A Grand Puzzlement

There are certain things that I just don’t “get”. No matter how hard I try and wrap my mind around the topic, it just stubbornly refuses to engage, sitting in a little sullen lump in the corner and obstinately saying “No.” Because of this, the higher mathematic fields have always been closed to me, either through natural disinclination or having been traumatized in getting blind-sided by the New Math in the third grade. Wisely, I stuck to the simpler, practical methods to do with numbers, and left esoteric maths to those who had a bent for them. I have other talents.

That being admitted and perhaps in relation to such an inability, I could never quite grasp the method and appeal of bitcoin.

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Thoughts on the Waukesha Christmas Parade Trial

Sometime later today I expect to hear the news that Darrell Brooks has been sentenced to six consecutive life sentences, plus around 900 years in prison without the possibility of parole. I would like to watch it live but have some business matters to deal with so I will watch it later on YouTube (Law and Crime has livestreamed and archived the whole trial). This ending to an unspeakable tragedy has received a ton of press locally here in Wisconsin, and I have seen quite a bit nationally as well. What follows are my thoughts on the subject.

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Midterms and Mayhem

Abstract: A “red wave” midterm election seems about to occur. Notwithstanding the apparent (relatively) recent precedent of the 1994 midterms, the eight weeks from Tuesday 8 November 2022 to Tuesday 3 January 2023 may become the most challenging period to date in the entire history of the American constitutional order, not excepting the “Secession Winter” following Tuesday 6 November 1860. A broadly similar situation would almost certainly exist if the relative positions of the major political parties in the US were reversed. Even with alarming possibilities in view, this post is intended to promote constructive apprehension, not mere fearfulness.

Like all good students at our eponymous institution, you get the theoretical elements first, then more practical aspects, and falsifiable predictions at the end.

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The Lightning Rod

I am thinking that Professor Emily “Litella” Oster (hat tip to NeoNeocon) did not expect so furious a reaction as she has gotten, by writing this particular article in The Atlantic Magazine. After having done her stalwart best for the Covid Crusade for more than two years – demonizing those who refused to get the vaccination or wear masks everywhere, or see our children locked out of school, or who suggested that ivermectin or chloroquine might alleviate the symptoms – Professor Oster now is suggesting that … really, it was all just a silly misunderstanding, she and her pals just got carried away but they meant well and didn’t know anything for certain, and why can’t we all just all forgive and forget?
To which the instantaneous and outraged reply is – not just no, but hell no. Hell no, with a napalm-degree flaming side order of very personal reasons why not.

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Isn’t It Simpler to Speak of Bourgeois Norms?

Or perhaps, where people from different backgrounds find themselves in more frequent interactions with each other, to have concepts such as diplomacy (for the leadership classes) or simple good manners?

A political scientist called Eric Kaufmann coined the expression “whiteshift” to refer to the current evolution of those norms, when the modal ancestry of the polity is shifting.  It’s not enough to sell a book of that title, his “How Can We Manage the Process of Western ‘Whiteshift’?” is for Quillette subscribers only.  Fair enough, an academician has to earn a living too.

I have the book, and it’s in the stack of stuff to read and review, if perhaps in the “this is not off to a compelling start and I’m not obligated to stay current with stuff that makes me sleepy” part of the stack.

Michael Barone read, or at least skimmed, the book, in order to see if there’s any punditry to do.

Kaufmann, a Canadian who teaches in Britain and is of Jewish, Chinese, and Latino ancestry. His most recent book is called Whiteshift, which he defines as “the mixture of many non-whites into the white group through voluntary assimilation.”

As he points out, something like this has happened before. A hundred years ago, Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish immigrants pouring into Ellis Island were considered to be of different “races” by white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elites.

Half a century ago, their descendants were regarded as still culturally and politically distinctive in Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s description of New York ethnics groups, Beyond the Melting Pot. A “balanced” ticket in those days had to include Irish, Italian, and Jewish candidates.

Today, all these groups are lumped together as “whites,” even though there are still perceptible, though muted, differences in political attitudes and perspectives between those with different ancestries.

I vaguely recall some of that writing about “unmeltable ethnics” during my adolescence in Milwaukee. Although Americans All was a rallying cry during Woodrow Wilson’s war, the existence of a Croatian soccer collective different from the Serbian soccer collective still meant someone not conversant with the past millennium of feudin’ and fussin’ in the Balkans ought be circumspect.

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