June 19, 2018

YOUR DAILY TREACHER: No, Not Everybody You Hate Is a Nazi.

REVIEW: 2018 Infiniti QX80 AWD.

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FASTER, PLEASE: Dad battling brain cancer shows no sign of tumor regrowth after clinical trial.

THIS HAS GOTTEN A LOT LESS ATTENTION THAN IT DESERVES: Sports Tickets, Other Freebies for FBI Leakers Raise ‘Bribery’ Issues, Legal Experts Say. They raise ‘bribery’ issues because, you know, they’re bribery. Both the bribed, and the bribers, should be prosecuted.

(Bumped, because it’s getting a lot less attention than it deserves.)

UPDATE: From the comments: “They go after Trump for the emoluments clause and end up revealing a bunch of Trump haters for bribery.”

Plus: “It’s not bribery bribery if you’ve got a friend in the prosecutors’ office. Especially, when bringing you up on charges will call into question all your sworn ‘testimony’ in trials to put people disfavored by the powers that be in prison.”

NOT SURPRISING: Millennials may be less happy and healthy than their parents by middle age. It’s as if our modern social structures aren’t optimal for human happiness.

FASTER, PLEASE: Brain stimulation restores movement in rats after stroke.

NEW YORK’S SMARTEST LIBELS NEW YORK’S BRAVEST: A Harvard-educated fact-checker for the New Yorker is being excoriated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for “baselessly slandering” a Marine veteran — by falsely accusing him of having a Nazi tattoo, according to reports.

Just an accident. Never mind. Nothing to see here. Doesn’t indicate any confirmation bias. Nope.

THOUGHTS ON TRUMP’S SPACE FORCE IDEA. First, what a bureaucratic defeat for the Air Force. Wow! Their series of procurement debacles has a stiff price. (Though to be honest, the Navy’s been at least as bad). Second, what’s the model for a space force? More like the Air Force, or like the Navy? Or something else? Right now the missions will be unmanned and near to earth, but how long will that last? Will there be Space Marines? (There really need to be Space Marines).

Personally, I think they should drop the normal government procurement model and just contract with SpaceX for launch services in the near future. Also: One reason for a Space Force might be that a new bureaucracy can be really creative and productive for a decade or so before it ossifies into normal bureaucracy. Is there something coming that makes it important that the next decade be that decade?

Discuss these, along with service songs, uniforms, or whatever, in the comments.

IVY LEAGUE ADMISSIONS POLICIES INSPIRE STILL MORE CYNICISM: “And — ironically — when you picture those thousand competition-winning orchestra kids, what ethnicity are you picturing? I’ll bet classical music virtuosity counts for very little in the Ivy League admission process because it would help Asian American applicants. Or does it help a lot when you are not Asian-American but not at all when you are?”

WATCHING THE SAUSAGE GET MADE IN REAL TIME: Nets Flood Broadcasts With 176 Minutes of Separated Kids Coverage.

As the Federalist’s Jesse Kelly tweets, “The last 48 hours is exactly why people on the right are so distrustful of media. They’re extremely powerful and can manufacture outrage on a national level. It’s not journalism. It’s activism that influences policy.”



In a rejection email dated April 11, organizers officially exiled Rocky Mountain MRA from PrideFest, citing for example the group’s one-time screening of the film “The Red Pill,” as well as the fact that the group posted news from The Daily Caller on Facebook.

Oh no, not the Daily Caller! To be fair, Tucker Carlson is almost as extremist as that legendary alt-right figure Dennis Prager – whose educational PragerU YouTube videos have also been added to the SPLC’s “Hate Watch” list.

As Glenn wrote last year, “Think of them as leftist propagandists and grifters and you won’t go far wrong.”

Related: SPLC Apologizes, Pays Settlement to Islamic Reformer It Wrongly Labeled ‘Anti-Muslim Extremist.’


Mr. Trump’s anger at America’s allies embodies, however unpleasantly, a not unreasonable point of view, and one that the rest of the world ignores at its peril: The global world order is unbalanced and inequitable. And unless something is done to correct it soon, it will collapse, with or without the president’s tweets.

While the West happily built the liberal order over the past 70 years, with Europe at its center, the Americans had the continent’s back. In turn, as it unravels, America feels this loss of balance the hardest — it has always spent the most money and manpower to keep the system working.

The Europeans have basically been free riders on the voyage, spending almost nothing on defense, and instead building vast social welfare systems at home and robust, well-protected export industries abroad. Rather than lash back at Mr. Trump, they would do better to ask how we got to this place, and how to get out.

The European Union, as an institution, is one of the prime drivers of this inequity. At the Group of 7, for example, the constituent countries are described as all equals. But in reality, the union puts a thumb on the scales in its members’ favor: It is a highly integrated, well-protected free-trade area that gives a huge leg up to, say, German car manufacturers while essentially punishing American companies who want to trade in the region.

The eurozone offers a similar unfair advantage. If it were not for the euro, Germany would long ago have had to appreciate its currency in line with its enormous export surplus.


IS ALBERT EINSTEIN NEXT TO MEET THE BIG PC AIRBRUSH? Calling Einstein A Racist Is Perfect For Those Who Can’t Compete With His Accomplishments:

So what does Einstein say in his diaries? “This theory of relativity thing could come in really handy at eliminating inferior races with an atom bomb?” “Let’s enslave uppity Chinese women who want to study quantum mechanics?”

No. Of the Japanese, he says, “Intellectual needs of this nation seem to be weaker than their artistic ones — natural disposition?” Of the Chinese, he considered some that he saw to be “industrious, filthy, obtuse people” and said “it would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us, the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”

To recap, unlike Columbus, Washington, or Jefferson, who inflicted real pain upon many people through real actions, in 1922, Einstein had some private thoughts that are roughly as offensive as the 15 RealPatriotsAgainstMexico.blogtown.net articles your aunt shared on Facebook last week. Einstein then wrote those unsavory thoughts in a private journal, never spoke them aloud publicly, and never lived a life in accordance with them. The horror…Why is this news for the Knights of Akshully? The answer is fairly simple. Their goal is not to eliminate injustice. If it were, they’d spend their time fighting against the slavery, oppression, and racism that still run rampant in the world instead of attacking historical figures who were increasingly less guilty of perpetuating slavery, oppression, and racism.

Likewise, it’s hard to believe they’re seeking a genuine debate about how much a man’s moral failings ought to affect his legacy, since the answer is always the same: “Terminate with extreme prejudice the one with extreme (or modest) prejudice.” Rather, it seems the Knights of Akshully’s goal is to devise an ethical system that gives them bragging rights over the far more accomplished figures of history.

Read the whole thing. As Paul Johnson wrote in Modern Times:

At the beginning of the 1920s the belief began to circulate, for the first time at a popular level, that there were no longer any absolutes: of time and space, of good and evil, of knowledge, above all of value. Mistakenly but perhaps inevitably, relativity became confused with relativism.

No one was more distressed than Einstein by this public misapprehension. He was bewildered by the relentless publicity and error which his work seemed to promote. He wrote to his colleague Max Born on 9 September 1920: ‘Like the man in the fairy-tale who turned everything he touched into gold, so with me everything turns into a fuss in the newspapers.’ Einstein was not a practicing Jew, but he acknowledged a God. He believed passionately in absolute standards of right and wrong.

He lived to see moral relativism, to him a disease, become a social pandemic, just as he lived to see his fatal equation bring into existence nuclear warfare. There were times, he said at the end of his life, when he wished he had been a simple watchmaker.

The public response to relativity was one of the principal formative influences on the course of twentieth-century history. It formed a knife, inadvertently wielded by its author, to help cut society adrift from its traditional moorings in the faith and morals of Judeo-Christian culture.

A century later, is the age of moral relativity about to devour the legacy of the man who invented the real theory of relativity? The PC police will likely give it their best shot, if only because, as Kevin Williamson wrote last week, in an article ominously titled, “Watch What You Say. Someone Else Is.

The generation that reached what passes for maturity in the age of social media is the most status-obsessed—and hence etiquette-obsessed—since the ancien régime. They are all miniaturists: There hasn’t been an important and original book of political ideas written by an American Millennial, and very few of them have read one, either. But they are very interested in individual pronouns and 280-character tweets. It is extraordinarily difficult for any one of them to raise his own status through doing interesting and imaginative intellectual work, because there is practically no audience for such work among his peers. Worse, the generation ahead of him stopped paying attention to Millennials years ago, and the generation behind him never started.

What that leaves is the takfiri tendency, scalp-hunting or engineering a court scandal at Versailles. Concurrent with that belief is the superstition that people such as Harvey Weinstein or Bret Stephens take up cultural space that might otherwise be filled by some more worthy person if only the infidel were removed, as though society were an inverted game of Tetris, with each little disintegration helping to enable everybody else to move up one slot at a time. Status obsession does funny things to one’s map of social reality. It leads to all manner of bizarre thinking.

Not least of which is the continuous search for the next great man to airbrush from history for the tiniest flaws in his thinking, if only out of jealousy.

IN THE MAIL: From Adam Josephs and Brad Rubenstein, Risk Up Front: Managing Projects in a Complex World.

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FASTER APPROVAL, PLEASE: Promising New Technology on Tobacco Harm Reduction Front Awaits FDA Approval.

CHANGE: A Movement Arises To Take Back Higher Education.

They started insisting on “trigger warnings” and demanding that controversial speakers be disinvited from campus. In fall 2015 a wave of highly publicized protests over racial issues hit Yale and the University of Missouri. In 2016 the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education recorded 43 attempts to disinvite speakers from campus. Then in 2017, mobs at Berkeley and Middlebury rioted against provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and social scientist Charles Murray.

Data back up these anecdotes. A 2017 survey by FIRE and YouGov found that 58% of students said it was “important to be part of a campus community where they are not exposed to intolerant or offensive ideas.” In a Brookings Institution survey from the same year, 1 in 5 students said using violence to stop a speaker was sometimes acceptable.

But we may be turning a corner. According to FIRE, disinvitation demands dropped to 36 in 2017, and only nine have been issued so far this year. At the same time, academics and administrators—some of whom spoke at the Heterodox Academy conference—have taken steps to increase viewpoint diversity on their campuses.

In 2015 the University of Chicago issued a statement validating the importance of free speech in education. To date 42 schools, from Columbia to the University of Minnesota, have adopted the Chicago principles or a statement like it. Last year Mr. George, the Princeton conservative, authored a statement with Cornel West, a Harvard leftist, asserting that “all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views.” It has thousands of signatories, inside and outside academia.

Michael Roth, the progressive president of Wesleyan University, last year announced an “affirmative action” program to bring conservative faculty and ideas to campus. Heterodox Academy has created an educational app called OpenMind to help students learn virtues like intellectual humility and empathy so that they can speak to one another across the divide. So far it has been used in over 100 classrooms.

As encouraging as these initiatives are, there’s a more fundamental shift that needs to take place—a rethinking of identity politics. Rather than promoting a “common-enemy identity politics” that admonishes white people and others with “privilege,” Mr. Haidt said Friday, professors and administrators should embrace a “common-humanity identity politics.” Isn’t that what liberal education is all about?

Yes, but it offers insufficient opportunities for graft and lefty politicking.

VENOM ON A NIGHT EXERCISE: A Marine UH-1Y Venom refuels at a forward arming and refueling point in Yuma, Ariz. Stunning color photo taken by a USMC corporal.

GREAT: The natural gas revolution is a uniquely American story.

EVERY COUPLE OF WEEKS, IT’S A “YOU MUST HATE CHILDREN” MEDIA MELTDOWN: Desperate Democrats bedazzled at political prospect of crying kids.


From Scientific American:

In 2015, doctors in Germany reported the extraordinary case of a woman who suffered from what has traditionally been called “multiple personality disorder” and today is known as “dissociative identity disorder” (DID). The woman exhibited a variety of dissociated personalities (“alters”), some of which claimed to be blind. Using EEGs, the doctors were able to ascertain that the brain activity normally associated with sight wasn’t present while a blind alter was in control of the woman’s body, even though her eyes were open. Remarkably, when a sighted alter assumed control, the usual brain activity returned.


Now, a newly published paper…posits that dissociation can offer a solution to a critical problem in our current understanding of the nature of reality. This requires some background…

Perhaps we are all alters. So read the whole thing for background and explanation.

FROM JEFF FOUST, more on the Space Force.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Border ‘Crisis,’ Senate Hearing Tooth Fairy and Much, Much More. “The elevator pitch version of the IG report can be summarized as follows: the investigation found there was mind blowing bias among senior officials in the FBI/DOJ against Trump and his moron supporters but the officials claimed it didn’t effect any of their investigations so it’s all good.”

ROGER KIMBALL ON COMEY’S FBI: A Comedy of Corruption? Or a Bureaucratic Horror Show?

THE COMPASSION IS ALWAYS SELECTIVE: No protest over 20,000 US kids separated from parents in jail.

Over 20,000 children a year are put into foster care because their American parents are taken to jail, 10 times the number of those separated when illegal immigrant parents try to sneak into the U.S. but are caught, according to a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

However, unlike the congressional outcry over President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy targeting illegal immigration, there has been no mass protest of or investigation into the separation of children from those in jail.

Weird, that.

FEAR OF THE WOKE: Microsoft briefly removes blog post mentioning ICE contract after backlash.


Across the West, existing voters won’t give the left the power it wants, so they’re importing new ones.

THIS IS LIKE THE KKK RUNNING AN AFRICAN-HISTORY PROGRAM: Feminist Academic Launching Masters Program in ‘Masculinities.’ “The center counts feminist icons such as Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, and Jane Fonda among its Board of Directors, and it is led by Michael Kimmel, a feminist academic who most recently wrote a book on ‘angry white men’ suffering from ‘aggrieved entitlement.'”

PETER GRANT HAS A NEW BOOK!  An Airless Storm: Cochrane’s Company: Book Two.

Andrew Cochrane and his mercenaries have warded off a deadly onslaught by asteroid thieves. Now they’re riding high, buying more ships and looking for more contracts.

However, the criminal Brotherhood isn’t about to accept defeat – not after Cochrane’s Company killed their Patriarch. They’re out to rebuild, rearm, and get revenge.

What started as a simple patrol job in a deserted binary star system explodes into a multi-planetary arms race, with survival on the line!

THIS IS MY SHOCKED FACE:  Gallup: Satisfaction with direction of country highest since 2005.

WHY ISN’T THIS TRAILER RACIST, REACTIONARY, ETC?  Film scribes are swooning over this gun-toting vigilante months after dubbing her kissing cousin a racist (and worse).

YEAH, BUT HE HAS THEM SURROUNDED:  Open season on Jordan Peterson.

CUTTING THROUGH THE FOG:  The truth about separating kids at the border.

AND ALSO:  The truth about separating kids at the border, Part Two.

YEAH… WHAT… THE?  Speaking of dumpster fires.




IT’S BEEN INTERESTING FOR A LONG WHILE.  NOW IT’S BOTH HILARIOUS AND HORRIFYING:  The “Russia! Russia!” court case is getting entertaining.

WELL, THE LEFT IS SURE THEY HAVE NO SOULS:  What You Believe Can Kill You… Or at Least, Kill Your Soul…

THE BETRAYAL GOES DEEP:  Faith in our Fathers.

June 18, 2018

CHANGE: Catholic Bishops Gear Up to Beat Trump in 2020. Well, they’ve proven themselves unable to maintain a community of faith in the U.S., so I guess they need to import a bunch of Catholic immigrants from Mexico and Central America to make up the difference.

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IN THE FUTURE, EVERYONE WILL BE HITLER FOR 15 MINUTES — AND THE FUTURE IS NOW: Lefties claim wounded veteran working with ICE is a Nazi.

After smearing wheelchair-bound Marine Justin Gaertner, wounded in Afghanistan, because they mistook the elbow tattoo of his unit’s insignia as an iron cross, Hollywood lefty Ron Perlman tweeted, “My apologies! I mistook the symbol on this man’s arm before I actually knew the facts. So again, I apologize to the man in this picture for my mistake. Maybe it was the gusto, the relish this agency seems to project in their obsession to racially profile decent people.”

Jenny, things got a little out of hand. It’s just this war and that lyin’ son-of-a-bitch Johnson.

KIDS TORN FROM THEIR PARENTS: As always, the compassion is highly selective.

HEADLINES FROM 1488. Male Feminist Declares: ‘End Chivalry Now.’

(Classical reference in headline.)

IT’S COME TO THIS: Bay Area Elementary School to Be Named After Illegal Immigrant.

IT’S BEEN A BAD THREE YEARS FOR THE MEDIA: 3 years ago, Trump announced that he was running for President, and, oh, how the media mocked him.

YOU’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BLOG: The Five Worst Illegal Immigration Arguments.


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BUT STILL, THEY PERSISTED: Erick Erickson lights the media up for doing a ‘terrible job’ covering #ImmigrantChildren.


● Shot:

A tin of osetra caviar arrives in a crystal bowl of crushed ice. It’s served as a bona fide “bump”— the server spoons the eggs onto your fist along with a dollop of smoked creme fraiche, then drapes it all in a fat slab of barbecued wagyu beef fat. (Yes, all on your fist.) It’s a salty, smoky, slippery slurp, enlivened by a perfect pop. The effect is similar to the drug it alludes to: I immediately wanted more — although not at $68 a hit.

A review of the San Francisco restaurant Avery in Eater.com, Jun 5, 2018. (There’s a photo of the “fist bump of caviar” at the above link, if you’re curious.)

● Chaser: “Terrified” San Francisco Tourists Shocked By Aggressive Vagrants, Discarded Needles, Dead Bodies.

—Headline, Zero Hedge, today.

(Classical reference in headline.)

THIS IS NICE: An Extraordinary Thing Happened At Jordan Peterson’s Indianapolis Performance.

BUY THE BEST BOOKS? THAT’S CRAZY TALK — Sarah Hoyt asks, Should Publishers Buy the Best Books or Books By the Right People?

(Yes, that’s right, it’s me, Charlie Martin. I’ll be posting here in the future as well as my usual haunts at PJM. As well as writing for PJM for more than 10 years, I’m a consultant through Flint Hills Group, where I also blog, and tutor computer topics at Wyzant. Come up and see me some time.)

I FIND THIS PLAUSIBLE: People’s Egos Get Bigger After Yoga And Meditation.

DIVERSITY MEANS KNOWING YOUR PLACE: Bestselling Author Fired for Criticizing Penguin Random House’s New Diversity Policy.

Update: The original piece has been corrected. Lionel Shriver was dropped as a literary judge by a different organization, not dropped by her publisher.

TRUMP DOESN’T HAVE HIS WALL YET, BUT THE FBI STONEWALL HAS BEEN ERECTED: Comey refuses to testify to Congress, McCabe pleads Fifth Amendment.

WELL, THEY ALREADY SEEM TO HAVE CORNERED THE MARKET ON DULLER JUDGES: With Knife Crimes on Rise, British Judge Recommends Duller Kitchen Knives.

REVIEW: 2019 Volvo V60.

EVERYBODY DOES IT: Supreme Court Strikes Down Challenges to Gerrymandering in Maryland and Wisconsin. “Both Republicans and Democrats lost attempts to stop partisan redistricting.”

YOU’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BLOG: 50 Media Mistakes in the Trump Era: The Definitive List.

BAD NEWS FOR PAJAMA BOY: Tip: Low Testosterone Can Lead to Early Death. I’m skeptical that “testosterone-boosting supplements” are the answer, though. Although a lot of people are deficient in magnesium.

CHRISTIAN TOTO: Why Attacking White Male Critics Is More Than Just Dumb.

BUT THE NARRATIVE! Green Energy Makes Ontario the Most Debt-Ridden Province on Earth.

I had been assured that making energy much more expensive would make us all much richer.

CHANGE? Colorado Gov Attends High-Powered Summit in Italy, as 2020 Speculation Mounts.

I can’t think of much that Governor Hickenlooper has accomplished for Colorado, besides driving Magpul Industries to Texas — and I live in Colorado. Hickenlooper also came out against Colorado’s single-payer proposal, which is quickly becoming enshrined Democratic doctrine — if it hasn’t already.

TO BE FAIR THEY’RE ALSO MAKING THINGS WORSE IN THEIR OWN COUNTRIES: Iranian Feminist on How Western Liberals Are Making Women’s Lives Worse in Her Country.

BEN SHAPIRO AT PRAGER U: What is Intersectionality? (Video)

OH: Bill Nelson Switches Support of Judge After Schumer Cash Infusion Into FL-Sen. “Nelson originally suggested Allen Winsor to the Trump White House for a judgeship. Did a multi-million cash infusion from Chuck Schumer’s super PAC change his mind?”

Inquiring minds want to know.

VITAMIN D UPDATE: Vitamin D may guard against colon cancer.

ROGER L. SIMON ON PETER STRZOK: His desire to testify is fishy and dangerous.

FROM THE NATIONAL SPACE COUNCIL MEETING JUST NOW: Trump announces he’s directing Pentagon to create ‘space force’ as new branch of Armed Services. He also signed a space debris directive.

JOY REID ATTACKED CLINTON ADMIN FOR NOT WANTING TO DEPORT IMMIGRANT CHILDREN: “In a satire spinoff of Dr. Seuss, Reid attacked former Attorney General Janet Reno for her not wanting to take Elian Gonzalez away from family in Florida and return him to Cuba.”

Related: In 2000, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote, “Yup, I gotta confess, that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal in Miami pointing an automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering him in the name of the U.S. government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed my heart. They should put that picture up in every visa line in every U.S. consulate around the world, with a caption that reads: ‘America is a country where the rule of law rules. This picture illustrates what happens to those who defy the rule of law and how far our government and people will go to preserve it. Come all ye who understand that.’”

WHY THE OIG REPORT SHOULD SCARE YOU: “The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is filled with people who fear the FBI.”

CIVIL RIGHTS, PRACTICAL APPLICATION UPDATE: Armed civilian took down shooter at Washington state Walmart.

An armed civilian took down a shooter after at least two people were shot Sunday night at a Washington state Walmart, police said.

Tumwater police said the civilian, described by officers as a good Samaritan, shot and killed the suspect at the scene.

The shooting happened just after 5:30 p.m. at the Walmart Supercenter in Tumwater, about 65 miles south of Seattle.

“I heard two bangs. It sounded like gunshots to me,” witness Robert Berwick said. “I looked down the aisle and saw a person running.”

That’s when Berwick ran, too. There was chaos in the parking lot, and he said the shooting suspect tried to carjack another man. That’s when the suspect was shot.

“I thanked him for saving my life,” Berwick said of the attempted carjacking victim who shot the suspect. “He didn’t look like he had any regrets. I hope he doesn’t have any.”

Management at that Walmart should pass around the hat for this hero.

A SMALL MEASURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY: SPLC Pays $3.3 Million Settlement to Counter-Extremism Group It Called ‘Anti-Muslim.’ The SPLC has been a lefty smear machine for years, but now it’s being used by tech giants to censor “hate.”

WEIRD, YOU’D NEVER KNOW THIS FROM FOLLOWING THE NEWS: Gallup: Satisfaction With U.S. Direction Reaches 12-Year High.

AGAINST ANTI-LIBERALISM: A long-standing fashion on the left is now a fashion on the right.

Susan Sontag established herself as a public intellectual through original and incisive essays in which she exalted avant-garde over high culture in the 1960s. Late in her career, in the 1990s, she began to have second thoughts. “It never occurred to me that all the stuff I had cherished, and all the people I had cared about in my university education, could be dethroned,” she explained to Joan Acocella of The New Yorker. She had assumed that “all that would happen is that you would set up an annex — you know, a playhouse — in which you could study these naughty new people, who challenged things.”

The “naughty new people” were mid-20th-century artists, particularly American and European writers and filmmakers, who defied existing conventions of the novel and of narrative in general. In your creation or experience of art, try for a moment to stop asking what it “means,” Sontag advised. Relish the “sensuous surface of art without mucking about in it.” The aesthetic she was celebrating — it amounted to an elevation of form over content — was supposed to be exemplified by the “nouveau roman,” in which plot, character development, and all the empty promises of linear thought were minimized or, better, absent. “What is important now is to recover our senses,” she wrote. “We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more.”

Alas, what had appealed to Sontag about that kind of formalism “was mostly just the idea of it,” Acocella observed. “I thought I liked William Burroughs and Nathalie Sarraute and Robbe-Grillet,” Sontag told her, “but I didn’t. I actually didn’t.” And now she had regrets. “Little did I know that the avant-garde transgressiveness of the sixties was to become absolutely institutionalized and that most of the gods of high culture would be dethroned and mocked.” In “Thirty Years Later” (1996), Sontag, reflecting on what she had failed to foresee when she wrote the cultural criticism collected in her book Against Interpretation (1966), recounted that she hadn’t yet grasped that

seriousness itself was in the early stages of losing credibility in the culture at large, and that some of the more transgressive art I was enjoying would reinforce frivolous, merely consumerist transgressions. Thirty years later, the undermining of standards of seriousness is almost complete, with the ascendancy of a culture whose most intelligible, persuasive values are drawn from the entertainment industries. Now the very idea of the serious (and the honorable) seems quaint, “unrealistic,” to most people.

During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s Pauline Kael was doing the same tearing down of old standards in the film industry as Sontag did in literature from her perch as the New Yorker’s most prominent film critic. As a 2008 profile of her in Canada’s National Post concluded, “Not long before she died, Pauline Kael remarked to a friend, ‘When we championed trash culture we had no idea it would become the only culture.’ Who did?”

Read the whole thing.

BOOK REVIEW: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog by Dave Barry.

ONE DEAD, 22 INJURED: The mass shooting nobody will march against.

BREAKING: Former Israeli minister arrested on suspicion of spying for Iran.

IN THE MAIL: From S. M. Stirling, Black Chamber (A Novel of an Alternate World War).

Plus, fresh Gold Box and Lightning Deals.

THE SOLUTION IS SO OBVIOUS: Make warm weather illegal.

ACHTUNG: The Revolt Comes to Germany.

The problem of keeping the room cool while leaving the door open is now consuming Angela Merekel’s European Union as the refugee problem grows in political size. Can the EU have no internal borders if it lacks an external one? If there’s no way of keeping benefits in, what is the meaning of out?

That in a nutshell is the problem posed by the 21st century European migrant crisis where millions, mostly “from Muslim-majority countries of regions south and east of Europe, including Western Asia, South Asia and Africa,” have streamed into the continent. They predominantly enter through nations bordering on the Mediterranean and Turkey yet disproportionately settle in the Northern European high-wage areas of the continent. The resulting disruptions have fueled a succession of local rebellions from countries disproportionately affected by the inrushing tide. Each straining member country is demanding at least a partial return of control over their internal border in order to cope.

That revolt has finally reached Germany. The New York Times writes that “the populist surge that has left Hungary, Austria and Italy threatening to close their borders to migrants has now spread to Germany, where it could even bring down Chancellor Angela Merkel and further unhinge Europe Union’s cohesion and stability.”

Read the whole thing.

AMERICA’S LONGEST WAR: Taliban resume fighting as Eid ceasefire ends.

The first day of the ceasefire on Friday started with Taliban, civilians and officials offering Eid prayers together in mosques across the country.

Pictures and videos emerged on social media later that day of Afghans celebrating Eid with men identified by them as Taliban fighters.

“It was a moment of extreme happiness for us that we got to celebrate Eid this way – without any fear,” Zahid Khan, a resident of Jalalabad told Al Jazeera.

The celebrations were cut short with a first attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) on Saturday that killed at least 30 people and wounded more than 65 in Nangarhar province.

The second attack, a suicide bombing in Jalalabad on Sunday, close to the governor’s office in Nangarhar province, killed at least 18 people. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

“On the day of Eid when everyone came together, an attack by ISIL made many people cry for their lost ones,” Nikzad, a Kabul resident told Al Jazeera.

“Peace is not easy to achieve in this country.”

What country? Afghanistan is a place on the map where neighboring countries aren’t.



The Trump administration’s new sanctions on Russia are casting light on the threat posed to the undersea cables that carry the world’s electronic communications between continents.

The Treasury Department sanctioned five Russian firms and three Russian nationals this week for aiding the Kremlin’s domestic security service, the FSB. One of the companies is alleged to have provided support for Moscow’s “underwater capabilities” – including producing diving systems and a submersible craft for the FSB.

The Treasury Department alleged that Russia has been “active” in tracking underwater fiber optic cables that transmit communications across continents.

Hacking the old fashioned way:

“It is much more likely that sabotage would be something that could potentially damage or exploit these cables, than espionage,” said Robert Anderson, a former national security executive at the FBI and now a security expert with the Chertoff Group.

“It is a lot harder to have the ability to tap into these [cables] without anybody finding out about it and then gleaning off intelligence over time,” added Anderson. He said the threat lingers in areas where the cables are in shallower waters or make landfall.

RELATED HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: Hacking undersea cables in World War One.