Community & isolation

Via some sort of link I was following from (probably) Maggie's Farm (which I don't want to omit, in light of discouraging recent stories about plagiarists who don't understand what's wrong with pretending their ideas are original):
Stella Morabito wrote the other day here at The Federalist about how personal relationships threaten the power of the state – and they do, because in their absence, the state inevitably seizes more power. We have a good example of this from the experience of Mexican society, as described in Jorge Castañeda’s book “Mañana Forever”:
“In the United States, there are approximately 2 million civil society organizations, or one for every 150 inhabitants; in Chile there are 35,000, or one for every 428 Chileans; in Mexico there are only 8,500, or one for every 12,000, according to Mexican public intellectual Federico Reyes Heroles. Eighty-five percent of all Americans belong to five or more organizations; in Mexico 85% belong to no organization and, according to Reyes Heroles, the largest type, by far, is religious. In the United States, one out of every ten jobs is located in the so-called third sector (or civil society); in Mexico the equivalent figure is one out of every 210 jobs. [internal citation omitted] In polls taken in 2001, 2003, and 2005 on political culture in Mexico, a constant 82% of those surveyed stated they had never worked formally or informally with others to address their community’s problems.”
Castañeda is describing a nation with nothing resembling the “little platoons” of Burke or the network of free associations that de Tocqueville credited with American democracy’s vitality. It is a nation which lacks lateral social bonds. Instead, it encourages a patronage society where the force of government surges in response to the clamor of the masses. [Rick] Santorum seems to think that is the American destiny in the wake of the current societal shifts, or barring some series of the enactment of pro-family policies. But that’s not necessarily the case, in part because American individualism in the modern sense is not what Santorum thinks it is.
The number of true individualists is still relatively small – they are the people who spend holidays staring vacantly into space. If you buy or sell things, consume popular culture, or have anyone in your life you say “I love you” to, you’re not a true individualist. [Abortion selfie-ist] Emily Letts is the furthest thing from an individualist – her confused expression of the destruction of the life growing inside her comes across as something between a struggling actress craving an audience and a human being craving someone to hold her hand through a difficult time.
The Morabito piece linked within the link is a fascinating look at how progressives fear families as the primary source of inequality in our society, and the primary competition for government influence.


Faced with food price inflation, Panama's new president has a brainstorm:  "I know!  Let's try price controls!"  Because no one's ever tried that one before, and experienced empty shelves.  Must be those hoarders.

That business with printing money like crazy in order to create prosperity with a magic wand is working like a charm, too.  Anything to take the focus off of production and free exchange, I guess.

Friday Night AMV

Every movie trailer you've ever seen.

Congress Banned from Editing Wikipedia


Also, apparently Donald Rumsfeld is not an alien lizard.

New math

No matter how it's taught, it's still too hard.

Dangerous childhoods

I didn't write about the woman who was arrested for letting her kid play alone in the park because the story was too exasperating.  Now, however, I feel compelled to warn all you parents out there of the new looming threat: rubber bands.

Ah, For A Muse of Fire...

On the news I saw the extremists replaced the cross on our church in Mosul with the black flag of the Islamic State. They are doing a call of Islamic prayer from our church. They have turned it into a mosque.

I can't believe it. I wanted to cry when I saw this on the news.
Much is being asked of these. Joy without a cause. Faith without a hope.

Banhus Gebrocen

Later, when Beowulf’s corpse burns on the funeral pyre, it doesn’t gently disappear. He is cooked until the “banhus gebrocen—the bonehouse was broken. A great hero is reduced to a bunch of bones snapping in a bonfire. A solitary woman sings over his burning body, her lament mixing with the smoke (just as Grendel’s screams had drifted up on the air, “sweg up astag”) as it is swallowed by heaven—“heofon rece swealg.”

The new same old anti-Semitism

From Protein Wisdom:
We thought the Cold War was over, but Hillary’s reset button has rekindled that. Turns out Obama’s policies and attitude may just be rekindling the Second World War, as well.

We can't have that

Merit-based New York high schools are vilified for providing an escape route for poor, hard-working immigrants of the wrong color:
There is no dispute that black and Latino enrollment at the specialized schools, while always low, has steadily declined since the 1970s. Blacks constituted 13 percent of the student body at Stuyvesant in 1979, 5 percent in 1994, and just 1 percent the last few years, while Hispanics dropped from a high of 4 percent to 2 percent today. Similarly, at Bronx Science, black enrollment has fallen from 12 percent in 1994 to 3 percent currently, and Hispanic enrollment has leveled off, from about 10 percent to 6 percent. The figures are even more striking at the less selective Brooklyn Tech, where blacks made up 37 percent of the student body in 1994 but only 8 percent today, while Hispanic numbers plunged from about 15 percent to 8 percent.
These declining minority numbers have not been matched by a corresponding increase in whites, however. In fact, white enrollment at Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech has plummeted as well, dropping from 79 percent, 81 percent, and 77 percent, respectively, in 1971 to just 22 percent, 23 percent, and 20 percent today. Rather, it is New York City’s fastest-growing racial minority group, Asian-Americans, who have come to dominate these schools. Asians, while always a presence in New York, didn’t begin arriving in the city in large numbers until immigration restrictions were lifted with passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, championed by Senator Edward Kennedy. Since then, their proportion of the city’s population has increased from less than 1 percent to about 13 percent, and their share of the specialized school population has skyrocketed. Asian students constituted 6 percent of the enrollment at Stuyvesant in 1970 and 50 percent in 1994; they make up an incredible 73 percent of the student body this year. The story is similar at Bronx Science, where the Asian population has exploded from 5 percent in 1970 to 41 percent in 1994 to 62 percent today, and at Brooklyn Tech, where their presence increased from 6 percent to 33 percent to 61 percent.
. . . All this once would have been the stuff of liberal dreams: a racial minority group historically victimized by discrimination begins coming to America in greater numbers because of an immigration reform sponsored by Ted Kennedy. Though many in the group remain in poverty, they take advantage of free public schools established by progressive New York City governments. By dint of their own hard work, they earn admission in increasing numbers to merit-based schools that offer smart working-class kids the kind of education once available only at Andover or Choate.
To modern “progressive” elites, though, the story is intolerable, starting with the hard work. As Charles Murray has observed, while affluent liberals themselves tend to work hard, they seem embarrassed by their own lifestyles and refuse to preach what they practice in an age that frowns on anything bourgeois, self-denying, or judgmental. These liberal elites seem particularly troubled by the Asian-American work ethic and the difficult questions that it raises about the role of culture in group success. While the advancement of Asian students has come overwhelmingly at the expense of more affluent whites, it has also had an undeniable impact on black and Latino students, whose foothold at these schools, small to begin with, has all but vanished.

"Someone already had"

Via Protein Wisdom by way of Maggie's Farm, a former leftist describes a change of heart:
Peace Corps did not focus on the "small beginnings" necessary to accomplish its grandiose goals. Schools rarely ran, girls and low caste children did not attend, and widespread corruption guaranteed that all students received passing grades. Those students who did learn had no jobs where they could apply their skills, and if they rose above their station, the hereditary big men would sabotage them. Thanks to cultural relativism, we were forbidden to object to rampant sexism or the caste system. "Only intolerant oppressors judge others' cultures."
I volunteered with the Sisters of Charity. For them, I pumped cold water from a well and washed lice out of homeless people's clothing. The sisters did not want to save the world. Someone already had. The sisters focused on the small things, as their founder, Mother Teresa, advised, "Don't look for big things, just do small things with great love." Delousing homeless people's clothing was one of my few concrete accomplishments.
Later, the author became a teacher in depressed Paterson, N.J.:
My students know -- because they have been drilled in this -- that the only way they can get ahead is to locate and cultivate those few white liberals who will pity them and scatter crumbs on their supplicant, bowed heads and into their outstretched palms. My students have learned to focus on the worst thing that ever happened to them, assume that it happened because America is unjust, and to recite that story, dirge-like, to whomever is in charge, from the welfare board to college professors, and to await receipt of largesse.
And to close, a quotation from a commenter:
"You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me."--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Life in public

The young woman who needed the courts to step in and regulate her relationship with her parents now needs the courts to step in and regulate her relationship with her boyfriend--the same unsuitable boyfriend her parents disapproved of, which was the source of her quarrel with them in the first place.  I'll bet she can't understand why people keep trying to interfere in her private life.

"Iron and the Soul"

This is a fantastic piece by Henry Rollins, all the more amazing when you realize that the adviser who saved him and made him whole would today be fired. He knew, though. He saw, and he acted out of love and mercy: with punches to the solar plexus.


I can't say anyone's ever zip-tied me, but this looks like a handy guide for addressing that contingency.

Riddle: What Can Be Divided Without Being Lessened?

A young Jew travels to Israel on a trip sponsored by a group called Birthright Israel. While there, for reasons that are not hard to understand, he comes to believe that it is a place he wants to defend. So he joins the IDF, to devote his life to its defense. Sunday he was killed in the fighting. He was 24.

This is the sort of story with which we are all well-familiar. So what is the moral of the story?
There are many people to blame for Steinberg’s death. There is the Hamas fighter behind the weapon that actually killed him. There are the leaders, on both sides, who put him in Gaza, and the leaders behind all of the wars between Israel and the Palestinians. I can trace it back to 1948, or 1917, or whatever date suits you and still never find all the parties who are responsible. But I have no doubt in my mind that along with all of them, Birthright shares some measure of the blame.

Classics in cartoons

It had to happen

The University of Wisconsin pushes distributional equity in grades.  Seems fair enough.  Why should the smart kids get the good grades?  They already have enough advantages.

Why grade at all, since we have lost all confidence in our ability to make judgments about whether students know more at the end of the year than at the beginning?

Riddling With Dragons

A quiz featuring historic Anglo-Saxon riddles, just the kind Tolkien loved. Unfortunately the quiz is multiple-choice, which makes it far easier than it would be if you had to come up with the answer out of your head! But save them in your mind to delight children of the right age who are encountering The Hobbit for the first time, or others you may know in whom the joy of the book has not faded with age.

Washington and sanity

Speaking of sanity breaking out in unexpected places, the D.C. Court of Appeals just struck down the Obamacare subsidies in states that did not establish exchanges.  The very idea of allowing statutory language to decide a case!  In D.C., yet!

H/t HotAir.  Also h/t to Ace, with the helpful comment, "It's not a subsidy, it's a tax refund."

Semitism and sanity

The Kurds are on track to become the second sane culture in the Middle East.

Second Nature

As the world burns around us, perhaps it is worth revisiting an old post.

UPDATE:  This morning's statement on the situation in Ukraine is on point.  It has the tone of a child complaining to his parents that his brother is being unfair.  'Putin isn't making his friends behave and play by the rules!'

But there are no parents in the "International Community" or the "Community of Nations."  It's just you.  If Putin isn't behaving, you're the one who has to make him.  What are you going to do about it?