American Elephants


“DIVERSITY: The Invention of a Concept” by The Elephant's Child

Last night I was looking for the next book in a series I’m re-reading, and noticed another book that has long been on my overloaded bookshelves. It is titled simply “DIVERSITY: The invention of a Concept” by Peter Wood. I had forgotten all about it, though I bought it when it first came out fourteen years ago, read it and enjoyed it, which is why I still have it. Here’s a bit from the jacket flap, and remember this was written in 2003:

In just a few years, diversity has become America’s most visible cultural idea. Corporations alter their recruitment and hiring policies in the name of a diverse workforce. Universities institute new admissions procedures in the name of a diverse student body. Presidents choose their major appointees in the name of a diverse cabinet. And what diversity’s proponents have in mind, Peter Wood argues, is not the dictionary meaning of the word—variety and multiplicity—but a new and often narrow kind of conformity.

Whether as prescribed numerical outcomes or as the celebration of cultural “difference,” diversity, according to Wood, is now a deadening force in American life, a cliché that promotes group stereotypes and undermines any real diversity of ideas and individuals. …

But the current cult of diversity is no laughing matter. Wood shows how the elevation of this concept to the highest social good marks a profound change in our cultural life. Diversity as it is practiced today is anti-individualist and at odds with America’s older ideals of liberty and equality.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai believed himself to be defending diversity and opportunity for women in his company. James Damore was trying to point out that cultural taboos cloud corporate thinking about gender diversity. The Liberty Lawsite compared the Google bubble with the University bubble. At Hoover, Richard Epstein discusses the rigid ideological conformity in Silicon Valley, At American Greatness, Boris Zelkin noted that Sundar Pichai said that what Damore did was “Not OK” and suggested that Pichai could have thrown in a “double plus ungood” for good measure.

Meanwhile down in Charlottesville a very diverse meeting between three dramatically opposed groups— white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Antifa got together with the tools of their trade: baseball bats, bullhorns, flags, costumes and Tiki-torches, to protest the Civil War and any leftover remembrances thereof, did a lot of injury and killed two people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. President Trump pointed out that there is blame on both sides for the deadly violence, while the Associated Press went crazy and insisted that the antifas were just “protesting” the white supremacists. The president said they were all thugs and criminals and incited violence, for which he, though correct, was excoriated by the press.

I recommend Peter Wood’s book. There are used copies for only around $2 at Amazon, or you can pay over $100 — but if a good read would start a significant conversation about the deliberate invention of a concept and how it happened, it might be very helpful indeed.



More in the Lighten-Up Vein: You’re Making Fools of Yourselves, Lefties by The Elephant's Child

Again, the Left is frothing at the mouth, not at the stupid groups looking for an opportunity to do battle of some kind, but at Donald Trump who didn’t condemn them strongly enough, or soon enough, or in the right words, and can we impeach him for that? The Right, exhausted with the wretched excess, finds the Left funny.

People actually on the right side of the political spectrum don’t include white supremacists, nor neo-Nazis, nor anti-Israel violence in their group at all. Never have. History is a little more complicated than that. The Confederate statues that the historical revisionists are trying to tear down were erected during the Woodrow Wilson administration. Wilson was a prejudiced bigot, a Democrat, and praised the KKK from the White House. The attempt to change history by eliminating statues or changing names of buildings or monuments or programs will not change history, but then most people have no idea who or what the statues are, what they represent, nor any idea who the buildings were named for, anyway.The most current idea is to remove the name Lynch, a common surname, from buildings, street names, parks, and any where because once upon a time blacks were lynched. Just how they are going to get everyone in the Lynch family to cooperate is a question. They can check with Loretta.

Our schools should have been teaching some real history and some real constitutional law, and some geography instead of “social” justice— which does not exist. There is no such thing as “social” justice. Justice involves the United States Constitution, the courts, and the laws and regulations passed by our governing entities.

The Democratic Party has adopted the idea of “social” justice in which everyone can be a victim. They will “save” the victims by giving them other people’s money, which will make them dependent on the government, so they will vote for Democrats again and again to keep the other people’s money coming. History, with which they are unfamiliar, shows that sooner or later they run out of other people’s money. Margaret Thatcher famously said that, but that’s a bit of history too.



Why Physics. “The Universe in a Nutshell” by The Elephant's Child

This is not new, but I had never seen it before. I took physics in high school and survived the class because I was one of two girls in a class of boys. I did not understand at the time what physics was for, nor why I should be deeply interested. Obviously because I did not have Dr. Michio Kaku as a  teacher. This is a long one, and utterly fascinating.



Government Employees Earn Almost Double the Average American’s. by The Elephant's Child

The average American wage, as calculated for 2015 (the most recent  available calculations) was $48,908, according to the Social Security Administration. Interestingly enough, the average government salary in 2016, was $83,072—almost double the average American worker.

Federal employees in Washington D.C. and the surrounding metropolitan areas of Maryland and Virginia — where the managers and top-level agency executives live had the highest average salaries. Government employees make slightly more than their counterparts in the private sector on average.

Supposedly the disparity between public sector and private sector employees can be blamed on the need to create incentives to keep experts from moving from a government agency to  private sector business that the agency regulates.

The disparity depends greatly on the employee’s level of education. Federal non-military workers with no education after high school earned 21 percent more than the average non-government worker. Employees with bachelors and masters degrees earned about the same amount in the government as in private enterprises. Government employees with a professional degree or doctorate, however, earned about 23 percent less than private sector counterparts.

While the federal workforce is hardly representative of the entire U.S., the gap disparity between average salaries has been growing for some time. In 2001, the average government worker made 1.39 times what non-government employees made, but that ratio grew to 1.58 by the middle of 2016, according to BLS data compiled by Bloomberg News.

I don’t mind the disparity as much as I mind the fact that Congress excuses themselves from the laws they pass for the rest of the country. That should be changed. Any law should apply equally to Congress and government employees as it does to the American people.

 



Why Did The Democratic South Become Republican?? by The Elephant's Child

I saw another article just today claiming that the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was a Republican attempt to prevent people of color from voting. One should expect that from the crowd that attacks whatever Republicans say or do with shrieks of “Racist,””Sexist,” etc. etc.They were incensed when the President suggested that there was some vote fraud, denied that any such thing could happen, but of course Trump was right.

His commission was designed to assure that every vote counts, but doesn’t count twice. Progressives resist any such investigation.



Could Global Warming Slow the Rise of the Sea Level? by The Elephant's Child

Since the first Planet of the Apes movie, the image of the Statue of Liberty drowning in rising sea waters has been done and done and overdone. But images are powerful and that may have helped to make many people think that a global rise in sea levels is the most to-be feared consequence of global warming. Flooding Pacific Islands, environmental refugees, panic in the streets. If I remember correctly, Santa Barbara was going to paint a line on city streets to indicate the potential rise of waters.

Remember that Obama predicted a deceleration of sea level rise when he accepted the Democratic Party nomination in 2008. “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal.”  Some scientists have predicted an acceleration of ongoing global rise, while others insist stoutly that there has been no increase in the rise of sea level. Here is climate scientist S. Fred Singer to explain the complications.

The difficulty with projections of sea level rise is nicely illustrated by the IPCC. The initial estimates of its first assessment report (1990) showed a range of 10-367 cm for sea level rise in 2100. The second report published in 1996 narrowed the range to 3-124 cm. The third report published in 2001 showed 11-77 cm. The fourth assessment report published in 2007 showed 14-43 cm in draft form but changed it to 18-59 cm in the final printed version.  As can be seen, the maximum SLR decreased successively as estimates improved.  All these IPCC projections are very much smaller than the extreme values of about 600 cm (20 feet!) by activist-scientist James Hansen (and by climate multi-millionaire Al Gore) — which assume excessive melting of the Greenland icecaps.

If you pour yourself a glass of water and add some ice cubes, as the ice melts the glass does not overflow. Keep that in mind. If you add another handful of ice, the glass may overflow.

During the strong warming of 1920-1940 there was no SLR — indicating a rough balance between the opposing effects.  In fact, scrutinizing the record, I can even discern a slight lowering of sea level, an over-compensation.  Unfortunately, back then in 1997 we had no data on Antarctic ice accumulation; so the hypothesis was not publishable.  However, now we do have sufficient data in support of such a scenario.

But if, as surmised, ice accumulation roughly balances ocean thermal expansion and contributions from melting mountain glaciers, why then is sea level rising?  Another riddle requiring a solution.

The relevant clue comes from corals and from geological observations: It seems that sea level has been rising for the past centuries at about the same rate as seen by tidal gauges in the last 100 years.  In other words, sea level was rising even during the colder Little Ice age, from about 1400 to 1850 AD.  This provides further support for the hypothesis that the observed global SLR since 1900 is reasonably independent of the observed temperature rise.  [It is also a killing argument against a widely quoted (‘semi-empirical’) theory that assumes rate of SLR is proportional to global surface temperature.]

Dr. Singer concludes that the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is not floating ice but like a mountain glacier—contributes more water to the ocean thus raising the sea level by about 7 inches per century. The melting will continue for another several millennia until the ice sheet is all gone (barring another ice age in the meantime), and there is nothing that we can do to stop this future rise. It is as inevitable as the ocean tides. Do read the whole thing. You will become an expert, able to dispel the anxieties of the true believers, and  your own, if any. Learn how they measure, and how recent studies have clarified the picture. And no, even Obama’s valiant efforts had not the slightest effect.



Fake News and the Hunger for Information by The Elephant's Child

Johannes Gutenberg is widely credited with the invention of the first printing press in 1455. However Chinese monks had been using block prints even earlier, by A.D, 600, and there were attempts to create type as a means of conveying information. Too many characters in the Chinese language, and conveying important messages with blockprints didn’t really go anywhere.

The first newspaper in America was Public Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestic, and the first (and last) issue was published in 1690. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom…of the press.” The Constitution establishes a government with three branches, but it does not establish a press or a media. What it does do is try to prohibit the government from trying to control what people say in the press or outside the press. Free speech.

It’s more useful to think about the way news was disseminated before there were a wide range of newspapers and subscriptions. Try to imagine a town crier, shouting out news of marriages, births and big events as he strolls around the town. People depended on riders to convey the news from one town to another. News of war and the battlefield had to wait until a rider could be sent back to town, and farmers and small communities were out of luck until someone happened by.

Illustrated news came to be long before photographs were invented, and depended on artists who could make reproducible engravings or blockprints. Americans yearned for news of the old country, but had to wait until a ship came in. Gold was discovered in California in January of 1848, but it wasn’t until December that the first rumors reached New York. Sailing ship going around the horn — the Panama Canal did not yet exist.

Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1844, and Morse code, but it wasn’t until 1860 that a bill was passed in Congress to authorize the telegraph to be built across the continent. They built from each coast with fascinating stories of Indians, the pony express, and the trans-continental line was completed on October 24th, 1862, linking the continent.

So here we are with “Fake News” and a profession is disrepute. The telegraph was followed by the telephone, the Atlantic Cable, photography, radio, movies, recordings, sailing ships were replaced by steam, the Panama Canal was built. Wars intervened, and news from the battlefield, but the front lines had to communicate with Division headquarters, and the medics, so there were runners. Then there were walkie-talkies. Each improvement in communication meant changes in the way things were done. Lives were saved.

With the advent of television, everyone said it was a great step forward, the American people would watch symphonies, the best of the New York stage, lectures, history. Uh huh.  They thought the same thing when we first got computers. You can watch porn online, and pretend comedians holding up an efigy of the head of a newly elected president. A goodly percentage of the people do not pay any attention to the news, and are open to the most partisan claims because they don’t understand what is happening. Cell phones, and people get mowed down on the street because they are paying attention to their phone instead of where they are going, and ditto for cars.

Victor Davis Hanson writes on the Media Meltdown between 2008 and 2016 at the Hoover Institution’s ‘Defining Ideas,’ and how it all happened. We are being manipulated by a partisan media, and the Left is capitalizing on focus-tested vocabulary and pictures to influence the unwitting—and unfortunately all of us are unwitting at least part of the time. I emphasize “the Left,” but of course the Right tries to do it too, but is not as skilled at manipulation, and more inclined to explanation.

So now we have reached a point telephone calls are made by robots, we have the immensely annoying telephone trees when you just want to shriek “I want to speak to a human.” We can turn on the air-conditioning or close the shades at home—from the office. Ordering anything online is killing the retail industry and you no longer have to go out to get dinner, you can have it delivered, as a kit to produce your own, or as a fully prepared meal. There’s a lot going on in that sector, and we can probably look forward to a time when we don’t have to cook at all.

What is becoming very clear is that new inventions will not develop in the way we assume. Our schools are making us dumber, and human nature being what it is, we probably won’t become wise consumers, very well-informed, or lifelong learners striving to know as much as we possibly can. After all, we’re still watching movies about comic book characters and playing silly games on our computers—rather than listening to symphonies and the finest Broadway productions.




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