What are the odds that Randy Newman’s satirical song would be attacked today as offensive and accused of making short people feel unsafe? I think pretty high in favor, don’t you?
I was thinking about this after watching “Movie 43” last night, an astounding 2013 project in which a huge, all-star cast was recruited into doing a series of sophomoric, gutter humor skits that had bad taste galore but not much humor or wit beyond “Oh my God, I can’t believe they did that!” Still, while the movie got horrible reviews (although the critics calling it “The Worst Movie Ever Made” beclowned themselves: I can name 20 worse ones off the top of my head) and bombed, I am pretty sure that it would spark boycotts and “cancellations” today for being so spectacularly politically incorrect. Watching it, I was nostalgic for the time when artists could cross lines and not have a virtual price placed on their heads. In just seven years, we have come to a place where Americans are terrified of enraging the woke. I think watching Movie 43 is good tonic for that, and also good practice for those who want to purge their inner weenie.
1. One more bit of proof that we should not trust “experts,” scientists, or academics. Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker has written several best-selling books, such as “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” (2011) and “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress” (2018) and is regarded as a public intellectual. Yet when the New York Times asked him, “Do you see any irrational beliefs as useful?,” Pinker answered,
“Yeah. For example, every time the media blames a fire or a storm on climate change, it’s a dubious argument in the sense that those are events that belong to weather, not climate. You can never attribute a particular event to a trend. It’s also the case, given that there is an availability bias in human cognition, that people tend to be more influenced by images and narratives and anecdotes than trends. If a particular anecdote or event can in the public mind be equated with a trend, and the impression that people get from the flamboyant image gets them to appreciate what in reality is a trend, then I have no problem with using it that way.”
Yes, this respected intellectual believes that deceiving the public is justified if it leads them to support the “right” policies and beliefs. He, and those like him, are the real threats to democracy.
My Harvard diploma is already facing the wall; staring today, I’m going to spit at it when I pass by…
Coincidentally, today I was asked to write something for my class’s reunion book. What should I write?
2. Yeah, this makes a lot of sense…The New York Post reports that a 22-year-old senior at Rutgers University, Logan Hollar, has been locked out of his Rutgers email account and prevented from registering for classes because he failed to provide proof of vaccination against the Wuhan virus. All of Logan’s classes are conducted online, and he has not physically appeared at the campus, which is roughly seventy miles from his home. He has been told that he must be vaccinated even though he will only be attending classes remotely. Hollar said he intentionally selected only Zoom-in classes.
Can anyone think up a justification for this, other than a radically ideological institution attempting to bend to its will a student unwilling to comply with an abuse of power?
3. Yesterday was Thursday, when I get a free copy of baseball pundit Craig Calcaterra’s newsletter that he regularly ruins by injecting his lazy, knee-jerk progressive foolishness. It is still a regular reminder, as if my Facebook feed weren’t enough, of how many once reasonable, intelligent, open-minded people have been slowly converted into tiresome woke assholes. In yesterday’s smoking gun, Craig rejoiced at the toppling of Richmond’s Robert E. Lee statue, writing,
“The South lost one of its last participation trophies yesterday, as the giant Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia was taken down. You can watch that rather enjoyable and festive event here. I was particularly taken with the Washington Post’s description of the event: ‘Workers have removed Virginia’s biggest statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from its towering stone base and cut it into two pieces, ending the monument’s 131-year reign embodying this city’s mythology as the former capital of the Confederacy. Lee’s surrender came so fast — after less than an hour of work Wednesday — that hundreds of onlookers were caught by surprise.’ The only sad part of this is that, now that the statue is gone, how will we ever know what happened in the Civil War? I mean, that’s what those things were all about, right? At least according to a lot of people on the right who are so enthralled with monuments to racists and traitors.”
Asshole. First, virtually every white American of note from about 1960 back to the Revolution was a racist: that’s why they are trying to tear down the statues of Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Grant and Teddy Roosevelt. Oh, Craig probably wants to do that too, because he, of course, would have been uniquely prescient without the extra 250 years. Second, Lee was not a traitor, as there was considerable legal authority supporting his state’s contention that it was entitled to withdraw from the Union at will. People who say or write this kind of thing just show their historical ignorance. As for the snotty snark suggesting that nobody needs statues of controversial figures to remind citizens about the Civil War and how it was a lot more than Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, that’s ignorant too. There is much future generations can learn from the life of Robert E. Lee, but people like Craig won’t, because they think they know it all already.
4. Marvin Miller finally was admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yecchh. Miller was the union organizer credited with killing baseball’s abusive “reserve clause” that bound players to teams for life. His hardball tactics (no pun intended, but I guess it is one) is widely regarded as the reason players earn mega-millions today when they used to have to work selling insurance in the off-season to make ends meet. All well and good. But Miller didn’t care about baseball; he was hired to do a job and did it. If he had wrecked baseball but gotten the players more money, he would have happily done that. I have found no evidence that Marvin Miller was a baseball fan, or that he went to a game in his life. Put him in the labor organizer’s Hall of Fame, if there is one: he deserves that.
5. Tales of the Great Stupid, and no, this is not a joke. Well, not exactly. From a press release: today:
Norton Denies Responsibility for Setting Zebras Free, Supports Freedom Generally
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) issued a statement today denying responsibility for letting loose the six zebras that have been on the run in the D.C. suburbs. The charges were made known when a member of the public noted that, historically, Norton has valued the principle of consent of the governed, most notably in the fight for statehood for the District. More recently, Norton has also been known to oppose unnecessary fences. “Local news has reported that the zebras were let loose on Saturday or Sunday of last weekend, a period of time during which I was enjoying quiet time at home with family,” Norton said. “My alibi is solid, but given my career of fighting for statehood for the District, which includes years of explaining the importance of having consent of the governed, and given my recent opposition to fences, I can understand why the charge was made. I hope the owners find the zebras and that all involved live long, full lives.”
After all, there is nothing going on, so why shouldn’t a Congresswoman send out junk like this?