The Bookworm Beat 12/2/14 — Backlog edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingIt’s been raining steadily and heavily for hours, which is such a wonderful thing. Equally wonderful is the fact that (knock on wood) nothing has leaked, flooded, or backed-up on our property since this rainfall began. I’m still mired in backlog from spending the last few days putting out family-related fires (none serious; all time-consuming), so this post represents an effort to clear up some of the things I’ve been saving for a quiet moment.

A modest proposal for inner city policing

M. Catherine Evans has an idea for those blacks who complain about white policemen on their streets: create their own police forces, much the way college campuses do. Evans has really thought it through, too. For example, she’s got an answer for all those non-black applicants who, in total violation of their civil rights, would be barred from these all-black forces:

City mayors could follow the same playbook. First, claiming a universal violation of blacks’ civil rights, they could proceed to remove all white police officers and replace them with special police units made up of minority residents. The new units could then restore law and order, create intact family structures and moral belief systems, and finally promote, through example, a true work ethic instead of a militant entitlement mentality.

Of course, another way all-black forces could happen is for black people to want to serve as police officers in their own neighborhoods. In San Francisco, the City has (or used to have) a requirement that city employees must live in the city (which, considering how expensive SF is, was a truly onerous burden). Detroit could pass an ordinance requiring cops in certain neighborhoods to be residents of those neighborhoods. I wonder if residents would line up to serve or if willing cops would line up to move in.

The UVA rape — a hoax?

When I wrote about the UVA rape claim, I expressed reservations about how seriously we should take it, given that the alleged victim made the bizarre claim that she was raped by five people and was ripped apart into a bloody mess — and then did nothing about it. Reason is also dubious about the story’s veracity:

However, some of the details do strike me as perplexing on subsequent re-reads. One issue now being raised by skeptics is the nature of her injuries, which sound as if they would have required immediate medical attention. (According to the story, everybody involved was basically rolling around in broken glass for hours.) If the frat brothers were absolute sociopaths to do this to Jackie, her friends were almost cartoonishly evil—casually dismissing her battered and bloodied state and urging her not to go to the hospital.

Obama’s spoiled, bored kids

Elizabeth Lauten got fired because she sent out a tweet noting that the President’s kids were dressed inappropriately when standing by their father as he pardoned the Thanksgiving turkey. There are a few threads to follow here.

First, the kerfuffle that forced Lauten out of a job was the shriek of “How dare she criticize children!” The subtext, of course, was that Lauten is a racist. Noah Rothman makes short shrift of this particular shriek, noting that Republican presidents’ children have always been fair game for the worst kind of attacks.

Second, as the mom of teenagers, I can tell you that there’s nothing particularly wrong with the clothes the girls were wearing for the little ceremony, at least in terms of the “slut” factor. By today’s norms, their clothes are strictly middle of the road. That doesn’t mean I excuse their attire, though. While certainly not slutty, the clothes are way too casual for the setting. For an address to the American people, while standing in the “people’s house,” it’s tacky (not slutty, but tacky), to dress as if you’re going to take out the garbage.

Third, the real problem, as best as I can tell, isn’t the girls’ clothing; it’s their expressions. Could these girls, who have lived a life of extraordinary privilege for the last five years, look more bored or disdainful as their father spoke (although they did smile for the pardoned turkey)?

Sasha and Malia looking bored

Sasha and Malia looking bored 2

Sasha and Malia looking bored 3

Sasha and Malia smile for turkey

Do Sasha and Malia smile only when the overburdened American people are paying to send them off on luxury exotic vacations?

Sasha, Malia, and Michelle at the Great Wall of China

What they’re missing is the concept of “noblesse oblige.” If you’re living lavishly thanks to the little people, the very least you could do is appear grateful or, at least, serene.

Still hiding the truth about AIDS in America

There’s a story in the Marin IJ about a 19-year-old man who was diagnosed with AIDS. That’s a real tragedy. Even with today’s drugs, he still carries a deadly disease, which is a terrible burden for anyone, especially someone young.

The article’s point is that, while AIDS is no longer a headline disease, it’s still out there. What’s buried in the article, though, is that it’s still out there amongst the same demographic that, in the early 1980s, facilitated its spread through very bad lifestyle decisions. I don’t mean gays, I mean promiscuous gays. Being gay makes you neither a carrier, nor a vector, nor a victim. But what nobody was willing to acknowledge going back to the days when San Francisco was politically afraid to close the City’s bathhouses, is that there is a subset of gay men that engages in debauchery that would have stunned even the Romans in the waning days of their Empire.

Just as Nature likes moderation, she dislikes excess. And that excess, as the IJ article makes clear if you’re willing to read far enough, still facilitates AIDS’ spread:

Mackey believes he was infected through sexual contact with another man, although he isn’t certain which man gave him the disease. He said he probably connected with the person via social networking.

“That is a huge thing in the gay community, especially in California,” Mackey said. “Because it is hard to walk down the street and find someone attractive and know if they’re gay or straight. You don’t want to offend them. A lot of times, unfortunately, those web sites can be used just for hookups.”

I wish Mackey the best of health, and a long life. I wish too that someone would stand up and say that the gay subculture’s ubiquitous promiscuous lifestyle should be treated in the same way as cigarette smoking and drunk driving: all of these activities kill and they should become socially unacceptable.

Another conservative post appears on a Progressive’s Facebook page

Yesterday, I mentioned that, on my real-me Facebook page, my Progressive friends are passing on some pretty strange stuff. At least, it’s strange for them. One of my reliably liberal friends posted a Daily Clash article about Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn’s tirade about the fact that Ferguson is a media creation, and he’s got real tragedy’s to deal with — such as the drive-by shooting death of a 5-year-old:

“Now, they know all about the last three people who have been killed by the Milwaukee Police Department in the course of the last several years. There’s not one of them that can name one of the last three homicide victims we’ve had in this city,” Flynn said. “But this community is at risk alright, and it’s not because men and women in blue risk their lives protecting it. It’s at risk because we have large numbers of high-capacity, quality firearms in the hands of remorseless criminals who don’t care who they shoot.”

The Daily Clash is Doug Giles’ site. I like Giles, but I doubt that the friend who passed on the link would appreciate his fervent conservativism. What she did appreciate, though, was that the police chief in a major city spoke the truth about something that’s apparently to all who are paying any attention.

All free speakers are equal, but some free speakers are more evil than others

Speaking of Facebook, I posted on Facebook Brendan O’Neill’s article about the complete absence of free speech on college campuses in the Western world:

If your go-to image of a student is someone who’s free-spirited and open-minded, who loves having a pop at orthodoxies, then you urgently need to update your mind’s picture bank. Students are now pretty much the opposite of that. It’s hard to think of any other section of society that has undergone as epic a transformation as students have. From freewheelin’ to ban-happy, from askers of awkward questions to suppressors of offensive speech, in the space of a generation. My showdown with the debate-banning Stepfords at Oxford and the pre-crime promoters at Cambridge echoed other recent run-ins I’ve had with the intolerant students of the 21st century. I’ve been jeered at by students at the University of Cork for criticising gay marriage; cornered and branded a ‘denier’ by students at University College London for suggesting industrial development in Africa should take precedence over combating climate change; lambasted by students at Cambridge (again) for saying it’s bad to boycott Israeli goods. In each case, it wasn’t the fact the students disagreed with me that I found alarming — disagreement is great! — it was that they were so plainly shocked that I could have uttered such things, that I had failed to conform to what they assume to be right, that I had sought to contaminate their campuses and their fragile grey matter with offensive ideas.

I prefaced my Facebook post by saying that, while I’m sure most of my friends won’t agree with O’Neill’s ideology, the important point is that our students, rather than being taught to defend their views, are being taught to stick their fingers in their ears and make “la la” noises so as not to be offended by other views — and that this is a bad thing. A very highly placed lawyer acquaintance of mine was having none of that. He wrote me a screed that essentially says that, while all speech is equal, some speech is more equal than others. (I’ve changed some of the words to protect his and my privacy, but the substance is unchanged.)

Those students whose views on things such as gay marriage and sexual violence are finally the dominant views are a bit foolish to forget that there’s a benefit to open debate. But O’Neill is whining because he’s losing. It used to be that people who supported gay rights were at risk of physical violence, so why is he complaining just because people are telling him to shut up? The universities will eventually having to calm down these hotheads. After all, people are upset that Bill Maher was the subject of student demands that he be banned from speaking on campus and that put people off. I therefore think that the campuses will stop allowing the heckler’s veto. I suspect, though, that O’Neill was nowhere to be seen when people like Bill Maher, the Dixie Chicks, and others were challenged for their views about 9/11 or Iraq.

I think that’s a “you hit me back first” response. In any event, while I know that conservatives turned on Maher and the Dixie Chicks by changing channels or not buying albums (and I know that some benighted souls did record burnings), I’m unaware of any campuses that cancelled their speeches or music or that saw the student body rise en masse to shut them down.

The New York Times admits what I figured out long ago

Mr. Bookworm has been in a blind panic for years over the fact that America’s universities admit an ever smaller percent of applicants into their freshman classes. I kept explaining to him that this is logical because high school students keep applying to more and more colleges. It used to be that students applied to one or two, maybe three, colleges. Now, they routinely apply for ten or eleven or even more. The number of applicants relative to colleges hasn’t swelled; it’s the number of applications relative to colleges that has exploded — and that explosion means that the number of applications (not the number of applicants) but the number of applications far exceeds a college’s ability to say yes to all those forms flowing through its Admissions Department. Mr. Bookworm thought I was being naive, innumerate, and just plain stupid.

Of course, when the New York Times says much the same thing . . . well, everyone can relax now.

Domestic duties call. I’ll be back.