the last $500,000 in the discretionary fund is earmarked for parking lot resurfacing.”  For her part, Lori can’t straight-up offer the Dean a bribe, because the whole point of pretending to attend Ivy League Tech is pretending an Ivy League Tech degree means something.  And since the Dean’s on the spectrum, too — it’s an inevitable effect of life in academia — she knows she can’t offer to write a check to the parking lot resurfacing fund, wink wink, because the Dean thinks “nonverbal subcommunication” is some class in the English department.  He’ll pocket the check and walk.

This is why almost all the shenanigans are routed through the schools’ athletics programs.  Coaches know how to play ball metaphorically, too — it’s quite likely that they’re the only ones on campus who do.

The rest of America has been living out a kind of sorites paradox since at least the late 1960s.  A sorites paradox happens because language isn’t math, so we end up trying to quantify the unquantifiable.  What is the exact number of grains of sand you need to a make a heap of sand?

I’m deadly serious about this.  It matters, because that’s exactly the type of question that has driven American cultural life for five decades now.  How much “Diversity,” for instance, is “our Strength?”  I’d better goddamn well know, down to the exact number of Vibrants physically present at any given time, or I lose my job and we all get sued into the poorhouse.

But since that’s impossible to know, what happens in practice is the sorities paradoxification of pretty much everything.  Just to stick with a theme, everyone in academia, K-thru-PhD, knows the Prime Directive: Do NOT fail the Blacks.  But because the Blacks fail — a lot — on any objective measure, we can’t have objective measures….

….except we must have objective measures, for how else are we to be sure No Child is Left Behind?  We can’t just hand everyone an A, because how else are the SWPL strivers out in the suburbs going to brag about how much money they spent on little Snowflake’s tutoring and enrichment programs?  But we can’t hand out anything less than an A, either, because there’s a chance someone with the wrong skin tone might get one.  You have to have a completely objective measure that is also utterly meaningless, and that’s why the “works cited” page on your term paper is worth 75% of the grade.

Only what’s in the gradebook is real… but it’s also completely imaginary.  Yet you must believe it, against all evidence of your own lying eyes, because if La’Quavious didn’t earn his A, then how can you know you’ve earned yours?  Apply that shit all the way down the line, to every aspect of life — how else can it end, but in a raging case of Asperger’s?

That’s why the coaches are the point men on this stuff.  They, and they alone, can operate in the desert of the real.  The stopwatch and the scale don’t lie, and they’re allowed to cut anyone who doesn’t hit his benchmarks.  Because they’re grounded — because they’re allowed to notice stuff — they can pick up on the social cues that make this kind of scam go.  Everyone else is still living in Autism Spectrum Nation.

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Why Didn’t You Quit Sooner?

Some variant of this is the second-most common question I get asked re: my time in the ivory tower.  Sometimes it comes in the form of “What were you, stupid or something?”, but the gist of it is, knowing what I most certainly must have about life in academia, it’s strange that I ever would’ve started, much less endured it for all those years…

Coming from me, I can hardly ask you to believe it was idealism… but, believe it or not, that was part of it.  I had no illusions about changing the discipline.  Even if I were the kind of big-league scholar that could’ve gotten hired at Harvard — and I was light years away from that — the kind of people who go to Harvard are already hopelessly lost.  There will never be a “conservative” scholar of note until we dig ourselves out of the rubble of the West’s utter collapse, because the entire system is stacked against it.  In fact, “stacked” isn’t even the right word, as it implies that a conservative work could even get a hearing.  Modern academia is one of Joseph Tainter‘s complex societies, destined for collapse — just as the Romans kept stuffing forts with legions because they couldn’t even think of another way to go, so modern academia lacks the cognitive toolkit to evaluate an argument that isn’t “race / class / gender, therefore #OrangeManBad.”

Out in the provinces, though, there was once some hope of getting through to a student or two.  The professors were, if anything, worse — one of the main reasons “bad” schools are bad is that the profs there all feel they deserve to be at Harvard, and are openly contemptuous of their employers — but the students can sometimes still be reached.  For a while there, every class would have its secret shitlord or two, who could sense that I was a kindred spirit.  This, I felt, served a socially necessary function.  But just as video killed the radio star, so social media killed whatever was left of independent thought in American students.

The other reason I stayed, quite frankly, was that the show was so perversely fascinating.

Imagine you’re some kind of Gulliver-type explorer, and you reach an island of perfect bliss.  Clear air, gentle breezes, balmy temperatures, and all the delicious food you can eat.  And the natives!  They live to serve you, completely unconstrained by anything so antiquated as Western sexual morality.  Limitless 5G internet.  Anything you want to eat, drink, watch, read, do, say, insert, or have inserted, it’s all yours at the snap of your fingers.  Got it?

Now imagine that the rulers of this little slice of paradise do nothing but sit on the side of the road all day, smashing their own toes with ball-peen hammers.

That’s life in a college town.  The Left run everything.  They set the admissions requirements.  They have unlimited budgets, and since they do, the entire commercial ecosystem exists only for them.  All cuisine is “fusion,” you have to drive to the next burg over to find milk that comes from cows, and every single item of public culture — from sidewalk graffiti to public radio to experimental theater troupe — does nothing but flatter them.  There is no fetish so outre, no practice so bizarre, that you can’t find at least one other enthusiastic participant.  It’s intersectional genderfluid heaven….

…. and every single person in it is miserable.  I’m serious — if it’s not too far out of your way, drive down to your nearest college town, and just watch the faces.  You might glimpse a grinning undergrad or two — they’re too young and dumb to know better; they’ll be fully reeducated by junior year — but you can spot the tenured faculty solely by their scowls.  The only thing that temporarily alleviates the existential horror of their lives is getting outraged by something, which — since, again, they control everything — means tilting at windmills is their only sport; they play it with a cutthroat intensity the football coach can only dream of.

How can you not be fascinated by that?  To utterly refute the view of man as homo economicus, all you have to do is watch the facial expressions of people who are “the 1%” by any measure that makes sense.  It’s one hell of a show…

…until it isn’t.  Because that kind of self-inflicted misery grinds on you.  We’ve all stopped to look at the car crash, of course, but you don’t want to spend all day, every day, year in and year out, looking at car crashes.  It took me a good long while — I’m sadistic, I guess — but I got flat out exhausted by it all.  So I quit.


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Monday Miscellania

Random thoughts.

Over at Z Man’s I had some advice for young White men: Go Muslim.  The objection was mooted that Islam is not a religion for White people, to which I reply: Sure, if you were going to be, you know, serious about it.  I suggest that we take the tenets of Mohammed’s faith exactly as seriously as the Liberals take the tenets of theirs — as an all-purpose virtue scam and get-out-of-responsibility-free card.  Change your name to Achmed Raheem al Shabazz, slap a kufi on your bean, and feel free to tell gays, Jews, trannies, and feminists to fuck right off.  And if someone catches you noshing a bacon-and-whiskey sandwich on Friday night when you should be banging your head on the floor at the mosque, well, you still take Shari’a at least as seriously as Al Gore does climate change.

In fact, I’d suggest that Islam is fantastic for Our Thing, and we all should “convert” forthwith.  Why bother with the cloak-and-dagger stuff of having meetups when we can do it right out in the open?  It’s easy to keep SJW infiltrators out of our mosque — start every “prayer meeting” by reciting the juicier parts of the Koran.  They’ll be so triggered they have to leave, and as a bonus, we’ve fulfilled the actual “religious service” part of our federal tax exemption.  And as for Uncle Sam’s infiltrators, well… have you seen how the FBI operates lately?  I really would not be surprised to learn they start their undercover operations with “Hello, fellow extremists!”

Why aren’t we doing this?*

Ace of Spades’ morning report links to a piece on Taylor Swift’s “political awakening.”  Y’all know how much I hate tooting my own horn, but I covered this way back when.  Ok, ok, so I mostly just linked that for the picture — never let it be said that I don’t give the people what they want — but seriously, how hard is this to grasp?  Swift is now 30, which, since pop tarts age in dog years, means she’s got two generations of younger-hotter-tighter competition coming up behind her.  She’s going to hit the wall at Mach 3 no matter what, so since she’s nothing if not a very savvy operator, she’s getting out in front of her inevitable transformation into a “serious artist” (read: BMI above 15).  Give it another two years, and she’ll be openly embracing those bisexuality rumors, and by the time she’s 40 she’ll be touring with the Indigo Girls.  Sic transit gloria mundi.  At least she can keep herself in the spotlight a bit longer by being an obnoxious Leftist (BIRM, I know).

In the comments to a previous placeholder post, Ganderson remarked

 I choose to ignore the question as to why we have charged our colleges and universities with providing semi pro sports entertainment.

So should we all, but since I got nothin’ this morning I’ll address it.  If you’re not up on the history of American higher ed — and no normal person has any reason to be — it’s hard to realize just how recently college was a profoundly conservative institution.  My own discipline, History, was understandably a bit more retrograde than most, but Progressives viewed History departments as dangerous nests of heretics even when I was in undergrad.

It makes sense when you consider what college used to be.  Say what you will about the Baby Boomers and their many, many, many, many, many flaws, but they didn’t learn that shit in college.  The most obnoxious ones were in college in the Sixties, yes, but the vast majority of the Baby Boom generation didn’t go to college, for the simple reason that college back then was expensive.  That was by design, since colleges were always intended to transmit the skills and above all the values of the professional classes.  You went to college to become a doctor or a lawyer, but just as important, you went there to learn how to act like a doctor or a lawyer.

Think of the old classic Animal House.  It’s a “college” movie that would be incomprehensible to any modern undergraduate.  The main characters and the big villain are in ROTC, for pete’s sake.  Pinto and Flounder wear freshman beanies, the sorority girls all dress like they’re going to a debutante ball, and everyone but Bluto wears a collared shirt to class.  With a necktie!!!  Even Bluto’s signature sweater — which I have seen modern undergrads wearing, though they have no idea where it came from**– is worn over a collared shirt:

The “everyone goes to college” ethos wasn’t started by a bunch of cowardly hippies dodging the draft, then.  It was started by a bunch of weaselly careerists cashing in on Griggs v. Duke Power.  Which is important, because just as there’s no one more obnoxious about the ancient privileges of the aristocracy than the guy who bought his patents five minutes ago, so no one is more loyal to the Old School Tie than the guy who only went to class to network.

Again, consider Animal House.  It’s set in 1962, but it was made in 1978.  The Delta House guys are fuck-ups, yeah, but the movie is obviously a very loving send-up of that old rah-rah-sis-boom-bah stuff.  It’s an elegy as much as a parody, made by guys who got to college just as all of that was ending (the main writers were in their early 30s; Belushi was 28, as was director John Landis).  Look at how all the characters turned out — Senator John Blutarsky!!

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s, then — that is, when the first batch of Gen X turned 18 — that college sports became a dominant cultural force.  I must’ve written a zillion words on the unifying effect of team loyalty, so instead of re-writing them I’ll ask you to think of how else one could possibly weld a group of disparate people, from all over the country, who are only there pursuing their own personal advantage (if they even know why they’re there in the first place) into a coherent whole.  There’s boot camp, I guess, but short of having a drill instructor in your face all the time — a la Niedermayer from Animal House — getting everyone behind the football team is the only effective way.

If that doesn’t convince you, think about the “boosters.”  I’m retired, thank god, and I was never a “real” academic in the first place, but I’m right up there with the shrillest, fattest, most tatted-out and face-shrapneled feminist Grievance Studies professor when it comes to the fucking boosters.  You’re giving seventeen gazillion dollars to the school, to make sure that the football team has a fourth cafeteria and an on-call aromatherapist?  But again, it makes sense — if there were any direct correlation between “athletic success” and “rich idiot alumni,” Harvard and Yale would play for the championship every year, like they did back in the days when the only other school with a team was Rutgers.

Rich idiot Harvard alums don’t need the football team to win championships, because they went to goddamn Harvard.  It’s only guys like Phil Knight and T. Boone Pickens, who think they deserved to go to Harvard but couldn’t, that feel the need to turn their alma maters into sports powerhouses.  And, of course, the dedicated Progressives who run all of academia are happy to take their filthy capitalist lucre…




*PS I made up the name “Achmed Raheem al Shabazz” totally at random, but it turns out that’s one hell of an inadvertent in-joke.  When I start my career as an imam, I’m going to insist that everyone who joins my congregation puts “Shabazz” in their new name somewhere.
**I know, because I’ve asked.  It’s hilarious to suggest to a coed who thinks she’s being daringly anti-establishment that she should actually watch Animal House.  So much toxic masculinity!  Not to mention the racial stuff!  Wow just wow I can’t even.  I’m surprised they haven’t exhumed John Belushi’s corpse and tried him for heresy like a medieval pope.
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The Matterhorn Effect

Consider a very theoretically simple form of organization: The infantry brigade (here’s a handy org chart).  Let’s keep the math simple: ten soldiers in a squad (led by a sergeant), four squads in a platoon (led by a lieutenant), 45 guys in total.  We don’t have to worry about “organizational mission” or anything like that, because the platoon’s mission is whatever the company commander tells it to do.  The leaders — the lieutenant and his platoon sergeants — should lead “down and across.”  That is, the sergeants should be mainly concerned with the soldiers in their squads (“down”), but also on the same page as the other squad sergeants (“across”).  The lieutenant should mainly be concerned with his sergeants (though on the same page as the other platoons in the company).

However, and crucially: The next-higher leader should also have half an eye gazing one level lower.  The lieutenant should rely on his platoon sergeants, but not completely.  He’s in the field with all 44 other guys.  That’s a small-enough group that he should have a pretty good sense of how things are going with the entire platoon.  Even if all four sergeants agree that the platoon is fine, the lieutenant should have sufficient powers of observation and judgment to decide that the platoon is not fine.  He shouldn’t micro-manage — getting low-level stuff done is what NCOs are for — but the platoon leader who relies only on the reports of his sergeants is, pretty much by definition, a bad platoon leader…

…or a good one, depending on who’s doing the judging.  Because, of course, while leaders should lead across and down, they also have to think UP.  A platoon commander also has to have some idea of what his company commander sees, and at least something of a handle on how his CO thinks.  It’s pretty likely that, in action, the platoon commander will learn something that the CO doesn’t know, and that would substantially change the CO’s thinking if he knew it.   The good platoon commander not only recognizes this information — often a significant accomplishment in itself — but knows the best way to present it to the CO, such that it fits in with the commander’s information and thinking.

The problem, of course, is that the company CO is doing the same thing with the Lieutenant Colonel back at battalion, and he’s doing the same thing with the colonel back at regiment, and he’s doing the same thing with the general back at division…  If you want 600 agonizing pages detailing all the ways this can break down, read Karl Marlantes’s Matterhorn.  It’s the best book you’ll never want to read twice, and when all the Boomers finally die off and we can start thinking rationally about Vietnam, it will be one of the classics of modern American literature.

If you don’t want to put this post on hold until you’ve read it, the tl;dr is: All it takes is one guy thinking up too much to get a lot of people very messily killed. Populate your entire chain of command with guys who think up almost exclusively, and you’ve got… well, you’ve got Vietnam.  The platoon leader who is “just following procedure,” and writes up the paperwork that way, will never get in trouble.  He might miss the objective.  He might get his men killed, a few other platoons ambushed, and half the company hip-deep in shit, hell, he might miss a chance to score a smashing victory, but his actions will be 100% theoretically correct. He’s covered.  If his CO asks him “why didn’t you consider such-and-such, lieutenant?” he can pass the buck.  “I radioed it back to Captain So-and-So at company; he told me to go ahead.”

Captain So-and-So, of course, put it in the fifteen pages of paperwork he forwarded to Col. Whatsizface at regiment, who included it in the three-hour briefing they gave to General Whomever back at division….  Meanwhile, the crucial information that started the whole debacle, like in Matterhorn, could simply be “despite what my platoon sergeant says, it is not physically possible for my men to make that march.”  Too much thinking up, not enough thinking down.

All that is with the simplest possible command structure, in an organization playing for the very highest stakes.  What happens with a big, messy, so-complicated-it’s-effectively-meaningless chain of command, in an “organization” in name only?  What happens when no one is effectively in charge?

In a democratic society, that’s the surest, most terrifying sign that a major crisis is just over the horizon.  Guys in Our Thing like the Civil War, so consider that.  Back in 1850, no one would disagree that “the Slave Power Conspiracy” (as the Yankees would have it) was the dominant force in American politics.  But — crucially — the SPC had leaders, who knew and acknowledged themselves to be such.  Good leaders, who saw the situation vertically — both down and up.  John C. Calhoun, for instance.  So long as Calhoun was alive and kicking, compromise was possible, because Calhoun saw the big picture, and, crucially, could whip his guys into line.

Calhoun died in 1850, depriving his side of leadership.  The other side never had any leadership to begin with, so the “direction” of the country fell into the hands of guys like Stephen A. Douglas — a brilliant politician, but a deeply provincial one, with scruples so flexible he’d fit right into the 2019 version of the Democratic Party.*  Douglas had no vision, only process.  For Douglas, the point of politics was politics, and because of that, hotheads like Preston Brooks and John C. Breckinridge had free rein.  We know what happened after that, there’s no need to re-litigate the Unpleasantness of 1861-5 in the comments, the point is this:

When you’ve got a junior Congresscritter with nothing but a big mouth setting the national agenda because nobody else can be bothered to, you’re fucked.

In theory (and counter-intuitively), representative government works a lot like military command.  Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are the platoon leaders and they are — as much as it vexes me to write this — doing a good job.  They’re supposed to represent the viewpoint of their constituents on the national stage, and since their constituents are rabid antisemites and brainless hipsters, respectively, they’re succeeding brilliantly.  The problem is, they’re not thinking up like a good platoon commander should, and so you get the schadenfreudily delicious spectacle of the entire Democratic Party concluding that a “resolution” against “hate” — the easiest gestural-politics slam dunk this site of “kittens are cute” — is just too extreme for the American people.

Even worse than a platoon commander not thinking up, as we’ve seen, is a regiment commander not thinking down, and the Democrats are a Matterhorn-level clusterfuck on that score, too.  They really do seem to believe this  “Hate iz bad, mmmmkay?” resolution they’ve cooked up is a tactical problem.  They really do seem to think that all they need to do is find the correct wording, the right procedural shenanigans, to pass it, and the problem’s solved.  Stephen A. Douglas could pull it off in his sleep, but as we’ve seen, when Stephen Douglas is your best case scenario it’s about to start raining bullets.

A guy like John C. Calhoun would have Chiquita Khruschev’s fingers broken if she got within fifteen feet of Twitter. He’d go old-school Sharia on Ilhan Omar, stuffing her in one of those full-body trash bags and duct-taping her mouth just to be sure.  He might be fighting an unwinnable, Vietnam-style conflict — demographics, like logistics, are the only things that really matter in the long term — but he’d fight it brilliantly, and to the bitter end, because he’d know what was at stake.

The goofy geriatric Whites on the American Left not only don’t know what’s at stake, they actually think they’re winning.  Like LBJ and Robert McNamara, they’ve got all the advanced metrics that say the numbers are pointing their way.  The guys getting killed on the Matterhorn say otherwise, but that signal is guaranteed to get lost in the noise.



*This is the guy, you’ll recall, who sabotaged his own legacy-defining Compromise of 1850 just four years later with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, because he wanted to make a few bucks on railroad stock.  A not-retarded Hillary Clinton with smaller balls, that was Stephen A. Douglas.
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Placeholder Post

I got nothin’, so here’s some quick commentary on pieces from better bloggers.

No fatties in da club.  (Stacy McCain rolls with the Chicago Manual of Style, so I’ve taken the liberty of “correcting” his spelling.  I’m street like that).  Tl;dr — some rapper says a “plus-sized model” can’t come to his bash at a Miami nightclub; feminist outrage ensues.  Some things feminists aren’t outraged about: The fact that said rapper has five children by five different women; that at least two of the women are suing him for being a catastrophic, possibly abusive, deadbeat dad; pretty much everything else about “hip-hop” culture.  For some reason, as McCain says.

Having been in and around academia for many long years, I’m used to it, but you all still probably find it shocking how naive ivory tower people are.  One could probably do some digging to illustrate the prep school / private college / grad school / tenure pipeline from which most academics emerge.  That would explain the naivete, I suppose, but wouldn’t really bring it home.  So let me illustrate.  Your typical “African-American Studies” professor dresses like this:

In other words, like your typical White ivory tower nerd, with one ostentatious “African” affectation — an Afro, a kufi, an African colors tie.  Maybe he goes nuts and wears a dashiki to the back-to-school faculty mixer, but that’s about it.  Google up “black Americans,” though, and you get:

I specifically chose a non-incendiary photo from a self-proclaimed nonpartisan website (The Hill), that appears in a thumbsucking article about the plight of African-Americans.  In other words, this is what your properly goodthinkful middle-class American is allowed to picture when she thinks about “African-American culture.”

Now, recall that your typical academic has more invested in hair dye, piercings, and tattoos on any given day than you did in your first car.  They’re the most shameless poseurs in captivity, but none of them would be caught dead looking like the kids in that photo.  No, it’s not that they’re worried about being accused of “cultural appropriation.”  They love cultural appropriation, at least from that particular culture — ask Rachel Dolezal, Shaun King, et al.  It’s that they wouldn’t have the first clue where to find this stuff.  Their experience of actual Blacks — as opposed to professors of “African-American Studies” — is as brain-warpingly theoretical as their experience of “Trump voters,” “payroll jobs,” etc.

I guess in a strange way I’m letting McCain’s feminists off the hook.  We read “no fatties in da club!” and we wonder what the big deal is.  It’s a rapper behaving like a rapper, i.e. a cartoonish  parody of African-American masculinity.  I suggest that the feminists, being hothouse flowers that have never left the ivory tower, don’t actually know this.  The only Blacks they’ve ever encountered have been in “African-American Studies” departments, which means they were future Af-Am Studies professors themselves.*  And, of course, if you banned fatties in da faculty club, the teachers’ lounge would be a ghost town….

David Thompson’s commenters have the best nickname I’ve yet heard for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  I was pretty proud of “incitatus Ocasio-Cortez,” but that’s nowhere near the comedic genius of “Chiquita Khrushchev.”  I surrender, good sir; the field is yours.

That article deals with “Red Yenta,” an online dating site by and for Jewish (or wannabe-Jewish) communists in Brooklyn.

“I was complaining about how socialist men don’t date socialist women and it really bothers me,” Isser says

and it just goes downhill from there.  Thompson gives us some highlights:

Libertarian socialist (28, she/her) seeks similar (27-35, he/him) to join forces against non-consensual power dynamics (capitalism, white supremacy, etc.)

Tall, tired communist seeking friends, casual dating… Likes: citrus fruit, weird music, using progressive stack to cut men off at meetings.

38, he/him, likes women… Maoism and Star Trek.

You will, I’m sure, be shocked to learn that

The yentas aren’t aware of anyone who’s found love through their accounts yet.

Having been around way more than my fair share of “red yentas” in my time (as you might expect, academia is chock-a-block with them), I can sign off on Martinian’s notion from yesterday’s post:

The place I really get off the bus, though, is with the butch lesbians …you can find one of them at the bottom of pretty much all of the nasty anti-normie stuff (racial, sexual, you name it) … I think it would be fascinating to do some kind of structural/comparative study between the role of court eunuchs in the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and homosexuals in the modern/contemporary Western university system. My hunch has always been that such people are primed to wield administrative power because they don’t need to spend hours of time and emotional energy on familial/romantic matters, and also because they’re bound to have strong in-group loyalties.

There it is.  Admitting a lesbian to your academic department is tantamount to making her the dictator (admitting two is a guaranteed civil war).  It’s one of the reasons I got out, frankly.  Even the extremely limited interaction I had with faculty politics showed me that lesbians, as the Leftest of the Left, win for the same reasons the Left does out in the real world — they have more energy, bile, and above all time than you do.  You simply can’t spend every waking minute fighting for a minor wording change in subparagraph 2(a)(iv) in the Official Faculty Statement of Concern about the Environmental Impact of Narwhal Farts.  They can, and do.  It’s their life, in a way Normals just can’t grok.  Think about that kid you knew who was waaaaaay too into Dungeons and Dragons, or the guy in your office who breaks down film on preseason games for hours because his fantasy football draft is coming up.  Now, imagine someone who is like that about everything — who can’t turn it off, even if she wanted to (and she will never, ever want to).

That’s who’s running every academic department in the American university system… and that’s the kind of person who’s trying to find love on “Red Yenta.”

Did I mention that college is like $35K per year nationwide now?  Send your kids!  TOTALLY worth it.



*It’s a myth that college athletes all major in AAS.  They used to, until the scam got too obvious.  Did you ever catch a game on ESPN and wonder what the hell “interdisciplinary studies” is, or why huge schools with every conceivable major already on the books would ever need such a program?  Just to stick with a theme, here’s North Carolina’s description.  “Because an IDST major lacks a formal Department, the major has no Director of Undergraduate Studies with whom to consult. The role of an IDST Faculty Advisor is twofold: to help the student develop their IDST 8-course major program, and to be available for advice if it becomes necessary to adjust the major program — if needed courses are not available, or more appropriate courses become available.”  Now why would that be?**
**For legal purposes I must note that the above is information only; no violations of any policy have been alleged, suggested, hinted at, inferred, joked about, or otherwise implied.  Any eye-rolling gestures I might’ve made typing all this were completely coincidental.
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