Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is an American treasure.

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One step toward improving race relations

As a black man, President Obama has two radical options that could could change the dynamic between blacks and whites in America. The first option is that he could claim the mantle of the conquering warlord, extracting tribute from whites to repay his tribe. But this would leave everyone unsatisfied. Whites would feel resentful, but would also at last have an excuse to unburden themselves from helping the black underclass. Blacks would feel unsatisfied because this wouldn’t solve any of their problems. The struggle would continue, and it would become more vicious.

The second option is for President Obama to declare peace and forgiveness. This is what whites expected from the president all along. They know that they themselves are not at fault for the problems afflicting the black community, but they also feel responsible for helping their less well off countrymen. Many whites will support any initiative that purports to improve the condition of their black countrymen. However, those initiatives never seem to work, and white guilt is never assuaged.

Both blacks and whites seem to be losing their patience. The entire dialog of race relations is filled with lies. President Obama is in a position to cut through the lies and declare the truth. And there is one action he can take that would declare that the United State of America will not tolerate at least one egregious lie: President Obama should have Al Sharpton thrown in jail.

Learning Latin

Mark Yuray suggests that communicating exclusively in Latin may be a way to fight the culture’s decay. I tend to agree. Latin is the language used by the builders of both the Roman Civilization and our modern Western Civilization. If we are to commit to rebuilding our civilization, it may be best to start with the material our ancestors used to build it the first time.

One problem, however, is that learning Latin is hard. I would not expect to see a productive conversation in Latin without a coordinated education effort. It would probably take a couple years to develop a minimal ability. At first, the resulting prose will be stylistically poor. But it will improve with time.

Building a city is hard. Building a civilization is harder. Hard things are worth doing.

Another thing about that shirt

B2P1UPJCMAAVpBXAs has been commented on by others, feminists’ reaction to space scientist’s Matt Taylor’s ugly shirt is hysterical and hysterical. If you aren’t a feminist, you might regard that shirt as tasteless, or ugly, or inappropriate attire for an office, but you wouldn’t clamor for the quasi-Maoist forced apology Taylor later gave.

Here’s the truth: that shirt is tasteless, and no man would be allowed to wear a shirt like that at any office with a mature HR department, an office of diversity and inclusion, or even with a non-negligible proportion of women. It’s obvious that Taylor’s workplace has hardly any dress code.

This is evidence that the European Space Agency tolerates nonconformity in its scientists. If an employer allows such deviations from the usual progressive norms, it probably allows its workers to speak their mind in all matters scientific as well. They are, indeed, welcoming to those who are different.

Heretofore the European Space Agency has avoided the gaze of the progressive conformity police, but those days are almost certainly over. Now they, like NASA, will make sure their primary mission is no longer scientific progress, but mere progress. And those who think differently will be purged or silenced.

Can a scientific agency accomplish anything without allowing its scientists to think freely?

Like IBM and Kodak and Google and FEMA and the CDC, the organization will retain only marginal competence in completing its original mission. It will continue to exist as a place for 2nd tier engineers, scientists, and lots of bureaucrats to spend their weekdays.

Progress.

Civilization

The preservation of civilization should be of concern. I don’t have any advice, but here are two sparks:

Civilisation by Kenneth Clark. This is a television series produced in 1969. In it, Kenneth Clark, an art historian, limns the history of western civilization from the middle ages to the present. The characteristic that separates civilization from barbarism, according to Clark, is that civilization thinks about its future and its past, whereas the barbarians think merely of the present. Episodes from this series can be found on YouTube sporadically (and some times in high definition).

The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival [PDF] by John Bagot Glubb. I found this from excerpts on the Isegoria blog. This essay, as far as I can tell, is unique. It describes in general terms how empires rise and fall. The commonality between ancient civilizations and our own is startling. Among other features, empires last approximately 200-250 years, they emerge from modest backgrounds unexpectedly and achieve great conquests, they grow more powerful and wealthy, and eventually succumb to decadence and collapse. Living in a decadent age, it is difficult to avoid pessimism after reading this, but I think it gives us a better view of what the world really is like.

Traditional Cities

I saw this article linked on Free Northerner‘s blog. This is an intriguing concept. I can definitely see how the traditional city has advantages over the hypertrophic city for residential uses.

Comparing the traditional city to the suburbs is a little more difficult, because they occupy slightly different niches. Traditional cities seem better for socialization and pedestrian commuting. But the lack of pedestrian traffic is a feature for certain suburban residents; they don’t want people walking by their windows all night. People who have hobbies that take up more space also would prefer a more spread out neighborhood (think car buffs or gardeners). Perhaps they would fit on the outskirts of a traditionally laid out small village. It’s food for thought.

Another issue is white flight. It wasn’t only inferior architecture and city planning that drove people to the suburbs. There would need to be a reform of urban policing and perhaps some sort of reinstitutionalization of de-facto segregation to convince well-to-do Americans to pack themselves into dense cities again. It isn’t PC, but PC isn’t enough to convince people to raise their children in a neighborhood they don’t like.

Accepting Exceptions to Expected Unprincipled Exceptions

One common theme among the right is that well-to-do Progressives, while expounding their typical cant, will, when their personal stakes are important enough, act contradictory to their ideology. This is most commonly illustrated by Progressives’ choices in where to live and where to send their children to school, and in certain jurisdictions how they police crime. Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart documents how America’s liberal upper classes live traditional bourgeois lives, while refusing to recommend the lifestyle to their lower-class countrymen. Lawrence Auster called these examples of tacit acceptance of reality Unprincipled Exceptions. This obvious and endemic hypocrisy in the Progressive worldview makes it much easier to escape the progressive egg.

But sometimes Progressives, in defiance of all reason, warning, instinct, and common sense, take themselves seriously and get stranded in Antarctic ice while on a PR junket to demonstrate how Antarctic ice is extinct.

Image

Look on Global Warming ye mighty and despair!

But, despite the schadenfreude, there is the question about why the Progressive hypocritical impulse failed here. This was a well funded adventure supported by the usually savvy mainstream media. I don’t think that the people planning the expedition were ideological outliers.

In his article about New York City’s crime strategy, Handle says:

The leftist hopeful dream is one of a society which could be full of rewarding, positive carrots and completely devoid of the sticks of negative experience.

And I think this is the ultimate explanation for the credulity shown by the passengers on the doomed ship. They really had no idea what the Antarctic sea was like.

So one question I might ask is whether there are any other issues where Progressives blindly follow their ideology where an Unprincipled Exception would be easily excused.

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As an aside, here’s the Guardian’s dishonest spin:

Research ship trapped in Antarctic ice because of weather, not climate change

The predicament and subsequent rescue of 52 passengers – both tourists and scientists – on the Russian ship Academik Shokalskiy has gripped media around the world. The smooth rescue was impressive and a great relief, although the vessel itself and its crew are still stuck – and now one of the icebreakers sent to help in the rescue, the Chinese ship Xue Long, is itself stuck in the ice.
Some commentators have remarked on what they describe as the ‘irony’ of researchers studying the impact of a warming planet themselves being impeded by heavy ice. With some even suggesting that the situation is itself evidence that global warming is exaggerated.
In fact, the local weather patterns that brought about the rapid build up of ice that trapped the Academik Shokalskiy tell us very little about global warming. This is weather, not climate.
Yes, it is weather, not climate. But the purpose of the expedition was to use the current weather to illustrate the impact of climate change. The researchers expected to use images of no ice as evidence of global warming. Under those rules, finding more ice than expected ought to weigh as evidence as well. Is this difficult to understand?