Category Archives: Culture

Culture for the cultured and uncultured alike.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Tomorrow, as all good Americans know, is Thanksgiving.  Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt., along with two of our kids and one kid’s fiancee, will be enjoying our Thanksgiving repast at the home of Mrs. Animal’s parents. My in-laws are two of the finest people who ever drew breath.  They value seeing the family together more than anything, and while all of us show no symptoms and have been prudently washing hands and keeping a short distance from strangers, I’ll be damned if we’re going to give up our usual family holiday meal.  Anyone who doesn’t like that, well, you can kiss my middle-aged white ass.  And if Governor Polis wants to send someone to check on us, they’d better have a ruttin’ warrant.

We’ll have a placeholder post tomorrow on the holiday.  Regular posts will resume Friday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Now then…

On To the Links!

Look at all these California Sheriffs who have had enough of Newsom’s never-ending lock-downs.

The legacy media has already started frantically tonguing Joe Biden’s anus.

Duck.

Duck.

Goose!

I do get a kick out of Lindsey Graham 2.0.

This is called protesting by punching yourself repeatedly in the face.

This, on the other hand, is righteous and roundly entertaining.

John Cleese rocks the house.

I’m shocked, shocked, to find law enforcement soliciting bribes in a may-issue jurisdiction!

Oh, sure, you couldn’t have told me that when I was six years old.

Stuffed camel.  For your multicultural Thanksgiving.  (I’ve had camel, I don’t recommend it.)

This Week’s Idiots:

Paul Krugman is still a hack, and an idiot.  (I’m getting a little déjà vu here.)

The Hill’s Amy Hanauer is an idiot.

Californey Governor Gavin Newsom is an idiot.

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick is an idiot.

These “activists” in Seattle are all idiots.

Whoopi Goldberg is an idiot.

And So:

One of my favorites from back in the day is a guy who is amazingly still touring now.  I’m speaking of Boz Scaggs; here, from his best-ever album, Silk Degrees, is one of my favorites of his tunes, Lido Shuffle. Enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Rotting Apple News

Before we start, thanks again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links, and be sure to catch my latest over at Glibertarians.

Now then:  It seems the Big Apple is increasingly full of nasty worms.  Excerpt:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is blaming school and business closings for the uptick in violence. This from the man who got the city council to cut $1 billion from the police budget, leading to hundreds of officers being taken off the job.

“It’s almost like a perfect storm,” Alfred Titus Jr., an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former NYPD homicide detective, previously told Fox News. “We had bail reform, then defunding the police, which cut the amount of officers on the streets and the overtime that could be made, and now we have COVID-19.”

Lack of enforcement for minor offenses hasn’t reduced the violence. The number of shootings has doubled since last year and the number of people shot went from 828 during all of 2019 to 1,667 this year through Nov. 15. There were 295 murders in all of 2019. There have been 405 so far this year.

Those are just the raw statistics. It’s what the violence is doing to the quality of life that has many frightened for themselves and their families.

In another incident, a 70-year-old woman was hit in the face by a stray bullet Tuesday afternoon while riding a bus in Brooklyn. Two suspects are being sought.

A pair of parolees with multiple arrests allegedly broke into a home in Queens on Tuesday and held a family hostage during an hours-long standoff with police.

Earlier this month, a 64-year-old woman was robbed at knifepoint in Queens. The suspect violently grabbed her as she was walking and put a knife to her throat. He appeared to flee empty-handed, according to the New York Post.

Part of the problem, of course, is the horse’s ass that the people of New York elected as Mayor.  And, of course, part of the problem is the economic crash by all the business shutdowns ordered by that horse’s ass.

Granted New York’s subway system, where several of the incidents described in this article took place, has always been a haven for all manner of lunatics.  But things sure seem to be getting worse.  Apparently it’s not hard to destroy a major city:  Just keep raising taxes, use horrible housing policies to make living space unaffordable, defund law enforcement and shutter the last remaining successful businesses.

For the Bolshevik De Blasio, the question is this:  Are these moronic policies intentional, or are they simply the result of incompetence and/or stupidity?

Animal’s Daily Pinker Affair News

Before we start, make sure to catch the last installment of Ten Minutes over at Glibertarians.

I found this interesting:  Lessons of the Pinker Affair.  Excerpts, with my comments:

Earlier this summer, over 600 signatories signed an open letter to the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), denouncing Steven Pinker for “speaking over genuine grievances and downplaying injustices, frequently by misrepresenting facts, and at the exact moments when Black and Brown people are mobilizing against systemic racism and for crucial changes.” I tweeted a link to the letter, and was glad to see my tweet gain traction as people were able to see the absurdity of the charges for themselves.

You can sum up the grievances of the 600 signatories as follows:  “RHHEEEEEE!”  None of these people should be taken seriously, as you’ll see.

Among the self-pity and neurosis, I did discern one argument that was actually interesting, and addressing it can tell us something about what has gone wrong with the academy.

As Kastner et al. point out, Steven Pinker is more prominent than anyone on the list. He proved in the aftermath of the affair that he was more than capable of defending himself. How, then, could he complain about a witch hunt carried out by a group that is mostly made up of graduate students and junior scholars? I received my PhD in 2018, and know that most graduate students do not feel particularly powerful. They have finished a four-year degree and are still making $20,000 a year, with years of additional study and postdocs ahead of them before they can have any hope of finding a job. If and when they do, they will have little control over where they live and make less money than a manager at Walmart. When they attack Steve Pinker, one of the most prominent public intellectuals of our time, grad students and junior scholars can understandably feel like they are actually speaking truth to power.

Note the careful wording of that last sentence:  “feel like they are actually speaking truth to power.”  In reality they aren’t speaking truth at all; it’s doubtful whether they have even a nodding acquaintance with truth.  As President Reagan said, “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

What is it that distinguishes, then, cancellation campaigns that cause outrage (talking about sex differences, IQ, genetics) and those that do not (flat-Earthers, creationists)? As far as I can tell, the targets in the former cases are saying things that are scientifically valid, while those in the latter are saying things that are not. For many thoughtful people this is the hill to die on, not the abstract commitment to platforming all voices, a standard that virtually no one will ever live up to. As Tyler Cowen wrote in response to the Harper’s letter of earlier this year, in deciding who to invite to sign the document, “the organizers had to ‘restrict free speech’ in a manner not altogether different than what they are objecting to.” They were therefore not objecting to restrictions on speech when they complained about “cancel culture,” but something else.

The correct response to the cancellers is not simply to say that they should respect free speech. Rather, one must say to them that you are attacking people for stating things which are true, while you are stating things which are false. It does not matter which side of the debate is more prominent, or which side has more minorities and women. The identity politics view of the world fundamentally misunderstands reality, and people who respect truth should be on the side of whoever stands against it, whether a grad student is attacking a famous intellectual, or vice versa.

In other words, as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

The Pinker Affair, as the linked article demonstrates, has keenly illustrated higher education’s increasing disconnect from reality.  While the purpose of education should be to produce young adults with marketable skills, instead many of our major universities have essentially become bullshit factories.

Defund them.  Disconnect government from education.  Make financing of college a private-sector affair, where said financing will be dependent on the odds of the education obtained producing a return on investment.  That one step alone will remove most, if not all, of the bullshit from academia.

Rule Five Bullshitting Friday

Law & Liberty recently printed a review of Harry Frankfurt’s book On Bullshit. I can see now that I’m going to have to read this book, but following are some excerpts of the review, with my comments:

One of the most unlikely philosophical bestsellers in recent decades was retired Princeton University professor Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit. Published in 2005, it remained on the New York Times best seller list for 27 weeks. It opens:

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, or attracted much sustained inquiry. In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.

What is bullshit? Frankfurt distinguishes between lying and bullshitting. A liar knows that there is a difference between getting things wrong and getting them right—and opts for falsehood. A bullshitter, by contrast, believes that it is not possible to distinguish the false from the true. Yet this realization does not prevent him from making assertions about the way things are.

To be fair, President Trump is something of a bullshitter himself, but a fair amount of his bullshitting is perhaps better described as bloviating.   The President, his accomplishments in life aside, is prolix and bombastic; I know more than a few people (myself included) who vote for him despite that, not because of it.  I will indeed vote to re-elect the President,  but because of what he’s done, not because of what he says.  Talk is cheap, but results are golden.

On that note:

In my view, the ascendancy of bullshit can be explained in part by the changing media through which we have become accustomed to communicate. The 1858 U.S. Senatorial debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas famously lasted three hours and were reproduced in their entirety in the newspapers of the day. Today, by contrast, political discourse often takes the form of soundbites, and the most salient political medium seems to be Twitter. Where there were once melodies, now there are tweets.

This, perhaps, is the key point.

I don’t use Twitter and rarely even look at it.  While there is occasionally a gem, it’s unusual; my estimate is that Twitter has the worst signal-to-noise ratio of any internet platform save perhaps Facebook and YouTube video comments.  One simply cannot say anything of substance in this format, and if you engage the regular Twitter mobs who generally post what is little better than autistic screeching, you give credence to the maxim that ‘if you argue with idiots, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.’

And speaking of bullshit; one of the most egregious pieces of bullshit ever spoken by any pol, agitator or “activist” is the line “we need to have a national dialogue.”  That can only be accurately translated as “you should shut the hell up and do what we tell you.”

I’m not sure what the answer to all this is.  The review linked here offers no methods of coping with bullshit.

We have a failing, government-run education system that emphasizes indoctrination rather than education, and a media that continually spouts, well, bullshit.  It’s going to take a major cultural shift to fix it.

Friday Evening Culture

We haven’t done one of these in a while, so it’s overdue.

Of late I’ve been bemoaning the seeming lack of real musical talent among young artists, and wondering if I just need to look farther afield.  Apparently I needed to look no farther than Quebec, for Canadian artist Lisa LeBlanc.  Here she is with her work Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde.  Enjoy.

Rule Five The More Things Change Friday

In accordance with my odd habit of reading classical and sometimes rather arcane stuff, I’ve recently been reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.  It’s a fascinating read, and for having written this around 1800 years ago, this Roman Emperor had some insights that still apply today – some almost uncannily.  A few of these are here, followed with my thoughts.

Moreover I learned of him to write letters without any affectation, or curiosity; such as that was, which by him was written to my mother from Sinuessa: and to be easy and ready to be reconciled, and well pleased again with them that had offended me, as soon as any of them would be content to seek unto me again. To read with diligence; not to rest satisfied with a light and superficial knowledge, nor quickly to assent to things commonly spoken of…

“To read with diligence.”  How many people do that any more?  It took me years to learn to seek out differing viewpoints; the Old Man used to exhort me to vigorously challenge my own opinions, but I was probably in my forties before I really took that advice to heart, and it did result in my changing my mind on a few issues.  My current worldview, that of a somewhat prickly minarchist libertarian, arose from my following of that advice.  And “…nor quickly to assent to things commonly spoken of” applies as well.  In simple, modern English:  The “common wisdom” usually isn’t.

And these your professed politicians, the only true practical philosophers of the world, (as they think of themselves) so full of affected gravity, or such professed lovers of virtue and honesty, what wretches be they in very deed; how vile and contemptible in themselves?

Boy howdy!  Does this ever apply to most modern pols.  “…what wretches they be in very deed,” as in profiting hugely from their service, even if it’s indirectly; say, by laundering bribe money from a Ukrainian oil company by placing your useless, coke-head, prostitute-impregnating son in a plush “position” on their Board of Directors.

What is that that is slow, and yet quick? merry, and yet grave? He that in all things doth follow reason for his guide.

This kind of fits in with the first item, doesn’t it?  When used as a verb, ‘reason’ may be defined as to “think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.”  Now read Twitter, or FaceDerpbook, or any of the other various and sundry social media outlets, and see how many people you think are thinking, understanding and forming opinions by a process of logic.  I can answer that in advance:  Almost none.

He that runs away from his master is a fugitive. But the law is every man’s master. He therefore that forsakes the law, is a fugitive. So is he, whosoever he be, that is either sorry, angry, or afraid, or for anything that either hath been, is, or shall be by his appointment, who is the Lord and Governor of the universe.

The key takeaway from this?  “…the law is every man’s master.”  But today, the law is not every man’s master; too many people (like, say, Bill Clinton) get away with too much, with too many things, that common people never would.  “…the law is every man’s master” is another way of saying “equal treatment under the law,” which is, as we have documented many times in these virtual pages, effectively dead in this country today.

Marcus Aurelius was in many ways no prize by today’s standards.  He was an Emperor, by definition an autocrat.  But he was the last of what Machiavelli more-or-less accurately described as the “Five Good Emperors,” and the Roman historian wrote of him “…alone of the emperors, he gave proof of his learning not by mere words or knowledge of philosophical doctrines but by his blameless character and temperate way of life.”  His Meditations, these eighteen centuries later, are still worth reading – and reflecting upon.  Some of our political employees would do well to mark his words.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

The Kung Flu continues to show up in new ways.  The Border Patrol is seeing illegal immigrants coming in carrying the virus, and at least one officer has succumbed because of it.  All too much of the action taken against the virus has been futile, because it’s a virus, and the way you handle these is to protect the most vulnerable and let her immunity develop, which almost no country is doing.

Still – we should be seeing a vaccine within the next couple of months.  Once that’s in use, do you think we’ll be back to normal?  Maybe.  Here’s a prediction:  If President Trump wins re-election in November, the rheeeee from the political left will be some variation of “OMG WE HAVE TO STAY LOCKED DOWN” because, you know, we can’t let Orange Man Bad get credit for anything good.

With that said…

On To the Links!

It’s time to cancel the income tax.  Amen!

You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.

New York City is dead.

I’m shocked – shocked – to find the Dems are hiding from pre-convention interviews!

I’m shocked – shocked – to find the FBI was up to shenanigans in 2016!

I’m shocked – shocked – to find that Antifa didn’t fare well when they decided to take on the world’s biggest gathering of hardcore bikers!

This Week’s Idiots:

Senator Dick Durbin is an idiot.

Gov. John Kasich is an idiot.

Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, is an idiot.

Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca is an idiot.

You went full retard, man.  Never go full retard.

Maxine Waters (I know, low-hanging fruit) is an idiot.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

And So:

I don’t have anything else to add, so instead of just another image from the archives, have this song from the King of Country Music.  I could listen to George Strait all day, and sometimes I do.

On that note (hah) we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Racist Assumptions News

Be sure to catch the latest in the Allamakee County Chronicles over at Glibertarians!

Now then:  Note to the Smithsonian:  This is actually racist.  Not to mention stupid.  Excerpt:

Witness last week’s contretemps at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum, which bills itself as “the only national museum devoted exclusively” to educating the public on these topics, recently debuted the online guide “Talking about Race.” The guide included a chart cataloguing the “aspects and assumptions” of “white culture” that “have been normalized over time and are now considered standard practices in the United States.”

What are these sinister aspects of “white culture,” you ask? Well, according to the Smithsonian, values like “hard work,” “self-reliance,” “be[ing] polite,” and timeliness are all a product of the “white dominant culture.” Indeed, it turns out that conventional grammar, Christianity, the notion that “intent counts” in courts of law, and the scientific method and its emphasis on “objective, rational linear thinking” are all proprietary to “white culture.”

There are several things that might be said about all this. But the place to start may be by observing just how insidious it is to teach black children to reject intellectual and personal traits that promote personal and civic success — in the U.S. or anywhere else. After all, in what land are students well-served when they’re encouraged not to work hard, make decisions, think rationally, or be polite and on time? Among the extraordinarily accomplished people honored by the museum, those such as Frederick Douglass; Harriet Tubman; Jackie Robinson; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Toni Morrison; John Lewis; Oprah Winfrey; Michael Jordan; Condoleezza Rice; and Barack Obama might be surprised to learn that hard work and rational thinking are somehow alien to black culture.

Don’t take my word for it.  Here’s the actual chart:

What a condescending pile of crap.  Let’s look at a couple of the most egregiously stupid bits:

  • Self-reliance

As opposed to what?  Dependence?  On whom?  Or what?  This is particularly demeaning, as it implies that “people of color” (whatever that means) are somehow less capable of self-reliance.  That’s utter horseshit.

  • Objective, rational, linear thinking

As opposed to what?  Subjective, irrational, scattered thinking?  That’s not thinking at all.  That’s just feeling.  That’s no way to live a life, and it’s sure as hell no way to decide a policy at any level of government.

  • Plan for future, and
  • Delayed gratification

As opposed to what?  Disregarding the future and only doing what feels good now?  These two items are critically important life skills.  Especially if one ever harbors any notions of a peaceful retirement.

Most of the attributes listed in this aggregation of racist horseshit aren’t “white” values.  Most of them are values of responsible, thoughtful adults.  They apply evenly and equally to everyone who takes responsibility for their own lives.

The Smithsonian should be ashamed of themselves for putting out this crap.

Rule Five What Makes A Nation Friday

What makes a nation?

A nation is a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.  That’s a pretty good working definition.  But what makes a nation last?  Let’s kick that around some.

There are four things a nation has to have to remain a nation:

  • Commonality
  • Cohesion
  • Trust
  • Liberty

Now let’s take a look at each of those and apply them to the United States today, now, in July of 2020.

Commonality

We’ve always been a nation built of parts.  But the national motto, E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) no longer seems to apply.  Our nation is fractured along partisan lines.  As recently as the Eighties, the two major political parties could find common ground on at least a few issues, but today?

Refusal to accept the outcomes of elections is now the order of the day.  The political Left is particularly to blame; if they can’t achieve goals through the usual means, they resort to judge-shopping or, recently, outright intimidation and violence.  As recently as the Eighties, we were all Americans.  Now there are voices calling not to reform our nation, but to tear it down – and some of them are in Congress.

Cohesion

The United States is probably more fractured than it has been at any time since 1865.  The divide then was along geographical lines, North v. South; now the divide is largely along cultural lines, urban v. suburban/rural.

And, yes, some of this is along racial lines as well.  Major cities tend to be more “diverse” in skin tone, although not so much in ideology.  Small towns and rural areas tend to be populated by people of pallor.  And there is now a distinct tendency for urban denizens to automatically assume “racism” on the part of the small-town/rural dwellers, even though the term “racist” has been so over-used as to be meaningless; any disagreement, now, with radical progressive viewpoints is labeled as “racist,” even as nobody points out the actual racism involved in viewing whites as fundamentally flawed and evil, due not to the content of their character, but rather the color of their skin.

Trust

I remember when I was a young man in the Seventies and Eighties, I operated on the assumption that almost everyone I met was probably a pretty decent person, and tended to view strangers as friends I hadn’t met yet.  That may have been my rural farm-boy upbringing, and probably involved a little naivete even then.

Now, though?

I’ve always been more comfortable out in the boonies than in a city.  But now our major cities are descending into chaos.  I’m not just talking about riots and arson; look at the feces-laden, discarded-needle messes that San Francisco and Los Angeles have descended into.   People venture into some of these places at their peril, because a plurality of the people in those cities, based on all available evidence, are not decent people, and should probably be avoided.

Liberty

Are you kidding?

We now live in a country where you have to beg permission from the government to cut someone’s hair or paint their nails.

Various levels of government confiscate a portion of our income every year with the threat of force (try not paying your taxes, and see how long it is before they send men with guns out looking for you.)  The average American now labors until sometime in April every year just to pay taxes.

It has even come to the point where, in many states, you have to beg the government for permission to exercise a Constitutionally defined right.  And I’m not talking just about the Second Amendment, but increasingly in the post-Kung Flu world, even the First.

And So:

Someone once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand.  Our house is becoming increasingly divided, to the point where these four qualities, the ones that make a nation, no longer apply.

As I’ve said before and will say again, I’m hoping I don’t live to see the whole thing come apart.  I’m afraid my children and grandchildren will.  And, after the events of this year, I’m afraid I will as well.

Rule Five Shootings and Killings Friday

This is a pretty good summary of goings-on in some of our major cities.  Excerpt:

Since June, shootings and murders have surged across many of the country’s major cities. Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and New Orleans have all seen murders jump over 20 percent this year. The violence is heavily concentrated in the last few months, ever since protests have led to nationwide pressure on politicians to “defund” and “reimagine” policing.

Just as concerning is that these stats do not include data from the end of June and July. Data from New York and Chicago, recent data from which we do have, tells that the last few weeks have seen by far the worst of the violence. Murders and shootings in the Windy City are up about 80 percent, and New York has averaged at a 209 percent over these last weeks compared to the same times last year. It’s likely these disturbing numbers for the cities above only captures a fragment of the lives lost during unrest in which many protesters chant “Black Lives Matter.”

It’s also worth noting that Atlanta appeared to lack this crime spike just a few weeks ago, according to the statistics released above. If it serves as a bellwether, then the cities that already had a surge at the time of recording are in deep water. The scale will likely become apparent over the next few weeks.

Every one of the cities above has both a Democrat mayor and Democrat-controlled city council.

And:

The surge also raises questions about the role of existing reforms in causing the violence. Of the eight cities with the worst surges listed above, Minneapolis‘s leadership has pledged to abolish the city’s police department, while Philadelphia and New York have already cut money from law enforcement under pressure from activists. All have voiced criticism of police departments. While police chiefs in both Chicago and New York have begged city leaders to grant them greater latitude to deal with the surge, city leaders have instead taken the politically expedient route of keeping policing limited.

Combined with a public willing to attack officers making arrests, it’ll surprise few to learn that record numbers of police are abandoning their line of work, straining cut resources even further. Having more officers on the street is widely recognized to reduce crime of all stripes, and the inverse is true as well. With blue cities’ law enforcement spread thin, restrained, and lambasted by soundbite attacks, it will be difficult for politicians to dispute the link between their policies and results on the streets.

Now, here’s the onion:

No major Democrat politician has yet come forward to address the connection.

Of course not.  That would mean admitting that decades of Democrat government has resulted in cities out of control, the rise of the toxic urban “thug” culture, turf wars over drug territory and innocent cities caught in the crossfire.  Correlation may not equal causation, but in this case, there’s a hell of a lot of correlation.  When conducting cause analysis, something I’ve spent a lot of time teaching folks to do, one of the things you do is look for trends.  This is a trend.

What’s baffling is how the residents of these cities keep putting the same lunatics back in charge of these asylums.  That’s also a trend.

What’s baffling is how these same pols keep up their autistic screeching about poverty, or guns, or other irrelevancies, ignoring that small-town and rural denizens with similar income levels and many more guns don’t exhibit the same violent tendencies.

What’s baffling is how black lives only matter when they are taken by white cops.

What’s baffling is how our major cities are continuing their descent into violence and chaos while the pols in charge continue the same damn circle-jerk.