In Defense of Art History

When I was young and easy under the apple boughs, there was a fad for “rap Shakespeare” and the like.  The idea being: the Bard’s brand of English is so inaccessible to modern audiences, it needs to be “updated,” so that students can at least get acquainted with the plots and characters.  At the time I dismissed it as mindless dumbing-down (in reality, it was probably an early form of “teaching to the test” — you can truthfully say, for certain funding-related values of truth, that your students have “read” Hamlet if they can recognize Polonius and Ophelia, yo).

These days, I’m almost ready to sign off on rap Shakespeare.  The point of education is still to give students an acquaintance with the best that has been thought and said, but because this is 180 degrees from the point of the Ed Biz, our modern youth lives in an endless, contextless now.  They’re told to be the change they want to see in the world, but since yesterday’s gospel is today’s thoughtcrime, it’s best to go through the SJW motions while doing your best to not do, say, or think anything at all.  They don’t, in their heart of hearts, believe that change is possible.  Everything is the same and nothing can ever be different, no, not ever, world without end amen.  We have always been at war with Eastasia.

That’s the value of the much-maligned discipline of art history.  Confront a student with this:

renaissance-art-7-638

or this

arxa_gabr-780x375

or this

S.G

and you’ve shown them a world that might as well be Mars.  What could those paintings possibly mean?

I’m not talking deep philosophy here.  Start with the basics.  What’s actually in the picture?  Describe it to me.  Start with the last one: “Well, there’s this half-naked guy, and he’s in… bed?  And there’s, like, a skull on a table.  And he’s writing something in a book.  There’s a candle, and is that a knife?”

Ok, good.  Go on….  Need a hint?  The painting is called St. Jerome Writing, and it’s by Caravaggio, painted around 1605.  Doesn’t help?  Well, who’s St. Jerome?  What did he write?  Hie thee to Wikipedia….

See what I mean?  This isn’t deep analysis, with technical notes on the composition.  This is the equivalent of rap Shakespeare.  It’s such a striking image that it can’t help but pull you up short.  What could he possibly be doing, there with a book and a skull at zero-dark-thirty?  What kind of man would keep a skull by his bed?  Did they really DO that back then?  If not, it’s a… whaddyacallit… symbol?

Just by establishing the basics — the few actual things that are actually in the picture — you open doors to an entirely new world.  There was once a world, kids, where everything in this picture made perfect sense.  Things were different once, and they can be again.  In that world lived a man called Caravaggio, and he was one of the great artistic masters of the late Renaissance.  What’s the Renaissance?  Glad you asked…

Competence, Not Mastery

Feminists argue (correctly, in my opinion) that laws against witchcraft were really about social control.  It was notoriously difficult to even define what a “witch” actually was.  Accusations were comparatively rare; successful prosecutions were by no means certain.  A witchcraft accusation, on this reading, was the community’s last-ditch effort to rein in a socially noxious woman when all other attempts at reform had failed.

Though less remarked (for obvious reasons), sodomy laws seemed to have had a similar function for men.  Unlike witchcraft, sodomy was precisely defined.  The penalties were harsher, too — witches might get off with penance; homosexuality was a death penalty offense in Britain until well into the 19th century.  But of course you’d search in vain to find someone actually executed for sodomy in modern Britain.  Here again, the point of the law seemed to be a last-ditch effort at reining in social deviants (with what everyone knew went on at English public schools, how could it be otherwise?).  Even the most famous sodomy trial, Oscar Wilde’s, wouldn’t have happened if Wilde himself hadn’t forced the issue — it wasn’t a “sodomy” suit; it was a libel suit, brought by Wilde himself.

The point of all this is that our forebears well understood a point we’ve forgotten: Black-letter laws are only to be invoked in extremis.  They were self-confident in their culture, so they were comfortable with the notions of illegal-but-tolerated (e.g. homosexuality) and legal-but-forbidden (prostitution).  We modern Americans, on the other hand, are nearly to mental North Korea — everything not forbidden is compulsory.  We can’t handle nuance.  We lack cultural self-confidence — indeed, refusal to make value judgments is just about the only principle of modern “morality.”  Our first reaction to anything we don’t like is to ban it, for everyone, everywhere (if we like something, we rush to social media to secure external validation of our preferences).

Worse, we’ve applied this to all areas of our life.  In education, for example, a high school diploma was — within living memory — regarded as a certificate of mere competence.  Having one meant you had the bare minimum of skills and training to be considered “educated” (and “educated” itself was never an unambiguous good).  Nowadays, of course, “passed” means “mastered.”  I have students saunter confidently into my upper-division university courses, certain they’re going to ace it because they got a C in “history” their sophomore year of high school.  When I point out that this is like assuming you’re going to ace vector calculus because you passed 9th grade geometry, it doesn’t compute…

….because, of course, they did pass 9th grade geometry, which means they know math.  All of it.  They were at grade level on their state-mandated NCLB exam, so “math” has been downloaded to their brains, Matrix-style.

f22c50f29387e1461274eb73ae3a329e97e3aa09ac8dffee9218e017cd6c8b99

This is the explanation for Millennials’ insolent, invincible ignorance.  If they don’t already know it, it’s by definition not worth knowing, because they passed the test.  There is nothing more to human knowledge than what’s on the NAEP test.  Is it any wonder they can’t grok things like the Second Amendment?

 

Specifics, Please

Nate Winchester’s guest post on the appeal of Jordan Peterson got me thinking.  Every writer makes assumptions about his audience; one of mine is that the Nine Readers are all adults, at or approaching middle age, with some substantial life experience under their belts.  Thus, I assume posts like this one are just restatements of the obvious, which is why I try not to write posts like that.

Even if that’s true, though, there may well be folks passing through here who are younger.  If you’re an American under the age of about 30, you’ve had an entire life’s worth of very careful instruction, put together by the very best specialists, in how NOT to think.  Facts are to liberals as crucifixes are to vampires.  Extending the metaphor, questioning the narrative is, for them, like getting a garlic enema in broad daylight.  Given that all your instructors, K thru PhD, were all SJWs, it’s entirely possible that you’ve never seen it done.  If so, here’s a handy primer:

Ask for specifics.  Anyone who knows what he’s talking about will not only have them to hand, but will be eager to discuss them with you.  SJWs, on the other hand, will immediately go ad hominem.  So, for instance, when “gun control” comes up, ask your interlocutor just what, specifically, is so heinous about “bump stocks.”  Full disclosure: I have no idea what a “bump stock” is, but I guarantee you that nobody who is all hot and bothered about banning them does, either.  It’s just the hivemind’s latest talking point.

And so on down the line.  “Deregulation” is another SJW term d’art.  Recessions, we’re told, are caused by “deregulation” in the financial markets.  So: Which regulations were repealed, and of them, which would you like back?

Sadly, this applies to Our Thing, too.  The second link, above, discusses a rumor that “most of the Obama administration” will soon be arrested, to face military tribunals.  Ok: Who?  Here’s a list of Obama administration personnel.  Picking a name at random…. Gladys J. Commons, the former United States Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller).  What would we charge this woman with, that isn’t also a civil crime?  You don’t need military tribunals to deal with run of the mill peculation, or even espionage.  What could she have done that would require, in effect, martial law in order to try her?  And how would you go about arresting her?  Wiki’s lack of info on her post-Obama career implies she’s a private citizen now.  Are we going to send in SEAL Team 6 to arrest her?  Why would we send SEAL Team Six, instead of the local police, or even the Feeb?  Can you even begin to imagine the paperwork?

To ask is to answer.  This is nonsense on stilts.  “Military trials of former administration officials” is Step 2 of your standard coup d’etat.  Every question asked in that previous paragraph requires a ream of Constitutional violations to answer.  It’s baloney.

Ask for the specifics.  If you can’t get them — if you get ad hommed, or start hearing about Teh Joooos! — just back away slowly… then delete your browser history.

What’s the Mechanism?

Sadly, lots of folks in Our Thing are as gullible as SJWs.  For instance, this is apparently making the rounds:

The President signed the [omnibus spending] bill because the military needed to be funded. They’re going to have some big jobs this year: war with Iran, rounding up most of the Obama administration to stand trial in front of military tribunals, and keeping domestic order when the roundup happens. The midterms are going to be utterly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. That means the roundup will happen before then and the DNC will be struggling with things other than running for office.

OK: How?

Seriously: How is “the military” going to “round up” most of the Obama administration?  To stand trial for what, exactly?  To stand trial, even in front of a military tribunal (run by whom? doesn’t that entail martial law?), there needs to be a charge.  A real one, not “being a guy we don’t like.”

Even assuming all this is true — and it is, of course, horseshit — how, exactly, does all this happen in six months?  Walk me through the steps.  Do we declare martial law?  On what pretext?  And then what?  SEAL Team Six hits the DNC convention and frog marches Hillary off stage?

This is how you know you’re dealing with a fantasy.  The paperwork alone on this would take more than 6 months.

The Eternal SJW

Norman Cohn’s classic The Pursuit of the Millennium catalogs the first appearances of Underpants Gnome chiliasm.  First, kill all the sinners.  And then…something.  But after that, Utopia!

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Whackadoodles like Peter Waldo are important because they’re the first social revolutionaries.  Their utopias are backward- rather than forward-looking — a return to the Garden of Eden, not the Dictatorship of the Proletariat — but for the first time, reform movements sought to change things in this world, for this world.  In ancient times, even philosophies that seem to us to obviously entail egalitarianism, didn’t — though Epictetus, the most famous Roman teacher of Stoicism, was himself a former slave, he said nothing about the institution of slavery.  Similarly Spartacus, the most famous slave rebel, aimed only at personal freedom for himself and his followers, not the end of slavery itself.

But follow Waldo’s mumbo-jumbo, his followers promised, and we can enjoy Christ’s reign here on earth.  Freedom and plenty for all!

Back when that rag was sort of worth reading, National Review types called this “immanentizing the eschaton.”  I’m hardly the first guy to point out that you can find every canon of the SJW catechism in some medieval nutjob — Pelagius said we all have Original Virtue; Joachim of Fiore had a very Marx-sounding cyclical theory of history; Marcion‘s demiurge was to his followers what Whitey is to the Critical Race Theory crowd; etc.

The point of all this is that, from Jesus’s very first public utterance, there has been a type of person who wants to make any given kingdom into The Kingdom.  All of Cohn’s millenniarian revolutionaries are moralizers.  They see the world strictly in moral terms.  Everything is either good or evil, and so no compromise, no matter how practical, can even be considered — one does not, after all, cut deals with Satan.

Since people don’t change, this type is eternal.  Cohn’s lunatics are the first we have any comprehensive knowledge of, but if we had the records (historians call this a “source base” problem), we’d no doubt find mighty Pharaoh putting down weird chiliastic cults among his pyramid-builders.  The SJWs ye have always with you, as I think Ramesses II once said.

The question is how best to deal with them.  When I was young and easy beneath the apple boughs, I was a free-speech absolutist.  I believed the answer to speech — even revolutionary SJW speech — was always more speech.  I’m well past that now.  I’m starting to think the Inquisition had the right idea all along.  I forget what happened to Waldo himself, but it might be time for a second look at medieval methods of heretic suppression.

All About Jordan Peterson (Guest Post by Nate Winchester)

This article is really for me to have a handy explanation ready for all the times I hear someone asking, “why this guy?”
For example:
There’s much irony in that article that I’m sure Sev will have a field day with (like its complaining of jargon), but let me quote one line from it.
 

“He can give people the most elementary fatherly life-advice (clean your room, stand up straight) while making it sound like Wisdom.”

Already we can see that the principal failing of the author is an inability to see fatherly advice as wisdom. Among my daddy’s sayings was “if you’re going to be dumb, you better be tough.”  Which is quite profound in wisdom when you think about it. (Feel free to share your own father’s wisdom in the comments.)  But beyond the author’s category error, if you want to understand “the deal” with JBP that’s the beginning and end of it right there:

Fatherly life-advice.

Nowadays there’s a lot of discussion about how much humans are born with – the blank slate view vs preloaded man view*.  How much do we know (or will know) purely because of our instinct or genes? There is a subset of human knowledge colloquially called “common sense” and it’s easy to assume that it just comes to us by instinct because it all seems so obvious in retrospect.  It’s not.  Common sense is the wisdom of our culture passed down to children most commonly by fathers and you don’t have to spend much time with children to find evidence of this – as the young are immensely illinformed. (Yes, mothers provide wisdom as well, but it’s not the same kind as fathers’,)

As a a thought experiment, imagine we plucked Mowgli from The Jungle Book and placed him in a modern-day city. How would this character function? Could he function in society? Or would this feral man be completely lacking in what we call Common Sense?

Well you don’t have to imagine too hard, they did a movie about such an experiment back in ’94.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110213/

And this one (kind of) in ’97.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119190/

Anyway, it is quite obvious on reflection that Mowgli would be lacking in basic understandings of society and much of what is called ‘Common Sense’.  Because that knowledge is imparted by parents to children.  With no parents, Mowgli would lack many functions that so many of us take for granted.

So is it any wonder that nowadays we have a bunch of feral children desperately seeking for someone to help them make sense of an environment they were under prepared for?  Is it any wonder they are so desperate for somebody to help them make sense and put into context a reality they have been poorly equipped to deal with?
 

That is the JBP key.  From almost every person I’ve heard wondering or complaining about Peterson, do you know what I’ve noticed they all had? Fathers. And what have I seen and heard from many, many fans of Peterson? That they have been missing FATHERS! You want an explanation for Jordan B Peterson? Conservatives have predicted for years that the dissolution of the nuclear family would have consequences.  Here they are now.  We have now two generations where a large portion of it was raised without fathers, and they are trying to find a masculine lodestar that can tell them that common sense wisdom which will bring a sense and order to the chaos of their lives. If you have a question about JBP, ask it in the context of a father.  For example: Why do some fans react so harshly to any critiques or criticism of JBP? Well just imagine if what was said about him was said about your own beloved father. How calmly would you react?  If people talked like they wanted your father to go away, what would you think of those people?

We should be so lucky that the father figure all these lost kids have latched onto at least seems to be a decent fellow.
Just imagine what would happen had it been someone worse.
*I myself see it in computer terms as people are born with a fairly complicated BIOS system that set ups some basic functions and operates the hardware, but we then spend the rest of their lives building and developing the operating system that becomes who we are.

Days of Rage Redux?

I can’t recommend enough Bryan Burrough’s Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence.  There was a LOT of domestic terrorism in the US in the late 60s and early 70s.  Then as now, the Media were infatuated with the raw “authenticity” of Leftist violence, especially racial violence.  Weatherman* et al were clowns, but one of Burrough’s main points is that it doesn’t take much — a few trust-fund Trotskys, aided and abetted by fellow travelers in the Ivory Tower and especially the Media, can change an entire cultural climate.  

The Austin Bomber is apparently dead (link to RS McCain’s roundup), and the forthcoming media frenzy will tell us a lot about how the next few years are going to go.  Austin PD has identified him as a white male, so there will be the usual calls for increased surveillance, thumbsuckers about toxic masculinity, whiteness, and so forth, but if he’s not just a random psycho — and this is our last, best hope — things are going to get ugly real fast.

What most folks who haven’t read Days of Rage don’t realize is, it doesn’t take any real skill to be a “revolutionary” — and to have a massive impact.  The Weather Underground frequently blew themselves up, as you might expect when pampered rich college kids try to do something with their hands… and even the most fumble-fingered Sixties radical was Mr. Fix-It compared to the average Millennial.  I’d go 100 to 1 this kid is hardly an engineering mastermind, but when the outrage machine gets going and the mail delivery biz gets slapped with 10,000 new regulations — not to mention all the lawsuits by the victims — interstate commerce is going to take a big hit….

…. and that’s assuming he really IS a random psychopath, with a huge malignant brain tumor that caused him to snap.  If he really did have some kind of “political” motive, no matter how out there… well, read the book.  It’s not going to be good.

 

*Their official name was Weatherman, singular.  As history strongly suggests we’ll be seeing a lot more of this kind of thing as society continues to fragment at light speed, you can show off your esoteric Sixties Radical knowledge by referring to them in the singular.

Why Nice Guys Can’t Get Laid

The Revolution didn’t exactly go as planned.

Like all Leftists, Karl Marx fucking loved science — so much so that he presented his harebrained Hegelian junk philosophy as a scientific blueprint for the progress of History.  Communism shall be achieved, comrades — it’s inevitable! — but before that, we must sink to the depths of industrial capitalism.

This isn’t a “maybe;” this must happen, said Marx.  The necessity of passing through industrial capitalism was a dogma of the faith, such that the Mensheviks, who were just as committed to the Revolution as Lenin’s boys, actually favored a compromise with Russia’s few industrialists after the Tsar abdicated.  Only when capitalism’s productive forces have exhausted themselves, Marxist theory says, will the “contradictions” be sufficient for the Communist “synthesis.”

The Russian Revolution, then, baffled orthodox Marxists.  Russia was still half-feudal; they were decades, maybe centuries, away from having the necessary preconditions for Communism.  Only fully mature industrial capitalist states — the US, Britain, France, and especially Germany — were ripe for Revolution.  What the hell happened?

Guys like Lenin and Antonio Gramsci (we’re getting to the “get laid” part, I promise) quickly knocked together an answer.  Marx wasn’t wrong — the Scriptures are never wrong!  He just needed a little modification, Council of Nicaea-style.  Turns out Onkel Karl skipped a step.  The Proletariat can’t develop “revolutionary consciousness” on its own.  It needs a “vanguard party” to do that for them.  Every do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, jet-setting, three-home-owning People’s Champion is, of course, a high ranking member of that vanguard party….

… as are all the tenured radicals down at the local U., in Hollywood, and throughout the Ed Biz.

And now, as promised, the “get laid” part:

Section Break!

Section Break!

“Developing revolutionary consciousness” means, in practice, teaching the Proles who and how to hate.  Getting along, curbing the worst excesses, muddling through… all these are actually worse than the worst capitalist exploitation, because they make the Proles wonder if maybe a full-blown Revolution, with gulags and secret police and whatnot, is really necessary after all.  Can’t we just, you know, put in some safeguards?  Maybe two or three “branches” of government?  With some checks, and/or balances?  Or maybe — just spitballin’ here — maybe some kind of list or “bill” of “rights” that limits the state’s power?

Nyet! Only Revolution will make benefit glorious utopia that Marx promised is just around the corner.  Rage, therefore, must always be stoked white hot.  Every possible source of enmity must be found, focused, and turned up to eleven.

Racism works great for this, which is why you’ll find Soros’s filthy, Nazi-collaborating hands all over movements like Black Lives Matter.  Or it used to, anyway.  The problem is Chronic Negro Fatigue.  Most of us have had it with Jesse, Al, and the rest of the Reverends, not to mention Colin Kaepernick, gentle giant Michael Brown, mouth-frothing lunatic antisemite Farrakhan, and the rest.  See below — that’s modern America’s take on “racism.”  The Vanguard Party has pushed racial hatred just about as far as it will go.  Not being stupid, America’s Blacks — who are only 14% of the population, and know it — aren’t going to start a race war; they’d be wiped out in a week.  Further racial grievance mongering is a nonstarter, Revolution-wise.

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Sexual tension, though, is a source of animosity that’s as old as mankind.  Convince women they’re the Most Oppressed People Ever, and nobody’s safe — you can always take a detour around the inner city; you can’t avoid your Mom and Sister.

So that’s what they did, our Bolsheviks.  They invented Women’s Lib, which became Third Wave Feminism, which became Wymyn’s Studies, which became the pulsating, mirror-glittering shit show we see before us hourly.  From my considerable experience of Wymynists, both professionally and personally, I deduce that they believe the following propositions, with a catholic ardor that would make Torquemada blush:

  • No matter what I wear, do, or say, viewing me as a sex object is rape…
  • …unless I want you to view me as a sex object, in which case not viewing me as a sex object is rape, no matter what I’m wearing, doing, or saying.  Furthermore,
  • everything I wear, do, and say is empowering; not acknowledging this is rape, and furthermore,
  • nothing I wear, do, or say is my fault, because Patriarchy robs me of all agency, even though my very existence is super empowering; and furthermore
  • all of this is subject to change without notice, with no statute of limitations.

No man in his right mind would approach a woman like this, and yeah yeah, NAWALT, but seriously, they’re all like that.  They can’t help it.  It’s the most insidious consequence of propaganda — if all you’ve ever been told is lies, it’s almost impossible to see the truth, even when it’s right there in front of your face.  “Gee, Tom sure seems like a nice guy… but he’s probably a slavering pervert.”

Nor does it help that social media encourages men to be slavering perverts.  Women aren’t stupid — they know that

  1. a cleavage shot on Facebook will get them 6,000 comments;
  2. all from thirsty betas desperately hoping their comment will get them laid.

This is, of course, by design.  It effectively eliminates nice guys, by turning “nice guy” into the ultimate loser stereotype.  Thanks to all this, on social media — which these days is indistinguishable from IRL — normal interpersonal relations between men and women are now impossible.  Talk to a woman, and you’re either a Machiavellian player or a weaselly little wannabe rapist.

See what I mean?  Sex — gender, whatever — is the biggest and most sensitive class divide of them all.  The Revolution can’t happen without hatred, and thanks to all this, fully half the population are Certified Class Enemies.  I wouldn’t wish modern dating on anyone.

 

 

 

Ain’t No Way to Hide Your Lyin’ Eyes

Tech It Girl Elizabeth Holmes has been charged with “massive fraud.”  Who ever could’ve seen that coming?

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I’ll leave it to the STEM types among the Nine Readers to sort out just how jaw-droppingly implausible Holmes’s claims actually were (although I must say that even I, a tech illiterate who has to pull off a sock to count past ten, briefly skimmed a summary of Theranos and thought “but blood doesn’t work like that!”).  I just want to comment briefly on the total insanity of anyone, anywhere, giving the girl in that picture one thin dime.

We’re just starting to scratch the surface of the looming social catastrophe that is chix-in-STEM.  First, and most important, we mix up “could” and “should.”  Lots of women are good at math, chemistry, biology, etc.  There are more women than men enrolled in med school, for example, and I have no doubt they’ll perform as well as the men.  Problem is, med school is brutal, and residency is worse.  Four years of college, plus four more of med school, plus three to seven years of residency (at 120 hours per week) is…carry the one… divide by the cosine… approximately 11-16 years of delayed family formation.  I’ve been around a lot of these gals, and their Match.com profiles, if they were honest, would all look something like this:

Hi! I’m 32 years old and haven’t been on a date in 10 years.  I make $300K a year, but I’m half a mil in debt.  I own a house that I’m never in, because I work 100 hours a week to make the nut on that half mil of med school debt.  My hobbies include sleeping, napping, and wolfing down greasy carb-laden takeout.  The men I’m around all day are either sociopathic alpha males or trembly dorks, and both of them work as much as I do.  Oh, and I really want a baby.  Like, NOW.

What a catch, right?  And it gets worse, as these women are all told that the reason they can’t find true love is because “men are intimidated by strong, intelligent women.”  Which, as doctors, they of all people should know is bullshit — evolutionary biology being what it is, women date across and up.  A plumber isn’t intimidated by your MD; he just knows he’s wasting his time hitting on you.  Given a sure thing with a plumber versus a one-in-a-thousand shot with a brain surgeon, your female MD goes with the brain surgeon, every single time.  Biomechanics is god.

So you’ve got a lot of very unhappy women out there, who a) feel as though they’re letting the Sisterhood down if they drop out of med school, and b) can’t drop out of med school anyway, as they’ve already committed half a decade and half a zillion dollars getting in.  And these are doctors, who still have to have a foot (or a few toes, at least) in the social world, due to daily interactions with patients.  The further up the nerd food chain you go, the less regular contact with the hu-mans.

STEM-capable women who actually go into STEM, in other words, are STEMing themselves right out of the gene pool, and making themselves miserable in the process.

And then there are the guys.  The neckbearded permavirgin STEM guy is a stereotype, but stereotypes exist because they’re true.  You can tell how screwed up the STEM sociosexual market is by taking a quick gander at the girls who get their dander up.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

Zoe Quinn

Zoe Quinn

Rebecca Watson, a.k.a. SkepChick

Rebecca Watson, a.k.a. SkepChick

I’m not making fun of these ladies’ looks (ok, ok, I’m not just making fun of these ladies’ looks).  I’m all for people finding love, but even if I were single, if Zoe up there offered me a beej, I’d pass.  Not,I hasten to add, because I was some kind of mack daddy with dozens of spinning plates back in my single days, but because I was a normal guy in a normal job and every single female coworker I had looked better.  Guys are likelier to score an empty netter — again, biomechanics — but it’s contextual; as a normal guy in a normal job, I figured I at least had a decent shot with someone a lot better.  It’s only under conditions of direst scarcity that Quinn, Watson, et al are teh hotness.

Which brings us back to Elizabeth Holmes.  She looks like a creepy autist to me — if you kill Steve Jobs, eat his heart, and wear his black turtleneck, you’ll gain his powers! — but let’s stipulate she’s a 6…. to normal guys.  In her context, she’s a knockout.  How did anyone, reading that prospectus and gazing into those eyes, give this woman a dime?  They were thinking with the wrong head.  It’s as simple as that…. and it was a $700 million mistake.

And we’re going all-out to get more women in STEM.  Think about that for a second.  There are plenty of women who can do the work… up to a point.  What happens when they can’t?  Men in the same situation just live with it.  Maybe you topped out with C++ or whatever, and hey, that’s fine, there’s a decent middle class life to be made there.  But for men, coding chops is all we’ve got; our place on the nerd food chain depends solely on what we can do with a keyboard.  Women, though, have a whole other road to success, and that’s how you get a nearly billion dollar fraud like Theranos.

So what happens when the girls in the STEM pipeline right now top out?  Where do they top out?  If they’re just doing Math Club in high school to score a killer extracurricular on their Vassar apps, ok, fine.  But what if they choose to major in it?  Weed-out courses only work if you can’t cheat.  Was Holmes really a biology ace at Stanford?  Or did she get some help from thirsty male classmates, professors, administrators?  We’ll never know, and it doesn’t matter now…. for her.  But for the new generation of STEM ladies coming up?  I don’t think it’s going to end well.

 

 

We Were Marxists Once, and Young

Only a few of the most ideologically enstupidated believe Dialectical Materialism anymore, but for the last century or so, Marxist history simply was history.  “Social class” is pretty good shorthand for a bunch of correlated phenomena, and there’s an economic component to everything, so History as the clash of class interests can’t go too far wrong.  Drop Dialectical Materialism, as even the Commies did in practice, and you’ve got a fairly robust interpretive method.

So robust, in fact, that we Americans started taking it for granted, even when it was obviously wrong.  For instance, “everybody knows” that poverty causes crime, even though (as Theodore Dalrymple says) if that were true, we’d still be living in caves.  “Poverty” here is shorthand for “culture,” which everyone really does know is crime’s true cause.

Which highlights another great seduction of Marxism.  Because, of course, in modern America, “culture” really means “race.”  And though race can’t be fixed, “culture” can… IF “culture” really is just a byproduct (the Commie term d’art is “superstructure”) of economic class.  Poverty causes Ghetto Affective Disorder, so toss enough benjamins into the ‘hood and GAD goes away (with the nifty side benefit of “proving” that “there is no such thing as race” — if race is culture and culture is money, then by the transitive property of equality, race is money).

So long as there’s scarcity, then — so long as “programs” remain “underfunded” — this half-assed Marxism without Marx (henceforth, “Marxism”) is a Get out of Reality Free Card.  Problem is, there’s no scarcity anymore.  When a whole bunch of people really were going to work with no shoes and going to bed hungry at night — as in, say, Tsarist Russia — the culture/poverty connection made superficial sense.  It seemed plausible, at least, that the serf’s glaringly obvious cultural defects stemmed from his truly awful material situation.  If even half the stuff Turgenev wrote about* was even half right, it’s no surprise Ivan Sixpack was such a brute.

But then World War II happened, and we won, and honest-to-god poverty disappeared from our shores.  Nobody in America has gone to bed hungry involuntarily in three generations.  Thanks to the Great Society and its endless ramifications, our “poor” people while away their hours in front of plasma tvs and keel over from diabetes and heart disease .  They’re not poor because they lack money and opportunity; they’re poor because they lack IQ and impulse control.

Prosperity flips Marxism on its head, and it has left the political class rudderless.  The Left, who still like to parade themselves as the champions of The Working Class, quite obviously despise The Working Class, for cultural reasons — guns, Jesus, NASCAR, patriotism, that sort of thing.  But they’re so well-trained to think in culture = economics terms that they can’t pitch their proposals any other way.  In practice, “social justice” is simply old-school, command-economy wealth redistribution — instead of paying for Head Start, say, or raising per-pupil spending in inner city schools, the kulaks are now being squeezed for (even more expensive!) hormone therapies for the mentally ill.  They will tax-and-spend until it kills them, though tax-and-spend is obviously fatal — Marxists to a man, they can do no other.

Alas, so-called “conservatives” are all Marxists, too.  We all know what’s really the matter with Kansas: They’re materially fine, but spiritually dead.  The Left has quite successfully convinced Black Americans that Ghetto Affective Disorder simply IS “Black culture”…. but there’s nothing for the Whites.  (Yes, there are wiggers, but only in upscale, all-white suburbs; white kids who act like this around actual black kids get the shit beaten out of them).  “Conservatism” used to mean (among other things) the knowledge that a man can be materially poor but culturally rich — Western Culture simply IS “culture,” and it’s for everyone, that’s why we have free museums and public libraries.  The modern “conservative” simply hands over the money and lets the “free market” sort it out — you can buy a symphony ticket and hear Beethoven, or you can blow it on MC Funnetick Spellyn’s latest album, it’s out of our hands, who are we to judge?

When the change comes, it will come with lighting speed.  As The Z Man points out here, our politics is still locked into 1992.  Everyone in both parties is a Marxist (in the sense I’ve been describing); the only real “debate” is about gestures and labels.  The last time this happened, change came over just three presidential elections — 1852, 1856, 1860.  I forget what happened after that, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t good.

We’re finally starting to grasp Marxism’s fundamental category error.  Money isn’t culture; culture is culture.  The few folks in our political class not named “Donald Trump” who realize this are still thinking like Marxists — they’re betting that yet more iterations of iCrap on Social Media will keep us docile.  So far they’ve been right…. but that’s just delaying the inevitable.  How much longer, do you think, before the cord cutters who gave up the NFL this fall start giving up other things, like Social Media?  At first they’ll be much happier….

…. and then they’ll be PISSED.  As Z Man likes to say, it’s not going to end well.

 

 

*RTWT, but be warned — Dalrymple quotes Turgenev’s story “Mumu” at length.  Is somebody chopping onions in here?  A whole lot of onions?