Category Archives: Social Commentary

My Computer Problems

One of the reasons that posting has been non-existent (in addition to prepping for a hurricane) is that we came to Florida with a broken laptop. Our Toshiba Satellite (a year and a half old) is flaking out, refusing to boot, and when you can cajole it to, it will die in mid session. That means that the only computers we have are our phones and Patricia’s iPad. Which means that I haven’t had a keyboard (other than finger painting on glass, which is largely useless).

I ordered a Bluetooth keyboard from Amazon on Sunday, and it arrived today. I’m typing this with it on the iPad, and I don’t feel crippled any more, but I still have to stab at the glass to make things happen. The mouse is supposed to arrive tomorrow, which will allow me to clear out my mailbox.

I’ll probably write a long essay sometime soon about how much I hate Steve Jobs and his hatred of useful user interfaces over aesthetic ones.

[Late Saturday evening update, as the storm approaches]

It’s not utterly impossible to blog from an iPad, but it’s close enough to it that it’s not going to happen. It is almost impossible to copy and paste, or to embed a tweet. Because apparently Steve decided that mice would not be allowed with His Preciousssss.

[September 19th update]

Welp, the authorized Toshiba repair place says it needs a new mobo and battery. Over $500 for a machine we paid $350 for a year and a half ago. I’m going to go pick it up and see if I can find some used parts. Despite the fact that it only had a year’s warranty, you’d think that Toshiba would be a little embarrassed to have it fail so soon.

[Bumped]

Freedom Of Expression

This gay couple is awful.

Mr. Phillips, 61, grew emotional as he talked about the case.

“I have no problem serving anybody — gay, straight, Muslim, Hindu,” he said. “Everybody that comes in my door is welcome here, and any of the products I normally sell I’m glad to sell to anybody.”

But a custom-made wedding cake is another matter, he said.

“Because of my faith, I believe the Bible teaches clearly that it’s a man and a woman,” he said. Making a cake to celebrate something different, he said, “causes me to use the talents that I have to create an artistic expression that violates that faith.”

Mr. Mullins and Mr. Craig, speaking in the kitchen in their Denver home, rejected the distinctions Mr. Phillips drew.

“Our story is about us being turned away and discriminated against by a public business,” said Mr. Mullins, 33, an office manager, poet, musician and photographer.

Who would want to have a wedding cake provided under legal duress? It’s totalitarian.

An Open Letter

to (racist) Ta-Nehisi Coates:

“The problem with the police,” you write, “is not that they are fascists pigs, but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream.” There, you’ve said it. You’ve indicted the majority of the American people on serious charges—and many of them (not all) in their guilt and shame will grant you a moral pass. Some will feign outrage, but most, like aristocrats who reversed roles with the plebeians at the European Dionysian bacchanals, will assume a mask of contrition, look to some hoped-for redemptive moment in the higher registers of their innocent conscience, and move on. Your accusations have made for interesting dinner talk among the cognoscenti and literati in liberal bourgeois enclaves, where some believe moral masochism and symbolic self-flagellation are signs of virtue.

You touch on your flirtation with some special black racial essentialism in your book, and it is both affecting and sympathetic: “My working theory then held all black people as kings in exile, a nation of original men severed from our original names and our majestic Nubian culture. Surely this was the message I took from gazing out in the [Howard] Yard. Had any people, anywhere, ever been as sprawling and beautiful as us?” Unfortunately, there is nothing special about the black body. There is nothing special about any racially distinct physical body per se. Black skin does not convey nobility. Neither does white skin, or yellow skin. Your body is not special until it conjoins itself to a mind and adapts nature to its needs and desires and rational aspirations, its self-actualization and manifested agency. Any human body that fails to achieve a self-cultivated moral character and inscrutable human will is merely an ecological social ballast: ignoble, exploitable, a heap of unintelligible flesh on this earth.

This abnegation of personal responsibility assumes its logical end in your failure to grant black people responsibility for their own lives in the phenomenon of black-on-black crime. You tell your son: “Black-on-black crime is jargon, violence to language . . . . To yell black-on-black crime is to shoot a man and then shame him for bleeding.” Why? You give no reasons. In truth, black-on-black crime is a pathology that has to be reckoned with. Your own experiences with the police and with violence tell a more complicated story than you’d like. You write about your friend Prince Jones. He was shot and killed by a police officer who claimed that your late friend had tried to run him over with his Jeep. This police officer was black. You write of a schoolyard boy who first apprised you of your place in the world by revealing a gun at his waist. In brandishing his weapon, you write, “he let it be known how easily I could be selected.” You write eerily of his haunting presence in your life—the boy in whose small eyes you saw “a surging rage that could, in an instant, erase my body.” He, too, was black. Throughout your letter to your son, black people are mostly treated as mindless automatons who can’t seem to help themselves—and you apply this idea of helplessness to violence. You quote your own father who justified beating you by announcing, “Either I can beat him, or the police.” That’s all there is to it?

In your world, black-on-black crime is causally reducible to the machinations of the orchestrators of a system apparently designed to rule the neurons and synapses of the black brain. Have you told your son that he is twice as likely to be murdered by another black man than by a white police officer? Perhaps not, because it would not make any difference. The gang members and black individuals who kill others, including blacks, are certified moral icons who deserve dispensation because, in your reasoning, they are powerless before the street crime of history that brought the ghettos into existence.

As they do with the Arabs, the Left deprives everyone, other than white people, of moral agency.

Norm Augustine

A conversation with him. The transcription has a few problems, but it’s interesting. His thoughts on space tourism:

Much like the airlines once you get more people you got to fly the cheaper the flight, the tickets cost or the more tickets you could sell the cheaper it is to operate an airline and you get this happy, just the opposite of the death spiral that some people talk about. So I think that there are a lot of people today, and I don’t mean billionaires, who would pay a fair amount of money to uh… I don’t mean just go up on a rock and come back to L.A. I mean go into orbit for a day or two and look through telescopes and have lectures on space, experience weightlessness and get to get sick and all these great things. But I do think that that will be the change agent. I don’t see anything that’s going to reduce the cost of space transportation by a factor of 10 other than a much higher volume…

And if we can get people involved, and I think we can, in tourism it will make a lot of difference. I’ve had the good fortune to, I’m kind of an amateur explorer or whatever and I’ve been to the South Pole three times and the North Pole once I’ve rafted the Grand Canyon and I you know you go through this long list of stuff. And people say well you know not many people want to go into space. Who would want to do that? Well I think back when I rafted the Grand Canyon I think there were 14000 people a year going through the Grand Canyon on a raft at that time. If you’d ask Wesley Powell the first person to do if, what 75 years later 14000 people will be into the canyon he would say you’re crazy if you’d asked the Wright brothers that the population of Detroit gets on an airplane every day and complains because they’ve already seen the movie and the food’s bad. The Wright brothers would have thought you were bonkers or something. You know there are many other examples one can go through of that kind of thing and people do want to experience these things and I think that will be the biggest change agent of all.

I’ve been preaching this for three decades.

Our Cat

She’s eight years old. A couple months ago, we spent a grand to get her teeth cleaned. This morning, I paid $280 to find out that she probably has some sort of cancer. We’ll have to spend another $400 on an ultrasound to more accurately diagnose and determine next steps (which could include no more good money after bad).

[Evening update]

Patricia came home, and Rerun wanted to climb on her lap while she was on the computer.

We moved her to her favorite blanky from when she was six months old, and she started kneading it.

[Late evening update]

She ate some of her dinner, then crawled on my lap. Then I moved her to Patricia’s lap, and she was even more happy.

[Update Friday afternoon]

Yesterday, she got the ultrasound, and they did a biopsy of the tumors (yes, two, with an iffy-looking liver as well). The vet thinks it’s either lymphoma, which would be relatively good news, or carcinoma, which would be bad, because it’s basically inoperable. They won’t know until they get lab results next week from the tissue samples.

We’ve started her on prednisone on in case it’s lymphoma, in the hopes that it will reduce the sizes, and perhaps even result, best case, in complete remission. They also gave her an appetite stimulant. This morning, she ate some of her normal, not prescription, food, and seems a little better. We’re flying to Florida in the morning and will board her at the vet while we’re gone for a week or so, and they’ll keep an eye on her.

[Bumped]

White Nationalists Versus SJWs

They’re not fighting over ideological differences, they’re fighting because they have so much in common. Much like the Nazis and the Communists.

I’m always amused when the most race-obsessed people in the world accuse normal people of being racists.

[Sunday-morning update]

The thread seems to have drifted into discussion of Joe Arpaio. He was a sadistic scumbag, but the people of Maricopa County re-elected him multiple times. There are many Joe Arpaios and terrible county jails in this country. The only reason Arpaio was prosecuted by the Obama Department of (In)Justice was because he refused to knuckle under to their insistence that Arizona not enforce federal immigration laws.

[Wednesday-afternoon update]

Don’t call these people (or anyone, really) “anti-fascist”:

We may not take today’s anarcho-communists as seriously as we did back when they had the power, the weapons, and the infrastructure to murder tens of millions of people. But their goals are no different. As they put it, they don’t want a “U.S.A. at all.” The country they want to occupy the center of North America has no First Amendment, no freedom of expression, and people with opposing views (of any views, not just Nazis) are beaten, imprisoned or murdered for intellectual dissent. They may run the gamut from anarchism to revolutionary socialism in their views, but they have far more in common with fascists than they do with the people they seek to attract with the sweet-sounding “anti-fascist” label.

Davies notes that the propaganda value of “anti-fascism” in the West reached its apex when Francisco Franco won the Spanish Civil War, with help from the fascist governments of Italy and Germany. It then fell out of favor when Stalin aligned with Hitler in hopes of devouring half of eastern Europe. Before the Germans turned against them, the Soviets seized half of Poland, annexed the Baltic States, and invaded Finland in the 1939-1940 Winter War, casting its democratic government at the time as a fascist enemy (of course).

So always with these little would-be tyrants. When you use the label “antifa” or “anti-fascist,” you are helping and enabling a resurgence of terrorist liars in the exact same tradition, who are indistinguishable from neo-Nazis except in the specific motivations for and targets of their authoritarian impulses and irrational violence.

Yup.

[Bumped]

[Update a couple minutes later]

Yes, “antifa” is the moral equivalent of neo-Nazis.

Yes, as noted above, going back to Stalin.

Trump’s Support

Clive Crook has it right:

The first theory, if it were true, would be an argument against democracy. If tens of millions of Americans are racist idiots, how do you defend the popular franchise? That isn’t a sliver of reprehensible people who’ll be safely overwhelmed when elections come around. And there’s plainly nothing, according to the first theory, you can say to change their minds. Why even go through the motions of talking and listening to those people?

This sense that democratic politics is futile if not downright dangerous now infuses the worldview of the country’s cultural and intellectual establishment. Trump is routinely accused of being authoritarian and anti-democratic, despite the fact that he won the election and, so far, has been checked at every point and has achieved almost nothing in policy terms. (He might wish he were an authoritarian, but he sure hasn’t been allowed to function as one.) Many of his critics, on the other hand, are anti-democratic in a deeper sense: They appear to believe that a little less than half the country doesn’t deserve the vote.

The second theory — the correct theory — is a terrible indictment of the Democratic Party and much of the media. Why aren’t the intelligible and legitimate opinions of that large minority given a hearing? Why must their views be bundled reflexively into packages labelled “bigotry” and “stupidity”? Why can’t this large minority of the American people be accorded something other than pity or scorn?

Those who scorn Trump’s supporters might argue that none of their opinions are in fact intelligible or legitimate. After all, don’t their views on immigration boil down to racism and white supremacy? What about their idea that the Charlottesville protesters and counter-protesters were morally the same? Or their morbid fear of change? Or the hypocrisy of their opposition to “big government,” when everybody knows that Trump-voting states such as West Virginia are the biggest net recipients of federal money? If you read the New York Times, you know they have an endless supply of stupid, evil opinions.

In fact, this automatic attribution of stupidity and bad faith is just another kind of bigotry.

Yes, and it’s the kind that gave us Trump, and will continue to do so, because they can’t help it. As Glenn notes, a key element of being a leftist is the psychic income of feeling morally superior to better, happier people than you. I just wish that we could have gotten a Trump that is just as harsh on the media and the left, but did so in a less ignorant and buffoonish manner. I could certainly do it.