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From the New York Post:

De Blasio aide’s killer beau writes sick, sexual blog comments
By Michael Gartland September 30, 2014 | 2:00am

The convicted-killer boyfriend of first lady Chirlane McCray’s top aide has been caught spewing sick thoughts about life in a series of disgusting blog posts that tout his love of violent sex and demean black women as frigid deadbeats.

“Good sex is an adrenaline rush and so is being violent,” Hassaun McFarlan wrote using the handle “stop end frisk” on the blog Hip Hop News 24-7. “Are you turned on as well when a man plays rough with you?’’

McFarlan — the live-in beau of Rachel Noerdlinger, chief of staff to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife — was outed last week as a convicted killer who has repeatedly called cops “pigs” over social media.

“Noerdlinger” is a real name? I thought it was a name made up for Late Seventies R-rated movie comedies that followed Animal House. I finally watched 1941 this month and I could have sworn there was a Noerdlinger in that.

The Post recently learned that he also wrote the “violent’’ blog post and a slew of other sex-fueled and misogynistic rants.

Ironically, the discovery of the blog posts came as Noerdlinger tweeted Monday about Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Great meeting with Commissioner Rose Pierre-Louis, @zerlinamaxwell @rebeccakkatz & Tracy Weber-Thomas to discuss Domestic Violence Awareness Month & #NYC efforts!” she wrote.

In the blog posts, meanwhile, McFarlan weighed in on such topics as fellatio — and accused black women of withholding oral sex from men and not paying their bills on time.

“Trying to find the right black woman with a mean [oral sex] game is like trying to find a black woman with good credit,” he wrote in March 2011. …

McFarlan, 36, refused comment Monday outside the Edgewater, NJ, home he shares with Noerdlinger, 43.

They live in New Jersey? I assumed that if you worked for the Mayor of New York you were supposed to live in New York. Oh, sorry, that’s just my patriarchalist assumption: Ms. Noerdlinger works for the former lesbian wife of the mayor of New York, which is totally different from working for the mayor. It was unforgivably sexist of me to assume the First Lady of NYC only has her First Lady job because she’s married to Bill de Blasio. If, say, Christine Quinn had been elected mayor, I’m sure Chirlane McCray could carry out her First Lady duties with equal dexterity.

But his girlfriend of six years ripped his comments.

“I disavow all of these comments 100 percent and find them reprehensible,’’ she told The Post.

Reprehensible! But … kind of sexy, too …

“As a woman who has spent my adult life promoting civil rights and women’s rights, Hassaun’s rhetoric does not speak to who I am and what I have fought for. …

The mayor would not comment.

Me neither.

From Heavy.com:

In 2010, the New York Post reported that Noerdlinger, 39, then a media strategist for the Rev. Al Sharpton, was involved in a brawl with McFarlan’s ex. The fight allegedly happened at McFarlan’s Bronx apartment and involved his ex-girlfriend, Myasia Layne, 20.

Sounds like we’ve got our Attorney General nominee to replace Eric Holder right here.

From the Post in 2010:

The brawl occurred when Noerdlinger went to the Mott Haven apartment of boyfriend Hassaun McFarlan, 32, to get her car keys at 11 a.m. Feb. 5, the sources said.

Layne answered the door. “Who are you?” one woman asked, to which the other replied: “Who are YOU?”

“There was pushing and shoving, and [Layne] fell to the ground,” a police source said yesterday. “There was cursing back and forth — ‘You’re a bitch.’ ‘You’re a ho’ — all that nonsense. Rachel was the primary aggressor … It was a cheesy catfight.”

Layne, who claimed she was kicked and punched and suffered a scratch and pain in her back, called 911, sources said. Noerdlinger was arrested Feb. 18 and must make a desk appearance in Bronx court April 27. She could face a year in jail if convicted.

Noerdlinger’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman — who once defended John Gotti Jr. — yesterday said cops have it backward. “Rachel was, in fact, the one who was assaulted,” Lichtman fumed. …

Sharpton declined to comment yesterday.

Yup, Attorney General Myasia Layne has a certain ring to it. She’s a Skadden Scholar at CCNY:

Myasia interned for Shearman & Sterling – an experience that sparked her interest in corporate law. Attending law school has been one of Myasia’s goals since high school.

 

From the Hollywood Reporter:

A statue of Ed Sullivan has been stolen from the Television Academy, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Bob Barker and Bob Barker

I’ve been waiting awhile now for a news hook to give me an excuse to write about the surreal Television Academy Hall of Fame Plaza in North Hollywood. It’s a hidden (but public) courtyard behind the Laemmle NoHo movie theater at 5220 Lankershim.

You stumble out after a movie, and suddenly you find yourself all alone in the dark surrounded by a couple of hundred more or less life size bronze statues of people you used to watch on television 30 or 40 or 50 years ago.

Is that Bob Barker of The Price Is Right? You bet it is.

Archie and Edith? Of course it’s Archie and Edith. Why wouldn’t somebody have spent a huge amount of money to make a bronze statue of a show that was #1 in the ratings for 5 straight years, even if nobody can watch All in the Family today?

Who else is out there in the dark waiting for you? Milton Berle, Jack Webb, Rod Serling, the Muppets, Peter Jennings, Don Francisco, Dick Clark, Bill Cosby, Mr. Rogers, Carol Burnett, Phil Donahue, David Susskind, Eric Sevareid, Bea Arthur and countless others. The Television Academy — the Emmy Awards folks — must have kept every bronze sculptor in California fed for the last 20 years.

It’s like a Fellini movie if Fellini had been an 11-year-old American child in 1970.

It’s a good thing almost nobody ever goes to the Hall of Fame Plaza because it would probably set off acid flashbacks in somebody who took a lot of LSD in the early days of color television.

Los Angeles is full of nooks and crannies of weirdness of this sort, with meta-levels of silliness piled high.

It’s kind of like movie director Alexander Payne said (approximately): People say Los Angeles has no history, but whenever I drive around I find myself saying things like, “Hey, look, there’s the staircase that Laurel and Hardy had to carry the piano up.” So don’t tell me Los Angeles has no history.

 

From CBS News:

The man who scaled the White House fence and was able to run through the front doors made it farther into the building than was previously reported, CBS News has learned.

The man, 42-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez, ran unobstructed for 70 yards across the front lawn of the White House before entering through the North Portico. On the way, he brushed by a Secret Service officer with a drawn gun, sources tell CBS News’ Bill Plante.

Gonzalez then proceeded to run through the entrance hall to the cross hall of the White House, past the staircase that leads up to the first family’s residence. He was confronted by a female Secret Service agent, who he overpowered

“Overpowered” is not good

, and made it all the way to the East Room, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told CBS News, citing whistleblowers.

Previously, it was reported that Gonzalez only made it through the north doors of the White House – which were apparently unlocked – before being apprehended by the Secret Service.

The agency declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation into the incident. The White House says the results of the review will “further enhance” security.

“He had just gotten inside the door [of the North Portico] . . . And was then wrestled to the ground by one of the Secret Service personnel . . . in the foyer,” former Secret Service Director W. Ralph Basham, told CBS News, explaining his understanding of the apprehension. Basham spoke with current director Julia Pierson as recently as this weekend.

Wasn’t there a big feminist putsch a couple of years ago, using a prostitution scandal as a pretext, to turn the Secret Service over to female control? How’s that working out for the Obamas? Sounds like Michelle Obama’s feelings of feminist solidarity evaporated at the thought of her family being murdered in their home by some random male loony who can overpower a female Secret Service agent.

Novelist and film critic Steven Hunter co-wrote American Gunfight, the true story of how two brave Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to assassinate President Truman while the First Family had relocated to Blair House for redecoration of the White House. They were stopped by equally brave American men. From my book review in VDARE:

Two immigrant Nationalist operatives, Torresola and Collazo, apparently decided to move the assassination up five days and headed for Washington. This acceleration of the schedule probably kept it from succeeding—some say the original called for five gunmen, which should have been more than enough. Further, the pair only brought one pistol each. Having to pause to reload their German automatics under fire proved fatal.

Still, the strategy they improvised a few hours before their assault nearly worked:

“This plan was quite elegant… The whole point of the plan was to overcome the defenses with a stunning blast of firepower, disorient and dis-coordinate the response, then hunt the President down in Blair.”

From opposite directions, they simultaneously approached the policemen on the sidewalk in front of the Presidential residence and shot them point blank, with Torresola putting three slugs in White House Policeman Leslie Coffelt, mortally wounding him. Torresola, an expert shot, then wounded two more guards, while his less skilled compatriot Collazo blasted away at the Secret Service agents at the other end of the sidewalk, who remained unaware of Torresalo`s existence. Meanwhile, the agent inside Blair House struggled to unlock the cabinet holding a Tommy gun.

Awoken from his nap by gunfire, President Truman walked to his second floor window and stood looking out at the gunfight in stunned amazement, only 30 feet from where Torresola was reloading his Luger.

In this crisis, Coffelt, the only American in position to stop Torresola from looking up and shooting the President, stood up despite the three 9-mm rounds in him, staggered to within 20 feet of the terrorist, and, in “what has to be considered the most important shot ever taken by an American police officer,” fired one perfectly aimed bullet into his head, killing Torresola instantly.

Coffelt then sat down and died.

P.S., Or maybe the President okaying the female takeover of the Secret Service after the Cartagena scandal of 2012 wasn’t really about his deep belief in feminist ideas.

Maybe it had more to do with how the First Lady and the First Mother-in-Law would always replay this scene a half dozen times.

And then they would Youtube this music video and giggle about what Michelle’s husband would do in the unlikely event that anybody ever hired him to do the job of Kevin Costner’s character:

Then Michelle and her mother would go look on Netflix for In the Line of Fire and The Wild, Wild West, and when they couldn’t find them, demand that Barack call up the head of the National Security Administration and have him do something useful for once like download their second and third favorite Secret Service movies for them.

It kind of got on the President’s nerves after awhile, so changes had to be made at the Secret Service.

 

The New York Times has another gigantic article on Ferguson. You ask: is it about the cop getting shot in Ferguson over the weekend?

Are you nuts? Some cop getting shot in Ferguson is just some trivial police blotter item from an insignificant fly-overville 950 miles from New York City. No, the Story, as always, is White Oppression of Blacks:

Mostly Black Cities, Mostly White City Halls
By RICHARD FAUSSETSEPT. 28, 2014

… Disparities between the percentage of black residents and the number of black elected officials are facts of life in scores of American cities, particularly in the South. The unrest that followed the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has emphasized how much local elections can matter, and prompted a push there for increased black voter participation. …

On the whole, blacks tend to move out of black-run municipalities (e.g., East St. Louis) and seek refuge in white-run municipalities. During transition eras, those municipalities seeing a major influx of black refugees from black-dominated polities tend to maintain for some lag period some of the white leaders who helped make the place attractive for blacks to move to in the first place.

This may not sound like a crisis to you, but the NYT wants to angry up black turnout for the Democrats in November, so you and I had better start feeling guilty about it now. If a few cops have to get shot, a few Apus have to get shoved around by giant blacks on crime sprees, and a few Kwikee-Marts burned down by racist blacks mobs out to show “Snitches Get Stitches,” well, you can’t make a Democratic Victory Omelet without a smashing a few eggs.

 

We live in an era when females outperform males on average at a wide range of routine tasks, such as coloring within the lines, turning homework in on time, graduating from high school and college, not going to jail, pulling together marketing plans, not dying, and the like.

When the culture decided around 1964 to stop propagandizing in favor of “self-discipline” and start propagandizing against “conformism,” the less naturally conformist sex, males, followed, which led some to be rock stars and led others to be jailbirds or burnouts (and some to be both).

The more naturally conformist sex, females, tended to keep on keeping on, although there was a striking shift in 1969 in propaganda about what females should conform to: from homemaking to working for large organizations.

But 45 years into the latest era of feminist domination of the Megaphone, men continue to outperform women at most of the highest levels of achievement, which constitutes a crisis about which we need to be updated constantly.

Now, here’s a sensible suggest: that to do better at the highest levels, women need to respond to criticism more objectively. But of course, this nugget of good sense is buried under lots of feminism victimology and You Go Girlisms. Much of the appeal of feminism is that it encourages women to do what they always felt like doing anyway: take everything personally. But to succeed at the highest level, you need some objectivity, which feminism hates. Feminists see objective reality as a conspiracy out to make them feel bad about themselves.

Learning to Love Criticism
By TARA MOHR SEPT. 27, 2014

A NEW study by the linguist and tech entrepreneur Kieran Snyder, done for Fortune.com, found two differences between workplace performance reviews given to men and women. Across 248 reviews from 28 companies, managers, whether male or female, gave female employees more negative feedback than they gave male employees. Second, 76 percent of the negative feedback given to women included some kind of personality criticism, such as comments that the woman was “abrasive,” “judgmental” or “strident.” Only 2 percent of men’s critical reviews included negative personality comments.

The study speaks to the impossible tightrope women must walk to do their jobs competently and to make tough decisions while simultaneously coming across as nice to everyone, all the time. But the findings also point to something else: If a woman wants to do substantive work of any kind, she’s going to be criticized — with comments not just about her work but also about herself. She must develop a way of experiencing criticism that allows her to persevere in the face of it.

And yet, many women don’t have that tool kit. In my coaching practice and training courses for women, I often encounter women who don’t voice their ideas or pursue their most important work because of dependence on praise or fears of criticism.

Many women are aware of this problem. “I know I need a thicker skin, but I have no idea how to get it,” one woman, a consultant to small businesses, said to me.

Criticism stings for all of us, but women have been socialized to not rock the boat, to be, above all else, likable. By the time a girl reaches adolescence, she’ll most likely have watched hundreds of films, television shows and advertisements in which a woman’s destiny is determined not by her own choices but by how she is perceived by others. In those hundreds of stories, we get the message: What other people think and say about us matters, a lot.

Feminism’s control of the Megaphone hasn’t failed, it just hasn’t been tried hard enough!

… Add to this history what we see in our time: Powerful women tend to receive overreactive, shaming and inappropriately personal criticism. …

Finally, we get to some actual, you know, criticism of women:

In the context of these influences, what allows women to become free of concerns about the reactions they or their work will provoke? I’ve found that the fundamental shift for women happens when we internalize the fact that all substantive work brings both praise and criticism. Many women carry the unconscious belief that good work will be met mostly — if not exclusively — with praise. Yet in our careers, the terrain is very different: Distinctive work, innovative thinking and controversial decisions garner supporters and critics, especially for women. We need to retrain our minds to expect and accept this.

Also, you need to retrain your mind to admit that your innovative thinking and controversial decision might be, you know, wrong. To be a high performer, you have to go further out on the risk-reward curve. You’ll make more mistakes than if you cautiously stick to the tried and true, and you’ll be criticized for your mistakes.

There are a number of effective ways to do this. A woman can identify another woman whose response to criticism she admires. In challenging situations, she can imagine how the admired woman might respond, and thereby see some new possible responses for herself. It can be helpful to read the most negative and positive reviews of favorite female authors, to remind ourselves of the divergent reactions that powerful work inspires.

Women can also benefit from interpreting feedback as providing information about the preferences and point of view of the person giving the feedback, rather than information about themselves. In other words, a negative reaction from five investors doesn’t tell a woman anything about the quality of her business idea or her aptitude for entrepreneurship; it just tells her something about what those investors are looking for.

This is a funny example of how feminism encourages women to do what they always felt like doing: interpret everything personally and subjectively. Do you really think Peter Thiel or Paul Graham would tell a man that five investors dismissing his start-up idea “doesn’t tell a [man] anything about the quality of [his] business idea” but instead is just about the investors’ peculiarities? Successful masculine thinking deals both with subjective realities and objective realities, such as that my idea might be objectively no good, or, at minimum, needs major improvements. And maybe there is something that investors don’t like about me? Can I improve that aspect of my performance? Or maybe I should get a partner who is a better front man?

The most successful men in Silicon Valley neither dismiss criticism of their proposals as merely the subjective preferences of the critics nor do they accept criticism as crushing permanent proof that they are worthless human beings who will never ever come up with a good idea. Obviously, maintaining your subjective self-confidence while being objective about your ideas is difficult to do. Most men can’t, but more men than women can, which is one reason why the high end of Silicon Valley is dominated by men.

Looking back on a lifetime of feminist dominance of the media, I can recall distant eras when certain feminists tried to be logical, but those attempts alienated other feminists. So, today, feminism is whatever any woman is upset about. It doesn’t have to be consistent with what other feminists are upset about. It doesn’t even have to be consistent with whatever other things that particular feminist is upset about. All that matters is that whoever is bitching claims the mantle of Team Women.

 

The rise of the lumpenintelligentsia is a major development of Internet Age journalism. Below from Salon is a self-portrait by somebody named Daisy Hernandez of a modern Salon-type scribe in all her self-absorption, racism, sexism, wounded amour propre, dimwittedness, and general cluelessness.

My theory is that the rise of lumpenintellectuals like Ms. Hernandez is tied to the increase in the ratio of advertising revenue relative to subscription revenue. For example, I pay a not insubstantial $3.75 per week to subscribe to the New York Times, but Slate, Salon, The Atlantic and other clickbait sites are advertiser-supported.

And what advertisers particularly like are:

- Women, because they spend so much more than men

- Who have been to college, because they have more money

- But who are not all that bright because (cf. The Bell Curve) there aren’t many people out at the right edge of the bell curve. The spending sweetspot is a little to the right of the median IQ.

Ms. Hernandez is from the Lumpenintelligentsia, Affirmative Action Beneficiary Division. Institutions hear that they need People of Color for the brilliant new perspectives they would bring, so they go out and hire homosexuals of color like Daisy Hernandez and Jayson Blair only to find out that their brilliant new perspectives are largely limited to:

- There should be more special privileges for people like me.

- I hate white men.

Latina, at the white, male New York Times: “Why are people thinking it’s OK to say racist sh-t in front of me?”

I learned the power of asking questions, and the power of an institution. Mostly I learned how to talk to white men

DAISY HERNÁNDEZ

Excerpted from “A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir”

I didn’t think white people got jobs the way Latinos did, just by talking to each other. But they do, and that’s how it happens for me. My first big job as a writer.

It’s the end of a graduate journalism class at New York University. The room fills with the familiar cacophony of a class ending: chairs scraping floors, students unzipping bags, murmurs about lunch and papers due. The professor, a thin, white woman, fastens her eyes on me.

“An editor at the New York Times is looking for a researcher for a book she’s doing on women’s history,” she says, matter-of-fact. “I thought of you. You write about feminism.”

I smile politely, uncomfortably. I’m twenty-five and writing for Ms. magazine, but I don’t consider myself someone who writes about feminism. That sounds like work other people do, people who are rich or famous or smart. I’m not a boba though. I have spent enough time around white women to know it’s better to not argue with them.

When I meet the editor, I like her immediately. … Months later, I e-mail Gail an opinion piece I wrote for an online wire service and she shoots back: “Oye, you should apply for this internship here in the editorial department.” …

Oye, and just like that I send my resume, which now includes research on indigenous maxi pads, to the editor at the Times hiring interns, even though I have no idea what an editorial is. That’s right. I am twenty-five, I am writing for a national magazine, I have been in journalism school, and I do not know what an editorial is.

I want to say that it’s never come up, that no one has ever talked to me about editorials. But they probably did, and I didn’t know what it was, and as I’ve been doing since I was in kindergarten, I probably acted like I knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it.

… A friend has told me to look at the left side of the last page, at the short paragraphs stacked like shoe boxes in a closet.

The writing carries no byline. It’s monotonous, and I realize why I don’t know what an editorial is. I’ve never made it past the second line.

My feelings, though, are irrelevant. This is the New York Times. They have Maureen Dowd and stringers all over the world, including countries I have to find in the Britannica encyclopedia. If I get the internship, they won’t actually let me write.

But they do.

My first idea for an editorial is straightforward, a no-brainer really. I think the New York Times editorial board should urge President Bush to grant Colombians [like her relatives] political asylum in the United States. …

The other discovery I make is about white people.

One of the editors, a skinny man who I’ll call Mr. Flaco, listens to my initial idea for an editorial about granting Colombians asylum. “Why Colombians and not another group of people?” he asks, patronizingly. “If you open the door for them, do you open the door to every other country with internal conflicts?”

Mr. Flaco’s questions are rational, but they also feel odd somehow. When I board the bus for Jersey, I’m still thinking about what he asked. …

Do you open the door to every other country with internal conflicts?

It’s true that Colombians are not the only ones in need of asylum. It is every group from practically every country where the United States and Europe have at some point staked a claim on land. From the perspective of here, which is to say from the perspective of the United States, of this skinny editor, of people who have power, Colombia is not as devastated as Rwanda or even as El Salvador was in the eighties. Colombians are suffering, yes, but not as much.

There is a hierarchy of pain, and it is no longer confined to the pages of my college textbooks about political theory. It is here in Mr. Flaco. Pain in and of itself is not enough. It matters how many are dead, how many wounded, over what period of time, how much public outrage there is in the West. The pain has to be significant in relationship to those in power. …

Realizing this does not depress me. I consider it a discovery, because it feels that way, like I have entered the collective mind of white people with political power everywhere and managed to see one of the strange rituals by which they reproduce. This, I can only imagine, is how Darwin must have felt.

Newton, too.

Because it’s the beginning of summer, NPR has an obligatory story about the high number of girls who are going to tanning salons. I listen to this while lying in bed next to my girlfriend, who frequents these salons, and with my idea for getting Colombians political asylum stalled, I suggest writing on the evils of the fake tan.

Mr. Flaco loves it. White men can always be counted on to agree that girls do crazy things in the name of beauty and that they need to be chastised. Who better than to scold teenage girls than a young woman herself ? …

Mr. Flaco is curious to hear what I might want to write about a new report showing that boys are being left behind in education. Nervous, I stumble through my pitch about how it’s not all boys.

It is black boys and teenagers. “Racism,” I begin, “has, you know, shaped the expectations the kids have of themselves and that teachers have of them.”

“What’s going to be your recommendation?” he asks, a smile dancing at his lips. “Tell teachers to raise their self-esteem?”

I stare at the carpet. He continues. “What’s remarkable is that when you look across socioeconomic levels, black boys consistently do badly in school. It doesn’t matter if they’re living in Westchester or Harlem.”

The air around me grows thin, choking.

“By comparison,” he says, “Chinese kids do well in school even when they just got here yesterday.” He chuckles. “It’s like it’s genetic.”

I glance at him to make sure he is really here in the room with me, that he has actually said those words. I don’t expect to see the familiar face of the skinny man I have known for two months. Surely his words have distorted his forehead and his eyelids and his nostrils. But no such thing has happened. He is still the same man with the flaco face and a high-up job at an important institution.

There is much more amusingly/depressingly stupid stuff where that came from, including her self-absorbed opinions on the firing of her fellow intern/affirmative action hire Jayson Blair.

 

Ray Sawhill recently called my attention to the 1996 how-to-write book Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose by Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner, which extolls the “classic” prose style perfected by 17th Century French writers such as Descartes and Pascal.

In the development of English literature, more energy tended to be directed toward poetry than prose. Thus, 17th Century English prose, such as Milton’s Areopagitica, tends to be a chore to read. My impression is that there was a big leap forward in English prose at the time of the Statute of Anne of 1709, which established a 14-year copyright and thus made magazines and novels profitable. Many famous names in journalism — The Spectator, The Tatler, The Guardian — date from this epoch, as do fiction works that still sell, such as Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe.

But still, it seems to me, English prose continued to lag in lucidity. Is the Declaration of Independence as easy to read as it ought to be? Or consider Franklin’s 1754 essay Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, which ought to be the founding document of the social sciences in America but is ignored because of its anti-immigration policy advocacy and because the prose is hard to deal with.

One question concerns translation: We often update the spelling and maddening capitalization of old English prose, but otherwise leave them alone. Translations of classic French prose into English are freer. Still, the consensus seems to be that the French achieved lucidity in prose well before the English and Americans, which had an enduring impact on Frenchmen’s self-image of themselves as rational and clear-headed.

Clear and Simple as the Truth argues that to write prose as well as a great 17th Century Frenchman, you have to take on some of their personality and character traits, such as disinterestedness, self-confidence, and elitist egalitarianism. Basically, you have to pretend (and not only pretend, but you have to feel you deserve to act like) some kind of aristocrat of superb culture conversationally addressing some other gentleman of breeding about topics of interest to the handful of people able to rise above self-interest and partisanship.

Interestingly, the notion of esoteric writing is relevant here: 17th Century France was more of an authoritarian state than England/Britain over the same period (you did not want to get on King Louis XIV’s bad side), so the best French writing was limited in its original intended audience. The French classics typically started out as letters or memoirs, or were imitations of private correspondence, such as Pascal’s Provincial Letters of the 1650s.

In contrast, while the English didn’t have full freedom of the press, they had a Parliament, elections, and a lot of public oratory, which encouraged bloviation and showing off. Some English exoteric prose, like Milton’s 1644 pamphlet Areopagitica asking Parliament to grant freedom of the press, is show-offy in the extreme. Milton was trying to impress his audience with his vast learning into granting him more liberty. He’s not some peasant likely to lead a peasant’s revolt.

I was going to write at more length about what else I learned from Clear and Simple as the Truth, but now somebody who is a much better writer than me has done the job. From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Why Academics Stink at Writing

by Steven Pinker

… Instead of moralistic finger-pointing or evasive blame-shifting, perhaps we should try to understand academese by engaging in what academics do best: analysis and explanation. An insight from literary analysis and an insight from cognitive science go a long way toward explaining why people who devote their lives to the world of ideas are so inept at conveying them.

In a brilliant little book called Clear and Simple as the Truth, the literary scholars Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner argue that every style of writing can be understood as a model of the communication scenario that an author simulates in lieu of the real-time give-and-take of a conversation. They distinguish, in particular, romantic, oracular, prophetic, practical, and plain styles, each defined by how the writer imagines himself to be related to the reader, and what the writer is trying to accomplish. (To avoid the awkwardness of strings of he or she, I borrow a convention from linguistics and will refer to a male generic writer and a female generic reader.) Among those styles is one they single out as an aspiration for writers of expository prose. They call it classic style, and they credit its invention to 17th-century French essayists such as Descartes and La Rochefoucauld.

The guiding metaphor of classic style is seeing the world. The writer can see something that the reader has not yet noticed, and he orients the reader so she can see for herself. The purpose of writing is presentation, and its motive is disinterested truth. It succeeds when it aligns language with truth, the proof of success being clarity and simplicity. The truth can be known and is not the same as the language that reveals it; prose is a window onto the world. The writer knows the truth before putting it into words; he is not using the occasion of writing to sort out what he thinks. The writer and the reader are equals: The reader can recognize the truth when she sees it, as long as she is given an unobstructed view. And the process of directing the reader’s gaze takes the form of a conversation.

As usual with Pinker, read the whole thing there.

 

Ross Douthat in the NYT riffs on the topic of esoteric knowledge (which I discussed recently in Taki’s Magazine):

The Cult Deficit
SEPT. 27, 2014

… From the 1970s through the 1990s, from Jonestown to Heaven’s Gate, frightening fringe groups and their charismatic leaders seemed like an essential element of the American religious landscape.

Yet we don’t hear nearly as much about them anymore, and it isn’t just that the media have moved on. Some strange experiments have aged into respectability, some sinister ones still flourish, but over all the cult phenomenon feels increasingly antique, like lava lamps and bell bottoms….

Twice in the last few months I’ve encountered writers taking note of this shift, and both have made a similar (and provocative) point: The decline of cults, while good news for anxious parents of potential devotees, might actually be a worrying sign for Western culture, an indicator not only of religious stagnation but of declining creativity writ large.

The first writer is Philip Jenkins, a prolific religious historian, who argues that the decline in “the number and scale of controversial fringe sects” is both “genuine and epochal,” and something that should worry more mainstream religious believers rather than comfort them. A wild fringe, he suggests, is often a sign of a healthy, vital center, and a religious culture that lacks for charismatic weirdos may lack “a solid core of spiritual activism and inquiry” as well.

The second writer is Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder, venture capitalist and controversialist, who includes an interesting aside about the decline of cults in his new book, “Zero to One” — officially a book of advice to would-be entrepreneurs, but really a treatise on escaping what he regards as the developed world’s 40-year economic, technological and cultural malaise. …

Thiel’s argument is broader: Not only religious vitality but the entirety of human innovation, he argues, depends on the belief that there are major secrets left to be uncovered, insights that existing institutions have failed to unlock (or perhaps forgotten), better ways of living that a small group might successfully embrace.

This means that every transformative business enterprise, every radical political movement, every truly innovative project contains some cultish elements and impulses — and the decline of those impulses may be a sign that the innovative spirit itself is on the wane. When “people were more open to the idea that not all knowledge was widely known,” Thiel writes, there was more interest in groups that claimed access to some secret knowledge, or offered some revolutionary vision. But today, many fewer Americans “take unorthodox ideas seriously,” and while this has clear upsides — “fewer crazy cults” — it may also be a sign that “we have given up our sense of wonder at secrets left to be discovered.” …

Do we have fewer cults or do we just not notice them?

Today, for example, it seems obvious that Freudianism was a cult, but it was treated with immense respect in post-WWII America. Vladimir Nabokov had the aristocratic self-assurance to scoff publicly and repeatedly at Freud, but how many other men of reputation dared?

For example, few called Stephen Jay Gould a cult leader, but the man who told his followers — “Say it five times before breakfast tomorrow; more important, understand it as the center of a network of implication: ‘Human equality is a contingent fact of history’” — can perhaps be understood as the type of soothsayer who tries to hijack the prestige of science for his own anti-scientific purposes in the tradition of Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, and L. Ron Hubbard.

Then there’s also the issue that highly successful cults stop seeming like cults and start seeming like inevitabilities. For example, consider the rise of the Harvard-Yale cult. In Presidential elections from 1900-1984, the major party nominees possessed 9 degrees from Harvard or Yale between them, or 0.20 per nominee. But as higher education spread in America, the opposite of what you’d naively expect happened: from 1988-2012, the 14 Presidential candidates had 15 Harvard or Yale degrees, or 1.07 each.

Indeed, five of the last 14 Presidential nominations have gone to old Bonesmen. In 2004, both nominees were members of Skull and Bones, the most cult-like oogah-boogah cult within the Harvard-Yale cult: the most famous relic within Skull and Bones’ windowless shrine/fortress on the Yale campus is the skull of Geronimo, which is there because it was grave-robbed by the ancestor of two Presidents.

The whole point of Skull and Bones is to create a tiny self-perpetuating elite within the small elite of Harvard-Yale insiders: e.g., Secretary of State John F. Kerry (Class of ’66) was one of the Bonesmen who tapped the Class of ’67 Bonesmen who tapped President George W. Bush (Class of ’68). Thus having both Presidential nominees be Bonesmen is just the fulfillment of the plan.

But mentioning this only proves you’re some kind of wacko conspiracy theorist: everybody knows that any domination of Harvard-Yale alumni over Presidential elections is just one of those things that is and ought to be.

But in the intellectual realm, the stagnation he identifies seems readily apparent, since whole swaths of political, ideological and religious terrain that fascinated earlier generations have been mostly written off in ours. As Mark Lilla noted in a recent New Republic essay, it’s not just that alternatives — reactionary, radical, religious — to managerial capitalism and social liberalism are no longer much embraced; it’s that our best and brightest no longer seem to have any sense of why anyone ever found alternatives worth exploring in the first place.

Perhaps the sacrifice is worth it, and a little intellectual stagnation is a reasonable price to pay for fewer cults and Communists.

Or maybe the quest for secrets — material or metaphysical, undiscovered or too-long forgotten — is worth a little extra risk.

Or maybe the real secret is the one you find out inside the Skull and Bones fortress of elitism: It’s now what you know, it’s who you know.

One reason we aren’t as aware of cults is that they have become much more open about promoting themselves. Consider the evolution of cult-like conspiracies among the rich and powerful from the Bilderbergs to Davos. For the last 60 years, the Bilderbergs have been a secret society of billionaires, hereditary monarchs, and intellectuals who get together periodically in luxury hotels for secret discussions of major trends in world affairs and how they can mold them for the good of people like themselves.

But the covert Bilderberg kind of conspiracy seems so James Bond Era-ish. In contrast, Davos is a post-modern conspiracy based on massive publicity: rich people invite journalists to lecture them and then the journalists write articles about how wonderful and forward thinking and open to important new ideas the rich people are, and everybody posts online their selfies with each other. Lately, even the Bilderbergs have started to publish their invite lists to get in on the publicity.

Similarly, consider two cults that grew out of the Golden Age of Science Fiction: the modern cult of Scientology and the postmodern cult of transgenderism and transhumanism, as exemplified by my old MBA classmate Martin/Martine Rothblatt, a founder of satellite radio, and now promoting his/her book Virtually Human about downloading your brain to a computer so you’ll live forever.

L. Ron Hubbard was a hack sci-fi writer with a winning manner who impressed more impressive friends such as editor John W. Campbell (who promoted Hubbard’s Dianetics as a low cost alternative to the Freudian talking cure) and author Robert Heinlein (who, perhaps apocryphally, is said to have given Hubbard the idea to convert Dianetics into a tax-exempt religion).

In the Scientology cult, the exoteric ideas sound pretty plausible (you have various psychological issues weighing you down and you should talk to a trained listener about them), but the esoteric ideas that are finally revealed (it’s the fault of the space alien Thetans!) mostly seem to pass muster with people with a talent for playing make believe (Tom Cruise etc.)

The modern transhumanist movement, including the phenomenon of domineering masculine heterosexual guys suddenly announcing they are women, has ties to Golden Age sci-fi as well. The urge to leap the bounds of sex and death was an esoteric theme that popped up now and then in Heinlein during his long prime, 1939-1966 (e.g., his last short story “All You Zombies”). It then came out of the closet after the societal constraints came off at the end of the 1960s and he returned to writing in the 1970s after major cerebral health problems. (Heinlein was too sane and reasonable a guy to found a cult like Hubbard or Rand did, but you can imagine the temptations.)

But transhumanism always seemed like kind of a wacky egomaniacal libertarian white guy thing. Now, though, it’s edging toward being fashionable via transgenderism as a way for egomaniacal white guy libertarians to get in on the victim parade by standing up for fellow egomaniacal white guy libertarians like Dr. McCloskey. (Is the world “fellow” transphobic?)

But this rising system of nutty belief is structured the opposite of Scientology, which tries to lure you in first before unloading the esoteric crazy stupid stuff. Transgenderism demands that you assent to the crazy stupid stuff upfront:

“Remember that guy you went to MBA school with who was obsessed with space exploration and already had a passel of kids and was supersmart, but was just a giant dick to anybody he thought wasn’t as smart as him (which was everybody)? Well, now he’s the highest paid female CEO in America because, it turns out, he was always actually a woman and you have to call him “her” when reminiscing about him. Oops, I’ve should have said ‘She was always actually a woman and you have to call her “her” when reminiscing about her always being a giant prick.’ I don’t want my career flushed down the toilet like that poor guy in Grantland for getting on the bad side of the Trans Power and their vast numbers of volunteer enforcers.”

In today’s world, the real esoteric cult knowledge, the kind that you have to come to obscure corners of the Internet to learn, is that this is sci-fi libertarian wackiness.

If you want to be a new L. Ron Hubbard, you should put your craziest craziness out in public and dare anybody to prove themselves a low brow bigot by scoffing at it. Don’t hide the Thetans away until Tom Cruise has spent years being prepared to learn about them. Instead, make the Thetans a victimized minority about whom awareness must be raised. Assert that a tiny percentage of humanity (i.e., your followers) are the descendants of a supersmart alien race, and that this poor minority has always been oppressed and victimized by the human majority for their secret superpowers.

Something like that just might work.

 

People frequently hold very strong opinions on how things are different now than in the past, but finding apples to apples comparisons is not always easy. Here, the scion of the Candid Camera TV prank show dynasty reflects on some changes since he last filmed in the early 2000s and some continuities since his father, Allen Funt, started the show in 1948.

Curses, Fooled Again!
By PETER FUNT SEPT. 26, 2014

I SPENT the summer producing new “Candid Camera” shows, and among the many things I observed after a 10-year hiatus was that people are more easily fooled than ever.

That may seem counterintuitive, but I’m certain it’s true. Much has to do with multitasking. When my dad, Allen Funt, introduced the show over six decades ago, he had to work at distracting people. Nowadays they do it to themselves.

Many people we now encounter are fiddling with cellphones and other devices, tackling routine activities with less-than-full focus. That makes them easier targets for our little experiments, but also more vulnerable to personal mishaps and genuine scams.

I was driving across a college campus this week just as the night school students were getting out of long evening classes (during which they presumably had been abstaining from texting). I had to slow my car down to walking speed to avoid accidents because the majority of pedestrians were drifting about heads down with their eyes on their glowing screens held at waist level.

Here’s an idea for a Silicon Valley start-up: an app that will freeze your smartphone screen with “LOOK UP” if you are about to get hit by a car.

I worried briefly that people are now so tech-savvy that some of our props and fake setups wouldn’t be believed. Instead, we found that the omnipresence of technology has reached a point where people will now accept almost anything.

We showed customers at a salon an “un-tanning machine” that ostensibly sucked off dark pigment in seconds. We told residents in a Denver suburb that they would be getting mail delivery via drone. We gave patients at a dentist’s office an iPad and said they’d now have to conduct their own “online dental exam.” In each case, just about everyone bought in. At the dental office, several people were even prepared to give themselves a shot of Novocain before we intervened. …

Much hasn’t changed over the years. For example, I expected to encounter more profanity in everyday conversation, but it’s really not there.

I suspect this kind of mistake is broadly true in that a single phase change — for example, my guess is that the use of profanity in conversations with friendly strangers went from virtually zero to a moderate amount over a fairly short period of ten or twenty years, centering around, perhaps, the year 1973 — is remembered less often as a one-time shift and as more an on-going trend. “Things have gotten worse” and “things are getting worse” can actually be quite different observations, but many people lump them together because, very few people have a strong chronological sense of the past.

A general cognitive fuzziness about the past dates is essential to much of The Narrative we are fed daily about race and feminism. We are told that, say, the reason the highest paid “female” CEO in America is my old UCLA MBA classmate Martin (now Martine) Rothblatt is because until very recently, perhaps last week (who can remember?), women were told never to go into the business world. Well, no, that change had happened well before Rothblatt and I took a marketing strategies course in 1981. Rothblatt is the highest paid “woman” CEO today because, when I knew him, he was immensely intelligent and was brimming with intensely masculine ambition and arrogance. He struck most of his classmates as a huge prick. (Of course, in the current mindset, this would be attributed to his being oppressed by society into covering up the little girl that he really always actually was on the inside, even though neither his brother nor his mother believe that, and he doesn’t even really claim it to be true, and now he’s pretty much lost interest in the whole transgender thing and has moved on to trying to attain technological immortality for himself.)

But who can remember dates in the past? Some people can. When commenter Albertosaurus / Pat is recounting his hilariously long list of jobs he’s mastered and then gotten bored with, he always puts the reason for why there was funding for his job in the context of some belief of that historical moment.

It was in another MBA marketing class in the winter of 1981 that I first noticed that I could put dates to all sorts of events of recent years in a way that some of my fellow students found irritating but most found pleasantly astonishing. The course consisted of Harvard Business School case studies from the 1960s and 1970s of business projects, such as Hanes’ introduction of L’Eggs pantyhose in plastic eggs in 1969. When called upon, I gave a little disquisition on changing fashions in skirt lengths from 1964-1974 and how that played into the success of this famous product launch. The woman marketing professor who taught the course was much amused by this bizarre scene of a 22-year-old straight guy who had a chronological history of women’s fashions in his head.

The professor soon just made it a regular feature of each class to call on me to put the case study in historical context: “Well, clearly a lot has changed in the Nigerian beer market since this case study was written in 1968, but the dominant development paradigm of that era was “import substitution,” and what more obvious local industry than setting up a brewery, whose output is heavy and hard to transport relative to its value, or at least was back then before the containerization revolution had hit full stride?”

I also wondered whether young people would be less spontaneous and engaged when caught in our scenarios, yet there’s no hint of that whatsoever. I thought in these litigious times fewer people would sign a waiver to appear on our show, but the percentages have stayed about the same over the years.

I do note that today more people step out in public looking a bit disheveled and unkempt and are then hesitant to sign because they’re not happy with their appearance.

Fortunately for our show, people are still, for the most part, willing to engage a stranger and to smile when a little joke is revealed. That said, many folks are feeling the weight of the world’s problems, perhaps more than before.

It seems the less able we are to control the macro aspects of our lives, the more we dwell on minutiae. That might explain why strangers stood on a street corner for many minutes to help our actress select the best cellphone picture of her dog.

 

Retiring New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter was a polarizing figure among baseball fans because he was one of the rare examples of advanced Moneyball statistics demonstrating something that wasn’t already pretty obvious to traditional fans who just liked to watch: while Jeter looked like a good defensive player, his defensive statistics (and baseball’s defensive statistics are obscure and only studied by the cognoscenti) when properly interpreted showed he was a surprisingly ineffective one.

There is a hunger for this kind gnostic knowledge that will make you superior to the masses. Thus, global warming is vastly popular because knowing about it depends upon Science rather than upon, say, going outside and noticing stuff.

For example, I have a freakishly retentive memory for weather. My wife remarks upon how I remember what the weather was the day of all sorts of distant events in our lives, like going to her cousin’s house in 1991 (but I can’t remember her cousin’s name or which side of my wife’s family the cousin is on). And I’ve always been interested in weather — I have somewhere a calendar from 1973 or 1974 on which I wrote down every evening what the weather was that day. (We had 14 straight days of sunshine in February.)

But there’s way too much noise in weather for even a Pattern Recognition obsessive like myself to suss out a trendline from my own experience. And my own experience is too limited to generalize about the whole world.

The need to depend upon experts makes Climate Change an attractive subject upon which to have a fiercely strong opinion.

In contrast, the The Bell Curve is vastly unpopular to know about because the evidence is so abundant and convincing, both at the social science and daily life levels. It seems vulgar and common to notice something so obvious, so therefore it can’t be true, and if is true, it can’t be important, and if it is important, it is vulgar and common to notice it, so therefore it can’t be true etcetera etcetera …

I don’t watch much baseball, but my impression was that Jeter’s defense was exciting but slightly futile: he would tend to make spectacular diving stops on groundballs hit into the hole, scramble to his feet, and throw to first base … just a split second too late. The crowd would give him an ovation for his galvanizing effort.

The problem was, evidently, that Jeter tended to get a late jump on the ball, so all his subsequent heroics were for naught in the box score. But Jeter looked great almost succeeding.

An early milestone in increasing sabermetric sophistication in evaluating defense was Pete Palmer’s declaration in the mid-1980s that Baltimore Oriole shortstop Cal Ripken Jr.’s 1984 season was a defensive masterpiece. To casual fans like myself, this was surprising because Ripken is a tall, strong man built along the lines of an NFL quarterback rather than an acrobat like Ozzie Smith or a lean banjo hitter like Mark Belanger, the previous Orioles shortstop.

Ripken’s secret was that his outstanding positioning before the pitch allowed him to get to many ground balls without diving, ones that Jeter would only reach by flying headfirst through the air. And then Ripken’s powerful throwing arm gunned down the batter, no fuss, no muss.

On the other hand, like many innovations of sabermetrics, this statistical development was more valuable to fans like me who don’t watch much baseball. Ripken was already a major star with the public, having won the 1983 AL MVP award. And Ripken’s knowledge of where to play was less dependent upon spreadsheets than upon old-fashioned means. Cal Ripken Jr. had been taught the finer points of the game by baseball lifer Cal Ripken Sr., an Orioles coach (and father of Billy Ripken, who played 12 seasons in the majors as a light-hitting utility infielder). His defensive skills were visible to baseball observers who followed Yogi Berra’s motto that you can observe a lot just by watching. For example, the chapter on defense in baseball traditionalist George Will’s 1990 bestseller Men at Work is devoted to Ripken’s craft.

Looking at one modern sabermetric measure of defensive excellence, defensive wins above replacement, Ripken ranks fourth all time behind Ozzie, Belanger, Brooks Robinson, and just ahead of Joe Tinker of the “Tinkers to Evers to Chance” poem of more than a century ago. In other words, modern statistics mostly just conveniently sum up what the more attentive sort of fans (i.e., not me) already knew.

Thus, in the rare instances when the masses and the illuminati don’t agree, such as regarding Jeter’s defense, we never hear the end of it.

 

Here are the top three stories in U.S. news at the moment, according to the front page of the New York Times:

Every day I wake up wondering what has transpired since yesterday in the most important obscure inner ring St. Louis-area suburb in the history of the world, and every day the New York Times is there to tell me all about it.

 

From the NYT:

Are Liberal Jewish Voters a Thing of the Past?
By JOSEPH BERGER SEPT. 13, 2014

FOR generations, American Jews, and particularly Jewish New Yorkers, have largely been identified as ardent liberals.

Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe formed a substantial core of early 20th-century progressives and socialists. More recently, 70 percent of Jews voted for President Obama in 2012, about the same as Hispanics, and were exceeded in their enthusiasm mainly by African-Americans.

Romney didn’t do that miserably among Jews. Obamamania among Jewish voters crested in 2008. Romney got killed among single Jewish women, who play a major role in setting the tone of the softer side of the media, but did, by historical standards, fair to middling among married Jews and single Jewish men.

But that liberal image is poised to change.

A 2012 demographic study by UJA-Federation of New York found that 60 percent of Jewish children in the New York City area — the Jewish center of the United States — live in Orthodox homes, which suggests that in a generation a majority of the city’s one million Jews may be classified as Orthodox. A sizable percentage of those children happen to be Hasidim, the group that has fueled Orthodox growth with its astonishing fecundity. (Seven or eight children per family is common and one Hasidic woman, Yitta Schwartz, had about 2,000 living descendants when she died in 2010.)

Given the far more conservative Hasidic and other Orthodox stances on issues like abortion, the role of women and Middle East politics, that population boom is transforming the traditional Jewish profile in New York.

Most Americans, including most assimilated and secular Jews, know little about the Hasidim and keep their distance from what they see as an anachronistic way of life underscored by the austere and concealing clothes they wear. Yet Hasidim need to be better understood, not just because of their numbers but also because of their tendency to vote in blocs according to the wishes of a sect’s grand rabbi, who often makes his choices based on pragmatic rather than ideological reasons. …

But the Hasidim don’t seem to vote much based on disinterested ideological principles, which makes them accessible to liberal politicians promising to spend other people’s money on them:

More than policy issues, Hasidim seek direct aid for their teeming network of yeshivas for transportation, computers and other technology, as well as for books. And as taxpayers, they want to offset the cost to families of paying tuition for many children, a cost they say public school parents do not incur.

It will be interesting to see how successful the tiny number of Hasidic voters are at getting the same things that the advocates for the huge number of Catholic school parents of a half century ago tried to get and mostly failed.

I wouldn’t bet against them.

 

From Slate:

2H AGO – KYLE BUCHANAN – 3M TO READ
Will This Be the Whitest Oscars in Almost Two Decades?

 

The Atlantic sniffs for signs of the emergence of a self-evidently “ominous” possible trend that’s utterly un-American:

The Supreme Court Is Looking Out for the Rights of the Majority

In the last term, conservative justices moved to protect wealthy donors and Christians, while looking skeptically on claims for minorities.

GARRETT EPPS SEP 26 2014, 8:00 AM ET

… I think that, last term, we got a glimpse of some interesting new ideas dancing around in the mind of the five conservative justices.

Of those ideas, possibly the most ominous is the court’s evolving idea of the role of “the majority” under the Constitution. Does the majority have constitutional rights?

If Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, TR, and FDR were alive today to hear that some members of the Supreme Court might secretly believe “the majority have constitutional rights,” they’d be spinning in their graves.

 

In the last at bat in Yankee Stadium of his 20 year career, Derek Jeter gets the game-winning hit.

This will only make angry not-so-young man Tom Scocca even angrier. A couple of days ago, Scocca passive-aggressively summarized the sabermetric consensus against Jeter in Gawker:

Derek Jeter Was OK

After tonight—or as of yesterday, depending on the rain—Derek Jeter will have played his final game in Yankee Stadium. It’s as fine a time as any to note, for the record, that Derek Jeter was an OK ballplayer. He was pretty good at playing baseball, overall, and he did it for a pretty long time.

The Yankees and the mass media and the sports-marketing world are busy bidding farewell to Captain Clutch, Mr. November, an immortal champion who stood above all other immortals and champions, the embodiment of everything great and righteous in America’s pastime. …

You have to be good at baseball to last 20 seasons in the major leagues.

Defensively, it’s true, he was dreadful. …

Regardless, on balance, Jeter’s good hitting helped his team more than his bad fielding hurt it. The statistical ledger says so—by Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, his glovework drops him from being the 20th most productive position player of all time to the 58th. Having the 58th most productive career among non-pitchers in major-league history is still a solid achievement.

The statistics go back about 125 years, so being the 58th best over a 125 year stretch means that only four or five players who come along per decade are as good as Jeter.

And that’s ignoring Jeter’s post-season play. Advanced statistics don’t consider the playoffs, when baseball really matters, in statistics like Wins Above Replacement. The usual assumption was that playoffs constituted too small of a sample size. But with Jeter, as we shall see, you have to throw that labor-saving assumption out the window.

Nonetheless, Jeter did stand out as a fine individual performer. In his early years, Jeter was clearly the third-best of the sport’s three young star shortstops. Nomar Garciaparra—hitting 30 or more home runs, or batting over .350—was a much more remarkable hitter, but injuries wore him down, while Jeter kept producing. And then there was Alex Rodriguez: not only the best all-around shortstop but a home-run king, a genuine prodigy, a once-in-a-lifetime do-everything performer.

A decade and a half ago, the advanced statisticians like Bill James were going on and on about how awesomely amazing it was that three super-slugger shortstops had all arrived in the American League at the same time in the mid-1990s. For the last 90 years, shortstop was where you put the skinny guys who are your best fielder but can’t hit too hard. But now, due to our sheer random good luck, we were blessed with Rodriguez, Garciaparra, and Jeter all at once!

Of course, it wasn’t luck, it was The Steroids Era, although the sabermetric geniuses like Bill James, Nate Silver, and Michael Lewis seldom seemed to mention the S-word in connection with the otherwise inexplicable statistics of the era. Hey, not noticing the biggest story in the history of baseball statistics since Babe Ruth worked out great for the careers of James, Silver, and Lewis, so why start noticing now?

Still, Rodriguez has made himself conspicuous by getting caught cheating with PEDs how many times now?

And Garciaparra made a quick exit from baseball as PED testing got ramped up. Nomar ended up with about half as many hits lifetime as Jeter. Watching a once-again not very strong Garciaparra hit 7 homers for the Dodgers in 2007 at age 33, I hypothesized that his wife, soccer lady Mia Hamm, had convinced him that they had plenty of money by now so he didn’t need to die young from taking weird drugs. (That’s pure guess on my part.) Good for him. They have three kids now.

Unlike Rodriguez, Jeter never got caught. Unlike Garciaparra he played an immensely long time. The ratcheting up of drug testing didn’t seem to hurt Jeter’s offense as much as it hurt those of players more admired by the sabermetricians.

Baseball Reference calculates that the player whose career most closely resembles Jeter’s is Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros.

Biggio retired seven years ago, with 3,060 hits and 1,844 runs scored. Jeter currently has 3,461 and 1,922, respectively, but Biggio had more doubles, home runs, and stolen bases.

But in 40 postseason games, Biggio hit .234 with very little power. Biggio (according to Bill James’ surmise) just killed lousier pitchers. But in the playoffs he tended to get overpowered by the big horses. There’s nothing wrong with that. He did a lot to get the Astros to the playoffs, but once there he wasn’t able to do much to get them to the next round.

In contrast, Jeter played in a remarkable 158 post-season games (basically, a full regular season). 158 games is a giant sample size. He hit .308 with 20 homers, 111 runs scores, and 200 hits (second place all-time is Bernie Williams with 128 postseason hits). That’s pretty much the exact same statistics as during his regular seasons (.309 career average), with a little extra power.

That’s impressive. October baseball is more intense than the rest of the season, with much better pitchers. Thus, it’s not surprising that, say, Alex Rodriguez has only hit .263 in 75 postseason games. Similarly, Mickey Mantle hit .257 in 65 World Series games. Mantle was batting against Koufax, Spahn, Gibson, Marichal, and Drysdale, so .257 was pretty good considering.

I can recall when the late George Steinbrenner gave the young Jeter an immense long term contract after the 2000 season: $189 million over 10 years. The deal received some criticism from sabermetricians pointing to Jeter’s defense and only moderate home run power, but Steinbrenner’s view was summed up in an NYT reporter’s article:

“Steinbrenner has always been reluctant to sign his younger players to long-term deals before they become eligible for free agency, but Jeter has been treated differently because he is different. Jeter has played little more than five full seasons with the team, and the Yankees have won four World Series championships; he already has more than 1,000 career hits. Jeter is viewed as an heir to the Yankees’ tradition of greatness that began with Babe Ruth and was passed down to the likes of Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. He is already a clubhouse leader, and Yankees Manager Joe Torre once suggested that Jeter would eventually be the team’s captain for years to come.”

Over those 10 years 2001-2010, Jeter averaged .310 / .380 / .445 with 108 runs scored per season. By the steroid-inflated standards of 2000, that wasn’t that good, but by the more reasonable standards of 2010, the Yankees were, I suspect, highly satisfied with their investment.

 

From the Jewish Journal of Greater L.A. (via MondoWeiss):

David Brooks’ Son Is In the Israeli Army: Does It Matter?
by Rob Eshman
2 days ago

One of the more interesting nuggets buried in a long, Hebrew-language interview with New York Times columnist David Brooks in the recent Ha’aretz magazine is the revelation, toward the very end, that Brooks’s oldest son serves in the Israel Defense Forces.

“Brook’s connection to Israel was always strong,” the article reports. “He has visited Israel almost every year since 1991, and over the past months the connection has grown even stronger, after his oldest son, aged 23, decided to join the Israel Defense Forces as a “lone soldier” [Ed. Note: a soldier with no immediate family in Israel].

“‘It’s worrying,’” says Brooks, ‘But every Israeli parent understands this is what the circumstances require. Beyond that, I think children need to take risks after they leave university, and that they need to do something difficult, that involves going beyond their personal limits. Serving in the IDF embodies all of these elements. I couldn’t advise others to do it without acknowledging it’s true for my own family.’”

Chatter immediately heated up over this fact, which until now hasn’t cropped up in any Google searches. Many commenters praised Brooks’ for his son’s service. Others maintained that he and the New York Times have the duty to reveal the fact that his son is serving in the IDF as it personally colors his commentary on Israel and Middle East issues.

Between 800-1000 Jews from abroad serve in the IDF, according to an IDF spokesperson. It is not illegal for an American citizen to join a foreign army– unless that army is at war with America. Nor does joining a foreign army require one to relinquish citizenship. …

In 2010 the web site electronicintifada.com reported that the New York Times senior correspondent in Israel, Ethan Bronner, had a son serving in the IDF. …

Here is the original Hebrew text from Haaretz:

הקשר של ברוקס לישראל תמיד היה חזק – הוא מגיע לארץ כמעט מדי שנה מאז 1991 – ואולם בחודשים האחרונים הקשר התחזק אפילו יותר, לאחר שבנו הבכור, בן 23, החליט להתגייס לצה”ל כחייל בודד. “זה מדאיג”, הוא אומר, “אך כל הורה ישראלי מבין שזה מה שהנסיבות מחייבות. וחוץ מזה, אני חושב שילדים צריכים לקחת סיכונים כשהם יוצאים מהאוניברסיטה, ושהם צריכים לעשות משהו קשה, שכרוך גם בלפרוץ את גבולות ‘העצמי’. שירות בצה”ל מגלם את כל המרכיבים האלו. אני לא יכול לייעץ לאחרים לעשות זאת, מבלי שהדבר יהיה נכון גם למשפחה שלי”

Leaving aside the specifics of the Brooks family (which are pretty interesting: Brooks’ wife not only converted but changed her first name from Jane to Sarah) …

This is a good example of a general theme of mine: in 21st Century America, you can roughly divide white men up into conservatives and liberals based on their predilections toward loyalty. Everybody feels loyalties, but conservatives tend to be more motivated than liberals by loyalty or team spirit. And conservatives tend to experience their feelings of loyalty in a fairly natural concentric fashion, with their feelings of loyalty diminishing as they go outward to people less like themselves.

Of course, there is a sizable degree of social construction involved in defining natural-seeming loyalties, similar to the inevitable splitter and lumper questions in any field. For example, George Washington was involved in first splitting the British Empire, then in lumping the 13 colonies. But, as Plato might have said, Washington turned out to have been more or less “carving nature at the joints,” so his social constructions have endured better than, say, the British Commonwealth or the United Arab Republic.

White male liberals, in contrast, pride themselves on a certain degree of disloyalty, possessing a set of loyalties that leapfrog in disdain over some set of people not all that far off from themselves. (Of course, all other kinds of liberals besides straight white males are encouraged by the media to subscribe to crude forms of ethnocentrism, such as demanding amnesty for their co-ethnics.)

As an American, I want other Americans, especially other Americans of power, influence, wealth, and talent to see themselves as on my side, the American side. That doesn’t seem too much to ask. I particularly want Americans of influence who are by nature conservatives to train their innate urges toward loyalty to overlap with my loyalties toward my fellow American citizens.

In contrast, if, say, Noam Chomsky doesn’t feel terribly loyal toward American citizens, well, I don’t mind all that much because he’s not by nature all that conservative. Loyalty is not a big part of Chomsky’s personality, nor are his loyalties naturally concentric. There are good things you can say about Professor Chomsky, but “you’d want him in your foxhole” is not the first one that comes to mind. Expecting loyalty from Chomsky is like expecting loyalty from your cat. People don’t give their cats names like “Fido” or expect them to defend their homes from intruders.

In contrast, there are a lot of more naturally conservative Jewish-Americans whom you would definitely want on your side, not on somebody else’s side. They like being loyal. But these days, nobody expects them to be loyal to their fellow citizens.

I would like to see our society engage in more social construction to get naturally conservative Jews like the Brookses to be more loyal to their fellow American citizens and less loyal to their foreign co-ethnics.

In particular, I favor criticism. Being criticized rationally for your poor behavior tends to encourage you to improve your behavior. But criticism of Jews for Jewish-typical failings such as excessive ethnocentrism is a career-killer today.

It’s like calling an angry black woman an angry black woman, except that angry black women tend to be more angry than powerful. In contrast, when Gregg Easterbrook wrote one sentence of criticism of Jewish movie moguls in 2003 in, of all places, Marty Peretz’s The New Republic, Easterbrook was immediately fired from his sportswriting job at Michael Eisner-controlled ESPN that accounted for half of his income. This is even though Easterbrook’s older brother Frank Easterbrook is a heavyweight federal judge. But nobody fears nepotistic vengeance by people named Easterbrook, while Eisner’s actions certainly served pour encourager les autres.

It didn’t always used to be this way. For example, as a child of the 1970s, I’ve often thought about Henry Kissinger. His career and personality have always been controversial, but I think it’s safe to say he is a man of parts. Further, I’m very glad in retrospect that Henry Kissinger was on our side, the United States of America, rather than on the side of the Soviet Union or of Israel.

My impression from reading between the lines in Kissinger’s immense memoir of 1973-74, Years of Upheaval, is that Kissinger had always been very concerned during his younger days about the possibility of accusations of dual loyalties, and that he resolved to overcome them by … not having dual loyalties, by just being loyal to the United States. And to his own fabulous career, of course, but back in the post-WWII era, loyalty to Americans in general tended to help you in your career.

Kissinger’s single loyalty drove the nascent neoconservatives wild with rage, but the neocons weren’t quite as organized and influential back then. Overall, back in the 1960s-1970s, the fact that the only thing simple about Kissinger was his single loyalty greatly benefited his career domestically by allowing him to become the right hand man of the experienced and cynical Richard Nixon.

And, more strikingly, it allowed him to play the role of honest broker in his shuttle diplomacy negotiating the disengagement of Israel’s army from the armies of Egypt and Syria after the 1973 war. That Anwar Sadat (and even Hafez Assad) came to see to see this Jewish-American as representing the interests of the United States rather than of some complicated mixture of American and Israeli interests proved highly useful to the United States (and even to Israel).

In today’s atmosphere, however, the idea that Henry Kissinger had to carefully police his own loyalties to prove, not unreasonably, to gentiles his loyalty to the United States sounds shockingly retrograde and anti-Semitic.

Consider another conservative Jewish man of considerable powers, Michael Bloomberg, who is a couple of decades younger than Kissinger.

I wrote a lot about Michael Bloomberg when he was mayor of Gotham New York City: $30 billion in the bank, gives billions away in charity, had a 44,000 person “private army” (in his words), owns a worldwide computer network that his employees use to spy on finance guys, etc. Basically, Bloomberg is like a real world version of Bruce Wayne.

Do you want Bruce Wayne to feel, deep down, he’s on your side, or do you want Bruce Wayne to be most loyal to some other people halfway around the world? Of course you want Bruce Wayne to be on your side.

Bloomberg was a good mayor of New York because he feels a lot of loyalty toward New Yorkers. He wanted to be President of the United States too, but he would have been a disaster at that because of his lack of loyalty toward the American people. And that’s a shame because guys like Bloomberg ought to be a valuable resource for my country. Just a generation ago or so they would have been cautioned to keep their ethnocentrism down and their citizenism up, but we’re way past that age now.

For instance, in 2006 Bloomberg, who had 11 digits of net worth, went on the radio and announced that illegal aliens should get amnesty so that he doesn’t have to pay more money in monthly dues to have the fairways manicured at his Deepdale Country Club (which is possibly the most exclusive and notoriously underused golf course in America: members have included President Eisenhower and the Duke of Windsor). Conversely, he flew to Israel to accept the world’s first ever “Jewish Nobel Prize” from some Russian oligarchs.

But we’ve been almost wholly disarmed from shaming the Bloombergs into being more loyal toward Americans than toward Jews.

These are the kind of things where it should occur to a Bloomberg: wow, I’m really going to get laughed at if I do this kind of stuff. I should try to behave better, like I care about Americans rather than Israelis, so I’m not such a butt of jokes.

But, here’s the thing. Nobody gets the joke. It never occurs to Bloomberg that he’s making a fool of himself. Because who would dare joke about such matters? Bloomberg is one of the World’s Greatest Victims, and if you don’t wholly believe that, if you crack a smile, your career will get crushed like a bug (as happened to Rick Sanchez, formerly of CNN, for laughing at the suggestion that Jon Stewart is a fellow minority).

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Jews, American Media, Israel 

“One … Googol Dollars!”

From the New York Times:

Exposing Hidden Biases at Google to Improve Diversity

SEPT. 24, 2014

Farhad Manjoo

Google, like many tech companies, is a man’s world.

Founded by a pair of men, its executive team is overwhelmingly male, and its work force is dominated by men. Over all, seven out of 10 people who work at Google are male.

Men make up 83 percent of Google’s engineering employees and 79 percent of its managers. In a report to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year, Google said that of its 36 executives and highest-ranking managers, just three are women.

Google’s leaders say they are unhappy about the firm’s poor gender diversity, and about the severe underrepresentation of blacks and Hispanics among its work force.

And so they are undertaking a long-term effort to improve these numbers, the centerpiece of which is a series of workshops aimed at making Google’s culture more accepting of diversity.

Just try to imagine how much more successful Google would be if they were diverse. Instead of Google achieving in its decade and a half of existence a market capitalization of merely $588 billion, a Google where Women of Color made up a plurality of its engineers would be worth trillions of dollars, if not googols!

There’s just one problem: The company has no solid evidence that the workshops, or many of its other efforts to improve diversity, are actually working.

In some ways Google’s plan to fix its own diversity issues resembles many of its most ambitious product ideas, from self-driving cars to wiring the country for superfast Internet.

Frat boys

As in those efforts, it has set a high goal in this case: to fight deep-set cultural biases and an insidious frat-house attitude that pervades the tech business. Tech luminaries make sexist comments so often that it has ceased to become news when they do.

Google is attacking the problem with its considerable resources and creativity. But it does not have a timeline for when the company’s work force might become representative of the population

Which would require Google to fire a whole lot of Farhad Manjoo’s co-ethnics, but that’s probably not a logical implication that the tender psyches of New York Times’ subscribers could deal with emotionally.

, or whether it will ever get there.

“I think it’s terrific that they’re doing this,” said Freada Kapor Klein, an entrepreneur who has long studied workplace diversity, and who is the co-chairwoman of Kapor Center for Social Impact.

From Wikipedia, a pretty funny bio of this self-made woman:

Freada Kapor Klein, Ph.D. (born 1952) is an entrepreneur, activist in the fields of organizational development and human resources and diversity consulting. Klein also frequently served as an expert witness on gender discrimination and sexual harassment. …

In 2001, she founded the Level Playing Field Institute, a non-profit which promotes innovative approaches to fairness in higher education and workplaces, especially by removing barriers to full participation by underrepresented people of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.[1][5] …

Kapor Klein’s for-profit and non-profit endeavors include the design and execution of several landmark studies, including: an annual survey of quality of worklife issues in Internet start-ups, a survey of Fortune 500 manufacturing and service firms to determine the effectiveness of corporate efforts to address sexual harassment, a survey of gender bias and sexual harassment experienced by Massachusetts physicians and medical students, survey projects for the United Nations and World Bank on various forms of harassment, and a national representative survey of U.S. employers and employees on their perceptions of fairness in the workplace.

Kapor Klein and her husband, Mitchell Kapor, live in San Francisco, California.[5] Her husband founded Lotus Development, where Kapor Klein had once run the human resources department, but their relationship did not begin until nine years after she left Lotus.

Back to the NYT:

“But it’s going to be important that Google not just give a lecture about the science, but that there be active strategies on how to mitigate bias. A one-shot intervention against a lifetime of biased messages is unlikely to be successful.”

Google says its plan isn’t one-shot. It points out that it has been trying to improve its diversity for years by sponsoring programs to increase the number of women and minorities who go into tech, and meticulously studying how it hires people in an effort to reduce bias.

In May after pressure from civil rights leaders, the company published a report documenting the sex and race of its employees “to be candid about the issues,” Laszlo Bock, Google’s executive in charge of human resources, wrote at the time. …

Google’s diversity training workshops, which began last year and which more than half of Google’s nearly 49,000 employees have already attended,

If I’m reading this correctly, Google, one of the richest companies in the world, didn’t bother holding diversity training workshops until 2013. In contrast, I know a Los Angeles Fire Department chief who flew into Louisiana on Labor Day Weekend 2005 to rescue Hurricane Katrina victims from drowning, but when he arrived he first had to sit through a 2 hour workshop on sexual harassment and diversity awareness before they’d let him climb into a boat and start saving people.

are based on an emerging field of research in social psychology known as unconscious bias. These are the hidden, reflexive preferences that shape most people’s worldviews, and that can profoundly affect how welcoming and open a workplace is to different people and ideas.

Google’s interest in hidden biases was sparked in 2012, when Mr. Bock read an article in The New York Times about a study that showed systematic discrimination against female applicants for scientific jobs in academia. The effect was so pervasive that researchers theorized that the discrimination must be governed by unconscious cultural biases rather than overt sexism.

Mr. Bock wondered how such unconscious biases were playing out at Google. “This is a pretty genteel environment, and you don’t usually see outright manifestations of bias,” he said. “Occasionally you’ll have some idiot do something stupid and hurtful, and I like to fire those people.”

But Mr. Bock suspected that the more pernicious bias was most likely pervasive and hidden, a deep-set part of the culture rather than the work of a few loudmouth sexists.

Improving diversity wasn’t just a feel-good goal for Google. Citing research that shows diverse teams can be more creative than homogeneous ones, Mr. Bock argued that a diverse work force could be good for Google’s business. Could Google investigate how biases were affecting people’s work — and, more important, could it change its own culture?

Google’s human resources group, which goes by the name People Operations, functions like a graduate school research lab, with staff scientists who are constantly analyzing the company’s internal operations.

And yet, despite Google constantly running secret studies of itself, this campaign isn’t the product of Google’s own proprietary research on job performance, it’s just something Mr. Bock read in the New York Times in 2012, which he’s now promoting in the New York Times in 2014.

Mr. Bock asked one of these researchers, Brian Welle, to begin a project on hidden biases. After a few months, Dr. Welle came up with a 90-minute lecture targeted specifically to a skeptical, scientifically minded Google employee.

The lecture begins with a dismal fact: Everyone is a little bit racist or sexist. If you think you’re immune, take the Implicit Association Test, which empirically measures people’s biases. Dr. Welle goes on to explain that some of the most damaging bias is unconscious; people do the worst stuff without meaning to, or even recognizing that they’re being influenced by their preferences.

The effect of bias is powerful, and it isn’t softened by Silicon Valley’s supposedly meritocratic culture. In the lecture, Dr. Welle shows a computer simulation of how a systematic 1 percent bias against women in performance evaluation scores can trickle up through the ranks, leading to a severe underrepresentation of women in management.

Finally, Dr. Welle points to research showing that we aren’t slaves to our hidden biases. The more we make ourselves aware of the role our unconscious plays on our decision-making, and the more we try to force others to confront their biases, the greater the chance we have to overcome our hidden preferences.

Google offered several anecdotes that seem to indicate a less biased culture as a result of the training. Not long ago the company opened a new building, and someone spotted that all the conference rooms were named after male scientists; in the past, that might have gone unmentioned, but this time the names were changed. …

Email: farhad.manjoo@nytimes.com; Twitter: @fmanjoo

 

“Laszlo Bock, Google’s executive in charge of human resources, has argued that a diverse work force could be good for Google’s business.” Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times. Up periscope! Is that a Heidelberg U. dueling scar on Herr Bock’s left temple? Besides Jorge Ramos of Univision, does anybody go more out of his way in how he dresses to emphasize his blue eyes than Laszlo Bock?

At a corporate party in the 1980s in Chicago, one executive complained to the top boss about the poor performance of the company’s head of Human Resources. The head guy patiently explained that having a black woman in charge of HR made us look a lot better to the EEOC and to juries in the constant stream of discrimination nuisance lawsuits from fired employees. So, he’d just have to grin and bear it as long as the black lady in charge of HR didn’t screw up too badly.

Amusingly, immensely profitable Silicon Valley firms have, until very recently, assumed that they were too disruptive and virtuous and anti-evil to have to put up with this kind of thing that applies to most of corporate America For example, here in the New York Times today is a picture of Google’s head of HR, Laszlo Bock, discussing his plans to make Google more successful by being more diverse.

By the way, Bock has claimed in interviews to have been a minor movie star after graduating from Pomona College in 1993, but I can’t find anybody under his name in IMDB. If he gets back into the movie game, I could see him, say, peering through his U-boat’s periscope at a helpless refugee ship while his minions salute and address him as “Mein Kapitän.”

 

“Rahm, do you see these bags under my eyes? I’ve got to disappear for six months to get some work done on my face before the 2016 campaign. You’ll still be there for me when I come out of seclusion, right? You know, 2024 is hardly too long for you to wait to run yourself: you’ll still be younger than I am now! When it’s your turn, Bill and I would love to help you ballet prance your way into the White House. By the way, you shouldn’t believe those rumors about what Anthony Pellicano overheard you saying. Keep smiling to the crowd and doing that nine finger clap of yours while I tell you that you’ve known Bill and I long enough to be confident that we would never save wiretaps like that just in case one of our most trusted subordinates decides to be unworthy of our trust. If I’ve made myself clear, you may now stop clapping.”

Here’s another Straussian subtext to “Why I Hope to Die at 75” in The Atlantic by bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel, a leading architect of Obamacare and brother of the mayor of Chicago and the Hollywood superagent portrayed by Jeremy Piven on Entourage:

Many of the leading candidates for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination would be by the conclusion of a second term in the White House well into what Ezekiel Emanuel tells us are their Better-Off-Dead years.

For example, on January 19, 2025, outgoing two-term President Hillary Clinton would be 77 years old. President Joe Biden would be 82. President Jerry Brown would be 86. President Elizabeth Warren would be 75 and a half. President Bernie Sanders would be 83.

In contrast, to pick completely at random an example of a younger Democratic leader with both foreign and domestic experience, President Rahm Emanuel would only be a still vibrant 65 after his two triumphant terms in the White House.

“Uh, Rahm, would you mind not standing so close that I can hear the fierce beating of your heart?”

 

From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Raphael’s Plato and Aristotle, from the wall of the Pope’s apartment

I’m sometimes accused of having created a vast secret corpus of sinister ideas that I keep carefully hidden away from the millions of words I’ve published.

I’ve always wondered: When exactly would I have had the time to do this? And do I really seem like the kind of writer who would cunningly keep his best ideas unexpressed, especially when there is a big “Publish” button staring me in the face and all I have to do is click on it?

On the other hand, what about the giants of the past who had the brainpower to pull off something as complicated as this? The political scholar Leo Strauss (1899-1973) and many of his neoconservative acolytes have long argued that greats such as Plato and Aristotle had both inoffensive doctrines for the public and “esoteric” teachings for their inner circles. …

We haven’t heard much about Straussianism lately due to the unfortunate series of events in Iraq that befell the best-laid plans of the sages. But that doesn’t mean that Strauss was necessarily wrong about the ancients. And that has interesting implications for how we should read current works.

As the approaching 20th anniversary of the publication of The Bell Curve reminds us, the best minds of our age have reasons for being less than wholly frank. …

A new book—Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing, by Michigan State political scientist Arthur Melzer—vindicates the Straussian view that:

Philosophical esotericism—the practice of communicating one’s unorthodox thoughts “between the lines”—was a common practice until the end of the eighteenth century.

What were the secret doctrines of the ancients?

Read the whole thing there.

In the comments at Taki’s, Simon in London notes:

Our modern culture is not based on esotericism – esotericism requires that the commoners are allowed comfortable platitudes while philosophers revel in The Real Truth. Instead we have a culture of Orwellian Crimestop and Newspeak where people are forced to humiliate themselves through the cant of evident falsehoods, the opposite of comfort. Virtue is marked by the ability to believe in contradictory falsehoods through effort of will. A tyranny of the philosophers?

My impression from discussions among the actual leftist intelligentsia is that they are able to believe in these falsehoods, although their own discussions are much more nuanced and reasonable-sounding than the dogmatic assertions of the lumpen-intelligentsia enforcer class.

The rise to dominance over the culture of the lumpen-intelligentsia — basically, the lower IQ students of Crooked Timber folks — is a fascinating subject.

 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

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


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