URLs du Jour


  • Eye Candy du Jour from those bright sassy guys at Reason: Libertarian James Bond.

    Andrew Heaton does a pretty good British accent. Guest (non-singing, alas) appearance by Remy.

    Pun Son and I are going to see No Time to Die at some point in the near future.

  • Fundamental incoherence helps with this. Ayaan Hirsi Ali examines Critical Race Theory's new disguise.

    Does “critical race theory” (CRT) really exist? Not according to Ralph Northam, the Governor of Virginia. CRT, he recently told The New York Times, “is a dog whistle that the Republicans are using to frighten people. What I’m interested in is equity.”

    But rather than convince anyone about the non-existence of CRT, his comments merely confirmed something else: namely, CRT’s remarkable ability to shape-shift into whatever form its advocates choose. For Northam, CRT might not exist — but that’s only because it has undergone a rebranding.

    Indeed, while many on the Right have obsessed over the rise of CRT in the past year, a different abbreviation has quickly become entrenched in America’s schools and colleges: “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI).

    The University Near Here is all in on this strategy. DEIncluding my former employer, the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. It's not a good time to be a dissenter from Woke Theology at UNH.

    Or, for that matter, at the Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute of Technologickal Arts:

    Dorian Abbot is a geophysicist at the University of Chicago. In recognition of his research on climate change, MIT invited him to deliver the John Carlson Lecture, which takes place every year at a large venue in the Boston area and is meant to “communicate exciting new results in climate science to the general public.”

    Then the campaign to cancel Abbot’s lecture began. On Twitter, some students and professors called on the university to retract its invitation. And, sure enough, MIT buckled, becoming yet another major institution in American life to demonstrate that the commitment to free speech it trumpets on its website evaporates the moment some loud voices on social media call for a speaker’s head.

    Yes, he was Excluded at MIT. Abbot's heresy was to question and criticize. what we oldsters used to call "affirmative action", now DEI, at Newsweek.

  • Even accidental heresy must be punished. Robby Soave notes the pitchforks and torches deployed against a Wicked Witch of the Midwest: Michigan Students Accuse Celebrated Music Professor of Racism for Screening Othello.

    Bright Sheng is a professor of composition at the University of Michigan. He was born in China in 1955; when he was a child, the Red Guards took away his family piano. Nevertheless, he grew up to become a widely celebrated musician: He received a MacArthur "genius" Fellowship in 2001, and has twice been a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in music.

    His undergraduate students should certainly count themselves lucky to be able to learn from him. Instead, they are demanding the university fire him for rendering the classroom an unsafe space. The administration is looking into the matter, and Sheng has stepped down from teaching the class for the time being. He has apologized profusely for making his students feel wronged, though many have loudly rejected his apology.

    What was Sheng's transgression? He screened the 1965 version of Shakespeare's Othello in class as part of a lesson about how the play was adapted for the opera. This version stars Laurence Olivier, a white actor, who wore blackface to portray the protagonist Othello, a Moor. The choice was controversial even at the time, and today, the portrayal is considered by many to be akin to a racial caricature.

    Also commenting on the matter is Patterico (with more on the spineless kowtowing of Sheng's colleagues to the mob): A Survivor of the Chinese Cultural Revolution Falls Victim to the Cancel Cultural Revolution.

    In the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the people were told that they must adhere to a particular set of beliefs, which emphasized the newly elevated nature of a formerly oppressed group. Meanwhile, the citizenry was told to despise all members of the former ruling class—including many who were hardly elites, but who could be argued to have some distant relative who might tenuously be labeled elite in some way. The belief system was in many ways bizarre and at odds with common sense, but that didn’t matter. The citizens were told to believe it, or else. Children were told to report to the authorities any adults failing to conform. Suspected offenders were hauled before secret tribunals and harangued until they were forced to confess to offenses that in many cases they had not committed. They were told that the confessions would save them from ruin, but in most cases the confessions actually cemented their removal from society. The atmosphere in the air was thick and oppressive—filled with the paranoia of those who never know when their own time will come.

    Does any of that sound . . . familiar?

    On odd-numbered days, I think institutions of higher education need to be reformed. On even-numbered days, I think they should be burned to the ground and replaced.

    (Just kidding on that last bit. I think.)

  • As Joey Tribbiani used to say: How you dune? Kyle Smith looks at the new movie Dune.

    Watching Denis Villeneuve’s film of Frank Herbert’s Dune filled me with admiration — not for Villeneuve or Herbert, but for George Lucas. Of the three big-name directors who immersed themselves in Herbert’s sci-fi tale, Lucas was the one who understood exactly what to do with it: strip it for parts, combine those parts with some other burgled bits (from Flash Gordon), and add plenty of whimsy and lightheartedness. Villeneuve’s Dune is light as lead.

    It’s well worth seeing (in a theater, as I’ll explain) and I certainly hope the second half gets made. But it’s a slog. Gorgeous and eerie, it drifts along when it should be charging ahead. It’s a film of painterly vistas, haunting music, and woozy reveries, defined by stiff dialogue.

    Kyle says it's worth seeing in a theater, but most of his review is telling me I shouldn't spend time and money doing so.

    I like his description of melange, aka spice: "a drug/health supplement/navigational aide/dessert topping/floor wax."