“This is not a black and white issue,” Tom intoned.

The title is word play called a ‘Swifty’: A punning relationship between an adverb/adjective and the statement it refers to. This arises from the style in which the Tom Swift juvenile science fiction/adventure books were written up until the 70’s. I haven’t read any later than that. I fear woke erosion of the franchise.

Back to Swifties. A couple examples might clarify the word play:

I’ve got to fix the car,” said Tom mechanically.
I love hockey,” said Tom puckishly.

Like me, many elderly (or post elderly) writers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and inventors were inspired by the Tom Swift books: Ray Kurzweil, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Paul Allen, and Bill Gates among them. Steve Wozniak had this to say:

“Another hero was Tom Swift, in the books. What he stood for, the freedom, the scientific knowledge and being an engineer gave him the ability to invent solutions to problems. He’s always been a hero to me. I buy old Tom Swift books now and read them to my own children.”

Here are a few example titles that explain why these books excited these creators:
Tom Swift and His Wireless Message -1911
Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone -1914
Tom Swift and His Giant Magnet -1932
Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship -1954

You can probably put an individual’s name on each of those titular dreams – now real world accomplishments. Several of those names are in the list above.

We owe the authors of the TS books a bit of respect for their effect on the imagination of daring individuals who were young 60 or more years ago. We owe those now rich, formerly young, for much of our current comfort and wealth.

What is inspiring the next generation of Wozniaks is unclear. We’re not going to have Tom Swift. If our teachers unions have their way, our kids are going to be reading Heather Has Two Mommies and Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness.

Speaking of things that can’t happen anymore, it wasn’t long ago that NPR was acknowledging Tom Swift:

“Science fiction hero Tom Swift has amazed children with his incredible inventions since combustion and electricity drove the nation into a new era. These stories captured a cultural love of science and inspired such famous figures as Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asimov — all while predicting new technologies decades in advance.”

Now, that cultural love of science is under attack by ideologues who dismiss the scientific method as racist, by entrepreneurs who virtue signal by selective private censorship, and by so-called scientists who bring science into disrepute in exchange for celebrity. Who wants to grow up to be Ibram X. Kendi, Mark Zuckerberg, or Anthony Fauci?

That story wouldn’t be published today on NPR.

Tom Swift‘s history would be seen as “problematic” now. The TS books of the early 20th century had racist characteristics, and all (of the first 73 – through 1971, at least) celebrate objective, rational, linear thinking; delayed gratification, and self reliance – which the Smithsonian tells us are markers of ‘whiteness.’

It is by no means obvious, to anyone aside from Robin D’Angelo, et. al. that the racial anachronisms of the Tom Swift books affected those inspired by them. Nonetheless, TS books will be cancelled in the U.S. as soon as Ibram and Robin get around to it. Cat in the Hat comes first. Tom Swift is a Fahrenheit 451 candidate to be burned in Canada first…

Woke social media could remove all trace of my ever having existed!” said Tom unpersonably.

Which brings me to the actual point of this post. What if I told you a private individual and a few others “designed a [CCP virus] vaccine, and contracted a company to manufacture that vaccine in June 2020 for under $5k.” Now, the individual who arranged this is not a Swiftian teenager, he’s got a PhD. But this guy named Josiah Zayner did just that. This amazing feat won’t be inspiring many young people, though. When Zayner started sharing this info he was banned from YouTube for life.

Which is why – combined with corporate-news silence – you probably haven’t heard about it.

Read this whole thing: The Crime of Curiosity. It carries an inspiring call to individual possibility.

bypassing elite institutions, democratizing science, and biological self-determination, or every individual’s right to his or her own body, which includes their DNA — and the right to change it.

And don’t forget why John Galt, an adult version of Tom Swift, started the strike.

Merit and equity: Mutually exclusive

TOC’s need to mention Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron is accelerating. It’s time to convert “bergeron” to a verb.

A recent example from Beth Mitchneck (professor emerita at the University of Arizona), and Jessi L. Smith (associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Colorado.)
We Must Name Systemic Changes in Support of DEI

DIE is diversity, equity and inclusion. I don’t think “associate vice chancellor” is a particularly diverse, equitable, or inclusive title, but within the article’s context “professor emerita” is most amusing:

Most of the academy functions by using a narrow definition of merit limited to a neoliberal view of the university: that merit is indicated by obtaining funding dollars or by producing lots of peer-reviewed journals or juried exhibits in prestigious outlets that garner a high number of citations or visits. Some institutions also include attracting many doctoral students or obtaining high numbers of student credit hours in their definitions of success…

Admitting that the normative definitions of success and merit are in and of themselves barriers to achieving the goals of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion is necessary but not sufficient to create change.

Far be it from me to disagree that Universities’ metrics are corrupt, but to suggest the soaring growth in employment of administrative positions in diversity, equity and inclusion is ineffective must be heretical.

Four years ago The University of Michigan already had:

nearly 100 diversity administrators, more than 25 of them earning over $100,000 a year (see chart below). Collectively, they cost the University of Michigan, with fringe benefits, about $11 million annually. Adding in other costs such as travel and office space expenses, the total cost rises to perhaps $14 million, or $300 for every enrolled student at the U of M in the fall semester 2017.

If this level of DIE oversight hasn’t solved the problem, what would?

Professors Mitchneck and Smith make some hand waving attempts to specify the metrics they would find meritorious, but mostly it’s subjective.

Beth suggested in a recent webinar that we move toward impact portfolios, modeled in part on the portfolios that artists routinely produce, that would demonstrate the ways in which our work as defined by institutional missions has indeed contributed to achieving those missions. For example, Utrecht University has just announced a new faculty recognition and rewards system that aligns with institutional values about open science and excludes the use of impact factors.

While these examples stand out for the good, that is, in many ways, the problem. While we can point to the few institutions that are trying to change merit structures, many others seem resistant to change. Why is that? Do people fear that tenure will go away? Maybe. We believe that fear would be unwarranted if we developed more equitable procedures, practices and policies that reflected the true diversity of the research and societal impacts that our institutional missions espouse. It is time to start living those missions.

TOC is always ready to help. The number of papers published, number of citations of those papers, number of doctoral students attracted, and number of grants received don’t tell the whole story of a professor’s value. Especially in the social sciences, huge numbers of junk papers are published and cited. Quality is lacking.

But ‘impact portfolios’ of diversity? Inclusion? Equity? Haven’t we been trying that? The UofM horde of DIE enforcers is typical. If they don’t have as much merit as the professors upon whom they turn their gimlet eyes, maybe we could fire the entire diversity cadre and enhance the salaries and job security of the profs based on existing metrics. Salaries and job security, after all, are what they’re on about.

To reinforce the logic (can I say that?) of this plan, let’s look at how the University of California-Davis advertises for an assistant professor of sustainable aquaculture and coastal systems. It lays out the productivity metrics essential to the educational mission these DIE martinets enforce.

Note that there are 18 words about research and teaching in the job description above and 176 words (in bold) about a candidate’s commitment to DIE (diversity, inclusion, and equity).

(Thanks to Mark Perry for both examples.)

Some dismiss proposals such as Mitchneck’s and Smith’s as mere left-wing academiot nattering. Not that it isn’t left-wing academiot nattering. But it is not “mere.” This is redefining the word “merit” the same way they redefined “equity;” as “Equal Outcome.” However “merit” is interpreted, we’ll know we failed if everyone doesn’t come out equal.

There are many other head shaking instances of this clap-trap most of us ignore, but the evidence that we should pay close attention has become overwhelming. An excellent example is Jordan Peterson’s objection to compelled pronoun usage in 2016. Peterson was vilified as a transphobe, and his suggestion that the full legal weight of the State would be brought to bear was mocked. Now, various institutions are mandating the use of ‘zir,’ or whatever the flavor of the day is.

When statues of Columbus were attacked, those who it said it wouldn’t stop there – that Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington were next – were mocked. Well, in Wisconsin a statue titled “Forward” was torn down because it included an American flag in the same riot where the statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg (a Norwegian immigrant and abolitionist who fought for the North in the Civil War) was toppled. They’ve removed a 70-ton boulder from the Madison campus, which, over 90 years ago, a newspaper referred to, once, using a slur for blacks.

The usual suspects were calling for removal of a Lincoln statue a year ago.

Our National Archive has placed a “harmful language” warning on the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.
National Archive recommends removing ‘charters of freedom’ description from founding documents | Daily Mail Online

If merit must be redefined, let’s be very, very careful about it. And objective, not fashionable.

Corruptarky

Charles Murray reviews a leftwing tome on the topic in the Claremont Review of Books: Meritocracy’s Cost

Check it out and come back.

Jordan Peterson frequently points out that hierarchies are natural and inevitable, from lobster fights to human IQ, and that hierarchies tend to corruption. This is the framework for “absolute power corrupts…”

The question is not how we eliminate the inevitable, but how we control the consequences.

Harrison Bergeron is an example of what happens when a corrupt hierarchy is put in charge of eliminating hierarchies.

Freedom of conscience is the fundamental human method of hierarchical control. Which is why corrupt hierarchies attack free speech and institute thought police. You can’t say “All Lives Matter,” “Trans males are not women,” or “Let’s try ivermectin.”

The corruption in our governing meritocracies, by which I mean the academic, military, political, economic, and cultural Anointed* – concentrated in, and supported by, our major population centers – threatens to bring down the Republic.

What is to be Done?
-V. Lenin, 1902

*Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, 1996

“…the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?”

“Systemic processes tend to reward people for making decisions that turn out to be right—creating great resentment among the anointed, who feel themselves entitled to rewards for being articulate, politically active, and morally fervent.”

“. . ideology. . . is an instrument of power; a defense mechanism against information; a pretext for eluding moral constraints in doing or approving evil with a clean conscience; and finally, a way of banning the criterion of experience, that is, of completely eliminating or indefinitely postponing the pragmatic criteria of success and failure. —Jean-François Revel1”

“What is seldom part of the vision of the anointed is a concept of ordinary people as autonomous decision makers free to reject any vision and to seek their own well-being through whatever social processes they choose. Thus, when those with the prevailing vision speak of the family—if only to defuse their adversaries’ emphasis on family values—they tend to conceive of the family as a recipient institution for government largess or guidance, rather than as a decision-making institution determining for itself how children shall be raised and with what values.”

“The vision of the anointed is one in which ills as poverty, irresponsible sex, and crime derive primarily from ‘society,’ rather than from individual choices and behavior. To believe in personal responsibility would be to destroy the whole special role of the anointed, whose vision casts them in the role of rescuers of people treated unfairly by ‘society.”

Credit when due

It’s been quite awhile since TOC’s poster child for woke-feminist cluelessness made an appearance here. She first came to my notice in March, 2006, before “woke” was a thing.

There was a controversy at the time over the admittance to Yale of Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, who had been a Taliban ‘diplomat’ in the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad in 1998, then a ‘roving ambassador’ in 2000. He apparently did not even possess a GED.

Sentilles found her new extreme affirmative action classmate unremarkable 5 years after 9/11, when we well knew how the Taliban treat women.

One striking aspect of this controversy is the reaction from Yale’s liberal community. Della Sentilles, a Yale senior, recently wrote a piece for the Yale Daily News denouncing such manifestations of rampant misogyny at Yale as the shortage of tenured female professors and poor childcare options. On her blog, a reader asked Sentilles about the presence at Yale of a former spokesman for one of the world’s most misogynistic regimes. Her reply: ”As a white American feminist, I do not feel comfortable making statements or judgments about other cultures, especially statements that suggest one culture is more sexist and repressive than another. American feminism is often linked to and manipulated by the state in order to further its own imperialist ends.”

No shit, Sherlock, though who is the subject and who the object of the imperialism could be debated. Let’s just say it’s a symbiotic relationship.

So. A “shortage of tenured female professors and poor childcare options” is a result of our horrible misogyny, while any comment on excluding females from education entirely, a national dress code requiring Burqas at pain of severe beating, and mass public execution of women by gun-shot in the back of the head… would be culturally inappropriate?

In June, 2006 I applauded pushback on this from self described radical feminist Phyllis Chesler: An American Jew who had been married to an Afghan and lived in a harem in Afghanistan. Go figure.

Unlike Sentilles, Chesler was able to render an opinion of the culture. It seems her 2005 book, The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom, had not reached Yale.

It looks like Sentilles is now working for the DOJ. Naturally.

Chesler is actually doing something about Afghan women now trapped behind Taliban lines by Feckless Joe. She writes about it here:
Team of Radical Feminists Rescues Thirty Afghan Feminists

Props to Phyllis Chesler! And to those who helped her, even if she’s not sure who all of them are. I say that because I found this a little curious.

“She obtained vital paperwork, helped remotely guide our Afghan women through the streets to the airport, and was perhaps aided by some on-the-ground muscle. Of this, I am not sure.”

I guess there may have been some men involved. And not remotely. They aren’t exactly dismissed, but the word “objectification” comes to mind. I probably wouldn’t have had that reaction if the essay had not been quite so celebratory of radical feminist bona fides.

A nod to the undoubted expertise and courage of such men wouldn’t have been so difficult. Even less difficult would be simply to omit the comment, if you are “not sure.”

There certainly was some of that “muscle” going around in other rescues, and I can’t imagine it would not have been highly appreciated by the evacuees. Maybe critical to their escape.
As Biden Abandoned Afghan Allies, Retired US Special Ops Hatched “Operation Pineapple Express” – Rescuing Over 600 From Taliban Slaughter

In Bari Weiss’ words:

I’ve been thinking a lot these past two weeks about luck. The luck of where we are born. The luck of the parents we are born to. And, right now, the luck of who we know.

Knowing — or having proximity to someone who knows my well-placed friend, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — is a matter of life or death for untold numbers of Afghans…

That’s in an intro to an essay by another woman, Melissa Chen, a classical liberal perhaps less attuned, shall we say, to radical feminism. Bari Weiss introduces Chen:

Melissa co-founded an organization called Ideas Beyond Borders, which digitizes and translates English books and articles into Arabic. And not just any books: Books like Orwell’s ‘“Nineteen Eighty-Four,” Steven Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now,” and a graphic novel based on John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty.” Works that promote reason, pluralism and liberty. Suffice it to say the translators she works with in places like Egypt, Syria and Iraq do so at great risk.

Because of her connections in the Middle East — and because she is the kind of person who lives by her principles — it did not surprise me that she found herself involved in the efforts to save Afghans from the horrors of the Taliban. She shares some of the details of those remarkable efforts in the essay below.

Inside the Underground Railroad Out of Afghanistan

It was at this point that Esther told me she found out about a WhatsApp group with roughly 15 members including a former CIA agent and a former Marine who had connections on the ground. They had successfully extracted other girls from the school and felt they could do the same for Rahima…

As for me, as Esther had been working on getting Rahima out, I had been fretting over a list. On August 17, I was part of a group that was given access to a list of 500 names of Afghan aid workers, human rights activists, and religious and ethnic minorities. When it became clear that the American government wasn’t doing enough, such lists started circulating among various volunteers. My heart sank when the person in charge of flight manifests asked us to split the list into “high priority” and just “priority.”

By Wednesday night, August 25, shortly after receiving a memo from the U.S. military that signed off with a bleak “may God be with you all,” I was asked to cut my evacuation list down to just five people.

Might there have been a shortage of “muscle?” I’m asking you, Joe.

Finally, compare and contrast Chesler and Chen with what passes for feminism among the #METOO wokerati. It’a not just Afghani women abandoned by the corrupt shell of feminism, it’s any inconvenient female.
TIME’S UP FOR TINA TCHEN

Barnacles of deceit

“Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.”

-Richard Feynman

Why Don’t They Believe Us? – Tablet Magazine

You know each example very well already. But feelings of disquiet may be occasioned by more examples from the last few years than you can easily list.

The effects accumulate below the water line, because the speed with which each new major prevarication has arrived dims the previous one. Continual review of our nomenklatura’s drip-drip-drip mendacity is necessary.

There’s no hyperbolic rhetoric in that article, no jumping to conclusions. There’s nothing sensational, except maybe the scope of audacious duplicity.

The catalog of deception is by no means complete. Unmentioned are cover-ups of anti-semitism in our Congress, and attempts to repeal the 2nd Amendment by executive order – despite denials of that intent. I’m sure that does not complete the list, either. But those affronts are also glued onto your hull.

You wonder when Newsweek will put this on their cover:

The surprise isn’t that we have people who can ignore the accumulated deceit, it’s that they can champion it; because they consistently reason backward from their desired political outcome. This is true for some across the political spectrum.

Lately, though, this tendency has been distinctly one-sided. And distinctly fervid. And – you’re intended to believe – widely popular.