URLs du Jour


  • Eye Candy du Jour from Mr. Michael P. Ramirez, who reports: It’s dangerous out there.

    [If I had a hammer...]

    Need context? For those of us in New Hampshire, Chesa Boudin is comfortably far away, at least in a geographical sense. Michael Shellenberger, writing in the WSJ, provides background:

    When Chesa Boudin ran for San Francisco district attorney in 2019, he said crime was caused by poverty, wealth inequality and inadequate government spending on social programs. He called prostitution, open drug use and drug dealing “victimless crimes” and promised not to prosecute them. The result has been an increase in crime so sharp that San Francisco’s liberal residents are now paying for private security guards, taking self-defense classes, and supporting a recall of Mr. Boudin, with a vote set for June 2022. Retailers like Walgreens and Target are closing stores in the city, citing rampant shoplifting. Last week, a shockingly organized mob of looters ransacked a downtown Louis Vuitton store.

    When they got Louis Vuitton that was enough for Chesa to tweet: “Standby for felony charges.”

    The hammer, of course, is the implement of choice for smash-and-grabbers. Ex-LAPD cop Timothy T. Williams Jr., advised: “Businesses need to invest in displays that are shatterproof. That will be a deterrent. They can’t go in and do smash-and-grab because nothing is smashing for them to grab.”

    He did not add, but could have: "Don't bother waiting for law enforcement to do anything about this. Forget it, Jake, it's California, dude."

  • The Answering of Rittenhouse. Glenn Greenwald describes The Cynical and Dangerous Weaponization of the "White Supremacist" Label.

    Within hours of the August 25, 2020, shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin — not days, but hours — it was decreed as unquestioned fact in mainstream political and media circles that the shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, was a "white supremacist.” Over the next fifteen months, up to and including his acquittal by a jury of his peers on all charges, this label was applied to him more times than one can count by corporate media outlets as though it were proven fact. Indeed, that Rittenhouse was a "white supremacist” was deemed so unquestionably true that questioning it was cast as evidence of one's own racist inclinations (defending a white supremacist).

    Yet all along, there was never any substantial evidence, let alone convincing proof, that it was true. This fact is, or at least should be, an extraordinary, even scandalous, event: a 17-year-old was widely vilified as being a white supremacist by a union of national media and major politicians despite there being no evidence to support the accusation. Yet it took his acquittal by a jury who heard all the evidence and testimony for parts of the corporate press to finally summon the courage to point out that what had been Gospel about Rittenhouse for the last fifteen months was, in fact, utterly baseless.

    Click to read the sad story. I was reminded of this bit I've blogged before, but not recently: the Underground Grammarian essay titled "The Answering of Kautski", which (in turn) quoted Lenin:

    Why should we bother to reply to Kautski? He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There's no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautski is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understand everything.

    It's pretty clear that the movers and shakers in "mainstream political and media circles" are adapting Lenin's tactic: "Why should we bother to provide evidence about our Rittenhouse slurs? We'd have to deal with countering evidence, and we would reply to counter. There's no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, and everyone will understand everything."

  • Why I'll be walking right by the red kettles this year. The Salvation Army Wants White Donors To Offer ‘Sincere Apology’ For Their Racism.

    The charity is asking its white donors to do more than just drop some coins into the kettle when they go shopping this holiday season. Leaders of the Army want whites to apologize for being racist.

    “The desire is that Salvationists achieve the following,” the Army says in an online “resource” titled “Let’s Talk About Racism,” listing several goals including  to “lament, repent and apologize for biases or racist ideologies held and actions committed.”

    The resource claims Christianity is inherently racist and calls for white Christians to repent and offer “a sincere apology” to blacks for being “antagonistic… to black people or the culture, values and interests of the black community.”

    The news that Christianity is inherently racist would have come as a shock to Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Are you becoming racist as well as transphobic, Paula? Ilana Redstone, an actual, and very brave, faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She views America by Gaslight.

    Systemic (also sometimes referred to as structural or institutional) racism is often discussed as though it is the settled and unquestioned explanation for differences in educational attainment or wealth, among other things. Questioning or debating this causal relationship is often considered—in both public discourse and by some scholars—as a form of that same racism. However, labeling the act of investigating the role of systemic racism as itself racism requires a high level of confidence that we have all the relevant information we need to understand the complex causes of inequality. In other words, it requires that this be a settled question.

    Tarring someone with a label like transphobia or racism is among the most effective ways to damage reputations in our society. In many ways, the fact that those terms carry so much weight is a good thing: We need them to pack a punch to keep people from doing things that are widely considered oppressive or unjust. However, when the terms are used in combination with the settled-question fallacy, it belies the reality of the state of our knowledge on certain controversial and sensitive topics and, predictably, it creates resentment.

    Someone really should remake that movie and set it in academia. [Classical reference in headline.]

Last Modified 2023-05-31 4:51 AM EDT

Children of Dune

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

Personal trivia: I apparently got this when I was still a member of the Science Fiction Book Club. ("Book Club Edition" on the dust cover flap.) It's still holding together, though. I don't remember reading it back then, I think I just bounced off it.

The front cover of this edition says, breathlessly: "The Climax of the Dune Trilogy". Promises, promises. Frank Herbert followed up this 1976 novel with three more, in 1981, 1984, and 1987. For some reason I bought them, and they've been sitting on my shelves uncracked for years. Someday, I hope. They're in my TBR system, anyway.

Frank Herbert's son Brian has collaborated with Kevin J. Anderson on approximately 786 sequels and prequels since then. Not purchased, not gonna read 'em. Life is literally too short.

Anyway, this book: Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides has gone AWOL, wandered off blindly into the Arrakis desert, presumed dead. But his twin kids, Leto II and Ghanima, are around, and they're both wise beyond their (nine) years. Unfortunately, they are the target of a convoluted assassination plot, involving genetically manipulated killer tigers.

Paul's sister, Alia, has sadly succumbed to the Dark Side, allowing a past (dead) villain to shape her nefarious activities. And there are big changes on Arrakis, thanks to large-scale ecological engineering: water is plentiful in some areas, the area controlled by sandworms is shrinking, and this (of course) has impact on the production of Melange, the vital spice allowing interstellar travel. Also appearing: Paul's mom, Lady Jessica; the Duncan Idaho ghola; Gurney Halleck; Stilgar. And some new folks, including "The Preacher". (Who just happens to be a blind guy from the desert. Hm.) And sandworms, always nice to see them again.

So things happen. A number of people die along the way. But there's a constant drumbeat of pseudo-profound balderdash and mystical bullshit permeating the book. In dialog, inner monologue, or just exposition. You have to wade through it in case something relevant to plot or character is revealed, but that almost never happens. Example: At one point The Preacher yells at Alia in a "rolling stentorian shout": "Abandon certainty! That's life's deepest command. That's what life's all about. We're a probe into the unknown, into the uncertain."

For the record, Alia does not respond: "So what? Unhand me. You're a crazy bad brother." That would have been good.

Last Modified 2023-05-31 4:51 AM EDT