URLs du Jour

2020-08-10

The Babylon Bee provides our Eye Candy du Jour: The Official NASA Guide To More Inclusive Space Terms.

[Inclusivity in Space]

Those saying "what are you talking about" should click here where NASA govsplains the "actively harmful" nicknames past racists have stuck onto heavenly bodies.

  • Just about an hour up Route 4, in Gorham, the University of Southern Maine is getting a little more totalitarian in its demands for demonstrating allegiance to the Church of Woke:

    The University of Southern Maine has asked all members of the community to sign a "Black Lives Matter Statement and Antiracism Pledge." The pledge cites Ibram Kendi, who popularized the concept of "antiracism."

    We stand in solidarity with those who are working for justice and change. And we invite you to join us in pledging to be a practicing antiracist at the University of Southern Maine and in all aspects of your life. We believe, as Ibram Kendi writes, that "the only way to undo racism is to constantly identify it and describe it — and then dismantle it."

    The University will publish the list of antiracists. There very well may be retaliation against those who do not sign the pledge.

    The University Near Here hasn't tried anything like that, as far as I can tell. Its various subgroups are posturing wildly, however. For example, something called "NH Listens" recently issued Statement on Protests. Which includes this sentence:

    Racism is endemic and hurts all of us.

    I'm pretty sure this was written by someone who doesn't really know what "endemic" means, but thought it sounded profound.

    [RTWT if you want to appreciate how many incoherent banalities and clichés can be strung together in a short statement.]


  • At Tablet, Zach Goldberg examines How the Media Led the Great Racial Awakening. Specifically, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

    Countless articles have been published in recent weeks, often under the guise of straight news reporting, in which journalists take for granted the legitimacy of novel theories about race and identity. Such articles illustrate a prevailing new political morality on questions of race and justice that has taken power at the Times and Post—a worldview sometimes abbreviated as “wokeness” that combines the sensibilities of highly educated and hyperliberal white professionals with elements of Black nationalism and academic critical race theory. But the media’s embrace of “wokeness” did not begin in response to the death of George Floyd. This racial ideology first began to take hold at leading liberal media institutions years before the arrival of Donald Trump and, in fact, heavily influenced the journalistic response to the protest movements of recent years and their critique of American society.

    Starting well before Donald Trump’s rise to power, while President Obama was still in office, terms like “microaggression” and “white privilege” were picked up by liberal journalists. These terms went from being obscure fragments of academic jargon to commonplace journalistic language in only a few years—a process that I document here in detail. During this same period, while exotic new phrases were entering the discourse, universally recognizable words like “racism” were being radically redefined. Along with the new language came ideas and beliefs animating a new moral-political framework to apply to public life and American society.

    Zach has interesting time-series graphs demonstrating his thesis.


  • David Henderson provides Two 1930s Political Leaders Agree About Complexity. Guess who! First:

    We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms assumed by civilization, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become.

    And:

    Instinctively we recognized a deeper need—the need to find through government the instrument of our united purpose to solve for the individual the ever-rising problems of a complex civilization.

    Hint: the first one is a translation. You can check your guesses (as I did) by Googling.


  • From the latest dead-trees National Review, Kevin D. Williamson on The Celestial Afterlife of Karl Marx.

    That Black Lives Matter should have tendrils connecting it directly to the Marxist terrorist network of the 1960s and ’70s is entirely unsurprising. It would be surprising if it were otherwise. That’s the stuff of 2020.

    BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors describes herself as a “trained Marxist,” with “trained” calling to mind that comical Marxist study session in Hail, Caesar! She tells Democracy Now! that her entrée into politics came under the guidance of Eric Mann, the Weather Underground terrorist who was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder after shooting up a Massachusetts police station. For radicals of that kind, it is easy to see the appeal not of Marxism per se but of Karl Marx himself and the Marxist style: Never mind the socialism, Marx offers up radical anti-individualism, a totalitarian prefiguration of contemporary identity politics, pathological anti-Semitism, the pretense to science, and many other ingredients in the soup of radical politics du jour. And in this meme-addled age, it is worth keeping in mind that Karl Marx, with his big head of hair and Brooklyn beard, makes a pretty good mascot. 

    The article is almost certainly paywalled out the wazoo, but might I suggest you subscribe?


  • Also paywalled, I think, is Jay Nordlinger's dirge that showed up in my LFOD. Google News Alert.

    Contemplating this scene, I have been thinking of Dinesh D’Souza — who said something brilliantly insightful in conversation with me several years ago. I will paraphrase it, although Dinesh says it much better.

    In a contest between freedom and fairness, fairness will win every time. Fairness will kick the daylights out of freedom. (Some of us think freedom is fair, but that’s another story.)

    Anciently, subjects had a question about their king: “Is he a good king?” In other words, is he a fair and just king? Does he rule equitably? Few people thought of freedom, autonomy, rights — the pursuit of one’s own destiny, come hell or high water.

    What does a child say, almost as soon as he can talk? “That’s not fair!” It is apparently elemental.

    Freedom is a scary thought to people. Nobody wants freedom, honestly, except for a few weirdos. “Live free or die” is just a slogan — no one means it. What people want is protection. What they want is their idea of fairness.

    The Democrats have long understood this. Trump and his Republican Party understand it. You almost never hear Trump talk about freedom, do you? “Freedom” used to issue from every Republican mouth. No more. Populism doesn’t do freedom, really: It does fairness.

    In America today, you can have pink-hued populism or brown-hued populism. The constituency for freedom — for the ideals of the American Founding — is essentially nil. (David Frum was saying this back in the early ’90s.)

    I have long let my mind imagine a candidate who said, “This is my promise to you: I will subdue or deter our enemies. I will adhere to and enforce the Constitution. And I will do my damndest to keep your sorry behinds free.” How many votes do you think such a candidate would get? Nine? (And four of those would be mistaken ballots.)

    Well, that's sad. Maybe true. America had a good run, and I was there for a lot of it.

Annihilation

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

As I've said before: we're getting pretty deep into the Netflix queue, which I keep in descending order by their algorithm's predicted rating for me. Netflix said I would consider this "just OK" and it was on target.

A large extraterrestrial object enters the atmosphere, seemingly about to destroy a pretty lighthouse somewhere on America's coastline… but instead simply turns into an enigma which mystifies the best and brightest minds the USA has to offer. Something called the "Shimmer" has enveloped the lighthouse's environs, a pretty array of special effects. It keeps growing outward, so that's a problem. Government solution: send in teams of scientists and military types, who promptly vanish and are never heard from again.

Except for a guy named Kane (Oscar Isaac), who unexpectedly reappears at his house, disconcerting his wife Lena (Natalie Portman). Unfortunately, he's very very sick, and quickly becomes uncommunicative.

So, since their strategy is working so well, the government decides to send in an all-girl team! Girl power, that's the ticket! And it's diverse, containing two white ladies (Lena, of course, and also a researcher played by Jennifer Jason Leigh); an African-American, a Hispanic, and a lesbian.

What they rapidly discover: the alien presence is playing tricks with their minds (for some reason that's never explained), and also doing some really disgusting things to the local flora and fauna. And threatens to do the same to them, usually accompanied by violence and insanity.

I didn't fall asleep. These days, that's the mark of an OK movie.