Quotulatiousness

December 19, 2017

The imminent threat of Neo-Victorianism

Filed under: Business, Education, Government, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Megan McArdle on the moral panic currently gripping modern American public life:

The same logic applies to the burdens of proof. If unsubstantiated claims are accepted at face value, then eventually enough will turn out to be false that many future claims will be disregarded — whether they are plausible or not, whether they are substantiated or not. That was the harm done by cases like the Duke Lacrosse scandal, the UVA rape case, the Tawana Brawley accusations, and many others. But there’s another potential harm we also have to think about.

Let’s say that we do manage to establish a social norm that a single accusation of “inappropriate sexual behavior” toward a woman is enough to get you fired and drummed out of your industry. It’s the crux of the issue so eloquently explored recently by Claire Berlinski: What would a reasonable and innocent heterosexual man do to protect himself from the economic death penalty?

One thing he might do is avoid being alone with anyone of the opposite sex — not in the office and not even in social situations. You might, in other words, adopt something like the Pence Rule, so recently mocked for its Victorian overtones. (Or worse still, work hard not to hire any women who could become a liability.)

This would obviously be bad for women, who would lose countless opportunities for learning, advancement, friendship, even romance — the human connections that make us human workers superior to robots, for now.

On the radio recently, I pointed out that this might be a logical result of a “one strike and you’re out” policy. The host, aghast, remarked that this was obviously not what we wanted. And of course, that isn’t what anyone wants. It might nonetheless be the logical result of the rules we’re setting up.

It’s easy for me to think of all the things I would have lost out on under a strict Pence Rule. The creative writing professor who conducted my independent study in his house, for example. It was perhaps a more innocent time, but even then I was not unaware of the sexual overtones our culture would see in a young female student going to a much older male professor’s home while his wife was at work. He was a perfect gentleman who made me cabbage soup, taught me to insert little slivers of garlic into a beef roast, and savagely critiqued my prose. David Slavitt, wherever you are, thank you for making me a better writer. And my condolences to all the female students today who will never have similar opportunities — if I may judge by the bemusement/horror of male professors to whom I have told this story.

Transcaucasia in World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East, Military, Russia, WW1 — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 18 Dec 2017

The Caucasus region with its many different ethnic groups and its resources was always of particular interest to the greater powers like Russia, Persia or the Ottoman Empire. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the idea of ethnic self determination and resulting national movements, the fluctuating powers situation caused by World War 1 created a unique situation for Georgians, Azerbaijanis and Armenians.

Repost – “An ‘American tradition’ is anything that happened to a baby boomer twice”

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Hard to refute the latest xkcd take on Christmas music:

James May and Jeremy Clarkson on cycle safety – Top Gear: Series 21 Episode 5 – BBC Two

Filed under: Britain, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

BBC
Published on 19 Mar 2014

http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear Jeremy Clarkson and James May cycle around the streets of London after shooting a public information film to promote safer cycling.

QotD: Do-gooders, busybodies and other nuisances

Filed under: Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Wealthy people – by which I mean people healthy, well-fed, well-clothed, well-shod, well-housed, and well-leisured and literate – are often deformed by the lovelier angels within their breasts into saviors. Busybodies. Officious do-gooders. Arrogant meddlers. Tyrants seeking as personal payoff not crass material gain but the perverted satisfaction of lording it over other people for what these tyrants sincerely believe to be the good of these other people.

Saviors need victims to save. And if such victims are not real and readily available, the saviors conjure them up by convincing themselves that this or that group of people are helpless victims eager to be raised from the muck of their misfortunes by the saviors. Sometimes the saviors convince even the groups they seek to save that they – the members of these groups – are indeed mired in a muck from which they can be extracted only by the saviors.

As society grows wealthier, the need to be saved by others from earthly misfortunes grows steadily less frequent and less dire while the itch to save others from earthly misfortunes grows steadily more frequent and more intense. A great irony is that, insofar as this itch to save grows faster than the need to be saved declines, the need to be saved might actually rise because the actions of those who itch to save more often than not worsen, rather than improve, the well-being of those who are the targets of the saviors’ efforts.

Don Boudreaux, “Saviors Need Victims Who Need Saving”, Cafe Hayek, 2016-04-23.

Powered by WordPress