Saturday, May 15, 2021

Not With a Pang But a Simper

Update: The original version version of this post was deleted by Blogger during a long moment of weirdness at the platform, after a complaint, they said at various points, that it might contain a virus or malware,. or represented a phishing attack. So I posted this version, eliminating a couple of hyperlinks I thought might be the problem, if there actually was a problem, which there apparently wasn't, since they have now reinstated it, or rather allowed me to reinstate it. 


 Both versions have attracted great comments, so I'm leaving both of them up.

 

Recently I took a friend with no more than a University of Chicago history B.A. and a seven-figure salary writing 800 words a week for the middlebrow New York Times to listen to some intellectual talk. Insensitively, I brought him to a conference at Bryn Mawr College, where students are well-steeped in doctrines of intersectionality, "white fragility", anti-racism, and all the rest. Suddenly, I saw his face grow dark and panicky as he looked at the schedule and its unfamiliar words like "heteronormativity", "cisgender", and "patriarchal". Quickly, I asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else and with a fearful gesture he assented and we went instead to the local Y, where we listened to a nice talk about five ideas from social psychology that can help you turn your life around.

Yes, it's David F. Brooks acknowledging that maybe  his conservative friends ought to lighten up a little bit on the wokeness threat ("How Wokeness Ends"), in the first place because it's a case of the curate's egg, good in parts:

Friday, May 14, 2021

Wokeness Gets Weirder


Recently I took a friend with no more than a University of Chicago history B.A. and a seven-figure salary writing 800 words a week for the middlebrow New York Times to listen to some intellectual talk. Insensitively, I brought him to a conference at Bryn Mawr College, where students are well-steeped in doctrines of intersectionality, "white fragility", anti-racism, and all the rest. Suddenly, I saw his face grow dark and panicky as he looked at the schedule and its unfamiliar words like "heteronormativity", "cisgender", and "patriarchal". Quickly, I asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else and with a fearful gesture he assented and we went instead to the local Y, where we listened to a nice talk about five ideas from social psychology that can help you turn your life around.

Yes, it's David F. Brooks acknowledging that maybe  his conservative friends ought to lighten up a little bit on the wokeness threat ("How Wokeness Ends"), in the first place because it's a case of the curate's egg, good in parts:

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Decodification

 

Via Theories of Media and Communication/University of Westminster.

This is really interesting, from a Rectification standpoint, on North Carolina's ban of "critical race theory" in the schools, from State Senator Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg County, and running to replace retiring US Senator Richard Burr, with a good chance of winning, and you might want to show him some love):

That's not just a self-own, it's a new word, or at least a new meaning for "decodify", which used to just be a four-syllable way of saying "decode", though it can also be for removing a provision from the law (as in being the secretary whose job is to pull some language out of the code after the legislature has repealed it, which isn't sinister), or doing it without the legislature (which is kind of sinister), as in this dire, but possibly accurate, prediction from Sarah Kendzior, October 2020:

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Literary Corner: Holy Fool

The holy fool Private Kozma Prutkov, creation of the 19th-century novelist and satirist Aleksei Tolstoy, in a drawing by M. Dormer (Nature, June 2000). Asked which was more important, the sun or the moon, he replied, "The moon, of course! It shines at night, when we need the light, while the sun only shines in the daytime!" (Probably stolen by the Russians from the Muslim folk hero Mullah Nasreddin.)

 

The Moon's Orbit Is Apparently Changing Some

by Louis Buller Gohmert, Jr.

Yeah, well, we can't
do anything substantive
about the climate change
right now,
when the moon's orbit
is apparently changing some,
the earth's orbit is changing some,
according to NASA.
But we can do something
about people that will continue
to die getting across
our border.

Elle ne regrette rien


I got stuck in irritation at Jonathan Chait and his complaints last week ("Elizabeth Warren’s Book Shows She Has No Idea Why Her Campaign Failed") about Elizabeth Warren's memoir, Persist, which fails to be the book he wants to read, which will explain the thing he feels he already knows, which is that "progressive" Democrats in 2020 were so "disoriented" by the way the 2016 election had overturned all their assumptions about "electability" that they found themselves inside a "bubble" of believing the assumptions weren't true: 

Persist, Elizabeth Warren’s new memoir of her life and presidential campaign, is an excellent and informative account of how that bubble  formed. Her campaign was perhaps a prime case study in the delirious post-2016 atmosphere and the errors in political judgment it produced.

The problem is that she is so deep inside that bubble she seems not to recognize it for what it was. She can paint a compelling portrait of what the inside of the Democratic Party activist bubble looked like, but shows no awareness that there is anything outside of the bubble, or even that she was inside of one.

Excuse me, sir, this is an Arby's. Or, less metaphorically, a traditional inspirational text about the importance of persistence, and anything but a political operative's autopsy of a failed campaign. It opens not with the sorrow of her quitting the presidential campaign in March 2020 but the exhilaration of watching Biden and Harris winning in November, and eager anticipation of the hard work that must come next, and she remarks,

Monday, May 10, 2021

Conservatives Against Capitalism

Casting a vote for Chancellor Hitler's party, which took pretty good care of you if you were a member of the right group. Photo via Quartz, 2017.


Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, has a pretty oddly structured argument ("Is Capitalism Killing Conservatism?"), starting, in the first place, with the "grim" news of the falling birthrate in the US.

paragraph 1:

The report on Wednesday that U.S. birthrates fell to a record low in 2020 was expected but still grim. On Twitter the news was greeted, characteristically, by conservative laments and liberal comments implying that it’s mostly conservatism’s fault — because American capitalism allegedly makes parenthood unaffordable, work-life balance impossible and atomization inevitable.

Without saying exactly what's grim about it, though you can assume he's one of the characteristically lamenting conservatives. And reading into the comments of liberals something more than they (actually, she—there's only one of them) actually said:

What makes him think Vega is decrying "conservatism"?  Other than his own tacit assumption, you know, that that is where American capitalism comes from? And what does he mean by "atomization"? 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Maybe she's just smarter than Kevin

Illustration by hotlittlepotato via Wired.

An interesting claim in this WaPo story: Liz Cheney seems to think there is evidence she has the politics right, and party management seems to be trying to hide the evidence from members:

When staff from the National Republican Congressional Committee [at an April retreat] rose to explain the party’s latest polling in core battleground districts, they left out a key finding about Trump’s weakness, declining to divulge the information even when directly questioned about Trump’s support by a member of Congress, according to two people familiar with what transpired.

Trump’s unfavorable ratings were 15 points higher than his favorable ones in the core districts, according to the full polling results, which were later obtained by The Washington Post. Nearly twice as many voters had a strongly unfavorable view of the former president as had a strongly favorable one.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Distrust Doom Loop

Doom Loop: Richmond Mural Project 2014, by Onur and Wes21, photo by Brandon Bartoszek, 2019.

Breaking: On further consideration, Brooks ("Our Pathetic Herd Immunity Failure") thinks the New Deal may have been OK:

The New Deal was an act of social solidarity that created the national cohesion we needed to win World War II. I am not in the habit of supporting massive federal spending proposals. But in this specific context — in the midst of a distrust doom loop — this is our best shot of reversing the decline.

Not, to be sure, because it rescued millions of Americans from hunger, homelessness, and despair, but because it created "cohesion". Which prepared us for the Second World War. And probably would have prepared us for the Covid-19 pandemic too, if we'd only had a good Great Depression beforehand for an excuse. You don't want a New Deal every day, because that's awfully expensive, but it's just the thing to get you out of a Distrust Doom Loop  (the phrase sounds like Tom Friedman having a panic attack, but is Brooks's own, premiered in an article in The Atlantic last October).

Maybe if Trump had offered people a little New Deal in 2019, he'd have saved us from the Distrust Doom Loop of 2020.

And if something had given David Brooks more of a social cohesion feeling he would have handled it better himself, almost exactly a year ago, as our friend reminds us: