Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Alternative to Black Lives Matter

Sure, I'll bite. Here's my alternative vision:

As I noted in a previous post, what the black community needs, fundamentally, is dignity. That can't come from unending dependence on the government and/or the largess of white people. That can only come from ordered liberty and a solid record of tangible achievements. How do I know this? Because that's how other minority groups in the U.S. - including African immigrants - have risen from poverty to relative prosperity.

In the past, black Americans accomplished much despite the many obstacles that were placed in their path. So the first thing I propose? Teach that history. Talk about the black people who became doctors and lawyers and successful business owners despite open racism and legal segregation -- and frankly describe precisely how that happened. Said black folk didn't feel sorry for themselves. They didn't wait for someone else to pull them up. Instead, they studied hard. They worked hard.  They confronted the unfairness of the world with their mettle and their skill.

Be honest about America's flawed history -- but whatever you do, don't tell black people that they will never succeed because the system is still stacked against them. All that does is engender feelings of resentment and helplessness. Plus, such an assertion is demonstrably false. Black Americans did and do succeed all the time regardless of their disadvantages.

Second, don't lower the bar. Raise it. Black students should be expected to meet the exact same standards other students are asked to meet. Keep standardized tests and minimum academic requirements. Get rid of quotas. And then ensure that every motivated, talented K-12 student in the black community has access to the same educational opportunities as everyone else. I believe this will involve a radical embrace of school choice, but I'm willing to discuss other serious proposals that don't involve simply throwing money at an institution - i.e., the public school system - with a documented record of failure.

Third, tear down all barriers to economic opportunity. Get rid of minimum wages for minors so teens can more easily gain work experience. (FYI: The minimum wage was originally established to protect white union members from competition from black workers. It was racist at its foundation.) Scrap out-of-control business regulations and licensing requirements so black women who want to make money braiding hair can do so without jumping through a zillion hoops.

Fourth, we must, must, must promote bourgeois values -- not just for black people, but for everyone! We should be absolutely clear that marriage is the best context in which to raise children according to every social science indicator. We must encourage saving and other financially responsible lifestyle choices. We should do whatever we can to restore social capital in our neighborhoods so that each person - white or black - will have a reliable community to lean on whenever he or she runs into trouble. And overall, we should value the ability to delay gratification and practice the traditional virtues.

Lastly, while we certainly do need to reform our urban police departments and our justice system, we also need to challenge the elements of the black subculture that encourage criminality, violence, and anti-intellectualism. My best friend in high school - who was black - was constantly accused of "acting white" because she took AP classes and edited the literary magazine. That crap is wrong. That crap must stop. The black community, internally, must ensure that their members can reach for the highest rungs without worrying that they'll be pulled back into the crab bucket by the disapproval of their fellows.

So there you have it. That's my program for black equality. Make of it what you will.


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Celebrate America. And Be Loud About It.

The United States of America is a good country.

The philosophy that animates our institutions is fundamentally sound -- and profoundly moral. Because our Founders declared at the very start that "all men are created equal" and are endowed by God with rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," we have abolished slavery, broadened the franchise, and successfully torn down many unfair barriers to success. This didn't happen all at once, it is true; it took some time for the implications of Jefferson's words to manifest in the way our laws were enforced. But if you elide the men of 1776 from our national story because, like all human beings, they were sinners and hypocrites, you will destroy that foundation that allows us to see the various -isms as evils.

And in all honesty, I suspect that's what our disloyal, ignorant radicals want to do. Why? Because despite their high-flying rhetoric about "justice" and "reparation," they don't really want to rid the world of bigotry and establish a maximally fair system. No -- they simply want to replace one sort of bigotry for another. They want to destroy our professional police forces because it's those forces that stand between them and their ability to victimize the people they perceive to be their enemies. They want to destroy the traditions of our liberal republic and our free marketplace because they hate, hate, hate that said structures (when functioning appropriately) reward industry and merit and not necessarily their bestest friends.

We should resist this insurrection with as much force as we can muster. And we can start by celebrating America's birthday as proudly and as obnoxiously as we can. Sing patriotic ditties at the top of your lungs. Launch fireworks. Feast on your favorite summer fare. And most importantly, tell the iconoclasts and terrorists in your midst to pound sand when they start whining. You are not a "white supremacist" because you're patriotic. You are, in fact, a normal, decent person.

ETA: Trump's Mount Rushmore Speech // Silent Cal's Speech on the Sesquicentennial

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Relevant Clips from Things I'm Watching This Week

All just causes must respect the rule of law. That is a central principle of our liberal order, and it must be upheld at all costs!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

What Is Love? (Reprint)

From 2015:

This post is going to be a hodgepodge. I'm trying to pull in some disparate threads I've picked up in the past week, so forgive me for thinking out loud.

First thread: I'm not only a secular teacher with special interests in STEM education and test preparation. I'm also a volunteer catechist at my local Catholic church, where I - hopefully successfully - instruct young teens and confirmandi in the fundamentals of our Faith. Last Sunday, the topic was Jesus Christ: who is He, and how can we develop a closer relationship with Him? The first segment in the curriculum encouraged the kids to share what they imagined when they thought of Jesus, and this is pretty much the response I received:

The stiff-necked contrarian in me was deeply unsatisfied. Certainly, Jesus is merciful, forgiving, and approachable for children and sinners alike. But I couldn't help thinking of that Facebook meme. You know -- the one that references Matthew 21:12?

And what about C.S. Lewis' descriptions of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia?
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
“He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”
So I pulled out the Bible and tried to steer my charges in a slightly different direction. I reminded them that Jesus' forgiveness was always followed by a command to sin no more. I noted the ways in which Jesus called out the powers of his day -- and was ultimately put to death for it. And overall, I tried to paint a more virile picture of who Jesus was.

Driving home, though, I was still disturbed. Damn it: Our culture has domesticated Christ.

Second thread: Apparently, according to the scrupulously "correct," we can no longer call criminals what they are. The word "criminal," you see, "dehumanizes" people who've simply been "rendered desperate by the cruelties of capitalism."

That sound you just heard was my eyes rolling out of my skull and bouncing on the floor. I'll be typing this post by feel from now on.

But seriously: Why are we suddenly so concerned about the precious feelings of petty thieves and thugs -- and why are we so unconcerned about the feelings of their victims? I'm a Christian and do believe in the possibility of redemption even for the very worst malefactors, but as Sarah Hoyt has noted, crime victims are also human beings and also deserve our consideration:
Say, for instance, you feel sorry for a pedophile – not that any of them got involved in anything like that recently! – because after all the poor critter is confused, and didn’t choose to be this way. You let him/her go, or even encourage him/her with stuff like “it’s not your fault.”
What is going to happen? I can tell you. What is going to happen is that they’re going to hurt another or many kids.
Now the kids didn’t ask to be hurt, and they didn’t do anything to deserve it.
By encouraging/feeling sorry for one person, who can, after all, control him/herself or seek help in doing such, you were cruel to a vast number of innocents that didn’t do anything to bring this on them.
This reality should be self-evident to anyone -- particularly to people who've been preyed upon. So why this drive to discourage telling the damned truth?

Third thread: Go and read the following post, also by Sarah Hoyt:

Holding Women Back

Sarah wrote this in response to the silly claims zipping around fandom that we Sad Puppies are seeking to suppress women writers, but one passage in particular struck me as more generally applicable:
Making special prizes for good little girls because vagina and actually going so far as to argue that creations like games or books which are engaged in as ludic pursuits don’t need to be fun, but only relevant, and that you should enjoy them even if you don’t enjoy them because they’re created by women, does the reverse of what I (and a lot of others, I was not a paragon.  I’m using my experience because I lived it) did when I had the best grades and won contests DESPITE the inherent prejudice against me.  I and others like me proved women can be grown ups and can function in the adult world; these victimhood pony-riders are convincing people who by an large believe in female equality to reconsider and think that women are fragile, not so smart creatures who need easy steps and easier tests and accommodations to function.
Here, Sarah is approaching, asymptotically, what we who know a little something about education and human psychology have discovered: We are not designed to live in a friction-free universe. We require some adversity to become fully-actualized.

I'm not suggesting, of course, that we deliberately and needlessly hurt people to "toughen them up." I am suggesting, however, that I would be a failure as a teacher if I did not set the bar just a little bit higher than my students' grasp and then inspire them to jump. That's why I love Hajimete no Otsukai -- or this video, also from Japan:

High expectations beget excellence. Criticism begets improvement. What would happen to my students if I never deconstructed the weaknesses in their persuasive essays? What if I never pointed out their grammatical mistakes -- or told them their math was wrong? What if I never imposed discipline? I would inflict illiterate, innumerate brats upon the world.

This new regime of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and trophies for victimhood flies against our very nature, and it is already making lousy writers and lousy thinkers. As a writer, you must be able to accurately and sympathetically depict a full range of human personalities -- but you will not learn how to do so if you spend your entire lives avoiding people who think differently. As a supposed activist for "justice," you must understand, deeply, the potential obstacles that stand in your way, and you must know how to respond to the people who might oppose you -- skills you will not learn if your college campus is cleansed of all that is potentially disturbing to your beliefs. I know I'm a better debater because my father consistently served as my devil's advocate. Why are millennial SJW's and their older enablers so eager to deny their compatriots the same intellectual experience? A critique is not an assault. Challenge is not violence. When you assert the opposite, you foster mediocrity. You make the objects of your supposed "compassion" look somehow inferior.

Now let's try to create the tapestry: The common theme that breathes through all of this, I think, is our society's disordered definition of love. As a catechist, I repeatedly emphasize that love is wanting what is best for another person and seeking, self-sacrificially, to accomplish it. Our popular culture, however, has tamed this concept the same way it has tamed the radical, masculine Christ. Love, alas, is now simply niceness. If you love someone, says the zeitgeist, you must never cause him or her to feel shame, sorrow, frustration, or even cognitive dissonance. To elevate a man, you must wrap him in swaddling wool.

Said zeitgeist is wrong - morally and scientifically - and it should be challenged at every opportunity.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Link Dump!

UC Berkeley History Professor's Open Letter Against BLM

Read the epic smack-down that took the internet by storm! Many, many excellent points are made here that deserve to be discussed.

Ban All Culture!

If you want some excellent sarcasm, you can always trust a Brit to deliver. This bit of commentary covers the row over J.K. Rowling, Faulty Towers, etc. (FYI, I'm loving that J.K. Rowling has decided she has just enough eff-off money to tell the social justice bullies to pound sand. My hero!)

We Must Stop the Great Unraveling

"There is one way to stop the unraveling: Refuse the mob. We have seen again and again that the mob comes only for those who hope to please it. And when it does, no amount of apology will save you. We stand against the mob and all its aims. We stand against the chaos and violence, the silencing of debate, the purging of heretics, the rewriting of history, and the destruction of the greatest country in the world. We will defend the most majestic achievement of humankind, the United States of America, against the most ignoble impulse in human history, to tear down that which is good."

This pretty much speaks for itself, no?

J.D. Vance: Corporate America Dividing The Country, Preventing People From Unifying

"You know, if I was a member of a political movement that stood up for working people and found myself every single time on the side of Amazon, on the side of Apple, on the side of Google, I might ask myself, if I've actually chosen the right allies, and what it says about me, but unfortunately, too many folks on the left just aren't doing that."

Yep. I think Vance hits the nail on the head here. Woke-ism is a bourgeois movement, not a movement that actually gives a damn about disadvantaged people.

Iconoclasm as a Prelude to Woke Horrors?

This is from James Lindsay's website, so it's obviously going to be an essential read.

Les Miserables

Another good discussion of today's cultural revolutionaries/woke cultists.

And before I go, just a quick Twitter thread regarding the attack on sacred art:

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Lower Standards Don't Help (Reprint)

This post was originally written three years ago, but it's still highly relevant.

In discussions of "privilege," I often hear feminists and minority leftists complain that their co-workers question their competence just because they are women or people of color. But why do you suppose that is? Could it be that affirmative action and other accommodations send an implicit message to the wider populace that "disadvantaged" populations can't hack it without special treatment and set-asides? The data paint a pretty clear picture: Affirmative action is not merely a tie-breaker. Some groups are being held to objectively lower standards. Did you really think people would fail to notice?

There are better ways to address different outcomes between groups than to abandon fairness and jigger the end results.

You can start, first of all, by forgetting about "learning styles" and "personal relevance" and actually teach - to every student - rigorous courses in literacy, history, mathematics, and science in the primary and secondary grades. Yes, black students can learn something from Shakespeare; W.E.B. Dubois certainly thought so, and nothing's changed in human nature since his age.

While you're at it, you can restore teachers' authority in the classroom by backing up their disciplinary decisions instead of questioning them at every turn. Don't assume without proof that imbalances in school suspensions and expulsions are the result of teacher and administrator bias, and don't ease up on the rules as a consequence of such an assumption. Every child, no matter his socioeconomic status, deserves to learn in a classroom free of disruption. Letting some disobedient minority kids off the hook to massage the numbers screws every other minority student who's actually trying to study.

Third, we have to stop pretending that all household structures are equally healthy. In reality, a lot of the "privilege" that leftist activists vociferously decry is the merely result of growing up in a two-parent family. If you have two involved parents around to check over your homework, monitor your grades, and read out loud to you before bed, you tend to do better in school. And when you do better in school -- well, the later dividends are obvious. Overall, we absolutely must tell the truth and start promoting marriage as a national ideal. Just as every child deserves an opportunity to learn in a quiet and safe environment, every child also deserves to have an intact family to lean on for emotional, financial, and intellectual support.

Fourth, we shouldn't tell kids that the cards are stacked against them. We should inspire them instead. Tell them how others in their particular situation sought out opportunity and rose above. Don't dwell on the "patriarchy" or "white supremacy." That only fosters learned helplessness instead of empowerment.

Fifth, don't reward young people for anything other than their actual achievements. Dispense with all prizes for good little girls and other favored "victims" and be honest for a change. No one can improve his skills without accurate and suitably critical feedback, so don't soft-pedal. If a novice writer's story is poorly conceived, tell him so. Don't shower him with trophies just because he happens to be black/gay/trans/whatever. Give him a chance to grow; don't nurture a complacent mediocrity.

For God's sake, people, look around. The left's program is clearly not working. Isn't it time we try something different?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Down with Double Standards

I have, of course, suggested this in other recent posts, but let me make it explicit:

I think we should all play by the same rules.

If you're going to argue that we should avoid large gatherings to prevent the spread of the coof, then fine: apply that standard across the board. Don't give me this BS that anti-shutdown demonstrations are bad-bad-terribad but BLM demonstrations are a-okay. Don't applaud massive protests in Brooklyn while simultaneously padlocking playgrounds in Jewish neighborhoods.

If you're going to argue that the police resort to physical force far too often, then fine: discuss all the relevant cases. Don't just talk about the black folks who've been unjustly killed. Talk about the white folks who've also been murdered under similar circumstances. Is it #BlackLivesMatter, or is it really #OnlyBlackLivesMatter?

And while we're at it, why are we lionizing black victims of police brutality but not the black people who've been victimized by their neighbors?

It bothers me - it really bothers me - that my Asian students essentially have to be academic gods to earn admission to top schools while students from more favored minorities have it much easier. Don't lie about this. We all know it's true. And in my opinion, this reality is suppressing black academic achievement. Why try to achieve top marks if you're going to get in with a more middling record?

It angers me that white and Asian scientists, who've spent years in focused study to get where they are, are now being told that they're racist because they balk at letting more "marginalized" scientists jump the queue for the sake of "equity." No: you know how you actually get equity? You start early by fixing our dysfunctional public education system so that everyone has the opportunity to learn the requisite math and science. You don't come in on the back end and demand that institutions hire "BIPOC" scientists because "muh diversity." Merit is not a white supremacist conspiracy.

And by the way, the above applies to artistic achievement too. If you want more "BIPOC" creators, start by clearing the institutional and cultural barriers to developing literacy and artistic skill. Don't just hand these creators high profile assignments and awards before they've been forced to work up the ranks like everyone else.

Right now, the left is actively encouraging laziness and grift. They are celebrating looters and terrorists and intellectual frauds who add nothing to our society -- while demonizing people who are willing to work, pay their own way, and behave like civilized human beings. It's appalling, and it needs to stop. 

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Video: Benjamin Boyce, Mike Nayna & James Lindsay

This is a very long conversation, but if you have the time, I highly recommend it. James Lindsay in particular is a freakin' boss when it comes to challenging the critical theory/social justice warrior mindset. His website, New Discourses, is absolutely essential.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

We Need Real Solutions, Not Ridiculous Pipe Dreams

This new mania for dismantling (or effectively dismantling) municipal police departments is quite possibly one of the dumbest things I've seen the left embrace in a long, long time.

I have an acquaintance on Facebook who was stationed in Panama City after Operation Just Cause, when police presence in the city was virtually nonexistent due to the collapse of the government. Here's some of what she had to say about the results:
  1. First the few police that remained, banded together and stopped Americans so that they could get extort money.
  2. All the stop signs and stop lights stopped working (government was gone as well) which meant that if you weren't a native of the city, you didn't know to stop at certain streets and wait for thinning traffic. But yea.. no traffic laws ... At least they still went on the same side of the street.
  3. Anyone with any money lived in enclaves with guards. They bought their own security. Most women didn't go out anywhere with out family.
  4. Anyone with a few bits of something were robbed by machete and/or beaten.
  5. There were pockets of lawfulness where certain students who take over a block and guard it. They would pull together residents as militias. They would block the streets with bricks and other things so they could guard their neighborhoods. It was this alone that brought Panama City back to civilization because the students went block by block until they had the large about of the residents safe from riots.
  6. Even after being their for four years when they had police, summer was riot season... including beatings and molotov cocktails. They liked to target the "bridge of the Americas."
  7. All military personnel (US) were under curfew and were not allowed to go anywhere unless they were with two or more people.
When the stop lights began to work, certain individuals would pull people from their cars and beat them. I heard of a few assassinations happen too. Plus no one went anywhere without a big knife, gun, or AK47. 
It was terrifying because the first few months I was there some of the Panamanians would slip through the fences into the base and snipe. It pretty much died down after awhile and when the government went back, they went back to hating their government and stayed away from the US military. 
Two soldiers were driving a hum-vee on the main road and someone shot into the vehicle, killing the driver. When the US (and the military) asked for the killer (turned out he was a Senator's son), no one could find him. They packed him up and sent him to Cuba ... 
So it looks like the rich are fine and everyone else lives in a war zone.
The idea that we can completely replace professional, armed law enforcement with social workers and community members "trained in de-escalation" is pure fantasy. It is based on a utopian, Rousseau-inspired worldview that posits that people, as a rule, are basically good until they are corrupted by societal factors such as poverty and/or oppression. But anyone with a modicum of common sense knows this is emphatically not the case.

I'm a teacher. I've worked with small humans. They're adorable, but they're also absolute barbarians long before society has had much of a chance to influence how they behave. If a child sees a toy he wants, he will do anything - including pushing another child over - to get it. If you decline to give him a lollipop, he will sneak around you and steal that coveted sweet from your cupboard. And this is true of all children -- whether they're well-provided for or not.

And adults? Adults are more likely to be civilized due to experience and upbringing -- but even adults are not beyond pursuing what is evil and base for the sake of their own selfish desires. If crime is driven solely by society's failure to provide, how the hell does one explain white collar criminals, who presumably aren't struggling to survive from day to day? How do you explain kings (or dictators) who continually steal from their subjects despite their undeniable position of privilege and relative affluence?

Human nature is not innocent. While we all certainly have the capacity to be good, we are not naturally virtuous. Pro-social behavior comes from moral training; it does not magically appear once the body is housed, clothed and fed. So sure: you can dump money into so-called "community investment" (and we can discuss what will and will not be truly helpful), but all the welfare in the world will do nothing to fix the fundamental malady. Some people will simply scoff at education and employment programs in favor of crime because the latter requires no effort or skill and is often quite remunerative.

Thus, if you take our police away, you will get Panama after the fall of Noriega. That's a certainty. And the people who will suffer most, as my acquaintance relates, will be those who can't afford to pay for their own private security details. Gosh, I wonder how many black folks will find themselves in that unprotected category?

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Whence Comes Dignity

I'm probably stepping on a rake here in being perfectly frank, but:

When #MeToo started to trend a while back, I immediately found its animating ideology wanting -- but I never dismissed the sincerity of its emotional core. I think it's legitimate for women to suspect they're getting a raw deal somehow; after all, we've essentially set up a dating ecosystem in which most women (notice I said "most") are strongly encouraged to fight their own instincts. Of course they feel dissatisfied. Of course they feel abused.

Similarly, I think #BlackLivesMatter, as a movement, often focuses on the wrong things in the wrong way -- but I also think black Americans do have something to complain about. They are being denied something absolutely critical to human flourishing -- but neither the verified white chattering class nor the dominant voices who claim to speak for Black America have accurately identified what's missing. Indeed, you have to dig deep into dissident black conversation to find any honest discussion of that absent ineffable variable: dignity.

Black Americans want to feel pride in themselves. And they should, I think. Up until quite recently, their history has been a story of success in the face of incredible headwinds. Their ancestors were people who, like Frederick Douglass, defied the law in order to become educated. Their ancestors were people who, in the heart of the Jim Crow South, built thriving businesses and became doctors and lawyers. Their ancestors were people who fought to keep their families together despite societal forces that threatened to rip them apart. Their ancestors were people who were closing education and income gaps long before government officials offered to "help." Their ancestors were, in short, a sturdy, admirable people. And yes: their story is an essential component of the American story and should be discussed in our schools.

Unfortunately, the activist set is not telling black Americans the tale I just related. Instead, these theorists are teaching young blacks that they have been victims for 400 years and that the only way out of that morass is to come to white America with their hands out.

Now, I happen to believe there are a few remaining structural barriers that need to be cleared to maximize equality of opportunity -- particularly when it comes to criminal justice, education, and work. I don't mean to suggest that we, as white Americans, have no responsibility here. But what I find deeply frustrating about the general tenor of the current discourse around race - and I briefly alluded to this in my post on Tuesday - is that black Americans are hardly ever assigned responsibilities of their own.

As a matter of fact, I genuinely feel like the aforementioned activists are treating black Americans like little children instead of like adults with agency. "Don't worry, dear," they seem to say. "We'll lower the standards for you." Many of the controversies that have blown up in recent years in re: race relations seem to turn on the idea that imposing any rules on blacks is racist -- that blacks should be allowed to do whatever they want whenever they want no matter how much they might disrupt the normal, race-neutral practices the rest of us respect to keep society predictable and civil. And many institutions, straining under activist pressure, are throwing the concept of merit out the window entirely, handing black Americans things they didn't actually earn out of a misguided desire to right cosmic wrongs. I'm sorry, but I find it very difficult to ignore how many low-quality intellects have been given academic clout - or even awards - mainly because they're black and "muh diversity." A Pulitzer for an essay on American history that serious historians (including Marxists!) critiqued as deeply skewed? Really?

(ETA: And then there's the unbelievable privilege BLM now enjoys in re: the Kung Flu, which just further confirms that outrageous double standards are in play.)

This white savior/black supplicant dynamic is profoundly undignified. People don't get any real self-esteem from relying entirely on the largess of others. Real self-esteem comes from handling your own crap and telling any naysayers to eff right off. And I think a lot of black Americans realize this on an unconscious level. Hence the anger and the nebulous claims that we are out to get them. Hence the delight some take in humiliating white Americans by forcing them to kneel and apologize for sins they didn't personally commit.

The truth is, while we as white Americans should take seriously the need for reform, we can't - and shouldn't - do everything for black people just because we feel guilty for things other white people did. All that does is degrade the black American and treat him as if he's an inferior Other. No: we should treat the black American like a full human being capable of meeting high expectations. Because, you know, they are capable. The history bears that out.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

300% Done

I'll just let the Fave represent my current mood.

As I mentioned in my last post, virtually every American agrees that what happened to George Floyd was profoundly unjust. Indeed, on my TL, I've seen conservative after conservative propose a number of systemic fixes - including mandatory body cams and the end of qualified immunity - to address the problem of police brutality. Because even though such incidents are statistically uncommon, they are - for everyone - completely unacceptable.

That doesn't mean, though, that we must accept every. last. response to Floyd's murder. That doesn't mean we must accept the terroristic violence now engulfing many of our cities.

"But RG, can't you see that people have a right to be upset?"

Of course they do. We all have a right to our feelings. And yes: what happened to Floyd was hideous and should inspire outrage and a desire for reform. But I don't want to live in a society in which the left's apparent standard for a "justifiable reaction" is the universal. Please, for God's sake, imagine the chaos that would actually wreak. Imagine what would happen if we let every aggrieved individual take his anger out on anyone who happened to be in the way. No one - whether black, white, or polka-dotted - would feel safe!

Target didn't kill George Floyd. AutoZone didn't kill George Floyd. Uncle Hugo's didn't kill George Floyd. That black business owner who lost his bar didn't kill George Floyd. The people who might've moved into that block of affordable housing didn't kill George Floyd. St. John's Episcopal Church didn't kill George Floyd. If you approve of these riots, you're endorsing the targeting of innocent entities who weren't there and had nothing to do with said murder. Is that really what you mean to do? Think. THINK.

"RG, why are you valuing property over lives?"

Flag on the field! False dichotomy! You can in fact protect both simultaneously.

If the choice is between rescuing a baby from certain imminent death and preserving a wall, then sure, you knock down the wall for the sake of the life in danger. But I would like anyone who's throwing the above bull excrement at me to please - please - explain how trashing a neighborhood is going to result in any real change in how our police departments are run (and therefore save lives). Give me the citations and show your work. Because from where I sit, destroying a bunch of downtown businesses will change no minds and will only ruin lives. What, do you think those stores - and the jobs they represent - are just going to magically come back and everything will proceed as it did before? If so, you are unbelievably stupid.

No: I can already see where this is going to go because I live in the real world where actions have consequences. Some of those businesses simply won't return. Others will increase their prices to pay for their insurance premiums and loss prevention costs. And ultimately, the poor "marginalized" people you say you care about will see their standard of living decline as they struggle to find work and/or basic staples -- which, of course, will get you all howling about how racist and unfair it is that things cost more in inner city areas than they do out in the 'burbs because second and third order effects are things you just can't wrap your substandard brains around.

When you attack the economic lifeblood of an area, you are endangering lives, not saving them. Human beings are not meant to suckle forever at the government teat. Where there is little work, there is deep despair, drug addiction, high suicide rates, and other signs of social disorder. Why? Because we all get genuine, lasting meaning from our labor. So spare me this nonsense that I'm somehow callous for being concerned that businesses are getting looted.

Besides, the rioters are hardly limiting themselves to property damage. They have also been caught on camera beating business owners bloody. Don't those lives count?

"How else are we going to get people to listen?"

We were all ready to listen before the fires were lit. We all agreed that something needed to be done. But now? Now people are rapidly losing sympathy for your cause. It's the same thing that happened in 1968: the disorder at the Democratic Convention ultimately helped to elect Richard Nixon. When you stomp around threatening and injuring people who aren't guilty of the crimes you wish to see punished, the victims of your indiscriminate fury will start pining for your abject defeat and humiliation. And yes, I'm seeing that very longing already in the polls and on social media. The "Rooftop Koreans" are being lionized again. A lot of people want Trump to send in the military to restore order. And at the gun shops, business is brisk.  You had a whole nation behind you for about two seconds -- until you squandered it by LARPing as revolutionaries. Good job. Slow clap.

So how do you get people to listen? Drop all that critical race theory BS that has zero connection with reality, stop demanding that we white people bend the knee for crap we didn't actually do, and focus on the actual facts on the ground. Because to be perfectly blunt, "white people" are not the only ones at fault for the problems currently bedeviling the black community. The sooner "anti-racist" activists accept that - the sooner blacks are encouraged to own their own crap instead of foisting it all on outsiders - the sooner we can all have a real conversation.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

This is probably not a unique statement, but...

... jumping straight to the racism/white supremacy angle each time a black man is killed in an incident of police brutality is extraordinarily pernicious. White people - especially poor white people - get abused by the cops as well. (See also: John McWhorter's fair discussion here.)

Like all other observable social problems, the roots of police brutality are multivariate. Sometimes, I'm sure, the racism of the officers - or the department - involved is a factor; there's no sense in denying that. But socioeconomic status and overzealous lawmaking certainly play roles as well; indeed, these factors are, in my view, vastly more important.

Let's focus on the overzealous lawmaking in particular. As events of recent months have amply demonstrated, the US harbors a significant population of "Karens" who feel that everything they don't like should be banned by law -- and that everything they do like should be mandated by the same. For a Karen, it's not enough to, for example, offer clear scientific guidance to the American people in re: slowing the spread of the Kung Flu and then let us make our own personal risk calculations based on that information. No: a Karen wants all of us to be coerced by the force of the state to close our supposedly "nonessential" businesses and/or radically change how we go about our lives. A Karen, in short, thinks she knows best and should make decisions for the whole.

But each time you marshal state troops to modify people's behavior, you increase the number of times those people will come into negative contact with law enforcement officials. And when you increase negative contacts with the cops, you increase the likelihood of violent - and even deadly - encounters.

Not to be all libertarian, but: when you call in the state, you're implicitly agreeing that violence is an acceptable means to enforce your desires. True: the state does not always respond violently when someone has violated one of its rules. But the threat of violence is always there. If you refuse to comply with the state's dictates, eventually - if you're stubborn enough - you will see the barrel of a gun.

Perhaps one way to reduce fatal encounters with the cops, then, is to simply reduce the number of laws we have on the books. Because in my living memory, a number of people who were killed by the police were essentially killed over nanny-ish regulatory infractions that needn't have been treated as crimes at all.

Now, to shift the focus a bit: I also think it's crucial not to over-sell the problem of police brutality. When an innocent person is killed by the cops, it's always and everywhere a crime that should be punished to the full extent of the law. And we should definitely work to reduce the chances of such events as much as we possibly can. But we must also be careful not to accept narratives that assert police routinely gun people (especially black people) down in the streets for no reason -- because such claims are just not true.

Outlets like The Washington Post keep running tallies of all individuals who are killed by police officers in the US, but based on my examination of their data, they inflate the numbers by conveniently failing to make distinctions between justified and unjustified fatal encounters. If you drill down to the victims who are truly innocent, you discover that those deaths are exceedingly rare -- that your chances of being unjustly killed by the police are very, very low whether you're white or black.

As we can see in the overwhelmingly horrified response of the law enforcement community to what happened to George Floyd, most police officers are decent, professional people who simply want to protect their communities. Calling them pigs and treating them like they're murder-happy psychos is deeply irrational -- and dangerous.

Also irrational? Burning down a neighborhood to express your rage.

Virtually every American wants to see George Floyd's killer go to jail. Popular opinion on this is basically unanimous. But as soon as you start looting stores, trashing people's small businesses, and torching affordable housing - or openly encouraging those activities - you become a domestic terrorist, not a promoter of genuine justice.

Seriously: eff you, Antifa. I hope Trump does go after you with extreme prejudice because you're not helping.

And that, I think, is all I have to say about this week's news.

Monday, April 27, 2020

A Warning

Things might be a bit quiet around here for a bit. We're all safe and healthy at Casa Right Geek, but I just got hit in the face with inspiration for a geeky project that, at the moment, is completely consuming my spare time.

Besides, I need to find other things to discuss besides the worldwide coronapocalypse. ;)

Talk to you soon!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Video: Perverse Incentives

I can confirm Matt's commentary here. Normally, my weekly gross pay is $552. If I were to stop working entirely, I would receive $877 (according to the letter I just received the other day from the VEC).

Mind you, I'm not going to ask my boss to lay me off. I love my kids too much to do that -- and everything my departed father ever taught me about the dignity of working (even if you have a shit job) further militates against that choice. But I wonder: how many people will actually live by that principle when the temptation to mooch is so unbelievably powerful?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Yes, Open the Fuddruckers (*Restrictions Apply)

I work for a tutoring company that was able to switch to online instruction, so I'm still earning nearly my usual income. Thus, I'm in an extraordinarily privileged position. I don't have to worry about food, rent, or other necessities; for me, the money is there.

But I know many, many others aren't as fortunate as I -- and I know that my own situation could change at any time. Indeed, the only reason I have work at the moment is that I'm the first-in-line senior instructor. In reality, our business has dropped off roughly 90%. All our other instructors have effectively been laid off, and my bosses are certainly not making the money they once did. Why? At a fundamental level, a tutoring business depends on the health of the economy. Parents pay for our service with their discretionary funds. If parents lose those funds, we become an unaffordable luxury.

If our society remains stuck on pause for much longer, the ripple effects will be more damaging than you can ever imagine. But evidently, some are unable to reflect upon these secondary and tertiary impacts. Some - like Patton Oswalt - think we can stay in and watch Netflix indefinitely. Some, to put it frankly, are completely divorced from reality.

The reason we locked down to begin with was to slow the spread of the coof so that our healthcare system wouldn't be overwhelmed. Yet now, certain people are demanding that we move the goalposts -- that we remain locked down until we've developed a vaccine or otherwise eradicated the danger of infection entirely. This is bat-crap insane. Keeping everyone at home and on the government teat is simply not sustainable. As a wise science fiction author once wrote, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

I'm going to diverge from the usual responses to Oswalt's out-of-touch BS and say something bold: yes, this is about going to Fuddruckers. Do you know how many working class folks had jobs in those dining rooms before all this began? If we all started going to Fuddruckers again, we'd ensure the continued employment of many thousands of people! That's not putting money and comfort before lives; that's actually saving people from abject poverty and despair -- two things with documented mortality rates.

Of course, it's not only about going out for a burger. Large chains like Fuddruckers can probably absorb some loss when all is said and done. What really worries me is the coming destruction of Main Street USA -- all those mom-and-pop shops that can't protect themselves with a corporate shield. The tourist-trappy towns I love to visit - like North Conway Village, NH, or Gatlinburg, TN - depend on places like these. So too does my future place of residence just outside of Washington, VA. (I wonder: is Chef Patrick over at the Inn doing okay? If he goes under, my father will be crying in heaven.) (And what about Hackleys General Store? That place is literally the center of Amissville. If Hackleys folds, where will our future neighbors gather instead?) (Okay, enough with the anxious parentheticals, Steph, and get on with it!) Each threatened small business represents a family dream - and perhaps even a whole community - in peril. But we're just supposed to set that aside until the bat flu risk has been reduced to zero?

No: such a course is not rational, nor is it based on anything approaching "science." Science tells us we should limit the number of patrons we admit at a time, require masks, and disinfect surfaces after every use. It does not tell us to close down everything a government apparatchik considers "nonessential."

Bottom line at the end: The growing resentment of our politicians' continuing over-reach is wholly legitimate. People are losing their means of survival. If you're a celeb relaxing in a mansion - or a comfortable keyboard jockey who can work from home - you have no freakin' clue what's actually happening out here and should probably shut the eff up before you further cement my estimate of your rampant stupidity. Plz and kthx.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

An Addendum to the Last Post

Matt's list of things the pandemic should force us to re-think is excellent -- but allow me to make a few additions:

1.) Matt noted that telework is a much better option for many white collar jobs -- and as someone who's currently teleworking, I'd have to agree. What I'd add, though, is that a lot of teaching and learning can be done this way too. I don't think we should get rid of physical schools entirely - the online option isn't going to work for every student - but teleschooling has many similar advantages. As Glenn Reynolds always says over at Instapundit, you're less likely to be bullied at an online school. Additionally, you can schedule classes for times when our teenagers will actually be awake and functional. And yes: parents can more easily monitor what's really being taught. (This prospect scares those teachers who wish to indoctrinate instead of teach. To that, I say: Good.)

2.) We should also be scrapping many regulations that got in the way of our emergency response. The TSA's ban on bottles of liquid larger than a few ounces., for example, is pure security theater -- as revealed by the fact that the rules were recently relaxed for hand-sanitizer. We should also be allowed to continue talking to doctors remotely if we so choose.

3.) We should strenuously resist all future attempts by environmentalists to push us into dense urban cores. As the Kung Flu has revealed, there's a fantastic reason why we all sprawled out into the suburbs and exurbs to begin with. Luckily, increased telework will allow us to reduce emissions without living cheek-by-jowl in germy high rises. 

4.) While we're on the subject of environmentalist hobby-horses: we should figure out a way to address the plastic pollution issue that does not involve getting rid of (more hygienic) disposables -- because clearly, plastic shopping bags exist for a good reason too.

And lastly...

5.) We should remember which authorities took advantage of this situation to impose ridiculous, over-the-top rules on their fellow citizens -- and we should never, EVER trust them again. Recall them, vote against them, sue them, demand they be fired (in the case of the police) -- use whatever legal means are at our disposal to drum these Karens out of their positions of power and replace them with people who will follow the actual science and treat us like sensible adults.

Give us liberty!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Corona: The Potential Upsides

From my brother Matt:

"I think COVID is going to have a number of long-term positive effects, despite the hardships it's creating now.

1) It puts the lie to the idea that global distribution methods are the best way to run supply chains - it's not actually smart for any nation to depend so heavily on other nations - especially those that are clearly adversaries geopolitically, as is the case with Russia and China. Newsflash to both NeverTrump conservatives and the left...Trump was RIGHT about this. I was NT in 2016 in part because I believed unfettered free trade was the way of peace. It manifestly is not. Some governments are just evil and dangerous - China is one such government - and we cannot treat them as equal partners unless we enjoy getting overrun with deadly viruses, having our IP stolen, or systems hacked, and our currency bullied.

2) It buries forever the outdated notion that workers are less productive when they work from home. It's 20th century dinosaur thinking and it needs to die with the virus. Telecommuting for work will, I believe, be far more common going forward. To the great benefit of both employees AND employers and to the massive benefit of the economy at large. The added efficiency will (a) help save the environment (b) bring added stability to the family unit and (c) solve a BUNCH of longstanding social problems at the workplace all while (d) creating more wealth.

3) It serves as a wake-up call to voters that they can't always rely on their government to save them every time they're in trouble because, sometimes, no matter how hard the government is trying, it just isn't capable of getting help to you on time. My hope is that it will make us less passive and more willing to accept that we have to know how to survive and take control of our own lives. I know we're busily demanding Congress pass seven jigga-zillion dollars in aid help right now...bizarrely enough, me included...but that doesn't mean we should come away with the message that Daddy Warbucks will arrive and save us. That aid is only necessary because the government already proved how inept it is at actually saving us from this monster. And that's not me slinging mud at Trump or the Feds. That's facing a reality. Some problems cannot be solved in time...some pain just can't be avoided...some suffering may even lead to better things, but we can't go through life demanding that our dear leaders take away all pain and all risk. They can't, and even if they could, they never...ever...should.

4) It gives us a chance to reflect on how important community organizations, public associations, and families truly are to the functioning of our society. It's not the government we miss right now. It's the Knights of Columbus, the parishioners in church, the extended family we can't go to see, the boy scout pack, the Elk's lodge, the sewing circle, the library, the gym, the aquarium, the baseball and basketball games, the plays, concerts, Greek societies, dance recitals, movie theaters and, dare I say it...the hoe-downs. Well...someone misses those I'm sure.

Our lives aren't given by government or our employer...and those aren't the things COVID is really stripping from us. Our lives are given by God and made rich by each other and the passionate works we do together...even those some of us here think are unworthy pursuits."


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Fear: The Mind-Killer

It really shocks me how the Kung Flu has turned off people's brains.

I don't have a solid position on whether this virus is truly serious or overblown because the available data are trash - we definitely don't have the true denominator for the CFR, and we may not even have an accurate numerator - and the expert opinions I've seen are profoundly divided. But even if the worst is true, I still believe certain local responses have been ridiculous in the extreme.

I was listening to one of my favorite YouTubers last night, and he reported that in his town (in southern Texas, I believe), authorities had actually spent money ripping picnic tables out of the ground and carrying them away. Granted, this virus can apparently survive on surfaces for quite some time, but -- wouldn't it be easier to install a disinfectant dispenser and some signage urging people to wipe things down before and after they use them?

I also saw a video on Twitter last night in which a gaggle of cops literally dragged a guy off a bus because he wasn't wearing a mask. My reaction? Er -- wouldn't it be far less traumatic (and fascistic) to simply distribute masks to people who aren't wearing them in public? Because I gotta tell ya: Mom and I had trouble procuring masks for ourselves, and I suspect lots of other people have experienced the same difficulty. (Come to think of it, the aforementioned YouTuber did note his own inability to find a mask in the same video in which he was laughing at the picnic table fiasco.)

It's certainly reasonable to discourage large gatherings because those tend to be plague vectors (as anyone who's suffered from a few cases of con crud will tell you) -- but shouldn't the definition of "large" be dependent on the actual space in which a theoretical gathering is being held? And shouldn't the same go for store capacity? If you own a tiny storefront - like the guy selling comics half a mile down the road from me - you probably should limit entry to less than 10 at a time. But if you're Home Depot? Obviously, you can hold more without jeopardizing everyone's ability to distance themselves from other shoppers. So why the blanket pronouncements regarding which businesses are allowed to be open, what they're allowed to sell, and how many people they can serve at a time? Why not just issue guidance to all business owners regarding how many customers they should admit at a time based on their available square footage and then let the business owners work out for themselves what exactly they need to do to keep everyone safe?

And by the way, couldn't similar guidance be issued to religious institutions?

I honestly don't think keeping people six feet away from each other requires we stop people from going to the park, surfing in the ocean, running on the beach, worshiping God in public, or taking drives in their own cars. I don't even think it requires draconian shutdowns of most economic activity (see the paragraph above) -- and I believe it's outright vile to encourage snitching on one's neighbors. Yet the restrictions keep escalating beyond all bounds of common sense. So what the holy hell is going on?

Well, first of all, it seems clear that some people are just power-tripping -- especially politicians and most especially leftist politicians, who've been dying to control people since they entered public life.

But the rest? The ones who are meekly taking the abuse? There, I think we're dealing with fear -- and a loss of the understanding of optimization. Yeah: using the measures I suggested above involves some risk that people won't heed the advice. I get it: lots of people are stupid. But should we really direct government power towards abolishing stupidity? Is that even possible?

No. Life, alas, cannot be made perfectly safe without doing untold damage to human well-being. So what we've always done, historically, is toggle the various risks until we've achieved what we feel is the best balance between competing objectives. That's why we've kept alcohol legal and have been moving towards fully legalizing pot -- even though it's demonstrably the case that abuse of those mind-altering substances causes damage to addicts and to the people around them. That's why some highways have posted speed limits in excess of 75 mph -- even though your chances of dying in a wreck increase the faster you're traveling.

Bottom line at the end: don't let panic smother your ability to think. Contrary to what seems to be the popular belief, you can take this pandemic seriously without fully surrendering your natural rights. Please don't let goose-stepping officials tell you the opposite.

(Because I'm expecting push-back on this, please note: I will not let your comment go through moderation if you accuse me of wanting grandma to die for the sake of Wall Street or anything similar. I will also decline to let your comment go through if you accuse me of downplaying the need for at least some preventative public health measures. This is a space for accurate reading comprehension and rational discussion, not invective. Disagree if you wish, but do so in good faith. Thanks.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Five Links

The Comprehensive Timeline of China’s COVID-19 Lies, Jim Geraghty

Another essential read on China's culpability. China lied, people died.

Via Local Commie Underlings, Beijing Officially Disapproves, Tim Blair

Read the epic Aussie fisking that recently went viral!

False Media Narrative of Red State Negligence In Wuhan Virus Response, Stacey Matthews

Experts Give Wyoming an 'F' for Social Distancing, Which Is All You Need to Know About Experts, Jim Treacher

These cover the same theme: that ignoring regional differences and demanding that Trump nationalize our pandemic response is deeply, deeply irrational.

(And you know what's also irrational, oh by the way? Arresting people just for being outside, where it's stupidly easy to stay six feet apart. There's absolutely no reason to bar people from playing t-ball in the park or paddle-boarding in the ocean -- other than to exercise fascistic power over others.)

Dave Barry confronts coronavirus armed with bandanas and ready to stock up on spatulas

Dave's characterization of the news right now is highly accurate -- and I definitely laughed at his complete inability to sew. I'm not an award-winning costume designer like my mother, but I do know how to sew on a button!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Encouraging Helplessness

There's a consistent theme I'm noticing in the left's response to our current situation that I think requires comment. Sayeth the Twitterati:
  • "Governor [Name] had to act because Trump's not doing anything! How terrible!"
  • "Why should we depend on a private charity to build a field hospital? Our government sucks!"
  • "Why isn't Trump instituting a national quarantine? He doesn't care!"
  • "Trump should nationalize [insert essential industry here] and force these businesses to make [critical item]! Why is he sitting on his hands?"
Have you spotted the thread that ties all of that bitching and moaning together? Why yes: it's that these folks don't understand the United States constitutional system. Like -- at all. Not even a little bit. They expect Trump to act like the god-emperor of the memes - not like the chief executive of a federal system he actually is - because they've been maleducated into helplessness and stupidity.

The Founders didn't design our country to be run from a single administration in Washington. For one thing, they legitimately distrusted that sort of centralized power. For another thing, they understood that the U.S. is both enormous and diverse and therefore can't be run effectively by D.C. bureaucrats with zero intimate knowledge of each individual region. No: said Founders intended for governors, mayors, and private citizens to take up some of the responsibilities of governing because it's those people who will know best how to handle the unique challenges of their respective localities. And that holds true even in a pandemic!

There are certain places - cities, mainly - that require more supplies and stiffer restrictions because higher population density means a greater susceptibility to widespread infection. (Which reveals an evolutionary reason why lots of people love sprawl, eh?) And there are other places - rural areas - that are at lower risk. It's simply not rational to tell the three people who live in Wyoming that they need to follow the exact same guidelines as the people who live in New York.  (I kid, I kid. Wyoming's great.) Hell, it's not even rational to tell every county and city in a single state to follow one standard! Arlington, Virginia, is a massive hot spot (relatively speaking); unincorporated Rappahannock County - the location of our new homestead - has still not reported a single case. That's because the former is very urban and the latter is in the middle of nowhere! 

Different places have different needs. And who's in the best position to know those needs? Local politicians -- not Trump and his task force. The only thing Trump can and should do is offer support if it should be requested from below. Otherwise, people closer to the situation absolutely do need to take charge -- not sit around in a stupor waiting for Daddy Fed to tell them what to do.

We Americans are not supposed to sit on our thumbs. That's not what our Founders wanted for us. Thank eff my late father taught me that so I don't fall for the bull excrement that passes for intelligent commentary in our media.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

My New BUYcott

A few years ago, my brother, my sister-in-law, and I were at the Topsfield Fair rolling through the hucksters' building in an attempt to avoid a rain shower when Matt - taking in all the people selling massage chairs, housewares, homemade condiments, and various chindogus - said something quite profound: "This is the beauty of America right here -- people with dreams hanging up shingles to sell you something they believe in."

(That was a paraphrase, but it still captures the essence of his observation.)

Matt wasn't wrong. I mean, there is more to the idea of America than commerce, obviously. There is also our (perennially threatened) tradition of limited government and our commitment - as expressed in the Declaration of Independence - to uphold each man's natural rights. But an economic freedom that allows the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish is fundamentally American too; that freedom, in fact, is an embodiment of our rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Thus, it is eminently legitimate to point to a guy selling reusable hand-warmers at a country fair and declare him worthy of special celebration.

Unfortunately, we've been saddled with a media class that overwhelmingly fails to understand the quintessential American-ness of our yeoman businessmen. On the contrary, these Twitter Blue Checks would sneer at our hand-warmer salesman and proclaim him an inferior sort. "Ugh," they'd think. "How incredibly gauche to spend your life hustling. How unrefined." It would never cross their mind that surviving in the open marketplace takes skills -- skills we might need at a moment requiring a massive re-purposing of our manufacturing infrastructure.

That's one reason why so many journalists snickered at Mike Lindell yesterday. The other reason, of course, is that, like many recovering addicts, he talks about God a lot. (I recognized the NA/AA mindset as soon as I heard him speak.) But like our Topsfield hucksters, Lindell is a fantastic American exemplar. He pulled himself out of the gutter and into the upper class with a random brainwave he had in the middle of the night -- and when his country needed him, he stepped up without being coerced and started making masks. For that, he absolutely deserved his moment in the Rose Garden. For that, he deserves our business.

So I hereby announce a MyPillow BUYcott:

Because 'Murica.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

We Don't Need Control from Above

From Bart Hall on Facebook:

Truckers are saying "fuck the log rules, I'm hauling" and they're getting supplies to the stores. People are stocking the shelves all night and letting old people shop first. Folks are buying meals for truckers, who (obviously) can't go through the drive-ups. Asking 'em what they want, then buying it for them.

Carnival Cruise Line has told Trump “We can match those big Navy Hospital ships with some fully staffed cruise ships”.

GM and Ford have said "hold our cars and watch this -- we can make ventilators where we were just making car parts, starting next week" -- by re-engineering seat ventilators which their engineers hacked together for a new purpose. In under a week.

In a project with which I'm loosely associated, a very-effective agricultural disease-control agent was re-purposed and re-labeled specifically for Corona-virus control by the FDA and EPA in under ten days, from initial request to distribution.

Restaurants and schools have said, "we’ve got kitchens and staff; we can feed the poor kids who used have school lunch.”

NBA basketball players have said, “Hold our basketballs while we write checks to pay the arena staff.”

Construction companies are saying, “Here are some high-end masks for medical staff and doctors”.

Distilleries are making sanitizer out of distilling "heads and tails" which are normally discarded. Nasty shit to drink, but effective sanitizer.

People are tipping grocery check-out clerks and thanking them for taking the risk.

Local, state, and county governments are taking control of everything the feds cannot do. Some are doing it wrong, but for the first time in decades ... they're doing it. Federalism is re-emerging, and the smallest unit of government is the individual and the family. This, too, is re-emerging after decades of dormancy.

As Japanese Admiral Isokuru Yamamoto said, after Pearl Harbor ... “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

I sense this has just happened. We have a wonderful country, the greatest single force for good in all human history. We have closed our borders, with good reason, yet we have top medical people now assisting North Korea in their response to the virus.

Many things have been re-set, and will never be the same.

By microbiological accident, we are living in profoundly transformative historical times.

Amen, Bart. Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Idiots in Power

Well, well. I've certainly been forcefully reminded why I hate our elite power-brokers. Have you?

(Stupid question, I'm sure.)

It's really effing simple: We need immediate temporary cash relief for every American who's taking it in the teeth during this shutdown. We need aid to small businesses that have been forced to shutter or severely limit operations. We need to devote funds to research into this pathogen so we can find a way to combat it quickly and get the economy started again. And we need to spend some more money expanding our hospital capacity so that similar pandemics won't necessitate extreme responses in the future. That's it.

What we don't need is bullshit -- no matter who's shoving it in. We don't need corporate diversity quotas, stealth Green New Deals, or bailouts for the well-connected. But of course, our aforementioned elites simply can't help themselves. Cynical opportunists that they are, they're determined not to let a good crisis go to waste -- even if that means screwing the rest of us.

Why do we keep voting these assholes into office? What the hell's the matter with us?

I've also been firmly convinced that large swaths of our media class are now full-on enemies of the people. I know that seems extreme, but what else am I supposed to conclude when so many of them are using one couple's straight-up stupidity - fish tank cleaner is not the same thing as hydroxychloroquine, you filthy liars - to discredit a possible treatment for C-19?

Obviously the jury's still out on the hydroxychloroquine/z-pak combo, but that's really my point: we should be allowed to explore this without all the shrieking and deeply misleading headlines claiming that hydroxychloroquine is poison. I have news for you, media douchecanoes: when I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the first things Dr. B put me on were prednisone and hydroxychloroquine. True: I was told at the time that the hydroxychloroquine might damage my eyesight over the long term and that I should start seeing an ophthalmologist on a regular basis. But if we're talking about using hydroxychloroquine to treat a respiratory infection like C-19, we're not talking about long-term use.

Clearly, these reporters know jack shit about medicine. Lots of meds are poison, actually. The prednisone I'm still on is weakening my bones and trashing my teeth. Methotrexate can damage my liver. And if I ever get back on a biologic like Enbrel or Humira, I may develop serious infections or lymphoma. But those of us with chronic medical conditions are willing to take those risks if it means an alleviation of our disabling symptoms. Similarly, whatever dangers may come with short-term therapeutic doses of hydroxychloroquine might be totally worth courting if it means fewer people die of coronavirus-induced ARDS.

In conclusion: shut the eff up, CNN, and let the adults in the room do the necessary research. None of us are interested in your petty attempts to get the Orange Man. What we want are real, nonpartisan solutions to our current predicament.

ETA: Thank you, Matt, for your sane and critical voice!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Coronavirus Inspires Clowns to Self-Identify

A series of grumpy thoughts.

The other day, I was mostly amused by the newly popular charge of bigotry that was zipping around Twitter. Lefties gonna lefty, right?

Now, however, I'm legitimately angry that this bullshit is still being spread. Are we really doing this? Are we really treating pro-CCP propaganda as legitimate? We're talking about a government that right now is frog-marching its ethnic minorities into concentration camps. We're talking about a government that muzzled its own doctors when they attempted to sound warnings last fall about this emergent disease -- and a government that rejected offers of US aid.

Obviously, this should not blow back on ordinary East Asian people. It's not their fault the Chinese government is evil. But take care in your zeal to appear unprejudiced that you don't cover up the truth: COVID-19 originated in China. The Chinese government then tried to cover it up, which permitted the virus to spread beyond Chinese borders. If you're actually buying into the narrative that calling this disease the Wuhan Virus or the Chinese Virus is racist, you're a dupe at best -- and the rest of us are absolutely within our rights to flip you off and call you names.

Also, I'm a little confused: What exactly was Trump supposed to do weeks ago? Because I guaran-damn-tee that if he had been aggressive any earlier - if, for example, he had restricted foreign travel before the panic set in - his detractors would've complained about his xenophobia.

Yes, the feds were slow to respond. But how much of that was Trump, how much of that was the bureaucracy and its standing regulations, and how much of that was a lack of reliable data? We must carefully tease out all sources of error; tarring Trump alone with the blame is the simpleton's response.

There are many things the administration is doing right now that are sound reactions to the situation. Pushing back the tax deadline? Yes, good idea. Allowing people to consult with their doctors remotely? Also a good idea. Bringing in private-sector partners to distribute more test kits to the public? Excellent! Devolving some of the responsibility to state and local governments? Eminently constitutional -- despite what a certain idiot at the Bulwark thinks.

The roll-out of all of this was not without its hiccups, but try to have some perspective. There are very few countries who are dealing with this pandemic 100% successfully. Actually, most of Europe is doing much, much worse.

ETA: I'm kicking myself for forgetting this, but all y'all Twitter socialists posting galaxy-brained hot takes about our temporarily empty grocery aisles can kindly STFU. Yes: a capitalist nation in a crisis looks like a socialist nation on any random Tuesday. By Jove, you've got us!

Lastly, if you're reading this, you probably know this already, but: you can't trust anything the mainstream media report. They lie routinely about everything Trump and his surrogates say; indeed, in just the past few days, the media have spread rumors about a national quarantine (false) and have claimed that Trump told states looking for respirators that they were on their own (also false). So for heaven's sake, double and triple check anything alarming you hear on the news before you go off half-cocked -- because the probability approaches one that if it sounds scary, it's been purposefully distorted.

Stay calm, stay alert, and God bless you all.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The End of the World (Except Not Really)

So how have you been enjoying the apocalypse? Speaking for myself, I'm still trying to find toilet paper. (Just found some!) Oh: and I'm wondering whether I'm going to lose all my clientele and, subsequently, my job if our corporate headquarters fails to get their rumored online platform up and running.

As I believe I've mentioned before, I work at an after school tutoring center in the Northern Virginia area, which is rapidly becoming a hot spot for COVID-19 as we speak. As far as I can tell, all of the cases recorded here are related to international travel - in particular, a certain Nile River cruise - but my kids' parents are peppering our business manager with leave requests anyway. Based on her texts and emails to me, the poor woman is consequently going insane.

I'm not going to say we shouldn't be concerned; I know I'm concerned because I have an aging mother at home who's on oxygen, and this may be worse than the flu for people in that particular bracket. (I honestly don't know because I don't know who to trust at this point.) To be sure, we definitely need to keep an eye on the news - like we should if, say, there were a tornado watch - and follow the advice of medical professionals regarding hygiene and social distancing (advice that, by the way, we should heed even in the absence of a global pandemic). But we still need to be rational. We don't need to buy whole pallets of toilet paper to get through this -- and I don't think you need to worry (at least right now) about sending your kids to a program at which, at any one time, there are only 13 or 14 people in the building. (Our branch is a very tiny operation. But if you're an expert and you think I'm wrong, please let me know in the comments.)

As other people have said, full-scale panic is only going to make it more difficult to help the populations who are actually vulnerable.

In fairness, though, I think I know why we've descended into chaos over this: we no longer trust our institutions -- and for legitimate reasons. The media in particular are not covering themselves in glory, as they seem to be more interested in shilling for the Chinese government than in sober, accurate analysis. Speaking of which: Wuhan virus, Wuhan virus, Wuhan virus! I will call it what I damn well want to regardless of the marching orders the Blue Checks apparently got from Beijing. If it's not racist to call a certain tick-born illness Lyme Disease because it was first observed in Lyme, well -- shut the hell up and focus on what really matters.

Anyway, enough with the serious commentary. Let's get to the memes -- because if I can't laugh at our predicament, I want off this planet. Below the cut are some of my favorites:

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Prizes for Good Little Girls Syndrome

Thesis: Elizabeth Warren lost because of sexism.

Wait, wait, don't leave yet! This is not the blog post you think it is. I'm not about to start blathering about supposed "glass ceilings" or whatever. What I want to talk about is the soft sexism of low expectations.

If a woman has spent her life marinating in the left-wing feminist subculture, a few things are highly likely to be true:
  • She's been told she's great - fabulous! - just the way she is.
  • She's been taught to dismiss all push-back as misogynistic.
  • She's been assured that she's entitled to success -- and that any failures to achieve said success are the fault of men.
  • She's been trained to demand that these dastardly men - who are totes holding her back - kindly step aside and let her take the trophy -- whether she's actually earned it or not.
You might think I'm being unfair here, but frankly? I don't agree. Given all the stuff I've read in the news for the past decade plus, I believe I'm right on the money. 

Everywhere I look, I see illustrations of all four of the above bullet points. I hate to keep harping on the fat acceptance movement, but really: isn't that a textbook example of point number one? Go ahead, ladies: eff those unrealistic beauty standards and rock on with your 300 pound selves. Yas, queen, slay! (And don't worry that you can't make it up a single flight of stairs without getting winded. The negative impacts of extreme obesity are way over-stated, amirite?)

Then there are all the times leftists of the distaff persuasion have thrown down the poor-me-I'm-being-harassed-by-meanie-sexist-men card each time they start losing an online argument. To be sure, in the absolute dumpster fire that is internet discourse, such women probably do get burned with the occasional "die, bitch!" PM or email. But as I noted on my fan blog, men get that crap too -- and oddly, I don't see them whining about it nearly as often. (Probably because crying doesn't work for men. Only women get picked up by the waaaaaambulance.)

And just to hit on bullets three and four: everywhere I look, I see leftists justifying moves to ease standards to give vag a hand up. Just last month, for example, it was reported that Oxford is considering removing Homer and Virgil from a foundational classics course due to "attainment gaps between male and female candidates." Don't buckle down and study your Latin and Greek, dears. We'll remove that pesky obstacle for you. And oh my great and fluffy Lord, I can't even count the number of times I've heard feminists complain about the academic weeding that goes on in engineering or computer science -- because apparently, advanced math is oppressive and patriarchal. As a woman who numbers pretty good - indeed, I even teach that stuff for a living! - I headdesk so hard whenever I hear this BS that I'm surprised my skull is still intact.

Where does all this anal-smoke-blowing lead? When you're told constantly that you should get prizes simply for being a good little girl - as leftist women are - the result is predictable: you stop developing. If you're already Ms. Polly Perfect, well -- that obviates the need for critical self-examination and the consequent moves towards self-improvement. If your naysayers are all dismissible as "women-hating men bitter over the loss of their privilege" (or as women suffering from "internalized misogyny"), then your arguments are almost certainly untested and malformed. And if people have always been clearing the road for you and shielding you from any real challenges, you're no doubt much stupider than your competition -- and much weaker.

In short, if you're a leftist woman, you have not been equipped to survive in the hurly-burly world of American politics.

If you've come up in the anti-feminist milieu, on the other hand, you've learned to fight -- and you've learned to take ownership of your agency. That's because anti-feminists, in my view, have far more faith in women and their abilities. Anti-feminists, in the end, are the true anti-sexists.

So to circle back to the beginning: Like Clinton, Warren didn't fail in her bid for the presidency because of the so-called misogyny of the voting public; she failed because she's been surrounded by yes men who've never bothered to tell her how unlikable she really is. (And oh yes: the naked pandering to the left's various mascots and the lying about her heritage probably didn't help either.)

Warren was the victim of sexism -- just not in the way her cheerleaders think.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Compassion vs. Foolishness

From a post originally written in 2016:

Hold on to your hats, folks: I'm about to discuss some more psychology. In particular, I'm going discuss the phenomenon of pathological altruism.

Pathological altruism manifests in many ways. You have, for example, the enabler: the family member or friend who financially supports a substance abuser because he wishes to rescue the addict from a life on the street. Drug treatment professionals are in near 100% agreement that enabling prevents recovery; it shields their patients from the worst consequences of their actions and therefore removes a powerful motivation for getting clean. Enabling, however, is so strong a temptation for an addict's loved ones that entire programs have been created for the sole purpose of dealing with its destructive force.

Another example: the animal hoarder. Hoarders genuinely feel for all the poor, abandoned creatures they take into their homes. Along the way, however, they lose sight of reality. They don't notice that their animals are constantly sickly -- or that their houses are coated in fecal matter and collapsing all around them -- or that they're struggling to pay the rent or keep the lights on because they're blowing their budgets on pet food. Pulling a hoarder out of this situation is traumatic and usually involves intensive psychotherapy.

A final - and even more common - example: the indulgent parent. Parents spoil their children not because they intend to raise brats but because they can't stand to hear their babies cry. But of course, if you give a child everything he wants and consistently puff up his self-esteem, you don't end up with a happy, healthy adult. Instead, you end up with a brittle perpetual adolescent who cannot regulate his emotions, delay gratification, display humility, or show empathy for others. You end up, in other words, with a campus activist who shoves undeserving students into walls and screams obscenities in their faces because his demands are not being immediately satisfied.

Pathological altruism is a clinical name for the disordered definition of love I've discussed in earlier posts. It is to compassion what psychopathy or sociopathy is to simple selfishness, and in many situations - obviously - it can be just as damaging. The problem, you see, is that this kind of altruism is divorced from rationality and truth. It encourages recklessness and cocoons people in their lies.

The left has chided us right-leaning folks for ages for our "failure to be kind." But it is not fundamentally kind to bankroll a man's bad habits with the federal purse; not only is that stealing money from people who might've used it more wisely, but it is also insulting the recipient's basic human dignity by implicitly denying his agency. It is, to put it frankly, a form of enabling. Likewise, it is not fundamentally kind to release violent criminals into the general population in the name of "mercy" and "rehabilitation." Again, I believe in the possibility of redemption as much as the next Christian, but prudence, friends! Prudence matters. Without it, you will needlessly injure - or even kill - innocent people...

Please keep the above in mind each time you hear certain politicians promise endless free crap. TANSTAAFL. But more importantly, it's the opposite of moral to reach into other people's pockets while pretending to be generous.