Category Archives: Social Commentary

After Manchester

Brendan O’Neill says it’s time for anger:

The post-terror cultivation of passivity speaks to a profound crisis of – and fear of – the active citizen. It diminishes us as citizens to reduce us to hashtaggers and candle-holders in the wake of serious, disorientating acts of violence against our society. It decommissions the hard thinking and deep feeling citizens ought to pursue after terror attacks. Indeed, in some ways this official post-terror narrative is the unwitting cousin of the terror attack itself. Where terrorism pursues a war of attrition against our social fabric, seeking to rip away bit by bit our confidence and openness and sense of ourselves as free citizens, officialdom and the media diminish our individuality and our social role, through instructing us on what we may feel and think and say about national atrocities and discouraging us from taking responsibility for confronting these atrocities and the ideological and violent rot behind them. The terrorist seeks to weaken our resolve, the powers-that-be want to sedate our emotions, retire our anger, reduce us to wet-eyed performers in their post-terror play. It’s a dual assault on the individual and society.

Civilizations are destroyed not from without, but rot from within.

The Genius Of Roger Ailes

“What made Fox News so dominant for so long wasn’t just that Roger Ailes built a news network to tell just the right stories to gather a conservative audience, though he did make it a religion, but that his competitors in the news business had built theirs to drive that audience away.”

It’s often been said that he recognized a niche market that wasn’t being satisfied: half the country.

Climate Exaggerators

Cliff Mass on the academic wages of debunking them:

Every time I correct misinformation in the media like this, I get savaged by some “environmentalists” and media. I am accused of being a denier, a skeptic, an instrument of the oil companies, and stuff I could not repeat in this family friendly blog. Sometimes it is really hurtful. Charles Mudede of the Stranger is one of worst of the crowd, calling me “dangerous” and out of my mind (see example below).

A postdoc at the UW testified at the Environment Committee of the Washington State House saying that I was a contrarian voice. I spoke to her in person a few days later and asked where my science was wrong–she could not name one thing. But she told me that my truth telling was “aiding” the deniers. We agreed to disagree.

My efforts do not go unnoticed at the UW, with my department chairman and leadership in the UW Climate Impacts Group telling me of “concerns” with my complaints about hyped stories on oyster deaths and snowpack. One UW professor told me that although what I was saying was true, I needed to keep quiet because I was helping “the skeptics.” Probably not good for my UW career.

I believe scientists must provide society with the straight truth, without hype or exaggeration, and that we must correct false or misleading information in the media. It is not our role to provide inaccurate information so that society will “do the right thing.” History is full of tragic examples of deceiving the public to promote the “right thing”–such as weapons of mass destruction claims and the Iraq War.

Global warming forced by increasing greenhouse gases is an extraordinarily serious challenge to our species that will require both mitigation (reducing emissions) and adaptation (preparing ourselves to deal with the inevitable changes). Society can only make the proper decisions if they have scientists’ best projections of what will happen in the future, including the uncertainties.

What a concept.

Communism

Commemorating (but not celebrating) a century of it:

It would be simplistic to blame all of these events on ideology. We live in an imperfect world and those imperfections have been unequally distributed. No conceivable government of Russia, or China, or Venezuela would have left no citizens impoverished or oppressed. Nonetheless, a hundred years of communism has presented us with an intimidating record of catastrophe, in a moral, political, and economic sense. Time and again, ambition has exceeded potential. Time and again, coercion has encouraged conflict. Time and again, violence has perpetuated itself. Time and again, absolute power has hardened into tyranny.

These disasters were concealed, excused and exacerbated by Western apologists and traitors. Walter Duranty of the New York Times lied to America about the scale of the Soviet famine. Intellectuals from George Bernard Shaw to Jean Paul Sartre to Eric Hobsbawm rationalised atrocities. Spies in British and American institutions betrayed military and intelligence secrets. As Europe reeled from the horrors of world war, and as the West endured the austerity of the depression, the impulse towards radicalism was understandable. But as the reality of communism was exposed even dull-minded apologists ran out of excuses.

A recent article in the New York Times offers a nostalgic account of growing up as a communist. Its author implies that the reality of Stalinism was made clear by Kruschev in 1956. But two decades earlier, Gareth Jones and Malcolm Muggeridge had exposed widespread starvation in the Soviet Union. The show trials had been reported across America and Europe. The Madden Committee had revealed the truth of Katyn. Orwell had published Animal Farm, and Koestler Darkness at Noon. By 1956, ignorance was abominable.

And it should be even more so today, but it has a sick appeal to something in human nature.

[Update a few minutes later]

I wish this were less related: The Cruelty Of Blue. As goes Puerto Rico, so will go many Democrat-run cities on the mainland.

ObamaCare

“My husband would have died if he’d relied on it.”

All of the mendacious hysteria over this bill has been incandescent, especially compared to the very real disaster that the ACA has been (and which many of us warned about).