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Live not by lies. - Solzhenitsyn
To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle. - Orwell
Knowledge is good. - Animal House
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January 23-31, 2005 Archive
"We have now sunk to a depth at which re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." -- George Orwell, as quoted in John Derbyshire's month end NRO column. The Derb also tells of the Episcopal Church's response to Maggy Brimelow's last request.
The Election in Iraq: As my adolescent kids constantly ask me whenever we go anywhere, "Can we leave now?"
My new VDARE.com column "Malcolm Gladwell Blinks at Racial Realities" is a demolition of #1 bestseller Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by the New Yorker writer who authored the 2000 hit The Tipping Point. Gladwell describes Blink as "A book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye."
Here's what I learned from Gladwell's style about what the lucrative corporate audience wants a nonfiction writer to do:
individual anecdotes are interesting and well written. But taken as a
whole, the book is a mish-mash of contradictions. Gladwell strongly
encourages you to rely upon your snap judgments … except when you
most intriguing aspect of Gladwell's book is that its hopeless confusion
and mind-melting political correctness stem from the author's own racial
background. Although mostly white, Gladwell is partly of African descent
was black, Scottish, and Jewish). But he doesn't look noticeably black
of his pictures.
the inevitable downside of trying to look dangerous to impress girls and
interviewers is that you look dangerous to cops.
Melody composition and age: A reader writes:
I suspect that with composers there's an age correlation with melodic skill as well, i.e. other things being equal, a 40-year-old composer won't be nearly as melodically fertile as a 20-year-old composer. (He may, of course, be far superior to a 20-year-old composer in structural skills or other creative areas.) Maybe the brain cells that determine melodic ability are among those, like short-term memory cells, that decrease in numbers with the passing of years. I've never seen any print discussion of this theory. One reason I cherish Wagner so much is that his melodic inspiration flowed as freely in his old age as it did during his youth.
Has anybody ever done an objective study of the ages at which songwriters peaked? Irving Berlin, for example, was 23 when he wrote "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and 51 when he wrote "White Christmas," which sounds quite late in life to write a massive hit song. That's a long, long time to stay on top of the game. Richard Rodgers' last mega-musical, "The Sound of Music," debuted when he was 57.
Another phony campus hate crime: An e.e. cummings-like reader writes:
the article mentioned "crying." that says it all. this sort of behavior is *hysteria*...the byproduct of the feminization of higher education, that is, the change in the culture which tends to prioritize emotional values and empathy rather than facts or reason.
My old golf articles: When it comes to golf, I write better than I play:
Why affluent homeowners like environmentalism:
The Golf Recession:
The War Nerd Is Back with his Superwar Preview: The U.S. versus Iran.
Of course all the NeoCon crazies are peddling the old story that "once we invade, the people will rally to the cause of freedom."
Those poor, oppressed lesbian lover engineers of academia. A reader notes that Dr. Denice "Speak Truth to Power" Denton and her close friend Gretchen Kalonji, both newly of high paying jobs at UC Santa Cruz, have been scratching each other's, uh, backs for some time:
Materials Science & Engineering Department
University of Washington
Transforming International Engineering
International Advisory Board
International Network for Engineering Education and Research (iNEER)
July 23, 2003
Nominator: Denice Denton, Dean
College of Engineering, University of Washington
Nominee: Gretchen Kalonji, Kyocera Professor
Materials Science & Engineering, University of Washington
My reader asks, "What exactly do they mean by "nominator " and 'nominee' here?" I dunno, maybe it's a term used in the lesbian personal ads, like, "Nominator looking for nominee for long steamy nights of nominations."
Where do we get these people? Mickey Kaus catches Andrew Sullivan at two different points in his prescription testosterone cycle -- "giddy" about the Iraq elections on Saturday and "almost distraught" about them today -- and writes:
Sullivan has many virtues, but steadiness of judgment is not one of them. This isn't a man you want to follow into battle. Unfortunately, many Americans did.
Sullivan, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Bennett, the list goes on. I suppose we conservatives get the opinion-makers we deserve, but still... lately, we sure have been getting who we deserve good and hard.
My old music articles: A lot of people seem to like to read my old movie reviews, so here are some old rock music articles from 2001-2002:
Is "American Idol's" Simon Cowell Unamerican? A reader replies:
I don't watch that show, but its cruelty is exactly why so many watch it as with other "reality shows." Being vicious to others isn't a traditional American character trait, but in the New Ex-America, it is becoming one. Just as the reign of "Cool" has destroyed the old American character traits of enthusiasm and innocence, it is also creating a new ethos of cruelty. A kinder and gentler America is further away than when Bush the First called for it in 1988. What else can the popularity of the slogan "You're Fired" mean in a society that was once scarred by the notion of people losing their jobs. Recall how Reagan didn't like to fire people in part because of his father's experience and his memory of the Great Depression. All of the Oprah sentimentality notwithstanding, the rise of schadenfreude is the true spirit of the age.
GOP sells out the Red States: Because the cost of living is much less on the wide plains of the Republican states, incomes are lower too, and thus progressive tax rates works to redistribute wealth from Blue States to Red States. So, why has the GOP been so hot to cut progressive taxes like the income tax and the inheritance tax? Because they are responding less to Red State Republicans than to Blue State Republicans, who tend to be quite affluent. For example, I wonder what the mean income is of the small number of Republicans who live in Manhattan: $200,000? $400,000?
Call Nancy Hopkins! As far as I can tell, no woman has ever gotten an Oscar nomination for Cinematography, at least not in the last 40 years (200 nominations).
A rare midweek VDARE column by me is up now: It reviews the details from the internal report on what went wrong with the Presidential exit poll. As I figured out months ago, Bush's share for Hispanics was smaller (i.e., more realistic) among the larger sample size who took the short form of the questionnaire than among the smaller sample size who took the long form. The same was true for Asian-Americans (reported as voting 44 percent for Bush but now revealed to be only 39 percent in the larger sample ) and Jews (reported as 25 percent, but actually only 22 percent).
Both figures are bad news for neoconservatives. The Asian deflation makes upping immigration, as Bush wants, look even more suicidal for Congressional Republicans. And the revelation that Bush only carried 22 percent of Jews shows that the neocons have a lot more chiefs than Indians. As they say in Texas, the neocons are all hat and no cattle.
The Unamerican Simon Cowell -- "American Idol's" sardonic British judge is the antithesis of the modern American Oprah-style television host. These days, Americanism is all about encouraging people to "follow their dreams," whereas Simon typically listens to contestants sing for five seconds, then tells them to forget their dreams and give up all hope of a singing career. In the singing business, it's kind to be cruel, because, otherwise, ambitious but talentless young people always wind up sexually exploited by promoters as cold-blooded as Cowell, but lacking his honesty.
Similarly, Larry Summers is being condemned for causing young female math and science students to doubt their dreams, but doubt is exactly what people considering entering a career like math or physics should do before making a lifetime commitment. What's the point of being, say, a third rate mathematics professor if you'll never achieve any breakthroughs when you make far more money with your quant skills in private industry?
"Natalism" Rears Its Nonexistent Head Again: I spent an hour on the phone today with a newspaper reporter who called me to get the inside scoop on the new Natalist Movement to force women to have more children that's sweeping the nation. Apparently, I'm the evil genius behind this trend toward keeping women barefoot and pregnant.
No, I kept trying to explain, NYT op-edster David Brooks just made it all up when he wrote, "There is a little-known movement sweeping across the United States. The movement is 'natalism.'" He just did it because journalists try to make everything sound like a trend. If Isaac Newton had been a reporter, he wouldn't have named his book explaining the Law of Gravity the Principia. No, he would have called it something newsworthy like "The Growing Trend toward Gravityism."
There's no organized "natalist" movement to speak of; there's just people having babies. What I have found is that some parts of the country are more conducive to having babies than other parts, and those baby-friendly states vote Republican more than baby-unfriendly states. That's it.
Newish Blogs: It's gratifying, after several years of blogging, to finally see a sizable expansion in recent months in the number of blogs worth linking to.
Lea's Born Again Democrats
website features his blog.
Many of you are familiar with Luke as a wise and civilized commenter on
other sites. It's about time he got his own.
I read in the news that:
Julian Calendar is the work of a devout Catholic sociobiologist in
Blue-Eyed Reconquistadores Watch: A reader of Chilean-Spanish descent writes:
You yourself laughed at the blue-eyed Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos pretending to be the standard-bearer of the Indians that his ancestors enslaved--and over whom he still rules like C-3PO in the land of the Ewoks. White Spaniards like Jorge Ramos would love to see America turn into another Mexico--ie, a plantation colony populated by a swarming drone class of Indians, ruled by wealthy Europeans in white suits [a la Ricardo Montalban]. Sadly, George W. Bush shares this shabby vision of a future America with Ramos and his Conquistador ilk.
a system of social inequity/iniquity is unthinkable to any sensitive
person--which is why I was glad that my Chilean ancestors left South
America when they did. On a recent trip back down to South America, I
saw with my own eyes the disgusting imperial system of 98% Indian
nations ruled by 2% blue-eyed Spaniards.
Gay Marriage Makes Legalized Polygamy Inevitable argues Colby Cosh. All right-thinking folks say, "Horrors, no, while the word "marriage" doesn't imply two sexes, it can't possibly imply more than two people." Colby replies, "Yeah, right ..."
By the way, nobody else noticed it but Spike Lee's most recent movie She Hate Me was built on exactly that gay marriage --> polygamy logic. Spike's not too crazy about gay marriage, but he thinks it definitely justifies what he's enthusiastic for: polygamy. Here's my review of She Hate Me.
By the way, Colby, please do my 46-year-old eyes a favor and use a larger typeface on your blog.
Something to think about the next time you're stocking up your Costco shopping cart with Chinese-made goods. A reader writes:
US is quite literally destroying the productive, tradable goods sector
of its economy, by maintaining an overvalued currency, supported by
massive borrowing from other nations. This is not a new or unique
observation. There is actually a term for this phenomena. It is called
the "Dutch Disease". It is characterized by an overvalued
currency, manufacturing decline, high investment in the non-tradable
sector and disinvestment in production of tradable good.
Many have commented that Bush's recent 2nd Inaugural address sounded a lot like JFK's in its emphasis on America's commitment to fighting tyranny abroad. The only real difference was in how Bush intends to finance his global crusade for freedom. Here's an actual, authentic excerpt from Bush's speech:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, borrow any burden, sponge any spare change, cadge from any friend, scrounge from any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Remember how back in the 1960s, Democrats would say that budget deficits aren't so because we just owe the money to ourselves? Well, our trade deficits aren't so bad either, because we just owe the money to the Red Chinese.
In related news, inventor Raymond Kurzweil, who had been taking 250 vitamin supplements per day in an attempt to live forever, announced that, after reviewing the rapidly mounting debt burden we were passing on to future Americans, he was switching to a new daily regimen of three packs of Lucky Strikes, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a dozen hits on a crack pipe, and one round of Russian Roulette.
the land of Nixon and Reagan votes solidly Democratic now: Youngish
Southern Californians can't afford to buy a house, so they postpone
getting married and having kids, all processes that make people
confirmed Republicans. The
LA Times reports:
percentage of households in Los Angeles County able to afford a
median-priced home of $474,570 was 17% in November, down from 23% a year
ago when the median was $382,190, according to the latest figures
reported by the California Assn. of Realtors. The Orange County median
for November was $633,340, with only 13% of households able to afford a
residence, down from 18% a year ago...
Also, 20% down on the $475,000 median price house in LA County is $95,000 in cash. In Orange County, you need $127,000 in cash on hand.
On the other hand, it was 75 degrees and sunny today in SoCal and the hills, for once, are as green as Ireland.
Why Does the Federal Government Shift So Much Wealth from Blue States to Red States? An overlooked reason is the progressive income tax. Blue states are much more crowded than red states, and thus have higher land prices (see item above on Southern California housing costs) and higher overall costs of living. In turn, their residents have higher incomes. The progressive tax rates mean the higher paid blue staters have to pay more of their income in taxes, although it's not clear they can afford that better than lower-cost-of-living red staters.
Johnny Carson, RIP: These days, when late-night talk shows, even ones hosted by obviously bright fellows like Conan O'Brien, consist of nothing but celebrity chit-chat, it's hard to imagine just how intellectually wide-ranging Carson's Tonight Show was. Carson's particular interest was astronomy and he made his frequent guest Carl Sagan a national celebrity. The science fiction classic Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle about the approach and catastrophic impact of a comet includes a brilliant chapter written from Johnny Carson's point of view as he interviews the two astronomers who discovered the approaching comet and figures out on the fly how to guide them into making their esoteric topic fascinating to the masses in TV land.
Even at interviewing movie stars, Carson was dramatically better than Letterman and Leno.
My favorite Carson memory is of the time in the early 1990s when he had on the high school students who had won a national quiz bowl championship. So, he, Ed McMahon, and Doc Severinsen played the four kids using real questions about history and science. Johnny, who no doubt had been the brightest boy in his class back home in Iowa, buzzed in to answer just about every question, but always a fraction of a second behind the teenage whiz kids. His frustration at finding that in his sixties he just wasn't as quick as the teenagers was compounded by his discovery that his teammates, Ed and Doc, were complete idiots of no use whatsoever in winning the competition. Finally, the question "Who founded the American Federation of Labor in 1886?" stumped the students, but not Johnny, who triumphantly buzzed in and proclaimed "Samuel Gompers!" with the proudest look I've ever seen on his face.
Carson's 30 year career on television, an unbelievably long time for a star to remain a star, was a model of professionalism. Starting to slump as he got older, he insisted on cutting the length of the nightly show from 90 minutes to 60 minutes, and rebounded strongly. Rather than hang around into senescence, he retired in his mid-60s while still on top of his game.
A little known fact: Harvard President Larry Summers & MIT feminist Professor Nancy Hopkins took Creative Writing 101 together long ago:
In-class Assignment for Wednesday
Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. One of you will then write the first paragraph of a short story. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back and forth. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached. -- Prof. Miller
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far..." But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.
He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel." Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth -- when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspapers to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.
Little did she know, but she has less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dimwitted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through Congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion which vaporized Laurie and 85 million other Americans. The President slammed his fist on the conference table. "We can't allow this! I'm going to veto that treaty! Let's blow 'em out of the sky!"
This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic, semiliterate adolescent.
Yeah? Well, you're a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium.
Larry Summers and women: Good thing nobody was ever insensitive or un-nurturing toward the mathematical ambitions of Ramanujan.
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