Tag Archives: culture

Some reasons to panic

And those reasons have less to do with actual problems and more to do with the incompetence of our culture’s intellectual leadership.

Over the last few years the divergence between what the government promises and what it delivers, between what it says is happening or will happen and what actually is happening and does happen, between what it determines to be important and what the public wishes to be important—this gap has become abysmal, unavoidable, inescapable. We hear of “lone-wolf” terrorism, of “workplace violence,” that if you like your plan you can keep your plan. We are told that Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration, that al Qaeda is on the run, that the border is secure as it has ever been, that Assad must go, that I didn’t draw a red line, the world drew a red line, that the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups involved not a smidgen of corruption, that the Islamic State is not Islamic. We see the government spend billions on websites that do not function, and the VA consign patients to death by waiting list and then cover it up. We are assured that Putin won’t invade; that the Islamic State is the jayvee team of terrorism; that Bowe Bergdahl served with honor and distinction; that there is a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.

While the public remains pro-Israel, our government negotiates with Israel’s enemies. While the public wants to reduce immigration, the preeminent legislative objective of both parties is a bill that would increase it. While the public is uninterested in global warming, while costly regulations could not pass a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate, while the scientific consensus behind the green agenda is, at the very least, fraying, the president says that climate change is the greatest threat to the United States. While Americans tell pollsters their economic situation has not improved, and that things are headed in the wrong direction—while even Democratic economists acknowledge the despondent state of the middle class—the president travels to Chicago to celebrate his economic recovery.

These disjunctions and confusions, these missteps, scandals, and miscalculations, have hurt Obama’s approval numbers. They endanger the Democratic Senate majority, contribute to the widespread sense of disorder and decay, shatter trust in government and in public institutions. They have put into stark relief a political class dominated by liberal partisans, captured by ideas and interests removed from those of ordinary Americans. The stories of ineptitude or malfeasance that appear in the daily newspaper are more than examples of high ideals executed poorly. They are examples of the pursuit of ideas—of equality and diversity and progress and centralization and environmentalism and globalization—to absurd and self-destructive limits. [emphasis mine]

Read the whole essay, as I couldn’t have said it better. The incompetence of our intellectual partisan liberal elite, more consumed with pie-in-the-sky leftwing agendas than the real world around them, has become downright frightening. The sooner the general public rejects them, wholly and completely, illustrated by a landslide election, the sooner our society can get back to the business of dealing with the increasingly deadly problems of the real world.

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“Tolerance, freedom, and the hypocrisy in an age of confusion”

The reflections of one man concerning the present social conflict between religion and gay rights.

An employee of a church or school is – must be! – a role model to all parishioners and students, even to the community. The church or school cannot allow its message, already under so much assault by the pop culture, the press, and the government, to be undermined even by its own employees.

Such actions [gay marriage] therefore force the hand of the Church; it must defend its policies by terminating employees who will no longer be the role models the Church needs.

Again, tolerating a failing is one thing; endorsing it is another. When you keep a failing private, you can hope for tolerance (your employer can continue to hope it’s a weakness that you’ll conquer or outgrow). But when one chooses to make that failing public – again, whether we agree that it’s a failing or not is immaterial; the Church thinks so, and the employee knew it – then one has to take the consequences of tearing that rift.

A very wise and thoughtful essay. Please read it all.

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What others really think of America

Travel tips for Russian, French, Chinese, and Japanese travelers to the United States.

Read them all. Not surprisingly, the French are the most bothered by American habits while the Russians struggle mightily with our general niceness. All told, however, these tips will each give you warm feelings for the wild, crazy, enthusiastic culture that is America, as seen objectively by outsiders, and best summed up by this Japanese advice:

In Japan, there is great fear of failure and mistakes in front of other people. It is better to do nothing and avoid being criticized than to taste the humiliation of failure. As a result, there are things we wanted to do, but did not, and often regret.

In America, you can make mistakes, fail, and it doesn’t matter. It is a fundamental feeling that to sometimes be incorrect is natural. In addition, rather than thinking about mistakes and failures, American’s have curiosity and say, “Let’s try anyway!”

As noted so wisely in the 1982 comedy Night Shift, “Is this a great country, or what?”

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Our decadent elites.

Our decadent elites.

I don’t understand why members of Congress, the White House and the media become cooperators in videos that sort of show that deep down they all see themselves as . . . actors. And good ones! In a phony drama. Meant I suppose to fool the rubes. It’s all supposed to be amusing, supposed to show you’re an insider who sees right through this town. But I’m not sure it shows that.

We’re at a funny point in our political culture. To have judgment is to be an elitist. To have dignity is to be yesterday. To have standards is to be a hypocrite—you won’t always meet standards even when they’re your own, so why have them?

I have always tried to have judgment, dignity, and standards, which I guess explains why I have had so little success compared to today’s politicians and modern intellectuals.

Meanwhile, take a close look at who participated in the video Noonan describes above. It will tell you who we should not trust in the impending war over American freedom.

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Slandering an American icon.

Slandering an American icon.

It strikes me that, in addition to (if reports are true) grotesque ambition, Ms. Streep reflects a certain warped mindset that is all too prominent in the fashionable circles of our time. I am talking about a predisposition to believe that anything iconically American is corrupt.

The full essay is here.

I should also add that Ms. Streep’s coments also illustrate nicely the typical know-it-all ignorance of modern leftwing elite culture. She knows that Walt Disney was bigoted, without knowing a goddamn thing about him.

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In preparation for November 5 launch of India’s first mission to Mars, ISRO successfully performed a full dress rehearsal countdown yesterday

In preparation for November 5 launch of India’s first mission to Mars, ISRO successfully performed a full dress rehearsal countdown yesterday.

We all cross our fingers and wish India well on this mission.

The article also had this additional tidbit that reveals a great deal about world culture:
» Read more

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Five stupid movie deaths that should have been really easy to avoid.

Five stupid movie deaths that should have been really easy to avoid.

These examples are why I find most modern movies either boring, annoying, or stupid. They too often follow the same predictable action formula developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they too often require their main characters to act stupid, and they too often are based on ridiculous concepts that are so silly that even after typing randomly for one million years one million monkeys would find them unworthy.

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Why are liberals so rude to the right?

“Why are liberals so rude to the right?”

This column was published not by the right but by the very leftwing Guardian. It has been years since I’ve seen a leftwing publication willing to let these kinds of questions be asked. Could we finally be seeing a crack in the wall of silence that the left has erected since the 1990s to protect itself?

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Of thee I sigh: Baby boomers bust.

P.J. O’Rourke: “Of thee I sigh: Baby boomers bust.”

My sad generation of baby boomers can be blamed. We were born into an America where material needs were fulfilled to a degree unprecedented in history. We were a demographic benison, cherished and taught to be self-cherishing. We were cosseted by a lush economy and spoiled by a society grown permissive in its fatigue with the strictures of depression and war. The child being father to the man, and necessity being the mother of invention, we wound up as the orphans of effort and ingenuity. And pleased to be so. Sixty-six years of us would be enough to take the starch out of any nation.

The baby boom was skeptical about America’s inventive triumphalism. We took a lot of it for granted: light bulb, telephone, television, telegraph, phonograph, photographic film, skyscraper, airplane, air conditioning, movies. Many of our country’s creations seemed boring and square: cotton gin, combine harvester, cash register, electric stove, dishwasher, can opener, clothes hanger, paper bag, toilet paper roll, ear muffs, mass-produced automobiles. Some we regarded as sinister: revolver, repeating rifle, machine gun, atomic bomb, electric chair, assembly line. And, ouch, those Salk vaccine polio shots hurt.

The Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik caused a blip in chauvinistic tech enthusiasm among those of us who were in grade school at the time. But then we learned that the math and science excellence being urged upon us meant more long division and multiplying fractions.

The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs were cool, but not as cool as the sex, drugs, and rock and roll we’d discovered in the meantime. When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in 1969, many of us had already been out in space for years, visiting all sorts of galaxies—in our own heads. And in our own heads was where my generation spent most of its time.

Read the whole thing. O’Rourke, in his witty style, captures the failure of my baby boom generation perfectly.

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A detailed, fact-based look at the successes and failures of the Obama administration.

A detailed, fact-based look at the successes and failures of the Obama administration.

Sadly, they are mostly failures. What is significant to me is that this article is from liberal Newsweek of all places. It is another data point indicating that even the intellectuals on the left are beginning to realize how much of a failure Obama has been.

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The disappearance of the old-fashioned chemistry set.

The disappearance of the old-fashioned chemistry set.

Here’s what it used to be like, when we lived in a free society:

By the 1920s and 30s children had access to substances which would raise eyebrows in today’s more safety-conscious times. There were toxic ingredients in pesticides, as well as chemicals now used in bombs or considered likely to increase the risk of cancer. And most parents will not need to be told of the dangers of the sodium cyanide found in the interwar kits or the uranium dust present in the “nuclear” kits of the 1950s.

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A study has found that Americans and Europeans give directions differently.

And now for some important results! A study has found that Americans and Europeans give directions differently.

Americans were far more likely, across all tests, to give navigators a street name or a cardinal direction (i.e. north, east, south, or west). Dutch wayfinders, on the other hand, provided far more landmarks and left-right turn-descriptors.

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Boeing and Lockheed Martin are both considering hiring the Russia aerospace company Energia to build components for the CST-100 and Orion manned capsules.

It appears that both Boeing and Lockheed Martin are considering hiring the Russia aerospace company Energia to build components for the CST-100 and Orion manned capsules.

What is going on here is that both Boeing and Lockheed Martin are looking for a subcontractor who can build these components for less money. Since labor costs in Russia are much lower than the U.S., both companies are considering Energia for this work.

This quote, however, encapsulates the cultural war that still goes on sometimes between Russia and the U.S.:

“[Russian] achievements in docking sites and [thermal protection equipment] production are quite competitive, but I am not sure that the Americans will accept our offer because they not only have the task of building a spaceship but also of gaining competence in this matter,” Dmitry Payson, director of the space and telecommunication technology department in Russia’s Skolkovo hi-tech hub, told Izvestia.

In interviewing many Russian and American space engineers over the years I have found an amazing amount of contempt from each for the work of the other, often without justification. Just as the Russians above seem to falsely think that Boeing and Lockheed Martin know nothing about docking equipment or thermal protection, American engineers repeatedly have expressed to me unjustified disdain for the space station technology developed by the Russians for Mir. The result: both countries often don’t take advantage of the other’s skills.

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A failed public works project — from the year 1350 AD

Casa Grande

Yesterday my wife Diane and I took my 94-year-old mother on a sightseeing trip to see the Casa Grande ruins southeast of Phoenix, “the largest known structure left of the Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert.”

This four story high structure was built around 1350 AD from bricks made of concrete-like caliche mud, with the floors and roofs supported by beams of pine, fir, and juniper brought from as far away as fifty miles. (The rooflike structure above the ruins was built by the National Park Service in order to protect it from rain.)

Though impressive, I must admit I’ve seen far more impressive American Indian ruins elsewhere. Casa Grande, which means “Great House” in Spanish, suffered as a tourist attraction from two faults:
» Read more

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