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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


Banner photo
Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"On being out, proud & conservative"

Gay conservative writer/blogger Tammy Bruce shares her experience in a column in The Guardian:
There's a little something I noticed in the reaction to my first article here at the Guardian – a question tucked in the midst of the hundreds of pithy and thoughtful reader contributions – I was asked: what is it like to be gay and conservative?

After all, those conservatives hate the homos, don't they? It must be very, very difficult for me, one concerned reader noted, to be among the intolerant and hateful.

Well, I do suppose I would rather bask in the unbridled sunlight of liberal values of fairness, tolerance and love so eloquently on display in many of the comments made on my first contribution here. I know, it seems like such an odd decision, to reject the Eden of the liberal establishment. Yet strangely, after having been on the left for so long myself, I began to wonder: how much love and understanding can one person take?

Presumably, "batshit crazy"is an English liberal term of endearment, right? When I read another commenter's description of American conservative women politicians as "a bunch of petty, incoherent shrews", I was filled with joy at realising how great it was to be among authentic feminists once again.

Having made my point, I trust, I'll now slip out of my snark suit and share a little secret with you. The real story of bigotry and intolerance is the fact that it lives and thrives on the left. As a gay woman who spent most of her adult life pushing the cart for liberal causes with liberal friends in a liberal city, I found that sexism, racism and homophobia are staples in the liberal world. The huge irony is liberals spend every ounce of energy promoting the notion that they are the banner carriers of individualism and personal freedom, yet the hammer comes down on anyone who dares not to conform to, or who dissents even in part from, the liberal agenda.

...

So, when it comes to my comfort level as a conservative who happens to be gay, here's what I know: while many conservatives are people of faith and their religion promotes a very different point of view than mine on homosexuality (and a few other things!), I have found conservatives to be more tolerant, more curious and more understanding of those who are different to them than I ever did when ensconced in US liberal leadership.

...

As you might have gathered, I prefer the honest, decent and genuinely accepting friends and family I have in the conservative world. We don't always agree on everything, but isn't that the point? – being able to be yourself, make choices that best suit you, without fear of punishment or retribution. My friendships and relationships in the conservative world are not predicated on political correctness and enforced conformity of thought. They are based, instead, on mutual respect, honesty and understanding – concepts many modern liberals should consider revisiting.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"The consummate Liberal"

The National Post opines on the subject of George Smitherman's mayoral bid in Toronto's upcoming election:
Mr. Smitherman is the consummate Liberal. He does what it takes to win. It's all too believable -- especially as left-wing endorsements pile up from the likes of Councillor Joe Mihevc, former mayor Art Eggleton and even Montreal MP Justin Trudeau -- that he might run from the moderate right in order to capitalize on the zeitgeist, and then simply collapse to the status quo if elected: begging Queen's Park and Ottawa for crumbs, refusing to fight the tough spending battles lest the unions revolt, content to watch the city self-righteously stagnate for another four years rather than risk losing his job.

"This is not an election ... this is a restraining order"

P.J. O'Rourke writes about Democrats at the Weekly Standard: They hate our guts - and they're drunk on power:
Perhaps you’re having a tiny last minute qualm about voting Republican. Take heart. And take the House and the Senate. Yes, there are a few flakes of dander in the fair tresses of the GOP’s crowning glory—an isolated isolationist or two, a hint of gold buggery, and Christine O’Donnell announcing that she’s not a witch. (I ask you, has Hillary Clinton ever cleared this up?) Fret not over Republican peccadilloes such as the Tea Party finding the single, solitary person in Nevada who couldn’t poll ten to one against Harry Reid. Better to have a few cockeyed mutts running the dog pound than Michael Vick.

I take it back. Using the metaphor of Michael Vick for the Democratic party leadership implies they are people with a capacity for moral redemption who want to call good plays on the legislative gridiron. They aren’t. They don’t. The reason is simple. They hate our guts.

They don’t just hate our Republican, conservative, libertarian, strict constructionist, family values guts. They hate everybody’s guts. And they hate everybody who has any. Democrats hate men, women, blacks, whites, Hispanics, gays, straights, the rich, the poor, and the middle class.

Democrats hate Democrats most of all. Witness the policies that Democrats have inflicted on their core constituencies, resulting in vile schools, lawless slums, economic stagnation, and social immobility. Democrats will do anything to make sure that Democratic voters stay helpless and hopeless enough to vote for Democrats.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Diversity vs sustainability

Peter Wood has an interesting article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about the shifting ideologies of politically-correct ivory-tower academics. The article, called From Diversity to Sustainability: How Campus Ideology Is Born, describes how "sustainabilty" has replaced "diversity" as the new shibboleth on campus:
Recently I came across a photograph of students at an event gathered around a cake that bore the iced command, "Celebrate Sustainability!" Clearly the candle had been passed. For more than a generation, cakes at campus events have tutored students to "Celebrate Diversity!" Something has changed—besides the frosting.

The pursuit of diversity on campuses remains a highly visible priority, but it is being subtly demoted by enthusiasm for sustainability. As an ideology, diversity is running out of steam, while sustainability is on fire. This month hundreds of colleges will mark the eighth annual Campus Sustainability Day, with activities to include a Webcast offering "social-change strategies and tools" to help campuses lower carbon emissions.

How did this happen? Partly it is the Macy's-window effect: Ideologies have to be replaced from time to time to attract attention. But sustainability is gaining ground also because it offers college students a stronger sense of personal significance than diversity does.

Diversity and sustainability are the two most characteristic ideas of the modern academy. Diversity asks us to focus on group identity and personal affiliation, and it puts race at the center of the discussion. Sustainability asks us to focus on humanity's use of natural resources, and it puts climate at the center of discussion. Outwardly, diversity and sustainability belong to separate narratives. They deal with different topics and might, in principle, have no more friction between them than typically exists between English departments and physics labs. Or between polar bears and tropical fish. But in fact, diversity and sustainability have a complicated, decades-old rivalry.

They vie, in effect, for the same conceptual space and the same passions. Both are about repairing the world; both invite exuberant commitment; both are moralistic; and most of all, both are encompassing ideas that crowd out other encompassing ideas. They also compete for the same financial resources.

...

Diversity is a story of a once-fresh ideology that swept through higher education in a spirit of triumph but that quickly seems to be losing its status as the sexiest ideology on campus. Diversiphiles would like to keep the adrenaline flowing, but it is hard. Freshmen now arrive on campus already having sucked on multicultural milkshakes from kindergarten to senior prom. Diversity for them is just the same ol' same ol'.

That doesn't stop the diversicrat establishment from trying to pump new excitement into the project. California State University at Chico, for example, recently circulated a new "action plan" titled "To Form a More Inclusive Learning Community," in which the university president sets his sights on placing "diversity at the core of our mission, vision, and priorities." The practical goal is to get Chico State listed as an official "Hispanic-Serving Institution" by 2015, which requires substantially increasing Hispanic enrollment past the university's current 13.5 percent. (Chico State serves mostly a local population in a part of the state with relatively few Hispanics. Hispanics are already "overrepresented" at Chico from a purely demographic standpoint.) The federal designation "Hispanic-Serving Institution" would bring access to additional federal support. But the diversity game is never about just numbers and dollars. It is also about ideology and intimidation, and Chico State is actively pursuing those, too. As part of the new campaign, it invited the "Diversity Guru" Lee Mun Wah to provide workshops including "Unlearning Racism in the Classroom." Faculty members get the message: Openly expressed doubts about the diversity program will be treated as racist conduct.

Sustainability hasn't yet achieved this level of intimidation, but not for want of trying. AASHE keeps a directory of "peer-to-peer sustainability outreach programs," or "eco-reps." These are the busybodies who do things like go through students' trash to make sure that everyone is diligently recycling, and who hector everyone to squeeze into a tighter carbon footprint. The Green Gator at Allegheny College is promoting dorm-based compost bins and planning to map energy usage. It urges lights out in the bathrooms and laundry. Bard College students, meanwhile, are working on "the psychology of fostering sustainable behavior" and are promoting "Recyclemania." If it sounds like the "psychology" of sustainability is akin to OCD, maybe that isn't far off. At the University of California at San Diego, the enforcers posted a shocking discovery complete with photos: "Sadly today we found a bunch of recyclables in the GARBAGE!" A happy ending, though: "We rescued all the recycling ... and got them in the recycling bin."

The power to enforce something, of course, always finds takers, no matter how petty the rules. Sustainability, however, seems especially suited to the rise of student enforcers. They might best be described as sustainabullies. Why does this have the power to light up the imaginations of so many students? How did it become the distinctive banner of this generation?

I view this changing of the ideological guard with wariness. Diversity was pretty bad; sustainability may be even worse. Both movements subtract from the better purposes of higher education. Diversity authorizes double standards in admissions and hiring, breeds a campus culture of hypocrisy, mismatches students to educational opportunities, fosters ethnic resentments, elevates group identity over individual achievement, and trivializes the curriculum. Of course, those punishments were something that had to be accepted in the spirit of atoning for the original sin of racism.

But for its part, sustainability has the logic of a stampede. We all must run in the same direction for fear of some rumored and largely invisible threat. The real threat is the stampede itself. Sustainability numbers among its advocates some scrupulous scientists and quite a few sober facilities managers who simply want to trim utility bills. But in the main, sustainability is the triumph of hypothesis over evidence. Its scientific grounding is mostly a matter of models and extrapolations and appeals to authority. Evoking imminent and planet-destroying catastrophe, sustainatopians call for radical changes in economic arrangements and social patterns. Higher education is summoned to set aside whatever it is doing to help make this revolution in production, distribution, and consumption a reality.

Sustainability combines some astonishingly radical ideas with mere wackiness. Many sustainability advocates want to replace free markets (a source, as they see it, of unsustainable growth and exploitation) with some kind of pan-national rule with little scope for private property rights. On the other hand, sustainatopians also busy themselves with eliminating trays from cafeterias and attacking the threat of plastic soda straws. Sustainability thus unites vaunting political ambition and comic burlesque. Both are at odds with patient and open-minded intellectual inquiry.


Read the whole thing and weep.

David Miller: worst Toronto mayor ever?

Robert Fulford tears a strip off Toronto Mayor David Miller in a column in Saturday's National Post - The sins of David Miller. As a frequent visitor to Canada's World-class City, I share Fulford's anger at Toronto's sad decline during Miller's tenure at city hall:
Mayor David Miller of Toronto, who should be hiding his head in shame over what he has done to my beautiful city, instead had the outrageous chutzpah on Wednesday to endorse one of the candidates running to replace him. He chose his deputy, who thinks Miller has been a good mayor.

Miller probably agrees. That would make two people. Otherwise, in every department from street cleaning to budget control, from transportation to union relations, he's done a wretched job. He may be the worst Toronto mayor ever. Certainly he's the worst in several generations. His predecessor, Mel Lastman, was far from universally popular but after a couple of Miller years many of us began yearning for Mel's return.

Somewhere, Cole Porter is rolling in his grave

As if anyone needed any more evidence of the degradation of popular culture and the vapid inarticulate banality of the titans of modern entertainment, there's always rapper Eminem. In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, he defends his frequent use of the word "faggot":
That word was thrown around so much, you know? Faggot was, like, it was thrown around constantly, to each other, like in battling, you know what I mean?" he asked, before insisting that he doesn't hate gay people. "I don't have any problem with nobody, you know what I mean. Like, I'm just whatever."

We've come a long way since the Algonquin Round Table.

(HT: Towleroad)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"The greatest & most successful pseudoscientific fraud"

Harold Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, resigns from the American Physical Society over the "global warming scam":
The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’ĂȘtre of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

read the whole letter at James Delingpole's blog