URLs du Jour

2018-09-10

[Amazon Link]

  • Kevin D. Williamson writes on the alleged white power hand signal: Not Okay

    […] urban legends can be bad business: In Umberto Eco’s wonderful novel Foucault’s Pendulum, three forlorn editors at a vanity press decide, after suffering through one too many cracked manuscripts claiming to expose occult conspiracy theories, to invent a ridiculous conspiracy theory of their own — and, in the process, they accidentally bring that conspiracy into existence. Something similar (if just about inverted) happened in the real world during a U.S. Navy investigation of gay sailors, back when the Navy was obliged to pretend there were no homosexuals in its ranks. For years, gay men had referred to themselves as “friends of Dorothy,” a discrete way of communicating their sexual tastes. The naval investigators kept hearing that term and concluded that there was somewhere in the world a woman called “Dorothy” who was somehow at the center of a vast network of gay sailors. This was life before Wikipedia.

    A bunch of 4chan idjits pulled a related prank by inventing a rumor that the familiar “okay” gesture — thumb and forefinger forming a circle, the other three fingers extended, suggesting the letters o and k — had been adopted as a white-power signifier, with the three fingers forming a w and the thumb and forefinger suggesting the top part of a p. They made graphics and everything — people are suckers for a neatly presented visual aid. A few media outlets fell for the prank, which, of course, will never die, even though the white-power significance of the okay gesture has been exposed as a witless media confabulation born of a prank. During the Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, one of his law clerks was accused of making a furtive white-power gesture: “Did Zina Bash Flash a White Supremacist Sign During Kavanaugh Hearing?” Newsweek asked. The usual doofi on social media did the usual thing. Bash is an unlikely white-power thug: She is Mexican on her mother’s side and a descendent of Holocaust survivors on her father’s.

    This even sucked in some reasonable people, like Patterico (who honestly owned up to being gulled). But, as Kevin notes, it's a close race between the alt-right and the MSM in the "Complete Bunch of Twits" competition.

    Today's Amazon Product du Jour is for anyone who wants to avoid doing the wrong thing with their hands. This is why I always keep my hands in my pockets.


  • At Reason, Steve Chapman recounts: Trump Confronts the Enemy Within.

    Deep in the White House, someone is acting to subvert Donald Trump's policies, thwart his desires, and generally sabotage his presidency. No, not the anonymous "senior official" who wrote an op-ed for The New York Times. The name of the person making a relentless effort to keep the president from achieving his goals is well-known: Donald Trump.

    Other presidents have occasionally shot themselves in the foot. Trump's lower limbs are riddled with new bullet holes every day. He campaigned as though he didn't want to win, and he governs—"governs," rather—as though he doesn't want a second term, or maybe even a full first term.

    It would be only a mild surprise to learn that he has been a Democratic mole, scheming incessantly to covertly discredit the Republican Party by making it complicit in his ineptitude and sleaze.

    It would have been so easy for Trump to dial down the loose-cannon crazy once in office. But… you know, character.


  • I was super intrigued by this NYT Tweet:

    If you're like me, your first reaction is: "It doesn't matter."

    But: it's the "we must unlearn" one, from a page called "Mindful Being". The NYT explains, ludicrously how Facebook saved us all from being fooled by deceptive claptrap, but left the earnest claptrap unmolested:

    The Mindful Being page existed for only two months before Facebook removed it, The page mainly focused on innocuous topics like health and well-being, though some of its posts challenged the media and the pharmaceutical industry, suggesting it was laying the groundwork to tread into more controversial content.

    Yeah, fine.

    To use the language of kids today: if you're goaded into foolish thoughts by Facebook pages, that's on you. It doesn't matter who paid to put the pixels up there.


  • When I went to Omaha's Lewis and Clark Junior High School in the 60s, I was first made aware of Rosh Hashanah when I noticed that 75% of my classmates were absent.

    I don't know if Ben Shapiro is skipping school or not, but he has a worthwhile list for the upcoming year: Where I Can Do Better in 5779. Among his resolutions:

    I Have Used Solutions-Talk When Sympathy-Talk Is Demanded. Early on in my marriage, I discovered that a particular type of spousal conversation invariably ended poorly: a conversation in which my wife told me about her problems and I tried to solve them. It turns out that what she really wanted was a sympathetic ear, somebody to simply listen, rather than jumping to solving the problem. Politics, in my view, is all about problem-solving — after all, my slogan is “facts don’t care about your feelings.”

    But the reality is that in the political domain, very often we just want to be heard. Much of President Donald Trump’s support is based on the feeling among his supporters that he hears their concerns, where the cultural left dismisses them; the same is true for many on the left, who feel that conservatives dismiss their worries. While I’m generally annoyed by sympathy-talk in politics, that doesn’t alleviate the necessity to at least engage sympathetically before turning the conversation toward solutions.

    I'm not sure if that insight will help my blogging, but (assuming I remember it) it will definitely help my marriage. ("About time!" — Mrs. Salad.)