Archive for January, 2018

I Made a New Word LXXIV

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Non•flict (n.)

A bunch of nonsense you say to generate conflict.

This has the potential, in fact the very high potential, of turning an open, rational, free exchange of well-thought-out ideas into an incoherent shouting match, which may be desirable if you figure out you’re about to lose in the former but not in the latter. No one really wins a shouting match, which means no one really loses at one either.

“You’re a towel!”

You know the old saying: If the facts are on your side pound the facts, if the law is on your side pound the law; if both are against you, pound the table. These days, concepts that used to be simplistic, rugged and indisputable, like “facts” and “law,” have been yanked back into the realm of things that must be debated endlessly.

I think the update we need is something like this: Call out the evidence when the evidence is on your side, and place great weight upon the popular consensus when it agrees with you. If neither is on your side, then yank the trolley off the tracks. Go for chaos, hurl some insults, say a bunch of silly stuff, move the conversation down into the gutter.

I was noticing this while discussing something with a #NeverTrump guy, again, on the Hello Kitty of Blogging. I suppose the reason I’m noticing this is because it’s inconveniencing me, and it’s inconveniencing me because I’m actually interested in what they have to say. I know President Trump doesn’t have a perfect score when he predicts what’s about to happen, or plies the citizenry with his interpretations of what did happen, so I’d like to hear the details when someone calls him a liar. And I’m not automatically dismissing it by any means. But, I notice, automatic dismissal is what I run into when I merely ask the question…which seems odd, to say the least.

And this has become a pattern with the #NeverTrump crowd. You ask them to explain themselves, you get static. An innocuous question like “What’s the most egregious lie Donald Trump has ever told?” nets you all this useless conflict, when it seems like you should be able to get back a reasonable answer from which a rational back-and-forth discussion may ensue. Seems they’ve calculated such a thing would not work to their advantage.

So based on all I’ve seen, I conclude the following. The new three-point has taken the place of the older one, since we’re living in a post-metaphysical culture now and “facts” are no longer “facts.” But, furthermore, the three-point has become a two-point, since in a post-metaphysical culture, “evidence” doesn’t mean anything either. Two and two make nine, and you’re a towel!

It’s bigger than Trump, or #NeverTrump. It’s swollen to consume everything. Wade on in, ignore any “evidence” and just state your opinion. If you pick up that the popular consensus goes along with that, crow in victory, that’s all the “right” or “correct” you need. You win. If not, then shove the conversation in the dirt. Hurl some insults, which are bound to be recapitulated…and you win again. Or at least, you get a stalemate.

Our infatuation with the scam that is higher education, has brought us here. The kids who are currently experiencing, or anticipating, their ivy-league years think of these thoughts they’ll be properly credentialed & permitted to have, as complex compared to the thoughts they’d have if they wore steel-toed work boots. And they’re probably right. But complexity is just one meaningful attribute. An even more meaningful consideration is whether the idea is falsifiable, and so many of these college kids seem to be beginning one year after they end another one, again and again, without pondering anything that’s falsifiable. Nothing testable. And so there’s no “must,” as in — one of my favorite examples — “This bolt head must be 12mm, because it’s too big for my 7/16″ and too small for my 1/2″.”

Even when they’re ready to ridicule whoever doesn’t go along — in fact, I would say, especially when they are so ready, and willing — there’s no test, no way to know for sure. And it seems, no one has ever explained to them that if there’s no way to know for sure, there’s no call to denigrate the intelligence or reasoning capacity of someone who disagrees. Or, for that matter, someone who merely asks to know more. Or hesitates to go along. They slept through that lecture. But still want to be taken seriously.

And then they layer more nonsense upon the nonsense that was there before, whatever it takes, to avoid losing the argument. Arriving at the right answer has nothing to do with it after awhile. It’s all about winning. And scolding.

Related: The Dumbing Down:

What has happened is these young people now getting to college have no sense of history – of any kind! No sense of history. No world geography. No sense of the violence and the barbarities of history. So, they think that the whole world has always been like this, a kind of nice, comfortable world where you can go to the store and get orange juice and milk, and you can turn on the water and the hot water comes out. They have no sense whatever of the destruction, of the great civilizations that rose and fell, and so on – and how arrogant people get when they’re in a comfortable civilization. They now have been taught to look around them to see defects in America – which is the freest country in the history of the world – and to feel that somehow America is the source of all evil in the universe, and it’s because they’ve never been exposed to the actual evil of the history of humanity…

Just Because It’s Your Job to Make People Watch You, Doesn’t Mean You Have Something to Say

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Jonah Goldberg, writing in Townhall:

It may be hard for some people to get the joke these days, but for most of human history, actors were considered low-class. They were akin to carnies, grifters, hookers and other riffraff.

In ancient Rome, actors were often slaves. In feudal Japan, Kabuki actors were sometimes available to the theatergoers as prostitutes — a practice not uncommon among theater troupes in the American Wild West. In 17th century England, France and America, theaters were widely considered dens of iniquity, turpitude and crapulence. Under Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan dictatorship, the theaters were forced to close to improve moral hygiene. The Puritans of New England did likewise. A ban on theaters in Connecticut imposed in 1800 stayed on the books until 1952.

Partly out of a desire develop a wartime economy, partly out of disdain for the grubbiness of the stage, the first Continental Congress in 1774 proclaimed, “We will, in our several stations … discountenance and discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse-racing, and all kinds of gaming, cock-fighting, exhibitions of shews [sic], plays, and other expensive diversions and entertainments …”

Needless to say, times have changed. And I suppose I have to say they’ve changed for the better. But that’s a pretty low bar. I don’t think acting is a dishonorable profession, and I’m steadfastly opposed to banning plays, musicals, movies and TV shows.

But in our collective effort to correct the social stigmas of the past, can anyone deny that we’ve overshot the mark?
The most recent Golden Globes ceremony has already been excoriated for being a veritable geyser of hypocritical effluvia, as the same crowd that not long ago bowed and scraped to serial harasser and accused rapist Harvey Weinstein, admitted child rapist Roman Polanski and that modern Caligula, Bill Clinton, congratulated itself for its own moral superiority.

The interesting question is: Why have movie stars and other celebrities become an aristocracy of secular demigods? It seems to me an objective fact that virtually any other group of professionals plucked at random from the Statistical Abstract of the United States — nuclear engineers, plumbers, grocers, etc. — are more likely to model decent moral behavior in their everyday lives. Indeed, it is a bizarre inconsistency in the cartoonishly liberal ideology of Hollywood that the only super-rich people in America reflexively assumed to be morally superior are people who pretend to be other people for a living.

Exactly. We’d be better off throwing a pair of dice to figure out what’s right vs. what’s wrong, than we are turning to the acting profession for moral guidance. This is a profession — never forget this — that relies on pretending false things are true.

I see Gerard posted a video of the one thing that, in my mind, persuasively puts other countries ahead of the good ol’ US of A; we have this bizarre cultural wrinkle, that compels us to dress up our weather girls as high-ranking executives in some stodgy old bank or law firm or something. I’ve complained about this before, and for good reason. It’s dumb. Mexico has Yanet Garcia and the Mighty Mayte Carranco, and we have stuffy also-rans in pantsuits scolding us about the five-day forecast like we’re the stupidest male student on the third-grade playground and they’re the frumpy yard duty teacher. My home country is getting its ass whipped on this front, for no good reason.

Had to reply to one commenter:

I’m truly glad you enjoyed the video so robustly. However, there is a concept in play of appropriate professional dress. Weather forecaster is a professional job, no? Sometimes it is a stodgy man in a suit who does the job, more rarely a stodgy woman, sometimes a hot babe in a cocktail dress. I do understand sex sells. But please to never again bring up the issue of skankiness with regard to today’s women, as the men of the manosphere so often do; no, the hypocrisy is too flaming to bear. For although the weathergirl may not be a ho, she is wearing a ho’s uniform. Your appreciation for one and not the other makes no logical sense to my simple and straightforward mind…

To which I said…

“Weather forecaster is a professional job, no?”

Wherever there is a disagreement, it’s a rare and good opportunity that arises, to mark the exact point of dispute. And here it is.


Entertainers are entertainers. They’re not leaders or moral compasses or role models or oracles. And throwing all these things into the same big stewpot is dangerous.

It’s an important point, because it highlights exactly where we’re getting all twisty, where things are falling apart. Entertainers have the job of making people want to watch them. And so the rest of us — quite rightly, I would say — anticipate that kids will watch them, and try to figure out what the consequences will be. And so there is aroused this pressure, from outside & from within the entertainment industry, to figure out what would put kids on the wrong path, and do the opposite. All good so far.

The problem is, as Goldberg points out above, we’ve overshot the mark. We’ve passed the point where we see entertainers as a lodestar for where our society is going, for where it ought to go. And it’s not lost on me that we’ve pivoted, in many cases, from figuring out what’s right & true, to figuring out what’s inevitable…as in, right or wrong, this is where it’s going, better get on board or get left behind…

Some of the biggest problems we have aren’t getting fixed, until this one gets fixed first. Court jesters are not kings. They need to mind their place, and the rest of us need to fulfill our basic duties as good citizens, by putting them (back) there.

There’s another problem here too though, one that has to do with inappropriately binary, all-or-nothing thinking. The casual female deserves more respect. There is dressing like the female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and there is a “ho’s uniform”; any woman who’s shopped for her own wardrobe knows there are a lot of increments between those two extremes. This is a case of achieving the opposite of what’s intended, for if you take a look at the schoolgirls we’re supposed to be educating to respect themselves better, by pressuring the weather girls to dress up like bank executives — well, the schoolgirls aren’t dressing like bank executives, let’s just say that. The problem here is that the adults have taken something ultra-seriously, thinking the kids will take it equally seriously, and the kids look at it and go…meh.

But we didn’t really want the schoolgirls to dress like bank executives, did we. The errant ultra-strict dress code is pressed upon the weather girls, to make the weather girls look appealing, but to female viewers. As in, look pretty, but don’t make other women jealous. Everyone knows this is true. We’re just not allowed to talk about it.

Now excuse me, I have to go find out about the weekend forecast in Tijuana, because…reasons.