Persuasion: the Movie

Well, I’m sitting here wondering what to talk about – there’s surely no shortage of things to be either enthused or outraged about, is there. And you know, I decided it’s time for a movie. We used to do them a lot, and as my morale slipped simply got out of the habit.

But why not? This is the 2007 production of Jane Austen’s last complete novel Persuasion, some say the 1995 version is a bit better, but I couldn’t find it. But the people are a bit older, and that suits me, as well. So enjoy, cause I will.

Bonfire of the Humanities

We sporadically talk a good bit about education here. It’s important, we care, and all, but it’s also a supremely frustrating area, although I’m convinced that going back to the basics would be a start. But that also begs a question, which set of basics? The trivium from the middle ages? the MacGuffey Reader from our history?, the “See Spot run” books that I grew up with? something else? Does it matter? I don’t completely know. I think a lot is probably inherited or absorbed very young. Reading to your kids undoubtedly helps for literature, but I had an

I think a lot is probably inherited or absorbed very young. Reading to your kids undoubtedly helps for literature, but I had an inbuilt drive to do things with my hands, and Tonka trucks are very educational, but I also had a built in sense of scale, a 1/64 Ertl tractor just wouldn’t work with the big 1/16 ones. Others, I noted, even then, didn’t have this. Why? I have no idea, but to this day, it’s something that bugs me.

Basic physics seems inbuilt as well. I can look at things and roughly compute the forces required to do thus and so. But maybe this is just all growing up when and where I did, with my parents. Hard to say, isn’t it? But how do we (or should we) pass along this sort of knowledge.

In any case, I’m pretty sure this method won’t work. Ryan Hammill wrote for The Federalist yesterday about a Harvard Professor and his asinine letter to The Wall Street Journal.

Anybody wondering how the study of the humanities arrived at its current, depressing state need only read the words of its practitioners. In a recent letter to The Wall Street Journal, James Simpson, the chair of Harvard’s Department of English, unveils the supreme and lamentable logic that now governs the field.

Simpson writes in response to a March 31 op-ed from Heather Mac Donald, wherein Mac Donald discussed the new “marginalization requirement” in Harvard’s English department. All English majors must now take a course covering authors “marginalized for historical reasons.” Mac Donald posed the question (the title of her piece), “Does Harvard consider Oscar Wilde ‘marginalized’?”

After all, she says, “‘Heteronormativity’ may have made his [Wilde’s] final years miserable, but it had no effect on the boundless success of his plays.” Mac Donald, God bless her, rehearses many of the familiar arguments against classroom identity politics: it gives students yet another excuse to ignore classics of which they are already ignorant; given their historically disproportionate access to education, it’s only common sense that “Dead, White Males” predominate; and race or sex of the author ought not to count for or against a truly sublime piece of literature.

If You Really Believe This, Act On It

These are good and familiar arguments, and they should continue to be made. But Simpson’s letter in reply on April 8 makes the exchange particularly edifying for readers concerned for the classics. Simpson tries to play the middle-of-the-road civility card. He calls Mac Donald’s op-ed “intelligent” but “mean-minded.” At first, he seems to concede: “Nothing could be more depressing than to see a literature curriculum determined by identity politics with dutiful representation from the required range of underrepresented groups.”

While the thought displeases me, I could find a few more depressing things. In fact, so can Simpson! “Nothing, that is, except a literature curriculum that betrayed the fundamental function of literature and other art forms, which is to hear the voices repressed by official forms of a given culture.” I find this claim nearly as depressing as Simpson claims the hypothetical literature curriculum depresses him.

With this sentence, Simpson supplies the asinine creed for the modern study of the humanities. The purpose of art, he says, is to “hear the voices repressed by official forms of a given culture.” That’s not a side benefit. It’s not an occasional consequence of studying art. It’s the whole point.

Do read it all, it’s excellent.

But the main thrust is, and it’s accurate, is that this fool of a professor, and many like him, has politicized everything. To some point that’s always true, reading about the Spartans at Thermopylae is unlikely to make one revere physical cowards. But a lot of literature is read, not because of political purpose, but for many other reasons, amongst them the sheer beauty of the language.

It’s rather sad to see people killing the goose that lays their own golden eggs, isn’t it? (And yes, that too is a literary allusion!) But it wouldn’t matter all that much if he wasn’t also damaging our society, perhaps beyond repair.

Blood and Earth

Steve Berman wrote an article for yesterday’s Resurgent. I think he makes quite a valid point. Here’s some of what he said:

[…] Europeans are very much into discussing Trump, and generally trolling any American who doesn’t display sufficient venom and hatred of him. I’ve been criticized by American liberals in the same way, and of course by Trump Kool-Aid drinkers who think I must have carried a Hillary sign because I recognized the factual negatives of a Trump presidency.

But, short of a nuclear war, which is only barely more perceptible inside the realm of fathomability, Trump represents little more than a blip on the slope produced by the American political equation. But someone like Marine Le Pen represents a much greater threat to Europe than Trump does to America.

It’s not just Le Pen. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza (officially “Coalition of the Radical Left”) party; Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders, whose PVV party controls 13 percent of the Dutch House of Representatives and 12 percent of the Dutch Senate;  Turkish President-cum-dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Britain’s Brexit vote all represent a swing toward European nationalism. […]

In social liberalism, all the EU nations (Turkey having stalled their joining) share the same cultural liberalism and moral relativism. The term “conservative” in Europe has quite a different meaning than it does in America.

What we’re seeing in Europe is actually dangerous. I’m no fan of one-world government globalism, or some utopian panacea to produce Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité forever. But forgive me for pointing out that Europeans, untethered from the requirements of entwined interests, tend to pursue extremely self-interested courses, regardless of the political philosophy or structure of state government applied to each nation.

In other words, Napoleon, Mussolini, Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas II, Stalin, and Hitler were all woven from the same loom, if not cut from the same cloth. Nationalism, socialism, national socialism, communism, monarchy, or the Jacobins–take your pick. They all inexorably fell to the same result: war, death, conquest, and the conquered.

He’s got a pretty good point here. If I was a Frenchman, I would vote for Le Pen, because as I said on another site yesterday, policies don’t matter all that much when survival is at stake, and I think that is where France is.

You all know that I detest the EU, to my eyes it’s little more than a German Zollverein, a customs union, tending toward Das Vierte Reich, but that’s my view.

But the EU program got underway initially to curb European nationalism. That nationalism has often been toxic as well. It’s often called ‘blood and soil nationalism’. And it has a nasty habit of getting completely out of hand. Frankly, in some ways, Le Pen doesn’t sound all that different from Mussolini and bears watching. But the EU has gone bad and needs destroying before it destroys the West.

One place where I disagree with Steve is where he lumps the UK in with Europe. To me, that just doesn’t hold up. From what I’ve seen of Britain, although that Gott mit uns (like the Kaiser’s) sort of patriotism does exist, as it does in the US, theirs is more like ours, holding their ideals aloft, rather than their land and blood.

And that is the difference with America, our patriotism, while very pronounced, isn’t about the land, or the people. It’s about the idea, often expressed as ‘The City on the Hill’. Traditionally, we go out into the world to fight evil, hoping we are on the Lord’s side, not claiming he is on ours. Therefore, it is not really dangerous in geopolitical terms, if people stay in their own country and leave their neighbors alone, they have little to fear from the US.


A couple shorts:

It was reported that several ISIS fighters, in Iraq (I think) were killed by feral boars. Well, if you ever hunted feral boars, it’s not hard to believe. I mention it mostly because Ace won the day with his phrase, “They got attacked by ‘armored bacon’. That is a most felicitous phrase.

Also, Nordstroms, who are again quietly carrying Ivanka Trump’s designs have also unveiled a pair of jeans (for $425.00) that have been presoiled with fake dirt.

That man wins one internet! Mike Rowe wasn’t impressed, either.

 

A POLITICALLY CORRECT DEATH

A really good one, from Bill Whittle.

Finally, I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel, of course, it could still be a train.

Dana Loesch Takes Aim, Ralph, and Sumdood

Make popcorn, make a lot of popcorn, because the United States’ largest and most effective civil rights group, the NRA has decided to take on that gray purveyor of fake news, the New York Times.

How refreshing!

Then there’s Ralph. One of the blogs I enjoy most is The Adaptive Curmudgeon, perhaps because we are brothers from another mother or something, because he so often corrals what I’m thinking, often better than I do. Such it is with Ralph.

[…] There’s a significant portion of the populace that gets frustrated when President Trump’s (he won folks!) ideas are fed into the bureaucracy and emerge with a treatment somewhere along a spectrum from ignored, through mangled, and into misdirected. There’s another portion that thinks “thank God the system is correcting against lunacy” and applaud a spectrum from moderate, through adapt, and into mitigate. Same actions, different point of view. People’s opinions invert with laser-like speed whenever a new party takes the reins. That’s your big tell. It’s not fully real.

Never forget; one man’s “gridlock” is another man’s “cautious and measured approach”. Furthermore “bipartisan” can mean a “widely agreed upon common sense solution” or it can mean “a stampede of lemmings”. Sometimes it means “witch hunt”. Same activity, different point of view.

This all leads to my reaction to dark utterances about the nefarious “shadow government” or “deep state”. There’s less than meets the eye. If you’re worried about that particular evil, let it go.

Yes, of course, there’s internal resistance to a new president. People don’t like change. I get it. I’m still pissed about automatic transmissions and fuel injected engines. Change is hard. […]

Keep going, this is some of the best stuff, I’ve read in years. How do I know? When the story of a fictional bureaucrat inspires comments that range from Hannah Arendt on Himmler, to Chesterton speaking as the devil, the movie Brazil, read this, and I mean the whole thing well your education is not complete until you have, hit the tip jar too, eloquence should be rewarded. And that brings us to the final thing mentioned in that article, the legend of Sumdood. You really shouldn’t go through life ignorant of one of the largest of American legends.

“So what happened, man?” I ask the guy as I shine a penlight into his eyes, checking his pupillary responses.

“Got hit,” mumbles the guy, stating the obvious. With one hand, he’s holding the absorbent gauze pad I’ve given him against the big laceration on the side of his head, as he absentmindedly tugs his shorts up with the other. Not too far up, mind you – just enough to perch precariously on his ass cheeks and still leave about four inches of boxers showing. Scalp wound and abrasions be damned, he has street fashion to consider.

“I meant, what happened exactly,” I explain patiently, suppressing the urge to roll my eyes. I palpate the back of his neck. “What did they hit you with, and did you get knocked out?”

“Hell no!” he blurts indignantly, pulling away. He starts getting wound up, because now he has a story to tell. He gestures animatedly to the porch behind him, and to his buddies currently being interviewed by the police. There is a small crowd gathered on the street. “See, I was just sittin‘ here, kickin‘ it with my peeps, noamsayne? Mindin‘ my own, noamsayne? And then…”

No doubt there were seven of them, far too many for you and your homies to defeat in a stand-up, fair fight.

“Then, dude just drops the brick and runs off!”

Whoa, just one guy! He must have been a baaaaaaaad ass…

“Did you get a look at this guy?” I ask. “Would you recognize him again?” Immediately, his eyes turn shifty and evasive.

“Nah man, I ain’t ever seen dude before,” he lies. “He just some dude.”

Sumdood?” I ask with sharpened interest. “You say Sumdood jumped you?”

He’s close, I can feel it. I knew it when the hairs stood up on the back of my neck when I got out of the rig. Evil lurks nearby.

“Yeah man,” the guy confirms. “Some dude.”

“There he is, over there!” the guy’s girlfriend says helpfully, pointing toward the crowd, “just standin‘ over there like he ain’t did nuthin‘!”

Shhh, don’t point at him!” I hiss, pulling her arm down. “Just be cool, a’ight?”

Aww girl, that ain’t him,” the guy says, feigning disgust. “Siddown and shut yo mouf.” […]

Take the time, read those links, you need this information.

The Stupidity of United

So, this happened

And so, United unleashed a pretty good Twitter Storm worldwide. And they deserve it for simple stupidity.

Sure they overbook, and it’s understandable why they do. Sean Davis gave us a pretty good explanation of how it works. An empty seat is decidedly lost revenue, never to be recovered. Although JetBlue, the low-cost carrier doesn’t, never has, and say they never will.

Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist had a bit to say about it yesterday.

United has confirmed that they overbooked the flight and dragged a passenger off when they didn’t get enough volunteers. United had previously offered money — up to $800 — for passengers to voluntarily get off the flight. The passengers who needed to be seated were United employees who needed to get to another destination in order to work a flight there, apparently. But when $800 wasn’t enough to get volunteers, they chose to take a man seated on his flight with a ticket he paid for and remove him forcibly. Now they’re facing a social media backlash as a result.

People already are upset with how undignified air travel has become, even if it is relatively cheaper than air travel decades ago. United was also recently embroiled in a (frankly stupid) public relations problem for enforcing its employee dress code on girls who were flying on employee passes. Now this. Being dragged off a plane by brutish security guards for the crime of purchasing a ticket and taking your seat when the airline boarded is something that just doesn’t look good.

But why didn’t United just do the simple thing of understanding that the money it was offering was insufficient and needed to be raised? Laura Begley Broom just wrote in Forbes, “Why Delta Air Lines Paid Me $11,000 Not To Fly To Florida This Weekend.” She was caught up in the recent storm-caused travel delays. While Delta tried to take volunteers for lower amounts, she and her husband negotiated a better deal for their first flight delay. Then they did it again for a second delay. Then they negotiated an additional $1,000 per family member to cancel their trip altogether.

Each step of the way, according to Broom, Delta understood that giving this family nearly $4,000 cash money was cheaper than dealing with an untenably complicated situation.

United should have simply started offering more money. If $800 wasn’t enough, what about $1,000? If $1,000 wasn’t enough, how about $1,200? They were receiving real-time information about price setting and they weren’t responsive to it. Now they’ll suffer much more through negative public relations and earned bad media. A bit of knowledge of economics might have helped them.

She’s right, that’s a free market solution to the problem, at some point, some passenger would have decided that the price would have been sufficient for the inconvenience. Instead, they managed to look stupid (which undoubtedly whoever decided this is) to thousands of people all over the world, who will henceforth do their damnedest NOT to fly the once ‘friendly skies’. Yeah, I remember when it was a pleasant experience, but I’m old, the planes were 707s and Convair 880s. Seen one lately?

Instead, they forced the issue, removing a passenger for “for the crime of purchasing a ticket and taking your seat when the airline boarded”. It’s really hard to see how they could be this stupid, especially so that they could move some employees to work another flight, so probably not even a paying passenger.

Not the first time I’ve compared air travel in the United States to emigrant class in the old west, and I doubt it’ll be the last, you’ve also heard me refer to it as “cattle class”.

Why is this so stupid? One the passenger they removed surely has a bad taste in his mouth from the experience (likely a lawsuit pending as well). But the real cost of this is in the thousands of people who will try their best to avoid United at all costs, or even flying, which has become almost more of a hassle than the time saved is worth. That’s not all down to the airlines, the kabuki theatre of security bears a lot of blame as well. But the airlines get plenty of blame as well. Interestingly, last night I was listening to BBC Norfolk, a local station in Norwich, England. This was one of their lead stories. Real good job there, United.

UAL managed to save a few thousand bucks here at the cost of untold thousands, perhaps millions. And being held up as a horrible example, worldwide. That’s a cost of flouting the free market by a very stupid corporation. And they deserve every bit of it.

Hello, Amtrack.

And an update: United’s market cap has fallen $830 million, with a 3.7 percent drop in share price, according to MarketWatch.

%d bloggers like this: