The Literary Drover No. 4870

Play politics, and you WILL lose: https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/10/movie-review-halloween-right-wing-message-guns/

The Literary Drover No. 4628

Reality check for everyone: You may be one of the greatest Writers of all time, whose talent can make Shakespeare look like an ink-stained wretch, but if your writing does not advance a partisan political agenda it will not be promoted.

Period.

The Literary Drover No. 4548

I prefer Art for Art’s sake. But what do I know: https://www.giarts.org/blog/carmen-graciela-diaz/foundation-sheds-light-arts-political-activism-its-annual-report

The Literary Drover No. 3834

On politics and politicians:

The politician who believes that they can coax a hungry vulture off a rotting corpse is not only a fool, but a danger to anyone who would believe that they could be successful in their misguided task.

The Literary Drover No. 3097

My writing, specifically the stories of Jhon Collector, has been, is, and will be censored because of bigotry, discrimination, prejudice, and racism. It is an ugly and undeniable fact and truth. No matter how many laws are passed, no matter how many declarations are uttered, and no matter how many celebrities and politicians claim otherwise bigotry, discrimination, prejudice, and racism have, do, and will exist.

Until such time that the individual stands up and refuse to submit to such things.

Only then will humanity realize its potential.

The Literary Drover No. 3087

Follow the advice and opinion of Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Roman poet (65 B.C. to 8 A.C.): Sapere aude – Have the courage to use your own brain.

Don’t fall for what people, in particular politicians, are saying. Just watch what they do.

The Literary Drover No. 3006

[The last time I posted an essay, an op/ed piece in its entirety, several now-former readers and followers of this blog made it known that they would NEVER read anything I published again. Apparently thinking outside The Box is a Bad Thing nowadays. Regardless, I offer the following in the hopes you will think for yourself, and apply the conclusion you reach to your life.]

He Fights, by Evan Sayet

My Leftist friends (as well as many ardent #NeverTrumpers) constantly ask me if I’m not bothered by Donald Trump’s lack of decorum. They ask if I don’t think his tweets are “beneath the dignity of the office.” Here’s my answer:

We Right-thinking people have tried dignity. There could not have been a man of more quiet dignity than George W. Bush as he suffered the outrageous lies and politically motivated hatreds that undermined his presidency. We tried statesmanship. Could there be another human being on this earth who so desperately prized “collegiality” as John McCain? We tried propriety – has there been a nicer human being ever than Mitt Romney? And the results were always the same.

This is because, while we were playing by the rules of dignity, collegiality and propriety, the Left has been, for the past 60 years, engaged in a knife fight where the only rules are those of Saul Alinsky and the Chicago mob.

I don’t find anything “dignified,” “collegial” or “proper” about Barack Obama’s lying about what went down on the streets of Ferguson in order to ramp up racial hatreds because racial hatreds serve the Democratic Party. I don’t see anything “dignified” in lying about the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi and imprisoning an innocent filmmaker to cover your tracks. I don’t see anything “statesman-like” in weaponizing the IRS to be used to destroy your political opponents and any dissent. Yes, Obama was “articulate” and “polished” but in no way was he in the least bit “dignified,” “collegial” or “proper.”

The Left has been engaged in a war against America since the rise of the Children of the ‘60s. To them, it has been an all-out war where nothing is held sacred and nothing is seen as beyond the pale. It has been a war they’ve fought with violence, the threat of violence, demagoguery and lies from day one – the violent take-over of the universities – till today.

The problem is that, through these years, the Left has been the only side fighting this war. While the Left has been taking a knife to anyone who stands in their way, the Right has continued to act with dignity, collegiality and propriety.

With Donald Trump, this all has come to an end. Donald Trump is America’s first wartime president in the Culture War.

During wartime, things like “dignity” and “collegiality” simply aren’t the most essential qualities one looks for in their warriors. Ulysses Grant was a drunk whose behavior in peacetime might well have seen him drummed out of the Army for conduct unbecoming.

Had Abraham Lincoln applied the peacetime rules of propriety and booted Grant, the Democrats might well still be holding their slaves today. Lincoln rightly recognized that, “I cannot spare this man. He fights.”

General George Patton was a vulgar-talking, son-of-a-bitch. In peacetime, this might have seen him stripped of rank. But, had Franklin Roosevelt applied the normal rules of decorum, then Hitler and the Socialists would barely be five decades into their thousand-year Reich.

Trump is fighting. And what’s particularly delicious is that, like Patton standing over the battlefield as his tanks obliterated Rommel’s, he’s shouting, “You magnificent bastards, I read your book!” That is just the icing on the cake, but it’s wonderful to see that not only is Trump fighting, he’s defeating the Left using their own tactics.

That book is Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals – a book so essential to the Liberals’ war against America that it is and was the playbook for the entire Obama administration and the subject of Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis. It is a book of such pure evil, that, just as the rest of us would dedicate our book to those we most love or those to whom we are most indebted, Alinsky dedicated his book to Lucifer.

Trump’s tweets may seem rash and unconsidered but, in reality, he is doing exactly what Alinsky suggested his followers do.

First, instead of going after “the fake media” – and they are so fake that they have literally gotten every single significant story of the past 60 years not just wrong, but diametrically opposed to the truth, from the Tet Offensive to Benghazi, to what really happened on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri – Trump isolated CNN. He made it personal. Then, just as Alinsky suggests, he employs ridicule which Alinsky described as “the most powerful weapon of all.”

Everyone gets that it’s not just CNN – in fact, in a world where Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman and Nicholas Kristof are people of influence and whose “reporting” is in no way significantly different than CNN’s – CNN is just a piker.

Most importantly, Trump’s tweets have put CNN in an untenable and unwinnable position. With Trump’s ability to go around them, they cannot simply stand pat. They need to respond. This leaves them with only two choices.

They can either “go high” (as Hillary would disingenuously declare of herself and the fake news would disingenuously report as the truth) and begin to honestly and accurately report the news or they can double-down on their usual tactics and hope to defeat Trump with twice their usual hysteria and demagoguery.

The problem for CNN (et al.) with the former is that, if they were to start honestly reporting the news, that would be the end of the Democratic Party they serve. It is nothing but the incessant use of fake news (read: propaganda) that keeps the Left alive.

Imagine, for example, if CNN had honestly and accurately reported then-candidate Barack Obama’s close ties to foreign terrorists (Rashid Khalidi), domestic terrorists (William Ayers), the mafia (Tony Rezko) or the true evils of his spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright’s, church.

Imagine if they had honestly and accurately conveyed the evils of the Obama administration’s weaponizing of the IRS to be used against their political opponents or his running of guns to the Mexican cartels or the truth about the murder of Ambassador
Christopher Stevens and the Obama administration’s cover-up.

This makes “going high” a non-starter for CNN. This leaves them no other option but to ratchet up the fake news, conjuring up the next “nothing burger” and devoting 24 hours a day to hysterical rants about how it’s “worse than Nixon.”

This, obviously, is what CNN has chosen to do. The problem is that, as they become more and more hysterical, they become more and more obvious. Each new effort at even faker news than before and faker “outrage” only makes that much more clear to any objective observer that Trump is and always has been right about the fake news media.

And, by causing their hysteria, Trump has forced them into numerous, highly embarrassing and discrediting mistakes. Thus, in their desperation, they have lowered their standards even further and run with articles so clearly fake that, even with the liberal (lower case “l”) libel laws protecting the media, they’ve had to wholly retract and erase their stories repeatedly.

Their flailing at Trump has even seen them cross the line into criminality, with CNN using their vast corporate fortune to hunt down a private citizen for having made fun of them in an Internet meme. This threat to “dox” – release of personal information to encourage co-ideologists to visit violence upon him and his family — a political satirist was chilling in that it clearly wasn’t meant just for him. If it were, there would have been no reason for CNN to have made their “deal” with him public.

Instead, CNN – playing by “Chicago Rules” – was sending a message to any and all: dissent will not be tolerated.

This heavy-handed and hysterical response to a joke on the Internet has backfired on CNN, giving rise to only more righteous ridicule.

So, to my friends on the Left – and the #NeverTrumpers as well — do I wish we lived in a time when our president could be “collegial” and “dignified” and “proper”? Of course I do. These aren’t those times. This is war. And it’s a war that the Left has been fighting without opposition for the past 50 years.

So, say anything you want about this president – I get it, he can be vulgar, he can be crude, he can be undignified at times. I don’t care. I can’t spare this man. He fights.

Evan Sayet is the author of The KinderGarden of Eden: How The Modern Liberal Thinks. His lecture to the Heritage Foundation on this same topic remains, some ten years later, by far the single most viewed lecture in their history. Evan can be reached at contactevansayet@gmail.com.

The Literary Drover No. 2777

[For a number of years I have watched as formal education, specifically higher education, works itself toward a certain path of oblivion. When I mention this observation, especially to those who identify as “Liberal”, I am informed that I am WRONG. It is somewhat comforting to know I am not alone in my opinions and observations.]

The Death of Scholarship
Leftists are limiting academic work to demonstrations of leftist dogma
WARREN TREADGOLD

Not so long ago, leftists on campus insisted that there was no discrimination against conservatives in academic hiring. They claimed professors were hired on the basis of merit (and “diversity”), and few if any meritorious (or “diverse”) conservatives wanted to be professors anyway. The left now has a new and better argument for not hiring or tolerating conservative professors, formulated by a former conservative—the University of Pennsylvania’s Damon Linker. Writing in the Week in August 2017, Linker claims that conservatives are not hired as professors in the humanities because they cannot produce “scholarship,” which “in our time is defined as an effort to make progress in knowledge.” Such progress requires addressing “the concerns of the present.” Specifically, Linker wrote that scholarship is needed “on such topics as ‘Class in Shakespeare,’ ‘Race in Shakespeare,’ ‘Gender in Shakespeare,’ ‘Transgender in Shakespeare,’” and so on. The problem, according to Linker, is that conservatives prefer to write on themes like “Love in Shakespeare” or “God in Shakespeare,” and “centuries of people have written and thought about” such things.

“What’s new to say about them?” Linker asks. “Probably nothing.”

On September 15, Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, published an article in the New York Times entitled “Don’t Shun Conservative Professors.” In his bid for tolerance, Brooks observed: “American liberalism has always insisted it is the duty of the majority to fight for the minority.” Four days later, a letter to the editor of the Times from one Gerald Harris argued: “The soul of true scholarship is a search for new meaning and a rigorous testing of old bromides. Conservatives, by definition, are committed to upholding or returning to the status quo and to resisting ground-breaking change. This is hardly a mind-set to be celebrated and rewarded at institutions dedicated to inquiry and pursuit of new challenges.” Conservative professors, therefore, deserve to be shunned.

This is precisely the opposite of the truth. After 50-plus years of university dominance, leftists are the ones who offer nothing new when it comes to scholarship. In applying postmodernist theories repetitively and uncritically to every subject under the sun, leftist scholars necessarily arrive at the same few stale conclusions time and again. It is only the rigor and honesty of traditional scholarship that allow for the flourishing of new knowledge. And in effectively barring that practice from universities, postmodernist scolds have fashioned and ennobled a regime of obscurantism.

Linker’s argument depends on several assumptions that have become well established in universities. The first is obvious and justified: that scholarship should contribute something new. If you write an article demonstrating that Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died in 1616, nobody will give you much credit for it, no matter how well documented and well written it may be, because these are already well-established facts. Yet the conclusion that conservatives are incapable of new scholarship also depends on some assumptions about scholarship that conservatives do not share: that its purpose is to judge its subject on ideological grounds, that nothing matters about the subject but its ideology, that leftist ideology is incontestable, and that the accuracy of scholarly facts and the logic of scholarly argument are of little or no interest. This last assumption is an explicit tenet of postmodernism—the doctrine that nothing is objectively true and that everything is simply an expression of power. And the left now holds power on campus.

Thus most leftist professors expect most scholarship to show that the ideas of Shakespeare (or Freud, Nietzsche, the Greeks, or the Gnostics) either support current leftist dogmas about race, class, and gender and so should be praised and emulated, or contradict such dogmas and so should be condemned and avoided. Linker implies that he would be willing to consider the merits of a conservative scholar who wrote on, say, “Supply-Side Economics in Shakespeare,” but alas, conservative scholars refuse even to do this. This is because conservative scholars are interested in Shakespeare for reasons unrelated to economics, are skeptical that Shakespeare himself was much interested in economics, and think that even if he did have a few ideas about economics, we can get more useful economic ideas from sources other than a playwright who lived in an age when the economy was very different from what it is now.

Leftist professors have no such inhibitions. In their opinion, there can be no legitimate reason for scholarship except to pursue “the concerns of the present” and conduct “a search for new meaning and a rigorous testing of old bromides.” The works of Shakespeare or any other great men are of no use except to illustrate currently fashionable ideology. Moreover, since the only point of scholarship is to advance ideology, questions of accuracy are irrelevant. In combating racism, sexism, classism, heteronormativity, patriarchy, elitism, and other evils, the genuine study of literature, political science, philosophy, history, art, and religion is quite incidental. Scholarship done for nonideological purposes, perhaps especially if it faithfully represents the past in its own terms, can only serve to reinforce an unjust society and culture.

This attitude inevitably dominates not only academic scholarship but also college teaching. In 2015, the New York Times columnist Frank Bruni denounced Republican efforts to cut funding for higher education by describing how he had been “transformed” by a marvelous course in Shakespeare he took from an outstanding teacher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the mid-1980s. He promptly heard from his old teacher, now at the University of Pennsylvania, that such courses on “dead white men” are thoroughly out of favor in English departments today. “Shakespeare,” she told Bruni, “has become Shakespeare and Film, which in my cranky opinion becomes Film, not Shakespeare.” She advised him to look at the current course offerings of Penn’s English department—“Pulp Fictions,” “Sex and the City,” “Global Feminisms,” “Comic Books and Graphic Novels,” “Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Film,” and “Literatures of Psychoanalysis.” The sort of class that Bruni loved 30 years ago is not the sort that universities now teach.

The truth is that non-leftists are discriminated against not so much because of their politics (which they can often hide) as because of their failure to do the kind of scholarship that hiring committees want. I went to an on-campus interview for a history position in 1988. A member of the department spoke to me at length about politics, and I tried neither to lie nor to reveal that I was a conservative. (It helped that my opinions are somewhat unconventional.) He figured it out, but with no clear evidence to cite, he failed to convince the rest of the department of something so improbable, and I got the job. (He and I later became friends.) In those days, my publications contained no explicit political content. My research on the Byzantine economy, however, soon clashed with established Marxist dogma, and my research on Byzantine historiography clashed with the postmodernist assumptions that all narratives are constructed and truth is irrelevant. The more I published, especially when I published detailed refutations of Marxist and postmodernist views, the less eligible I became as a candidate for other academic positions.

Since then, I’ve discovered that trying to engage modern issues without taking explicitly leftist positions satisfies no one. A journal once asked me to evaluate for publication an article on what Byzantine hagiography could contribute to modern legislation on child labor. The author (not identified, as is usual in such evaluations) concluded from studying the lives of saints that the Byzantines permitted child labor if the child was willing and the labor contributed significantly to household income and could not be done by anyone else in the family. The author suggested that these principles be applied in drafting modern legislation. In recommending against publication, I noted that these principles would have allowed child prostitution if the child was willing, earned a significant income, and could earn more than other members of the family. At the same time, I noted, such principles would have forbidden parents from making children clean their rooms if the child was unwilling. A clean room, after all, contributed nothing to household income, and other family members could do the cleaning. What’s more, most Byzantines thought that even unwilling children should obey their parents but should only do work that was consistent with Christian morality. The author probably considered these conditions too insufficiently modern to include in modern scholarship. In any case, not even I consider Byzantine hagiography a good source for child-labor laws.

What, then, can non-leftists contribute to scholarship that is new? No doubt it is harder to say something fresh and important about Shakespeare than about less thoroughly studied subjects, but almost all subjects are less thoroughly studied than Shakespeare. The chance to make major discoveries is one of the things that attracted me to Byzantium as a research field instead of, say, Classical Greece. Given the herd instinct that attracts academics only to the most fashionable subjects, the world is full of understudied topics, periods, and places. Moreover, new evidence, including documents and archeology, is constantly being found, making scholarly advances possible for every period up to the present. Scholars can also always contribute to progress by refuting the errors of previous scholars. This is true even in the most thoroughly exploited fields. As for postmodernist and leftist areas of study in particular, original but fallacious theories are common. Finally, it should be noted, talented scholars can make real contributions even in well-worked fields, such as Shakespearean studies, by looking at old evidence in a new way.

But there are no new ways for postmodernists. For even if a study is the first to demonstrate that some obscure figure was not a modern-feminist or leftist, this contributes nothing new, because nobody ever thought this figure was any of these things. Moreover, almost identical conclusions have been reached about tens of thousands of other figures. Such studies tell us little or nothing about literature, political science, philosophy, history, art, and religion, because the studies are not really about those fields, but about postmodernism and leftist politics.

These postmodern endeavors do not even constitute real research or scholarship. Research requires critical sifting of the evidence, making logical arguments from it, and questioning whether to change one’s mind based on the evidence that one finds. Leftist “scholarship” merely goes through the motions of research before restating the bromides that are its foreordained conclusions.

For such reasons, people who are truly interested in scholarship and research are now being strongly discouraged from going into the academy as a profession. They face a long road of formidable obstacles. First, they will probably be deterred as undergraduates by seeing their subject of interest being taught by faculty with almost no interest in it as such. If they do go on to graduate school, they will be discouraged from doing the sort of work that interests them. If they pursue the work that interests them, they will have a hard time getting hired by professors who oppose genuine research. If, by persistence or luck, these applicants get an academic job, they will then find themselves in a hostile environment.

Many people outside academics still cannot believe that things are this bad. Often, they know professors from earlier generations who have a genuine interest in their subjects and in scholarship. They know people like Frank Bruni’s brilliant teacher of Shakespeare, Anne Drury Hall. Dr. Hall, who holds the rank not of professor but of lecturer, is now in her early seventies. Her generation, of which I am a somewhat younger member, is either retired or not very far from retirement. Such professors with traditional interests, having first been hired in the dismal academic job market of the ’70s and ’80s, have seldom gained senior positions in prominent universities. These traditional professors, who care more about their fields than about ideology, have only the most marginal influence in their universities, become fewer every year, and in 10 to 20 years will be gone.

There are also many professors, especially at small colleges, who are not leftists but do little if any research. Some even secretly vote Republican. Optimists point to them as signs of hope for American higher education. Yet these professors train almost no graduate students and will therefore have almost no influence on future generations of professors. They are usually silent when controversial issues come up because they have learned that keeping their heads down is the way to get hired or promoted. Many of their colleagues and most of their students are unaware of their views. They are content not to publish because they have nothing much to say, new or otherwise. Additionally, they tend to be lazy, because one of the main attractions of the academic profession—if you do little or no research—is how easy it is. Very few of them are inspiring teachers. Since most of them are easy graders, their students pay little attention in their classes (or skip them) and learn scarcely anything from them.

Nevertheless, there are some professors younger than 60 who are distinguished scholars and not leftists and have still managed to secure academic jobs. Most of these professors were taught by other distinguished scholars who are now retired or near retirement. Typically, the younger scholars got jobs by having hidden their ideas about scholarship before they had published much or before leftist dominance became firmly established in academia. Or perhaps they were hired through the special circumstances that sometimes arise in the many thousands of departments across a large country. Once hired, most of these professors get tenure (though a few of the more vocal ones are denied it for a “lack of collegiality”). But most of them teach at undistinguished institutions, where they are neither influential nor much appreciated.

These professors are scattered among many mostly obscure institutions and seldom express themselves on campus or in print. Some of the braver ones have joined Heterodox Academy, an organization promoting intellectual diversity in universities. It now includes approximately 1,300 professors, 17 percent of whom identify themselves as conservative, 25 percent as moderate, and 23 percent as libertarian (with 18 percent as leftist). Very few are at leading universities. While I have joined Heterodox Academy and applaud its aims, so far it has had little influence.

What, then, is the future of American universities? They will almost inevitably get worse before they get better. The vast majority of professors in the humanities and social sciences who will train graduate students from now on will train them as they have been training others for decades, in leftist or postmodernist scholarship, if only to give them a better chance at employment. Of the scholars whose convictions might have been well suited to their joining some kind of opposition, most will either opt out of academic life, fail to get academic jobs, or take academic jobs and learn to keep their mouths shut. The remaining moderate and conservative professors will retire or die. Many politicians, journalists, alumni, parents, and other outsiders will continue to attack colleges and universities for their leftism and intolerance and will succeed in reducing their funding. This will mainly result in antagonizing professors and academic administrators and pushing them further to the left. These embittered figures will claim that universities themselves are under attack. And admittedly, many critics of today’s universities seem more interested in destroying them than in reforming them, especially because reform seems impossible.

Intellectual fashions don’t last forever, though postmodernism has had a longer run than most. Eventually, disgust with this ossified and intolerant ideology will mount even on campus. And after a long, chaotic struggle, postmodernism and leftism will be discredited. But this may take a generation or longer. By then, the great majority of professors will have had no training in traditional scholarship and will find such scholarship very hard to do. Indeed, they will be unable to remember higher education as it was before postmodernism and leftism were dominant; they will, therefore, have no model for what to do next.

Such are the dismal prospects that led me to propose last year in these pages the founding of a new leading university dedicated to intellectual tolerance and academic excellence (“The University We Need,” February 2016). Though recruiting enough professors for it would become harder as the years pass, it could still be done from the younger professors now scattered in many different colleges and universities, from the older professors who have not yet retired, and from public intellectuals. Its example could have real influence. But until that time, scholarship is unlikely to improve, and intolerance for anything but postmodernism will remain the norm. Despite the assertions of current university leftists, claims to “progress in knowledge” belong to an earlier generation of scholars. It will be some time before we can properly resume their work.

The Literary Drover No. 2197

[I will agree and even concede – Victor Davis Hanson is an acquired taste. When I first started reading his writing – inflicted, as it was by a friend who proved correct that I would come around to his writing and opinions – I had to wonder where he was coming from. It turns out. . . California: Prime real estate for people watching and wondering where the human race overall is headed. Off a steep cliff onto jagged rocks would be appropriate, given the antics of many of late. But . . . all the same, I always enjoy what Victor Davis Hanson has to say. Especially where California is concerned and how it serves as a litmus test for not only the United States of America but the entire planet.

Believe or not: This has to do with Jhon Collector. Consider the cautionary tale that follows, told well.]

Is California Cracking Up?

by Victor Davis Hanson

With poor education, a budget deficit, and crumbling infrastructure, Californians shouldn’t be focused on idealistic social programs.

Corporate profits at California-based transnational corporations such as Apple, Facebook, and Google are hitting record highs.

California housing prices from La Jolla to Berkeley along the Pacific Coast can top $1,000 a square foot.

It seems as if all of China is willing to pay premium prices to get their children degreed at Caltech, Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, or USC.

Yet California — after raising its top income tax rate to 13.3 percent and receiving record revenues — is still facing a budget deficit of more than $1 billion. There is a much more foreboding state crisis of unfunded liabilities and pension obligations of nearly $1 trillion.

Soon, new gas tax hikes, on top of green mandates, might make California gas the most expensive in the nation, despite the state’s huge reserves of untapped oil.

Where does the money go, given that the state’s schools and infrastructure rank among America’s worst in national surveys?

Illegal immigration over the last 30 years, the exodus of millions of middle-class Californians, and huge wealth concentrated in the L.A. basin and Silicon Valley have turned the state into a medieval manor of knights and peasants, with ever fewer in between.

The strapped middle class continues to flee bad schools, high taxes, rampant crime, and poor state services. About one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients reside in California. Approximately one-fifth of the state lives below the poverty line. More than a quarter of Californians were not born in the United States.

Many of the state’s wealthiest residents support high taxes, no-growth green policies, and subsidies for the poor. They do so because they reside in apartheid neighborhoods and have the material and political wherewithal to become exempt from the consequences of their own utopian bromides.

Blue California has no two-party politics anymore. Its campuses, from Berkeley to Claremont, have proven among the most hostile to free speech in the nation.

A few things keep California going. Its natural bounty, beauty, and weather draw in people eager to play California roulette. The state is naturally rich in minerals, oil and natural gas, timber, and farmland. The world pays dearly for whatever techies based in California’s universities can dream up.

That said, the status quo is failing.

The skeletons of half-built bridges and overpasses for a $100 billion high-speed-rail dinosaur remind residents of the ongoing boondoggle. Meantime, outdated roads and highways — mostly unchanged from the 1960s — make driving for 40 million both slow and dangerous. Each mile of track for high-speed rail represents millions of dollars that were not spent on repairing and expanding stretches of the state’s decrepit freeways — and hundreds of lives needlessly lost each year.

The future of state transportation is not updated versions of 19th-century ideas of railways and locomotives, but instead will include electric-powered and automatically piloted cars — all impossible without good roads.

Less than 40 percent of California residents identify themselves as conservative. But red-county California represents some 75 percent of California’s geographical area. It’s as if large, rural Mississippi and tiny urban Massachusetts were one combined state — all ruled by liberal Boston.

Now, a third of the state thinks it can pull off a “Calexit” and leave the United States. Calexit’s unhinged proponents have no idea that they are mimicking the right-wing arguments of the Confederate states that prompted the Civil War.Like South Carolina residents in 1861, Calexit advocates seem to assume that federal law should apply everywhere else except in California. Many of these California residents also believe that the federal Environmental Protection Agency should always override local ordinances, but not so with another federal bureau, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

South Carolina started the Civil War by shelling and capturing federal property at Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay. Calexit wannabe secessionists similarly assume that thousands of square miles of federal property — from California federal courtrooms and post offices to national parks such as Yosemite to huge military bases such as Camp Pendleton — belong to the state and could simply be confiscated from the federal government.

Calexit proponents assume California can leave the union without an authorizing amendment to the Constitution, ratified by three-fourths of all the states. And they fail to see that should California ever secede, it would immediately split in two. The coastal strip would go the way of secessionist Virginia. The other three-quarters of the state’s geography would remain loyal to the union and become a new version of loyalist West Virginia.

Buying a home on the California coast is nearly impossible. The state budget can only be balanced through constant tax hikes. Finding a good, safe public school is difficult. Building a single new dam during the California drought to capture record runoff water in subsequent wet years proved politically impossible.

No matter. Many Californians consider those existential problems to be a premodern drag, while they dream of postmodern trains, the legalization of pot-growing — and seceding from the United States of America.

The Literary Drover No. 2165

Many people who do not know me well are confused, gob smacked, and outraged when they determine that my politics make me a conservative because a Writer can NOT be such a thing. I politely reply, “Well, no. You got that wrong. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your agenda. Which ain’t liberal, by the by.

I have mentioned many times in many places, including this one, that I have a very low threshold for what passes for politics nowadays and I have no tolerance for the nonsense known as “Political Correctness”.

A basic reason for what many take to be misanthropic and curmudgeonly behavior on my part regarding politics is because I believe unconditionally in Free Speech – Politics and Political Correctness loathe and despise it. I can say what I want to say and you may do the same. But there is nothing that requires that I provide you a platform from which to espouse your opinions – ignorant or informed, educated or enlightened, and when you choose to express your opinions using the resources of others – an employer, for example – you must accept without exception the consequences of your actions.

Google claims to defend Free Speech. Their actions in recent years suggest otherwise. The recent and rather blunt action involving a now-former employee who made the mistake of using their technology to exercise his First Amendment Rights as a legal American citizen demonstrates what they actually think of Free Speech.

If Google actually cared about Free Speech, about what their employees – I believe they prefer “worker” – think and believe they would not have terminated the employment of the author of a memo about the differences between men and women. Instead they would have researched the matter and discussed the matter with their, um, worker, and determined a way to resolve what is not only a perception but a truth and fact regarding how men and women perform in the workplace, and how each could fulfill their individual potential.

I have read the memo that ignited a firestorm that will burn itself out time. I have read responses to the memo. Most of the responses demonstrate an ugly truth alive and well in many workplaces – a mob rule mentality born of politics, political correctness, willful ignorance, and accepted stupidity determined to suppress, censor, and obliterate the individual.

The memo:

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586/Googles-Ideological-Echo-Chamber.pdf

Four responses to the memo:

http://quillette.com/2017/08/07/google-memo-four-scientists-respond/

An essay about what the memo is actually about:

No, the Google manifesto isn’t sexist or anti-diversity. It’s science
Debra Soh, PhD

By now, most of us have heard about Google’s so-called “anti-diversity” manifesto and how James Damore, the engineer who wrote it, has been fired from his job.

Titled GOOGLE’S IDEOLOGICAL ECHO CHAMBER, Mr. Damore called out the current PC culture, saying the gender gap in Google’s diversity was not due to discrimination, but inherent differences in what men and women find interesting. Danielle Brown, Google’s newly appointed vice-president for diversity, integrity and governance, accused the memo of advancing “incorrect assumptions about gender,” and Mr. Damore confirmed last night he was fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

Despite how it’s been portrayed, the memo was fair and factually accurate. Scientific studies have confirmed sex differences in the brain that lead to differences in our interests and behaviour.

As mentioned in the memo, gendered interests are predicted by exposure to prenatal testosterone – higher levels are associated with a preference for mechanically interesting things and occupations in adulthood. Lower levels are associated with a preference for people-oriented activities and occupations. This is why STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields tend to be dominated by men.

We see evidence for this in girls with a genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, who are exposed to unusually high levels of testosterone in the womb. When they are born, these girls prefer male-typical, wheeled toys, such as trucks, even if their parents offer more positive feedback when they play with female-typical toys, such as dolls. Similarly, men who are interested in female-typical activities were likely exposed to lower levels of testosterone.

As well, new research from the field of genetics shows that testosterone alters the programming of neural stem cells, leading to sex differences in the brain even before it’s finished developing in utero. This further suggests that our interests are influenced strongly by biology, as opposed to being learned or socially constructed.

Many people, including a former Google employee, have attempted to refute the memo’s points, alleging that they contradict the latest research.

I’d love to know what “research done […] for decades” he’s referring to, because thousands of studies would suggest otherwise. A single study, published in 2015, did claim that male and female brains existed along a “mosaic” and that it isn’t possible to differentiate them by sex, but this has been refuted by four – yes, four – academic studies since.

This includes a study that analyzed the exact same brain data from the original study and found that the sex of a given brain could be correctly identified with 69-per-cent to 77-per-cent accuracy.

Of course, differences exist at the individual level, and this doesn’t mean environment plays no role in shaping us. But to claim that there are no differences between the sexes when looking at group averages, or that culture has greater influence than biology, simply isn’t true.

In fact, research has shown that cultures with greater gender equity have larger sex differences when it comes to job preferences, because in these societies, people are free to choose their occupations based on what they enjoy.

As the memo suggests, seeking to fulfill a 50-per-cent quota of women in STEM is unrealistic. As gender equity continues to improve in developing societies, we should expect to see this gender gap widen.

This trend continues into the area of personality, as well. Contrary to what detractors would have you believe, women are, on average, higher in neuroticism and agreeableness, and lower in stress tolerance.

Some intentionally deny the science because they are afraid it will be used to justify keeping women out of STEM. But sexism isn’t the result of knowing facts; it’s the result of what people choose to do with them.

This is exactly what the mob of outrage should be mobilizing for, instead of denying biological reality and being content to spend a weekend doxxing a man so that he would lose his job. At this point, as foreshadowed in Mr. Damore’s manifesto, we should be more concerned about viewpoint diversity than diversity revolving around gender.

Debra Soh writes about the science of human sexuality and holds a PhD in sexual neuroscience from York University.

I know some will read everything presented and ask, as they should: What does this have to do with Jhon Collector?

Simply, everything.