This and that: We’ve read that Decoration Day didn’t officially become Memorial Day nationally until the 1960′s. A couple of years ago we bought the story of Louie Zamperini and it’s a heck of a thing. Robert Samuelson has a nice piece with some history going back to the end of the Civil War. Scott Johnson had some good reading in observance of the day several years ago, and he follows up this year with thoughts on a great movie for this day. Both Teresa Wright and Harold Russell give very moving performances. The film is on TCM of course. BTW, with all the crude nuttiness (e.g., here and here) going around, we half expect some group of wingnuts to try to have TCM taken off the air, given the values its films, for the most part, display.
Archive for the 'Left of Left' Category
There are real and serious problems in the world (here and here and here for example). And yet there are fairly sizeable groups focused on nuttiness and/or matters that affect a vanishingly small number of people — and they’re often very loud about these things. It reminds us of head-banging or a fellow running around shouting with his ears covered; all the better to block out unpleasant realities. But it doesn’t work for very long…
The Spectator has a pessimistic take on all this.
With a $1 billion oil rig the size of a football field, China has literally laid down a new marker in its ambition to dominate the South China Sea — and challenged President Obama’s “rebalancing” policy in Asia, only weeks after the president’s tour of the region. The rig is about 130 miles off the coast of Vietnam, in waters that Vietnam claims as an exclusive economic zone under international law. China’s claim is more tenuous, but it is backed up with a flotilla of some 80 ships that for a week have engaged in a dangerous contest of ramming and water-hosing Vietnamese vessels.
The message of the deployment is as simple as it is provocative: The regime of Xi Jinping intends to unilaterally assert China’s sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea without regard for the competing claims of five other countries or Mr. Obama’s newly restated commitment to uphold defense agreements with two of those nations. In that sense, the rig, like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is a fundamental challenge to the international order the United States has tried to preserve since the end of the Cold War.
China’s ambitions are described by an audacious map, dating from the pre-Communist era, that claims some 80 percent of the South China Sea and a number of island chains or waters also claimed by Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Indonesia, in addition to Vietnam. For years Beijing has talked with those countries and others in Southeast Asia about establishing a code of conduct for the sea, and it discussed the possibility of joint development of oil and gas with Vietnam a few months ago.
The move of the oil rig appears to reflect a calculation that a more aggressive policy will not meet meaningful resistance from China’s neighbors or the United States.
Wretchard: “The West is transfixed, stunned by its own toxic cocktail of lies. That we will wake up is inevitable. The danger is that if we remain asleep too long, the world may already be burning by the time we look out the window.” For most of two generations, the universities have been obsessed with creating a strange alternative narrative of the US and western history. They teach rubbish and worse. With some exceptions, only the geezers know the real story, and they are now mostly shouted down and persecuted by know-nothings.
We seem to be in an era of hating the past and hyping the future, a recipe for disaster. Huh? — “those who opposed Lagarde said they were attacking the IMF for being ‘a corrupt system’ that fuels the oppression and abuse of woman worldwide.” Funny/sad comments here. Finally, Ruth Wisse speaks for the geezers, the only Americans who seem not to have lost their minds. The young and their mentors in the faculty lounge have created disaster — the question of whether it will be the disaster of the 1930′s or 1970′s is still open…
We have been very busy on business and other matters so these days we mostly just link to the thoughts of others who opine and write for a living these days. After all, in matters of religious wars, catastrophic AGW, China’s economy, US foreign policy, and the way you organize the US to maximize GDP growth, we have engaged many sides of the arguments and are now, after much research and discussion, pretty settled in our views. Doesn’t mean we can’t be wrong; hence doesn’t mean we won’t change our views. We’ve been doing this for 12 years, and seen stories come and go. But it’s boring the way the HCL (hard core left) have become so obviously rigid and reactionary (as Roger Simon describes them). Dialogue and debate, which seemed attractive a decade ago, are passé. So now it is very idiosyncratic what appeals on a current day: e.g., we saw the sad Everest news and it reminded us of Jim Whittaker’s talk at the 1964 Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley Forge (at which Lady Baden-Powell also spoke). Probably not much of interest to the broader world. We read Krauthammer and Will and also the smart fellows at Powerline and so forth, but what’s the point of ditto-ing these things? We’re all apparently “immoral, unethical, and despicable” in the eyes of our betters. Why bother responding? Perhaps better to take the advice of Thomas Kuhn, Charles Darwin and Max Planck, and just wait out the fools……
WSJ: in a column about the 77 cents rubbish, we learn that 92% of work-related deaths are men. But it’s hazardous being a lady, particularly if you might get an honorary degree or join the board of a public company. (We’ve previously commented on both ladies here and here.) Question: what’s missing from these stories that we’d be hearing about nonstop if the shoe was on the other foot?
Lord Simon said: ‘In a programme some months ago on the BBC it was stated that this country has the largest production of baked beans and the largest consumption of baked beans in the world.’ He asked Lady Verma: ‘Could you say whether this affects the calculation of global warming by the Government as a result of the smelly emission resulting therefrom?’ Lady Verma described his question as ‘so different’ but she appeared to suggest that people should think twice about over-indulging in baked beans or any food which causes flatulence. She added: ‘You do actually raise a very important point, which is we do need to moderate our behaviour.’
Here’s some silliness. Here’s commentary on the silliness. Here’s another thimble full of silliness. What’s the deal? How come when problems have largely disappeared or affect an extremely small number of people the shouts and indignation become louder than ever? (Hysteria is part of the explanation — things are supposed to be perfect now, and reality isn’t behaving properly, therefore: eek! a mouse!)
The strange myth that human nature is malleable by force of will is here again, and boy howdy! How tiresome. Here are some alternatives to Firefox, BTW (some add-ons too). If we had to guess, we’d say that the recent extreme and authoritarian developments of the anti-free-speech movement signal that we are closer to an end than a beginning, but we don’t have much confidence in that guesstimate. The source of our hunch is that, despite the brave face the media put on things, dreary reality can’t be abolished from the millions whose experience is the exact opposite of the approved media story line. We’ll just have to see what happens. Meanwhile, we’ve bought a dozen handbaskets just in case.
Funny thing. We read the S-1 for the GrubHub IPO and we saw no reference to the difficult management task of supervising all the delivery guys. How can they be managed without a large central authority? And what about Uber? They’re likely to do an IPO, we’re told. But how can a company like this function without a big Taxi and Limousine Commission bureaucracy to scrub their every move? (France tried, unsuccessfully.)
Oh wait. In the case of GrubHub, the (mostly family owned) restaurants already have ways and relationships to do delivery; they’re just getting better use from them. And in the case of Uber, customer feedback is instantaneous; you don’t need Jack Welch to get rid of the bottom 10% of drivers, let alone some government bureaucracy. We thought the crew doing the ACA characterized themselves as hip and youth oriented; instead, they’re so old and outdated, with a 1917 model of economic organization.
In a move designed to foster diversity and to create a university that “thinks like America,” Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust, the President of Harvard University announced yesterday that the school will embrace egalitarian admissions. The school will no longer give priority to students with good grades, high SAT scores, and impressive extra-curricular activities. Such policies have, Dr. Faust acknowledged, created an “elitist” and “inegalitarian” atmosphere at the college. “It is unacceptable in 2014 to be favoring the intelligent over the unlearned, and the energetic over the slothful,” she proclaimed. Starting next year Harvard’s incoming class will have SAT scores ranging from six to sixteen hundred to produce, for the first time, a truly diverse freshman class…
A press release declares that “Harvard is now dedicated to serving the ‘differently intellectual’ and ‘differently learned’ or DIDL students.” The idea that some are “smarter” than others is a prejudice that we need to overcome. The twenty-first century, the era of Hope and Change, is an age of equality. Gone are the days when knowing the difference between “their” and “there,” or references to dead White European males like Goethe or Marlowe were used to perpetuate privilege. There is no reason to favor an applicant who has been reading Shakespeare since he was ten over one who has watched every episode of “Sponge Bob” fifty times.
This summer, the entire Harvard faculty will be trained in sensitivity to needs of DIDL students. There is talk of an, as yet undetermined, plan for affirmative action for “Low IQ Americans.” The Puritans who founded Harvard held that “there is no sin but ignorance.” But they also burned witches, Harvard noted.
Get with the program, Harvard; you’re behind the times. Recall that professor who assaulted the protester at UCSB? The university effectively sided with the DIDL prof. She’s the 21st century, after all. Harvard: sometimes you’re just so 1636.
if greenhouse gases continue to rise, the world is looking at another about 6 or 7 degrees Fahrenheit (3.5 or 4 degrees Celsius) of warming by 2100 instead of the international goal of not allowing temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius). The difference between those two outcomes, Princeton’s Oppenheimer said, “is the difference between driving on an icy road at 30 mph versus 90 mph. It’s risky at 30, but deadly at 90″…
more than 100 governments unanimously approved the scientist-written 49-page summary — which is aimed at world political leaders. The summary mentions the word “risk” an average of about 5 1/2 times per page.
Here’s a mental exercise. Picture the Princeton fellow wearing sandals and a sandwich board, standing at the corner of 53rd and Park in NYC. He’s saying: “the world is ending! the world will be 7 degrees hotter in 86 years! it is written! the computer has said so!” You might ask, what about Hide the Decline? What about a little skepticism? We all know that there has been some warming, and recently some cooling, and we all know that, on balance, CO2 should favor the former over the latter. But really, 7 degrees in 86 years because some guys’ computers said so? (Maybe you missed the subprime meltdown: GIGO from the smart guys.)
Let’s see. 100 governments unanimously approved this thing about what’s definitely going to happen 86 years from now if we don’t give those guys trillions of dollars today. Hmmmm. That’s reason to pause, right there. What would governments have predicted in 1913 about wars over the next 86 years? How about in 1 year from 1913? 86 years ago was 1928. If you were a stockbroker in NYC then, what might you have predicted about 2014, or 1929? Thanks, experts!
Final point. Gallup shows AGW is 14th out of 15 concerns of ordinary Americans. We’ll just have to see who is right.
Peter Bogdanovich has a delightful piece on Scott Eyman’s new book about Duke Morrison, the American screen cowboy. One of the roles that transformed his career was about a tough cattle drive. Gotta get those cows to move their hind quarters quickly to their last roundup. That was then.
Sadly, this is now: Mark Steyn has a mooving commentary on America’s (and the West’s) current take on the bovine posterior. (BTW, if you’re interested in cutting government waste, every one of these horses’s patoots could be downsized.)
Here’s the picture. (It’s not even the faculty lounge that’s doing America’s business; it’s the freshman dorm.) Here are Krauthammer’s thousand words (747 actually). Krauthammer’s piece raises a very interesting point about how things have changed over the last five years. Five years ago, the world was told what it “must” do — over two dozen times in the Cairo speech alone. Now, as Krauthammer points out, the operative word is not “must”, but “should”. As a mental exercise, try to imagine yourself lecturing a billion or more people on what they “must” do. Hmmmmm…
BTW, it’s not as though there are easy answers to these logical responses by Russia, etc, to America’s empty bloviating at this point, but speeding to energy independence, reversing course on Iran, not cutting the military, empowering a red-tape-cutting task force on the economy, and using Google and Yelp and GrubHub as metaphors for health care rather than the USSR — these could be a start.
Spengler quotes Bottum on the Catholic world pre-1965, in a fascinating discussion of the secular religion of today:
The embroidered arcanery of copes and stoles and albs and chasubles, the rituals of Holy Water blessings, the grottos with their precarious rows of fire-hazard candles flickering away in little red cups, the colored seams and peculiar buttons that identified monsignors, the wimpled school sisters, the tiny Spanish grandmothers muttering prayers in their black mantillas, the First Communion girls wrapped up in white like prepubescent brides, the mumbled Irish prejudices, the loud Italian festivals, the Holy Door indulgences, the pocket guides to scholastic philosophy, the Knights of Columbus with their cocked hats and comic-opera swords, the tinny mission bells, the melismatic chapel choirs— none of this was the Church, some of it actually obscured the Church, and the decision to clear out the mess was not unintelligent or uninformed or unintended.
It was merely insane. An entire culture nested in the crossbeams and crannies, the nooks and corners, of the Catholic Church. And it wasn’t until the swallows had been chased away that anyone seemed to realize how much the Church itself needed them, darting around the chapels and flitting through the cathedrals.
That’s the Catholic Church that’s been lost, but most of Bottum’s book is about the today’s post Christian Puritans in America: “We live in a spiritual age when the political has been transformed into the soteriological. When how we vote is how our souls are saved.”
Indeed. A major dividing line is how we think about the past. We have high government officials who believe the past is outdated and, it follows, irrelevant. We think they’ve been beguiled by the metaphor of technological progress, as well as their own good fortune in life. Is there a way back from this fantasy world? Of course, but it is highly unlikely to be pleasant.
For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one…
Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century…Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia…
Ukrainians…live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939, when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian, became part of Ukraine only in 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or break up.
Roger Kimball has lots more. This is certainly more complex than the US simpletons on either side of the issue make out.
(For today’s light reading, Clarice’s pieces are simultaneously funny and depressing.)
Some D: “a woman still earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man does.” Some R: “It’s not government, though, that creates jobs. Small business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators are the engine of job creation.” Blah, blah blah. Question: why not just go after the lie, with the obvious point that any businessman with a million dollar payroll would fire all the guys and hire all the girls if he could pocket another $230,000 by doing so? Answer: it’s called the stupid party for a reason. Final point, a little harmony: nice to hear on KPFK today that Ralph Nader is also fed up with all the lying.
Scott Johnson has a Tough Guy vs. Wimp visual that is pretty funny but misses an important point. The so-called wimp can be a tough guy — here and here are evidence as to whom he despises and is more than willing to act against. This is consistent with the standard religion of leftism by the way, that the US is an imperialist bad actor that has created enemies abroad and repression at home. Exactly what the faculty lounge is all about, but quite a bit more intense and ruthless. (BTW, these fellows and gals are often seriously lacking in historical knowledge, but they fill in the blanks with ideology; after all, truth isn’t about truth, it’s about a technique to get power to enforce equality of outcomes.)
Ah, but how did we get so far away from the America many of us know in our bones? The answers are the university and the media. 3% of Yale donations went to Romney, which is pretty good, by the way. The media are 12-1 against conservatives, which we think slightly understates the case. Still, it’s kind of shocking that things have gotten this bad this fast; yet we only have to look back to the cases of Iran and Honduras to see that the pattern was fully formed and evident years ago. But still, this far this fast? Well, citizens, pause to consider a breathtaking exercise in projection from five years ago, and consider what, unfettered, this level of narcissism has wrought. And there you have it, this far this fast…