I will be on the Devil’s Advocate, a Gab TV show, tonight at 7 PM Eastern Time. You can sign up for Gab here. All you need is an e-mail address and a the ability to click your mouse. There’s no wait period or approval process. Just click on TV at the top left.
Prior to the technological revolution, a common lament from geezers was that the younger generations no longer had a mastery of the written word. Instead of writing letters, they would talk on the telephone. Instead of reading books, they would watch television or go to the movies. The result was that literacy, or what passed for it, had declined. Read the letters of soldiers from the Great War or the Civil War and you see their point. Even the most humble citizen had good penmanship and the ability to express himself in writing.
Ironically, the technological revolution brought writing back to prominence. Word processors solved the penmanship issue, allowing anyone to type out well formatted printed text. Of course, the explosion of e-mail meant that people were back to writing letters to friends, relatives and colleagues. The explosion of websites, providing written information, meant that even the dumbest people were reading. A strange and unexpected result of the internet has been a greater demand for literacy.
Despite the gripes from today’s geezers about the kids and their phones, people are better at communicating via the written word. In fact, we make judgments about one another based on our writing skills. It’s why gold plated phonies like George Will can pass themselves off as deep thinkers. In order to have a successful career, you have to express yourself in writing to your peers and superiors. If you want to get involved in social issues, you better be able to write well. Good writing is essential knowledge.
The most important part of writing is knowing your audience. Writing a proposal to a client is different from sending a buddy an e-mail about your weekend. Formal work correspondence not only needs proper spelling and grammar, it should lack colloquialisms and slang. The client does not want to see “Let ‘er rip, tater chip” in your proposal. On the other hand, if you’re a blogger, you should not get hung up on formalism. The point of casual writing is to be accessible, so the reader can breeze through it over coffee.
Of course, writing should have a point. We are are flooded with e-mail and texts. There are millions of places on-line offering up content. The only reason for you to be writing is that you have a point that needs making. Before you sit down to compose your e-mail, letter to your Congressman, or blog post, ask yourself, “what’s the main point I want to express to the reader?” This not only helps you focus, it helps the reader determine if they should be reading whatever it is you have written. It’s only fair.
If you have ten points that come to mind, then try to arrange them by subject. There’s a good chance you can consolidate them into a few main points. Once you have a clear idea of the main topic, the point of what you’re writing, then the other points should be in support of that main topic. The items that don’t fit, can and should be left out, in order to not take away from the main points you are trying to make. This is especially true in business writing, which needs to be on-point and free of unnecessary chatter.
If you end up with a bunch of important points, that cannot be boiled down to a manageable number, it means you have tackled too broad a topic or you don’t know the material well enough to write about it. The exception is you are writing a book about something like the Civil War and you expect it to be a big book. Since hardly anyone reading this will be writing a book, a good rule of thumb is to have one main point and three supporting points. That keeps you from meandering on the page and losing focus.
Another good rule in this regard is to set limits. If you have a general point and three or four supporting points, put a word limit on the whole thing and then assign equal space to your points. Good proposal writers do this. They know the prospect will look at the first few pages and then jump to the important bits, like the pricing page. Clear breaks in the proposal, between the sections of the proposal, makes it user friendly. An essay that follows this format will quickly cover the material and please the reader.
The key in all expository writing is brevity. A 5,000 word blog post is unreadable, which is why they tend not to be read. If you need 5,000 words, you either picked too big of a topic or, most likely, you don’t know the material well enough to state your case. Humans can read about 1500 words of an argument before their minds start to drift. Similarly, if you are sending an email to a friend, remember that they are your friend. Making them read 5,000 words about your trip to the vet is a rotten thing to do to someone you like.
Then there is the issue of vocabulary. The temptation to use complex vocabulary, or insider language, should be resisted. Studies suggest that readers, when confronted with complex grammar and vocabulary, suspect the writer is trying to hide their stupidity. Never use big words when little words can do the job. Plain language and straightforward sentence structure, gets the point across and shows the reader some respect. The point is to clearly make your points. Leave the thesaurus on the shelf.
As far as resources, you cannot go wrong with a copy of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style. Another classic on writing is On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser. These are two classics that all good writers recommend for a reason. A personal choice is The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. For business writing, this is a great choice. It’s a book that takes its own advise. Of course, using Google for spelling is a good idea too. I like this site for grammar opinions.
Avoid using lists. A list is great for a lunch order, a grocery run or a packing slip, but it has no place in expository writing. The reason is the reader will simply look at the headings and skip to what they want to read. Lists invite skimming. Unless you work for Teen Vogue or some other pop publication, where the readers are assumed to be dull witted, you should avoid lists in writing. Even in business writing, lists are best used as summaries at the end of a document or in a graphic to illustrate a point.
Finally, think about how the reader will be consuming your content. An e-mail to a buddy will be read on a PC or a phone. A work e-mail is most likely being read off a PC at a desk. That proposal will be printed and read as paper. The point is, reading from a phone or tablet is a different experience than the written page. If the reader is most likely using a mobile device, short paragraphs are better than long ones. If it is a web site, then you will have a range of ways to consider. Again, the idea is to make reading you easy.
A while back I watched the movie Kong: Skull Island on the Kodi. It was one of those impulse things. I felt like watching a movie and this one just happened to be easily accessible. Samuel L. Jackson’s angry black guy routine stopped being fun a long time ago, but I figured the movie was going to be mostly about the giant gorilla. As far as modern movies go, it was not too bad. I suspect it was better in a theater with high end sound and the giant screen to make the monsters look more monstrous.
For some reason, I got to wondering what it cost to make, so I looked it up. (I know, I know. I should not be using Wiki, but the Infogalactic page is out of date.) According to the published data, the film cost $185 million to make and generated $586 million in ticket sales. That looks like an amazing success, but movie accounting is a bit weird. The theater gets half the gross, so the distributor got about $285 million. That’s a gross simplification, but a useful one for looking at the mathematics of movie making.
Movies don’t always do so well. King Arthur was a giant flop this summer. It cost $175 million to make and grossed just $140 million. According to people who know these things, the studio lost $150 million on this one film. There were other massive flops this summer like the Aliens movie and the Amy Schumer comedy. The opacity of Hollywood accounting makes it impossible to know the final tally, but people who claim to know suggest that the big studios are posting losses this year as a result of the bombs.
Hollywood can withstand a bad year because of the high cost of making and distributing movies. Getting together $185 million to make a giant gorilla movie is not something you do on Kickstarter. It’s why Hollywood seems to be hooked on films with massive special effects budgets. It’s a niche only they can serve so they are trying to squeeze every penny from it. Dramas and documentaries, in contrast, have small budgets and small margins, so lots of small players can fight for those customers.
A common complaint about Hollywood is that they are not investing in new ideas and original scripts. Instead it is comic book movies, remakes of old films and sequels. The people in the business will counter with the fact that the losses are almost always accounting losses. The actors and directors are all getting paid. Once the accountants do their magic, often taking advantage of tax laws and special deals made with governments to shoot their films on location, the studios are in the black or close to it.
They are probably right in the short term. Hollywood is surely aware of what happened to the pornography business and what is now happening to the news business. Porn used to have a high barrier to entry. If you wanted to sell sex to the public, you had high costs due to a complex thicket of state and local laws to navigate. The Internet obliterated the barriers to entry. First came a wave of video makers who wiped out the skin mag operations. Then a wave of amateurs came through to wipe out the movie industry.
A similar thing is happening with the news and commentary business. First the internet undercut the ad business of newspapers. Why sell your car in the classifieds when you can sell it on eBay? Why advertise your job in the Boston Globe when you can use Monster? The only logical response has been for the newspapers to slowly move from their old distribution model to the internet. But, the cost of putting up a website is near zero now so anyone wishing to compete with the NYTimes can give it a go.
It’s not just the legacy media. Take a look at on-line audio and video. Joe Rogan does a one hour interview show that will get a few million viewers. His production costs are a fraction of what it cost to make the Charlie Rose program. Yet, Rogan reaches ten times the audience. The YouTube comic PewDiePie reaches 55 million people and he is essentially producing his show from his basement. Anthony Cumia was making his show from his basement until his success allowed him to rent a studio in Manhattan.
A similar thing is happening to radio. Podcasts are becoming a popular way to listen to news and commentary, that used to be the domain of radio. Buy a new car and you can sync your phone to the audio system, so you can tote around your own music and podcasts to play on the road. It will not be long before your car radio will let you listen to this stuff off the internet. Again, the low barrier to entry means a wider range of shows so the public can narrow cast to their taste. Old fashioned radio, as a result, is dying.
If you are in the media business, your number one task right now is figuring out how to keep the barrier to entry to high for that army of internet content makers. That’s why Hollywood is fixated on massively expensive super hero movies and film series based on comic books. They spend $100 million building out the infrastructure and then make five versions of Pirates of the Caribbean for $200 million a copy. Mike Cernovich is not competing with that, no matter how many Kickstarter campaigns he starts.
The beauty of this approach is that these sorts of films can easily be sold into foreign markets. The Chinese dudes watching Fast & Furious 19 don’t care about the dialogue or story. They want to see buff white dudes driving cars while shooting at bad guys. Given the level of writing for some of these movies, they may not even have to provide subtitles as no one really cares what’s being said. Hollywood is now in the business of creating giant special effects demonstrations that are viewed in movie theaters.
Whether this is sustainable in the long run is hard to know. Kong: Skull Island made a lot of money so a lot of people must have enjoyed it. I thought it was mostly stupid, but I watched it free at home, so I got my money’s worth. As long as these things keep making money, there’s no reason to think this model will break. It also means that Hollywood will be looking for ways to make these films even dumber. If they can get global audiences habituated to enjoying two hours of explosions, it simplifies their business even further.
The weaponization of the law, particularly the civil courts has become so common, that we no longer notice it. The most obvious example is when someone gets acquitted of a crime, but then the alleged victim goes to civil court for damages. Alternatively, some hate thinker gets off in state court, but the the feds come in and charge the guy with civil rights violations. It’s an obvious abuse of the law in order to get around the jury system, but it is now just another feature of a system more concerned with vengeance than justice.
The college rape hoax phenomenon is another variation on this. A mentally unstable coed makes claims that can never be proved, but the school, fearing Title IX litigation, punishes the accused anyway. The SPLC is doing something similar with their litigation against the website, The Daily Stormer. The point of the suit is to shut down the site, because the people at the SPLC don’t like the content. Even if the case is eventually tossed, the point is to intimidate the owner and anyone who holds similar opinions.
This bizarre story is a new twist on how the lawfare game is being played.
Tumblr has released account information for close to 300 anonymous users to a revenge porn victim in what online privacy advocates say is a major violation of the First Amendment.
The 27-year-old New York victim, who first learned that an unauthorized video of her having sex with a boyfriend when she was just 17 had been posted on Tumblr last winter, plans to sue the users for disseminating child pornography.
“The ultimate goal is to expose these people,” said attorney Daniel Szalkiewicz, who represents the Bronx victim.
“There is no First Amendment protection for child porn,” Szalkiewicz said.
On Monday, Tumblr complied with a June 7 order issued by a Manhattan state court judge to release the email addresses and account names of 281 Tumblr users.
You’ll notice the legal base stealing. Is this woman a victim? We can’t know that until it is established that the video was shot without her consent. If she agreed to the filming, which is most likely, then she is the victim of her own stupidity. Then you have the legal fiction that this is child pornography. No one in their right mind would call this child porn. Clearly, her lawyer is hoping that fear of being tarred with “child porn” is enough to coerce a settlement. The Mafia would be envious of this maneuver.
What we have now is litigation in the shadow legal system. The lawyer has coerced the company into aiding him in what amounts to a shakedown. The lawyer is also using the media to threaten his targets with exposure and all that comes with it, unless they agree to pay him off. It is a clever legal trap. In order for these people to defend themselves, they first have to admit to viewing the material. A First Amendment defense would argue that they had a right to look at what was posted on the site, even if it was illegally posted.
Once you admit to viewing the material, you run the risk of losing the initial claim and then having to argue about whether it constitutes a violation of child porn laws. You don’t have to be a graduate of Harvard Law to see that the easiest way out of this trap is to settle as a group and get some sort of non-disclosure in place. In other words, this case is not brought in the interest of justice or to mitigate harm done to the alleged victim. It is a shake down and what most people would consider extortion, even if the court does not.
This goes back to the Servile State post. No one in this sordid relationship is free in any meaningful way. The big bad company is being forced to supervise its users, to make sure they do not violate the ever shifting morality of the people in charge of the state. If they fail in that duty, they are forced to help punish the users they did not properly supervise, by ratting them out to the state. The result here is that everyone is responsible for everyone else. It turns everyone into both a slave and slave master.
That’s the other aspect of lawfare. It is uncivilized. Into the Middle Ages, tribes in Europe still practiced the wergeld. This was the price put upon a man’s life based on his rank. If a rich man killed a poor man, by accident or on purpose, he could pay the victims family in gold for the value of his life. You can see how this can quickly get out of hand. Not only would rich people feel free to kill inconvenient poor people, they would be tempted to kill their families too. No family to pay, means to no wergeld to pay.
That’s what we have with lawfare. Instead of the law determining if a crime has been committed and then determining the guilt or innocence of the accused, the process is about determining the price of this woman’s honor, as it were. In the future, the courts may be forced to post prices for posting revenge porn so that angry ex-boyfriends know in advance the risk of hitting send. At the same time, young women will now know what they can get for agreeing to be filmed having sex with that guy they picked up at the bar.
That’s sarcasm, obviously, but lawfare is not a good thing for a society. What cases like this do is undermine the respect for law. It is why the bar associations used to forbid advertising on TV. They knew that greasy sleezeballs in their ranks would go trolling for slip and fall cases and phony disability claims. That’s been the result and as a consequence the public’s respect for lawyers has declined. If you want to have a low-trust society, erode public faith in the law. That’s exactly what lawfare is doing in America.
I’m shamelessly ripping off John Derbyshire here with a monthly diary feature. I’ve been doing semi-regular updates on readership and so forth, but a monthly diary type post seems to make more sense. I can then cover blog related stuff and retread any old ground that needs retreading. With apologies to Derb and anyone else doing the monthly diary bit, I will be doing a monthly diary post going forward…
Like many Americans, I have been doing some traveling. Around here, the schools are done by mid-June so it is the start of vacation season. When I was a kid, Memorial Day was the start of summer. School ended that week and you had the three day holiday. For reasons I have no interest in knowing, schools now stay in session longer and they start earlier. As a result, summer holiday time is packed into the period between mid-June and the end of July. Independence Day is becoming the start of summer.
I’m sure there are statistics available somewhere to test if the result of this creeping school calendar has had some impact on travel in the high season. My experience is that even mid-week travel in July feels like the rush before Thanksgiving or Christmas. I was in Logan Airport and I stood for 90 minutes in line waiting for a rental car. They had plenty of cars, just not enough terminals to process everyone in a timely fashion and their customer service staff is clearly coming from the Epsilon Minus sub-class.
As is often the case, travel provides lessons about our current age. The fellow who waited on me at the Avis counter, for example, was either suffering from a mental illness or he was on drugs. He was in need of a bath and his clothes needed laundering. The other agents were in various states of disrepair. Most were foreigners, judging by the names I could read. My guess, given the ages, is that Avis is gaming the J1 visa program to fill the jobs the unemployed locals refuse to take, at the wages Avis wants to pay.
The argument from libertarian guy is that this results in cheaper stuff. After all, if Avis has to pay higher wages to their people and train them to treat the customers in a decent fashion, they would have to charge more for rental cars. Left out of the discussion is the ever growing tax burden needed to pay for the unemployed locals, as well the social cost of lots of people not working. What’s also left out is the cost of me standing in line for 90 minutes and having to deal with a dirty lunatic. Quality of life counts too…
Another lesson of travel comes from airports. I’ve been in a lot of airports and I have posted about them a bunch of times. Airports are a good way to explain to normal people how central planning must always fail. These schemes always succumb to the limitations of the planners. Airports are a good example of it. Similarly, the airport is a good place to explain why libertarianism can never scale up, unless you plan to genocide the unreliable elements. Otherwise, the stupid, lazy and selfish will collapse a libertarian system…
Of course, travel is about seeing different places and people. One of the more bizarre contradictions of the blank slate types is they will celebrate the crap out of human diversity, when it comes to travel. They make no effort to hide the fact that people in different places have very different ideas about how to organize themselves. Yet, this reality never occurs to them when the topic is immigration. That’s because they never really experience diversity. They are insulated from it so they know it only superficially.
Anyway, human variety is something you can see within our own lands. It has been a while since I was in New England. As a result, I forgot that the women are crazy and the men are mostly pussies. Not everyone, but the ratio of crazy cat ladies to normal women is jarring. I listened to two women coo over a handful of savages being led through the airport, by their minders from a church group. My bet is it was a church like this one, that is run by feminist nutters and useless homosexuals.
The two cat ladies were carrying on like a couple teenage girls, who just saw members of the current boy band. That’s the thing about feminism. It infantilizes the adherent. Modern feminists have the maturity of teenagers. Feminism is just a way for homely girls to get the attention of boys, so I guess it makes sense at some level. Regardless, it should never be tolerated so I leaned over and said to the two hens, “One day, their kids will be throwing your kids off a roof.” They were poleaxed. I went to get a drink…
As far as plans for the site and other ventures, I’m plotting a refresh of the site for a weekend in July. Nothing crazy, just a little sprucing up to keep things current. Summer is the slowest time, traffic-wise for the site. This is something I’ve actually measured in other areas of the internet. Like with TV viewing, summer drops web traffic to these sorts of sites by up to 25%. That means if I break something while fiddling with the site, fewer people will give me crap about it…
I am working on doing a weekly podcast. Often, the best way to learn new things is to jump right into them and start figuring it out. If you go back to the first few months of this blog, you’ll see it was not very good and nothing like what I’m doing today. I just tried a bunch of stuff until I figured out what worked for me. I’m not doing that with the podcast venture, because I really don’t know anything about the audio stuff, so I need to get a baseline of technical knowledge before jumping into it.
There’s a technical aspect to producing audio that you have to get close to right or the product is worthless. This podcast with Greg Cochran is a good example. Greg sounds like he is on the wrong side of the room from the mic. He is a brilliant and interesting guy, but straining to hear him ruins the whole thing. I have ruined enough lives with the very rare typo in my posts, I don’t need to destroy the audiophile community by posting crappy audio of myself.
To that end I purchased a modestly priced microphone off Amazon. That’s right, I used Amazon and not the local microphone dealer. Actually, I went to the local music instrument store and they only deal in the stuff used on stage. The guy told me to buy a cheap one on Amazon. I’m using Audacity for recording myself, which is easy to use at first, but I have to fiddle with the tuning. The trial run was a bit weird sounding so I have to figure out how to clean that up. With a little luck, version 1.0 will be out next week.
As far as content, I’m going to start with a week in review sort of format. Lots of comments to posts warrant a fuller response than I tend to give so that’s a good place to start. There are tangentially related news items that would not make for a full post, but worth a few minutes discussion. Since I don’t do a lot of political posting, I thought maybe a podcast would be a good place to run my yap about what the pols are doing in the Imperial Capital. That’s enough to start and we’ll see how it goes from there.
I’m not sure I have the voice and speaking style to make it work, but I’m a terrible judge of these things. Mark Levin and Michael Savage have millions of listeners, despite their endless shrieking and yelling. Levin’s voice can break glass when he gets himself wound up. The whole radio guy voice stuff could just be nonsense. Alternatively, the break down of control may have changed public standards. With so many different voices now doing audio and video, the range of acceptable now covers just about everyone…
As far as numbers, the traffic has declined, as it always does this time of year. The estimate on unique monthly visitors is at 90K now, about 10% off the peak. It will drop a further in July and then slowly tick back up as we head into fall. Strangely, March has always been the highest traffic month. I have no explanation for it. It could be a coincidence or maybe humans become more active in the late winter and early spring in anticipation of the arrival of spring.
The number one post in terms of traffic is the page My Theory of Everything. In fact, I still get comments on those posts. Number two is this one. I have no answer for why, but it still gets passed around quite a bit. Another top-10 favorite this one. I should probably compile a greatest hits page or maybe put together an ebook of them. I’m also informed that I’m closing in on one million Google referrals, which means one million times Google as sent someone to this site. I have no idea if that is a lot, but I’ll put on my goriller mindset and say it is yuuuggggge! In all seriousness, for a one man blog it probably is a lot…
Maybe it has always been true, but it seems like we live in an age of esoteric language or pseudo-language. Everyone is familiar with the gag of using “undocumented worker” in place of “illegal alien.” Janitors became sanitation engineers and teachers are now educators. It’s a part of how the American Left makes war on our civilization. By destroying the language they destroy the truth. If words no longer have common and concise meanings, then there is no truth, only force.
There’s another aspect to this. The Progs create pleasant sounding phrases and neologisms that are packed with danger. It’s a natural outgrowth of the passive-aggressive tactics popular with the Progs. The new word or phrase is not intended to clarify or explain idea, but to warn people that the official truth has been decided and any further debate will be seen as a challenge. As everyone knows, the Left responds to a challenge with violence so the new phrase means “shut up or else.”
With that in mind, a running list of words and phrases, that have a more ominous meaning beyond the literal, seems like a good project. This will be one of those posts that could be updated over time both for entertainment purposes and to build out a comprehensive language guide for the normie trying to navigate his way through the theocracy. Perhaps one day some smart crime thinker will create a mobile app, like a universal translator, for normal people to use when dealing with HR or reading a mainstream news site.
Have a conversation: Whenever you hear someone say they want to have a conversation about something, what they mean is they want to shut down all debate and impose their will with regards to the subject. Having a conversation about marriage led to the end of the homosexual marriage debate in favor of the sodomites. Having a conversation about race means Progs screaming at white people about racism and white privilege. Having a conversation always means sitting through a lecture.
Secure the border: Whenever the topic of immigration comes up, someone will start chanting about the need to secure the border. The reason for this is so they can avoid talking about immigration, without looking soft on immigration. What they really mean when they use this phrase is they have no interest in the topic and you’re a racist for bringing it up, but they’ll throw you a bone just to shut you up.
Here’s What You Need To Know: This is a favorite of female millennial writers, who imagine themselves as brilliant because they got a gold star from their lefty teachers in school. It’s a phrase that sets themselves up as the arbiter of what is and what is not worth knowing about a topic. Unsurprisingly, what never needs to be known is anything that contradicts the one true faith. As soon as you see this in a post, it means that what you need to know is they are right and shut up.
Conservative Principles: Alternatively, “first principles” or “principled conservative.” The Conservative Industrial Complex loves throwing this around to benefit themselves and damage anyone questioning their project. As soon as you hear Official Conservatives™ talking about their principles, it means they are either about to throw in with the Left against you or they are preparing to surrender on some cultural issue.
Fact Check: The lefty scolds love this phrase. They fact check the crap out of everything, except their own beliefs. Those are off limits because you’re a racist. As soon as you see this phrase, you should assume that what comes next is some senseless nitpicking that let’s them dismiss anything they find unpleasant. For instance, when a normal person says migrants suck off the welfare system, they will “fact check” this and claim that “not that many” migrants go on welfare. So, you’re a bigot and shut up.
Inclusive: This means normal people need not apply. Something that is inclusive is something that excludes the things normal people consider to be normal. A club that is inclusive, for example, will be full of homosexual males, blue haired lesbians and people with fashionable mental disorders. Inclusive is code for fringe weirdos only.
Disturbing: Progs say this to let other Progs know that what is being described or witnessed is taboo. It’s a favor they do for one another.
Divisive: Since uniformity and conformity are the highest virtues of Progressivism, anything that contradicts the tenets of the faith are labeled “divisive.” This lets coreligionists know that the person or argument is a major hate crime. This is also a mortal sin. There’s not much worse than being divisive.
Polarizing: Like divisive, this word is used for people or ideas that contradict the faith, but have not yet become mortal sins. The person or idea is causing conflict in the cult, but not so much that it is a threat. This is a venial sin.
It’s Complicated: This means it is not complicated, but we’re going to pretend it is so we can get a bunch of our friends jobs in the bureaucracy. Health care is complicated, for example, so it means thousands of jobs for liberal arts majors out of swank private colleges.
Intellectual Case: The abuse of modifiers in modern language is rampant. What exactly is an intellectual case, versus a regular case or perhaps an emotional case? When you see this phrase, just assume the person using it is a chattering class mediocrity trying to convince you that his preferences are canonical and everyone else is just stupid.
Moral Narcissism: Abracadabra words are so common, it is easy to blow past them without noticing. Here’s a popular example. This should be read as “magic bad word” as it has no meaning beyond that.
There’s a lot more work to be done: Politicians love saying this, usually after they rattle off a long list of their alleged accomplishments. Professional barnacles also love using this phrase when promoting whatever cause it is they represent, a cause that is fully funded by tax payers. In both cases, it means nothing will ever be solved and the racket will go on forever or until the treasury is empty.
Get our fiscal house in order: This is the politician or pundit saying he would like to rob you and your posterity of their last nickel.
Unity: This always means “get whitey.” When the black street leader calls for unity, he means to declare a war on the honky. When homosexuals want unity, it means attacking straight white males. It’s why you never hear normal white males call for unity. Everyone would interpret it as a call for mass suicide.
Healing: This means the people in charge have figured out how they are going to sweep the disconfirmation down the memory hole and refocus on the crime thinkers. For instance, after a Mohamed explodes or goes stabby, the government officials declare it a random incident of domestic violence and say it is now time for healing. It’s always a cue for their surrogates in the media to stop talking about the story.
Come Together: Shutup
Diversity: No white men.
Slashed: The tiniest of decreases, usually so small that no one will notice. An agency’s budget is “slashed” when the managers do not get their usual lavish raise, but have to suffer with a small increase. Government programs are slashed when they get all the money the need, but not what they wanted. In a sense, “slashed” means the government just took a chunk out of your paycheck.
Woke: This is the the sound a white woman makes when she is about to say something outlandishly stupid.
Outspoken: This is a compliment for someone, who is holding the megaphone, bellowing at the crowd on behalf of the one true faith. A normal person would assume it means “speaking against the current order” but in our modern managerial age, it means the opposite. An outspoken person is someone railing against the non-conformists and deviationists for their gross hooliganism. Stalin was outspoken.
The last post in this series left off with English literature through the Victorian period, with a little overlap here and there, along with a few references to American literature. In retrospect, I probably should have done the literature posts a bit different. Instead of breaking it up into eras, it would have been better to break it into three or four categories, based on the significance or importance of the writer. Getting into this, I did not have a plan for covering literature so things got a little sideways.
The truth is, there’s probably only 100 books and writers that have a claim to being essential to the English canon. If you asked a bunch of well read people to list the 25 books they would take to a deserted island, they would have no trouble cutting down their list. There would be lots of overlap between them, but in the end, there are probably a hundred or so books that truly qualify as essential to an English reader. The rest fall into categories like “important to their genre” or “emblematic of a certain period.”
Anyway, in order to put some structure on this topic, let’s finish off English literature through the early 20th century. The first recommendation here is Samuel Beckett. The reason for this is he is a good example of something that changed in English letters around this time. Writers were no longer appealing to the educated classes. Writing in the 20th century was a social movement and often a political act. Beckett was probably as famous for his influence as he was for his writing. Writers were now pop stars.
You can, if you are a masochist, buy something like the Complete Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett and start plowing through it, but that’s not going to be fun. My recommendation is to come at it from a different angle. Instead, read a good biography of him like Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett. It’s probably better to learn about the man and then sample some of his work. Since he was primarily a dramatist, maybe take in a play or rent a movie adaptation of Waiting for Godot.
Another important figure is William Butler Yeats. Like Beckett, Yeats is probably more important for his shadow than his work. If you are into folk literature and traditionalism, then you will enjoy reading Yeats, even if you don’t care for poetry. This is a biography I read a few years ago and I enjoyed it. Again, it is a great introduction to the man and you can use it as a jumping off point for selected readings. I’ll also note that Yeats was a nationalist and traditionalist, something all of us should rediscover.
This naturally leads into the dreaded discussion of poetry, but luckily there is Rudyard Kipling. Like a lot of great literature, Kipling can he had for a song, especially of you don’t mind the ebook format. His poetry is available on-line. Like so many men of his era, his influence extends beyond literature so reading a biography of the man is a good way to understand his impact on the culture. I read this one a dozen years ago, but there may be better ones. It was interesting, despite the writer’s best efforts.
As far as poetry, well, I’m not a big fan of the genre, but others will disagree. The big names are T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden and Dylan Thomas. Yeats is the giant, but we covered him. I never really cared for Eliot, but I liked Thomas enough to have memorized a few of his poems. In all candor, I did it because quoting Dylan Thomas worked well on the ladies back in the day. They thought I was deep and sensitive. My guess is this still works, if there are any younger guys reading this. Poets used to be lady’s men for a reason.
Another giant is James Joyce. I think Dubliners is one of the best collections of short stories ever written. I’ve read it a dozen times and will probably read it a dozen more before I die. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is also good. I strongly recommend against reading Ulysses, as it is the most dangerous book ever written. Like some others listed here, Joyce really is a giant, despite his relatively modest output. Knowing about him is important. That said, Finnegan’s Wake is just nonsense.
Obviously, Orwell and Huxley are must reads. Both writers get talked about to death by people on the Dissident Right, so there is no need for additional commentary. For Orwell, 1984 and Animal Farm are must reads. I’m much more fond of the latter than the former, on aesthetic grounds. Brave New World is a great book. I’ve made this point a gorillion times, but Huxley was much more realistic about the future than Orwell. I’d also argue that he wrote a better book. 1984 is ugly, like Wagner, while Huxley’s book is beautiful.
Finally, the man who invented fantasy literature is J. R. R. Tolkien. My guess is most literate man got the taste for reading through Tolkien. I still remember the puzzled look on my mother’s face as I spent a full summer Saturday on the couch engrossed in The Hobbit. Even as an adult, you can still enjoy The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but they are probably best read as young adults and then re-read later in life. Classic science fiction works this way too, but that is a topic for another post.
Like so many great writers of the late Victorian and early modern period – yes, I know, you have a different definition of this time period – Tolkien was a fascinating guy. He fought in the Great War and hung around some of the most important men of letters in his day. In fact, his war experiences are what inspired his darker imagery in his work. Here is a pretty good biography of him from 20 years ago There may be newer biographies out now, given the popularity of the movies, but his life is a fun read.
People who enjoy quantitative analysis of current events and social policy tend to get irritated by the fact that most people don’t know what “average” means. In fact, most people don’t know the difference between the words “some”, “all” and “many”, treating them as if they are synonyms. The easiest way to activate the nearest outrage machine is to say something like “Some women….” and you can be sure a local gal will clutch her pearls and tell you she is nothing like whatever you described. It’s madness.
Something similar happens to people when discussing social policy or describing a cultural phenomenon. What is good for society, may not always be good for each member of society. Similarly, what you like may not scale up very well. Open borders fanatics fall into this trap. They look at the quaint ethnic eateries around their college campus and think, “This is how it should be everywhere!” They never stop to think if it should be something we attempt and they never think about what actually will happen.
It’s not just liberals and libertarians that get confused by this. Lots of people say they want America to return to its constitutional founding, never stopping to think if we should actually try to do it. If we tried to roll back the 19th Amendment, there would be endless protests, even if every state promised women the franchise. Rolling back the Reconstruction Amendments would launch a civil war. You may like the idea of going back to the original, but we shouldn’t attempt it, which is why we will never try it.
This circles back to the topic of internet commerce. Lots of people like the convenience of ordering on-line and having their goods delivered to them. Some people like the fact they can buy on-line from cheaper foreign sources, thus saving some money. That’s perfectly understandable, but that does not mean we should, as a society, let Amazon monopolize the retail marketplace. There may be ugly trade-offs. Even if we can figure it out, that does not mean we will act accordingly. Instead, we will plow ahead and learn the hard way.
The easy thing to get right is what you like. The old maxim about being conservative about what you know best applies here. All the people screaming at me for questioning the wisdom of letting Amazon own the marketplace are doing so because they know how much they like shopping on-line. They don’t want any discussion of changing it. They know their tastes and habits better than anyone so they are the most conservative about those things. As a result, they instinctively recoil at any criticism of the internet economy.
To be clear, we all do this to some degree. I reject any and all efforts to impose regulations on gun ownership. I know the gun laws better than most and I know the gun statistics better than most. The only changes I favor are repeals of existing laws, but any mention of “gun laws” or “gun crimes” puts me in a defensive crouch. The most conservative position is to resists any discussion of changing gun laws so that is my default position. As a result, I probably have a few things wrong about the gun debate.
Where things always get squirrely is when the topic moves into what we should do as a society. Libertarians, of course, leave the room at this point because they think “should” means “must” and they are against coercion. This is one of the reasons I have so little patience with libertarians. Politics is about what will be done and that results from the debate over what should be done. The libertarian impulse to retreat into proselytizing about their principles makes them worse than useless in the war with the Left.
Liberals claim to hold the moral high ground so all of their proclamations about what should be done are invested with moral authority. It is why they frame every debate in moral terms. That way, they avoid the granular analysis of what they are doing, so the focus shifts to the morality of their intentions. It is often assumed that this is a deliberate tactic, but it is instinctual. Progressivism is a religion. The adherents naturally frame everything in terms of their faith, in the same way Muslims rely on the Koran for their authority.
Buckley conservatives abandoned public morality long ago, so they are reduced to turning everything into a math problem. This appeals to many libertarian-ish people which is why you see so many of them hanging around the Official Right™. It would be nice if public policy could be decided, at least to some degree, by mathematics, but there’s no history of that ever happening, which means it will most likely never happen. It’s why the Buckley Right has lost every fight over the last 25 years. You don’t beat morality with math.
Of course, no matter what your conception of what should happen is, the odds that it will happen are fairly low. Even the most modest plans have unintended consequences and most of us are easily deluded by our sense of righteousness. It is why Progressivism has devolved into a madhouse of lunacy. They stand on their soapboxes sermonizing about what should happen, only to see the opposite happen. The recent string of elections has them thinking the gods have abandoned them, which is why they are so distraught.
This is not a post with some great important point to make so I’ll wrap it up. The one take away here is that when I write about some public phenomenon, I’m usually looking at it from the various angles of the “should” position. Is this something we should embrace? Is this something we should tolerate? That sort of thing. You may like midget porn, for example, but we should not have it on television. On the other hand, you may hate paying your taxes, but we should enforce tax laws, even the terrible ones.
Most of the issue that plague our modern societies stem from the unwillingness of our policy makers to consider the obvious solutions. In the 80’s, we had a bum crisis due to the states being forced to fling open the doors to their nervous hospitals. The former patients had no one willing to care for them and no ability to care for themselves, so they ended up on the streets as bums. The obvious answer was to put them back into the asylums, but that was ruled off limits and we still have a bum problem to this day.
The solution to the bum problem was to ignore it and build up a big new bureaucracy for dealing with the bums, while not actually getting them off the streets. That meant a proliferation of not-for-profit organizations that dealt with the bums, using grants from the city, state and federal government. The result is we now have a special interest that works to thwart any effort to get the bums off the streets. Bum maintenance has become an industry with lobbyists and political power. And we still have bums.
The thing is, the Cloud People do not have a bum problem. They “solved” the “homeless” problem by agreeing to use their tax dollars to build flop houses in your neighborhood and they also make sure the bum services industry is located in your neighborhood. You will never see a homeless shelter next to a Starbucks. The cops in Cloud Country are adept at putting the stray bum on a bus and sending him to Dirt Country, where the shelters are located. After all, they are public servants and that is the humane thing to do.
For a minor annoyance like the bum problem, this is not an untenable situation. Even in the ghetto, the crazy guy screaming at cars as they pass by is just local color. For bigger issues, like the black underclass, this approach is unworkable. For fifty years white liberals have been playing a weird game of Old Maid, in which they find new ways to dump blacks from their neighborhoods into the normie middle-class. The normies respond by moving away, but Lefty keeps finding ways to inflict the problem on them.
The primary source of racial conflict in modern America is the Cloud People habit of blaming typical white people for the bad behavior of blacks. Whites don’t care if Ray-Ray guns down Trayvon over a sneaker beef, but they do care when they are told they are responsible for it. Instead of addressing the issue of ghetto violence, we have a whole industry built around race hustling. The dysfunctional black under-class is the source of income for thousands of people with an interest in never solving it.
The Exploding Mohamed is looking like a problem for which the Cloud People have no way to ignore, but they are working hard to find a way to turn this problem into a weapon against the Dirt People. Take a look at this Spectator piece after the most recent incident. It reads like a meditation on how to avoid facing reality. The proposed suggestions, they don’t qualify as solutions, are laughably pointless. You could be forgiven for thinking the writer started by eliminating what will work and then came up with his list of solutions.
The most obvious solution to the exploding and stabbing Mohameds is to stop importing Mohameds. If BMW’s exploded at this rate, Britain would ban the importation of BMW’s and demand the manufacturer recall those in the country. Volkswagen is facing billions in fines for violating trivial emissions regulations. Yet, no one dares say, “there’s a problem with these Mohameds. Let’s put the brakes on importing more of them until will can figure out what’s going on with them.” Nope. It is a mad dash to import more of them.
The trouble is they can’t ignore it, like the bum problem, or even blame the honkies, like they do with black crime. This one is all on the Cloud People, but they can’t bring themselves to face the cause of the problem. Instead, they build out the police state, install more cameras and turn the country into a game preserve. Cynics say this is deliberate, but that assumes facts not in evidence. These people are not that clever. It’s that their multicultural religion forbids them from considering the right answer to the problem.
It is the aspect of anarcho-tyranny that most people don’t get right away. It’s not that the authorities are lazy or disinterested. It’s that they are afraid of their own bizarre religion of multiculturalism. When you rule out the reality of human nature from the tool set, you’re left with solutions that are contrary to human nature. The thing that allows them to rule like tyrants over their own kind, prevents them from raising a finger against strangers and aliens. It is as if a form of Toxoplasma gondii has infected the brains of the ruling elites.
This is not a terrible way to think of it. The typical person in the managerial elite has never had to face the hard decisions most of us take for granted. Theirs has been a life without accountability in a world stripped of the harsher aspects of the human condition. If you have spent your life in the dream world of the academy and the government campus, you can be forgiven for not wanting to question the underlying orthodoxy. As Tucker Carlson pointed out in this speech, it is a great life and no one would choose to leave it.
The trouble is, once you eliminate the axiomatic, you inevitably end in a logical dead end, with no real options other than retracing your steps. Since questioning the one true faith is off limits, the Cloud People spend their days dreaming up fantasy solutions to real problems that just keep getting worse. For something like bum control, nature tends to step in and solve the problem. For a Muslim invasion, the problem will not resolve itself, at least not in a tolerable way, until the fever breaks or the system collapses.
This will not end well.
Note: I’ve taken a bit of break on these posts because they take a bit longer than a normal post and I’ve been busy on other projects. A normal post is maybe a half hour of writing and another half hour of re-writing. If I feel like proofreading it, then maybe another fifteen minutes. These Essential Knowledge posts require a little more thought and they require me finding the relevant links. The demands on my time meant a short hiatus, but I’ll try to get back to doing one every two weeks at the minimum.
We left off the literature portion of this series at the Romantic period. I’ve never been a big fan of this period in English literature. I think I can make the case that William Blake is history’s greatest monster. There are some writers worth knowing about and some works that a modern reader can enjoy. Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, especially for Rush fans, are easy reading and the sort of thing an educated man can sprinkle into a conversation to impress the ladies down at the rest home.
The Romantics were big into poetry so the big names are mostly poets. If you feel you must, then pick an anthology and sample the names that seem familiar, like Lord Byron, Wordsworth and Keats. These things are a matter of taste and maybe you are the sort that enjoys this type of literature. My view on literature is that you should aim to be a specialist on what you enjoy, but a generalist on everything else. That means having some anthologies around to poke through when you are looking for something to read.
There is some good stuff in the Romantic period. Jane Austen is not terrible and you should read at least one of her novels. Pride and Prejudice would be my recommendation, but you can download her complete works for a dollar, so take your pick. Robinson Crusoe by Defoe is a good read. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding is not bad. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the most famous work from this period. My favorite from this era is Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. It’s a fun read, even if you hate Romantics.
The Victorian¹ period is an embarrassment of riches, in terms of English literature. This was also when Americans really started to contribute to the English canon. Even better, the great talents of the era tended toward prose, so you don’t have to suffer through a lot of poetry. The big names on the poetry side are Browning, Carlyle, Wordsworth, Swinburne and Tennyson, but the way to go is with a decent anthology. Of course, you can just read your kids, or grandkids, Jabberwocky and leave it at that.
The prose side of the house is where things get fun. This was a prolific period in English prose and some of the giants of our culture wrote in this era. For the ladies, and the men with a desire to get in touch with their feminine side, you have the Bronte sisters. Jane Eyre is considered one of the top-20 novels of all time, but I’ve always been partial to Wuthering Heights. You can get the collected works of the Bronte sisters for a song. If you still need that feminine touch, then read Middlemarch by George Elliot.
Now the good stuff. I don’t think you can be a literate man without having read Charles Dickens. The Pickwick Papers is great, even if you are not comfortable reading hard fiction. Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities are also on the list of must read books. You can get all of Dickens for a buck on kindle. The same is true of the collected works of Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland is a great read even if you have seen all of the Hollywood treatments.
I think Oscar Wilde is an overrated degenerate, but The Picture of Dorian Gray is a great book. It’s also a great movie, as long as you stick with the 1945 version. This period was not just the great flowering of the novel. The short story was mastered in this era. The two names most associated with the development of the form are O. Henry and W. Somerset Maugham. I’m more of a fan of the latter, than the former, but that’s a matter of taste. As an aside, I’ve always thought the short story is the perfect format for modern audiences.
This is also the age when fantasy literature and science fiction came into existence as serious literary forms. Dracula is a great book, even if you have seen a million movie versions of it. You should get the complete works of Robert Louis Stevenson so you can read Treasure Island and Jekyll and Hyde, if you did not read them as kids. I recently re-read Treasure Island and it still works for me. Then, of course, is H. G. Wells. I’ve read Time Machine half a dozen times in my life and it just gets better each time.
The trouble with the Victorian era is it is big and not everyone agrees on the exact start and end points. This is especially true of the late Victorians and the American writers that were influenced by their English cousins, but had their own style. I’m going to cover American literature in a separate post so that makes the cutoff a little easier. Even so, there’s a lot of summers at the beach worth of reading just in that 60 year span. It’s fair to say that it was the peak of the English Empire and probably the peak of English culture.
¹I’m lumping some eras together here for the sake of brevity. Read “Victorian” as “post-Romantic up to the 20th century.”