The Critics Respond, Or; Dr. Detroit Meets Dr. Delete

avatar Tom Klockau

This generation has been referred to as the “Glamour Birds” for some time. I reviewed a friend’s immaculate ’71 Landau last year. Not to be confused with the 1964-66, AKA the “Flair Birds.”

http://jackbaruth.com/?p=7088

It’s too bad about what’s going on at the site I used to write for. What was a nice little community that just liked yakking about old cars is slipping away into a fiefdom. Hell, I’m not the only one who took a powder from there; we could start a club. Oh sure, if you agree with the big cheese, you’ll probably be fine, but heaven forbid you stray from the party line.

It was my own fault. I commented and should have known better…

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Seven

This one is funny, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it shows everybody’s favorite troll, Deadweight, in full-on Baruth Derangement Syndrome mode. Guys like this fail to understand the economics of the internet—if you really hate me so much, the absolute WORST way to protest me is to click on everything I write, read every word of it, and then leave a comment. Seriously, that’s a triple fail.

The other reason that this is such a poor troll is that he’s protesting a guy who has literally made it his job to call out unethical behavior in others. I am the reason that TTAC has a disclosure policy. You can read my arguments for it here. I have never accepted anything over $50 in value from an OEM, and I’ve left a few presents behind at the hotel that were excessive in nature.

Let me go ahead and recap everything I’ve ever accepted from a manufacturer in my five years in this “business.”

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Six

The Huffington Post just published what I can only describe as a “multi-media document” regarding the economic plight of Millennials. It combines graphics, animation, and a series of 8-bit-styled “adventures” to enhance (or detract from) a fairly conventional explanation regarding “structural disadvantage”. I can only imagine how much effort it took to assemble — the list of credits at the end would be enough for an indie film — and even at the poverty wages paid by HuffPo to its contributors it must have been quite expensive as well. Yet it’s mostly an example of what the proprietor at Chateau Heartiste calls a “pretty lie”.

I read the whole piece with attention, wondering if they would ever get around to the economic elephant in the room. You won’t be surprised to find out that they never do. If you scroll through all the animations, you’ll find some terrifying statistics. The author’s father bought a house in Seattle for slightly less than twice his annual income at the age of 29; the author would need more than a decade’s worth of income at the age of 35 for the same house. A four-year public-college degree costs about eight times as it did in 1980, compared to minimum wage. In the country’s 10 largest metros, residents earning more than $150,000 per year now outnumber those earning less than $30,000 per year. More Millennials live with their parents than with roommates.

There are plenty of reasons given for this mess, although most of them magically boil down to racism and none of them even dare to touch on the truth of the modern economic disaster in America, the actual reason for everything from urban housing shortages to the nationwide healthcare crisis. In a single phrase, it is this: Americans no longer make what they buy, and they no longer buy what they make. It’s that simple — and despite the dismissive tone taken by the Tweet at the top of this article, “Scary China” is at the heart of this disaster.

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Five

Why and wherefrom the trigger warnings, and whose innocence or interest are they meant to comfort, defend, and preserve? Who is afraid of whom or of what, and why do the trumpetings of doom keep rising in frequency and pitch? — Lewis Lapham, “Petrified Forest”

It was just coincidence that I happened to finally get around to my newest issue of Lapham’s just after squabbling online with one of the Best&Brightest’s fussier members, but the contrast between the two could not be more stark. That goes for the men behind the statements as well. Lewis Lapham, as I don’t expect any of you to know, is the former editor of Harper’s and a Renaissance man whose intellect continues to shine brightly and forcefully although he is now in his ninth decade. “Arthur Dailey” is, by, a Canadian citizen who claims to be a wealthy human-resources executive and investor.

It is only reasonable that these two individuals would come at the free-speech issue from divergent, if not entirely opposing, places. “Arthur” spends his days protecting the interests of his company in a country where feelgood socialism tends to dominate the public discourse. Mr. Lapham, with his outstanding and thoroughly recommended current publication, seeks to discover truth and beauty by juxtaposing the best of classical and modern writing. He is also a staunch defender of traditional American values, if not necessarily friendly towards the Republican Party and/or the current President.

My sympathies are naturally with Lapham here. I’m an American by birth and culture. I believe in the unrestricted freedom of speech and in the latterly controversial idea that the truth is best discovered when no voice, however distasteful, is silenced. Towards that end, I believe that nothing should be held as sacred or above discussion — even if, in a bit of an ouroboros-esque twist, we are talking about free speech itself. So lets give Arthur’s ideas a workout, shall we?

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Four

Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity

— Goldstein, in 1984

George Orwell’s primary brilliance was in his recognition that crimethink was going to be the primary offense prosecuted in any future progressive/socialist society. As the power of the state increases, fewer and fewer people will actually act against it because to do so is increasingly futile. One hundred and fifty years ago we had states seceding. A hundred years ago we had thousands of veterans marching on Washington and getting murdered for their trouble. The most anybody’s been willing to do lately is “occupy” a public park or a wildlife refuge until the men with guns ask them politely to leave. There’s not going to be any further resistance to the United States Government — at least not until paper money runs out of steam.

In truth, The Year Of No Lord 2017 resembles Brave New World more than it resembles 1984. The Alpha and Beta citizens of American society are “decanted”, sometimes literally via IVF, in Manhattan and Chicago and San Francisco. They are programmed from birth with the gentle secular monotheism of the modern age, a ridiculous pablum of moral equivalence belied at every turn by the lily-white gated-and-guarded circumstances of their daily lives. They attend good schools and take jobs in the so-called FIRE industries. They wet their beaks in the stream of commerce and make effortless millions. They advocate for unlimited immigration then build walls around their homes.

Only an idiot could fail to notice the massive gap between the “everyone is equal” media-delivered catechism and the astounding inequality, racial and otherwise, of the globalist illuminati. (Lower-case “i” there; I don’t believe in conspiracies.) Therefore, you cannot be a successful member of progressive American society until you develop crimestop. Until you do so, you will forever be in a situation where any offhand comment on your part could lead to you losing everything from your home to your health insurance to custody of your children. The above comment by “bikegoesbaa” above illustrates this. He “cries no tears” for somebody who loses a job because his Facebook posts are judged to be “racist”. HAHA LOL SUCKS TO BE THAT DUDE. The typical justification of this is the XKCD comic explaining that you have no “free speech” right to a job, a home, a living, or anything else. “The First Amendment doesn’t shield you from consequences.” It’s perfectly reasonable to destroy somebody’s life if they say something that doesn’t agree with our oh-so-gentle-and-nonjudgmental single-party, single-opinion progressive culture. They become unpersons and they literally disappear from middle-class life overnight.

The problem with this approach is that the definition of acceptable doubleplusgoodthink is a moving target and as you’ll see below, the actual comment by “bikegoesbaa” is on its way to being seen as massively racist and discriminatory. Twenty years from now, people will read it and consider it approximately equivalent to spray-painting the “N-word” on your African-American neighbor’s house. I will also show you how credit ratings themselves, although originally designed to help prevent racist behavior on the part of banks and lenders, will come to be seen as thoroughly racist devices. Finally, I will explain how the progressive theology will eventually come into violent conflict with the banking system and how only one of those two things will manage to survive. Allow me to explain.

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The Critics Respond (sorta): A Saga of Stolen Content

 

Last week, I wrote my first TTAC editorial since…well, you know, that one. By all measures, it was well-received—good user engagement, significant readership, and over 2,000 Facebook shares. But there was another article about the Focus RS and dealership issues that ran three hours later which did even better.

Over on OppositeLock, which is the user-content driven Kinja automotive site, user LJ909 wrote a post entitled “The Focus RS has been sitting on dealer lots and dealers can only blame themselves.” Hmm. I mean, it wasn’t exactly the same as my title, “The Focus RS is Dead, and Dealers Are to Blame,” but it was pretty close.

Regardless, LJ’s post blew up, with over 4,000 Facebook shares and nearly 70,000 views—a far cry better than the couple of hundred views his previous posts had gotten. Like this one. And this one.

Hey, wait a sec…didn’t TTAC do posts on those stories too? Why, yes. Yes, they did. And on the same days, too.

Hmmm. Something’s rotten in the state of Kinja.

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Three

I like stereotypes. They save time. You like stereotypes as well, and you use them. They are cognitively efficient. In fact, they are utterly necessary. Every day, you make thousands of tacit assumptions about the environment around you: there are no tigers in the bathroom, buildings will not fall on you for no reason, the person behind you in the line for lunch can be trusted not to hold you down and rape you. You assume that the sidewalk will not collapse and the floor is not, in fact, actually lava. You purchase food and eat it without submitting it to a full battery of chemical and biological tests. If you’re American, you speak English to people you have never met before. (The future demographic shift of this country will teach you a lesson about that.)

The only people who cannot effectively “stereotype” are deeply autistic people who have no ability to ignore and/or generalize things. Autism is defined as the inability to form abstract concepts — in other words, stereotypes. When two normal people have a conversation, they can use an abstract concept like “car” or “refrigerator” without difficulty. Their ability to stereotype and abstract allows them to simply glide past the idea of “refrigerator”. The person who suffers from a degree of autism needs to know all about the refrigerator. This is not them being difficult; it is literally the manifestation of their illness.

It’s probably no coincidence that modern popular culture is so obsessed with “breaking down stereotypes” and focusing on the exceptions to a rule rather than focusing on the rule itself. After all, we are experiencing unprecedented rates of autism and autism spectrum behavior. The autistic mind is obsessed with exceptions to the rule. It loves Malala and Obama and the Harlequin Golf and every other case where somebody or something deviates sharply from expected behavior. The autistic mind is comforted by cases where stereotypes don’t apply because the autistic mind is fundamentally troubled by stereotypes. The autistic mind likes rules because rules are expressed in absolute and concrete terms. It does not like stereotypes, because stereotypes are abstract generalizations that, like language, are used as a sort of cultural and personal shorthand.

As someone who demonstrates the occasional touch of Aspie behavior, I will confess that my fondness for stereotypes is not quite as strong as it would be were I completely sane and neurotypical. And that is why I’m so annoyed with “pmirp1” and his dutiful conformance to pretty much every aspect of the “stupid Vette owner” stereotype. An entirely normal writer would just nod his head and say to himself, “Another dumbass with a Vette.” I, on the other hand, am compelled to flap this bug with gilded wings just a bit.

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Two

Near the end of Joni Mitchell’s Miles of Aisles live album, she becomes tired of the crowd calling out requests for her greatest hits and responds, somewhat passive-aggressively, with “Nobody ever said to Van Gogh, ‘Paint a Starry Night again, man!’ You know? He painted it and that was it.” (More on that comment, and its ramifications, here.) I was just two years old at the time, and on the wrong coast besides, but if I could get in a time machine and travel back to that night I would yell back, “YEAH, AND HE ALSO JUST GOT PAID ONCE FOR PAINTING IT, SO QUIT YOUR BITCHING!”

When my son is old enough to truly comprehend the fine distinctions involved, I think that I’m going to spend a lot of time stressing to him that different jobs don’t just pay different amounts of money — they also pay in different ways. Consider, if you will, the vast majority of pop songs. The writer gets paid as long as people buy the song. The rights holders to the song also get paid as long as it’s selling. That’s really the best way to get paid. The original headliner can probably get paid to perform the song as long as it’s popular; that’s not quite as good as getting paid for doing nothing but it still offers the prospect of continued employment. Last and least are the studio musicians who took a one-time payment for performing on the studio track and signed over the rest of their rights.

Studio musicians tend to stay poor and die broke, no matter how good they are, because they don’t own the rights to what they do. As fate would have it, I’m kind of a studio musician when it comes to autowriting. I don’t own a magazine, I don’t own a website, and I don’t retain rights to much of what I write. Like Van Gogh, I deliver the product, I take the money, I walk away, and I never have to — or get to, depending on your perspective — do it again. I write 350,000 words a year— that’s a new War and Peace every nineteen months — and I only get paid once for each one of those words.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. It’s a privilege and an honor to have the editors, and the audience, that I have. Joni Mitchell might have considered her fans to be a distraction or even a hassle, but I cannot bring myself to feel that way. I spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to serve that audience. Which brings me to the comment by dal20402 above.

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty-One

I like this analogy — the five-dollar word — because it can easily be extended to demonstrate a depressing, but absolutely inarguable, point. Samuel Clemens wrote his most popular work between 1880 and 1890. According to this inflation calculator, five bucks in 1890 is equivalent to about $130 today. Looked at another way, five dollars in 2017 has the spending power of nineteen cents in 1890.

So let’s take a look at the “home-equity loan” paragraph referred to by the above commenter and see what effect the inflation of illiteracy, which has proceeded in lockstep with the inflation of the currency, has done to make my relatively prosaic prose so precociously pricey.

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The Critics Respond, Part Forty

Sea lion woman, black dress on
For a thousand dollars, she wail and she moan
Sea lion woman
— “See-Line Woman”, traditional

The common name for disrupting or attacking someone under the guise of a legitimate concern or lack of knowledge is “concern trolling”, but I also like the neologism Sealioning. It’s a tactic that is currently enjoying a sort of Golden Age on the Internet because it’s hugely passive-aggressive and because it is generally supposed to be immune to a libel suit. You can’t go on a stock-trading website and post “WMT (or the stock of your choice) is headed for a big fall because they’re engaging in massive Social Security fraud,” because you will be the target of a civil suit before you get home that evenings. Seriously. Don’t do that, no matter how anonymous you are or think you are. People have lost everything they own, and more, doing that. You can, however, probably get away with posting, “I’m just really, really worried about all these rumors about Social Security fraud regarding WMT. What does that mean anyway? I’m just trying to understand these rumors I’ve heard.”

Yesterday, a commenter on something I wrote posted “What is a MILF? I don’t understand.” You’d have to be an utter fool, or suffering from recent head trauma, not to understand that the sole purpose of making that post is to “sealion”; after all, it’s literally three times as difficult as getting the definitive answer yourself. The easiest thing for me to do would have been simply not to respond, but instead I made fun of the troll character who posted. Now we’re in the middle of yet another civility discourse over at TTAC.

My purpose here, however, is not to comment on the rightness or wrongness of the original comment, my response, the responses that followed, or the subsequent site-wide convulsion. I’m no longer the E-I-C over there and I don’t set policy; I don’t even really want to comment on TTAC policy in public. It’s tough enough to run that site without having your predecessors second-guess your decisions. Instead, my purpose is to discuss why I treat some commenters with absolute respect, even when I disagree with them or they are personally offensive to me, and why I treat some commenters like they are utterly beneath contempt and completely deserving of the worst ridicule that can be heaped upon their heads. How do I determine who is “real” and who is not? The answer: fingerprinting.

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