Category Archive 'Left Think'
07 Feb 2021
The snow was too deep for Cadet our basset hound.
Our first winter in our Virginia home atop the Blue Ridge, the heavens opened and it snowed two feet. I had inherited an old John Deere riding mower from the previous owners that could have a plow blade mounted on front, but that little garden tractor could not remotely handle that magnitude of snow.
My wife and I were already no longer young, and our driveway was long. We were wondering how long we’d be trapped when we heard noises outside. A neighbor, from a long way down the road, owned a Bobcat, and he was digging out everybody along Raven Rocks Road.
That kind of thing is both extraordinary and yet typical of life in rural America. Our neighbor had the right tool for the job and he knew perfectly well that almost nobody else was similarly equipped. He knew, too, that we were a long way from town, and the chances of anybody obtaining professional assistance were slim. So he just went down the whole road and dug everybody out.
I ran out and offered money, and he naturally refused. A few days later, I went to his house and dropped off a pretty good bottle of Bourbon.
One of the really nice things about living in the country, in red state, fly-over America is that people are neighborly. They believe in helping out other people who need a hand, and they regard it as their own responsibility to do that, not somebody else’s or the government’s.
So, try reading this piece on a similar experience had by Virginia Heffernan (Wikipedia profile) for the LA Times:
Oh, heck no. The Trumpites next door to our pandemic getaway, who seem as devoted to the ex-president as you can get without being Q fans, just plowed our driveway without being asked and did a great job.
How am I going to resist demands for unity in the face of this act of aggressive niceness?
Of course, on some level, I realize I owe them thanks — and, man, it really looks like the guy back-dragged the driveway like a pro — but how much thanks?
These neighbors are staunch partisans of blue lives, and there aren’t a lot of anything other than white lives in neighborhood.
This is also kind of weird. Back in the city, people don’t sweep other people’s walkways for nothing. …
What do we do about the Trumpites around us? Like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who spoke eloquently this week about her terrifying experience during the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Americans are expected to forgive and forget before we’ve even stitched up our wounds. Or gotten our vaccines against the pandemic that former President Trump utterly failed to mitigate.
My neighbors supported a man who showed near-murderous contempt for the majority of Americans. They kept him in business with their support.
But the plowing.
On Jan. 6, after the insurrection, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) issued an aw-shucks plea for all Americans to love their neighbors. The United States, he said, “isn’t Hatfields and McCoys, this blood feud forever.” And, he added, “You can’t hate someone who shovels your driveway.”
At the time, I seethed; the Capitol had just been desecrated. But maybe my neighbor heard Sasse and was determined to make a bid for reconciliation.
So here’s my response to my plowed driveway, for now. Politely, but not profusely, I’ll acknowledge the Sassian move. With a wave and a thanks, a minimal start on building back trust. I’m not ready to knock on the door with a covered dish yet.
I also can’t give my neighbors absolution; it’s not mine to give. Free driveway work, as nice as it is, is just not the same currency as justice and truth. To pretend it is would be to lie, and they probably aren’t looking for absolution anyway.
But I can offer a standing invitation to make amends. Not with a snowplow but by recognizing the truth about the Trump administration and, more important, by working for justice for all those whom the administration harmed. Only when we work shoulder to shoulder to repair the damage of the last four years will we even begin to dig out of this storm.
That neighbor ought to go right out and plow this arrogant liberal cow back in.
06 Dec 2020
“The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.”
20 Nov 2020
I get press release emails from Mother Yale pretty much every day.
This morning in came a triumphant notice boasting that Yale, this year for the first time, earned a gold rating via STARS, The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, “a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance”.
Now “Sustainability” is one of those major shibboleths constituting obsessions and the foci of ersatz-religious devotion for the contemporary elite community of fashion.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Sustainability is a superstition, based essentially on the fallacious theory of Malthusianism, which contended that an ever-expanding human population would inevitable out-grow the food supply and other essential resources.
We have all lived through decades of constant media propaganda about the imminent apocalyptic crisis produced by excess population, peak oil, exhaustion of availability of this or that, despite Norman Borlaug, Fracking, and (most hilariously) the Simon-Erlich Wager. No evidence, no factual refutation will ever suffice to dispel this nonsense.
As Oil Company Executive Don Huberts observed in 1999: “The Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of stones.”
The ability of human ingenuity to innovate and create new solutions and to multiply existing resources is consistently and reliably wildly underestimated by our Grand Establishment Pseudo-Intelligentsia.
I think their real underlying motivation is a religious one. The elite community of fashion has long since abandoned Judeo-Christianity, but its members still are afflicted by guilt and a profound sense of their own unworthiness of the privilege and prosperity they enjoy. They subconsciously feel a need to propitiate some higher power. They yearn to find some way to sacrifice and flagellate themselves and hanker to perform some kind, any kind of penitential acts.
Thus, Gaia has replaced the Puritan Jehovah. So the Yale Administration, for instance, confirms its own membership among the Elect by gravely immolating large sums of cash and by public testimony.
It’s all really the recrudescence of the ancient Manichaean heresy: there is this wonderful, good, natural stuff over here, and there is this awful, naughty, intrisically violative stuff over there. The former is the natural world, and the latter is anything man-made, anything and everything connected to human economic activity.
There is also an imaginary past or current state constituting the only perfect and legitimate set of conditions. Any change or modification of this alleged ideal represents a disaster, a crime, and a tragedy. If some obscure mugwort, insect, or rodent happens to go extinct, mankind is to blame, and no possible expense or inconvenience can be spared to preserve every single species and subspecies, and they’ve got the taxonomists ready to promote any subspecies to species status.
Yale, of course, is fully committed to the good fight. Yale has even built its own shrine to Gaia, Kroon Hall, a $33.5 million dollar Rube Goldberg exercise in spending several thousand dollars to save a nickel, in deploying top-level expertise and engineering to find dazzlingly innovative work arounds for trivial items available at any Ace Hardware Store.
Sustainability, Mr. Salovey? How’s this for your Sustainability?
2020â€“2021 Tuition and Fees
Yale Health Hospitalization & Specialty Care Insurance $2,548
Student Activities Fee $50
When I arrived at Yale in September of 1966, the total cost was $3000 a year.
Why does the cost of attending Yale rise so much more rapidly than the rate of inflation? It probably has a great deal to do with the proliferation of special imaginary problem/bad idea offices filled with administrators burning incense in front of false idols.
Yale “Sustainability” Office has no less than eight left-wing academic bureaucrats disseminating nonsense, perpetually grasping at unwarranted powers (“Ask me about” World Governance”), and wallowing in undeserved prestige. And this ridiculous and nonsensical office has been operating, and wasting pots full of money, for fifteen years!
Just imagine how many similar Offices of Empty Superstition and/or Terrible Ideas are cluttering up the landscape all over Yale’s campus.
There is undoubtedly a well-staffed Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Yale, devoted to pandering to Snowflakes of Color’s amour propre and enforcing political correctness.
24 Sep 2020
In the liberal stronghold of the Atlantic, Minnesota Law Professor Alan Z. Rosenshtein warns his fellow lefties that the time of liberal goals being legislated from the bench is drawing to an inevitable close.
[T]he Warren and early Burger Courts painted a vivid, alluring picture of what justice by judiciary could look like. And even if liberals understood, deep down, that those two decades were an aberration in American legal history, the Court has given them just enough victories since then to keep the dream alive. For lawyers and law professors, there is also the simple matter of professional vanity: If the Supreme Court is the vanguard of American justice, then judges, and thus the lawyers who argue before them and the scholars who analyze (and, when necessary, chastise) them, are the nationâ€™s most important professionâ€”the priests and elders of the civic religion that is American constitutionalism.
Fundamentally, though, many liberals loved the Supreme Court for the same reason they loved the law: a vision of universal harmony and justice brought about by reason and persuasion, not the brute forces of political power. Victory in the political arena is always incomplete and uncertain, not to mention grubby. Politics appeals to our baser instincts of greed and fear and competitionâ€”which, of course, is why it is so powerful. By contrast, lawâ€”whether through â€œneutral principlesâ€ or â€œreasoned elaborationâ€ or elaborate moral theories, to name a few of the core organizing ideas of 20th-century legal theoryâ€”holds out the promise of something objective, something True. To win in the court of the Constitution is to have oneâ€™s view enshrined as just, not only for today but with the promise of all time.
But eventually liberals lost faith that the Court would interpret the Constitution in their favor. What started as a trickle of disillusionment grew throughout the 1980s and â€™90s and became a torrent when Roberts became chief justice in 2005 and led the conservative wing to undermine a number of liberal legal priorities, from gun control to campaign-finance law to voting rights. Although many liberal lawyers still dutifully fight in federal court to protect rights where they can, they do so with the increasing understanding that they are simply delaying the inevitable. And legal scholars have gradually given up on the Court as a guarantor of constitutional values, advancing theories of popular constitutionalism or progressive federalism to serve as a counterweight to the Courtâ€™s conservative transformation. Whatever was left of the Courtâ€™s sacred aura as above partisan politics was ripped away by Mitch McConnellâ€™s denial of a vote to Merrick Garland in 2016 and the bitterness of the confirmation hearings over Brett Kavanaugh two years later.
The clearest sign that many liberals are giving up their remaining idealism about the Court is that, for many moderate Democrats (not to mention those on the progressive left), court packing has gone from a fringe theory to not just a viable option but a moral imperative if Joe Biden wins in November and the Democrats take back the Senate.
09 Sep 2020
Fuzzy, but Rittenhouse is identifiable.
The liberal Chicago Tribune strokes its chin, and pondering Kyle Rittenhouse’s chances in court, leans heavily in the direction of conviction.
Could prosecutors show that Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch, committed an unlawful act that provoked attacks on him? If so, the law holds that he would have to show he exhausted his chances to flee or otherwise avoid being harmed before shooting, attorneys said. And whomever was the aggressor, Rittenhouse would have to show he reasonably believed he had to shoot to prevent his death or serious injury. …
Videos show that Rittenhouse was among numerous civilians armed with rifles who interjected themselves into the protests, property destruction and looting that followed Blakeâ€™s shooting. Kenosha County prosecutors have charged Rittenhouse with murder, first-degree reckless homicide and four other counts. …
Liberal commentators have argued that Rittenhouse needlessly killed two people after wading heavily armed into unrest over police violence against African Americans. New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie wrote that, â€œRittenhouse should not have been there, and we should agree â€” all of us â€” that the shooting should not have happened.â€
It is interesting that liberals consider Rittenhouse agreeing to protect a friend’s business and property from looting and destruction amounts to “interjecting himself” and “[he] should not have been there,” while they seem to see no problem at all in persons rioting and committing arson being there. All the culpability for the “shooting [that] should not have happened” belongs to Kyle Rittenhouse, not to the rioters who attacked him.
Once again, we find that Leftism constitutes a systematic inversion of values and of reality.
Wisconsin Right Now has an interesting report bearing on the issue of provocation.
The criminal complaint charging Kyle Rittenhouse with two counts of homicide leaves out a key point: Why Joseph Rosenbaum, a convicted sex offender, was chasing the 17-year-old in the first place.
Two eyewitnesses interviewed by Wisconsin Right Now say Rosenbaum was enraged because Rittenhouse, and others, were using fire extinguishers to put out an arson fire in a dumpster that Rosenbaum, and others, were trying to push toward police squad cars.
They also believe that Rosenbaum may have been determined to rob Rittenhouse because the teenager seemed like the â€œweakâ€ member of the herd and had walked off by himself. They think this because they say Rosenbaum, 36, â€œintricatelyâ€ tied his shirt around his face, they believed to conceal his identity. Whether that would have been the case is obviously an unknown, but it was their perception.
The two eyewitnesses, Justice and Dylan Putnam, were willing to put their names to it. Videos also back up pieces of what they told us. Thereâ€™s video of Rittenhouse with the fire extinguisher, video of Rosenbaum pushing the burning dumpster, and, of course, video of Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse down and cornering him behind a car before Rittenhouse opened fire.
â€œKyle took a fire extinguisher from someone,â€ said Justice Putnam, who added that she saw him trying to put out the arson fire in the dumpster. â€œThat started the altercation.â€
Wouldn’t it be hilarious to listen to a prosecuting attorney trying to argue that Rittenhouse “provoked” his attackers by trying to put out an arson fire?
08 Aug 2020
The Daily Beast reports on academic activists rallying to the defense of the latest recognized marginalized minority.
Michael Eisen, editor of eLifeâ€”a well-regarded open access scientific journal for the biomedical and life sciencesâ€”made a joke about a humble roundworm, thereby cracking open the seventh seal and ushering forth… wormageddon. …
Most people took the joke in stride, or used it as an opportunity to spread the good word about nematodes. But the worm gang runs deep. Multiple researchers were not amused by Dr. Eisenâ€™s joke, and their responses spiraled off in increasingly disproportionate directions. Some of these were scoldings about the propriety of using the word â€œfuckâ€ in a public context, and whether â€œAcademic Twitterâ€ upholds appropriate levels of professionalism by accepting â€œfrat boyâ€ humor. One team went so far as to publicly reconsider submitting a paper to eLife. Others complained that the editor of a journal was publicly disparaging a study species. …
[A] day after Eisen had opened the can of titular worms, and amid the flood of C. elegans jokes washing around Twitterâ€”things had escalated in a bizarre direction. As mystified observers raised the question over whether C. elegans researchers were taking the whole thing a bit seriously, a small handful of researchers responded by arguing that jokes about worms were in some way equivalent to jokes about women and people of color. …
By far the most prolific poster in this vein was Ahna Skop, associate professor of genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and previous recipient of a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion-based award in 2018. Dr. Skopâ€”who did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Beastâ€”argued extensively that making jokes about worms was merely the tip of the iceberg when it came to making jokes about marginalized identities, or an example of a â€˜bystander effectâ€™, a psychological theory arguing that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim in a crowd. (For is it not said: First they came for the worm people, and I said nothing, as I was not a worm person?)
In the resulting threads, Dr. Skopâ€”who identifies as â€œpart Eastern Band Cherokeeâ€ and â€œdisabled with EDSâ€â€”and others consistently failed to publicly respond to Black scientists like herpetologist Chelsea Connor, who tried to point out that this was a ridiculous conflation. In a private communication Connor shared with The Daily Beast, Skop doubled down, arguing that as she had previously been harmed by entrenched sexism, her concerns regarding the worm joke were justified.
05 Jul 2020
Now here is something downright exceptional from last year.
Nebal Maysaud (a Lebanese composer of the Sodomitical persuasion) complains that Western Classical Music oppresses persons of color and colonizes Third World cultures operating as an agent of cultural change. All this is the fault of Capitalism. (Personally, I thought most of the really good Classical Music was created by the patronage of pre-capitalist monarchs and aristocrats. Prince Esterhazy did not engage in trade.)
There comes a point in some abusive relationships where the victim wakes up out of their Stockholm syndrome and learns that they need to plan an escape. As you communicate with others and you get a taste of freedom, you learn that the force you thought was protecting you is in truth keeping you in danger.
For those who havenâ€™t encountered abusive relationships, you may support the abuser, or wonder why the victim doesnâ€™t just leave. But you donâ€™t know what itâ€™s like to live in a world where you canâ€™t tell truth from myth.
For the victims who arenâ€™t ready, you may have an urge to push away those of us seeking to help you and stay with your abuser, believing them to be a source of protection.
Unfortunately, not everyone can escape. But having the knowledge that your abuser is an abuser itself can be freeing. It can help you find the next step in your journey towards liberation. But you need a community to fall back on. You need people to talk to so that they can keep you safe, so that they can help you understand the truth, and so that they can teach you the abuserâ€™s techniques and how to fight them.
My fellow musicians of color: it is time to accept that we are in an abusive relationship with classical music.
In my previous articles, I laid out my experiences and reasoning for coming to this conclusion. I started with â€œAm I Not a Minority?â€ to explain the everyday racism people of color experience and how it manifests on an institutional level. If you havenâ€™t read it already, I encourage you to explore how institutions uphold their power by choosing which minorities to give access to.
The few scraps given to minorities are overwhelmingly whiteâ€“occupied by white cisgender women or LGBT+ individuals. The few PoC who are given access to institutional space are most often light skinned and non-Black while also exoticised and tokenised.
And that led me to my second article, â€œEscaping the Mold of Oriental Fantasyâ€œâ€“a personal history of isolation and colonization, of how Western classical music participates in the act of destroying culture and replaces it with its own white supremacist narrative.
Finally, I shared my attempts at reviving my culture and my tradition, along with the barriers I faced on this journey. My third article, â€œIâ€™m Learning Middle Eastern Music the Wrong Way,â€ chronicles the difficulties (and the near impossibility) of engaging with my own cultural musical practices in a proper, authentic way.
From three angles I shared my attempts at being an authentic composer. These articles bring to light the many ways in which the dreams of low-income people of color are obstructed in the Western classical tradition.
Western classical music is not about culture. Itâ€™s about whiteness. Itâ€™s a combination of European traditions which serve the specious belief that whiteness has a cultureâ€”one that is superior to all others. Its main purpose is to be a cultural anchor for the myth of white supremacy. In that regard, people of color can never truly be pioneers of Western classical music. The best we can be are exotic guests: entertainment for the white audiences and an example of how Western classical music is more elite than the cultures of people of color.
After the Revolution, you see, a benevolent Central Committee will see to it that persons of color, like Nebal here — and whites as well (!) –, are amply funded to produce music in their native cultural traditions. Everyone will be liberated!
Unless, of course, the State is having production problems, and all those aspiring creatives are marched off to labor camps to mine salt.
17 Dec 2019
Jeffrey Tucker sees the recent Tory landslide victory as strong evidence that the main portion of the voting public has had it with the Progressive Left.
Voters throughout the developed world have been getting wiser through the decades. When politicians attack the rich, decry the holes in the safety net, demand controls on business, rail against financial markets, and demand more free things for everyone, there is a missing piece in the rhetoric: enacting all these things puts more power in the hands of the state. Here is the fundamental choice that no amount of fancy language can change: we either trust society and markets to manage themselves or we give more power to the state to use compulsion against the population. This is finally the reality that unmasks every proponent of socialism. Left-wing collectivism is not, in the end, about making society better off; it is about transferring power from the people outside of government to those inside of government.
Let’s hope he’s right. All this “progressive” infatuation with Statism, Collectivism, and the supposed superiority of decision-making by scientific experts is a 19th Century fantasy that really hit its peak influence a century ago. Thereafter, it left a spectacular record of economic failure and atrocity. The mystery is: why is it taking the pseudo-intelligentsia so long to recognize the obvious?
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