Rehashed, reheated

The authoritative fall-of-civilization end-of-the-year roundup is Dave Barry’s, but there are others worth reading.

Titania McGrath:

The world finally accepted that there are more than 400 genders, and that all of these have been persecuted throughout history. Even the ones we invented last week.

Intersectional feminism triumphed over transphobia. All of a sudden, major companies were using phrases such as “menstruators”, “vulva owners” and “people with a cervix”. All of which is far more respectful to women: or, as I like to call them, bipedal gestation units.

David Thompson:

As the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip, we learned, via an immensely woke Brooklynite podcaster named Billy, “What it’s like to isolate with your girlfriend and her other boyfriend.” And in the pages of The Atlantic, we were told, by Natan Last, a Brooklynite and graduate of Columbia, that crossword puzzles are one of “the systemic forces that threaten women.”

Comforting thought

David Deavel:

One friend told me a couple years ago that her persistent fears about the collapse of civilization had eased once she had realized that it had collapsed already.

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Unrelated: what’s going on with John C. Wright’s website?

Update: The site is back, at least for now. Apparently there was some site migration issue.

Update two: Sometimes it’s back, sometimes not.

End of the year drivel

Gee, what a thrill it’s been. Not every generation has the privilege of living the prologue to a dystopian novel.

A year ago, I didn’t think I could possibly ever have a lower opinion of the intelligentsia; I was wrong. To all the petty tyrants and their toadies, all the experts, all the journalists and pundits, all the criminals in office, all the profiteering oligarchs, all the sanctimonious scolds and everyone else who has made this such a remarkable year, I have one thing to say: go to hell.

Enough of that. On to the stuff that mattered in 2020.

Music

The non-classical album I found most interesting this year was Atomic Ape’s Swarm (2014). The tunes range from quasi-surf to near-Klezmer, plus a quirky Django Reinhardt cover; if I had to name a genre, it would be the conveniently vague “cinematic.”

Gryphon’s Reinvention (2018) was a pleasant surprise but ultimately a disappointment. Three of the original quartet reformed a few years ago and drafted another trio of musicians to fill out the ensemble. However, the missing fourth member, Richard Harvey, was the best composer of the bunch, and he is missed. It’s pleasant music, nicely arranged and well-performed, but the melodies don’t remain in my ears after listening, and there’s nothing comparable to “Midnight Mushrumps,” “Estampie” or “Ethelion.”

Otherwise, I mostly listened to classical keyboard music: Bach’s forty-eight, Beethoven’s thirty-two, Alkan, Debussy, Szymanowski and Scott Joplin.

There was no Winfield this year, and no concerts worth attending in the area. There were frequent outdoor luncheon performances of lukewarm jazz during the warmer part of the year at the coffeehouse on the corner, which I did not appreciate.

Anime

I didn’t watch anything released this year, and watched very little overall. I did sample several episodes of Irresponsible Captain Tylor, which I’d been meaning to investigate for years. Amiable flake Justy Ueki Tylor joins the space force seeking the easy life, and through a bizarre sequence of events gets command of a battleship. It’s not clear whether he’s a genius or an idiot (probably the latter), but he survives and prospers by being luckier than Milfeulle Sakuraba. It’s a funny show, but Tylor remains a flake, and I lost interest.

Other arts

Nothing worth mentioning.

I’ll write about books later.

Wordplay

Winter thus far has been mild here, with little snow and ice. Nevertheless, I’m in the mood for an old favorite by the lunatic from Idaho.

Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,
So ‘gainst the winter’s balm.

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

I particularly like how Pound exploits the rhymes to make the pleasant word “balm” sound like an obscenity.

Another nice word that sounds like an obscenity to me nowadays, for other reasons: “safe.”

Odds and ends

While the point of the Hololive phenomenon eludes me, I do like the video of marching VTubers that Pixy found. In particular, I enjoy the tune, “みっちりねこマーチ,” or “MitchiriNeko March,”1 by one Chiemi Takano (Joedown). It reminds me of the Kuricorder Quartet in a playful mood. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a recording of it in the USA. The video is based on an earlier one featuring cartoon cats.

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Today’s useful phrase: “platitudinal capacity.”

Though he hailed from the dusty plains of Oklahoma, Kendall himself was certainly no rube. He worked his way onto the faculty of Yale, where he profoundly influenced Bill Buckley among others. But while he had the intellect to work at the highest academic levels, he had neither the temperament nor the platitudinal capacity. Yale eventually paid him to forfeit his tenure.

***

Years ago, when I finally had a computer at home with Photoshop, I thought that I would at last be able to make color prints of the pictures I take. Ha. Thanks to the machinations of printer manufacturers, the final destination for all my photography is digital files. The article focuses on HP, but I can state that Epson and Canon are no better. I print maybe a dozen pages a year, and those are rarely pictures.

(Via American Digest.)

Continue reading “Odds and ends”

Notes and a word

Joseph Moore:

I think genius is as common as dirt, but needs proper conditions to flower. I think this because of the recurring historical phenomenon of little nothing cities or cultures reaching insane flowerings over short periods of time with small populations – how does one explain Athens or Florence? The density of true genius over a few centuries or even a few decades in those places surpasses the genius of, say, the entire Islamic world over a millennium. Genius has to be lurking, and thwarted, everywhere.

Altitude Zero:

The more levelheaded ones, like Obama and Biden (back when he was more or less sentient) and Hillary most certainly want power for power’s sake, but that’s not true of the Antifa types, and the Junior Volunteer Thought Police, and the BLM types. I mean, look at these people; they are, almost to a man (or woman) stunningly ugly, obviously mentally ill, or twisted in some odd sexual way. These are the people who were made fun of,who didn’t get asked to the prom, who never had a date in their lives, who got locked up for being a bit too friendly with the kiddies, or with the sheep…

These people want revenge, not just on the normal, well adjusted people they had no hope of being, but on the Universe itself. Edmund Wilson, himself a leftist, noted uneasily that almost everyone he met at his first Communist Party meeting was ugly or deformed in some way. Things haven’t changed, it seems.

Moore, again:

In the fevered imaginations of the Left, the Spanish Inquisition looms large. Yet, over its whole centuries long existence, the Inquisition didn’t kill or torture as many people as Pol Pot, Mao, or Stalin did in a routine day. And that was centuries ago. Unless we want to consider Communism and its conjoined twin National Socialism as religions – I would be down with that – religious persecutions in the West are ancient, comparatively minor (e.g., Salem witch trials), or both.

Today’s useful term: FAUXVID.

Notes from all over

Here’s a motive for one of great crimes of the 21st century:

Wealth increase in the pandemic for founder/CEOs of
Amazon: $91 billion
Walmart: $38B
Google: $37B
Microsoft: $33B
Facebook: $28B
Nike: $8B
Apple: $8B

Small businesses: collectively lost over $200 billion

We’re witnessing a record wealth transfer

Amazon: profit up 100%
Walmart: profit up 80%
Target: profit up 80%
Lowe’s: profit up 74%
Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google: stock at record high

Small businesses: 21% closed; revenue for rest down 30%. They’re gonna go extinct in the lockdown without help.

(Via Clarissa.)

Continue reading “Notes from all over”

Trapped in an alternate universe

We’ve been living in a counterfactual world since at least 1960. Nixon won the election, but in our space-time continuum, Kennedy was inaugurated president. It looks like we’re at another inflection point. So, what now?

Francis X. Maier:

What may be coming our way is an odd kind of “new colonialism,” with flyover country—that Dark Continent formerly known as places like Kansas, Alabama, and Tennessee, largely inhabited by reactionary troglodytes—reduced in effective power to mission territory for our enlightened coastal elites; who, after all, are much smarter than the rest of us and have the expert skills to run our complex technocracy.

And of course, they’ll do all this unselfishly, heroically really, for the benefit of us natives.

Severian:

What’s going to come of the electoral mess? Nothing good, as we’ve discussed ad nauseam. The likely outcomes — the ones produced by humans, excluding meteor strikes and plagues and other acts of God — range from “bad” to “inconceivably horrible.” There really aren’t any Forces of History, my friends, but something out there wants what it wants, and what it wants, apparently, is rat utopia, the kinder gentler police state, Karen uber alles. Even the increasingly unlikely event of a total Trump victory in the courts only delays it a few years, tops. We all know which way the world is heading.

So… what do we, as individuals, DO?

Tend your gardens. Raise your children. Be loyal to your friends. Pray. Meditate. Read the great books, view the great artworks while that’s still permitted. Enjoy your time in the sunshine, because that’s all any of us ever really get in this world. Amor fati.

See also Edward Feser.

Today’s quote

TS:

The larger issue is that Trump is an unwitting revealer of character – just ask the many “journalists” who have been outed as frauds and hacks by him. You could call Trump a one-man honest-broker detector, a tester of character, like whether your house can stand up to really strong winds. In Catholic parlance, Trump is a near occasion of sin for reporters.

Safety and psychosis

The Wichita city council this week extended the “mask mandate” into October. Why stop at masking?

How can I avoid the risks of drowning while swimming?

Recommendation: if you must swim, always wear a life vest, face mask and snorkel. This can interfere with swimming laps and draw comment at your local swimming club (assuming they reopen after a coronavirus vaccine is available) but your health is more important!

SER best practice: don’t swim at all. In fact, try not to go near bodies of water larger than a bathtub. Avoid hot tubs, especially if you are very short or have trouble maintaining your balance.

Pro-action: organize your fellow zero-risk activists to complain to pool operators about persons insensitive to your need for complete safety. Demand that the your health club or swimming pool have two trained lifeguards on duty at all time. Lobby local officials to fence off all ponds and lakes where people might swim unsupervised.

***

If you really want to do something about the CCP virus, Joseph Moore has the most practical suggestion I’ve come across:

Turns out that the majority of the population, those under 50 and in reasonably good health, have an IFR [infection fatality rate] of about 0.0001% – one in a million chance. (1) With this bit of information in hand, we should rejoice, throw away the damned masks, and throw a huge, sweaty, 2 week-long street party – for all those who are under 50 and in reasonably good health AND anyone else who would rather party and face a minuscule risk of death than cower like rabbits.

Because – pay attention here – after than 2-week party, we’ll have reached herd immunity! Huzzah! And it would cost us fewer deaths, maybe around 100, from COVID, far fewer than are going to kill themselves coming and going to the party, drinking too much and falling on their face, or in any of the myriad other mundane yet fatal ways healthy people routinely die.

***

Some perspective on our historical moment:

In 2005, Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben published the book State of Exception. The title refers to an old idea, traceable at least to the Roman dictatorship, which holds (to coin a phrase) that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.

Of course, sometimes extraordinary times do require extraordinary measures—e.g., the American Revolution. The problem, of which ancient thinkers and jurists were well aware, is that there are always people wishing to proclaim any and every time “extraordinary” so they can grant themselves extraordinary powers which they resist ever giving up. The Roman solution was to limit a dictator’s term to six months and to enforce a strong political-cultural norm that the sooner a dictator surrendered his office, the more honor he gained. Whatever the precise solution, for law and liberty to endure, some means has to be found to deal with extraordinary moments without permanent recourse to lawless power.

Agamben argues that few, if any, countries—and virtually none in the West—have any such means anymore. And all the elites like it that way. Hence the “state of exception” has everywhere replaced the rule of law and is, de facto, the rule.

Nothing has made this clearer than the COVID-19 lockdowns, mask mandates, and other executive directives by governors and mayors who make no pretense of even consulting legislative bodies, much less going to the trouble of passing actual laws. They just decree what they want, and that’s that.

Americans initially were willing to go along because they feared that COVID-19 would turn out to be what the ruling class and the “experts” still lyingly insist that it is: a once-in-a-century plague primed to kill millions within months. By now it’s obvious that this virus is not that. But the “state of exception” remains.

***

And that’s enough. I am beyond disgusted with the viral hysteria and the gangsters who exploit it. From here on out I intend to completely ignore it and return this weblog to its original focus on trivia like literature, cartoons, the end of civilization, botany and music.

*** Update: I wasn’t happy with the original title, so I changed it. (This was in the back of my mind.)

***

Update II: Edward Feser is ferocious.

Junk mail

While I was technically a member of the Stupid Party for many years (you have to declare an affiliation to vote in a primary in Kansas), I never, ever considered joining the Evil Party1. Therefore, I was a bit surprised to find the above in my mail this week. I think I detect a whiff of desperation in the air.