So Barbara Streisand is a Monster…

I almost wrote a whole blog post about Leaving Neverland, the new documentary about Michael Jackson accusing him of pedophilia.

I didn’t. Because ultimately I decided I didn’t want to wade into that morass.

I don’t know if Jackson did anything. I wasn’t there. Rumor is less than truth and accusation less than proof. He’s already been acquitted of it. So let the matter stay.

But, for the love of God.

Streisand, 76, made the strange comments to British newspaper The Times in a piece out Friday, in which she also said that Jackson’s “sexual needs were his sexual needs.”

She says she “absolutely” believes the allegations of abuse by Robson and Safechuck, but puts more blame on their parents than The Gloved One.

Now, here’s a couple of consistent positions:

  1. Michael Jackson molested little boys. He was a perv and we should shout it from the rooftops.
  2. Michael Jackson is innocent. These men are grifters and liars and we should condemn their falsehood.

Either of those stem from a disagreement about the truth of the accusations. Who should be blamed follows as a consequence of who is guilty.

But neither of these is Barbara Streisand’s position. Barbara Streisand’s position is:

  • Michael Jackson had sex with boys, and that’s fine as long as they don’t turn out like Corey Feldman.

Yeah, she’s apologized, unsaid it for the camera, but whatever. The mask slipped. That’s what Streisand really thinks. She really thinks a little pederasty is fine so long as you provide a nice resort for the family.

Really.

And it strikes me that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Rich & Famous stand by each other like this.

Remember how Roman Polanski sodomizing a 13-year-old in a hot tub wasn’t “Rape-Rape” according to Whoopi Goldberg?

Remember how everyone on the set of Guardians 3 went to bat for James Gunn (Who, waddya know, is back on the job)?

Remember how no one said shit about Harvey Weinstein for 25 years?

I’m starting to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there’s yet more poison in the mud to be hatched out.

I’m staring to wonder if anyone in that industry is capable of seeing another human as more than a commodity.

And I’m starting to wonder if there’s some way to purge it. Like with fire.

When Everything in the Machine is a Crisis, The Crisis is What Feeds the Machine

James Lileks finally found a way to inculcate his classic Screeds into his regular blog, calling it the Wednesday Review of Modern Thought. This past Wednesday, he groused about the overuse of “crisis”:

One of the manifestations of twitchy, sullen, self-righteous miserabilism is the desire to see every problem as a crisis, and every crisis as a justification for the expansion of the state, or the abandoned of old norms.

This is, of course, correct. Fear creates the longing for security, for Direct Action. So, as the old-school Commies knew, the Worse, The Better. And of course, having infected the Fears, as “ethical” stumbling blocks to performing an activity, we then use these to declare that the Poor Little Dears can’t possibly act on their own. We’ve all become the nerdy black guy from The Good Place who can’t choose a hat.

If you can’t make a meal because you’re paralyzed by whether the beans were ethically sourced, and you feel like you’re failing your kid because you let him have a hot dog, you’re probably unhappy about everything in the gott-damned world.

The answer for the food crisis includes nationalized day care and government-run health care, if you’re curious. That’s for starters.

We have problems. Not every problem is a crisis. You need to reserve words for other things.

That would be wise. But they won’t. Because the overuse of the word “crisis” by ethical scamsmen has inculcated us to its use. We see it on the Internet all the time, and like that stupid Grammarly app that keeps emitting itself in my YouTube and Hulu, we have allowed the Machine to tell us how to write.

“Crisis” isn’t even a word anymore, it’s just a meme. Or rather, a program:

  1. Notice unpleasant reality
  2. Declare Unpleasant Reality a Crisis
  3. Make Pious Noise About the Hardship of Dealing With the Crisis
  4. Demand that Big Daddy make all better
  5. Share, Like, and Smash that Subscribe Button
  6. Boom goes the Click Rate

Meanwhile, I go home and make Macaroni and Cheese for my kids. Because I’ve been voting Republican since I was 20; I’m already a monster.

All of Cal Newport’s books could be titled, “How to Be an Effective Person.” Or, maybe, “How to Be an Effective Person In This Technological Epoch.” Digital Minimalism is, like Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, about why you should quit or drastically limit the digital distractions that have proliferated in […]

via Digital Minimalism — Cal Newport — The Story’s Story

Anyone Who Refers to Themselves as Representing a “Community” is an Ass

Is that a Hasty Generalization or a Sweeping one? I lack the data to tell. I also don’t care that it’s illogical.

It’s how I feel, therefore it’s true.

What am I talking about?

This.

Long story, short, an author allowed internet bullies who spoke for the “community” to shame her into not publishing her book. The book in question had yet to be published. Doesn’t matter. It has been seized on, it has been denounced, it has been made to un-exist.

This is how we live now.

But but but, don’t I realize how damaging such a book could be, because it reifies this or doesn’t show proper respect to that? Don’t I realize how this book is Hitler? FOR SHAME.

I don’t care.

I also don’t care if you have claimed, at some point in your life, to speak for a “Community”, and you don’t think that you’re an ass, and you’re offended and you hate me now.

Good.

I’m glad you’re offended.

I’m glad I wrote something that pissed you off.

Welcome to the party, pal.

Because the long slow march of shrieking cretins who have debased every part of our culture has been pissing me off for a while. I haven’t said much about it, because what’s the point? Anyone who genuinely thinks that a fantasy novel which has as a hook the enslavement of magic-users is a thought-crime deserving of rage, anyone who applauds the destruction of art for the sake of their politics, is beyond persuasion. As Joseph Mills put it, a mob has reasons that reason knows nothing of.

But the flip side of that is, it genuinely does not matter if you try to meet them halfway, or if you flip them the bird. It is not possible to avoid being offensive any longer. No matter what you do, you’re going to piss off someone.

So I’m going to.

“Community” is a word used by bullies to give their unexamined premises and tendentious conclusions the false authority of societal need. It is a word utterly ruined, which sickens my heart whenever banally uttered by a smug imbecile. It is verbal diarrhea.

It’s also a pretty funny if preciously self-aware sit-com from the last decade. I still like it, but I don’t watch it much anymore. It’s gone now, and Archer is funnier, anyway.

I speak these words as an aspiring author myself, and I speak them as one who just realized that, if The Sword gets published, I’m going to make people angry.

I can’t predict why, exactly. But I can predict I will.

Because this is the world we live in now.

So I promise this: if no agent or publishing house wants it, I’m going to set up a crowd-funded launch. If someone persuades Indiegogo or whatever site I use to shut me down, I’ll find another one. If I get nowhere that way, I’ll put together the scratch for as big a self-pub launch as I can manage. If the trolls go after me on Amazon, I’ll find another way. I’ll mimeograph the damn thing and pass copies around like samizdata (is that an inapt use of that word? I don’t care).

I will not be stopped.

Because you are evil, and you deserve to have the thing that offends you shoved in your face.

I hope I make you cry.

(Hat Tip to Larry Correia, who, if you think I’m obnoxious, is an order of magnitude rantier and more offensive.)

Journalism is Dying Because It’s Not Free

Been a while since I came across a Megan McArdle piece I thought worth passing on, but this one is it.

This past week the axe fell in the newsroom, most notably at BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post, but also…

newspaper chain Gannett swung the ax through several of its publications this week, including the Indianapolis Star, the Tennessean and the Arizona Republic.

…Fifteen years have been spent in a fruitless search for a viable business model that will support the kind of journalism the country expects — and, no, conservatives, I’m not talking about “the liberal media.” I’m talking about media organizations that pour resources into informing the public about the everyday, noncontroversial stuff that makes up the bulk of media content.

And why? Because people don’t, as a rule, want to pay for online content. They want to pay to have a thing. An e-book is a thing. A movie is a thing. A copy of a newspaper is a thing. The internet is a medium I access with a device. An online article lacks the same level of thingness.

If I’m browsing, and I click a link, and I hit a paywall, do I subscribe, before I know if the article is worth reading? No. I click away, and go read something that is free. Because anyone can access the internet, and anyone can put something there. That’s what newspapers are competing with. And losing.

A few salient points:

It’s telling that the conservative publications that were supposed to correct the flaws of mainstream media have instead often ended up in a symbiotic relationship with it. Instead of setting up comprehensive reporting operations of their own, they spend much of their time reacting to reporting done by mainstream outlets. Reporting is obscenely expensive, and no one — conservative, liberal or in between — has figured out how to fund it on shrinking advertising dollars.

One might go so far as to say that there isn’t any such thing as conservative media – there is only a conservative critique of media. This is a failure, but also an opportunity for someone on the right willing to build a media empire that pays for itself, that produces it’s own news, that shifts narratives and Overton Windows in the starboard direction. The print/digital version of Fox News doesn’t yet exist.

This of course raises questions about why it doesn’t exist, and what the sam-scratch all those “conservative” think-tanks are spending their money on. I think it’s fair to say that the National Review era of conservative media has passed – it has done it’s work, and it’s time for it to go. The Washington Free Beacon is probably more valuable.

Those links go to reporting subsidized somewhat by digital ads but mostly by print circulations and speculative investments from outside the industry. As the journalism business burns through the last of those subsidies, large swaths of the free Internet are going to be paywalled off, and readers and journalists alike will have to learn to think of news as their parents did: as something you pay for, or do without.

The last sentence underlines the deeper problem: to what extent to I actually need “news”? Am I visibly suffering for not reading the Washington Post’s day-by-day reportage? Am I any less happy for not having a soulless corporation rhetorically manipulating my worldview?

Until I find a news publication I can trust to keep my honestly informed, I have no need to spend money on it. To be ignorant is a misfortune, to be misinformed is a curse.

Good-Bye, Fail Whale: Why I Left Twitter

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My reasons are common, but they are no less true for that:

  1. Twitter is Unfair. Twitter squelches the speech of the Right, but not the Left. The examples are too many to count, and they’ve been going on for a while. It’s going to continue that way. That’s what the people who run Twitter think is fair and just. They are Lib-Progs, so they’re going to run things according to a Lib-Prog perspective. It doesn’t matter that Jesse Kelly got reinstated. The sword of Damocles remains hovering over him and anyone else who dissents from the Narrative. I am not getting anything out of Twitter to merit participation in something that will profit those who despise me.
  2. Twitter is Angry. Even if the suppression of speech were balanced, a great deal of what passes on Twitter would be an unworthy addition to the national conversation. As I’ve said before, Twitter often has the function of Burroughs’ Tape Recorder, displaying the worst arguments of either side to the other, provoking greater and greater condemnations from both.  It’s all Burns and Owns and Destroys. It’s The Screaming of the Children of the Night.
  3. Twitter is Fake. One cannot communicate clearly in a riot. One cannot think clearly. One can only react and shout. The act of reducing a thought to 140 280 characters destroys nuance, consideration and depth. The reward of likes and retweets makes the exercise little more than a performance, an attempt to be applauded. If I am ReTweeted, I reach more people. Therefore I must make what I say basic and accessible, and at the same time extreme, so that it stands out in the storm. Debates are not good-faith attempts to persuade an interlocutor, but a display of rhetorical wizardry before an audience. It is dishonest at every level.

Since leaving, I have had moments of reconsideration. But then I remind myself that I no longer have the Angry Box, as I used to call it, sitting their on my phone to make me angry. I will no longer have pointless debates with strangers over questions neither of us have the honesty to admit our ignorance on.

Instead, I am here. Thinking, reflecting, considering, offering. Doing the Work.

Facebook is next.