Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday morning roundup

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air on how the Washington Post is on the verge of a major well-duh revelation - namely, that the reason why a country so astoundingly rich in natural resources - namely, Venezuela - is a sewer of poverty, violence and despair:

The cause of the starvation is obvious. Even under the most benevolent of socialist regimes, the government is ill equipped to operate such a complex system. And this one is far from benevolent, with the party leaders more interested in ensuring their own comfort and security than that of the rank and file. But all of this was predictable because, as we’ve said here more times than I can count, this is how socialism ends. Every. Single. Time.
A bracing upside-the-head from Secretary Kelly:

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Friday said the terror threat is worse than most realize, saying some people would "never leave the house" if they knew the truth.
“I was telling [Fox host] Steve [Doocy] on the way in here, if he knew what I knew about terrorism, he’d never leave the house in the morning,” Kelly said on “Fox & Friends.”
He noted there were four major terror attacks in the last week — in England, Egypt, the Philippines and Indonesia — "by generally the same groups."
David French at NRO makes a great point about how today's campus jackboots may well avoid ever having a real-world wake-up call:

Conservatives tend to respond to incidents like this by rolling their eyes, calling the students “snowflakes” (a term many on the right need to stop using, given their own hysterical reactions to leftist critiques), and relishing their inevitable education in the so-called “real world.” The presumption is simple — these kinds of antics won’t fly when they’re trying to sell insurance or write code or balance a company’s budget. The “real world” is a harsh teacher, and soon they’ll have to grow up.

This response, however, is fundamentally wrong. For the most committed campus radical, the “real world” doesn’t await; a lifetime of activism does. They’ll move seamlessly from academia into government, art, and politics, and sometimes right back into academia.
They can avoid it even if they join the corporate world:

Indeed, even the “real world” isn’t what it used to be. Now that we live in hyper-partisan times and increasingly work in geographically separated ideological cocoons, it’s easy to take your activism straight to work, even if it’s not a philosophy department or progressive law firm. Corporate boycotts directly extend campus politics into the world of commerce, and any person who works for a major progressive corporation knows very well what they risk if they publicly dissent from the company line on the same hot-button cultural issues that trigger campus meltdowns.

There are many real worlds now, and a person of any ideology — if they so choose — can live their entire life without facing the stereotypical “wake-up call” that tends to moderate political extremes. So don’t look at campus craziness and take any comfort at all from the fact that these so-called “snowflakes” will graduate and enter the marketplace. The real world they’ll choose to join will indeed change them, but not in the way that conservatives imagine. Their real world will only magnify their voice.
Dale M. Coulter, associate professor of historical theology at Regent University, has a great piece at First Things on something I personally relish: verbal jousting:

During my brief sojourn in the English system, I became accustomed to the English model of clear argumentation spiced with wit and supported by a well-crafted rejoinder. For those not used to such an approach, it can feel more like a bludgeoning with a long sword than the incisive jabs of a rapier. There is always a fine line between destroying an argument and destroying the person who made it.
This approach teaches you to turn words into weapons in the service of argument. It can begin with a series of questions, seemingly innocent and yet designed to ferret out weaknesses. Depending on the answer, the second round of questions may be punctuated by “Surely you don’t mean X,” or a series of well-placed modifiers (“gross” oversimplification, “fallacious” reasoning, etc.). Appeals to authority are sometimes dismissed with a simple wave of the hand (“Shortest dissertation in the history of that school” was one such dismissal I witnessed). For those who understand it, this cultural form is a kind of rhetorical flair designed to elicit a strong response, rather than deliver an actual blow to the argument.
I experienced reverse culture-shock after moving back to the U.S., when I offered a critique of a paper written by a colleague. I had assumed that my own concern for the colleague’s argument would come through in the careful way I had read the paper. Not so. I discovered that I had offended not only my colleague, but many observers, who rushed in as though my criticisms had done permanent damage. I realized that I had to find softer ways to criticize my American colleagues, who had not been formed in the hard-hitting English system.
One thing to be said for that “aggressively English dialectic of debate” is that it has a leveling effect among socio-economic classes. On the other side of the pond, where regional accents function as signifiers of whether one is cultured or not, the art of skillful argumentation can make equals out of those who come from different classes. One learns to stand on the strength of argument alone.
This art of verbal jousting does not fit in the postmodern world, so concerned with providing safe spaces. Verbal jousting is an invitation to respond in kind, much as “joning” functions in the African-American community to cultivate and display verbal skills that integrate individuals into the community. Yes, joning can lead to violence—just as there is a reason why, at an Oxford viva in the Middle Ages, there was to be precisely one sword length between the examiners and the examined.

Many a writer has dealt with the subject of why the Indianapolis 500 is unique and even magical among the world's sporting events, but I think Christopher Jacobs at The Federalist nails it as well as any effort I've seen.



  1. This approach teaches you to turn words into weapons in the service of argument.
    Those folks on the wrong end of the sword in the middle edges were just looking for tax relief from their feudal knight overlords. At that time it was more advantageous to join knight mafia than oppose it. "Sure I am ready to go war on behalf of your cause (do I get something?)." Not so much today, serfs have I-phones. Issues with academia seem will work themselves out Darwinian style.

  2. Re: Darwinian style: who will prove to be the fittest and therefore survive? I wager that it won't be the spineless administrators at these schools. It will be the twenty-something brutes who have trampled the whole notion of accumulated human knowledge and wisdom into dust.

  3. Re: Darwinian style: who will prove to be the fittest and therefore survive? I wager that it won't be the spineless administrators at these schools. It will be the twenty-something brutes who have trampled the whole notion of accumulated human knowledge and wisdom into dust.

  4. History tells us that those twenty something brutes are going to become suck ass consumers, if they aren't already. Have no fear, their dollar will be here soon enough. I'm not rolling over for them, are you?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Of course not.

      I sort of wonder if our distinctly American DNA might not be the factor that allows us to stave off Venezuela / North Korea - level misery. As our society gets too top heavy with leftist dweebs making outrageous demands to undo human nature, a critical mass of people will see that the actual work of society gets done by normal people who get up every day to do productive things, never giving a thought to whether they have cisgender privilege or how big a carbon footprint they're leaving. It will eventually be seen that the normal, productive people have the leverage, because the snowflakes, jackboots, pajama boys and Julias can't turn on the lights in their homes without the normals.
      Now that it appears we've avoided a furtherance of the totalitarian leftism of the MEC era, obstacles imposed on the productive class are falling away, and people are seeing just who is and isn't making a substantive contribution.

      That's my hope, at least.

  6. Spineless Brutes, Darwinian in action.