Looks like Time magazine may have been a bit rash in naming Jamal Khashoggi its “Person Of The Year”.
Looks like Time magazine may have been a bit rash in naming Jamal Khashoggi its “Person Of The Year”.
Our own Ronnie Schreiber is somewhat infamous on these pages for using the phrase “Jew-hater” instead of the more neutral-sounding “anti-Semite”. He believes that it’s both honest and descriptive. I have little opinion on it, other than to suggest that we need yet a third term for people who claim to have nothing against Jews in general but who hate Israeli Jews with a passion. Perhaps there’s also a fourth term required for people who hate Israelis and Israeli but are themselves ethnically Jewish. I don’t know.
In any event, I’m using Ronnie’s phrase because I think it applies very well to a remarkably unpleasant situation within the organization that calls itself “The Women’s March”, albeit in the face of objections from fourteen other organizations.
Bad boys of literature, whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Surely we all understand that the endgame intended for today’s aggressive and universal politicizing of everyday existence is the same as it was in 1918 — a firing squad for the worst of the doubleplusungoodthinkers, the gulag for the rest of us. If you’re interested in moving a couple of notches towards firing-squad placement, there’s no better way than to join me in the purchase of Finally, Some Good News by the brilliant social commentator and misery-blogger known as “Delicious Tacos”. (If you don’t know who he is, you can find out here.)
If you buy the book, please feel encouraged to revisit this post and share your opinion. As for me, I’m looking forward to having a physical copy of the thing. A hundred years from now, when sensible humans look back at the “woke” era of American garbage culture with the same terror that was previously reserved for the purge years under Stalin or the eyeglass-shattering madness of the Khmer Rouge, I want my grandson to be able to say that his grandfather walked to the firing line with his chin up. Oh, and that I survived the execution, because nobody there could figure out how to rack the bolt of an AR-15.
Many years ago, I was business partners with a young man who was the very definition of Asperger’s Syndrome brought to life. I could tell a lot of stories about this fellow — the terrifying disappearances, the cars he killed, the Brazilian FN FAL that he kept in his bed, the chronic masturbation, the card counting, the accidentally picking up a prostitute on the way to work, the time that he crashed his mountain bike and my other friend tried to give him a tracheotomy — but I’ll save those for another time. The story I want to tell is on that he told he: My friend grew up dirt poor in a single-wide trailer with his Air Force dad, his Filipina mother, and his two siblings, way back in “the holler” of Jackson, Ohio. He lived off his brother’s hand-me-downs. The better-off kids would make fun of his family, singing this ditty to the tune of Electric Avenue:
We gonna rock down to
PAYLESS AND BUY SOME SHOES
They only cost a dollar
Alas, in the end the joke was on all those other kids, because my pal and his brother ended up surfing the turn-of-the-century tech wave into the kind of money where you never have to think about trailers, or Payless shoes, ever again. There’s a bit of irony to all of this, however, because nowadays the value of Payless shoes has gone from “a dollar” all the way to $640. In this brilliant prank-o-mercial, a bunch of “social media influencer” dipshits were invited to the grand opening of a store called “Palessi”. Once inside, they were given, and eagerly took, the chance to pay hundreds of bucks for shoes that can be found for $19.99 at Payless. The influencers gushed about the unbeatable style, materials, and prestige associated with being a “Palessi” customer.
The two immediate hot takes found everywhere on the web: Payless is smart, and influencers are stupid. Both of those takes are correct, but I’d like to be a little more perceptive than that, if I can manage it. My thoughts, in no particular order:
Good artists create, and great artists steal. Right? About ten years ago, I read a few short pieces by Canadian writer Michael Banovsky regarding the incestuous ethical blind spots of the automotive “journalism” business. Those pieces resonated strongly with me because I’d seen similar, albeit much lower-budget, antics during my time racing, and writing about, BMX bicycles.
“Bano” gave up his crusade pretty quickly and went on to crank out years’ worth of fairly standard fare for various north-of-the-border news sites, but he’d inspired me to carry the torch without him. I wrote dozens of articles for TTAC, Jalopnik, and elsewhere about the revolving door between automotive PR and automotive journalism, about the back-slapping buddy culture in the business where the readers are viewed with naked contempt, about how the perks poison the product. It got me blacklisted, uninvited, slandered, and doxxed. Thankfully, the story didn’t end there because there have been a few people courageous enough to hire me and print my work despite the near-universal chorus of caterwauling disdain from the pimps and players in motoring PR. I’m grateful for those people and their courage, while also being aware that it won’t last forever. Which is okay. I’ll leave this game the same way I entered it: on my own merits.
There is, however, something sadly ironic about the fact that Banovsky has decided to return with a vengeance to the field of automotive meta-criticism just as TTAC, a once-fierce proponent of his original ideas, has finally collapsed into a weak-kneed regurgitator of press releases and public-relations drivel. The site that made its name with courageous reviews of everything from rentals to stealth drives at dealers now sends its top people on multiple first-class, five-star freebie trips every month to suckle uncritically at the engorged teat of manufacturer largesse.
Which doesn’t mean Bano’s bomb-throwing is incorrect, just that it’s tardy. And after reading his latest piece, I’m willing to suggest that we take his ideas to their logical conclusion.
Genetic modification via CRISPR is the only way to ensure that we can all have cheap bananas. Amusing, WIRED buries the lede pretty far down: the banana disease spreads via… wait for it… migrant banana workers.
The #Blessed part of the world wants four-season tropical fruit so we can all live our best lives. The #NonBlessed part of the world has to trudge around doing the work, and the corporations have ensured that there’s a legal framework to make it possible. Cut down the demand from DUMBO or the insane practice of permitting open borders for the purpose of cutting corporate expenses, and the problem never comes up. But it’s okay. We can use genetic editing to fix the problem. We can all learn to use CRISPR, the same way they are trying to force every elementary student in America through a “learn to code” process. And then we can unleash hell.
A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend about the importance of ensuring the proverbial “leg up” for our children, and I said something along the lines of, “If there was a button that killed a thousand kids in some far-away land and gave my son a Harvard Law degree at the same time, I’d push it without hesitation.” He responded, quite sensibly, that he would not do that for his daughter.
The irony of the situation is that we’ve both already done worse, and for less. Here’s proof. It costs four dollars per person to provide 20 years’ worth of clean water in Africa. My son has at least four thousand dollars’ worth of bicycles. So I’ve cheerfully doomed a thousand kids to a life without clean water so my child can finish third overall in the Gold Cup Regional Championship for 9 Novice riders. (I’m so proud of him I could almost faint, by the way.) He broke his new wheelset at the last race so I’ll be ordering another wheelset for him… that’s $800 bucks, or 200 kids without clean water. There’s no false equivalency here. I am absolutely certain that some parents have told their kids, “Hey, ride that old bike another year, and let’s do something charitable for kids who don’t have everything that you have.” I’m not going to do that.
But if a couple Gs worth of bicycles amounts to a moral choice — and it does — what about spending $40,000 a year to make sure that your child doesn’t have any blacks or Hispanics in his school? Even better, what does it mean when the people spending the money are some of the nation’s foremost voices for “social justice”?
I can’t tell you how many times I have had people on both sides of the ideological divide in this country mock me for my devotion to American-made products. Rarely do they bother with my central premise: that this country is better off when we make our own stuff and pay our own people to make it. Instead, they use snark (HOPE U ENJOYED UR MEXICAN TRUCK LOLZ POOPY BUTTZ!!!) or assume an arch, world-weary pose (“Outsourcing and overseas manufacturing is inevitable, here’s an article from Vox or Buzzfeed about it, try not to be such a stupid hick”) to imply that I’m either hypocritical or hopelessly naive.
They’re wrong, of course. This country is strongest when we are self-sufficient, not when we serve as an upscale suburb and retirement community for Asians flush with the immeasurable bounty of our uneven trade. For the past thirty years, we’ve made a spectacularly bad deal with China and others, to wit: We’ll send our factories to you, then buy your products, then you can use our money to outbid us for our land, which you can then keep forever. Some of my friends describe this as the ultimate in Boomer narcissism, essentially giving away the country to ensure that they can ride the party all the way to their graves, but the attitudes involved have effortlessly leaped from my father’s generation to my own and beyond.
Faced with this literal sale of our heritage to overseas interests, it’s common for the world-weary crowd to say something about how the Japanese were doing the same thing until their banks collapsed, neatly ignoring the fact that Chinese banks, unlike Japanese banks, tend to be supported (or undermined, if you read ZeroHedge) by securities drawn on the American government. They’ll also tell you that according to the Church Of Thomas Flatworld, every nation should do what they do best; the Chinese make stuff, we sell land, and it’s great!
Well, it’s all fun and games until the Chinese People’s Liberation Army creates a hardware hack to take control of Apple’s data centers and the Amazon Clown, er, Cloud. Which has happened.
How many of you remember Alan Sokal and his mildly famous academic hoax perpetrated against Social Text? The purpose of Sokal’s hoax was to prove that there is virtually no substance whatsoever to “social science”; he succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Twenty-five years later, most sane people understand that the vast majority of social science, philosophy, and “(whatever) Studies” taught at universities is utter and complete garbage, using the jargon and conventions of real science to thinly clothe a naked emperor. (The linked article takes a hard shot at Derrida, which personally pains me, but I have to admit that much of Derrida, Focault, et al is just nonsense despite the fact that an intelligent critic can derive real advantage from reading them.)
If the “Sokal affair” amounted to a headshot against social science — and it did — then what you’re about to read amounts to digging up the corpse of social science, defiling it, then burning it in the town square.
Many papers advocated highly dubious ethics including training men like dogs (“Dog Park”), punishing white male college students for historical slavery by asking them to sit in silence in the floor in chains during class and to be expected to learn from the discomfort (“Progressive Stack”), celebrating morbid obesity as a healthy life-choice (“Fat Bodybuilding”), treating privately conducted masturbation as a form of sexual violence against women (“Masturbation”), and programming superintelligent AI with irrational and ideological nonsense before letting it rule the world (“Feminist AI”). There was also considerable silliness including claiming to have tactfully inspected the genitals of slightly fewer than 10,000 dogs whilst interrogating owners as to their sexuality (“Dog Park”), becoming seemingly mystified about why heterosexual men are attracted to women (“Hooters”), insisting there is something to be learned about feminism by having four guys watch thousands of hours of hardcore pornography over the course of a year while repeatedly taking the Gender and Science Implicit Associations Test (“Porn”), expressing confusion over why people are more concerned about the genitalia others have when considering having sex with them (“CisNorm”), and recommending men anally self-penetrate in order to become less transphobic, more feminist, and more concerned about the horrors of rape culture (“Dildos”). None of this, except that Helen Wilson recorded one “dog rape per hour” at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon, raised so much as a single reviewer eyebrow, so far as their reports show.
The only remaining question, stolen directly from our legitimate but Russian-subverted forty-fifth president: “What difference does it make?”
True confessions time: Until today, I was under the impression that the American response to the hurricane crisis in Puerto Rico had been a little, shall we say, stingy. How could you blame me for feeling this way? The media has continually told me about our stingy response. Hell, it’s been worse than stingy; it’s been trashy. Fully ten percent of the food aid to PR consisted of candy or snacks that you CANNOT FIND at Whole Foods! The idea that you would hurriedly box up a bunch of aid to starving people and have THE NERVE to let a full tenth of it be the kind of food that rich people in Los Angeles wouldn’t buy… We might as well have dropped Fat Man (the bomb, not the self-congratulatory automotive journalist) on the place and let it vaporize in the nook-u-lar flame.
Well, it’s time for you to feel better. I just sent a thousand dollars to Puerto Rico. So did you. In fact, I’ve been sending about $250 a year to Puerto Rico since I was a teenager, give or take a few bucks. And there’s more to come.