So I just got published in the Washington Examiner! The article critiques the so-called gender wage gap (which I've taken on before, here, here and here).
I note the discrepancy between men and women in pay is simply raw wages. One could look at other discrepancies too, like the fact that men make up 93 percent of workplace fatalities. Then I reference that ridiculous "debate" between Jordan Peterson and Cathy Newman. Unfortunately, a bit got left on the cutting room floor. (Those word limits are a pain!)
Peterson noted that you have to look at all the reasons for the gap. Newman inanely responded that “Why should women put up with those reasons?” I then (would have) dropped the hammer,
"We should, of course, try to reduce this figure, but we should also try to raise wages for everyone. But if someone claimed the “workplace fatalities gap” was caused by discrimination, Peterson might point out that there are reasons for such a gap. Would Newman counter with “why should men put up with those reasons?” Nevermind that one of those reasons is higher pay. After all, the term “hazard pay” exists for a reason."
Unfortunately, that didn't make it in. But the rest is still good! Check it out!
So the other week I reviewed Between the World and Me, this week I decided I would turn to some identity politics on the Right; namely Helen Smith's book Men on Strike. And in this case, the Right wins in a landslide. Of course, that victory was won almost by default given Dr. Helen Smith actually felt she should make an argument instead of simply asserting a bunch of "facts."
Gender is a complicated topic and unfortunately, the modern narrative boils it down to some pseudo-Marxist dialectic where men are the oppressors and women are the oppressed. Masculinity is toxic, wouldn't you know? It's odd, it would seem, as Dr. Helen points out, that men make up the vast majority of murder victims, suicides, high school drop outs, the incarcerated as well as dying five years younger than women. It's also odd that women would receive child custody in something like 85 percent of all divorces.
What kind of patriarchal, male supremacist society would allow for such nonsense? She quotes the work of Jim MacNamara, showing that media portrayals of men are almost universally negative. Which certainly rings true with my experience. I saw a study one time a while back that noted in television advertising, when a man and woman were on screen together and one was made to look smart and the other dumb, it was men made to look dumb 100 percent of the time! I have never before or since seen a study with such a one-sided result.
The book delves into negative portrayals of men in the media, unfair family courts, unequal treatment in court, discrimination in the schools and workplace and other such things. It concludes that many men are simply opting out. Men now make up only about 40 percent of college students and marriage rates have been on precipitous decline.
Unfortunately, the book does have some short falls. For one, the book seems to be both unfair to women in the present and unfair to men in the past. It simply asserts that "women were discriminated in the past." Which is true. But the past was not nearly as one-sided and obvious in its oppression as many feminists would claim. Let's pull one year at random, say 1917. Would a woman in the United States really feel oppressed because she couldn't vote when her men-folk were being sent off, against their will, like pigs to the slaughter to some God-forsaken trench in Eastern France?
We tend to judge the past harshly, but the wealth and abundance we have gives us options they didn't. For one, there's no way society 100 years ago could subsidize so many single mothers. You can say it's bad there are so many broken families around today, and I would agree. But it simply wasn't possible back then. In addition, there weren't antibiotics, so how else did you prevent diseases such as syphilis? Sexual restraint is important now, it was essential then. The way things were wasn't always about oppression. When survival is on the line, debates about gender roles are less important. Indeed, as Jordan Peterson pointed out in his obliteration of Cathy Newman, the more egalitarian a society is, the more likely women and men's interests and careers will diverge.
I was also surprised Dr. Smith didn't go much into the dual nature of domestic violence that many feminists have fought long and hard to obfuscate. Indeed, the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project reviewed 1700 studies on the matter and found women were slightly more likely to commit domestic violence, although women also got hurt more by it.
But it also doesn't address many modern problems women have, other than noting the negative effects men opting out of society will have on women. (To Dr. Helen's credit, she doesn't stress this as the biggest problem, there is a tendency for those talking about problems men face as if they are first and foremost, a problem for women.) For example, women are being pulled in two different directions with regards to career and family. This is something a difficult choice and a lot of pressure men, for the most part, get to avoid. Furthermore, there are becoming major problems with violence against women, particularly in Europe, as migrants from backwards countries move in and have, at least so far, failed to assimilate.
That being said, probably the aspect of the book is how polemical it is. Several times, she talks about posting a question on her blog and reading the responses her readers gave. These examples made the book itself feel a little like a long blog post.
Despite the book's flaws, however, Men on Strike is a much needed rejoinder to the one-sided debate we get in the media these days. Hopefully we'll hear more of this kind of thing, along with #MeToo and the like going forward.
Well I guess it was bound to happen, or at least begin to happen. After all, Borders collapsed some time ago, and before that Blockbuster and Hollywood Video went down in flames. Now it looks like the biggest book store in the country is going to follow their tragic path,
"In a round of company-wide layoffs, Barnes & Noble has cut lead cashiers, digital leads and other experienced workers. Workers discovered the news when they showed up to work on Monday only to learn they no longer had jobs, CNBC reports."
I can't say I'm surprised. Nor should anyone who has watched their sales,
"During the 2017 holiday season, sales dropped more than 6 percent to $953 million from last year’s. Same-store sales fell 6.4 percent, and online sales slid 4.5 percent."
While I rarely go to Barnes and Noble, or any other book store for that matter, I do enjoy going there. There's a nice vibe to grabbing a cup of coffee, browsing through various books and pretending to be cultured. But, like many others, I get almost all my books from Amazon (or Audible if we count the audio versions). That's obviously where the market's headed and it's hard for the old brick and mortar stores to keep up.
That being said, online retail still only makes up about 8 percent of the total market. While that is focused heavily in books, which would hurt the likes of Barnes and Noble the worst, I suspect there's more to it than that. Indeed, I think mismanagement plays a key role as well. That's especially true for Sears.
That being said, of course, online retail certainly doesn't help.
So my high school alma mater is in the news, or at least sort of in the news, of late. And yeah, this happened,
"South Eugene High School officially will be the home of the "Axe," replacing the former "Axemen" team name...
...Some people said the Axemen name, which dates back more than 90 years, is sexist and excludes those who don't identify as male."
Or as Justin Trudeau would call them, the "Axepeople."
And lest you think this was a quick and arbitrary decision,
"South Eugene High School Principal Andy Dey reviewed about 4,000 responses to a district online survey that asked respondents to identify why the district should either change or keep the Axemen name. On Wednesday, he then recommended to Eugene district Superintendent Gustavo Balderas that the school change the team name to the Axe."
I really wonder what it will be like to look back at this farce twenty years from now.
As one should expect given the NeoMcCarthyist hysteria floating about these days, Russian bots are in fact not the major reason for various populist upheavals over the last few years. This regarding Brexit
"The Brexit nullification project was dealt a major blow yesterday as Twitter revealed the numbers behind the much-vaunted “Russian meddling” narrative promoted by Remain campaigners and the establishment media...
"'...Forty-nine such accounts were active during the referendum campaign, which represents less than 0.005% of the total number of accounts that tweeted about the referendum.
"'These accounts collectively posted 942 tweets, representing less than 0.02% of the total tweets posted about the referendum during the campaign. These tweets cumulatively were retweeted 461 times and were liked 637 times.'"
And of course the whole #ReleaseTheMemo thing was blamed on Russian bots to by the likes of Adam Schiff. Turns out, according to Twitter itself, that shockingly, Republicans were behind it.
Gee, who would have thunk it?
This establishment Leftwing and neoconservative view (many on the dissident Left, like Glenn Greenwald know this is all BS) seems to be that absolutely nothing is wrong and the only reason anyone is upset is because of the evil Russia (which is so evil now presumably because they are no longer communist). It's a complete joke and I just can't understand how anyone could not see through it.
I've mourned on these digital pages before about my regret for not having bought Bitcoin in the past. Indeed, my partner on my first website, SwiftEconomics.com, wrote an article about Bitcoin back in June of 2011! Bitcoin was worth less than a dollar a coin then.
This regret, of course, is not an unusual thing. There's even a Bitcoin Regret Calculator online where you can figure out what you would have been worth if you had bought a certain amount of Bitcoin at a certain time in the past.
That being said, while cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are almost certainly here to stay, the inevitable has struck Bitcoin:
Unlike most market corrections, this was easily foreseeable. People were buying Bitcoin not to use as a currency, but to sell it. Indeed, this is one reason I never bought any; I didn't think of it as an investment. It has recovered a bit of late, but it's still under 50 percent of its maximum and I suspect it will fall further.
Overall, Bitcoin is playing out similarly to the housing crash when people were buying houses not to live in or rent out, but to sell a few years later. When this is the dynamic, it's just a matter of time before people get wise to it and someone gets left holding the bag.
Although, the difference between homes and a digital currency that is literally made up of absolutely nothing (and requires a ton of energy to "mine") is quite substantial. The best analogy, as many others have made, is that to the Tulip Mania of the seventeenth century.
Still, I am overall in favor of cryptocurrencies as they reduce governmental power and makes censorship more difficult. I don't believe for a second the FBI and the like can't track Bitcoin transactions, so I doubt it really makes illegal transactions that much easier. Indeed, the potential of blockchain could make fraud all but impossible.
But that's aside the point. The point here is that this bubble appears to be crashing and with that, hopefully I can let go of my regret for not having jumped in back in 2011.
Democrats and Neocons have to be blowing the paranoia about Russia that existed in the 1950's out of the water right now. And, it should be noted, McCarthy was at least partially vindicated (ahem, Alger Hiss, ahem Harry Dexter White).
On the other hand, as I've noted, the evidence for RussiaGate (other than them paying for a handful of Black Lives Matter ads on Facebook and deviously meddling with the US election through Pokemon Go) is really, really weak.
Nevermind that though, on the cusp of releasing the dreaded Nunes memo, MSNBC's John Heilemann asked Senator Chris Murphy if it's possible that Devin Nunes is a "Russian agent?" Yes, I'm quite serious, see for yourself:
Good God, even McCarthy would be disgusted by this (especially since McCarthy actually had some evidence whereas Heilemann is just bloviating nonsense).
Indeed, Russophobe Adam Schiff made the rounds fearmongering about how this 4-page memo would threaten national security. That, of course, was completely false.
And it's all the more ridiculous since if what the memo says is true, it's an incredibly damning to the Clinton campaign, the DNC, many in the FBI and the FISA courts. And, guess who was literally on RT, Russia's state sponsored television station, talking about the need to make the FISA courts accountable:
Ladies and gentlemen, I have plenty of problems with Donald Trump (see here and here), but in case you didn't know, Russia is a nuclear power. They're also not a state sponsor of terrorism. Furthermore, it's mostly been the West and the United States that have inflamed tensions with them since the Cold War ended by pushing NATO up to their door step.
This rhetoric and fearmongering is ridiculous and needs to stop. We just can't risk a confrontation with Russia because the Democrats can't get over the fact they lost an election.
So I got around to reading Between the World and Me, which is a short book that received an incredible amount of acclaim. I wasn't impressed.
I will say that Ta-Nehisi Coates has a good way with words and can craft some poetic sentences. But that "poetry" if you want to call it that, is hollow.
First and foremost, there is the ever present obsession with "bodies," particularly "black bodies" and particularly the violence that "those who believe they are white" or "dreamers" do to those poor "black bodies." The whole thing reeks of some sort of pseudo-intellectualism. At one point he writes that white society was saying "we were inferior and therefore our bodies were inferior." Yeah, that would quite obviously follow.
The book would have read exactly the same had it not been with this odd contrivance that borders on a fetishization. But that's sort of the problem the entire book has. For example, take this sentence,
"You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body."
I guess this is supposed to mean that violence is done to black bodies based using a scientific-sounding, but ultimately racist rationale. Or something.
But there in lies the biggest problem with this book. Yes, it's meant as a letter to his son, but the whole thing is an argument by assertion. Controversial police shootings, such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were simply shot in cold blood by white people and let off because the system of white supremacy hates black bodies or something.
Nevermind that George Zimmerman is Hispanic or that the evidence strongly points to Martin attacking Zimmerman first and the whole "hands up, don't shoot" narrative being fraudulent in the case of Brown, Coates asserts those shootings were unjustified. So they are.
The sames goes as Coates dives into Afrocentrism and once again simply asserts the ancient Egyptians were black, even though modern Egyptians aren't black and this "fact" lies somewhere between not settled and wrong.
This is all splitting hairs of course. Really, who cares? But that leads to the next problem. Us white people are "dreamers" or "those who believe they are white." After all, the Irish weren't considered white, right?
Yeah, no. Eight of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were Irish. Yes, the Irish had a bad reputation during the 19th century, but that had to do with ethnic tensions, the fact they were Catholic and some of the rough and tumble ways they brought with them. And that reputation gradually diminished to the point of being all but forgotten.
Diminishing the importance of racial differences as has been done with ethnic differences doesn't seem to be Coates goal though. Indeed, at times this brief book reads like something close to a declaration of war. While he takes pride in all the accomplishments of black people, he refers to whites repeatedly as "those who think they are white." Again, this is supposed to mean something, I guess. Whites think they are descended from Europeans. So he gets a race to be proud of and identify with but whites, or "dreamers" must do what to assuage their inherited guilt? Become raceless? No real solution is given.
As others have said before, it's either identity politics for everyone or identity politics for no one. This philosophy of rationalized hypocrisy will just lead to more and more racial tension. Coates effectively blames the destitution of the black community entirely on whites and particularly on the suburbs which were "built on black bodies." There is little if any nuisance here. Black poverty, unemployment and black on black violence is white people's fault. Coates and his ilk might as well be rocket fuel for the Alt Right.
Yes, whites have done horrible things to blacks. But as Coates himself notes at the beginning, there's nothing unusual about the crimes of European ancestors when you look at what else has been done in the world. (Take for example, the crimes of the Ottoman Empire.) America calls itself "exceptional" however, so Coates says he will hold it to an exceptional level. And to what end? To vilify one group that can only cleanse its Original Sin by becoming raceless (or whatever implied solution he had in mind).
In the end, the book is little more than a pseudo-intellectual, bitter rant.
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
Star Slate Codex
Consulting by RPM