Archive for the ‘General’ Category

the logical end of nonsense

May 13, 2017

So a police officer that outwardly would certainly appear to be Caucasian claims to have discovered African ancestry of 18%, and as a result has gotten harassed at work. He’s suing. Of course. The author of the linked blog post takes it as a serious suit. My first assumption was that he’s trying to make a point, but maybe I’m wrong. Either way, it strikes me as a Cloward-Piven approach to the nonsensical social justice overreach of the past decade. I doubt it’s the last we’ll see of this sort of thing.

on reaping the whirlwind

May 9, 2017

I have read with some interest the travails of Dr. Rebecca Tuvel, who wrote a philosophical argument that the distinction being made between transgender identity and transracial identity (i.e., the former is widely accepted, the latter rejected) is untenable. Apparently the social media mob so familiar on Twitter and Facebook has been ferocious. All the familiar claims of violence and fear and hatred are being made against Dr. Tuvel because of her ideas.

One of her former professors, Kelly Oliver, has written an apologia for her and her essay, remarking on the hijacking of feminism. Although I am sympathetic to Dr. Tuvel’s plight, the apparent surprise at what has happened seems a bit out of place. Professor Oliver suggests calling this era of outrage-as-argument “the Trump era” since President Trump got elected, she writes, “by voicing outrage.” This seems to me to be one or two steps behind the process.

Professor Oliver observes some troubling dynamics, including the public/private split of opinion expressed. She tells of scholars who defended Dr. Tuvel in private, but were silent or sometimes even critical in public. This prompts her to write, “The question is, why did so many scholars, especially feminists, express one sentiment behind closed doors and another out in the open? Why were so many others afraid to say anything in public?”

She also makes this observation: “Part of the problem with the response to Tuvel’s article is that some seem to feel that they are the only ones who have the legitimate right to talk about certain topics. At best, this is identity politics run amok; at worst it is a turf war.”

Dr. Tuvel’s experience is quite familiar to many people in the United States who have not accepted critical orthodoxy on gender, race, economics, politics, and a host of other topics. It has been the case for several years now that dissent from critical orthodoxy on these topics is guaranteed to elicit the sort of condemnation Dr. Tuvel has experienced. An aspect of the situation is precisely what Professor Oliver has observed, that only some critically approved people can offer any view on the topic, and only the approved point of view.

This is the dynamic the Donald Trump tapped into during his campaign. What Professor Oliver sees as characteristic of society beginning sometime in 2016 has actually being going on for a couple of decades. Much of the support for Donald Trump was a reaction to this. That Professor Oliver, who holds an endowed chair in philosophy at a prestigious university, would be confronted with this dynamic close up, since it is happening to a friend and colleague, demonstrates how far along the problem is.

Professor Oliver laments, “The viciousness of the attacks was fueled by the mob mentality of Facebook. Dissenters, even those who just wanted a civil discussion of the issue, were shut down immediately or afraid to voice their opinions in public. Some who in private were sympathetic to Tuvel, felt compelled to join in the attacking mob. The thought police were in full force. . . . Some who joined in the protests later admitted in private that they hadn’t even read the article. . . . Just this morning, I received a text from someone I respect, lamenting the cruelty on social media, but telling me she was sure she would disagree with the article and find it offensive, even though she hadn’t yet read it.”

She also asks, “If an essay written by a young feminist scholar in support of trans rights is violent and harmful, then haven’t we leveled all violence such that everything has become swept up by it, and the very notion of violence has lost its meaning?” The answer, of course, is “yes,” but this is the inevitable fruit of the course critical academia has been traveling for several decades. It’s a shame that people with the position and influence of Professor Oliver are only now seeing it, and hoping to do something about it.

on Thanksgiving

November 24, 2016

There are a lot of emotionally healthy reasons for learning to be thankful and grateful in life. That may be fairly easy in the United States, since life can be so good in so many ways, but it can be done by anyone regardless of their situation. Victor Frankl’s book on finding meaning in life is a remarkable testimony to that fact.

I have a lot to be thankful for, which is what I’m going to spend the day thinking about. I hope whatever your current feelings about the state of affairs in your place in the world, you’ll be able to enjoy at least some time today with people you care about, being grateful for the good things in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Libertarian humor

January 7, 2015

I’m sympathetic to a lot of the values highlighted by libertarians, but this really made me laugh:

h/t Daniel Mitchell

The year that was

December 31, 2014

2014 has been a fairly ordinary year. The main event was our youngest graduating from high school and starting college. She had a great first semester, and we’ve started to get a handle on life without children in the house consistently. The Christmas holiday has been very pleasant with all the kids at home.

On a personal level, a stand-out feature of the year has to be the elimination of $8000 in credit card debt. A lot of that was an zero-interest until 2015 deal from our bank that we used for some major house repair in 2013. It’s all gone, as well as a few thousand on my wife’s card and a couple of store cards. We’re ending the year with a completely zero balance on cards, even after buying gifts for Christmas. It’s a great feeling.

2015 doesn’t necessarily have to hold any major events like vacations or such. The kids are all in college, we’re both working at jobs we enjoy, and the main itch we both have are some additional maintenance on the house. It would be nice to look back in 12 months on 2015 and see a couple of those big improvements in place. Here’s hoping for peace and progress in the new year.

A morning Christmas gift

December 25, 2014

After several days of overcast sky, and a couple of days of cold sprinkles, this was a nice gift on Christmas.

Christmas sunrise

Hope for change

January 3, 2012

Michael Leeden writes about internal affairs in Iran relatively frequently, and this column offers some evidence for serious problems for the regime of the mullahs.

It’s odd that one tack the Democrats may attempt this fall is to argue for Barack Obama’s foreign policy success. As Leeden points out, Iran and Syria have been directly responsible for numerous American deaths and terrorist attacks, yet Obama has failed to offer any assistance to the increasingly powerful opposition groups in both those countries. Instead, his assistance has gone to opposition groups in Egypt and Libya, helping to topple two regimes that were certainly oppressive to their populations, but they were far less violent and repressive than either Iran or Syria, nor were they actively opposing U.S. interests in the world, as are Iran and Syria.

It makes one suspect that our President’s foreign policy ambitions are limited to advancing his own political interests rather than his country’s foreign policy interests.

Powerline on the Wednesday press conference

July 1, 2011

President Obama press conferences are more rare than his golf game these days, which may be a good thing. Sure, he gets criticized for how frequently he plays golf when so many things at home and abroad are going not well. That’s a limited beef, and it’s hard to take it further or draw inferences.

When he speaks at a press conference, though, the things he says raise a lot of questions and inferences that undermine his reputation and standing. Criticism of his performance on Wednesday are widely available. This one from John Hinderaker at Powerline is on point. The President’s actions over the past two years belie the claims he makes about his commitments and his agenda. It’s troubling.

on implementing change

March 14, 2011

The administration of the high school my kids attend has announced a new arrangement for funding extra-curricular activities. Generally understood, rather than each program charging association dues and planning fund-raisers of various types, there will now be an umbrella booster club from which all the activities will be funded. The organization and formula for disbursement decisions is unclear at this point, but as you can imagine this has created a lot of anxiety among various groups, parents, and students.

One of the associations we are part of due to our kids’ activities is meeting later this evening. Hopefully more light will be shed on this deal. And I hope it’s mostly light, not heat, though the two may go together naturally in this case.

On Freezing a Target

March 14, 2011

It seems to me that picking the target is an important step for radicals hoping to make an important change. This is why I’ve yet to understand the obsession with the brothers Koch and their eponymous company. That in their attempt to polarize their chosen target the leftists are beclowing themselves is an additional problem. It just seems to me a lot of energy wasted when more recognizable and vulnerable possibilities exist.