At last some justice has occurred. Trump has pardoned Conrad Black.
Comments here in
Zuckerberg and Harari – the latter is one of the most over-rated gasbags of the modern world – talk past each other for an hour and a half. Harari is concerned with the implications of Artificial Intelligence, and Zuckerberg with the breakup of the Internet into national jurisdictions. All of which is reasonable from their perspectives.
I am going to say something outrageous here: I do not think these people are all that bright. I invite you to watch the show (I suggest from about 28 minutes into it). Yes I am aware that Harari has three hugely best-selling histories of everything on the market, and he is currently fashionable. And we all know that Zuckerberg is a Master of the Universe with many tens of billions of dollars in his grasp. I have neither the billions nor the best sellers and I could be accused of envy.
Zuckerberg thinks AI is a set of methods that improve processes everywhere. It should not be personified, as Harari does. Perhaps I should not be so harsh on Zuckerberg. He makes a few reasonable points. Nevertheless I find him banal, even if largely right .
Harari thinks the forces of efficiency and morality have split, and this has given a boost to totalitarian regimes. “Some system far away can know me better than my mother”, and that system can be hostile.
This, he says, is a situation we never had to deal with before.
Zuckerberg observes that there is no metric to optimize society. Harari conceives that “free will” is an illusion, and that what people imagine is their own will is an implant, so to speak, of the persuasive arts developed through the Internet.
My understanding of this attitude is shaped by what I heard recently from some left wing academic (I know, a pleonasm). He argues that the “press” needed to become professionalized , that is, turned into a self regulating professional body with powers of certification and disaccreditation, in the manner of lawyers, doctors or occupational therapists. He based his views o the terrible events of recent years, Brexit and the election of Trump.
It is difficult for those of us who look upon Brexit and Trump as perfectly understandable to sympathize with the shock that these two events delivered to the political Left. More even than the fall of Communism in 1989, the fall of Obama/Clinton and their replacement by Trump was their own personal “collapse of Communism”, their god that failed. And Brexit likewise has overturned the rule of the chattering classes in Britain, and they are fighting back as hard as they can to reclaim their accustomed role in ruling opinion.
Harari would argue that the customer is no longer right, because his opinion has been hacked by AI and manipulative algorithms. Zuckerberg, to his credit, demurs. These questions are not new, he says. In that he is perfectly correct. And I also agree with Zuckerberg that that technology has not made this problem more acute now than it has ever been, and thus I think Harari is merely handwringing. But he will not shut up about his concerns. Zuckerberg, by contrast, seems more rooted in the world of practice.
Occasionally I am forced to realize that i live in my own opinion bubble. Or if you prefer, sphere. We organize our lives to stay away from strife, and so we live as much as possible in a place where we have filtered out the unwelcome. I do it, you do it, he does it.
Today’s lesson came from members of the NDP (Canada’s lefter that Left opposition party) objecting to an invitation to Jordan Peterson appearing at a parliamentary committee. The National Post stated:
“The NDP is objecting to an invitation Conservative MPs have extended to psychology professor and author Jordan B. Peterson to testify before the House of Commons justice committee, calling it “irresponsible and morally reprehensible.”
“In a statement released Tuesday, NDP MP Tracey Ramsey said the Conservatives are “dangerously pandering to divisive politics instead of standing up for human rights.”
If I were an NDP member of Parliament, I would enjoy having a set-to with Jordan Peterson. What dismays me is the constant effort not to engage other ideas. As the NDP representative on a CBC television show once said, in respect of a mildly controversial topic, “We shouldn’t even be discussing this”. Wrong – we should.
Everything has been settled, in this view. Only we keep finding that the number of topics that have been settled: gay rights, abortion, global warming, keeps expanding, and the zone of the discussable keeps shrinking, all in the name of “inclusion” and “diversity”. Of course as you will know, inclusion means exclusion, and diversity means uniformity, only the Left does not know that, or if it knows it, will not admit it.
I highly recommended writer Guillaume Durocher on the Unz Review for your frequent attention. His recent observations on the many absurdities of modern economics and the true value of human societies is fresh ocean air in the miasma progressive politics.
As I am wont to say, there is nothing new under the Sun, and I say it yet again.
North American Indians are now a protected class of people. You cannot say rude things about them, even if accurate. I am not defending Lynn Beyak’s taste or discernment, I am opposing the desire to squelch anything that offends this second’s standards of what can be said.
“Without a healthy respect for free speech you have no culture of honest inquiry. Without a culture of honest inquiry you do not have the necessary climate of innovation that a genuinely dynamic business environment needs.
“That very narrow and particular focus tells you that what’s really going on is the substitution of one set of blasphemy laws by another. “
We used to laugh at the ideas of sacred cows, which are a reality in India. Now we have them ourselves, wandering into traffic and blocking streets. Don’t be mean to a panhandler. He or she could belong to a sacred group of humans. You know I am not exaggerating.
It is not all doom and gloom.
Prosecution service drops the case against Admiral Norman. Liberals look like political nitwits.
I am still not persuaded that the federal Liberals will lose power this autumn. I wish more people could be persuaded that Andrew Scheer was worthy of their confidence. I am not saying this conclusion is fair nor am I saying they are right in their assessment. I just do not feel Conservative victory yet. I hope I am wrong.
Poor Casper Semenya. She is somewhat intersexed, and the levels of testosterone in her body enable her to run much faster than women less masculinized. And this brings up two issues that blow a hole in essential contentions of some Leftists.
First, it is obvious that if men (or former men, however surgically and chemically neutered) are allowed to compete in female sports, they will win. Higher, faster, stronger. The victories of former males in female sports are becoming so obvious that it can no longer be ignored that males have superior strength, speed and endurance. This leads to the realization that all of female sports is a set-aside, which is obvious when you think about it, but this issue causes people to think about it consciously.
To give an example, Canadian female hockey Olympians practice by competing against male junior B hockey players as equals.
The second hole that this fact blows in the brains of the feminist Left is that sex cannot be seen purely as a matter of self-identification. If I cannot self identify as a female to compete in sports, then I cannot identify as a female to use their washrooms.
It will be argued that athletes who have transitioned from male to female do not continue to have physical advantages, but this will be shown to be rubbish soon enough.
What matters is biology, so long denied, denigrated and derided by the political Left. If issues are by their nature biological, in whole or in part, then merely talking about them in a different way will not change facts. Since most of the Left believes that by talking about things differently we can change facts, because “facts” are a construction of white male defence mechanisms to prevent changes of power, the impressive resistance of facts to manipulation by nattering will become more and more apparent.
The ACLU issued the following Tweet:
“Caster Semenya should be able to compete without being subjected to sex stereotypes that have disproportionately harmed Black women for too long. Women with high levels of testosterone are and always will be woman enough. Stop policing women’s bodies.”
You will have observed that the ACLU switches the issue from sex to race, that the magic word “stereotypes” is used and the harm is said to be “disproportionate”. The word “stereotype” is used in debate whenever a fact proves to be inconvenient. Three magic formulae are used in just two sentences
I have observed that lesbians have been the most clear in their rejection of the arguments of the advocates of transexuals to participate in female sports, and more generally to claim the right to be women. They are saying that lesbianism is a biological condition, not merely a question of self-identification. You should watch this video of Leftists lesbians complaining about how their children are manipulated by the medical profession and others to “transition” without parental permission.
They call this a “social contagion”, and I agree with them. If you object to clitoridectomies by Muslims, why would you not object to radical mastectomies for underage girls. All in the name of pursuing your “authentic self”. “People should know that this is Planned Parenthood’s new business”, one of them says. You can transition your sex and still not be old enough to buy alcohol.
But the implications of the re-emergence of biology as a discussable factor in life goes beyond sport, quite obviously. The debate about the role of testosterone in sport is only the beginning of a necessary pushback against the attempt to repress the reality of biology, and biological difference, in the name of inclusivism and equality.
I wrote yesterday on Islamic anti-Semitism as a transcendent all-consuming passion. Lo! The next day a piece of conformation appeared.
Antisemitic, pro-Palestinian demonstration in Berlin, July 17, 2014, photo by Boris Niehaus via Wikipedia
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,158, April 30, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The German Agency for Domestic Security recently published a report on Muslim antisemitism in the country – a development that is unprecedented not only for Germany but for all of Europe. The report makes clear that Muslim antisemitism is a major problem in Germany. At long last, Muslim antisemitism in Germany has been officially detailed for the public.
The German Agency for Domestic Security (Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschutz) recently published a 40-page report entitled “Antisemitism in Islamism.” Never before has any European intelligence agency published a report on Muslim antisemitism. This report is a major break with the German past. It is the first official publication by a national body that exposes in reasonable detail the antisemitism originating in parts of the country’s Muslim community.
I have no doubt that the New York Times is a cesspool of anti-Semitism, as the Israeli ambassador to the US maintains.
“In remarks posted to his official Facebook page and prepared for delivery at a Holocaust memorial event at the US Capitol, Dermer spoke of what he called “the Jew-hatred of growing parts of the intellectual class.”
“The same New York Times that a century ago mostly hid from their readers the Holocaust of the Jewish people has today made its pages a safe-space for those who hate the Jewish state,” Dermer said. “Through biased coverage, slanderous columns and antisemitic cartoons, its editors shamefully choose week after week to cast the Jewish state as a force for evil.”
“In describing the Times as a “cesspool,” Dermer said that the newspaper’s treatment of Israel “goes well beyond any legitimate criticism of a fellow, imperfect democracy.”
But this? This cartoon which was said to have crossed some sort of line?
Is this more offensive than Putin and Trump in homosexual embrace? Or any of the endless Internet memes of Trump as nazi, racist, dwarf, misogynist, lying scum, vainglorious nincompoop?
I happen to think Israel is a successful, modern, and relatively open democracy in the midst of the toughest, most intransigent Islamic fanatics. How it has restrained itself from massacring its Palestinian subject population, of carrying out General Dyer-like shootings of the nearest ten or ten thousand people, is a marvel of restraint, and something that bears contemplation. I congratulate them on having a long fuze and a carefully calibrated sense of vengeance. They have proven effective because they have shown restraint, when I might have lashed out in anger at my people being killed by fanatics.
Most? many? Muslims hate Jews with a passion that is quite beyond comprehension. I am not talking about disliking some Jews because they are assholes, or because some have offended you, or because they compete effectively. I am not talking about disliking even all Jews because they believe they are the Chosen Ones, in their estimation. Or because some Ashkenazis control this or that piece of the information/propaganda apparatus. I am talking about an all-consuming , all-comprehending hatred that is cosmic in its dimensions, and foundational to one’s world view. I have met people like that, and they were Muslim. It is like coming near the gravity well of a neutron star, where the gravity is hate. You do not want to approach it.
Compared to this kind of boundless hatred, Christian and secular-liberal-pagan anti-Semitism is frequently just snobbery and rudeness. It is exponentially smaller in its range and seriousness. I do not doubt it can be painful to be the target of it, but it does not intend radical extermination, as Islamic Jew-hatred does. Although a few more attacks by people on synagogues may force a rethinking of that position.
So pardon me if I find the Trump-Netanyahu cartoon to be only mildly offensive, and to be good political cartooning because it succeeds in being offensive in just the right way. If I thought Netanyahu was leading Trump around by the nose, that’s how I would caricature it.
I do not believe anyone is leading Trump around by the nose: not the Jews, the Masons, the Muslims, the evangelicals, the Illuminati, the Catholics, the Quakers, the liberals, the conservatives, or anyone. The very lack of control which anyone exercises over Trump is part of the reason the cartoon is effective.
But if the cartoon stimulates the New York Times to examine its habitual anti-Israeli stance, and question its wholly unmerited sense of moral superiority, that would be a great benefit. I suspect however that the armour of self-righteousness is too thick for them to abandon.
Netanyahu and Trump share important qualities: they are both rough and effective. For this they cannot be forgiven by the legions of self-defeatists.