None but ourselves can free our minds

10 07 2016

What a shit week.

Some people have been posting photos of cute critters—of which, as a general tactic, I approve—to try to blot out the blood, but I prefer something steelier:

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSH3XR

Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

Ebon @tyriquex has identified her as Leshia Evans, mother of a 5-year-old son; according to ebon, she was released Sunday afternoon.





Baby, take a walk outside

4 07 2016

It’s time:

Camus’s take on the US, via John Doe and Exene’s uncertain harmony.





It ain’t me, babe

29 06 2016

Oh, to be innocent.

Innocence excuses every excess, every error, justifies every act, however unjust.

Think: He started it!

This is bad enough when dealing with small children, and one for which the correct response is usually I don’t care who started it—knock it off!, but in adults, arguing over politics?

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhnnnnnn.

It will surprise exactly none of you that I am skeptical of the notion of innocence in politics; in fact, it has no place. There is no political action without complicity: to make demands is to take responsibility, to legislate is to compromise, and to lead is to maneuver.

You can be good, in politics, but you cannot be innocent.

Which is why I’m not much moved by yelps from the likes of Rod Dreher that (almost) anything Christian conservatives do to resist anything queer is justified because, wait for it, the queer folk started it.

This is all over his blog: Well, okay, maybe in the past one or two people were mean, but now, the social justice warriors are all hellbent on attacking us poore wee Christian folk.

I want you to notice something. The Left always accuses the Right of advancing the culture war, even though it is usually the Right playing defense. The pharmacists’ situation is a classic example. Nobody in Washington state had the slightest problem finding RU-486 Plan B. If they couldn’t get it at the Stormans’ pharmacy, there were plenty pharmacies nearby where they could. Conscience exemptions are standard nationwide, and state and national pharmacy professional associations filed amicus briefs supporting the Stormans. Nobody wanted this regulation, except the Jacobins of the Sexual Revolution.

Now, I get that, on many sexual issues, the Right may feel under siege: same-sex marriage is now a constitutional right, trans issues are on the rise, and the death of Scalia (with a likely replacement by a Democratic nominee) means the wide latitude often afforded to mainstream Christianities is likely to be trimmed back.

These are losses.

But that one has lost does not mean that one is innocent—losing hurts, but it neither purifies nor sanctifies—or that playing defense somehow makes you more righteous than those on offense.  The mere fact that one is fighting to advance or fighting to defend is morally meaningless.

What is meaningful is the cause you seek to advance or defend.

Now, Dreher, in advancing his Benedict Option (as a defense against degeneracy), clearly believes his cause is just—boy, does he believe it

You may not be interested in the Jacobins, but the Jacobins are interested in you — and your children. We must fight them every opportunity we get, but we have to know what we’re fighting for, and we have to know how to continue the fight underground if we are ultimately defeated.

Leaving aside the infinitely more important cause of the eternal fate of souls, there is the matter of making sure that there are people alive in the generations to come who can properly bear witness to the past — not just the particularly Christian past, but to Western civilization, the civilization that — I speak symbolically, of course — came from Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem. We fight for Christian civilization itself, which includes what emerged from Moscow too. And therefore we must fight against the nihilistic successor civilization of New York, Los Angeles, Washington, and Brussels. We fight for the Paris of St. Genevieve, not the Paris of Robespierre. Modern civilization has no past, only a future. If our civilization is to have a future, it must be rooted in our past. We must remember our sacred Story.

I believe we will have a future, and I will fight for that future by fighting to keep alive the memory of the past. I won’t stake my life on defending New York, Los Angeles, Washington, and Brussels, but I will stake my life on defending Athens, Rome, Jerusalem, and Moscow. That’s where the battle is. It’s a battle taking place in every city, town, and village in America. Which side are you on?

—but that it is a defense grants it no more moral urgency than, well, the Jacobin advance.

Dreher, like every other partisan, believes his cause urgent and just, but being knocked off one’s pins doesn’t make the cause more just.

If that were so, then no political victory could be just, and every political loss, a tragedy.

A slaughter of the innocents, indeed.





A man looks up on a yellow sky

24 06 2016

As I watched the ticker on the BBC website tilt “Leave” I kept murmuring You stupid bastards.

Not that my opinion matters, of course. David Cameron gave the peoples of the United Kingdom The Clash’s choice, and choose they did.

I have no idea what this means, for the UK, for Europe, or for the US. There are smart people who can game out possible scenarios, but, at this point, the pieces are all still jumbled.

The leftist and partisan in me was, for reasons of pessimism, the murmurer; the political scientist was, in considering the jumble, more Well, isn’t this interesting.

Both, however, agree that voting to go while wanting to stay is a bad, bad tactic:

But many voters have since spoken out saying they are shocked at the poll’s outcome and did not believe their Leave votes would actually count.

One voter, named only as Adam from Manchester, told the BBC: “I didn’t think that was going to happen.

“My vote – I didn’t think was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain.

More:

Another voter, Mandy, said: “I was very disappointed about the result, even though I voted to leave, this morning I woke up and the reality did actually hit me.

“But if I had the opportunity to vote again, it would be to stay.”

This person, however, really takes the tea-cake:

One said: “I personally voted leave believing these lies and I regret it more than anything, I feel genuinely robbed of my vote.”

I feel genuinely robbed of my vote. You stupid bastard.





Like a bird on a wire

24 06 2016

So, I’ve been on Twitter for a minute and my impression thus far is: huh.

I thought the problem would be that I’d be constantly chattering away, constantly trying to get both the first and last words, and constantly hung up in this spat or that.

Not what’s happened.

Oh, I’ve jumped in here and there, but, mostly, I’m just listening in. I have almost no followers (which is a) not a surprise, given my relative silence; b) yeah, an ego dent; and c) probably for the best), but am slowly building a roster of people who I want to follow.

And that’s where the “huh” comes in: While most (not all) of the people I follow are on the left, they’re not all left in the same way. In particular, I follow a number of bloggers who are black, which means I’m not only able easily to eavesdrop on conversations of which I otherwise might not even be aware, I’m also able to see how those conversations play out.

That’s key: I’m certainly used to reading and hearing black (and Latino and Asian) voices in the media, but, for the most part, these are media saturated in whiteness. I don’t mean white supremacy—The Atlantic, whatever its faults, is not a vehicle for supremacism—but that the story choices and the readership are largely white.

Black Twitter writes for itself. It’s not that the conversation is confined to black people, but that the microphone is located firmly within black America, and passed around to other black people. I can listen in, but whether or not I do so is rather besides the point.

This is not a surprise. I mean, any white person who’s ever heard a Chris Rock performance knows that how black people talk amongst themselves is not how they talk with white people. But even as someone who is not completely clueless about the existence of black culture, it can still be a smack upside my head to see, in real time, it’s not all about me.

And that’s bracing, in the best possible way.





Another day draws away

16 06 2016

So I’m currently unemployed—which sucks—so one might think I’d be gettin’ all kinds of work done.

One has not met me, I see.

No, I’m one of those folks that if I have 5 things to do, I get 5 things done; 10, and maybe 8, maybe all ten.

But one thing? Two? Nope. Or 5 things, or ten, with no particular deadline? That’d be a no.

I’ve had posts in mind, but, clearly, haven’t written them. I have notes and files from this past semester that need to be sorted before the fall; they remain unsorted. Notes to prepare for my July class? Ha ha ha.

Okay, I did manage (today, finally), to enter books I purchased this past semester into my Filemaker database, and, finally, to figure out how to export it all to an Excel file (very easy). And I began sorting through those entries, highlighting those which lacked info (ISBN, say, or publisher) or which, because I may no longer own them or were duplicates, should be deleted.

(Which, shees, some of those books I clearly got rid of either before I left Minneapolis or before I left Somerville, but I still felt a pang seeing those titles. Did I really get rid of the Wonnacott & Wonnacott stats books, or are they in my folks’ attic? Whyyyy didn’t I keep the Shively? Honestly, I haven’t needed or even thought about those books for years, but here I am, panging after them. Pitiful.)

So, yeah. That I managed to pull my nose out of my naval long enough to do ONE THING today could mean I’m on an upswing. . . or that I’ll say, Okey-dokey, that was enough for this week.

TUNE IN, then, for another exciting episode of Will she or won’t she?

Or not.

 





Everybody knows the dice are loaded, 23

2 06 2016

Work hard, keep your head down, follow the rules, show up on time, show up early, leave late, educate yourself, keep up, keep plugging away, be loyal, faithful, and true.

Be disposable:

Frank has been with us for more than 20 years. He works in the warehouse and has done a good job for us. I like him. But, to be honest, for the work he performs I could easily replace him someone younger and… cheaper. Would it be wrong to let him go?

And the costs are rising, right? You’re increasing Frank’s salary every year, at least by the cost of living. And that’s not all. You’re contributing to his healthcare and his 401(K). He’s earning more and more vacation each day that he’s working for you. And as he gets older, you’re increasing the risk that he will cost your company more – maybe he gets injured or needs financial assistance because he’s not putting enough away for his retirement. Sure, he’s got experience. He’s proven. He’s a known card. But he’s costing you. And you know you can get the same job done by someone else for less money. I see this with many of my clients, and it’s a complicated issue. Are you a heartless cad if you let this guy go? Doesn’t loyalty count for anything? The guy’s given you 20 years of his life, and you’re just going to cut him loose? You must be some kind of awful person.

Actually, no you’re not an awful person. I am not encouraging that you should discriminate based on your employee’s age. Age discrimination is against the law. However, your job is to make the decisions. The hard decisions that are necessary to grow your business and ensure it as a going concern for years to come. Why? Because you have employees, customers, partners, suppliers and everyone’s family members (including yours) that rely on you and your company for their livelihoods. And their interests should rise above the interest of any one specific person. OK, maybe you don’t have to be so harsh. Maybe you can ease him out over the next two years. Or find another role for him where he could actually be more productive for you (Driving a forklift? Maintenance? Customer service?) as he gets older. But if you’re letting your overhead get too high and your profitability becomes negatively-impacted because you’re unable to make those hard choices, then you’re hurting everyone who depends on you.

So what, exactly, did our esteemed adviser say that was wrong?

Isn’t what he’s counseling precisely in line with that great capitalist hero, Milton Friedman?

That is why, in my book Capitalism and Freedom, I have called [“social responsibility”] a “fundamentally subversive doctrine” in a free society, and have said that in such a society, “there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

So, no, don’t do anything illegal—don’t fire the old man just for being an old man—but by all means, fire the long-time highly-paid worker for being a long-time highly-paid worker.

Do it for the “employees [except the one’s you’re firing], customers, partners, suppliers and everyone’s [except the employee’s you’re firing] family members (including yours).”

Do it for the children.

.
.
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At least Friedman had the guts to be a son-of-a-bitch about the cold logic of capitalism.








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