Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Demography won't decorate my condo!

Dan Gardner's been doing some outstanding, if lonely, work on the demographic decline file and is well worth the read on this (here, here, here, and here).

What he has yet to acknowledge--short of a kind of shrug--is the ideological monolith that stands between the Canadian public and any serious discussion of the matter. Namely: the insanely obtuse (but inevitable and instantaneous) reduction of the matter to sexism.


UPDATE (April 1st, 2010)

Dan graciously nods in the direction of this post (and wonders at the company I've got him with in my blogroll).

Thursday, March 25, 2010



In an otherwise sane piece, a very jarring sentence:
The familiar image of the pale, asthenic Talmud scholar is not — or not only — an anti-Semitic stereotype, but a perduring reality.
Not certain that isn't one of the more blatantly problematic statements I've read.


From the Home section of the Star, this headline:
One Bloor will be a bold, futuristic building
I.E. One Bloor will be a derivative, ugly building--combining features of flimsiness and repellency sufficient to ensure an easy transition to future "futuristic buildings".

Dan Gardner on true believers

... The world is not complicated for the True Believer. It is Manichean. Binary. There is liberal and there is conservative. There is free speech and there is hate speech. Bright lines divide the hemispheres and what fits where is never in doubt. Indeed, the True Believer never suffers any doubt for all is certain. They have the answers and the answers are true. There's no need to examine their beliefs, to think hard, to seek out and consider alternative views and contrary evidence.

If a question is asked for which the True Believer has no answer -- like "why is this speech you loathe not protected by the right to free speech?" -- there's no need to reconsider and reflect. The True Believer simply moves on to the next slogan.

It is this quality -- not her outrageous language -- that makes Ann Coulter a blight on public discourse. But many of her critics can't see that. Because they are no different.

Well, that's not quite true. They sought to stop Coulter from speaking, and others from listening. Whatever Ann Coulter's sins, she's never done that.

Dan Gardner, Even if Ann Coulter is a villain, she isn't the villain of this piece

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"A singularly unambitious movie that has more in common with 30 minute pizza than with art"

Udolpho reviews It's Complicated:
[It's Complicated is] a complete catalogue of everything vital to the SWPL [Stuff White People Like] set, including but not limited to: a cheerful yet infantilized brood of attractive young adult children, professional people who run their own businesses, gourmet bakeries with sets borrowed from the Food Network, casual attitudes toward marijuana, characters who actually say things like "I'm sorry for betraying your trust"--to their kids, people who live on atomized neighborless spreads, aimless home remodeling projects, Apple laptops (now so commonplace that the sight of a glaring Apple logo somewhere onscreen may be a technique taught to all cinematographers), middle-aged people behaving without a shred of dignity, and stories about family and relationships so that none of the characters ever has a reason to leave his narcissistic cocoon.


What directors like Nancy Meyers give SWPLs are their ideal lifestyles and ideal self image. Money and status are never concerns, nor for that matter is success in business. Such benefits are simply what SWPLs have coming to them by virtue of their intelligence, open-mindedness, and love of novelty. It is simply a given that a SWPL will be able to expertly manage a construction company, a niche bakery (as if another one could possibly be crammed into a SWPL habitat), or a law firm without ever seeming to do more than delegate responsibilities and assign vague tasks to conscientious-looking employees. (The SWPL fantasy job is actually that of generic manager.)

Likewise, one's children behave like expertly tooled Japanese androids, their chief purpose to lend smiling (or every now and then dew-eyed) support and friendship. In some respects a SWPL's children are his true peers, perhaps even his superiors in a role-reversed arrangement (part of the fantasy of this role reversal involves never having the responsibility of a parent).

As far as personal growth, the SWPL professional is deeply committed to the therapeutic process, but like his pleas for forgiveness which do not come from penitence or remorse but from unhappiness with pleasure denied, his therapist is more like a paid companion. Paid, that is, to listen to his one-sided complaints and agonies and offer judgement-free suggestions for future onanistic introspection.


P'itchens makes a distinction worth remembering

Wesley Crosland is I think mistaken when he says that there is no rational basis for Christian faith. On the contrary, as reason and faith are wholly connected and Christian theology is wedded to reason. In fact, some would argue that it is the first and most thorough attempt to understand the universe and its nature through reason. What he may perhaps mean is that faith cannot be based upon knowledge. That is quite true.
Peter Hitchens, The most sinister car ever built