Wednesday, June 7, 2023

But y'all aren't ready for that conversation

An interview just appeared with Richard Dawkins on the question of whether the New Atheism was a mistake. For his part Dawkins demonstrates a good deal of intellectual integrity, but it seems like he can't afford to examine the question too clearly. Because the answer is that of course it was. As should be obvious by now. 

By "the New Atheism" I don't mean the belief that the preponderance of evidence points to the nonexistence of God. That's just atheism. New Atheism takes it several steps further and treats the nonexistence of God, the afterlife, and the like as settled questions. The merest hint of theism has to be banished. And somewhere between the end of last century and the first few years of this one, they won. In institutionalized science and the bulk of the humanities, you have to reduce your philosophy to pure materialism to be taken seriously.

This has had two dire effects. First of all it's infected rationalists with the arrogance of the crusader. Start out with the idea that for the good of humanity religious belief must be stamped out and both your actions and perceptions will be warped. 

It also gives the scientifically-minded, or those who just think they are, license to dismiss certain ideas out of hand. The ultimate result has been much of the scientific community starting from preferred conclusions and working backward, or not working at all. The last three years have seen a lot of this. 

So yes, it was a mistake. And it will be reckoned with, perhaps corrected, elsewhere.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Another side of...


First saw this the other night. It's an amethyst-throated sunangel, which is a South American species of hummingbird. Now hummingbirds, being what they are, are difficult to imagine sleeping. Or at least they were. Now I know that they look and sound pretty much exactly like <i>Sesame Street</i> Muppets when they sleep.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Uneasy lies the head

Watching the first season of The Wire, there are a number of characters to sympathize with on both sides of the law. But with Cedric Daniels, the lieutenant in charge of the Narcotics unit and the Barksdale detail, you just kind of have to shake your head, maybe give the occasional rueful chuckle. It's a  demanding assignment to begin with, and likely to fail. It would be nice if McNulty, who's overly impulsive but at least a good detective on balance, were his biggest problem in-house. But he's also got a trio of lunkheads who go down to the projects in the wee hours just to swing their dicks. As a result, one kid they assaulted winds up losing an eye. Not something you want to happen on your watch.

At least he has a nice house. I have a feeling his wife was in a good profession before she went into politics.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Street hassle

One of the things that make the hullabaloo over "disinformation" hard to take is the cloying irony of it. To take this constant drumbeat seriously you have to believe that the government and media want us to be well-informed. Well, if they do, they have a funny way of showing it. 

The alleged Citibike Karen incident should have been a small example, but it turned into a big one because that's the way these things go. Bad enough that anytime someone in New York farts the rest of us have to smell it but do the talking heads (lowercase) have to get it wrong every time? In any case there was never any evidence for the wild accusations that she was the villain of the story, yet that's how she was depicted right away. Days after her lawyer produced the receipt some were still at it. 

Media sources that Reilly notes here like The Grio and The Root are, uh, what they are. But there are others at play here too. If you pay attention to leftward media you may have noticed that *sigh* cishet white men and women in these spaces are always competing for who will get the most Uplift the Marginalized points, like some woke version of The Lockhorns. So something like this will bring all the good white men out, and they might not be very concerned if what they're saying is, to use a quaint word, true.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

It came from the highlands

Can you play "Chim Chim Cheree" as a jazz song?

Can you play jazz on the bagpipes?

Can you play "Chim Chim Cheree" on the bagpipes?


I first found out about Rufus Harley from Laurie Anderson's album Big Science, where he played on the song "Sweaters." His story is that he was a trained saxophonist, and was moved when he heard the bagpipe's being played at JFK's funeral. They immediately became his primary instrument. 

Few followed him, as anyone with even a glancing familiarity with jazz history knows. But he had a long career and his music is quite bracing.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Ticking boxes

If you're a writer or an aspiring writer you get exposed to the biases and blind spots of the publishing industry, even if―especially if?―you're out in the relative middle of nowhere. Right now there's a lot of explicit ideological gatekeeping, which also tends to be implicit class gatekeeping.

In the speculative fiction area a lot of markets say that they're looking for authors from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds, sometimes exclusively. At least one magazine I've checked out says that they don't require proof. That's the damnedest thing. While they throw in some honors system rhetoric about not taking someone else's spot, they're in effect begging for some non-alphabet white guy to pull a fast one.

Would I? No. Is that because of my sterling ethics? Not entirely. It's more that if your submission guidelines read like a corporations DEI goals, you're telling me that you don't want to be wowed or challenged, that you don't even really care about enjoying the manuscript. You just want to not be publicly embarrassed. You're asking for dullness and mediocrity, even from people who are capable of better. And that's what you're going to get.

Friday, May 26, 2023

...and on a lighter note

They're looking out for us. Roger Waters has come under fire for dressing like a Nazi and acting out fascism onstage, something he obviously hasn't been doing in connection with The Wall for forty odd years and which Bob Geldof in no way can be seen doing in the 1982 movie adaptation. And you'd better believe incriminating video has been making the rounds online.

We can be thankful they're finally getting around to this. It's sickening to know that Johnny Cash never faced justice for shooting that guy in Reno just to watch him die.