Asheville Celtic Festival

Albannach throwing down. If I can’t hear tomorrow, this is why. 

It’s good to see ladies attempting the Caber toss. 

More snowflakes

We got what probably will be our last little cold snap. Today is sunny and mild, but the snowflakes keep coming.

A Stoic Insight

….from the Drifting Cowboys band, backing up a singer of some small renown. 

A Cooling Fire

Over at HxA, a new paper suggests that academic Wokeness may be burning out.
In Compact Magazine I recently argued that, by several measures, the “Great Awokening” seems to be winding down. Starting in late 2021, and continuing throughout 2022, there appeared to be a moderation trend across many social indicators. I was curious whether this pattern could be observed in academic research as well. I was also eager to replicate Rozado’s general findings in alternative data sets. 

Analyzing trends in different academic databases (described below) over the last 23 years, I found roughly the same patterns of behavior that Rozado observed. There was a significant uptick in research focused on various forms of bias and discrimination starting in 2011 and persisting through 2020. Rozado’s findings were therefore not an artifact of the specific data set he used but replicated across a range of scholarly databases. 

However, the additional two years of data I was able to analyze were also quite revelatory. After 2020, there were declines across the board in published research focused on identity-based bias and discrimination. Academic scholarship seems to have passed peak “woke.”

It would not be difficult to guess why 2020 would have been the point at which people began to rethink their commitment to this course of inquiry, and its wisdom. That was the year that riots on these issues erupted around the country, the police went into hiding in large parts of the nation, and crime began to surge -- as it continues to do. Over almost the same period, rape is up 38%(!!); aggravated assault, 29%(!) murder, 26%(!); violent crime overall, 12%.

This coincides, by the way, with a marked decline in property crime. People aren't stealing more; they're stealing less. They are raping, assaulting, and killing more. 

It may seem ironic that this correlates with an intense period of interest in justice, and opposing traditional prejudices. The correlation would not surprise a Traditional Conservative of the 19th Century, of course; he might have pointed out that the whole point of social controls, which are often found oppressive, is to corral and shape the parts of society that are otherwise inclined to violence. 

I think it offends contemporary conservatives to suggest that policing is or ought to be oppressive, let alone that its function is to oppress rather than to gently guide, serve, protect. Yet I observe that it does so: if the police bother to show up at all, the best you can hope for is that they will leave again without taking any actions that are harmful to people on the scene. They may arrest, taser, shoot, beat; they may initiate a process that leads to chains, fines, or imprisonment. Your life is never going to improve by meeting a police officer, not as such things are done these days; if you're as lucky as possible, they'll just go away again and leave you alone.

[Contrast with the Fire and Medical services, which often help people they encounter. I have met many people who were heartily grateful to see rescue or paramedic personnel.]

One can guess how academics, inclined to thought and -- increasingly -- trained by their education towards sensitivity of feelings, would be deeply moved by a sober assessment of how awful policing is. Even more so, our prison system, which is massive and undisciplined, full of sexual assault and rape that it barely addresses which much of society seems to regard as an additional part of the intended punishment. Full, too, of racist gangs that further the worst sort of the very impulse that 'social justice' thinks it intends to counter, not always noticing that they usually end up feeding the ideas of racial solidarity and resentment rather than cooling those things.

No, it's the Gods of the Copybook Headings again, which a famous 19th century Traditional Conservative warned of in his poem. It may not seem right; it may not seem kind. It may in fact not be in any sense kind or merciful. Societies do it anyway because, well, the alternative is that 'the Gods of the Copybook Headings/ with terror and slaughter return!'

Perhaps some day we might find a better way; but this was not the one. Yet as the article notes in closing, the end of the fire only means living among its ruins; it won't put anything back the way it was, if indeed it were right to do so.

Brutalist tromp-l'oeil

Should Ron DeSantis win the Republican presidential nomination over Donald Trump? Is he more electable, would he do a better job? I don't know, but I do suspect that the frantic opposition to DeSantis in the press is scraping the bottom of the barrel pretty hard in dreaming up attacks: he's a fascist, he's an authoritarian, he suppresses voters, etc. In a sign of unusual desperation, Jeff VanderMeer has latched onto a startling accusation: DeSantis's minions are so mean to the press that they "coarsen" the discourse and make
almost every issue in Florida a slow grind to move through, but also as gray and lifeless as a Brutalist trompe-l’oeil.
As HotAir's David Strom notes, that's a pretty obscure complaint. Myself, I'm aware of Brutalism, and of tromp-l'oeil, but the intersection between the two is a new one on me.

Wiki summarizes brutalist architecture as "characterised by minimalist constructions that showcase the bare building materials and structural elements over decorative design. The style commonly makes use of exposed, unpainted concrete or brick, angular geometric shapes and a predominantly monochrome colour palette...." Fair enough. Brutalist paintings tend to jar the eye with visual and thematic ugliness. In contrast, the style called tromp-l'oeil, or "fool-the-eye," normally connotes decorative surfaces that create an illusion of space or three-D objects. The effect can be surreal or disturbing, but more often is wish-fulfilling and pretty.

While I can do without Brutalism, a serious buzzkill, tromp-l'oeil is the essence of fun, to the point of flippancy. Nor is it easy to grasp what DeSantis's meanypants PR pro Christine Pushaw is doing to make public discourse gray and lifeless. If anything, she should be accused of sacrificing sober fairness in service of vivid and effective humor. She punctures humorless windbags like VanderMeer with memorable efficiency.

Here's some nice tromp-l'oeil.

Here's some brutalism:

This is the closest I've found to something that might be called tromp-l'oeil brutalism:

It could be called too cute by half, or reviled for inducing queasiness, but I'd never say it was gray and lifeless.


It's mildly encouraging that the Columbia Journalism Review published a four-part series examining the abject failure of the U.S. press to meet any reasonable standards of journalistic ethics or competence in the Russiagate hoax. Having encountered unexpected difficulty in finding a convenient link to the four parts of the series in order, I've compiled the following:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

The NYT, it seems, is beyond embarassment or self-reflection, but the series is worth reading for everyone else.

Valentine's soup

Lamb and beet borscht:

Valentine’s Day Tip

“Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day. What’d you get for your wife?”


And mulch. February is a good time to start preparing your garden. 

Amateurs get flowers. Pros help her grow her own flowers all year. 

The Wife’s Bike

Chris Stapleton to sing National Anthem

For those of you who remember the interlude of musical analysis back during Dry January, Chris Stapleton was the young man doing David Allan Coe's "Tennessee Whiskey." You can be sure he'll take it seriously.

I won't be watching the game tonight, because who could possibly care about Philadelphia versus Kansas City? Even the Eagles fans are mostly looking forward to the riots after rather than the game itself. 

More Retroactive Censorship

The next post Google decided to censor -- and this one it killed outright, no mere 'content warning' page -- was from 2011. It was a post about then-Governor Nathan Deal being labeled a Nazi by some activist. Back in 2011 that sort of thing was still remarkable enough to have drawn a comment; these days it's a dime-a-dozen sort of deal that probably wouldn't even raise eyebrows. Nathan Deal had been my Congressman, though, and I thought it was a striking thing to say given that he was clearly -- whatever else you might want to say about him -- not a National Socialist, nor indeed a socialist of any description. 

Google claims that the post violated its standards on 'malware and viruses,' which is hard to imagine unless one of the pages I linked to back in 2011 has been repurposed as a malware site. Whatever; clearly the ship has sailed on trying to point out how absurd it is to wield the "Nazi" language in ordinary American politics. Clearly too this algorithmic purging of the blogosphere is going to go on for a while.