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From JSTOR Daily (a website that popularizes research from JSTOR’s trove of academic papers):



It’s a linguistic truth universally acknowledged that any story worth telling must be in want of a very British villain. It’s a familiar trope, as evidenced by this US-made Jaguar ad in which Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong, and a tea-sipping Tom Hiddleston embrace the inevitable dark side of their national identity.

Whether it’s Nazis, Romans, countrymen, or other bad guys of yesteryear (regardless of actual country of origin), it seems the prestige accent of villainy (unless it’s a terrible death whinny) has typically had something in common with the Queen: namely, the Queen’s English, a dialect that is at the same time both terribly posh and deliciously evil. As Julia R. Dobrow and Calvin L. Gidney point out in a study of villains in children’s animation, American programming in particular seems to have a general ambivalence about British English, as “speakers of British English are portrayed dichotomously as either the epitome of refinement and elegance or as the embodiment of effete evil.” …

Why is this so? Is there something inherently villainous about British-inflected speech (at least to Americans)? Are they just more capable of dastardly deeds than the rest of us, through the magic of their plummy accents alone? Who would have thought mere accents could be so powerful? It’s actually a curious fact, according to Davis and Houck, that speakers of the prestige Received Pronunciation (RP) accent (otherwise known as the Queen’s English or BBC English) are regularly evaluated by non-RP speakers as more educated, intelligent, competent, physically attractive, and generally of a higher socioeconomic class.

The English public school accent was socially constructed over a few centuries to knit together the elites from across the country and to provide them with an excellent tool for communicating complex thoughts rapidly in speech. For example, if you try to say word “portraiture” fast and clear, you’ll probably sound like a toff.

Or try saying “Would that it were so simple” in a cowpuncher accent.

The Shakespearean stage actor accent is also ideal for communicating microaggressions. In contrast, a Joe Pesci accent is good for communicating macroaggressions.

At the same time, in terms of social attractiveness, those same posh RP speakers are consistently rated less trustworthy, kind, sincere, and friendly than speakers of non-RP accents. Sounds like a good start for a villain.

Meanwhile across the pond, there’s also a different prestige accent at work in many forms of popular music. The desirable accents of pop, rock, country, R&B, hip-hop and so on, as many have noted, are almost always some flavor of American English. …

Many who consider accent as a marker of authenticity and personal identity may wonder why some would “fake” an accent, but many performers may not even realize they’re code-switching, as they unconsciously adopt the language stylings of the modern song—it’s just the way you’re supposed to sing in that particular genre. (Similarly, consider the early pseudo-British vocal work of American pop punk bands, such as Green Day, following the lead set by the Sex Pistols or the Clash). So is it weird to change your authentic accent to fit in with your day job? …

British villainy as an amusing stereotype for entertainment is one thing. How about your regular, everyday criminal? Can we, Minority Report style, predict and weed out the criminals in our midst as soon as they open their mouths? What about detecting other personal characteristics, such as how often someone bathes or brushes their teeth, from the way they talk? Can you tell how physically attractive they are, how tall, how smart, how funny or how friendly, just by their accent alone?

Just like the old school, pseudoscientific methods of phrenology and graphology (feeling the bumps on a head or the flow of a person’s penmanship and tying these to their personal or mental traits), it starts to sound pretty farfetched. How on earth can you tell whether someone’s dirty or clean or tall or short or itching to be a criminal from the sound waves they make? A person’s accent can’t possibly predict all these attributes. And yet, we act as though this is entirely possible—and even reasonable.

It turns out many of us believe, often without realizing it, we can predict social and personal traits about a person, simply by the accent they use. We may be wrong, but we do it anyway. What’s more, we frequently make prejudicial judgements and decisions based on these underlying beliefs and stereotypes about a person and the way they speak regardless of the reality. It’s the “last acceptable prejudice” in part because people are generally not even aware they’re doing it. …

Similarly, in another well-known example, a university lecturer gave exactly the same talk in a Received Pronunciation (RP) accent (otherwise known as the Queen’s English or BBC English) and again in a Birmingham accent. Students rated his intelligence and his talk more highly in his guise as a posh RP-accented lecturer than the students in the exact same talk he gave using a Birmingham accent.

In fact the poor Brummie accent has been rated as even less attractive and less intelligent for British speakers than just some random person staying completely silent. Even worse, a study has shown that matched guise “suspects” were rated as significantly more guilty of a crime when they spoke with Brummie accents than when those same suspects used their RP voices. So obviously some listeners believe they can predict the criminal element through accent alone. It’s a tough life being from Birmingham, clearly. Yet American listeners, not having access to the same common social stereotypes, often rate the Brummie accent as pleasant-sounding.

Once again, we find that in the 21st Century, Ignorance Is Good while Knowledge Is Prejudice.

So it’s nothing innate in the sounds of these stigmatized accents themselves that make them so despised by certain listeners but simply a shared social attitude that as a non-standard accent, they’re somehow less worthy than the prestige accent.

One of the polarizing aspects about Donald Trump is that he doesn’t codeswitch much, the way Obama spoke to black preachers in his black preacher accent while he spoke to whites in his flat Kansas accent (a state he barely has visited, but whom he claims to be from due to his mother having been born there and Kansas seeming particularly non-foreign) rather than in his prep school accent. Hillary has used many accents as well.

Trump talks like a guy from Queens, which he is. Many people, often ones not normally fond of New Yorkers, find Trump’s accent reassuringly authentic. Other people find it alarming. Does his failure to upgrade the class associations of his accent demonstrate that he is defective? Or does it imply that he rejects much of America’s class system? If he doesn’t have the decency to modulate his accent properly, what other social conventions might he not value? Clearly, many people with classier accents find Trump’s accent highly unsettling.


From the Daily Mail:

Secret 1983 CIA intelligence report suggested America should encourage Saddam Hussein to attack Syria to secure oil pipeline to Med and Gulf

America urged Saddam Hussein to attack Hafez al-Assad, 1983 CIA report said

Ex-CIA official Graham Fuller said US should ‘urge Iraq to take the war to Syria’

This was because Assad had closed Iraq’s oil pipeline and so had a ‘hammerlock’ on US interests in both Lebanon and in the Gulf

By Thomas Burrows for MailOnline

PUBLISHED: 07:35 EST, 20 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:19 EST, 20 January 2017

Graham Fuller’s name just seems to come up a lot, such as his petitioning to allow charter school racketeer Imam Gulen to remain in the United States. Also, Fuller used to be the uncle-in-law of the Boston bombing Tsarnaev Brothers.


A reader writes:

“This story has under the radar minorities, Rice University, Texas Real Estate, unexplained deep state connections and even college Football. Oh and it’s linked to a current story in the news.”

From The Guardian:

The reckless plot to overthrow Africa’s most absurd dictator

In December, a handful of middle-aged American immigrants attempted to topple the autocratic ruler of the Gambia. They had few weapons and an amateurish plan. What possessed them to risk everything in a mission that was doomed to fail?

by Andrew Rice

With about 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the chance of overthrowing your least favorite regime seems plausible. For example, was the 1980 film The Dogs of War with Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger about Frederik Forsyth’s plan to overthrow the government of Equatorial Africa to provide a homeland for the losing Ibos in the Nigeria Civil War?

Similarly, French mercenary Major Bob (Denard) would frequently over throw the Comoros Islands in search for a retirement home for colleagues.

The Gambia is a very small West African country with a very megalomaniacal dictator who has accepted, among many honors not just the designation of being a Kentucky Colonel but also a Nebraska Admiral.


To help promote his recent memoir, Elvis Costello (real name: Declan Patrick McManus) revived this video of his dad Ross McManus singing in about 1963.

This video explains a lot about the son.

• Tags: Unbearable Whiteness 

Screenshot 2017-01-20 20.41.45

The most redolent Who We Are Now story of 2017 has been the Social Justice Warrior stabbing spree in Berkeley featuring a stabby Latinx Studies major who only answers to the pronoun They. They has been charged with randomly murdering an old-fashioned Berkeley hippie chick folksinger and less randomly attempting to murder a fellow campus SJW.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

UC Berkeley student charged with murder in stabbing rampage
By Jenna Lyons, San Francisco Chronicle Updated 6:37 pm, Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A 22-year-old UC Berkeley student arrested in connection with the stabbing death of a woman and the stabbing of another in a Berkeley rampage was charged with murder and attempted murder Tuesday afternoon.

Pablo Gomez Jr. of North Hollywood appeared at a brief hearing at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland, where the arraignment in the case was postponed until Feb. 1.

Gomez was charged with murder in the slaying of 27-year-old Emilie Inman, a musician and science teacher who worked in Lafayette. Gomez was also charged with attempted murder in connection with the stabbing of another woman, Kiana Lailin Schmitt, who has UC Berkeley ties, according to court documents released Tuesday.

An article in Berkeleyside said that Gomez, a Latinx Studies major whose friends demand They be referred to as “they,” broke into and robbed a third woman’s home (who remains unidentified). Also, Berkeleyside said of the poor dead woman, Emilie Inman, who was allegedly murdered by They:

Authorities have said Inman did not know Gomez prior to the attack.

Governor, Zillionaire, They

Obviously, if They were a white Trump supporter who had recently had their picture taken with the governor of Texas and one of the billionaire Koch Brothers and then murdered a female immigrant of color, the story of they’s rampage would be world famous by this point.

But because They is a leftist activist lately photographed chumming around with Democrats Jerry Brown and Tom Steyer and the immigrant woman he murdered was white, well, who cares?

One question I’ve been asking is: How much evidence is there that They’s stabby outburst consisted of hate crimes? Was They motivated by hatred of whites, the female sex, heterosexuals, or what?

The San Francisco Chronicle’s identification of a victim who survived, Kiana Schmitt, the bullhorned blond with somewhat East Asian features in the photo above from the San Jose Mercury News last fall, complicates the picture.

Schmitt’s Linked-In bio is a model of Social Justice Warrior careerism:

I believe that words are the most powerful weapons. As a writer, editor, nationally-ranked public speaker and spoken word poet, and community organizer, I seek to use mine to create positive social change.

A senior UC Berkeley undergraduate student majoring in Rhetoric with a concentration in Public Discourse, and minoring in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies, I am most intrigued by the way people employ language as rhetorical force to perpetuate violence, inequality, and disenfranchisement of historically underrepresented communities. I am passionate about uplifting marginalized voices, and telling their stories authentically through multimedia and digital marketing.

Admissions Coordinator
UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

… • Manage recruitment efforts such as the Johnathan Rodgers Fellowship for high-achieving students from underrepresented minorities. …

Director of Marketing and Communications
August 2016 – Present (6 months)San Francisco Bay Area
Since 2001, CalSLAM has remained the premier spoken word poetry organization of UC Berkeley and the United States, as champions of the very first College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) national competition. CalSLAM won the competition again in 2004, and has consistently made semi-final and final stages, as well earning awards and recognition for individual poets each year. Our mission is to create a safe space for all students and community members to explore and share their stories. …

UC Berkeley Division of Student Affairs
Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Peer Educator
UC Berkeley Division of Student Affairs
August 2016 – Present (6 months)San Francisco Bay Area
The PATH (Prevention, Advocacy, Training, and Healing) to Care Center provides affirming, empowering, and confidential support for survivors and those who have experienced gendered violence, including: sexual harassment, dating and intimate partner violence, sexual assault, stalking, and sexual exploitation. …

Berkeley Student Cooperative | Consent Education Working Group
Peer Educator
Berkeley Student Cooperative | Consent Education Working Group …
A current member and one of eight members of the inaugural Consent Education Working Group with the Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC). The purpose of the group is to improve consent education and violence prevention efforts within the BSC and promote critical, continuous dialogue. The BSC is a 501c3 nonprofit housing cooperative that aims to provide affordable housing to low-income students at UC Berkeley and other Bay Area colleges who might not otherwise be able to afford a university education.

• As a Peer Educator, my areas of expertise include: Consent, Anti-Oppression, Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Prevention, Grievance Policies and Procedures, and Survivor Resources …

Bay Area Youth Summit
Member of the Board of Directors …
Bay Area Youth Summit (BAYS) is the first entirely youth-led LGBTQIA* non-profit organization in the world. We believe that every young person has the power and capacity to create safe environments for LGBTQ* youth as well as effect change towards collective liberation. We stand in solidarity with those subjugated demographics that do not receive the appropriate recognition and respect afforded to other demographics within the larger LGBTQ* community. Each year, BAYS hosts a free, day-long youth empowerment conference that seeks to promote social activism and solidarity among queer and allied youth in the Bay Area ages 13-25. …

Oscar Wilde House
Community Manager …
Oscar Wilde House is the nation’s first and oldest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA+) and/or Queer themed cooperative.

• Organize and co-facilitate workshops and events for tenants of the first
LGBTQIA+ & Queer themed student housing cooperative in the U.S.
• Promote and foster a safe and brave space that encourages participation
in local efforts regarding racial, gender, and sexuality justice, while
working to dismantle systems of oppression in everyday interactions …

Ironic, of course, but also exhausting to contemplate. Being young these days requires constant beavering away at career-building. The SJW industry is highly competitive so only the most enterprising and relentlessly self-promoting amateur SJWs can expect to attain paid sinecures.

Ms. Schmitt published an op-ed for the Daily Californian last September denouncing former Cal law school dean Sujit Choudhry for “sexual violence:”

From a survivor to Sujit Choudhry

This op-ed was previously published on Facebook and is printed here with permission from the author.

To Sujit Choudhry,

Last week, you went to work in your office. Comfortably. Safely.

Last week, you went to work in your office of your tenured faculty position. Whereas your former executive assistant, Tyann Sorrell — a resilient woman of color, a mother of five children — remains forever unable to return to her position, and forever unable to navigate this campus safely again.

Last week, I had a panic attack. I understand that might cause you confusion. You’ve probably never experienced anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts or any other lasting mental health effects that often develop as a result of experiencing sexual violence or harassment. You’ve never had to walk through the world in pain, in memory, in fear of your own safety and well-being. Your mere presence on this campus is a threat to the safety and wellbeing of the entire UC Berkeley community.

It is shameful that you invoke a survivor’s own words in an attempt to absolve yourself from guilt. Even if it is true, having “pure intentions” does not change the fact that you perpetrated an impure act. The intent does not matter when the impact you have made goes unaddressed. In case you forgot, the impact is that you perpetrated eight different counts of sexual harassment over a period of one year. You assert that you “meant nothing” by your gestures. Because sexual violence means nothing to you.

Once again: ironic.

Here’s a similar photo of They denouncing Choudhry through a bullhorn last September:

Screenshot 2017-01-20 22.57.53

Doubly ironic.

So, They and Schmitt were allies and/or rivals in screaming about Choudhry.


In case you are wondering, from Wikipedia:

Sujit Choudhry was Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law from 2014 until March 2016.[2] He was the first person of Indian origin to be named dean of a top US law school. … He is a recipient of the Trudeau Fellowship, one of the four Canadians to receive the fellowship in 2010.

Following the disclosure of a university investigation finding that he sexually harassed executive assistant Tyann Sorrell, Choudhry was placed on an indefinite leave of absence on March 9, 2016. He resigned as dean the following morning, but he did not resign his position as tenured professor of law. Melissa Murray was named as interim dean, pending a search for a permanent successor. …

In 2016, Choudhry was served with a complaint by his former executive assistant, Tyann Sorrell, alleging sexual harassment between July 2014 and March 2015.[13] The complaint followed a July 2015 report by the University of California’s Central Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD).

The OPHD investigated Sorrell’s complaints that Choudhry was “rude and demeaning” and demanded too much of her, including requests for tea and coffee and for assistance with personal business, and that their workplace interactions, including lingering hugs, kisses on the cheek and head, and squeezing of arms and shoulders, created a hostile work environment and was sexual harassment. Following an investigation, the Office reviewed Choudhry’s conduct and determined that the use of rude language and requests that Sorrell bring him his tea or his lunch were not “gender discrimination” but that his physical interactions constituted sexual harassment.

During the investigation, Choudhry admitted that he had hugged, kissed, and squeezed Sorrell. but claimed that there was no sexual intent. He also admitted that on at least one occasion, he placed her hands on his hips, as he thought that that action might calm her down.

In August 2015, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele chose to discipline Choudhry by a 10% reduction in pay and by requiring him to write a letter of apology to Sorrell. The investigation and its results were kept confidential, and no members of the Berkeley Law faculty or staff were informed of the behavior.

On March 8, 2016, Sorrell filed a complaint in the Superior Court of the State of California and named the Regents of the University of California as additional defendants. Choudhry has stated that he disagrees with Sorrell’s claims and allegations and intends to defend himself. On March 10, Choudhry resigned as dean at Berkeley Law but remains on the faculty under the University’s tenure policy.

The controversy garnered national and international attention. The reporting quickly expanded, from covering Choudhry specifically to the history of tolerance of sexual harassment and violence by Berkeley’s administration and faculty.

The added media attention triggered a series of high-profile responses from both the University of California Office of the President and the Berkeley administration.

On March 22, 2016, Melissa Murray was appointed interim dean.

Sounds like a nothingburger case — it’s common for secretaries to want, say, a five figure check for putting up with highly paid bosses (and they often get them) — that turned into another example of Obama Era hysteria on campus.


From KOMO in Seattle:

Police investigate shooting during ugly University of Washington confrontation
by KOMO Staff Friday, January 20th 2017

SEATTLE — A protest at the University of Washington over a controversial speaker turned ugly Friday night. Seattle police report that one person had been shot in the stomach and had to be removed from the crowd.

The person was shot behind Kane Hall. Seattle Fire said the victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center with possible life-theatening injuries.

The crowd mushroomed in size as hundreds of protesters from a Westlake Plaza protest and march arrived at Red Square on the UW campus.

So that proves Putin is somehow behind this riot: “Red Square.”


Police were refusing to let people in. Several police were being hit with paint balloons, police said. One young man was hit in the face.

The young man claimed he was pulled into a crowd and then beaten for wearing a hat in support of Trump.

“The beat him like a bunch of pirhanas, they just attacked my son,” said his father. “I tried to get in there and tried to defend him and they started slugging me too.”

“I seriously stood on the edge, just trying to listen to what they were saying,” said the man. “I did nothing to aggitate them. The most I did was stand up there, wearing this hat. All I wanted to do was hear what they were chanting about and read their signs.”

“They took his hat from him,” said the father. “When he went to reach for it they just stated beating the hell out of him.”

Alt-Right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, a writer for the conservative website Breitbart, was scheduled to speak at 7:30 p.m. …

Protesters then started chanting “Shut it down” in an effort to get police and the university to cancel the speech, while people waiting to get inside chanted, “let us in!”


Paul Kersey calls them “the shock troops of the Establishment.”

Remember the coordinated Fake News campaign in the media last winter about how violent Trump supporters were?

What % of all political violence in the United States over the last 12 months turned out to be more or less anti-Trump?

95% or 98%?



Citizenism, FTW:

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: Thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another — but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes — starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.


Even if Heraclitus / Michelangelo in Raphael’s “School of Athens” were high, he’d still be racist

From The New Republic:

What Makes a Weed Website Racist?

A new digital publication aims to “civilize” cannabis culture. That’s a problem.

Shouldn’t that be “That’s problematic”?


January 19, 2017

When I recently suggested to Derek Riedle, the founder of a new digital publication focused on “highbrow cannabis culture,” that his website may be racist, he was mortified. …

We were speaking on the phone because I had received an email from a publicist for the website, called Civilized. It’s strapline is, “Cannabis Culture Elevated.” The branding shocked me so much that I sent a very rude email back about five seconds later. This word—civilized—has such clearly racist overtones, to me. But this website’s strange brand identity lodged itself under my skin like a splinter. I wanted to speak to the person who thought this word was suitable. …

Josephine Livingstone is a staff writer at The New Republic.

In case you’re wondering what race the author is, Josephine Livingstone looks kind of like Rebel Wilson: just as hostile but not as funny …


This time, the invisible hordes of haters are (not) seen in Austria.

From The Daily Mail:

PUBLISHED: 11:19 EST, 19 January 2017

A 14-year-old Muslim girl who claimed she was pushed in front of a train simply for wearing a headscarf has been challenged after police checked CCTV tapes.

The girl, identified only as Sinem, claimed on social media she had been called a ‘terrorist’ and was pushed onto the tracks by a man who had taken offence at her headscarf at a railway station in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

She told an online anti-racism forum she was only saved at the ‘last second’ by another man who pulled her onto the platform before the S-Bahn train arrived at Wien-Döbling station.

The girl, whose parents are originally from Turkey, said she was taken to hospital with minor injuries and her parents filed a criminal complaint after hearing what had happened.

But The Local reported that Vienna police spokesman Irina Steirer said officers had searched through tapes of CCTV cameras on the platform and found no trace of the incident the girl described.

She said: ‘We have looked through the CCTV and at the time when the incident is alleged to have occurred nothing can be seen on the records.

‘Both the alleged victim and the accused are captured on CCTV, but nothing ever happens and they are both simply seen getting on the train.’ …

The original claim was widely reported in the Austrian media and one anti-racism group blamed Austrian Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz for having called for a ban on civil servants wearing headscarves.

Last month an American woman, Yasmin Seweid, claimed three men shouting ‘Donald Trump!’ attacked her and tried to pull her hijab off in the New York subway.

New York Police Department later claimed she had made the incident up and have charged her with filing a false report and obstructing governmental administration.

But Science demonstrates that Hate Waves are invisible.

Thanks to San Fernando Curt.


In his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the The Atlantic on foreign policy before the election, President-Eject Obama admitted that his Libyan war was a disaster, but placed most of the blame on his Secretary of State (Joe Biden was even harsher on Hillary).

This didn’t get much publicity at the time, because who would be interested in the Democratic president dissing the Democratic candidate?

That’s not news.

So Obama had various reasons for not being wholly despondent when Hillary booted the big one last November.

A huge question about the Democrats’ 2016 failure is the role of Black Lives Matter. It’s not hard to understand why the Obama Administration promoted the myth of the martyrdom of failed cop killer Michael Brown, but why did Hillary?

Was there a quid pro quo? In return for Obama’s help, she’d promote his pet cause?

Or is Hillary just really out to lunch? After all, the day after the BLM terrorist massacre of Dallas cops she tweeted:

Screenshot 2017-01-19 14.13.33


From the New York Times:

Bernard-Henri Lévy: Jews, Be Wary of Trump

Bernard-Henri Lévy
THE STONE JAN. 19, 2017

… There is a law that governs the relations between the Jews and the rest of the world. That law was articulated in one form at the time of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, when the great Jewish thinker Gershom Scholem faulted Hannah Arendt for falling short of “ahavat Israel” — for showing insufficient “love of the Jewish people.”

This love is precisely what is required of an American president in dealings affecting Israel. …

I cannot claim any knowledge of Donald Trump’s “heart” or of the sincerity of his commitment to the Jewish state. But there have been indications going back decades.

One was provided by John O’Donnell, a former chief operating officer of Trump’s Atlantic City casino, who, in his 1991 book “Trumped!” quoted Trump as saying: “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

More recently, there was a 2013 tweet storm in which, desperate to show that he was “smarter” than the “overrated” Jon Stewart, Trump saw fit to rip off the mask behind which stood Jonathan Leibowitz, the Jewish name Stewart was born with.

And then, in mid-campaign, there was the meeting in which Trump told donors from the Republican Jewish Coalition: “I know why you’re not going to support me! It’s because I don’t want your money.”

These statements suggest, to say the least, a certain contempt.

More precisely, they reflect that well-known variety of contempt that, according to Freud, serves to anticipate and defend the ego against the presumed contempt of the other.

Whether the original disdain is real or imaginary matters little.

Whether Jon Stewart or the Jewish Republican donors disdained the kitschy builder with his flamboyant hair, his money, his bling and his properties, including the now world-famous Trump Tower, is obviously not the question.

The essential thing is that President Trump thinks they did, that he seems to see Jews as the caricature of the New York establishment that, for decades, took him for an agreeable but vulgar showman.

This is a perfect example of the self-defensive contempt that has so often fed anti-Semitism, with the Jews appearing, once again, as representatives of an elite that patronized him and against whom he can, now that he is in power, quietly take his revenge.

It reminds me of a story from the Talmud that illustrates this logic well.

It is the story — part history and part “aggadic” embellishment — of Rabbi Yehudah Nessia, one of the foremost figures of Jewish thought of the third century.

Rabbi Yehudah ran a school that a young Roman swineherd would pass by nearly every day. The students at the school, their heads full of knowledge and a sense of their own superiority, never missed a chance to mock and beat the pig farmer.

No necktie either

Years later, Rabbi Yehudah was summoned to the distant city of Caesarea Philippi, to appear before Roman Emperor Diocletian. It seemed that the emperor was full of consideration for his guest. He sent to him one of his most distinguished ambassadors and ordered that a sumptuous bath be provided to allow his guest to cleanse himself after his dusty voyage.

But Diocletian also sent his ambassador on a Friday, so that Rabbi Yehudah would be forced to travel on the Sabbath, violating the most important of commandments.

The emperor also heated the baths to such a degree that the rabbi would have been boiled to death — a fate from which the rabbi was saved by the last-minute intervention of an angel, who cooled the waters.

When the rabbi appeared before Diocletian, he recognized the former swineherd, who said to him with spite, “Just because your god performs miracles, you think you can scorn the emperor?”

I cite this story because it provides a good metaphor for the West today, where, as in ancient Rome, the triumph of nihilism can enable a pig farmer — anybody — to become emperor.

It is a good example, too, of Jewish wisdom, which responds to the situation as follows: “We had contempt for Diocletian the swineherd, but we are ready to honor Diocletian the emperor provided he, like Saul — who, before becoming king had tended donkeys — heeds the prophecy, rises to his office, and becomes a new man.” …

And they should be aware, finally, that in this period that has been labeled, for lack of a better word, populist, and of which the American election is but an outsize symptom; in a time when thought is attacked from all sides and when lies are flourished with unparalleled arrogance and aplomb; in this new political culture that has now encircled the earth, one in which, from the American plutocrats to their Russian oligarch cousins, the swineherds slap their pedigree shamelessly on imperial palaces, the little Jewish nation has no part to play. …

Bernard-Henri Lévy is the author of, most recently, “The Genius of Judaism.”

No comment.


Late in Michael Lewis’ new book The Undoing Project (here’s my new review in Taki’s Magazine) about the work of psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute is introduced as an opponent of the heroes.

I certainly am not competent to referee this long-running dispute, but here’s a little introduction from John Brockman’s Edge site to Gigerenzer’s work on why the human cognition glass is part full rather than part empty like T&K say it is.

Gigerenzer provides an alternative to the view of the mind as a cognitive optimizer, and also to its mirror image, the mind as a cognitive miser. The fact that people ignore information has been often mistaken as a form of irrationality, and shelves are filled with books that explain how people routinely commit cognitive fallacies. In seven years of research, he, and his research team at Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, have worked out what he believes is a viable alternative: the study of fast and frugal decision-making, that is, the study of smart heuristics people actually use to make good decisions. In order to make good decisions in an uncertain world, one sometimes has to ignore information. The art is knowing what one doesn’t have to know.

In contrast to the effort T&K put into making up trick questions to fool people, G appears to concoct anti-trick questions to make them look pretty smart. Here’s one example Gigerenzer offers of people guessing correctly on his anti-trick questions.

… Heuristics are also useful in very important practical ways relating to economics. To illustrate I’ll give you a short story about our research on a heuristic concerning the stock market. One very smart and simple heuristic is called the recognition heuristic. Here is a demonstration: Which of the following two cities has more inhabitants — Hanover or Bielefeld? I pick these two German cities assuming that you don’t know very much about Germany. Most people will think it’s Hanover because they have never heard of Bielefeld, and they’re right. However, if I pose the same question to Germans, they are insecure and don’t know which to choose. They’ve heard of both of them and try to recall information. The same thing can be done in reverse. We have done studies with Daniel Gray Goldstein in which we ask Americans which city has more inhabitants — San Diego or San Antonio? About two-thirds of my former undergraduates at the University of Chicago got the right answer: San Diego. Then we asked German students — who know much less about San Diego and many of whom had never even heard of San Antonio — the same question. What proportion of the German students do you think got the answer right? In our study, a hundred percent. They hadn’t heard of San Antonio, so they picked San Diego.

This is an interesting case of a smart heuristic, where people with less knowledge can do better than people with more. The reason this works is because in the real world there is a correlation between name recognition and things like populations. You have heard of a city because there is something happening there. It’s not an indicator of certainty, but it’s a good stimulus.

San Diego has a larger metro area population than San Antonio, but lately San Antonio has overtaken San Diego in terms of population within its (expansive) city limits. Texas law encourages cities to take over their suburbs, even involuntarily, so Texas municipalities are bigger relative to their metro areas than California municipalities.

By the way, I hadn’t realized this before, but Kahneman started out as a Gestalt psychologist.

That’s the 125-year-old school of psychologists who make up those great optical illusions where a picture looks like a vase or two faces.

That was one of the problems I had with the notion that T&K were doing absolutely breakthrough stuff, when a lot of their trick questions reminded me of Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not brainteasers from a few generations ago.

As I wrote in Taki’s in 2012:

As con men, conjurors, and comedians demonstrated long before Kahneman, most people trust in the speaker’s good faith. They play along and try to guess what is being implied. So it’s easy to pull the rug out from under us.

Anyway, I would imagine by now somebody has synthesized their rival work into a reasonably coherent whole of what human beings on average are pretty good at and pretty bad at.


From the transcript of the last Obama press conference:

OBAMA: April Ryan (ph).

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Long before today, you’ve been considered a (inaudible) president. Under your watch, people have said that you have expanded the rubber-band of inclusion. And with the election and the incoming administration, people are saying that the rubber-band has recoiled and maybe is even broken.

And I’m (inaudible) back to a time on Air Force One going to Selma, Alabama, when you said your job was to (inaudible). With that, what gaps still remain when it comes to rights issues on the table? And also, what part will you play in fixing those gaps after — in your new life?

And lastly, you are the first black president. Do you expect the country to see this again?

OBAMA: Well, I’ll answer the last question first. I think we’re going to see people of merit rise up from every race, faith, corner of this country. Because that’s America’s strength. When we have everybody getting a chance and everybody’s on the field, we end up being better.

I — I think I’ve used this analogy before. We — we killed it in the Olympics in Brazil. And Michelle and I, we always have our — the Olympic team here. And it’s a lot of fun, first of all, just because, you know, anytime you’re meeting somebody who’s the best at anything, it’s impressive.

And these mostly very young people are all just so healthy looking and they just beam and exude fitness and health. And so we have a great time talking to them. But they are of all shapes, sizes, colors. You know, the genetic diversity that is on display is remarkable.

And if you look at Simone Biles, and then you look at a Michael Phelps, they’re completely different. And it’s precisely because of those differences that we’ve got people here who can excel at any sport.

Obama bought David Epstein’s HBD-intensive book The Sports Gene (which I reviewed in Taki’s) as a Christmas present for himself a few years ago and now he can’t stop talking about genetic diversity in sports.


From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Michael Lewis’ Hot Hand
by Steve Sailer
January 18, 2017

From his 1989 Wall Street memoir Liar’s Poker to his new book, The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis has succeeded his mentor Tom Wolfe as our top Southern center-right nonfiction author. …

Three of Lewis’ nonfiction works have been made into hit movies: The Blind Side, Moneyball, and The Big Short. Perhaps to challenge Hollywood screenwriters to extend their range even more, Lewis has written his least filmable book yet, The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, about the Israeli psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman and their research into common cognitive mistakes.

In an age fascinated by artificial intelligence, Tversky (who died in 1996) and Kahneman (who is now 82) specialized in understanding “natural stupidity.” Their work won Kahneman the quasi-Nobel prize in economics in 2002.

Now Lewis has written a biography of the two, claiming that Tversky and Kahneman had figured out the essence of Moneyball, his baseball statistics book about the 2002 Oakland A’s, decades before he’d ever heard their names.

Read the whole thing there.


A couple of weeks ago I hypothesized in Taki’s Magazine:

That raises the question of why Japan’s ruling class didn’t feel the necessity of going down the same mass-immigration path as did so many other advanced countries: Why is Japan such an exception? …

Another reason is that Japan is linguistically quite isolated from the growing worldwide dominance of the English language.

If elites unthinkingly think alike, one reason could be because they increasingly share a language: English. …

As a side effect, the prevalence of English spreads American ideological fads.

For example, over the course of my lifetime, the American media, such as movies, has shifted to an assumption of “Our Ancestors, the Immigrants” from “Our Ancestors, the Pioneers.” …

But the Japanese are remarkably immune to American verbiage. That may be because the Japanese are terrible at learning English.

From, the German public broadcaster (in English):

Impact of Japan’s shrinking population ‘already palpable’

Japan’s birth rate fell to a new record low in 2014, with data showing just over a million new births. Social scientist Fabio Gygi talks to DW about what the decline means for the nation’s economy and society as a whole. …

Moreover, a positive stance towards immigration is still seen by most politicians as the quickest way to lose an election. The government assumes that the Japanese population is staunchly against immigration, without doing anything to tackle this.

Interestingly, attitudes towards immigration in Japan become more positive the more fluent a person is in English, suggesting that boosting English education may help to make the Japanese more accepting of immigration.


For the last eight years, the President of the United States has had to share the White House living quarters with his mother-in-law … and, as far as I can tell, not one American television comedian dared to make even a meta-joke about it.

Is it any wonder that the electorate grew tired of the Obama Era’s pervasive sanctimony?

From The New Yorker:

How do you fight an enemy who’s just kidding?
By Emily Nussbaum

Since November 9th, we’ve heard a lot of talk about unreality, and how what’s normal bends when you’re in a state of incipient autocracy. There’s been a lot written about gaslighting (lies that make you feel crazy) and the rise of fake news (hoaxes that displace facts), and much analysis of Trump as a reality star (an authentic phony). But what killed me last year were the jokes, because I love jokes—dirty jokes, bad jokes, rude jokes, jokes that cut through bullshit and explode pomposity. Growing up a Jewish kid in the nineteen-seventies, in a house full of Holocaust books, giggling at Mel Brooks’s “The Producers,” I had the impression that jokes, like Woody Guthrie’s guitar, were a machine that killed fascists. Comedy might be cruel or stupid, yet, in aggregate, it was the rebel’s stance. Nazis were humorless. The fact that it was mostly men who got to tell the jokes didn’t bother me. Jokes were a superior way to tell the truth—that meant freedom for everyone.

To Ms. Nussbaum, jokes were funny back when they were a tool for her group to rise up by undermining the old ethnic hierarchy. But now that her people have made it to the top of the world, jokes aren’t funny anymore. They’re subversive. And thus comedy is inappropriate. And evil.

Steps must be taken.

But by 2016 the wheel had spun hard the other way: now it was the neo-fascist strongman who held the microphone and an army of anonymous dirty-joke dispensers who helped put him in office.

Personally, my philosophy of comedy has always been that of Looney Tunes mogul Leon Schlesinger, who used to advise his animators (in the voice they borrowed for Daffy Duck): “Put in lottsa joketh, felleth, joketh are funny.”

Screenshot 2017-01-17 18.03.05

But as genuine experts on humor, such as V.I. Lenin, have explained, all that really matters is who is allowed to joke about whom.

… In contrast, Trump was a hot comic, a classic Howard Stern guest. He was the insult comic, the stadium act, the ratings-obsessed headliner who shouted down hecklers. His rallies boiled with rage and laughter, which were hard to tell apart. You didn’t have to think that Trump himself was funny to see this effect: I found him repulsive, and yet I could hear those comedy rhythms everywhere, from the Rodney Dangerfield “I don’t get no respect” routine to the gleeful insult-comic slams of Don Rickles (for “hockey puck,” substitute “Pocahontas”) to Andrew Dice Clay, whose lighten-up-it’s-a-joke, it’s-not-him-it’s-a-persona brand of misogyny dominated the late nineteen-eighties. The eighties were Trump’s era, where he still seemed to live.

It’s almost as if Trump is America’s First Jewish President the way Bill Clinton was America’s First Black President. (Trump’s taste in home decor, though, would make him America’s First Baller President.)

But he was also reminiscent of the older comics who once roamed the Catskills, those dark and angry men who provided a cathartic outlet for harsh ideas that both broke and reinforced taboos, about the war between men and women, especially. Trump was that hostile-jaunty guy in the big flappy suit, with the vaudeville hair, the pursed lips, and the glare. There’s always been an audience for that guy.

Like I’ve been saying, a lot of 1969 Era feminism was Jewish vs. Jewish resentments — especially by higher IQ daughters annoyed that their dumber brothers got more help with their education expenses from their parents — that got transmuted into anger at Society in general by that anti-noblesse oblige genius for maintaining ethnic solidarity by blaming gentiles rather than each other.


Screenshot 2017-01-17 15.29.47

Trump should top Obama’s freeing of the Puerto Rican independence terrorist by freeing all of Puerto Rico.

¡Viva la independencia de Puerto Rico!

¡Viva Puerto Rico libre!


Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution has an informative post about China’s internal (?) hasbara system:

Authoritarians Distract Rather than Debate

by Alex Tabarrok on January 17, 2017 at 7:22 am

It’s long been known that the Chinese government hires people to support the government with fabricated posts on social media. In China these people are known as the “50c party”, so called because the posters were rumored to be paid 50 cents (5 jiao or about $.08) to write the posts. The precise nature and extent of the 50c party has heretofore been unknown. But in an amazing new paper, Gary King, Jennifer Pan and Margaret Roberts (KPR) uncover a lot of new information using statistical sleuthing and some unusual and controversial real world sleuthing.

KPR’s data-lever is an archive of leaked emails from the Propaganda Office of Zhanggong. The archive included many 50c posters who were sending links and screenshots of their posts to the central office as evidence of their good work. Using these posts, KPR are able to trace the posters though many social media accounts and discover who the posters are and what they are posting about. Both pieces of information reveal surprises.

First, the posters are government workers paid on salary not, as the 50c phrase suggests, piece-rate workers. Second, and more importantly, it has long been assumed that propaganda posts would support the government with praise or criticize critics of the government. Not so. In fact, propaganda posts actively steer away from controversial issues. Instead, the effort appears to be to distract (especially to distract the people from organizing collective action; thus distraction campaigns peak around times and places where collective action like marches and protests might become focal).

It would be interesting to compare China’s hasbara system to Israel’s pretty public online hasbara set-up. You can apply for a Hasbara Fellowship here.

Screenshot 2017-01-17 14.34.17

Presumably, a fair number of people in American academia have held Hasbara Fellowships as a summer job or whatever, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for academic researchers to learn more about organized pro-Israel online activism in order to compare it to China’s system simply by asking around among their colleagues.

One obvious question would be how do the two countries’ systems compare in terms of internal vs. external orientation.

But, Israel’s Hasbara system generally seems to be kind of boring and uninteresting to Americans otherwise fascinated by the general topic.

My guess would be that the pro-Israel hasbarites indeed prefer to debate than to distract. But would that be a function of democracy vs. authoritarianism, or of deep-rooted cultural preferences? Chinese culture values harmony, while Israelis like to argue.


From the NYT:

Screenshot 2017-01-17 14.25.08

After all, isn’t that what ultimately matters more than anything else imaginable: Transgender Rights?

Commenter Faraday’s Bobcat notes:

In other news, Manning has won the Maxwell Q. Klinger Award for resourcefulness under extreme duress.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
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