Faster and Faster

One of the toughest things to get across to History students is the pace of change.  Students hate it, but the “memorize this list of dates” approach actually helps — one can’t help but notice that your list of “the 20 most significant dates” for, say, the medieval period covers a millennium, while that same list for the Roman Empire covers maybe a century.  Even there, though, most people could be forgiven for mistaking 50 AD for 150 AD, or even 250 AD (even archaeologists generally consider it a success if they can date something to within a century, I’m told).

But nobody would mistake 1790 for 1890, let alone 1990.  A Roman of the late Republic (100 BC) could still get around ok if you time-warped him into the late Empire (300 AD).  Time warp a guy from 1790 into 1890, though, and he’d think he was on Mars.  (Zap him into 1990, and he’d think he’d died and gone to Hell).  The pace of change accelerated exponentially starting in about 1400; by the Industrial Era it was a blur.

Which is why I’m terrified right now.  We feel like change is happening at light speed.  As a Historian, I can promise you — it’s at least Warp 6, and the dilithium crystals are nowhere near to overloading.

An example might help.  To us, Victorian Britain looks like a colossus.  We call it “the Victorian Age” for a reason, right?  But Britain’s period of dominance was very, very short, historically speaking, at it certainly wasn’t uncontested.  At its very apex — somewhat arbitrarily, but not unreasonably, let’s say 1880 — she was first among near-equals.  A superpower, yes, but far from the only one.

Even there, she probably “lost” as many as she “won,” depending on how you want to describe the outcome of these none-but-a-field-specialist-has-ever-heard-of-most-of-them bush wars.  Even the unquestioned victories — the gaudy ones like the Opium War — had less to do with British dominance than her enemies’ fecklessness and disorganization.  Any group of wogs with their shit minimally together gave Britain some serious licks — ask the Afghans, victors of three wars against Her Majesty’s forces; or Chinese Gordon, killed losing a war to the Mahdi.

This is not intended to disparage our cousins across the pond — you’ll go a long way to find an outer-and-prouder Anglophile than yours truly.  The point, rather, is to show that the rot set in even as the empire was reaching its height.  Here’s that list of wars again.  Any unquestioned, steamroller victories in there, anywhere past 1840?  Let’s be generous, then, and say that the British Empire was arguably Europe’s dominant power for, at most, 60 years.

More to the point, they themselves felt it keenly at the time.  The Boer War was a public relations disaster, not least because the Army had serious problems finding fit enough men to fill the ranks.  The pop culture of the 1890s was grievously decadent, as they themselves complained of at the time.  Indeed, the decadence pretty much caused World War I — just as the Kaiser felt himself declining relatively against the imperial powers, the British knew themselves declining absolutely versus Germany, math being what it is (Germany is many times larger than Great Britain, with a proportionally larger industrial capacity).  “Fight now and risk defeat, or fight later when it’s guaranteed” was the unspoken argument on all sides in the war.

The United States was one of two superpowers for 40 years, and the only one for a mere decade.  Moreover, much like Britain, the US hasn’t faced off against anything close to real enemy since 1945 (and even then only as part of a huge coalition).  Unless you want to count expeditions to Panama, Grenada, and the like as glorious victories for our national arms, we’ve lost every “war” we’ve fought since then.  (Note that saying “wars like Vietnam were unwinnable” is, if anything, a harsher judgment on us than a loss.  Strong, self-confident powers don’t get into fights for which they have no clear objective.  Consult that list of Britain’s imperial wars again — the wins were all basically punitive expeditions, not real wars).

So, too, with politics.  It’s hard to say just what Britain was doing overseas from 1839, when she went to war to force the Chinese to pay back a bunch of English drug smugglers, to 1914, when she went to war for…. Belgian neutrality, I guess is the official reason.  The “wars” that weren’t punitive expeditions seem like directionless, reactive flailing — moves based on what France or (especially) Russia might do, or to secure lines of communications into places they might possibly care about at some unspecified date in the future.  Even Britain’s lifetime civil servants generally had no idea what the British were doing in India.  It was a glorious day, when the sun never set on the British empire…. but, historically speaking, it was just a day.

I trust that the parallels to our current situation are obvious.

So, too, are the cultural parallels, and those are what will really do us in.  A nation can lose a war or two and still be fine, but a loss in the cultural war is mortal.  Matthew Arnold, the original Stodgy Old Conservative, was the last of a dying breed when he railed against the Philistines in 1869 — Walter Pater was the hot young thing then, and he was mere prelude to Oscar Wilde.  Wilde’s sodomy trial was 1895 — just 26 years from “the best that has been thought and said” to “Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite [sic].”

Anyone think we have anything close to 26 years left?

When the crisis comes, no one will be expecting it.  The robot historians of 2119, though, will have a good chuckle at our folly.  How could those fools not have seen it coming?

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Paging Franz Josef

Since it’s getting on to tax season, let’s pretend that I and my local IRS person have a dispute.  Let’s further stipulate that it’s an honest mistake…

Well, that’s our first problem, isn’t it?  As we all know, the criminal laws are so opaque and byzantine that we all commit three felonies a day.  The tax laws, of course, make the criminal code look like a model of clarity and sanity.  But let’s stipulate that I deducted a certain amount for the federal unicorn chow subsidy from my gross income, and the question at law is whether it was the right amount.  I say yes; IRS says no.

The first thing I do is pray that I get a White male judge, the older the better.  That’s the only way the issue at law has any chance of being settled at law…. Assuming the IRS goon is also a White male and not one of the privileged classes, against whom not even the crustiest old White judges have any real power.

The chances of reason prevailing vary inversely, of course, with the presiding judge’s albedo and estrogen level.  I might get a fair shot if a White lady judge woke up on the right side of the bed, if she isn’t on the rag, if I don’t remind her of a jerk ex-boyfriend, and none of her cats threw up a hairball last night.  Any flavor of POC male will screw me on general principles, and as for a POC female, well, just remember: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the smarter, saner ones.  Can they execute you for smudging the ink on Schedule XQTR-308?  I sure as hell wouldn’t put it past a Hawaiian Judge, would you?

Behold the wonders of Third World jurisprudence.  What you did is immaterial; the “trial” is all about playing to the presiding magistrate’s prejudices.  Best case, we end up with something like Austria-Hungary, with separate legal systems for the separate nationalities.  Worst case… well, you don’t need me to tell you what it is.  And besides, I’m pretty sure we’re gonna find out.

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Why Did You Quit?

I get asked that a lot, re: my academic “career,” such as it was.  The short answer is: It wasn’t fun anymore.

Academia was never my main gig.  I had a “real” job throughout that paid the bills, but since that “real” job was ad libitum I could teach a regular schedule — I wasn’t confined to night classes, adult education, etc. (though I taught those; over the years I’ve taught pretty much everything that doesn’t require math).  I taught because I love teaching, because it’s socially necessary, and because it was an interesting insight into the upcoming generation(s).

None of those are true anymore.

It’s not that kids today are mal-educated, woefully ignorant, and wouldn’t know serious academic work if it bit them on the ass.  Those are all true, of course, but that’s the way it has always been — I have no doubt Plato said the same thing about Aristotle (and Socrates no doubt said it about Plato).  In my experience, the rueful phrase “back when I was in college” first escapes your lips approximately 36 hours into graduate school.

It’s not the quantity of ignorance, then, but the quality.  Generation Snowflake really are New Soviet Men.  If you’ve read about life under Stalin, especially, you’ll know what I’m talking about — at once invincibly self-righteous and cringingly subservient, modern students come across like junior volunteer commissars.  If they don’t already know it, it’s by definition not worth knowing… and you’re an asshole — to be avoided, undermined, ignored, or (very, very grudgingly) tolerated, as the situation dictates — for trying to make them “learn” something new.

They’re not sociopaths, exactly, but that’s close enough to what they are that we’ll go with it.  For instance: They have no problem asking you to move due dates, even for big things like midterm exams, if it inconveniences them.  And just them — the rest of the class should still have to take the exam on Friday; it’s just that she, Suzy Snowflake, has a big sorority function that weekend that she really needs to prepare for, so she should be allowed to take it Monday.  Nor do they have a problem with lying on spec, just to see if you’ll bite.  Tell Suzy no, she still has to take the exam on Friday like everyone else, and there’s a decent chance you’ll be getting a “dead Grandma” email from her over the weekend — my Grandma died suddenly this Friday, I had to go home for the funeral, I’m so broken up, I’m free to take the makeup exam on Monday.

No, I’m not joking, and yes, you can check Suzy Snowflake’s social media and find pictures of her downing shots at the big sorority do Saturday night.  And yes, she knows those pictures are out there; Generation Snowflake regards the concept of “online privacy” like your cat thinks about calculus.  It’s just that hey, maybe you won’t check.  Worth a shot, right?  If anyone should be upset it’s her, for making her feel bad by doubting her story.  She’ll saunter into class on Monday like nothing happened…. because to her, nothing did.  She threw a Hail Mary, it got intercepted, oh well, what’s new in the Netflix queue?

Faced with that, any attempt at education is like King Canute ordering back the tides.  It’s excruciatingly pointless, and that’s why I quit.  Life’s too short to spend raging against the inevitable.


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Public Piety

The late, great David Stove once suggested that if you really wanted humanism — that is, a philosophy that embraces the strongest part of our game — you’d push a religion of deliberate absurdity.  We all have some lunatic belief or other, he said, to which we attach great importance.  And the briefest of glances at history shows you that there’s a type of person for whom credo quia absurdum est is a feature, not a bug, of their worldview.  Stove implies that these people are the vast majority of the human race, and the more I see of this stupid, stupid century, the more I agree with him.

Because it’s not just an unexamined lunatic belief, of the kind you’re taught in public school, that most people hold.  Those aren’t excusable, exactly, but they’re at least understandable — it’s a hellacious shock to the system, one that the red-pilled remember well, when you finally realize that authority figures have been systematically deceiving you.  The kind of lunatic belief I’m talking about is chosen, after long deliberation and with full exposure to the relevant facts.  The only way anyone could embrace any of the SJW catechism is by worshipping absurdity for absurdity’s sake.

An example helps, but instead of rehashing all of The Current Year’s lunacy, let’s look at history.  Credo quia absurdum est has a long and shameful pedigree.  See, for example, the notion of Predestination.  Technically, “double predestination” is the absurd part — the idea that God must’ve decided who was going to Hell long before He even created the world.  It’s all but impossible to teach this idea to students, because modern people — to their credit, and for once I’m not being sarcastic when crediting modern people with anything — realize how ball-scratchingly stupid that is.  Hell, maybe it’s true, but no sane person can possibly live with it.

Modern people see that as carte blanche to do whatever we want, because hey, if we do it, God made us do it… which, if you think about it for half a second, means God Himself is responsible for “sin” (quotation marks necessary, because it can’t be evil if I have no possible choice in the matter).  Calvin, Knox, et al thought of that too, of course — they were crazy, not stupid — and they even had an answer: Shut up, that’s why.  Not the most theologically sophisticated reasoning, but when you’re being burned at the stake for Arminianism it’s remarkably persuasive.  Meanwhile, you’d best live like the holiest Puritan that ever lived… even though it’s exquisitely pointless, because you’re almost surely damned.

See what I mean?

Or take Marxism.  I wish I could find out who said it, but one of Lenin’s early critics reduced all possible objections to Marxism to a sentence: Marxists are like astronomers who are mathematically certain an eclipse is coming, but immediately start murdering people to make sure it comes.  Marxism must be the most comprehensively refuted doctrine in the history of human thought… and yet it’s the default in every Western (and most Eastern) school systems, K thru PhD.  We’re all Marxists now, so much that we don’t even realize it — get all worked up about it, in fact, and start banging out irate caps lock comments on blogs, when someone points it out (go ahead, bang away; I love irate caps lock comments).  Pretty much the entire history of Postmodern thought is, as Stephen R.C. Hicks put it, the frantic effort to keep the emotional solace of Marxism without admitting that Marxism is wrong.

The most interesting thing from a historian’s perspective, then, is: What’s going to happen when Reality prevails in The Current Year, as Reality always must?

Our blue-haired, nose-ringed lunatics aren’t going to give up their need for lunatic beliefs.  That’s hardwired.  They’re not going to stop being collectivists, because nihilism — which is what “double predestination,” Marxism, and all the rest boil down to emotionally — always leads its believers to embrace the most comprehensive collectivism they can find.*  You know my answer: “Today’s SJW is tomorrow’s obergruppenfuhrer.”  Once they realize that they’re not leading the identity politics parade anymore — that their heads are, in fact, on tribalism’s chopping block — they’re going to rediscover their pure Aryan essence doubletime.  I just hope I live long enough to see it….

…or maybe not.  The comments are open.  Speculate away!


*I don’t know if that post is a “greatest hit” or not (somebody asked for a list of those), but it got some of the most discussion out of any post that wasn’t another endless roundabout with the goddamn Cuttlefish, so…
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Idle Hands

I saw this Sarah Hoyt piece on “bad crazy” linked at Ace of Spades’ overnight thread.  She describes it thus:

a theory dreamed by some college professor with too much time on his or these days often her hands and an ax to grind or a pony to ride…. a just-so story [that] spreads and hides.  It hides so well that people don’t realize they’re infected.  But its distorting effects twist society’s processes to the point that something vital stops working.

Her main example is “toxic masculinity,” but, growing up as she did under Salazar, she’s compelled to mention Marxism, the wackiest just-so story of them all and the one to which all the goofy college professors dreaming up bad-crazy theories still officially subscribe.  Which sparked a few thoughts….

It’s funny, isn’t it, that Liberals — who still carry on as if the 1964 Civil Rights Act happened yesterday (and it wasn’t their party that fought it tooth and claw) — never mention the truly remarkable material progress made in the “Progressive Era”?

Around 1900, pretty much all educated people took it for granted that “we’re all Socialists now,” and some iteration of Socialism helped propel enormous advances in the lower classes’ standard of living.  You can go dig up the numbers if you’d like, but I doubt anyone here seriously disputes that the lot of the average factory worker in 1910 was orders of magnitude better than that of the average factory worker in 1860.  Indeed, as the 19th century rushed into the 20th, the pace of change accelerated, such that life — on just about any material measure that makes sense — was getting noticeably better almost year-to-year.  Your average European or (especially) American prole was observably better off in 1905 than he was in 1900.

You’d think the “Progressives,” who then as now were so culturally influential that they got the whole era named after themselves, would take a bit more credit for that, wouldn’t you?

There are a few obvious explanations.  E.g. that the proles’ increasing material prosperity contradicted the Scriptures — Marx decreed that the worker’s lot would only get worse until the Revolution, so, as those educated past their hat size always do, the “Progressives” chose to believe the theory over the evidence of their own lying eyes.  Not too many people read Gramsci anymore, but he got himself canonized just below St. Karl himself for proving to the True Believers that it’s all a sham and that everything is awful and getting worse.

Another is that the “prosperity” of the European lower classes was built entirely on the exploitation of an even lower class, the poor bastards in the colonies.  That was Lenin’s explanation, and Orwell’s, and it’s actually kinda sorta true as far as it goes.  The problem here, though, is that the premise is unacceptable to the modern Left.  No matter how grudgingly you admit that things have gotten slightly better, it’s still an admission, which implies that colonialism ain’t all bad… which, since colonialism entails Racism — the worst of all possible sins — it must be.  So that’s out.

One last possible reason for the “Progressives”* not taking credit for the “Progressive Era” is World War 1 — specifically, the “war credits” that so incensed Lenin and the rest of the Second International.  Commie literature about this is so inside-baseball it’d give Bill James wood, but for us laymen it’s pretty simple — given the choice between sacrificing heroically for The Cause or going home to support King and Country, the commies, especially the German commies, voted with their feet.  As Germany was the heartland of the True Faith, the place where all the best thinkers were sure the Revolution must come first, this was a blow from which Lenin et al never recovered.  It turns out that when the chips are down, German commies were still Germans (English, French, etc.).  Moreover, the war showed that the advanced industrial technique the commies were counting on to deliver material prosperity for all was great for that… but even better at churning out guns, bullets, and cannon fodder.  Woodrow Wilson even called his regime “War Socialism,” for pete’s sake, and we can’t be having that.

I’d suggest another explanation, though: Idle hands.  The fact is that pretty much none of the vast social and material progress — no quotation marks — of the “Progressive Era” can be attributed to actual “Progressives.”  Standards of living were indisputably better for the majority of folks because of things like mail-order catalogs, railroads, and electric lights, none of which even the most brilliant Socialist theorist had anything to do with.  The Salvation Army — which is, horror of horrors, both militaristic and Christian — did far more good for the urban working man in a single day than all the conferences of all the Internationals in the history of Socialism.  The International Workingmen’s Association was just aces when it came to issuing self-dramatizing manifestos and expelling dissidents, but for bowl of hot soup and a set of decent clothes, go see General Booth.

Progress, without quotation marks, can be attributed almost entirely to idle hands.  Always and everywhere, it’s a bored middle- or upper-class person, often a woman!, who takes it upon herself to do something about the plight of X.  These folks don’t care about theory.  You can argue the pros and cons of, say, Temperance all you want, but the fact remains that getting knee-walking, gutter-puking drunk is always a bad idea, and will remain so no matter how many fancy theoretical explanations you come up with to explain — that is, to justify — the behavior.  The ladies of the WCTU were well aware that social conditions in urban tenements contributed to excessive drinking… but they also knew that drinking is a physical act, and that the drinker, whatever else anyone may do, think, or say, is the one who puts the bottle to his lips.

No WCTU lady would argue against the fact that the slums needed cleaning, that the prevailing social arrangements were unjust.  But they also knew that rejiggering the means of production was well above their pay grade.  More importantly, they knew that one can actually stop at least a few people from engaging in a self-destructive behavior — that is, that at least one person’s life can be improved, immeasurably, today, through compassion and sweat… and that even trying to do it, though you fail 99 times out of 100, is deeply satisfying to the soul.

It’s not dramatic, though — see “99 failures in 100 attempts,” above.  More to the point, it’s not self-dramatizing.  It takes no special insight, no advanced degree, not one single hour slogging through dense theoretical tracts, to see that the first step to improving a drunk’s life is to keep the bottle out of his hands.  Whatever the “root cause” of his alcoholism, it’s the alcohol in his bloodstream that’s fucking him up right now.  Get that out, and keep it out — then you can worry about the rest.

And a last fact: Drunks are disgusting.  All the “lower classes” are.  Apologies for the long quote, but this is why George Orwell, who was one of the barmiest Socialists that ever lived, is still worth honoring:

That was what we were taught–the lower classes smell. And here, obviously, you are at an impassable barrier. For no feeling of like or dislike is quite so fundamental as a physical feeling. Race-hatred, religious hatred, differences of education, of temperament, of intellect, even differences of moral code, can be got over; but physical repulsion can-not. You can have an affection for a murderer or a sodomite, but you cannot have an affection for a man whose breath stinks–habitually stinks, I mean. However well you may wish him, however much you may admire his mind and character, if his breath stinks he is horrible and in your heart of hearts you will hate him. It may not greatly matter if the average middle-class person is brought up to believe that the working classes are ignorant, lazy, drunken, boorish, and dishonest; it is when he is brought up to believe that they are dirty that the harm is done. And in my childhood we were brought up to believe that they were dirty. Very early in life you acquired the idea that there was something subtly repulsive about a working-class body; you would not get nearer to it than you could help. You watched a great sweaty navvy walking down the road with his pick over his shoulder; you looked at his discoloured shirt and his corduroy trousers stiff with the dirt of a decade; you thought of those nests and layers of greasy rags below, and, under all, the unwashed body, brown all over (that was how I used to imagine it), with its strong, bacon-like reek. You watched a tramp taking off his boots in a ditch–ugh! It did not seriously occur to you that the tramp might not enjoy having black feet. And even ‘lower-class’ people whom you knew to be quite clean–servants, for instance–were faintly unappetizing. The smell of their sweat, the very texture of their skins, were mysteriously different from yours.

Actual progress — again, no quotation marks — absolutely requires getting over that disgust.  The Salvation Army soldiers and WCTU ladies did it.  Professors and other SJWs don’t, won’t, can’t.  They’ll go to great lengths to make themselves disgusting, but only because it’s self-dramatizing, a gross form of conspicuous consumption.**  They live in terror of their own idle hands, because they sense deep down that if they actually did something with them, they would discover that the world is a much simpler, messier place than their cherished theories say it is….

… and also a much better place, even though tramps have black feet and the lower classes smell.  And we can’t be having that — otherwise, what were all those years in college for?

[UPDATE: I just now realized I’d been typing the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union acronym wrong: It is, of course, WCTU, and I’ve corrected it.  I also realized I didn’t link to Hoyt’s piece, which was unintentional bad form, so that’s corrected, too.  Finally, as discussed in the comments below, the 19th century really liked using the singular in its organization names — e.g. the WomAn’s, not the WomEn’s, Christian Temperance Union.  So I think it’s actually the International WorkingmAn’s Association, but since all the links in a half-a-millisecond Google search use the plural, I’ll go with that for now.]


*Who are, of course, nowhere near “progressive.”  They quite obviously long for a return to the Middle Ages, such that I often call them “Regressives.”  A commenter at Z Man’s dubbed them “Proglodytes,” and that’s got a much better ring to it, so I’m going with that from here on out.
**It fascinates me how nobody anywhere, even in Our Thing, points out how ludicrously expensive it is to kit yourself out as an SJW.  Tattooing starts at $100-300 per hour; those crazy sleeve tattoos so many SJWs have must cost several thousand dollars each.  Not to mention the cost of the piercing, hair dyes, etc.  And the time it all takes!  Now extend that out to all parts of their lives — you can only go to Whole Foods, where eggs cost $6 a dozen, and you have to get there via bus or bicycle too.  One must be very, very wealthy, and very, very idle, to live as an SJW for even a week.  Professors can manage it, because their average yearly take is over $100K — truly the 1%, by any measure that would make sense to someone making $30K a year.  How do the rest of them do it?  Shouldn’t we be hammering them for this, every chance we get?  You say you can’t afford birth control, but just one of your many, many tats probably cost you $800.  How do you square that circle, Moonbeam?
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In and Out

Confession time: I’m what you might call a Trump agnostic. Some of what he’s done pleases me, some things about him I find frustrating, and almost everything he does I find entertaining. Someone once asked me who I would vote for and I answered at the time that whatever my disagreements with the man, I had no doubts in my mind that Trump loved America and wanted to do right by her – I still believe that and for me it’s not nothing in consideration for a president.

Still I do try to listen to both sides of the Trump issue on the right, and here I will admit that I find both sides – his fans and his haters – frequently obnoxious. Indeed my feelings towards the man himself are too often influenced by who I read last. If a super-fan, Trump is annoying. If a hater, Trump is the GOAT. Thus i try not to rely on my gut or feelings on the matter but ever seek out the truth. Thus listening to both sides.

Because the problem with humans is that our senses alone collect so much data that our brains can’t possibly store and process all of it. So we have to constantly shift through and analyse this data, our brains prioritizing some while ignoring the rest. But what is really important? The color, make and model of nearby cars? The color, style and make of the shoes everyone around you are wearing? Some data is objectively important (like who is shooting at you) but a lot of data out there is… debatable. That’s why we communicate with others – because the data I picked up and retained is going to be a bit different from what you picked up. By combining all our datasets we can craft a larger picture of the whole truth, like a jigsaw puzzle.

This then is the frustration when I listen to a Trump fan (like Andrew Klavan) vs a Trump skeptic (like Jonah Goldberg). Both sides often make relevant points about important data, and both sides seem to avoid what the other one is addressing leading to a frustration of everybody talking past each other. Yet I couldn’t help but notice that the fans seemed to make an effort to confront the counter arguments a bit more often – the skeptics rarely so. In fact the skeptics seemed to go out of their way to even acknowledge competing evidence. Things just weren’t adding up. Now I’m also a big believer in Occum’s Razor which should be summed up as “don’t add additional factors without evidence.” , so I prefer to take the folks at their word rather than inventing some kind of conspiracy theory.

Let’s then think about like in programming. At root we only have 3 factors: the input, the process, and the output. If the output is wrong, there’s only 2 other places to look. What can we tell about process? Fundamentally – nothing. We can’t read minds so there’s no way to really be sure what’s going on inside another’s. We’ll have to accept their claims about their own process at face value for right now. So let’s look at input.

In fact, let’s look at what happened this weekend.

In case you haven’t heard, there was a March for Life on Washington DC at which point a video & image of an original-American drummer and a boy in a MAGA cap went viral. Shortly after the viral spread, the other shoe dropped.

Turned out there was a lot more to the story and everyone was reacting to pretty much the opposite of what was the truth.

Let’s look at the National Review’s article on it.

Oh wait, that’s actually the SECOND article NRO published. There was a first article before that. It’s captured under “Update IV” at this link.

Now it all began to make sense. The trump-skeptic side was having faulty input. They are believing the media.

There’s actually a term for this: Gell-Mann Amnesia. Michael Crichton described it as:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

This somehow seems to make it all worse than a simple betrayal.

See, I’m old enough that for most of my political life, conservatives have been bitching about the media. That whenever an article was written about Reagan or Bush or Bush or whatever politician, so many of these figures would be there with an article pointing out all the facts overlooked and complicating factors ignored. Always and forever if the media reported on a congressman’s tie, the conservatives would double check it. Now? Now when they complain about Trump, you can quickly piece together that it’s because they’re accepting the media’s basic premises.

Never mind that nothing’s changed over those years save the republican targeted. Never mind that a few months ago the press did the exact same thing to Kavanaugh (with many of these figures rightly objected to). No this time a video and image go up about a kid in a red hat, and the people who should know better accept the media’s premises unquestioned. It’s a movement-wide Gell-Mann Amnesia.

If you’re a skeptic reading this: Imagine it’s a few years ago and you came across one of your conservative colleagues or heroes complaining about how misogynist Romney was being with his “binders full of women” line. Imagine that no matter how much you tried to correct that person, get them to see the fuller context, they objected. Said they saw all they needed to. Called you a cultist – a blind Romney follower. I remember how most of you fought against that little media deception back in the day. So imagine how you would feel in that situation.

That’s how we feel now.

You don’t have to like Trump. You don’t have to agree with Trump. You don’t have to excuse the worst excesses of his followers.

But MAYBE you could try reapplying your old skepticism, and stop buying what the media is selling. You above all people should know better. Stop and ask yourself why this time you think the habitual liar is being truthful.

As we say in programming.  Garbage in, garbage out.  So if leftism in…

…no self-awareness out.

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I Learned a New Word

In the comments at Z Man’s: Ultracrepidarian.  It means “someone who criticizes, judges, or offers advice outside the range of his expertise.”

That’s academia, right there.

It’s surprising how little people actually know about what goes on in the ivory tower, given that our culture expects you’ll put yourself (or your parents!) a midsize mortgage in the hole to attend the six-year SJW sleepaway camp we call “college.”  The crap you see spotlighted in The New Real Peer Review isn’t excessive; it’s the norm in academia.  We’ve been over the reasons for this before, but here’s a quick recap:

Since only “scholars” who publish get tenure, and since journals only publish original “research,” the only way to publish consistently is to make shit up.  Given that Shakespeare ain’t writing no more sonnets, the only way to get tenure in, say, English Literature is to argue that, properly “deconstructed,” the list of contents on a packet of beef jerky is just as valuable — indeed, more valuable — as a “cultural artifact” than anything the Bard, curse his CisHetPat White soul, ever wrote.  Hence, the road to tenure takes only left turns.

And that’s where the “ultracrepidarian” part comes in.  There have been two, exactly two, insights into the human condition put forth by ivory tower eggheads since the Renaissance, and they are:

  1. Outside of the physical constants, the “truth” kinda sorta depends on how you look at it; and
  2. Women’s unpaid labor in the house is still labor.

That’s it, but from those, the entire academic grievance industry was born.  Neither of these, you’ll notice, counts as a particularly earth-shattering.  They’re both kinda “no shit, Sherlock,” actually — ask anyone who has ever babysat a child if domestic work is work, and as for the so-called “truth,” I’m pretty sure English juries were being instructed on the meaning of “beyond a reasonable doubt” way back in the 12th century.  But there you have it.

The truth of 1) dispenses with any need for “proof” when it comes to your ass-pulled assertions.  Since everything is perspective, and all perspective rests on privilege, you can ad hominem your way out of anything — e.g. “it’s a black thing; you wouldn’t understand.”  This is so effective that even certified Persons of Pallor like Shaun “Talcum X” King can make nice little careers off it.  The truth of 2) justifies sneering hatred towards all of civilization, since, you know, men discovered, invented, built, and maintained every single fucking thing in it… but they wouldn’t have been able to do all that, natch, if women weren’t there backstopping them with diaper changes and tasty made-to-order sammiches.

It should be clear by now, I hope, that nobody who believes any of this tripe could possibly claim “expertise” in anything.  As David Stove put it so eloquently long ago, the sum of Marxism + Feminism + Postmodernism = 0 + 0 + 0.  And yet, since the Prime Directive of the credentialed is to defend the validity of credentials at all costs, the Academic-Industrial Complex is required to pretend that someone whose PhD is in “gender and sexuality studies” has standing to pronounce on whatever it is “gender and sexuality studies” covers…. which, according to them, is pretty much everything.

Hence you get someone like Cordelia Fine proclaiming that testosterone is to blame for all apparent differences in male and female psychology.  This from a person who once authored an article titled “Is there neurosexism in functional neuroimaging investigations of sex differences?”  I haven’t read it, and I’d wager you haven’t either, but we both know the answer.  Deceased Persons of Penile Pallor called this kind of thing “begging the question,” which is why you’ve got honest-to-god PhDs in the Humanities these days who have never read word one of Aristotle.

And that’s how it works: Pick the answer you want to be true, make a cursory nod to some cherry-picked “evidence,” and ignore the rest… and if anyone questions you, wave your degree around.  Indeed, information is a contaminant — if heredity had anything to do with anything, then the winner of the Spruill Prize in Southern Women’s History would look foolish lecturing to us that race is a myth.  And yet, there it is.  I’d wager I know more about testosterone than both of these ladies combined, in that I know a guy at the gym who I think might could sell you some D-ball, but that’s neither here nor there, since I’m not up for tenure.

Ultracrepidarian spergs pontificating — that’s what you’re spending $25K per year on average for.  Like I always say, if some Bernie Madoff type had done to Wall Street what your average college “financial aid” officer has done to Main Street, the Chase Manhattan boys would have him flayed alive in Times Square, and broadcast it in place of the Super Bowl.  Don’t go to college.  Don’t send your kids to college.  Don’t let your friends’ kids go to college.  It’s the biggest scam in world history.

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Another Fin de Siecle

In the late 1800s, all the old certainties collapsed under the twin blows of Darwinism and Industrialism.  Darwin showed we were nothing but monkeys, and the “social Darwinists” — using that term very very loosely — showed that our institutions evolved, too.  E.B. Tylor and Emile Durkheim proved that religions evolve like people do, and our deepest so-called truths are just… wait for it… “social constructions,” to be valued only for their social utility, not their truth-value (which is, of course, actually negative).  Ernst Mach, perhaps the most representative intellectual of the age, said that science itself had its origin in evolutionary biology.  To top it all off, advances in industrial technique rendered large segments of the population superfluous — Eloi, the food for Morlocks.  To say it was an age of deep spiritual unease is juuuuust a bit of an understatement.

Is it any wonder that the Gilded Age / Belle Epoque was also the heydey of spiritualism, theosophy, psychical research?  Whatever spergs like T.H. Huxley might have believed, the vast majority of humanity isn’t going to trade in its holy books for algebra texts, no matter how strong the “proof.”  If the old transcendental beliefs are conclusively disproven, we’ll invent some new ones… or double down on the old ones (every social reform movement in the Gilded Age — and they were legion — was, without exception, stuffed to the rafters with Evangelicals).

Hence the modern Left devolving into a homicidal mystery cult.

By 1890, say, not even the most ignorant, benighted peasant could possibly still believe in the Biblical account of creation.  In the same way, by 2019, no halfway educated person can possibly believe in the Left’s version of Creationism, the one that goes “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”  Race is real, IQ is real, both are heritable and strongly correlated with each other, and all of it is wrapped up in behavior that is also heritable and highly correlated with race.  And if that means Science’s self-proclaimed BFFs suddenly decrying Science itself as rayciss, well, there’s precedent.

Here’s a list of the presidents of the Society for Psychical Research.  You’d have to be a period specialist to recognize a lot of those names, but no one here, I’d venture to say, regards the likes of Henry James, Arthur Balfour, Henri Bergson, and F.C.S. Schiller as fringe weirdos (see also the Metaphysical Society, of which T.H. Huxley, of all people, was a member, along with Gladstone and Walter Bagehot).  Though they’d never be so gauche as to say it this way, we can rest assured that all these men Fucking Loved Science.   Indeed, that was the whole point of the SPR — the difference between Henry James and Madame Blavatsky was that James wanted to slap a camera and stopwatch on her when she was in one of her mystical trances, to prove that they were real.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Left suddenly rediscovering its hippie roots… or its theosophical roots — you think this Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez idiot doesn’t believe, in her heart of hearts, in something very much like melanism?  As a culture, we already assign unique spiritual insight to Blacks (a form of worship I saw commenters at Z Mans dubbing “Dinduism,” complete with caste system).  Why not go all-in on “race essence”?  We forget this — because we were trained long and hard to forget it — but the Thule Society was pretty much straight-up theosophy, a movement that claimed Thomas Edison, Alfred Russel Wallace, and Gandhi as supporters.  Most of the work in the human sciences is already de facto heresy; watch for it to become de jure too.

And if you really want a black pill, remember how the Belle Epoque ended….

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An Ass of U and Me

Everyone’s heard the old witticism about assumptions: When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.  Anyone who has gone drinking with Engineering majors has probably also heard the one about an engineer’s answer to “Why did the chicken cross the road?”  First, assume a spherical chicken….*

Which highlights the problem with assumptions.  They’re both necessary, and necessarily false.

Engineering works (I’m told) by getting in the ballpark via assumptions to simplify the math, then dialing it in to get a workable structure you can actually build in the real world.  It might be lacking in pure mathematical elegance, and maybe engineers “aren’t real scientists,” but you can actually drive a car over the damn thing.  And that’s the test: Does it work?  Are the real-world results (cars driving over it) in line with the predicted outcomes (the bridge not collapsing)?  The “get it in the ballpark” method might result in some “over-engineering” — more buttresses or whatnot than are strictly necessary on paper — but it works, because math is math and the physical constants hold.

Too bad human affairs don’t work like that.

Alas, we act as if they do, because assumptions are as necessary — and necessarily false — in social life as they are in engineering.  People being people, we can’t know how a given person, much less a given group of people, will react in a certain situation.  We take the information we have, we make a few assumptions based on it, and we go…

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.  A good example is the Pearl Harbor attack.  If you look at it one way, it was suicidal — America is orders of magnitude larger than Japan, her industrial capacity is even further advanced than that, etc.**  BUT: Were the Americans really going to mobilize all that in their fury for revenge?  Or would they make a token gesture and fold, because they lacked the will?  If you look at it another way, that was the much likelier outcome, and — this is the important part — anyone with any actual experience of such an attack knew how the first one turned out: Total Japanese victory.

The Russo-Japanese War was over almost before it started.  The Battle of Port Arthur didn’t smash the Russian fleet as it was intended to do, but it did render that fleet functionally useless… and, with it, destroyed the Russian will to resist.  The Tsar had to dispatch his Atlantic fleet on a zillion-mile end run to get to the Pacific; meanwhile, his armies toiled at the end of 6,000-mile supply lines.  The only reason the Japanese didn’t get everything they wanted at the peace table, they concluded, is that the victory, though smashing, wasn’t smashing enough.  When the opportunity came for Port Arthur 2.0, they’d push in all their chips.  Would the Americans, like the Russians, send their Atlantic fleet around, to fight at the end of 6,000-mile supply lines?  Maybe as a token gesture, but with the Imperial Navy already gearing up to invade Australia, it wouldn’t be anything more than a token…

…or so the Japanese assumed.  “Assuming Americans will act like Russians” seems pretty dumb to an American, but it made sense to a Japanese.  One White devil imperialist is pretty much the same as any other.  And, as they saw it, the Americans weren’t real imperialists anyway.  Weren’t the majority of Americans avowed isolationists?  Didn’t Woodrow Wilson fuck over half the planet at Versailles — including giving Japan control of Germany’s concessions in China —  in the name of anti-imperialism?  The British might make suicidal gestures for King and Country, but the Americans wouldn’t.  Like the Russians — who very nearly overthrew their government after defeat the first time around — the Americans, who were almost exclusively concerned with economic matters, would fold once they looked at the map and saw the entire Pacific under the Rising Sun….

I think this is where Our Betters, the Liberals, are now.  As the Z Man notes today, the Left is immolating itself.  Their actions make no rational sense — can only be self-destructive, in fact, and any fool can see it…

… except they’re not fools.  They’re just trapped in their own culture.  They believe their own bullshit, as Barack Obama famously quipped, and they have every reason to do so.  They own everything.  They run everything.  Our culture IS their culture, because they control almost all the channels though which culture is transmitted, and the few they don’t control — e.g. the nuclear family — they’ve mortally wounded.  They’re sitting on Olympus, looking down at the last little pocket of potential resistance, all nicely tucked away and snug in Pearl Harbor, blissfully unaware and utterly defenseless.  The only logical thing to do, they assume, is push in all their chips.  Bring overwhelming force to bear, and wait for the token resistance to stop flailing around.

The only question is: Are they preparing the final hammer blow, or do they see what we’re doing now — bitching on blogs, basically — as the last flailing of the token resistance?  Are Donald Trump and The Deplorables the fleet parked at Pearl Harbor, or the Tsar’s generals taking pot-shots at their conquerors from Port Arthur’s walls?

Figure that out — find out what they assume — and you’ll know how the next few years are going to go.




*If you haven’t gone drinking with Engineering majors — your liver thanks you, by the way — this was part of an old joke circulating around campuses before the Internet.  It was a satire on the characteristic attitudes of people in various majors.  How you answered “Why did the chicken cross the road?” revealed your major’s silly attitudes.  So, the English major answer was something like “‘chicken’ is just a linguistic construct” (this is when PoMo was first hitting big on US campuses); the Wymyn’s Studies major answer was something like “because ‘crossing’ is just another form of patriarchal domination;” the Philosophy major answer was “perhaps there is no chicken;” etc.  It wasn’t a good joke, per se, but it did its job.
**This seems to have been Yamamoto’s view, though he dutifully planned the attack.
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The Virtue of Hypocrisy

When I retired, a retro 1990s fad was just gearing up on campus.  It was an Uncanny Valley kind of experience.  There they were, dressing like day-glo lumberjacks and listening to knockoff BritPop, but still plodding around campus with that peculiarly late-Millennial affect.  You know the one — half secret policeman, half cringing mouse.  Unpleasant, but it got me thinking about my own college years back at the dawn of the Clinton Era.*  We really screwed the pooch, didn’t we?

I’m referring, of course, to Gen X’s patented brand of “irony.”  We’ve talked about this before, but here’s a quick recap: Every middle-class kid born after about 1965 was raised to believe that Authenticity was the thing, the only thing.  Just do what you feel.  Question authority.  Don’t listen to The Man!

The problem, of course, is that we were told this by The Man.

It had a weird, telescoping effect.  On campus, you were surrounded by people who actually were hippies, plus a whole bunch of wild-eyed fanatics who were sure they would’ve made truly excellent hippies if they hadn’t been in elementary school at the time, plus a bunch of kids — these would be your classmates — who thought of “Woodstock” as a brand name, a kind of backpacking-through-Europe, taking-a-year-off-to-find-myself experience that everyone has as a matter of course before settling down to the serious business of making partner at the law firm.

In short: Our parents were stuck in adolescence, and, being adolescents ourselves, we didn’t understand that “Rebellion” wasn’t something the hippies invented.  We wanted to experience sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, too, but since the Baby Boomers treated those as their exclusive property instead of what they actually are — i.e. the natural impulses of teenagers in all times and places — we had to be all, like, you know, whatever about it.  The Simpsons, performing its invaluable service of presenting a trend already in steep decline as if were fresh, summed it up perfectly:

That was the 1990s.  Faced with a paradox that everything your parents say, do, and believe is lame — according to your parents! — the only safe way is to make sure nobody can figure out exactly what your attitude is at any given instant.  You might end up working 90 hour weeks at the office to pay the nut on the McMansion and the Volvo the same way they did, but at least you’d be, you know, ironic about it.  The ketman of the suburbs.

See what happens when you listen to your elders, kids?

The only way we could truly be different from our parents — truly rebel — is by not giving in to their gross hypocrisy.  A Baby Boomer who was salesman of the year at Tom Hayden’s Porsche dealership would simply power through with a shit-eating grin.  His parents were the WWII generation**, which, like all generations of humanity before it, knew well that hypocrisy is both useful and necessary.  Better a false “good morning!” than a sincere “go to Hell!”, the old proverb says, and it’s true.  Or, if you prefer, more hoity-toity: “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.”  That was La Rochefoucauld, who’d certainly know, but this was pretty much the default setting of humanity from the minute we stopped swinging in trees.  The Boomers knew it, and were fine with it.

Only dumbasses who thought the lead singer of a band named after ejaculate was some kind of messiah would ever have considered making anti-hypocrisy the cornerstone of their worldview.  But we were those dumbasses, and so even though the Road to Shambala still ended with a McMansion in the ‘burbs, we had to sacralize it.  David Brooks, ol’ Mr. Perfect Pants Crease himself, deserves every ounce of the scorn he gets from pretty much everyone, but Bobos in Paradise is still a valuable book.  The only way to live like a pasha without feeling yourself a hypocrite is to spend $400 on a can opener because “it’s good for the earth.”

Moralizing without morals — that’s the Gen X worldview.  Life’s most mundane activities must be infused with transcendental significance…. all while carefully avoiding any implication that a given course of action could in any way be intrinsically better than any other.

The apotheosis of this attitude came in 2003, when all goodthinkers everywhere decided that the best way to protest our Iraq adventure was to call it a “war for oil.”  If it were true — hell, if it were remotely plausible — that a sitting US president really did “lie us into war” to enrich his cronies, it would be the biggest political scandal in modern history.  Revolutions have started over far, far less.  But it wasn’t even remotely plausible, and the people who were screaming loudest about it knew it better than anyone.  They certainly didn’t tell the troops that they were being sent to fight on a lie — though if ever a military coup were justified, it’d be that one — and nobody ever clamored after Dick Cheney’s tax returns.  Nor was there, or will there ever be, any followup.  What’s Halliburton’s bottom line these days?  What was it from, say, 2008 to 2015?  Heck, what’s Halliburton’s stock ticker symbol?

No one on the Left knows.  None of them have ever known.

Nor did the so-called “Right,” for that matter, and that’s the heart of this post (you knew we’d get there eventually).  The reason is simple: They knew the Left was lying, and the Left knew the Left was lying, and the Right knew that the Left knew they were lying, and the Left knew that the Right knew etc., and wasn’t it ironic, dontcha think?  It’s like ra-aa-aaain on your wedding day…

…in other words, 100% manufactured drama from bored, vapid people longing for the flannel-wrapped days of their youth, and if soldiers had to be maimed and killed because the Counting Crows’ reunion tour hadn’t yet come to a city near you, well, that’s what they get for not going to college, as John Kerry — who, being a Boomer and thus exquisitely comfortable with hypocrisy, was for the war before he was against it — once famously proclaimed.  Or it should’ve been famous, anyway, if anyone involved ever actually believed a single word they said.  Ask the so-called “Right,” 2009-2015 version, which was both for and against Obama’s wars for… what were they for again?  Did we ever decide on that?  Or did the statute of limitations expire?  What difference, at this point, does it make?

If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, then what do you call our current situation, in which vices are virtues?  The Bobo professor — White, male, heterosexual — who tells his classes that college is nothing but privilege-sustaining indoctrination from White, male, heterosexuals isn’t lying.  He’s not a hypocrite — hypocrisy requires awareness of the gap between one’s words and one’s actions, and that hasn’t been part of our cultural repertoire since before Soundgarden broke up.  They’re just words, just upvotes, just Tweets, just dopamine hits, and everyone, his students most definitely included, knows it.

Ultimately, that’s why Donald Trump drives the Left and the cuck-Right (BIRM, I know) around the bend.  The one thing — the only thing — they never accuse him of is hypocrisy, though it’s the one offense he’s glaringly guilty of.  They can’t, because it would require acknowledging that it’s a good thing for a person to at least try to line up his actions with his words.  An unqualified good, without any interesting “intersectional” exceptions with which to prove how Enlightened you are… and we can’t be having that.  Otherwise what would we get into Twitter slap-fights about?




*1988-2001.  Historians retro-label eras all the time, by the way.  The Biz refers to e.g. “the long 18th century” (1688, the Glorious Revolution, to 1815, Waterloo), and generally dates the 20th century from 1914.  Nobody else calls the slice of time I’m referring to “the Clinton Years” yet, but it’s pretty good shorthand for the culture of the post-Reagan, pre-9/11 world, when everything was “cyber” and people actually said things like “the end of history.”
**I refuse on principle to call them “the Greatest Generation.”
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