Monday, September 30, 2019

Hong Kong

I don't know what I can do for the protestors in Hong Kong, other than mention them, and pray for them.

Take a moment to pray for them now.  They also have families and children and lives and careers in jeopardy.  Yet they persist. This is what a real resistance looks like.

Paying College Athletes

I don't care so much about the issue - it affects me not in the least. But I care about logic, and there is plenty of faulty reasoning going on about the issue.

The athletes for the two major sports, football and men's basketball at big schools get given much of value.  Twenty-year-olds don't always understand much about value, however. They are given excellent room and board.  The recent stories of basketball players complaining they didn't have enough for meals in college reveals that they sold meal tickets because they wanted the cash.  They are offered plenty of food.  The receive excellent medical care.  Because their health is one of the main things the school is interested in, the school makes sure they get MRIs and other diagnostic tests, proper medication, diagnoses and treatment even for injuries and conditions they did not acquire on the playing fields. You have to be quite wealthy to get better medical care. I fully admit that their risks are higher. Nonetheless, it's very good care.

They have a built in social life, plus a significant leg up in status on campus.  Not that everyone loves athletes, but plenty do admire them and want to be with them. They also have a network to draw on for future jobs, if they choose to use it.  There are plenty of alums who like to know people on the team and are glad to invite them places. They have businesses and know others who do too. These aren't a guarantee, but they are an advantage.

I haven't even mentioned the education yet, have I?  That's actually more of a mixed bag. Not all these athletes can benefit much from it.  They get some benefit from acquiring credits or even a degree even if they are clueless, but most of that is temporary.  People will find out soon enough they were carried through.  Still, they are likely to pick up something, and demonstrating that you can at least show up regularly has value to employers. But some sportswriters overvalue the education given.  Yes, it was a great gift to you, who could not have afforded it otherwise, but not everyone can avail themselves of it.

Value isn't enough for some of the athletes. There is one creditable reason for this and one immature one.  The good reason is that it feels strange and unfair for them to live in comfort while their families back home are still poor. They may get great medical care, but it's their younger sister who needs it more. It must feel strange to eat well when you know that Mom and the siblings are not.

The bad reason is that what they really want is spending money, to show off, to live large. That's not unusual in a 20-year-old, but it doesn't mean we have to regard it as a legitimate complaint.

The next set of problems is a false belief of how much they are going to make.  The athletes and their advocates claim that the school makes money off their image, which they should be entitled to some of. No, that's pretty generic.  If you weren't there in the team picture someone else would be, Jason. It's the school who makes you money, if you end up going pro. They gave you the launching pad.  At the beginning of last season, Zion Williamson was one of 3-4 players viewed as about equal.  Had all of them gone directly to the pros, he would not have been as big a deal nor commanded as much money and a shoe contract.  Getting the chance to show he was better at Duke got him drafted #1.  Autographs?  Please.  How many other than Zion could have sold autographs last year? The same goes for shirts, balls, wristbands.  There isn't the market for college players they think there is.

The feeling that the athletes should be paid comes from something else.  Because some other people make money, and they are involved in the process, people feel some money should flow to the athlete. It just feels more fair.  But as above, it isn't the athlete who is bringing most of the value to the equation, it's the school.  It's what's on the front of the shirt, not the back. Yes, it does help when a smaller school gets a star or a collection of semi-stars and gets into the national spotlight for a year or two.  In those situations, the athlete is providing some value added.  But not much. That can only happen on a foundation of already-existing value.

The best college players are already convinced that their real peer group is the pros, who make a lot of money.  Yet that is only half-true.  Only half of them are going to succeed and make a lot of money in the pros.  Their college teammates, having come that close to glory, believe they are just one tick less worthy than that, and hence worth a lot of money as well.  As I have said before about sports, no one of them has any intrinsic value. Make the basketball a little bigger, make the strike zone a little lower, make the football field a little smaller - or change a few rules in any sport - and different players will succeed. Tennis is arbitrary. Being almost as good but not having any entertainment or teaching value is worth no money at all.

I understand that it feels bad.  Football players show up to school early, put in a lot of effort, injure themselves, work hard, and it feels like they should be compensated for that.  They are, just not in spending money.

Bilbo Baggins

I have lots of these videos stored up.  I could go on a long time.

Rocket Man

Tell me how you really feel about this Mr. Taupin.

Most-Visited Posts #26-30

Sometimes all it takes to finally understand a topic is One Fact. November 2016

Local Aristocracy and Nationalisation of Culture. A cultural change in my lifetime. November 2017

Kazimir Malevich.  In trying to solve a puzzle about this painter, I learned that I was entirely wrong, and there was no puzzle. But I learned a fair bit in trying. January 2018

Chesterton Through The Eyes of Borges. This is fun if you like either author, extra fun if you like them both. June 2011

Nigger. A discussion of the use of the word, or more exactly, who gets to use it and how weird this is to those of us who just refuse to ever use it. I think the ground has already changed since I wrote this in November 2013.  Many comments, some deleted.

As I Just Said about Hoaxes

This was the story I wanted you to notice.  (Update:  I had not yet read Richard Johnson's comment.) It was too convenient. The sixth-grade boys did not attack the girl. But it would have been so cool if they did, because not only does Mike Pence's wife work there, but it's a private Christian school. Tough when reality doesn't work out for you like that.

So right off the bat, the sixth-grade boys were carrying scissors out to recess in a coordinated effort to cut the girls hair?  Then they waited all recess, accurately timing until just before the bell to jump her, cut a little hair and insult her, then run off laughing just as the bell rang? Really? Do you know any sixth-grade boys? Next, Sixth grade boys don't think in the large abstractions necessary to insult someone by saying "You should never have been born." It is possible, certainly, that one of them could have heard an older person use that insult, or sometimes a certain insult will make the rounds in an area and drop down as far as the sixth graders, but sixth-graders don't think like that. That they said her hair was nappy was also possible, but unlikely.  Calling it ugly was always possible.  That is something sixth-grade boys might say.

Also, grandmother takes this story to the news. Red flag. Parents and guardians with legitimate gripes can eventually do such things, but usually they exhaust the possibilities with the school first - or the school doubles down in some way to signal that they aren't going to listen.  Those things are possible.  They do happen.  But when that is bypassed it's a bad sign.

It is also possible that they have been teasing her since school started and she based a dramatic lie off that truth. We apparently aren't going to get details if that's true. I'm guessing not. The statements released by the school and the hoaxer's family suggest otherwise, but those were carefully planned statements, designed that there be no leakage.

This sounds like a sad little girl in the custody of her grandmother who feels ugly and that her blackness is unwelcome and has wished at times she had never been born, so she puts that off on others in accusation.  Victimhood was the solution that occurred to her.  That is not new.  I remember kids at school and camp embracing victimhood. Heck, I tended that way myself in childish romantic relationships.  Self-pity can be powerful, and is not uncommon at that age.  I think we do worry that the victimhood solution is more common now, and adults are more ready to believe it without looking at it closely.

How To Spot A Hoax

It looks like it's time to reprint this, just seven months later. Well, it was coming up anyway, in my most-visited posts. 


Well, one kind of hoax, anyway. I'm not a general hoax expert.

When the story is just too perfect, when it fits the stereotype that the hoax perpetrator wants to believe, that's a big clue. Lots of people wanted it to be true that high school boys wearing MAGA hats were saying racist things and even looking a little violent and out of control. So a Native American says "I thought they were going to lynch those black people." Really?  You thought those 16-year-olds were going to pull out some rope and wade into a group of black adults, and start dragging them out one-by-one, looking for a tree branch or a light pole?

But it would just be so cool if they were like that.  I'll bet they would be like that if they only had the chance.  It's not too far-fetched that they could conceivably do that... 

The racist note written to a black student having difficulties at Air Force Prep turn out to be written by - the victim. Yet that doesn't matter so much as the idea that it could have been written by someone else, and weneedtohaveamonologueCONVERSATIONaboutracism, because all those awful people keep denying that racism and sexism exist, so we will have to proceed as if those lacrosse players could have raped that black girl, or Emma Sulkowitz was really assaulted, that Haven Monahan really exists.  There's a new one, some actor, Smollet?  Justy Smollett?  The first I heard of the story, red flags.  Too perfect.  Most real anti-semitic events are just stupid vandalism, and don't have a poetic beauty about their violence and threats.

Real hate crimes are usually crude: some jerk shoves someone while insulting them. Those happen.  Those are real sexism, homophobia, racism, whatever. But they aren't really interesting enough to make the newspapers.  They are over in a minute.  They might involve a possibility of real violence, but they just don't have the sexiness that a real stereotype-fulfilling story does.  The public demands that a gay martyrdom be real, not just a drug deal gone bad with some other guys who worked for the same pimp.

There was a great one last year, about a black doctor who had struggled under difficult conditions working for the poor all day, then some white bigot called him a racial epithet and squealed his tires getting away in the parking garage, laughing.  My cousin posted it.  You know I am not tactful, but I worked really hard at gradually revealing that this was actually fiction.  I didn't use the words "fake news."  Not even at the end when my cousin insisted rather angrily (and another cousin unfriended me over the exchange) that even if it wasn't technically true it was true and important, because real black people go through things like this every day. Except, well, I actually do know a fair number of black doctors, and they all shook their heads and rolled their eyes when I relayed the story over the next two weeks. It should be true, dammit, therefore its falseness is irrelevant.

Yesterday I had a beauty: a woman who claimed that she had encountered a Trump protestor in a MAGA hat and a red, white, & blue top that barely covered her torso - oh, there's a nice touch. Not that no Trump supporter ever dressed that way, but it was very obliging of the woman to be something unsavory as well as stupid in just the right way, isn't it? - who said "But he's our ruler.  We have to do what he says."

Uh, Trump supporters have the opposite problem.  They might say a lot of silly or obnoxious things, but I think we can fairly rule out the docile followers idea.  I've been in many arguments with them online, including here at my own site, and let me assure you, that is not their problem. What you will find are people who say they will refuse to do X, whether the government or even their favorite president says so, and you have to pull them quietly aside and say "Uh, Phil?  You actually do have to do that.  It's the law.  Just sayin'." But hey, it would have been so cool if some trollop actually had said "He's our ruler. We have to do what he says." Those Trump people are so easily led and certainly capable of it, eh? So some woman somewhere - they think - likely said that.  And, probably a lot like that woman it the skimpy top who said something (completely unrelated that doesn't fit my current narrative), and was really annoying. So we can call it true-ish.  True, really.

Give me a break.  You're lying. No one said that.

I am going to guess at the motives or (ahem) reasoning, but I don't insist on these. We don't know others' motives all that well - we seldom even know all of even our own motives - and motives are mixed. Projection is likely. But I think there is this idea that A) they are right-wing, and therefore Justlikenazis not very far below the surface, and we know that real nazis acted like that in another country and completely different cultural context, know...don't you get it? Okay, sure, when you start insisting on things like evidence in 20thC Europe, it was actually the communists who blindly followed leaders, yes.  Franco's Spain and Mussolini's Italy were actually highly factionalised countries just barely held together, okay.  But it just feels  like German nazis are the best comparison here, doesn't it?  Because it would be so cool if Trump's supporters turned out to be just like that. It would vindicate us.

Let me throw in a parenting reassurance for free, because there is a parallel.  When the school calls and says your kid is getting detention and is in trouble for X, you usually know immediately if this is off-the-wall.  All five of my sons were capable of earning a detention, but a few times, there would be this accusation and you would go - hmmm. Not my kid. There is something missing from this story. The school doesn't want to hear your protest, because they deal with parents who are clueless about their kid's misbehavior all the time.  Your protest that "This is not my kid's style of misbehavior" will fall on deaf ears.  But for good parents, you know.  "My could could easily do A, or C, or G. But you are telling me he did E, and there's something wrong here.  Hold on."

Wait, this example is much fairer in reverse.  My children could have been told a story that "Your dad got in trouble for saying X to a ref." For some values of X, that would be quite possible.  Yet for others, my children would shake their head.  Nope.  Not my dad.  Not that one.  Someone is making that up.

Once you know to look for poetic perfection as a disproof, the news becomes easier. Bush splitting from the Air National Guard?  Too perfect.  John Kerry getting hat from a CIA guys?  Too perfect.

Bonus extra credit.  Some autobiographies fit the mold.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

My Dad


Three runners are capable of sub 2:02 this year and have not run against each other.  The record inches closer to 2 hours, but not this year.  However, 2:01 might, might be possible this year, with a few major marathons still up.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

More Pronunciation

People look down on Kentuckians who call their town Ver-SAYLES.  Don't they know it's Ver-SIGH?

Really?  And do they themselves say Pa-REE for the capital of that country? Do they say Moskva - and how do you pronounce "Moskva" anyway, Jasper? - for the towns in Maine and Idaho? Here in NH, that paper mill city on the Androscoggin River is pronounced BER-lin. When I was a child, I thought the Germans just said that wrong.

Roma, Firenze, Torino...

I learned to put the "sh" sound into both Budapest and Bucharest two decades ago through repetition and not wanting to sound wrong to the people there.  So then I come back to America and these sound like something of an affectation.  Wrong either way, I suppose.

When I Was On Horseback

Catch the similarity of some later verses of "The Streets of Laredo," 5,000 miles away.

""Let six jolly cowboys come carry my coffin
Let six pretty gals come to carry my pall
Throw bunches of roses all over my coffin
Throw roses to deaden the clods as they fall"

"Oh, beat the drum slowly, and play the fife lowly
And play the dead march as you carry me along
Take me to the green valley and lay the earth o'er me
For I'm a poor cowboy and I know I've done wrong"

No large surprise.  They both are versions of an 18th C song "The Unfortunate Rake." It is one of many examples of Scots-Irish music in America.  We tend to think of that as an Appalachian phenomenon, but those were the same restless people who settled South and West.  Lots of cowboy songs were Scots-Irish in origin. Engaging in and preventing cattle rustling was big with those crowds as well - same as with the Celtic tribes back in Europe.

"St James Infirmary" is as well.

A Story on Speaking English

Two of my eight great-grandparents were born in Sweden. They spoke Swedish at home* but pushed themselves to speak much English and insisted their children speak it as much as possible, and to speak it correctly.  "Speak English like the American children do at school," she and her siblings were told. In a mill city in the early 1900's, there was something funny about this, as there were immigrants everywhere. My great-aunt Selma protested "But they speak so many kinds of English at school.  Which one should I learn?"

"Isn't the Straw girl in your class?" The Straws were wealthy mill-owners and that school was named after the grandfather. "Speak like she does."

BTW, you can throw the word "patronizing" back at people whichever pronunciation they use, if you think they will get the joke.  "I'm sure you meant PAH-tronizing," or "I'm sure you meant PAY-tronizing" with mock condescension.

*I have mentioned the childhoods of that side of the family before, which were novelised by their cousin Jennie D Lindquist in three children's books.  The first one, The Golden Name Day,  was nominated for the Newbery in 1955.

Friday, September 27, 2019


It is a non-standard pronunciation, more common in southern and midwestern regions, but it does not brand a person as stupid.  Yesterday Sarah Hoyt chided Jimmy Carter for use of that pronunciation, implying ignorance.  I don't recall whether he did use it.  I do know that Bush 43 did, and so did Eisenhower. All it means is that he heard the word in a local vernacular pronunciation before he read it.  Many pronunciations we consider "wrong" fall into this category.  People read a word they have not yet heard, or don't connect it to a word they have heard.  I heard someone say CHAZm instead of KAZm on a podcast, and the next day heard him wonder whether "homage" was pronounced with the "h" or in a French manner. People who chatter find such things uproariously funny.  I used to do it myself, looking down on a person who referred to something that "Maxx Webber" said. But he had quoted VAY-ber accurately, so it was a ridiculous snobbery on my part.  He had read the man and knew something about his thought.  At the time I had only spoken about him and knew only how to pronounce his name.

It's not necessarily a shame in the other direction either.  To have heard a word in conversation early enough that a local pronunciation is embedded before we are old enough to read it is acceptable, is it not? We do have an idea that people should make an effort to adopt the standard pronunciation. Sometimes, I suppose. I wouldn't make a general rule of it.  I have heard there are PhD's at Oak Ridge who say "nukular." 
In pronouncing nuclear, the second and third syllables are most commonly said as [-klee-er] , a sequence of sounds that directly reflects the spelled sequence ‐cle · ar. In recent years, a somewhat controversial pronunciation has come to public attention, with these two final syllables said as [-kyuh-ler] . Since [-klee-er] , the common pronunciation of ‐cle · ar, might also be represented, broadly, as [-kluh-yer] , the [-kyuh-ler] pronunciation can be seen as coming from a process of metathesis, in which the [l] and the [y] change places. The resulting pronunciation is reinforced by analogy with such words as molecular, particular, and muscular, and although it occurs with some frequency among highly educated speakers, including scientists, professors, and government officials, it is disapproved of by many.
Molecular, particular, and muscular.  I hadn't thought of that.

Thursday, September 26, 2019


So the New Yorker thinks the whistleblower report is devastating, Instapundit says it's a nothingburger, and the instant poll says 50% of America thinks it's impeachable and 50% doesn't.

I would have preferred that a higher percentage of the public had said "Don't Know," but I guess that is asking too much.

I have my suspicions how this will develop, but prefer to observe what information comes out.  There is time. There's no hurry.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


We think "cute," and "wow, amazing!"

I also think "I don't want one of those things tracking me."


Commenter Robert Sykes over at Maggie's Farm, who I assume is the same sykes who visits here, put me on to a site called Antiplanner, which I am liking. It puts numbers to assertions, which is always welcome. I am currently reading about federal help for light rail and metros - which they refer to more generally as transit - and why it continues to be a money-loser. Good stuff. The blogger is a lover of trains, BTW, but doesn't allow that to cloud his vision.


"Why Now?" We ask ourselves at times in the psychiatric emergency biz.  Yes, she has a horrible abuse history and is homeless, but that was true last week, last month, last year, and she was not in crisis. What has happened to upend things?

So why now for impeachment? Is it the amount of time it stands out from the election?  Is it to distract from some obvious conversations during the primary season? I suggest a main reason is to delegitimise any possible Supreme Court nomination (plus anything else he wants to do).  After all, how can we possibly accept the nomination of a president who is being impeached?

I wonder how long the nation can sustain this level of hysteria.  In the first year or so of Trump's presidency it was easy enough to ascribe it to him, directly or indirectly.  If his opponents were hysterical and employing kitchen-sink methods of stopping him, that was easily explained by how bad he is.  Their actions were not contemptible but noble and just, but that reckoning. It shows how they really understand the situation and how much they care. (Again, we understand their motives easily, they do not understand ours all that well. Thank you, Jonathan Haidt.) It's actually fairly easy to get a rest from Trump.  Just pay no attention to his tweets, not first hand, not second or third-hand. The rest is manageable.  It is harder to get a rest from Democrats and their crisis of the month, across a broad range of issues. Youth feel anxiety.  More than before, or about the same as always, it doesn't matter in politics. Democrats will keep telling them that Snowball destroyed the windmill, they are anxious because of Trump and conservatives.

It may be that this hysteria is not that difficult to sustain, but a baseline level of anxiety that we will attribute to something or other regardless of the reality around us. We all worry about as much as we can stand, and find it hard to worry less.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Local radio host says Greta Thunberg sounds like Elizabeth Warren. Hmm. To research this i would have to listen to both of them in a variety of videos.

Not worth it.

Kumail Nanjiani Humor

Monday, September 23, 2019


Great line by Ann Althouse: Why bother to make comedies for people with no sense of humor? 

And yet they do.  There is much to learn from contemplating this.

Tribes Series - Most Visited Posts

If you think this list is long, I have also referenced its general ideas in many other posts.

I thought at the time I was writing it over a decade ago I was a voice in the wilderness, with only a few academics writing about it in a more general sense, and some modern writers coming up to the edge of it but not really embracing the idea.

In the past four or five years I have read more people using the concept.  It may be because I just notice it now, though it was always there.  If it is becoming a more common concept, I like to think I may have played a supporting role in that.

Last published in 2011.  Originally written 2006-2008. It was my most-frequent topic in the early years. It is now not so much a topic as an idea fully embedded in my thinking about everything else. Some of these links are to very short essays of only a paragraph or two, but others are longer and/or link to further readings.  This will take you a while, and I won't add in anything new but fun stuff for a while.

Reposting the old series from 3-5 years ago. I collected all my “tribes” writing into one post for easier reference later. And now it's later. People who have been following the blog might enjoy the refresher. Newer readers might like to see what is probably my main partly-original contribution to the world's discussions. These are in chronological order, not importance or intelligence.
The Influence of Doonesbury
Trudeau inherited the mantle of righteousness from the folksingers, and became the chief exponent of the idea that conservatives were essentially stupid and had evil motives.
Early Tribes Writing
I recall going into Walmart a few years ago and thinking "There's a lot of ethnic folks here. Huh." I thought immediately after, "I wonder if that's what the people who hate Walmart are really objecting to. There are poor people here, immigrants, odd-looking people."
Types of Answers in Education
Modern study in much of the Liberal Arts and Humanities rewards students for a certain type of answer.
But "Postliberal" also gives a sense of my history and my approach to issues.
Evolutionary Psychology
Evolutionary psychologists speak of survival strategies of individuals being bound up in the survival strategies of the group.
Not Their Tribe
The Arts & Humanities crowd in America do not support OIF, or indeed nearly any war, because they do not perceive their tribe to be in danger.
Hoist On My Own Petard
John b made the claim that doubt was the defining characteristic for Episcopalians, which I scoffed at.
A Thought On Hollywood Liberals
The explanations why entertainment folks lean left usually identify two factors: they make their livings via emotion, and they aren’t very bright. That’s too facile. I offer two factors which have more explanatory power.
The Sadness of NPR Christmas
Year-round, NPR tends to the bittersweet, the witty rather than uproarious, the world-weary rather than the cynical, the poignant, the melancholy, the wistful.
C.P. Snow's Two Cultures Today
Scientist and novelist CP Snow declared fifty years ago that the educated classes were becoming two cultures, literary and scientific.
Renaming The Tribe
I have already mentioned my desire to rename what I have been calling the Arts & Humanities Tribe. While the name has the right feel to it, it does not enclose the group as neatly as I would like. It does not mention the social science folks who make up a large portion of the tribe, and it suggests a connection between the humanities and political liberalism that is permanent rather than temporary.
The Other Tribes
Science and Technology Tribe – Call it the Geek Tribe if you want, but they are gradually taking over social sciences, and making inroads into arts and entertainment, so I wouldn’t insult them too much.
State of the Discussion
Several commenters have advocated that I delineate my tribes according to cognitive styles: left-brain, right-brain; pragmatic, synthesizer.
A&H Tribe - Plodding Onward
Pew’s identified group of Liberals (19% of the population) are outliers on many issues.
Tribe, Class, and Cold Pizza
In the comments sections of one of my Tribal posts, Cold Pizza linked to a long but excellent article on the Rand Corp site about tribalism and its effect on societal development.
Arts & Humanities Clans
There are A&H subgroups, with varying degrees of adherence to the larger group’s values.
Science & Technology Tribe in Humor
All those MIT and Caltech jokes over the years - the third guy on the guillotine who looks up at it and says "Hey, I see why that thing doesn't work," for example, illustrate the S&T culture. This group often has the enormous social confidence of themselves writing most of the humor making fun of them.
How Shall The Country Be Run?
When disputants not only give different answers, but different types of answers, it is likely they are answering different questions. If they not only give different evidence, but different types of evidence, we can use this to discover what are the questions behind the questions that the various parties are asking.
Peter Leithart over at has been making frequent reference to Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a German social philosopher who moved to America in 1932, teaching first at Harvard, then many years at Dartmouth. I had never heard of this man in any context that I remember, but he does seem to have been quite brilliant, and quite fascinating.
That Tribal Name Again
I had thought the term chattering classes was older. A Dorothy Parker term or something of that era. According to the revised OED entry, however, it dates from 1980.
Running Commentary
Robert Fulghum has a mildly interesting piece about American tribal behavior. I recall similar pieces from college sociology and anthropology texts, purporting to view America from an objective standpoint.
Sunday Mornings
The idea of having other gods is a commonplace for Christians. We hear sermons on it, read books about it, teach it to our children. We know from the examination of our own hearts that such things are not only possible, but the natural state of things. There is a spiritual Second Law of Thermodynamics that says we will move inexorably toward lesser, path-of-least-resistance gods unless organizing energy is put into the system.
Imus In The Morning
He had Chris Matthews this morning complaining about George Bush. I keep telling you, they hate him because he's from the wrong tribe.
The Long Post
It starts on family culture, ends on American Tribal Politics. I will summarize the latter soon under "Surprise #2." For those scoring at home, I am in my 50's - the uncle I write to here is 80. The Arts & Humanities Tribe may be changing in the younger generations.
The Soul of America
Conservatives complain that the left is not serious about the War on Terror, but is treating Bush and the neocons as the enemy. Put less confrontively, the left is fighting a different battle - one for the soul of America.
The Ideas, and Why They're Wrong
If we fight, we are becoming just like our enemies. Well, no. The express train to becoming like our enemies is to be conquered by them. A slower, but equally reliable train, is to negotiate with them.
The Internationalist Elite as Secular Religion
Kenneth Anderson of Washington College of Law at American University and the Hoover Institute at Stanford has an article which will be dear to the heart of those who have participated in the discussion of American tribes: Secular Eschatologies and Class Interests of the Internationalized New Class.
Why Do Intellectuals Oppose The Military?
Schooling, maintains Nozick, breeds in intellectuals a sense of superiority, and with it a sense of entitlement to the highest rewards society has to offer - not just top salaries but praise comparable to that lavished on them by their teachers.

Saved Links

A fitting place to stop until I pick this up again in January.  High on actual data. 

US Accounts for 1% of mass shootings.  August 2018

Fake Hate Crimes.  Updated through last week. This Steve Sailer article should go with it.  Fake Noose!

Made Up Social Rules. December 2018

Early Beatles

They sang three songs before going into this bit.

This was probably from "Two of a Kind," an earlier version of the Morecambe and Wise Show.

Update:  In fact I am now sure of that.  The theme at the end is the song "Two of a Kind."


I read My Life And Hard Times to my two oldest boys years ago, a rollicking good time. I thought it might work for my granddaughters, 8 and 11, as well and I have the opportunity about every other week. (Tracy is reading Charlotte's Web and gets her turn.) The 8 year-old doesn't particularly get it, but the 11-year old likes them and asks for more.  This surprises me.  As I am reading to a new audience I am aware that these homey, gently humorous stories are now a hundred, not seventy-five years in the past, nor have these girls been as fully steeped in previous eras as their father was.  The references are more distant ("What's a rumble seat?") and I have to break for a moment to explain what the GAR or camphor is.

The later stories in the book I left off, after talking with their father.  "University Days" would be appreciated only for the incident with the microscope, and "Draft Board Nights" would be nearly meaningless, as it is entirely aimed at an older audience. But it is "A Succession of Servants" that would be the bigger problem, because of the prominence of black characters.  It is easy enough to switch in "black" for "colored" on the fly, but the use of hundred-year old black dialect, and the ridiculousness of the characters would be a problem.  The black characters are less ridiculous than the white people in the stories by and large, but we bend over backwards not to offend. When they are older they might read the story without harm, and to some profit, noticing the differences between that era and this. We have considered this an important part of reading to them, of opening out other eras to them.  The rest of the world will teach them the present, our value-added is in nestling them into other eras.  With more recent eras we can do this because we are closer to the time even if it is well before our own birth.  More distant eras are things we have read about for years and have more comfort with. We can sense in listeners whose attention is wandering what might need to be said to explain and make it more pertinent to them.

Their puppy ate the back half of the book - entirely appropriate for Thurber and solving my problem - but their over-responsible parents replaced it by buying the entire Thurber Carnival. I thought I would have a new source of short stories, but reading through, almost nothing is appropriate.  The other stories focus on the small arguments between husbands and wives, or rather cynical observations about human nature that would be of little interest to the girls.  The problem of working around racial stereotypes is even greater in the other stories. They might get the humor of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" but I have never much liked it.  My son suggests it was the story picked to be anthologised in decades of high-school textbooks because it was shortest.

My Life And Hard Times is still accessible to children because it is about his childhood and young adulthood, and so is filled with parents, grandfathers, pets, neighbors, streets and houses, which are familiar territory for children. The world of arguing about restaurants and lighting cigarettes for each other is not theirs. Nor do the cartoons work all that well anymore.  The humorous drawings illustrating the story can still be enjoyed, but captions no longer provoke even a chuckle.  In the cartoon above, it is something about the seal that causes the drawing to still be funny. The caption can draw a smile, no more.

This is true of cartoons in general. As a lad reading the daily funnies I never saw the point of "Our Boarding House" or "They'll Do It Every Time." My father loved "Pogo" when he was young, and I can appreciate it mostly through his eyes. He later liked "B.C." which I could appreciate more.  You usually have to grow up with characters to appreciate them, and they reflect their times.  My granddaughters are mildly interested in "Peanuts," but the children in them are not part of their mental furniture.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Favorite Hymn of Mine

Traditionally, what happens next is that sometime in the next 24 hours the video disappears.

Okay, it's disappeared once.  Let's see how many times.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Social Media

There is a type of formal mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder.  It has also been called Borderline Personality Organization when it was still viewed as an emotional developmental disorder.  In that framing, it was supposed to reflect an emotional development of about a two-year old, though the intellect might develop normally. Poor parenting, creating an inability of the child, usually female, to bond and identify properly was believed to be the cause. The name comes from another way of looking at the disorder, of neurotic defense mechanisms trying to deal with psychotic forces but coming up short.

There is now a lot of controversy about how the condition occurs, and it will not surprise you that I lean toward the newer evidence that there is something genetic about it. The people who have the disorder have difficult, usually unhappy lives. There are treatments, but they are long and involve a lot of picking yourself up after having fallen down. They are often disliked by the people around them, including the professionals who treat them, because their condition causes them to act in emotionally disruptive ways. There are a few professionals who like working with them and don't find them so frustrating - God bless them.

Something that has changed recently is that social media gives them much greater power and influence than they had when they could only touch a small circle of people. In the last decade everyone seems to be weighing in on how Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, wide availability of comment sections,and other social media are bad for us.  They give us a great deal of entertainment, information exchange, and opportunity for the common person to have a voice and some influence, but we are increasingly seeing the costs: increased depression, anxiety, bullying, doxxing, depersonalisation, anger, deteriorated interaction and debate, and a dozen other problems are embedding themselves so deeply in the rising generations that they have become permanent parts of their culture and will have some lasting impact whatever we do from here.

It isn't often mentioned, but a great deal deal of this is driven by the new outsize influence that people with Borderline Personality Disorder have over all of us because of how they can portray their reactions as common to many others, and create the impression of a whole culture angry with someone and ganging up on them. They often do not have an impression of themselves as people with a disorder, and thus sincerely believe their angers and reactions are common to humankind - that they are things that other people should feel.  This impression is very strong in them.

Here are some characteristics.  See if you can see how they put their thumbs on the scale of the public discourse. Note: I am referring to the more intense versions of the disorder that one sees in a hospital.  There are many out there who are less severe, who have the tendencies I list but have learned to manage them.  They deserve credit.  It's a hard life, being in a continuing state of emotional sunburn, so that small discomforts become magnified.

Feelings are facts.  How they feel this moment is the most important fact in all their actions. (Treatment focuses on getting distance and objectivity.) Their feelings are more powerful than others, like a teenager's. If they feel threatened, then the other person is threatening. If they feel that someone hates them, then they regard that as true, and often expand it to believing that the person hates women in general. If they feel put down, they equate this with assault or rape.

Their feelings can change rapidly.  Then can quickly become enraged and self-destructive, but when they have been distracted to something new, they can be bright and excited very quickly as well. If they were angry or suicidal an hour ago, so you don't want to decrease their supervision now they will become irate because they know they are just fine, and are angry at you for not seeing that.  Because they feel just fine in the moment.

There is the common statement "You aren't listening to me!" They cannot comprehend the idea that someone could understand what their point is but not agree with them. They understand intellectually that such things are possible, of course.  They aren't stupid. But in the moment, they believe that if you really, really understood what they were saying you would have to agree with them. You don't agree with them, therefore you have not been listening closely enough. When I have said "I think I am listening, Amber.  You think that the clinician in the Emergency Room was rude to you and jumped to conclusions. I just think there could be another side to that story" they tend to find it infuriating.  They cannot bear to even hear it.  If they cannot cast me out from their presence, they walk away from mine.

They get along better with pets, and will volunteer at animal-places. They lead the world in unofficial support dogs.

People either either all-good or all-bad to them. Again, they intellectually and theoretically know that humans are mixed, but they perceive them in one category or the other. They can thus easily feel betrayed and enraged.

They are more likely to have been abused as children, especially sexually.  They are more likely to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual.  They are rather pansexual, really.  I don't have enough personal experience to verify this, but I am told that there is an increased percentage of trans people among those with the disorder.  My small sample size would tend to confirm this.  I have not met anyone who says it is over 50%, however, so don't overgeneralise this.

I will add other things as they occur to me.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Odd Tastes

Whenever my wife goes away for more than a day I tend to play music I like quite loudly, and cook things she is less fond of or can't have (gluten sensitivity). I have a few odd favorites that I don't find in anyone else's repertoire.  Today I made the sour-cream and raisin pie from the 1972 Gethsemane Lutheran Church cookbook. Browsing the contributions, they are names from my mother's and my grandmother's generations.

What obscure recipes do you fancy?

Most-Visited Posts #31-35

The numbering is not going to match up exactly going forward,as there were two that were still rising when I made the list, and they have crashed the Top 40.  I am stuffing them in wherever I think best. So the titular top 40 area actually 42 posts.

What Tolkien Disliked About Narnia.  Apparently I don't remember everything I've written, because as I reread I twice thought "I like that point.  I don't recall ever seeing that before.  Oh wait, I wrote it."  I could add to it now that I have read Bandersnatch, but it stands well enough on its own. August 2017

Women At War, in which Texan99 in the comments has the excellent summary line "They're ants and we're people." August 2018

Jonathan Haidt. I have a number of posts about Haidt, which you can access via the search function, I suppose.  This one has more hits, and I am content to let it stand for all.  I got pushback in the comments, and think I answered well.  My promise to keep that writer as a bad example because of his use of the word "droll" I have kept.  I remembered it and have used it a couple of times. Droll. Really. December 2012

Songs My Parents Taught Me. My mother taught me many decent songs as well.  Just sayin'. January 2012.

The Fellowship of the Saints.  The principle, not the book. April 2017.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Joel Osteen

There is flooding in Houston again.  The last time this happened, there was a lot of fake news about Joel Osteen's church and how selfish and insensitive it was.  The reports turned out to be untrue.  I am not at all fond of Osteen's theology, but I'm betting that if you are seeing news about how terrible that church is right now, it's well less than half true.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

There Are No "Structures," Either.

These days we will hear academics  and advocates talk about “the power structure(s) in our society.” There are usually one or more adjectives before that: white, male, traditional, elite, institutional, religious.  Yet there is no structure. There are forces, and there are habits, but there is no structure. A structure is an object of some permanence in place that has solidity even when no one is paying attention to it.  It exists even without human agency. Power just isn't like that. The law is perhaps a structure in a society, though even that is stretching a point.  The overall metaphor is misleading, but I think it is intentional.  People who want to effect changes use that framing to keep discontent simmering.  If you think power manifests because of some structure, you will look in your own hands and those of your friends and see that you have none of this.  As with system in discussing the economy, you know for certain that you do not own any of this territory.  You do not possess levers or the access to that sort of power.  Therefore, you imagine someone else must have it. And they must be somehow keeping it from you.  The proof is that ten years later, or forty, you and your people still do not have any of that stuff in your hands. The idea that “structure” is not an accurate way to describe this will not even occur to you.  Especially if you’re halfway through your dissertation or electoral campaign anchored to that idea.

The people who use this idea don't just think it is true.  They need it to be true or their entire argument fails.

If you accept that framing, that power comes in the form of structures, you will be resentful your entire life, certain that you are being cheated and kept out of power by somebody, somewhere. If one digs down it is yet another Marxist victory, to get people to assume without question that there are Power Structures in society, and that’s how everything works. One no longer needs to observe actual cause and effect, as any result can be viewd through the prism of defeating the power structure or losing to the power structure.  It explains everything. Now the advocates and revolutionaries do not have to stoke the fires as continually, as language is doing some of the work for them. I have been clear in many posts that the language we speak does not control what we are able to think, or even what we are able t think.  However, the words we choose in whatever language we speak reveals a great deal about what we are thinking. I have said for years that if you let people talk long enough, they will tell you what they really mean, whether they know it or not.

When you encounter someone trying to assert that they have to work to confront the white or religious or male power structures, do not fall into the trap of arguing that it is not entirely white, or male, or longstanding or the like. Your answer is There Is No Structure. The concept is fundamentally flawed.  It is not a picture of reality.  You might get to point out that if they accept that framing, they are going to be miserable all their lives, and why.

The great exception is government.  Government is a structure, and you can measure power in titles, jurisdictions, and areas of authority. This is why those in government are just sure that the rest of society is organized according to various structures.  It is what they understand, and they think their fishbowl is the universe. They are puzzled (and sometimes resent deeply), that they somehow do not have control over these other invisible structures, which drives their endless attempts to regulate. Similarly, those who believe they are excluded from these structures prefer to work with something that is a structure, where they can see their units of control.

There are forces – cultural, economic, religious and a dozen others, and there are habits, an inertia that sometimes must be overcome if you want change.  But I you want to keep thinking of this society in terms of these imaginary structures that are opposing and resisting you, you are going to be miserable all your days, and make us miserable as well.

Update: From the Quillette article about Michel Houllebec
Houellebecq argues that the social structures which maintained Western hegemony by checking the societally harmful excesses of this competition, namely religion and the family unit, have been gradually lost to individualism and the market.
I think that is a good correction to my idea above. The family is a structure - but it is fading in this country. Even when there are families, they are smaller. So too with religion. It is a structure, but not only is it less used these days, it is less of a structure even when it is. It's not only "cafeteria Catholics" who pick and choose. Jews and Protestants do as well. What I know of Mormons and American Muslims tells me it's the same there.

Analogy To go With "There Is No System."

 Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind  describes the control of the will over the impulses with a fascinating analogy.  We think of our desires and impulses as akin to a spirited horse that needs to be broken to be made useful.  It takes effort, skill, perseverance. Literature has used this metaphor for self-control for centuries.  This is very similar to how politicians and others in government talk about the economy. Yes, it’s wild sometimes and has a mind of its own, and it can throw you or hurt you.  But with a skilled hand it can be brought under control and made to act as it should, becoming useful for all of us. That’s what governors and especially presidents run on.  They are that strong hand. 
Haidt continues his analogy about the human personality to say that the example of the horse is entirely inadequate. We are far more like the elephant and rider.  The rider does have some influence.  Skill matters and can influence the elephant to better decisions and more usefulness. Bur far more than the horse, the elephant goes where it will and can only gradually be brought under – well, not control, exactly, but some direction and purpose. I submit that we can extend the analogy to the economy in much the same way. Presidents, Congress, even presidents and congress together do not control the economy as a skilled dressage rider controls a horse. They probably do not even exercise the control of the elephant's mahout over the economy, but we can give them the benefit of the doubt on that, I suppose. It is at least much closer to the reality.  The economy is a huge, surprising thing which frequently breaks its chain, and in that time can be destructive.

In terms of controlling an economy, we know some things that usually help.  We know some things we should not do.  Okay, some of us know things we should not do.  The knowledge is apparently not universal.  Nor is it entirely consistent.  We know at least some likely effects of raising the minimum wage, but sometimes locally and temporarily, it doesn’t much matter.  Norway could pass a fairly high minimum wage law to little effect, as even the worst jobs there pay about $25/hr. Sometimes there is no dip in jobs, only a delay in the growth for a bit when the minimum is raised. (Sucks to be the invisible people who didn’t have new jobs open up for them during the delay, but they are, as I noted, invisible, so you can’t send them a card.) We should leave things alone, except when we shouldn’t.  The elephant is more likely to let us know when we were wrong than when we were right.

No actual horses or elephants were harmed in the writing of this post.