20 Jul 2021

The Country’s Descent into Madness

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When you live to get old, you see a lot of changes, not all of them good. I doubt anybody could ever have predicted an America in which Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Robert E. Lee would be vilified, when the extremist politics of 150 years ago would return with new vigor, when the status of Reconstruction would be reconsidered and essentially resumed, and when liberals would reject Free Speech and the ABA ban books.

Victor Davis Hanson understandably marvels aloud:

Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has invited in the U.N. to assess whether the United States meets global standards of justice or, in fact, is racist and in need of global censure: “I urge all U.N. member states to join the United States in this effort, and confront the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia,” he said last week.

That is like asking Libya in 2001 to assess whether our airline pilot training met proper standards or having China adjudicate the conditions in U.S. prisons.

America went from the freest country in the world in December 2019 to a repressive, and frightening place by July 2021. It went not so much hard-Left, as stark-raving mad.

That abrupt descent, too, is not workable and millions will collectively decide they have no choice but to push back and conclude, “In the 233rd year of our republic, we tens of millions are not going to cede freedom of thought and expression to thousands of Maoists. Sorry, no can do.”

RTWT

19 Jul 2021

California Housing Prices

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(click on image, as usual, for larger version)

My wife Karen forwarded, for schadenfreude laughs, this Zillow record of a recent house sale in San Jose.

San Jose is a depressing, intensely-governed police state of a small city, consisting of truly ghastly cheap suburban houses built of ticky-tacky squatting at the bottom of Silicon Valley and spilling up on to some of the scrub-covered surrounding hills.

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19 Jul 2021

“The Rohmer Guy”

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Jérôme is longing to touch “Claire’s Knee” (1970).

I’m a strong cinemaphile. I actually ran a film society at Yale specializing in art films. And, naturally enough, I have considerable regard for the films of Eric Rohmer.

Rohmer’s films are beautifully photographed miniature studies of romantic incident in upper middle class French lives of the late last century. The sensibility, manners, and environment of his protagonists is gratifyingly exotic from the American perspective, and their worldliness is impressively sophisticated by our own provincial standards.

Rohmer’s ladies are generally charming; his males, on the other hand, are very, very French: vain, narcissistic, simultaneously predatory and uxorious, and tormented by obsessions and insecurities.

The Rohmer male, Hélas!, only too frequently tends to dress and wear his hair in Gallic versions of the unfortunate styles popular in the 1970s. Most of us would look upon all that as inevitable though regrettable, but leave it to the millennials!

GQ today served up a recent article by Sophie Kemp which identifies a distinctive “Rohmer Guy” style (consisting of dressing like a haute bourgeois 1970s frog ) evidently expressive of a hankering to be summering near Lake Annecy and flirting with chic French chicks.

Rohmer guy fashion is everywhere now. At men’s fashion week in Paris, Milan, and Pitti Uomo, there were many guys wearing lots of mustard yellow, which is a classic Rohmer guy shade. There were also plenty of showgoers wearing bell bottoms, fisherman’s sandals, and neutral-toned canvas jackets—all of which are very much in the visual language of Rohmer’s films. Stop by any downtown New York bar with a terrace, and you’re likely to see someone in a pair of corduroy pants and a deadstock button down with an oversized starched collar.

Alexander Si, an artist who works at a Chinatown gallery, identifies as a Rohmer guy. He started watching the directors movies as a teenager, and as an adult, he covets the lives of Rohmer’s men. For Si, being a Rohmer guy is more than just a way of dress—it’s also a way of existing in the world. “There’s no judgement on cheating,” he jokes. Said less in jest: “Everything is slower.” In terms of dress, Si likes how the characters aren’t particularly flashy and tend to be a little more utilitarian.

But why now? Why do guys everywhere seem to be dressing like chill lotharios named Pierre or Gabriel vacationing at a friend’s parent’s chateau circa 1975? Like so much else these days, it seems closely tied to our strange covid-but-not moment. Looking like a French guy on vacation is an aspirational way to go about getting dressed in a summer where a lot of people are still working from home, but where deadly disease is less of a threat. In this long summer where we’re all outside and hanging out together again, it feels kind of nice to dress for the life you want to have: one where all you do is hang out, and look good. C’est sympa comme ça.

RTWT

18 Jul 2021

The Successor Ideology

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Critical Racial Studies aka The Great Awokening amounts to nothing less than Nietzsche’s Slave Revolt in Morality applied to History and the entire Culture.

The inversion of values here redefines the heroic figures of American and Western History in general as villains guilty of “colonization” and oppression and dismisses the all of the artistic, intellectual, technological, and political achievements of America and the entirety of European Civilization as completely and utterly tainted and delegitimatized by the supposed crimes of Slavery, Military Aggression, Imperialism, and Racism.

This decisive moral standard is applied one-sidedly. There is no problem whatsoever with conquest, war, brutality, or slavery on the part of any nation or peoples outside of Europe and America. The abolition of Slavery by the West in the 19th Century, the elimination of Southern segregation sixty years ago, the succeeding decades and decades of racial favoritism have no significance. The crimes of the White Race are so uniquely terrible that they can never be erased either by the passage of time or by compensatory privilege and reparations. And neither the whole nor any part of the Ideology of the Grievances of the People of Color is open to debate. The question or attempt to debate any of it constitutes in itself yet another crime of violence and aggression.

Left-wingers look with delight on large-scale Third World Immigration and visualize an America in which persons of European descent will be an impotent and out-voted minority. Meanwhile, the universities, Big Business, and elite institutions generally have enthusiastically signed on in complete agreement with all the crazed rhetoric emanating from Marxist agitators and from all the crackpot pseudo-academics hired via Affirmative Action to staff up the constellation of intellectually-bogus Identity Studies departments.

The 1619 Project and all the rest of the “Critical Studies” folderol is nothing more than self-flattering fantasies and illusions masquerading as scholarship.

Wesley Yang, a couple of years ago, produced a Twitter thread that proposed referring to so-called Critical Studies as “The Successor Ideology.”

Everything old becomes new again. What we have here is the same “Rising Tide of Color” that Lothrop Stoddard and Houston Stewart Chamberlain fretted over during the early years of the last century, the same diabolical scheme to unite the primitive seething masses of the Third World to overthrow and replace the Civilization of the West on the part of Dr. Fu Manchu and the Si Fan that Nayland Smith was always thwarting, only this time it’s for real and the Western Community of Fashion is on its side.

18 Jul 2021

The Japanese: Nuked Too Much or Not Enough?

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And it’s a particularly Japanese cat.

HT: Vanderleun.

16 Jul 2021

Salmon Fishing on the Alta

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Not many of us will ever get a chance to fish for salmon on the legendary Alta. The Alta, located in the remote northern Finnmark region of Norway, has produced historically 70 lb. salmon and hosted the angling expeditions of royalty. Today’s salmon are smaller, I expect, but the price of the fishing must be formidable.

It was a pleasure to see 20 minutes of views of this ultra-elite river, but I thought Michael Frodin’s use of plastic rods and hair flies was unworthy of the river. (I fish Greenheart and split-cane and traditional feather-wing flies myself.) I was also negatively impressed by the sanctimonious eco-BS condemnation of fish farming. I’d rather see the supermarkets selling farmed salmon than have migratory stocks of wild salmon reduced further by commercial fishing. It’s one or the other, boys. The world is not going to give up eating lox and poached salmon so a handful of privileged sportsman can enjoy angling for the king of fish.

15 Jul 2021

The Left’s War on Robert E. Lee

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“He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty; a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbour without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guile. He was a Caesar, without his ambition; Frederick, without his tyranny; Napoleon, without his selfishness, and Washington, without his reward.” Benjamin Harvey Hill (former Confederate Senator from Georgia), 1874.

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“He had a calm and collected air about him, his voice was kind and tender, and his eye was as gentle as a dove’s. His whole make-up of form and person, looks and manner had a kind of gentle and soothing magnetism about it that drew every one to him and made them love, respect, and honor him.” Samuel R. Watkins, veteran of 1st Tennessee Regiment, 1881.

Last weekend, the communist city council of Charlottesville removed Lee’s statue and, as a scorched earth policy, even demolished its base.

Christopher Caldwell, in Claremont Review, marvels at how quickly a minority mob of radicals has seized power nationally and successfully enforced its own crude and simplistic ideological perspective.

As recently as 2014, biographer Michael Korda was able to describe Lee in Clouds of Glory as “universally admired even by those who have little or no sympathy toward the cause for which he fought.” Korda might have been thinking of Dwight Eisenhower, who considered Lee one of the four greatest Americans and hung his portrait in the Oval Office alongside those of the other three (Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Lincoln). “General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation,” Eisenhower wrote, “selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.”…

Lee had a good 20th century. The greatest biography of him remains Freeman’s Pulitzer-winning life—heroic and punctilious, if a bit purple for modern tastes. It has had its measured defenders and its measured detractors, though almost all readers accepted its assessment of Lee’s importance.

In our own century, things have changed. The urgent, invective-filled attacks on Lee that are beginning to appear would have seemed overheated even if the Civil War were still going on. …

The reassessment of Lee’s position in American history has almost everything to do with a shift in the way we talk about race. This shift has come about the way most recent shifts in intellectual fashion have—not so much because of any new historical information but because of the arrival in journalism and academia, by a process so gradual as to be almost imperceptible, of the bureaucratic oversight and litigative intimidation enabled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

RTWT

Stonewall Jackson’s monument was pulled down along with Lee’s, and the tricoteuses of Charlottesville celebrated their victory by voting unanimously to add their city’s famous statue of explorers Lewis & Clark to the purge list.

11 Jul 2021

Weep, Boomers!

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From Yale classmate Charlie Lipson.

11 Jul 2021

How Cool Is That?

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I found this completed needlepoint project, depicting “Cedarhurst,” our recently-acquired Deep South retirement house, on Ebay.

The same seller is offering another of these depicting “Walter Place.”

Holly Springs, despite being a small town of 7000 souls, has over sixty surviving Antebellum mansions, and evidently, back in the 1990s, some needlepoint firm was selling canvases featuring a number of its more notable houses.

I am naturally impressed with myself for owning a house that people portray in needlework.

11 Jul 2021

British Nun Identifies 700-Year-Old Manuscripts in Dante’s Handwriting

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Julia Bolton Holloway, Hermit, Scholar, Custodian of Florence’s Victorian ‘English’ Cemetery.

Most news reports are behind paywalls, but the Daily Mail comes through for us again:

A handwritten manuscript by Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy, Italy’s ‘national poet’ and father of modern Italian, has been discovered by a nun.

Dante was born in 1265 in Florence and was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy, but nobody has seen his handwriting in centuries.

This new discovery was found by a Florence-based researcher turned nun, who claims to have stumbled on the work hidden away in two libraries, according to a report in The Times.

They date to his time as a student in Florence when he was copying out works on the art of government, and were found in both Florence and the Vatican.

Julia Bolton Holloway taught Medieval studies at Princeton University in New Jersey, before becoming a nun and running the English cemetery in Florence.

She said the writing was ‘schoolboy-like’ but in excellent Tuscan, which provided the blueprint for Italian and covers ideas that show up in Divine Comedy.

RTWT

11 Jul 2021

Another Power Outage!


A sudden high wind brought down the top of an ancient hemlock next to our 1812 Central Pennsylvania log cabin.

No power, no water, no air conditioning in July, no Internet. Down in Virginia, we had a back-up generator, but outages are usually short in Pennsylvania and the farm was just a vacation place.

07 Jul 2021

Yale Course Likens US Prisons to Gulag and Nazi Germany

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A Soviet labor camp.

The NY Post has the latest appalling news out of New Haven.

Yale University is offering a course this fall that likens the US prison system to the Soviet Gulag, with one of the professors leading the course describing America as home to “one of the most brutal prison societies in human history” on social media Monday.

The course, titled “Mass Incarceration in the Soviet Union and the United States” is billed by the Ivy League school as “[a]n investigation of the experience and purposes of mass incarceration in the Soviet Union and the United States in the twentieth century.”

“Incarceration is central to the understanding, if not usually to the self-understanding, of a society. It is thus a crucial aperture into basic questions of values and practices,” reads the online course description. “This course proposes a frontal approach to the subject, by investigating two of the major carceral systems of the twentieth century, the Soviet and the American.”

The description adds that the course will touch on “important comparative cases, such as Nazi Germany and communist China.”

The word “Gulag” is commonly used to refer to the system of Soviet labor camps where common criminals and political prisoners alike were held during the first four decades after the Russian Revolution. Scholars relying on recently opened Soviet archives estimate that approximately 1.6 million prisoners died in the camps between 1930 and 1953; however, some historians believe the true number of deaths to be between three and four times greater.

“Gulag” entered the English lexicon with the 1974 publication of “The Gulag Archipelago,” a searing account of life in the camps written by dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

The course will be led by Yale history professor Timothy Snyder and philosophy professor Jason Stanley. On Monday, Stanley explained the background of the course on Twitter.

“The United States is the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world, and has been for many decades. Almost 10 [percent] of the WORLD’s prison population comes from the US’s traditionally oppressed minority, the 38 million Black Americans. US prisons are famous for brutality,” he tweeted.

“A small handful of ethnic groups in human history have faced such extraordinary rates of incarceration. But few for so many decades. Why perpetuate this cycle? Is this how the US wants history to remember it? As one of the most brutal prison societies in human history?”

RTWT

Some people obviously need to get mugged before they come to their senses.

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