Monday, 5/2/16

  1. Concentrating one’s mind
  2. Transgender stereotypes
  3. An absolutist rhetorical trump card
  4. All options from A to B
  5. Another naked Emperor


Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

(Samuel Johnson, defending the authenticity of The Convict’s Address to His Unhappy Brethren, which in fact he had ghostwritten, against charges that it was too eloquent to have come from the purported author, Dr. William Dodd, who faced hanging for a loan fraud.)

I am to be hanged tomorrow.

We don’t register to vote by political party in Indiana, but I’ve voted Republican more often than not, and have never asked for a Democrat ballot in a primary. Moreover, there is an interesting contested race for County Surveyor and a battle between Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman in the GOP U.S. Senate Primary.

Oh, yeah: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, too.

Of those sorry three, I’d prefer Kasich, but he’s tacitly saying “Vote for Trump in Indiana, me in Cascadia and New Mexico so we can get a contested convention.” I’ve got to respect the strategizing of two adversaries who agree for a change.

I’ve put it off. I don’t vote early, any more than a condemned man asks if they could move the execution up a few days.

On “The Daily Show” in March, Lindsey Graham said choosing between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz was like deciding whether to be “shot or poisoned.” By way of clarification, he added, “Donald is like being shot in the head. You might find an antidote to poisoning, I don’t know, but maybe there’s time.”

That sounds about right, but I don’t know what antidote the GOP can find for a contested convention if this gambit works. Still, I guess I’m going to have to vote for … I just can’t bring myself to say it.


Lionel (neé Margaret) Shriver thinks observes that transgenderism is premised on stereotypes:

The gay and lesbian world having gone so mainstream as to become a big bore, western media has moved on to an enthrallment with transgenderism bizarrely out of proportion to the statistical rarity of true gender dysphoria—though children and people generally being so suggestible, the condition will doubtless grow more common…

Yet consider: in order to construct this spectrum, it is necessary first firmly to establish what it means to be “man” and “woman.” Even if you are “genderqueer”—convinced that your gender identity does not conform to the social norms associated with your sex—alienation from social norms depends on the perpetuation of social norms. Thus if you are a gruff, muscular, assertive woman who has adopted the genderqueer label, girlishness must continue to be associated with garrulousness, weakness, and passivity for your identity to scan.

In short, the spectrum depends on stereotypes.

We are told that a trans woman may have been born a man, but “feels like” a woman. I do not mean to be perverse here, but I have no idea what it “feels like” to be a woman—and I am one. My having happened to be born female has always seemed a biological accident, mere luck (or lack thereof) of the genetic draw. Honestly, being female “feels like” it has nothing to do with me. I respect that some people may feel alienated from their bodies (as I age, I’m as alienated as could be; the “real me” does not have arthritic knees), and I realise I am getting myself into trouble here. Nevertheless, the whole trans movement does seem to have awfully to do with clothes. Especially in the male to female direction—and I am baffled why anyone would want to be female with any other option available—“feeling like” a woman seems to imply feeling like wearing mascara, heels, hair extensions, and stockings.

 (Prospect Magazine) What will it take to disenthrall media on this mostly bogus fad?


“I feel like” masquerades as a humble conversational offering, an invitation to share your feelings, too — but the phrase is an absolutist trump card. It halts argument in its tracks.

When people cite feelings or personal experience, you can’t really refute them with logic, because that would imply they didn’t have that experience, or their experience is less valid.

It’s a way of deflecting, avoiding full engagement with another person or groupbecause it puts a shield up immediately. You cannot disagree.

(Molly Worthen) Caution: I have eliminated attribution and some quotation marks here, thus attributing to Worthen comments she attributed to others. I think it’s warranted by her conclusion:

We should not “feel like.” We should argue rationally, feel deeply and take full responsibility for our interaction with the world.

“I feel like” Worthen is “on the right side of history.”


For Sam Koppelman, the Op-Ed Editor of the Harvard Crimson, pluralism apparently runs the gamut of A through B (emphasis added):

At the age of 12, I canvassed for Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. At the age of 18, I organized several Black Lives Matter protests. And at the age of 20, my peers consider me conservative.
Over this time, my political beliefs have remained unchanged. I still support entitlements, loathe mass incarceration, advocate for L.G.B.T.Q. rights, and believe in the government’s power to improve lives and create sweeping change. This ideology makes me a Democrat in the vein of Barack Obama, Jed Bartlett (“West Wing”) and even Mrs. Clinton. But on my college campus, I might as well be Pat Buchanan.
At Harvard, admitting that #ImWithHer is nearly tantamount to boasting “Make America Great Again.” If you haven’t shared a post from the writer and activist Shaun King, you are not a true liberal here.
When defending Mrs. Clinton becomes as unacceptable as bigotry, when her supporters are called privileged, oppressive and stupid, we lose the central feature of our democracy — pluralism.
Indeed, by surrounding themselves with only those who share their narrow set of political beliefs, the students who make up the liberal base on college campuses perpetuate the very oligarchical traditions they lament.
I’m a Hillary supporter. In their eyes, I might as well be a College Republican.



Naked EmperorEbonics and it’s multicultural progeny. (H/T Kunstlercast)

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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.