William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Category: Culture (page 1 of 170)

The best that has been thought and written and why these ideals are difficult to meet.

Another Academic Calls For A Return To Eugenics (To Battle Global Warming)

Trust us. We're academics.

Trust us. We’re academics.

Academic philosopher S Matthew Liao (NYU) and pals are coming to get you. They want to monkey with your genes, kill your unwanted, inject growth-stunting hormones into your womb, poison your food, and hook you permanently on oxytocin. But, hey: it’s for your own good. And it’s going to save the planet.

In the peer-reviewed article Mein Kulturkampf—no! I’m only kidding. It’s “Human Engineering and Climate Change” in Ethics, Policy and the Environment. Our jolly eugenicists set out a Master Plan to create race of genetically superior Supermen, enlightened beings who care deeply about the environment.

How’s it work?

“[P]eople often lack the motivation or willpower to give up eating red meat even if they wish they could. Human engineering could help here.” Solution? Poison the food. Add vomit-inducing chemicals to your chops. Presumably armed government agents would pull up to supermarkets and supervise its administration.

Sadly, “anyone not strongly committed to giving up red meat is unlikely to be attracted to this option.” Solution? Force (he uses the word “encourage”) people to wear poison-release patches that would “induce mild intolerance” (emphasis mine) by causing the immune system to “react” against meat proteins. “[H]enceforth eating ‘eco-unfriendly’ food would induce unpleasant experiences. Even if the effects do not last a lifetime, the learning effect is likely to persist for a long time.” You bet it will.

S Matthew Liao is a little guy. Yours Truly is the opposite. Fellow big men, ever notice how some of our diminutive brothers bark excessively and nip at our heels like small dogs trying to prove their toughness? And how others, enraged by their lack of stature, cherish a hate against our superior manliness? Perhaps this is what accounts for Liao’s next idea.

There are too many tall people, Liao says. Solution? Reduce height via “preimplantation genetic diagnosis”. How? “[I]t would simply involve rethinking the criteria for selecting which embryos to implant.” Implanting embryos? Say, isn’t that the brave new idea Aldous Huxley had? I wonder which government bureaucracy would certify embryos.

Yet Liao, perhaps because of the blindness of jealously, has neglected the obvious solution: since there are more short people than the majestic tall, just eliminate the unsightly short people! This removes unwanted flesh and preserves beauty. For those men less than 6′ who manage to escape the Gene Police or are not killed in the womb, I say after-birth abortion should be considered seriously. And since we need a mechanism for their dispatchment, how about baseball bats upside the head? Let this be our song!

Liao seems to believe only stupid people have kids. Thus he suggests “cognitive enhancement” to lower birth rates. He says “many environmental problems seem to be exacerbated by—or perhaps even result from—a lack of appreciation of the value of other life forms and nature itself.” Solution? Shoot people up with the “prosocial hormone oxytocin” or a “noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor”. And also—you could see this one coming from a mile off—reduce testosterone. Sorry, big men. Liao seems to have it in for us.

All this seem intrusive to you? Not so, says our little friend: “human engineering could be liberty-enhancing.” Liberty enhancing? Yes, sir. Why, “if we were able to scale the size of human beings, then given the same fixed allocation of greenhouse gas emissions, some families may be able to have more than two children.” How generous!

But, say: have these guys thought this all through? Sure, they’re all PhDs at major universities, and therefore are as near to human infallibility as possible, but nobody bats 1.000. Should we be concerned?

Of course not. Human engineering is safer than geo-engineering, say our cognitively superior colleagues. Safer? Yes, sir: safer. Proof? Hey, if their word is good enough for themselves, it’s good enough for us. Besides, their recommendations have been peer reviewed. What more proof do you need?

Liao knows what you’re thinking and says, “examining intuitively absurd or apparently drastic ideas can be an important learning experience”. Amen to that. I learned to steer clear of NYU. Also: “History is replete with examples of issues or ideas which, whilst widely supported or even invaluable now, were ridiculed and dismissed when they were first proposed.”

That’s true. But History is even more replete with lunacies rightly rejected, their inventors tarred and feathered by a horrified citizenry or locked in a small padded cell without their shoelaces lest they come to harm.

That was then. Now we give promoters of the preposterous cushy jobs at elite universities. The end cannot be long in coming.

Update This paper has been rediscovered (YOS had it a year ago; see below) by HotAir and National Review.

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Thanks to Mike B. for alerting us to this new idiocy. For more about eugenics, click here.

U Penn’s Latest Conn: Religious Schools Shouldn’t Be Accredited

We sell only the best educations. Trust me!

We sell only the best educations. Trust me!

Tell the truth: English Departments at our “top” universities are stuffed to the quad with (A) Progressives or (B) Conservatives?

Anybody claiming (B) is either ignorant (I mean this politely) of university politics or lying, and probably lying. Does the correct answer, (A), thus imply English Departments contain only leftist ideologues? No, sir, it does not. It does however mean that the majority of the faculty will be slavishly devoted to NPR and Jon Stewart, and that the minority of tradition-minded faculty will have learned to keep their mouths shut, or face being purged.

Here’s another opportunity for truthfulness: would you rather have your offspring learn English from a Department which bases its lessons on books chosen for (A) political correctness and the demographic characteristics and sexual proclivities (and excesses) of their authors, or (B) their intrinsic beauty and cultural importance?

If you said (A), then you’ll be happy to learn that our top universities, each accredited by sober agencies, are just the place. Think of accreditation as a secular imprimatur, an official guarantee that your child will not be able to take her mind off race and sex, even if she wanted to.

But if (B) is your choice, well, you’re running out of options. Best bet is to try a smaller school, perhaps even a Christian one (like many top schools used to be, e.g. Harvard, Georgetown). If you told the truth on the first question, you already know why.

Christian and religious schools are accredited, too. They (think they) have to be. Money is on the line. Our government, in its wisdom, says schools must be accredited else no loans to students, and no money to the schools, either (a simplification, but largely on the mark). If a school lacks accreditation, the credits earned by students won’t be transferable, and degree-obsessed employers might not accept the diploma.

The aptly named Peter Conn, a professor of English and education at the University of Pennsylvania, wants Christian schools to lose their accreditation. He says that any Christian school receives accreditation is a farce, as he writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Conn is upset at the insularity of religious schools. His obvious unfamiliarity with Christianity explains why he doesn’t know Matthew 7:3. Don’t bother to look it up. It’s the one about the plank in the eye.

Conn, a man, says accreditation “confers legitimacy on institutions that systematically undermine the most fundamental purposes of higher education.” Purpose? Hmm. Conn’s school is hosting a talk by Amanda Lock Swarr, “Forcing Sex: Violent Contestations over South African Masculinities.” Where “In preparation, we will be reading the introduction to Sex in Transition as well as ‘Paradoxes of Butchness: Lesbian Masculinities and Sexual Violence in Contemporary South Africa.’”

Or you could attend the Queer Method Conference, but I’m afraid we’ve already missed the ARCH center’s symposium on Addressing Global Rape Culture.

Conn, a man, says, “Skeptical and unfettered inquiry is the hallmark of American teaching and research.” Conn, a man, says, “such inquiry cannot flourish—in many cases, cannot even survive—inside institutions that erect religious tests for truth. The contradiction is obvious.”

At U. Penn, you can sign up for ENGL 090.401, Gender, Sexuality and Literature: Our Cyborgs, Our Selves: “Women’s bodies have also been among scifi’s most persistent objects of analysis…” Or ENGL 390.401, Reproductive Fictions: “fictional narratives often prompt us to consider how and why certain bodies, lives, and social structures are reproduced.”

Conn, a man, says accrediting Christian schools is a “scandal” and a “fiasco” and that it “makes a mockery of whatever academic and intellectual standards the process of accreditation is supposed to uphold.”

At U. Penn, you can take ENGL 769.401 Feminisms and Postcolonialities: “…to explore key intersections of gender and sexuality with the dynamics of colonialism, decolonization, nationhood, and globalization.”

Conn, a man, says, “Let me be clear. I have no particular objection to like-minded adherents of one or another religion banding together, calling their association a college, and charging students for the privilege of having their religious beliefs affirmed.”

Hey, Conn, man, I agree with you. It has “become a melancholy fact of our contemporary cultural life” that university humanities departments have become bastions of asininities and foolish thought.

My advice to tradition- and reason-based schools is to skip accreditation. Do you really want to be in the same camp with Conn’s English Department? Accreditation costs too much anyway. Eschew government money. Do you really want to grip the purse strings of an increasingly immoral Mother?

Your Big Government Update

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Government Is Driving Inequality

One thing my lefty friends are right about is the growing number of rich. The distributions of income and of wealth are moving ever farther from uniform.

The left say it is the fault of corporations, like Google and Apple, and it is true that they’re raking it in. But to say it is the fault of corporations is like blaming the fever for the disease.

CNBC’s Rick Santelli—the guy whose previous rant launched the Tea Party—is back and has identified the cause. Government. The plot above is from Brian Maloney, a Santelli supporter, which he summarizes with these points:

1. By keeping interest rates artificially low, the Janet Yellen-led Federal Reserve has encouraged reckless government borrowing and spending while crushing savers, especially America’s retirees.

2. The Fed has focused all its efforts on making the rich even richer through Quantitative Easing while working people suffer and are ignored by Washington’s elite.

The most fun you can have is to show your lefty friends that Democrats and other big government supporters have more money (or at least no less) than Republicans and small government advocates. Big government supporters support monetary policies which make them richer. The evidence for this abounds, but it does not compute. And is therefore never accepted.

Instead, there are ever more calls for larger government to punish “the rich.” The punishment works, to an extent. Some are ruined, but except for a pittance the money flows to those who already have it. Income and wealth inequality grows.

This is why you have Joe Biden and Mrs Clinton running around saying they are “poor” and “dead broke”. Clinton shifted her millions and millions and millions into a fund which, by an accounting trick, is no longer her “personal” money. But who decides how it is spent? She does. Hilarious. Consequence? “Hillary cares for us!”

Trick is know when to move to cash. I’m thinking soon, soon. Near the mid-terms? Or closer to when our dear leader exits the scene?

Hobby Lobby Theocracy

Apoplexy wasn’t in it the day after the Hobby Lobby decision. A theocracy was only days away, screeched the left.

And you know what? The left were right again. A theocracy is coming, and when it arrives, those who refuse to deposit a pinch of incense into the flames will take it in the neck.

The new, or new-ish, religion is The State. Worship of, propitiation given to, prayers offered to, earnest supplicants for The State. The State is mother, The State is father.

Remember The State’s parable of Julia? She was held as the ideal congregant. A human being who from her lucky escape from the womb to her death relied on only one thing. The State.

Here’s what the new acolytes were angry about. The State said to employers, “Thou shalt give your employees these drugs and thou art forbidden to require from them any recompense.” Those employers who worshiped a different God said no. Sacrilege! That is the only thing that could have accounted for the frenzied anger. A god has been dishonored!

It’s true that some of the outrage was conditioned on the flight from reality (and science) that began with birth control and ends (or at least pauses before discovering a new diversion) with calls for State recognition of polyamory. Incidentally, remember when some of us predicted that? Slippery slope, said our unthinking enemies. Sigh.

That The State said It Shall Be and it wasn’t was too much for worshipers to assimilate. No debate was welcome or possible because, well, who can question a god?

Since the natural enemy of The State is Nature, which is to say Reality, look for ever shriller calls for its debasement.

The Curse of Doorknobs

Just so you don’t think it’s all doom and gloom around here, a bright (or at least funny) spot. Vancouver a short while back gave the cry, “What about the children!” and banned doorknobs.

Yes, doorknobs! Vancouver banned doorknobs.

The State having spoken, functional devices which previously all thought harmless and of little except decorative interest were seen as the true evil menaces they really were. The State cannot err.

Replacing doorknobs are those handle-type openers. If you want to see what one looks like, click to the Daily Mail, which has a picture of one sticking out of the arm of a schoolboy who ran into one.

Now I know what you’re going to say, and you’re right. At least he didn’t run into a doorknob!

Comment Policy

If you are an employee of The State, or rely on it for the majority of your living, common courtesy requires you to self-identify your conflict of interest. (Right, JH?)

Update High priests dispatched to investigate possible blasphemy.

Don’t Go To Confession; Humpty-Dumptying The English Language; More

Australian Anglicans unveil their new confessional.

Australian Anglicans unveil their new confessional.

A Time To Die

The play is done! But, as you can see, you cannot see it. This being the 5th of July and a Saturday in what must be a very long weekend, I decided to hold off posting it until next week when there is a better chance of people being near their computers.

Regular readers will remember that George R.R. Martin offered to accept $20,000 from any of his readers who longed to be killed off in a ghastly manner in his next novel. Not being as famous as Martin, I offered the same service for the low, low introductory price of $10.

Though the hour is late, there is still a chance to participate. Click the Donate tab at the top and I’ll find a way to squeeze you into your grave. But before you do, you’d better…

Go To Confession

But not in the Anglican Church in Australia. The enlightened leaders of that organization are now forcing priests to rat out parishioners who confess to acts which carry jail terms of at least five years.

“Forgive me, enlightened one, for I have sinned. It has been forty-two weeks since my last confession.”

“Go on, my son.”

“I accidentally side-swiped another car on my way home last week and didn’t report it.”

Sounds of pages flipping. “Were you at the time going more than 40 KPH?”

“Um, I don’t recall. Maybe.”

“Hmm….” More page flipping. “Well, was the other car moving at the time?”

“No, it was parked.”

Flip, flip, flip. “Now we’re getting somewhere. Was this on a public street or in a private lot? Such as might be found at a Drake’s Supermarket?”

“Right on the street.”

“One final question. Were you drinking at the time?”

“Well, I might have had one or two beers at the pub. But I was fine to drive.”

“My son, according to the Criminal Code, if you’re found guilty—and you have just confessed to the crime, so that is not really in question—your offense has a maximum sentence of six years. I’ll be sending a recording of this conversation to the police. Slide your ID through the slot. I’d advise you not to attempt to flee. That can add considerably to your tariff…”

Confession no longer means what it used to mean, and this is because of…

Humpty Dumpty’s Revenge

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

How many remember Carroll wrote Alice as a parody of intellectual insanity? Never mind. Satire isn’t what it used to be. The danger of the absurd becoming the normal is too great to attempt it.

Case in point. The enlightened leaders of Vancouver’s public schools have, in their new “LGBTTQ+” policy, mandated the use of “gender-free pronouns xe, xem and xyr” (PDF). These replace the usual masculine and feminine pronouns, which, if accidentally heard by (say) a boy pretending to be a girl, might hurt his feelings.

“The Vancouver Board of Education’s policy also includes making restroom and sports activities accessible to all transgender students, regardless of their biological sex.”

How many boys will pretend, at least for the day, to be girls to have access to the girls’ locker room?

Mike Lombardi, vice chairman of the Vancouver Board of Education, said his Humpty-Dumptying of the English language will “create a safe learning environment for every child.”

Don’t giggle, dear reader. Just wait until the school board sends home a form which has been purged of “hurtful” (science- and reality-based) pronouns and which requires you to participate in the Humpty-Dumptying. If you refuse, it will be you who is deemed to be mentally ill, not the fantasists.

Gender no longer means biological sex or grammatical classification of nouns but, “A socially constructed concept of identity based on roles, activities, and appearance such as masculine, feminine, androgynous, etc.”

So if you believe you are a fish, you are a fish. And everybody else ought to believe you’re a fish, too. Who insists you are not a fish is a speciophobe. In this way, socially constructed means self constructed. Reality does not choose your identity, you do. And your choice cannot be questioned. Whatever crime against reality you commit, others must also commit to honor your choice.

This is the way of the malleist. Reality itself must obey our commands.

On Your Duty To Dress Well

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There was no argument about it. I looked good. Overcoat, scarf, brown fedora, all topping an old-fashioned, close-to-the-body cut suit, tie, pocket square, adult shoes. The rule is: never skimp on shoes or hats, because it always shows. But everything else came from thrift stores.

One of the fellows who sat across from me obviously put just as much effort into his outfit. Doubtless he agreed with me that dressing well is a duty, that looking good makes for a superior and pleasant citizenry, that sloppiness in appearance is a manifestation of sloppiness in morals.

His t-shirt had the exact right shade of irony; the superhero emblazoned on it hadn’t been seen on television in decades. This signaled his lone-wolfiness. His jeans had an artful rip, surely put there by the designer who must have labored hours deciding exactly where to place it. Neon tennis shoes, probably costing more than my entire outfit. His greasy hair, each strand placed to look like it wasn’t placed, and scruffy beard were standard-issue hipster, but maybe that’s because he considered his Google Glasses would cause people to overlook this unoriginality.

He was right. So aware of that geeky carbuncle was I that I couldn’t think of anything but how I wanted to slap it off his face. I don’t like having my picture taken. At least he was the best, or at least most honestly, dressed of the trio that interviewed me.

The outcome was as predetermined as the color of the pocket square I would choose. Which I would have known had I first read the fate of another well dressed gentleman interviewing with the poorly attired:

The cognitive dissonance on display is painful to see. As in: Clothing is totally not a big deal! Because we’re cool like that! But it’s plain that it biased the interviewers. The team’s disappointment upon seeing the suit was immediate and unanimous. If you truly believe that suit equals loser, you can’t help it. Nevertheless, the fiction of objectivity has to be maintained, so he denies it to the candidate’s face, to us, and himself.

Scene Two. Wedding followed immediately by a reception on site. Plenteous good food and drink music and dancing. And well dressed people, their outfits showing an awareness of the occasion. At least until the meal ended, and then a few folks dashed out to disrobe and put on their Standard Summer Ugly, defined as message t-shirt, shorts, and garish shoes (Winter is the same, except the shorts are replaced by jeans). The reason given? Comfort.

Now just you take a look at the picture of Mr Sean Connery above. Perfectly dressed. Does he appear uncomfortable to you? No, sir. He does not.

Here, from the same source, is a man skating while dressed as a gentleman should be. Does he appear uncomfortable? No, sir. He does not.

icesk

My late grandfather had a picture of his dad and uncle fishing in the Detroit river from around the turn of the last century. Both men carried stringers, bait, rods, and wore three-piece suits, because why? Because that is what men did. They knew they had a duty to society to look their best, even when at leisure.

My great grandfather and uncle did not look uncomfortable. Indeed, they were, as my grandpa assured me, at ease. I was not uncomfortable in the interview, except when peered at from behind a direct feed to the NSA (motto: We’re spying on you for you own good).

Of course, it goes without saying that Cary Grant had a right to dress like he didn’t give a damn about his onlookers, but he knew that the social contract required he do better.

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If you are uncomfortable in your adult clothes, likely as not it is a habitual mental aberration, cured by stopping thinking about it. But it’s also probable that the fit of your garments stinks.

The boxy suits sold nowadays are designed for 1950s barrel-shaped robots, not men. This too is easily fixed. Take your purchases to a tailor and have him alter them to your body. Do not trust the department stores to do this for you. We’ll speak of this more later, but you will find that clothes meant to fit you and not some generic statistical homme moyen are eminently comfortable. Movement will be easy and free. And you will look good—as you should.

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Thanks to our friend John Cook for the picture source.

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