Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Animal’s Daily Marginal Literacy News

Now here’s a hell of a thing; one in five Americans, according to Pew Research, have not read a book in the past year.  And it gets worse!  Excerpt:

Last fall, Pew Research found that 27 percent of Americans had not read a book in the preceding year.

Unfortunately, our friends across the pond aren’t much better in this respect. According to a 2014 survey, roughly 26 percent of adults in Great Britain admitted to not reading and finishing a book for pleasure.

One might be able to dismiss such statistics to busyness or other similar factors. But is it possible that the growing numbers of the non-reading public are instead a sign of the decline of knowledge about books and the canon of literature in general? A March 2017 survey suggests such might be the case. Produced by The Royal Society of Literature, the survey asked nearly 2,000 British adults about their literature reading habits. Similar to the aforementioned 2014 survey, roughly 1 in 4 British adults had not read a piece of literature in the previous six months.

But even more interesting were the responses when researchers asked respondents to name an author of a literary work. As it turns out, 20 percent of respondents were unable to name even one. Of those who were able to name an author, more than half selected a modern, living author, such as J.K. Rowling.

Writers tend to be avid readers, and yr. obdt. certainly fits that stereotype.  (I’m currently on my ninth or tenth read-through of Asimov’s Foundation series.)  I can’t for the life of me imagine a life so intellectually impoverished as a life without books.

That must be a really good book.

Writing is, after all, probably the greatest innovation of civilized man.  It is the means by which we pass knowledge on down spans of generations.  It is through writing that Aristotle, Cicero, Mill, Hamilton and Jefferson speak to us over the centuries.  Books take us to distant times, to imagined futures, to far-away places, to other dimensions.

How, then, has it come to this, where so many people are without the joy of reading?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links.

It’s hard to stay upbeat this Monday morning, even given our recognition of the appreciation shown for our Rule Five totty.  It’s hard to be upbeat, given yet another mass shooting – this time in Texas.  Excerpt:

A man opened fire inside of a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than 20 people and wounding at least 10 others before being killed or killing himself, authorities said.

The exact number of victims in the attack at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs wasn’t immediately known. But a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that more than 20 people were killed and between 10 and 15 others were wounded, though the official stressed that the investigation was in its early stages and the figures could change.

The official said the gunman fled in a vehicle after the attack and was killed, either by a self-inflicted wound or during a confrontation with police. The official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

Federal law enforcement swarmed the small community 30 miles southeast of San Antonio after the attack to offer assistance, including ATF investigators and members of the FBI’s evidence collection team.

Among those killed was the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, and his wife, Sherri. Sherri Pomeroy wrote in a text message to the AP that she and her husband were out of town in two different states when the attack occurred.

I’m no more religious than a cat, but it seems to me that a small Baptist church in south Texas has to be one of the most peaceful, inoffensive gatherings of people that you’re likely to find.  Why, then, would the shooter, one Devin Patrick Kelley, choose to attack this gathering?

It’s too soon to know.  The usual suspects will, of course, surface to blame anything and anyone but the shooter – guns, politics, religion, whatever their pet peeves may be.  The only person responsible is, of course, the shooter.  But what his motivation was remains to be seen – and that will take some investigative chops to determine, since the shooter was killed by police after a pursuit.

It’s a sad day, again.  Our hearts go out to that small town in Texas.

Rule Five Civil War Friday

Yesterday’s post on the Antifa fascists and their “non-violent” resistance  got me to thinking.

There’s been a fair amount of talk lately about the modern American political climate.  I have to agree with the seeming consensus that American politics has become increasingly divisive.  Groups of activists are taking to the streets, and the protests are increasingly violent.

From 1861 to 1865, this nation fought a war between the States.  Are we heading in that direction again?  We may be, but it won’t be like the 1861-1865 war; not even a little bit.  Why?

Here’s the catch; any 21st century American civil war won’t resemble the 1861-1865 war at all. And not just for technological reasons.

The 1861-1865 war wasn’t really a civil war.  It did not involve two factions fighting for control of one nation, as did the two Roman civil wars of the late Republic, or the English civil war. Our war was a war of secession, where one part of the nation tried to break away and form a new country.  The Confederacy did not succeed in creating that new nation, and it’s probably for the best they did not.  There would likely have never been an overwhelming American superpower if the U.S. had broken up in the 1860s.

Our war between the states was also a war with clear geographic boundaries, North against South (mostly, the West was a little confused) and mostly fought by established armies in the martial traditions of the time. The tensions of that conflict are still felt today.

Any second conflict will be a true civil war. There will be few geographic boundaries, other than urban v. rural. This will be a conflict that doesn’t involve the military so much as gangs of irregulars; imagine Charlottesville if both sides had come armed and willing to open fire.

And second civil war will be fought amongst us.  It won’t be fought on open battlefields; it will be fought in our city streets, in the suburbs, on the roads and byways of our nation.

Imagine pitched battles on the streets of our major cities, what is left of established authority against rioting mobs.  Imagine those mobs engaging in raids into the suburbs when the cities run short of food and water. Imagine a complete breakdown of emergency services in those cities as first responders encounter armed gangs willing to kill them for their vehicles, equipment, and medicines. Imagine hordes of refugees fleeing the cities, into the countryside, under the misapprehension that somehow there is plenty of food to be had in the countryside, but having no skills whatsoever to find or grow said food. Imagine rural residents facing rampant theft and trespassing responding by forming their own armed militias to repel the invaders, and thus escalate the conflict into the countryside.

The situation will likely escalate, atrocity breeding atrocity.  Just read some of the rhetoric on Twitter and Facebook – two essentially content-free forums catering in large part to the lowest common denominator –  and imagine the fevered rhetoric therein translated to action.

There are only two ways any government could respond to this crisis:

  • Impose martial law and restore order by force. Such force would have to be overwhelming, brutal and merciless. Bear in mind that this option is likely to fail, as a significant portion of our military would likely refuse to exercise brutality on their fellow citizens.
  • Respond weakly and fecklessly, as when Jefferson Davis pleaded with an angry, starving mob in Richmond in 1864, finally turning out his pockets to toss a few coins into the crown. Such a response would be worse than doing nothing at all.

In either case, the United States as we knew it ends at that point.

Animal’s Daily Fascist News

Oh, for the luvva Pete.  I guess we’re all fascists now.  Excerpt:

As PJ Media reported a few weeks ago, the slogan for the Antifa-linked group’s upcoming coup attempt is “This Nightmare Must End: the Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!”:

Our protest must grow day after day and night after night — thousands becoming hundreds of thousands, and then millions — determined to act to put a stop to the grave danger that the Trump/Pence Regime poses to the world by demanding that this whole regime be removed from power.

Our actions will reflect the values of respect for all of humanity and the world we want — in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime.

The group is putting out the word to friendly media outlets that the protests are intended to be “non-violent” — but, of course, left-wing protests seldom are:

Sunsara Taylor, who is with the organization, said they are planning “a mass non-violent political protest.” She said “the misinformation and lies being spread by the alt-right echo chamber about Antifa planning a civil war … are lies through and through.”

Taylor herself does not identify as “Antifa,” but said that the group welcomes protestors from all backgrounds, including those “who identify as Antifa, as well as Hillary supporters, Bernie people … ”

Obviously, any protest that welcomes Antifa and “black bloc” anarchist participation has a very high probability of becoming violent — something to keep in mind if you live in any of the cities on Refuse Fascism’s list.

Belaboring the Obvious.

I’ve spoken at length in the past about self-styled “anarchists” and what would almost certainly happen to them in an honest-to-gosh anarchy (a speedy and probably not painless death) so I won’t belabor that point any further.  Instead, I’ll just point out one obvious truth to these nuts:

Do you want more Trump?  Because this is how you get more Trump.

Hasn’t it occurred to any of these gonifs that in a real fascist state, they would have all been arrested, given a fair trial and executed by now?  This protest is almost the dictionary definition of “First World Problems” – the protesters, if you sum up their concerns in a single sentence, are saying “We don’t like Donald Trump so HE MUST BE A FASCIST!”

Seriously.  None of these dipshits could provide a working definition of actual fascism if you kept them at it for a year.  A thousand chimps beating on a thousand typewriters for a thousand years would have better odds of producing a successful set of governing principles.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Kids today are, apparently, the most delicate and coddled kids in history.  Excerpt:

One day last year, a citizen on a prairie path in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst came upon a teen boy chopping wood. Not a body. Just some already-fallen branches. Nonetheless, the onlooker called the cops.

Officers interrogated the boy, who said he was trying to build a fort for himself and his friends. A local news site reports the police then “took the tools for safekeeping to be returned to the boy’s parents.”

Elsewhere in America, preschoolers at the Learning Collaborative in Charlotte, North Carolina, were thrilled to receive a set of gently used playground equipment. But the kids soon found out they would not be allowed to use it, because it was resting on grass, not wood chips. “It’s a safety issue,” explained a day care spokeswoman. Playing on grass is against local regulations.

And then there was the query that ran in Parents magazine a few years back: “Your child’s old enough to stay home briefly, and often does. But is it okay to leave her and her playmate home while you dash to the dry cleaner?” Absolutely not, the magazine averred: “Take the kids with you, or save your errand for another time.” After all, “you want to make sure that no one’s feelings get too hurt if there’s a squabble.”

The principle here is simple: This generation of kids must be protected like none other. They can’t use tools, they can’t play on grass, and they certainly can’t be expected to work through a spat with a friend.

And this, it could be argued, is why we have “safe spaces” on college campuses and millennials missing adult milestones today. We told a generation of kids that they can never be too safe—and they believed us.

I’m a child of the Sixties and Seventies. I remember going fishing with my Dad when I was six or seven.  The Old Man liked to fish distant pools in trout streams several miles from the nearest parking, and he always set a good pace on those hikes; I was expected to keep up with him.

The Old Man and me, 1965

We rode bikes everywhere, wandered the woods for days at a time.  When I was about 12, it was routine for me to be away from the house for two or three days at a time, with a .22 rifle, a few sandwiches and a bag of cookies.  The first few times I did this, my Mom would admit to worrying a little; the Old Man always told her, “…he’ll come home when he gets hungry.”

My friends and I spent long days wandering the woods, climbing trees, sneaking through pastures inhabited by short-tempered bulls to get to good fishing holes.

Somehow we survived all that.  Somehow, all the kids of those years that I’m in touch with today survived to be capable, successful adults.

We deprive or kids of an awful lot by depriving them of such times.

Animal’s Daily Social Justice News

This makes a very good point:  Social Justice is an Oxymoron.  Excerpt:

Huge swaths of Americans still bow at the altar of social justice. They believe government-forced “charity” will advance us to an utopian paradise where everyone enjoys the same outcome, despite personal effort, upbringing, unique abilities and education.

Truth is, though, social justice is an oxymoron based on the false premise that the cure for injustice is leveling the playing field and redistributing wealth. As former Vice President Joe Biden once said, “You may call it redistribution of wealth – I just call it being fair.”

Karl Marx would be so proud.

Marx hated religion, private property and Judeo-Christian values as much as leftists do today. That’s why you should bolt out of any place of worship that combines Jesus, social justice and the government in the same sentence.

In his book, “The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism,” economist Friedrich Hayek nails what’s really at stake: “The aim of socialism is no less than to affect a complete redesigning of our traditional morals, law and language – and on this basis to stamp out the old order and the supposedly inexorable, unjustifiable conditions that prevent the institution of reason, fulfillment, true freedom and justice.”

Yesteryears’ creepy social justice warriors are now out of the closet and no longer hide their agenda. Instead, they give it a pink boa and parade their intentions to destroy capitalism, silence free speech and scrub Judeo-Christian values from the public square.

They harp about injustice and claim only they can fix it, which is one of the most arrogant, egotistical piles of hogwash you’ll ever hear.

I define “social justice” as the term is used by its advocates as “take someone else’s stuff away and give it to me, because reasons.”  In fact, the term is nebulous; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

In fact, there can be no such thing as “social justice,”  Like rights, justice can only apply to individuals.  What advocates for “social justice” are calling for is not justice; it is theft.

But I differ with the author of this article, Susan Stamper Brown, in one respect, and that is the lateral arabesque they perform in making this a discussion of “Judeo-Christian values.”  While it is true that most modern, Western civilizations are – today – based on a Judeo-Christian ethos in social matters, the issues discussed now are those of economics; a restrictive socialist system as set against an Enlightenment-style, free market system based on strong property rights.  The two are not compatible; but no religious arguments are required here.  For that matter, they aren’t particularly helpful.

Ms. Brown should stay focused.

 

Animal’s Daily Enforced Pedestrian News

California, does thy nutballery ever end?  Now the Golden (hah) State is considering outlawing gasoline or diesel-powered cars.  Excerpt:

The head of the California Air Resources Board told Bloomberg News that the state is seriously looking into whether and how to make internal combustion engine cars illegal in the state, as part of its self-imposed plan to cut state CO2 emissions in 2050 to 80% of what it emitted in 1990.

That follows announcements over the summer that the UK and France will try to ban the sale of gas- and diesel-powered cars by 2040. More recently, China claims it will impose a ban in 2030.

The CARB’s Mary Nichols says California could implement such a ban in 13 years, and one state lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would enforce it in 2040.

To put it bluntly, this is one of the most ill-conceived public policy ideas in a state that seems to have them in abundance.

First, some perspective.

According to the EPA, all transportation — cars, trucks, planes, trains and boats — are responsible for about a quarter of the nation’s CO2 emissions. The share contributed by passenger cars alone is considerably smaller than that. In the European Union, for example, cars account for 12% of CO2 emissions.

California’s move would make no noticeable dent in global CO2 emissions. Plus, it would take well over a decade before the entire car fleet turned over to all electric.

What’s more, the CO2 reduction claims from such a ban are wildly exaggerated.

Remember, electric cars don’t run on magic. They run on electricity. So forcing car owners to buy only electric cars will mean a massive surge in demand for electricity, which is generated largely by greenhouse-emitting natural gas and coal. In California, these fuel sources account for 40% of the state’s electricity. Solar and wind add up to just 17%.

Much of the CO2 “cuts” will really just be a shift from one source to another.

Here’s a consideration that the article doesn’t mention; how much of California’s economy depends on tourism, and how many of those tourists drive into that state?  If those people drive into California after the ban, will they find any gasoline stations to greet them, or will they be barred from bringing their faithful benzene-burners into the state?  What will that do to California’s economy?

Maybe whoever dreamed this piece of nitwittery up just believes in putting everybody afoot; perhaps they think there will be less mischief that way.

I don’t really care what China and France do in this regard.  But California has just produced another dumb idea in a long list of dumb ideas.

Rule Five Social Media Stupidity Friday

Ever wonder why people say so many stupid things on social media?  Wonder no more.  Excerpt:

Social media is full of word vomit, boneheaded comments, and sheer stupidity. Reasoned discourse regularly goes by the wayside.

There’s a simple explanation for this sorry cesspool. Social media puts humanity’s most primitive thinking on display for all to see.

That’s not meant to be an insult, it’s simply a matter of psychology. In his bestselling book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman makes the case that humans utilize two modes of thinking: system 1 and system 2. System 1 is the more primitive of the two, operating “automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.” On the other hand, system 2 is slow, deliberative, and controlled, used, for example, to fill out a tax form or to check the validity of a complex argument.

It’s apparent which system is most prominently used on social media. Take Twitter, for example, where lots of information arrives lightning fast in brief, 140-character tidbits, and one’s similarly short response is just a few types and a click away. The platform basically goads users into sharing their quickest and most mindless reactions and opinions.

All too often, those responses reflect disgust or take the form of attacks and rebuttals to perceived hostility. That’s not surprising, as Kahneman notes that showing disgust and detecting hostility are two key roles of system 1.

Before social media, public opinions were often prepared and measured. We read and discussed them in fully-formed and edited opinion pieces in reputable newspapers. We watched practiced and polished pundits debate meaningful ideas on cable TV. No more. Now, anyone can broadcast their most thoughtless thoughts and responses to a wide audience.

Readers of these virtual pages will already know I don’t use Twitter.  Being something of a garrulous old coot, I can think of few subjects on which I can express any meaningful opinion in 140 characters, except perhaps to petulant demands for justification for my various activities from lefties to whom my response is usually “fuck off.”

But I can see the point behind this assessment of social media in general, especially Twitter.  I  had a brief flirtation with Facebook some years back, and came to realize that Facebook has the worst noise-to-signal ratio on the Internet, save perhaps YouTube comments.  There are some exceptions to the generally low intelligence quotient of most discussion forums; my favorite at the moment is the Glibertarians site.  LinkedIn is usually better as well, although not exempt from the stupid-comment rule.  (I describe LinkedIn to my kids as ‘Facebook for people with IQs above 70.’)

But there’s a flip side to the stupidity of social media.  You’re looking (and I say this in all modesty) at an example of that.  That flip side, of course, is the rise of the blogger.

Most of us don’t do this for money.  A few high-profile bloggers, like our pal in Rule Five linkery Robert Stacy McCain, manage to monetize their blogs, but they are the exception.  Speaking for yr. obdt., I do this for one primary reason – my own personal amusement. 

But I would like to think that, unlike Facebook and Twitter, Animal Magnetism continues to be a force for, if not good, at least sanity.

Facebook, meanwhile, continues to provide ample research ground for those studying the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Animal’s Daily Icons of Rock News

With all the Social Justice Warriors and virtue-signalling in the entertainment industry today, it’s fun to take a look at some songs from back in the day that would be considered “hate speech” today.  And the fun thing is, most of them are nothing of the sort.  Here are a few.

The first selection here may not be considered PC today, but it was and is one of the greatest rock&roll tunes over written.  The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down is a paean to a brave man who fought and lost in America’s only family war.  And no, the song never mentions slavery.  It’s a sad, touching song.  Forget Joan Baez’s middling cover; here, from Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz is the song’s originators, The Band.

And how about Sammy Hagar’s response to Imperial blackmail to force the states to the old double-nickel speed limit?  Here he is, pre-Van Halen, with I Can’t Drive 55.

Speaking of Van Halen; around 1982, they did a cover of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman.  The video was yanked from MTV; here is it in its entirety.  Take a look and see if you can tell why.

The penultimate selection here would be abhorred were it released today, due to a flurry of teacher/student “relationships” in recent years.  Van Halen touched on the subject with Hot for Teacher, but it was the Police with Don’t Stand So Close To Me that really nailed it.

Finally, from early 70s folks singer Melanie, this tune really fits only in the non-PC selection because of one line; listen, and see if you can guess which line I’m referring to:

On that musical note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.