The Bookworm Beat 9/18/16 — the “people are singing” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265The strong symbolism behind Trump’s Les Deplorables appearance. Back in the mid- to late-ish 1980s, I saw the San Francisco premiere of Les Misérables. I am sorry to report that it was entirely wasted on me. I’d never read Hugo’s book (still haven’t) and I’d actually never even heard of the musical. I went only because a friend invited me and I was then saddened to find myself listening to an opera. A pop opera, admittedly, but still an opera. I am a cultural Luddite, and don’t like operas. Operettas and musicals (i.e., lighthearted fare with songs interspersed with dialogue) delight me, but I’m a total fail at the whole opera thing.

I think, though, that I might have to make an exception to my pop-opera aversion or at least an exception to one song. I am lost in delight for the way in which Trump and his supporters have taken Hillary’s “Basket of Deplorables” insult and turned it into the identifier for a political revolution. By now, you all know that Trump appeared at a maximum capacity rally in Miami with a giant “Les Deplorables” image behind him and with “Do you hear the people sing?” from Les Misérables blaring on the sound system. Genius, sheer genius. This is what political judo is supposed to look like.


Moreover, when I went to investigate the song, I discovered, barring the unnerving reference to some deaths in the second verse, that the song’s lyrics are remarkably apropos for a man intent upon turning upside down the current Leftist, elitist, corrupt, dysfunctional political system. Though there is no guarantee Trump can actually make good on that promise, at least he’s making the promise (Hillary promises more of the same, only worse).

The American people, in increasing numbers, are singing their hope that Trump’s out-of-the-box thinking and practical experience might be all that’s left to bring about systemic change and reinvigorate American individualism and exceptionalism. In that spirit, here’s the song, with lyrics:

Incidentally, this is one of those occasions when one hopes that the same creative energy shown in challenging the media and the Democrat/Progressive party shows itself again if/when Trump is in the White House. America is safest when she’s a strong horse. She is no longer either safe or strong.

Over the past eight years, Obama has wasted our economy, weakened our military, led us from behind into retreat and failure, and has been determined and resolute only about turning America into coyote chum. Change needs to come swiftly or it may be too late. Trump’s creativity, energy, and ability to feed off of hurdles and losses, bodes well for a lugubrious, wounded country that needs to be up and lively very quickly.

A quick shill for a wonderful book. I received an Amazon email today telling me that the Kindle version of Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel is available for $1.99. I don’t know how long that price will last but if you haven’t read it I urge you to buy it while you can.

The book takes place in an alternative England, circa 1985, that has no line between English fiction and the real world. With a less talented writer, this could have been a confused and stupid plot. Fforde, though, never loses control of the plot, interweaving fictional fact and fictional fiction with unerring instinct, accompanied by brilliant wordplay and a clever plot. I really cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone who appreciates exceptionally good, funny, and imaginative fiction.

Challenging a licentious society didn’t imprison women; it freed them. Did you know that Jewish funerals, if at all possible, must take place within one to two days of death? Why is this?

I’ve been told that there are two reasons. The first is that, in a hot climate, disposing of a body quickly is a practical necessity. The second is that the Jews had to protect the bodies of their loved ones from surrounding pagans. The Jews revere the human body, which is in God’s image. Pagans, however, viewed the body as something to desecrate, whether to show disdain for an enemy, to placate their pantheon of blood-thirsty Gods, or to read auguries. I mention this as a reminder that pagans were very different from the Judeo-Christian culture that’s been the Western norm for 2,000 years, a culture that the Progressives are working hard to dismantle.

Another Jewish tradition is sexual restraint. God is very clear that sex is something between a man and a woman and, further, that it should take place within a consecrated marriage. While kings such as David and Solomon had their wives (plural) and concubines (also plural), as the Jewish story moved closer to the Roman era, sexual restraint and monogamy became the norm.

In this regard, the Jews were again entirely at odds with their pagan neighbors. In the rest of the ancient world, ritual prostitution, orgies, homosexuality, pedophilia, and the routine rape and assault of slaves, both male and female, were the norm. Fortunately for the vulnerable people in the world — the women and children — Christianity came along, bringing with it the Jewish proscription against sex outside of a respectful marital relationship:

Citing existing scholarship, Rueger details the Roman sexual worldview that prevailed for hundreds of years. Women and children were viewed as sexual objects; slaves—male and female–could expect to be raped; there was widespread prostitution; and predatory homosexuality was common. Christian sexual morality might have been seen as repressive by the licentious, but it was a gift from God for their victims.

Rueger writes that “Claims in our day of being progressive and moving forward by accepting the ‘new prevailing views on sexuality and same-sex marriage’ are horribly misinformed … Contemporary views about sexuality are simply a revival of an older and much less loving view of the world.”

But they are also a revival of an older and impoverished view of human beings. Imagine the reaction of a pagan Roman slave girl who learned for the first time that she had value—not monetary value as a piece of goods to be enjoyed or discarded by her owner—but eternal value because she was made in the very image of God.

Or imagine the pang of conscience felt by an unfaithful Roman husband when he learned that God became incarnate, and took on human flesh, and that how he treated his own body and the bodies of others mattered to God.

Hewing to the Judeo-Christian norm has not protected all women and all children from rape and other abuse. It has, however, been the only system in the world that makes caring for the smaller and the weaker, meaning children and women (especially wives), a moral requirement. Think about that the next time someone starts abusing the Judeo-Christian tradition for allegedly demeaning women.

Let’s talk white privilege. I am the product of white privilege. So are my children. So are all of their friends. So are all of my friends. This is not because we’re white (some of us are, some of us aren’t). This is not because we grew up rich (some of us did, some of us definitely didn’t). This is not because we were given special benefits because of our race (none of us were, so far as I know). Instead, our white privilege flowed from a very simple pattern in all of our lives, one that saw us doing things in a very specific order:

White Privilege

Charles Barkley is one of the brave few willing to say that the pathologies afflicting the black community are not invariably white people’s fault and that there are useful behaviors that blacks too often ignore:

“Unfortunately, as I tell my white friends, we as black people, we’re never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. When you’re black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people. It’s a dirty, dark secret; I’m glad it’s coming out.”

Apparently what prompted Barkley to speak so openly about a subject that has practically become taboo was the rumor involving Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s criticism of Colin Kaepernick’s antics, and that he (Rusell), wasn’t being “black enough.”

Those accusations were apparently coming from Russell’s fellow teammates, which prompted Barkley to respond: “If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. And it’s a dirty, dark secret.”

He concluded the interview by declaring: “There are a lot of black people who are unintelligent, who don’t have success, It’s best to knock a successful black person down because they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful…We’re the only ethnic group who say, ‘Hey, if you go to jail, it gives you street cred.’ It’s just typical BS that goes on when you’re black, man.”

Exactly! Will this wisdom from a successful member of the American black community stop American blacks from brutalizing each other? I don’t know. I certainly wish it would.

Stupid attitudes aren’t limited to segments of the black community. Someone named Nassim Nicholas Taleb has written a viral post about idiot intellectuals:

What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligenzia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.

Or as I think of it, the Ivory Towers train people to be successful within the padded-room, safe-space, heavily subsidized confines of the Ivory Towers. The real world almost never works the way these self-styled “intellectuals” think it ought to.

I’m not a huge fan of Taleb’s writing style, so it was a bit of a struggle for me to read his post, but I considered that every minute I spent on it was well worth my time.

If this round-up didn’t give you enough variety and information, you need to check out the new Watcher’s Council site — WOW! Magazine — which has contributions from all members of the Watcher’s Council as well as some of their friends.