Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Humble Pie

A few days ago I noted that most of McArdle's columns are rehashes of old material. Friday's food post was no exception. McArdle has repeatedly told her audience that pie crust is too hard to make--which means that she can't make pie crust. Yet McArdle is also incapable of putting aside her pretense that she is a cooking and food expert. So McArdle tries to tell the little people all about pie without actually knowing how to make a decent pie.

For example, take this post from March:
Saturday is Pi Day -- 3.14.15. It's only going to occur once this century. So, naturally, you're going to want to celebrate by making some delicious, delicious pie. But how? I hear you ask. What if I am no good at making pie crust? I understand your worry. Pie crust is daunting if you've never made it before. And those refrigerator rolls of pie crust usually taste like you're chewing on a sheet of cardboard. But that needn't keep you from enjoying pie on Saturday. There are lots of ways to enjoy pie without giving yourself a crash course in pastry making. Here are five pies you can make without ever picking up a rolling pin.
Admitting ignorance is hard on the ego but is absolutely necessary. You should never imply knowledge when you have none because some smartass will come along and make you look stupid for doing it.

And I am that smartass.
A reader wrote to ask me for my best pie recipes. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I love pie. In fact, my favorite food in the whole world is purple raspberry pie, a delicacy that unfortunately is not available to most people because purple raspberries do not store well, so the only way to get them is to pick your own.
Always read the study. Or, in this case, google "purple raspberry." One on-line nursery states:
Our perfect purple raspberry! Plant is vigorous, hearty and resistant to insects. Yields large, sweet berries with great flavor. Fruit never fades, even when canned or frozen. Cold-hardy. Late-summer bearing. Ripens in August. Self-pollinating. A licensed variety of Cornell University.
However purple raspberries are difficult to find, making them suitable for an elite foodie such as McArdle. I can't recall seeing them at a grocery store and I spend half of my life at grocery stores.

Although there might be a reason that they are not as common as other raspberries.
A hybrid of the black and red raspberry is known as the purple raspberry, taking on the purple overtone, but having the same texture as the black or red and a mildly sweet flavor. It isn't considered to be as good as the others by many growers.
McArdle drones on:
My official position on pie is that the benighted fools who do not like it have never actually had good pie, which is to say, a pie homemade by someone who knows what they are doing.
That might be true; the author is not a food writer. It is still a silly claim. The "benighted fools" at Slate is one contrarian who thinks pie is a poor way to use berries.
At this point, though, "American"-style pie is something of a relic: Where the civilized world has moved past its awkward bread-casket age to head in more refined directions, pie stands still. Our modern pie of piled fruit stewing in a shell of fragile dough is not an innovation but a replica of something primitive—piled meat entombed in hard crust—nudged in the vague direction of dessert.
McArdle is very familiar with the ways of the contrarian, being one herself. It's a good way to sell an article without having to do a lot of work.

Writer: I have a great idea! I'll write an article about pie, claiming that it's neither easy nor as American as!

Editor: Great idea! It'll be clickbait! And then you can write another article about putting peas in guacamole!

Writer: What? Are you crazy? Peas in guacamole?

Editor: It's gold, Jerry! Gold!

That's because pie is one of the trickiest foodstuffs in the American culinary canon. Good pie is sublime. But good pie basically cannot be had from a commercial establishment.

Tell that to House of Pies, preferably after you have eaten one of their Black Bottom Pies. I too prefer homemade over commercial but McArdle's absolutes are very tiresome.
Making it well is too labor-intensive to be profitable, and its ephemeral crust does not benefit from storage. It is best eaten on the day it has been produced (though I do not hesitate to dip in on the second and third day, even knowing that the crust will be chewy).

House of Pies seems to bake pies every day. It is easy to tell if a pie is over one day old. Meringues weep, crust becomes soggy, fillings shrink from the crust. Their crusts might be a little more hardy than a homemade crust for obvious reasons but they are still very good. And every time I go there they are pushing a large rolling rack to the refrigerated case to unload freshly baked pies. Of course not all bakeries make good pies but they do exist.
Most people who think they do not like pie labor under this delusion because they have confused pie with the dreadful things that are available in bakeries. Of these, the only positive thing that can be said is that probably no children were killed in the production process. We will not even speak of those premade pie crusts that you can buy in the refrigerator section. Except to note that anything cooked in one of these would taste even better if you just stuck the filling in a pie plate and cooked it by itself.
Did you know that nobody can do anything ever?
Unfortunately, making pie well requires skill and the aforementioned labor.
Yes, that is why you will spend $12 for a pumpkin pie at House of Pies, instead of, what, three or four dollars for evaporated milk, canned pumpkin, a few eggs, and small amounts of spices. McArdle thinks that paying employees is an abomination before the Lord.
These are not the easy delights of the layer cake, which can be mastered by anyone capable of reading the instructions for operating a stand mixer, and usually put in the oven in less than 20 minutes.
Not so fast, cupcake. Cake can be difficult as well--for some people.
Pie is a riddle wrapped in a mystery enclosed inside a crust that will toughen to the consistency of a brown paper bag if you overhandle it the least little bit. Yet at the same time, getting flakiness and the appropriate shape requires that you spend a lot of time slapping the dough around on a pastry board. Achieving this delicate balance requires practice and a spouse or a canine companion who will happily chew through your mistakes because, unfortunately, the only way you will know that you have erred is when you take that first bite.
Slapping the pastry around will eliminate any flakiness. You get the appropriate shape by rolling it out properly. It does take practice but millions of housewives managed to develop the skill. You know, those perfect homemade pie bakers McArdle keeps mentioning?
So why bother? Because, as I said at the top, pie is delicious. Done right -- and most of you have probably never had it done right, which moves me beyond words -- you get a delicate, almost velvety crust that melts in your mouth as the filling spreads over your tongue. Pie is well worth all the effort it takes to make it, and it will leave you with the satisfied feeling of having mastered a dish that is rapidly becoming extinct in these days of takeout and Pillsbury pie crusts. I'm just saying, it's not for the faint of heart.
Says the person who never managed to make the effort.
Before we can even get to recipes, we need to discuss the principles of learning to make pie crust. These are not even the principles of making pie crust -- we'll get to those in a minute -- but how you should approach the project if you are trying to teach yourself. 1.If at all possible, find someone who knows how to make really good pie crust. You are not looking for someone to teach you how to make pie crust -- I mean, it's nice if they offer, but watching them will prove surprisingly little help. The way you are actually going to figure it out is by making a lot of pie crust and determining what doesn't work, which is almost everything you will try. What you are looking for is someone to bake you a pie. That way, you'll know what it's supposed to taste like.
I learned by watching my mother. I still had to practice, as McArdle notes, and it took a while to master the technique but I knew what to do from watching her. She made so many pies that I couldn't help but learn. McArdle's mother was a caterer. Couldn't she have learned by watching her mother? I guess not, since "watching them will provide surprisingly little help."

This is why people think McArdle is a putz. Does she really think that nobody but she has ever had a good pie? Her bloviating hyperbole is incredibly annoying.

This will be a tricky task because most people who think they know how to make good pie crust don't. A surefire sign of someone who doesn't is someone who tells you that it's not that hard to learn. They are making terrible, tough pie crust and will lead you to a bad end.

Thank you, pie expert who can't make pie!
2.Buy 10 pounds of good unsalted butter (I'm partial to Land O'Lakes) the minute it goes on sale. Pie crust uses a lot of butter. You're going to be making a lot of pie crust. Use whatever you have left over to make layer cakes, to remind yourself that you really do know how to bake.
I am not going to buy 10 pounds of butter because I would prefer not to become a widow. I made an all-butter pie crust once when I ran out of Crisco and I was not very happy with the results. Crisco is very unhealthy as well but since I try to refrain from making too many sweets it's not a big issue.

There is not just one way to make crust. I use the way I know, which is reliable and successful for me. Others use different methods and different ingredients which have proven to be successful for them. I break all the rules of pie making and most of my pies are good. My meringue pies need some work but that is just a matter of more practice.

This is not rocket science. The pie will not explode on reentry. It doesn't have to be perfect.

3.Make the biggest pie-crust recipe you can find, certainly bigger than your pan. I taught myself to make pie crust using a recipe for a 10-inch pie, even though I did not own a 10-inch pie pan. Why? Because the first few times you roll out a pie crust, the results are likely to look a lot less like the beautiful circles pictured in cookbooks and more like some sort of shape that appears only in theoretical n-dimensional universes from science-fiction novels. Having more than you need means that you will still have room to cut a circle out of it.

Cut a circle out of it? Do people do that? You roll out the pie crust. You fold it over twice and put it in the pan. (Or drape it over a rolling pin or slide it off the silicone rolling mat or whatever method works for you.) Then you trim it if necessary. I wait until I put top crust on the pie and between the two crust there is always enough crust. You can even match top overlap to a skimpy bottom to correct any mistakes. Then trim it, roll the two crusts under, and crimp. Again, not rocket science.
4.Keep the pie itself simple: No prebaked pie shells. This is the most basic form of pie, and it is the easiest to learn.
Does that even make sense?
5.Get a good silicone rolling pin. It's less sticky than a regular one, which means you run a lower risk of toughening your crust by adding flour.
That is true but you need to flour the silicone pin. Most foodies tell you to use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough; I believe Alton Brown, among others, say this. To a certain extent I ignore this advice and use however much I need to use to prevent the crust from sticking. McArdle believes in elite expertise and therefore can't get her pie crust off the counter. Alton Brown's pies are probably better than mine but as McArdle always says one can't let perfect be the enemy of good.
6.Use either a food processor or a pastry cutter. Messing around with two forks is a challenge for the amateur who doesn't know what it's supposed to look like in the first place. And using your hands is a recipe for tough, tough crust.
Does anyone use two forks anymore? It would help if she told her readers that the fat in pie crust melts in the oven and the rising steam makes the crust flaky. That is why you do not mix pie crust with your warm hands and take care when you use the food processor. I prefer a pastry cutter over a food processor but many people make very good crusts with the latter.
7.Make a lot of pies. Assume the first ones will be bad. (The filling will still be very tasty!) My grandmother, a legendary pie maker, had to throw her first pie crust out over the bank behind the house. My mother, another legendary pie maker, spent a holiday evening assembling her first pie crust in the pan like a jigsaw puzzle. My first pie crust was tough, about an inch thick, and nonetheless leaked filling everywhere. Maybe you will be the exception, but don't go in expecting it to be so.
We will revisit her mother's legendary skills in a minute.
The easiest, not-quite-foolproof-but-close crust recipe is the Cook's Illustrated Vodka Crust. Water binds with gluten, which can make your crust tough; adding alcohol gives you more liquid but fewer troublesome protein bonds. And what do you put into the crust? Well, the possibilities are endless: savory or sweet, fruit or custard, baked or chilled. On pie, I'm basically a purist. I tend to prefer a single ingredient rather than "mixed berry" or "pumpkin chocolate," and I don't like flavors that are overpowering, such as peanut butter. Nor anything that's so sweet it sets my teeth on edge; I prefer pecan bars to ooey, gooey pecan pie. And I have a dark horror of evaporated or condensed milk, which I find disgusting to look at and unpleasant to eat. Yes, they make it easier to get a custard to set properly, but I can't stand them, so the exciting world of icebox pies is largely beyond my ken.

I'm not criticizing other folks who like their pies drenched in molasses or towering with strongly flavored mousse or filled with condensed milk; as I've said time and time again, what you like is what you like, not a reflection on your character. But my taste is for a simple, old-fashioned pie that lets one ingredient shine.

Ha! I do believe she read my post on her mother's pumpkin pie. Of course I said a lacing of molasses, not a drenching, but it's not McArdle unless she's lying/exaggerating/mincing to make herself look better when she screws up.
The last thing I'll note is that if you can't get absolutely fresh fruit -- which is to say it came out of a farmer's market, roadside stand or your garden -- then in most cases, the best thing to do is use frozen. This is not true of apples or pears. But most other fruit is actually better frozen than from the produce section because the stuff in the produce section was picked green and shipped, while the fruit in the freezer case was picked ripe and immediately flash-frozen. Now, freezing fruit, especially berries, means it will release more liquid when it cooks, which can make your pie runny. But you can compensate for this by adding a little more of your thickener. (The recipes below use flour or cornstarch, but there are any number of exciting options once you get the hang of the basics).
Flour gives pie filling a pasty taste. There are plenty of alternatives, as she says.
Oh, and I promised to tell you the principles of making pie crust, didn't I? They are simple: •Freeze your butter. •Don't overhandle it. Don't overhandle it. Don't overhandle it. Stop! I see you there, tempted to give it just a few more pats. Let it be. Social interaction makes it very grumpy. Do the absolute minimum of work needed to get the butter and the liquid incorporated into the flour, then form it up and put it in the fridge. Do not fold, fondle, spindle or mutilate. Yes, you in the back, there is a technique where you smooth out small bits of dough with the heel of your hand and then pat the result into a ball in order to increase flakiness, but I am not going to tell you about it because frankly I don't trust you. Mix it up and leave it alone.
You would think that she were a pastry chef instead of someone who can't make pie, the way she lectures her kindergartners audience.
•Use as little flour as possible when rolling it out. •Always work with it cold. Pie crust is like a polar bear: It's antisocial, and it gets very uncomfortable when it gets warm. If you are having trouble getting the knack, and the crust is starting to get soft, pop it back in the fridge and try again in 15 minutes when it has firmed up.
After you make the crust you should put it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour for the fat to cool and the flour to absorb water. I have found that when you are making hand pies it's necessary to put the finished unbaked pies in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes as well but it shouldn't be necessary for one quick pie.
Now, on to the recipes. Because the person who asked is not an experienced pie baker, I'm going to stick to simple things: all baked pies, which require a minimum of custard- or curd-making skills and which don't have second steps where you top with meringue or try to spread chocolate onto your custard without breaking it. To my great sadness, I have also excluded the many delicious pies that can be made with uncooked eggs. I'll lead off with my family's recipe for pumpkin pie, which is about the easiest filling you can make. It's a simple custard that you pour straight into an unbaked crust: two eggs, some milk and a can of pumpkin.
We've met Mom's Pumpkin Pie before. It was pretty darn funny. I explain the problem with her mother's perfect pie in that post and in the comments I note McArdle's recipe retconning via Twitter.

Like I said, this post is largely a rehash of old material. You can skeddle over to her post if you want the additional recipes she offers.

Ah, but how do you roll out a pie crust? I hear you cry. That is what YouTube videos are for. There is no written description I can give you that will beat watching someone else do it. But watching will only get you so far. You're going to need to start rolling yourself as soon as possible.

But...but...didn't she just say you can't learn by watching? Ah, well. Those who can, do. Those who can't tell you to watch a video.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ring Of Fire

The stupid. It burns like a West coast wildfire.

 Megan McArdle on Venezuelan inflation:

It's a bit of a mystery why this is happening. No, right, don't tell me: The government is printing too much money! Indeed. As Milton Friedman famously said, "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon." When too much money is chasing too few goods, prices rise. And the most common source of "too much money" is government printing presses. 
But I'm not asking for the mechanism; I'm asking for the reason. Why is the Venezuelan government resorting to the printing press?
One of McArdle's commenters:
Money • an hour ago  
Another writer who has no idea who prints money in modern economies. 97% of the money in modern economies comes from banks creating deposits when they make loans.  
Also, Friedman's views on money disapproved every day. He believed that the Fed could create inflation with QE; However, he failed to understand that reserves are trapped in the banking system.  
Venezuela is a failed state. That is why they have inflation.
She thinks "printing money" is literally printing money. Hahahaha!

I know next to nothing about monetary policy. McArdle knows even less. Every person who reads this post probably knows more about it than the two of us. But McArdle is paid six figures to discuss it.

The primary tool of monetary policy is open market operations. This entails managing the quantity of money in circulation through the buying and selling of various financial instruments, such as treasury bills, company bonds, or foreign currencies. All of these purchases or sales result in more or less base currency entering or leaving market circulation.

Added: This is the third day in a row that McArdle posted early in the day. Did an editor crack the whip at our heroine? Or did the news that Bloomberg will lay off political and government writers put the burr under her saddle?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What You Wish For

Matt Taibbi:

Trump isn't really a politician, of course. He's a strongman act, a ridiculous parody of a Nietzschean superman. His followers get off on watching this guy with (allegedly) $10 billion and a busty mute broad on his arm defy every political and social convention and get away with it.

People are tired of rules and tired of having to pay lip service to decorum. They want to stop having to watch what they say and think and just get "crazy," as Thomas Friedman would put it.

Trump's campaign is giving people permission to do just that. It's hard to say this word in conjunction with such a sexually unappealing person, but his message is a powerful aphrodisiac. Fuck everything, fuck everyone. Fuck immigrants and fuck their filthy lice-ridden kids. And fuck you if you don't like me saying so.

You finally have your Galtian Ubermensch, America. A man who "built that" with nothing but his innate superiority and a $660 million inheritance.

How do you like your fair-haired boy now?

Easy Solutions To Difficult Problems

...Suffer a sea change, into something rich and strange

Something odd is going on in McArdleland. For the second day in a row Megan McArdle has posted early in the morning. Her usual habit is (scanty) posting late in the afternoon. Is she looking for a new job? Has she taken up another job that occupies her afternoons? Has she taken up another man who occupies her afternoons?  Only time will tell....

Meanwhile back at the ranch nobody can do anything ever, including police oversight. BlackLivesMatter wants more police oversight and McArdle responds with her usual keen insight and deep knowledge base.
This problem has basically proven insoluble.

Thank you, girl Thought Leader!
A punitive oversight board pushes professionals toward a particular decision: to do nothing.

I thought libertarians were extremely concerned about who will watch the Watchmen?

In the vast caverns of McArdle's mind, the police are like teachers; too concerned with protecting their paycheck to do their job properly.

When professional groups decide what's good for the rest of us, it usually turns out that what they think is good for the rest of us is what's best for them.

That cuts the professionalism out of professionals, doesn't it?

But when a proposal comes up that will hurt them in some way, it's very easy for the professionals to see all the reasons against it, and to convince themselves that the world will be better off without it. And when it comes time to discipline a member for some offense, unless it is straightforwardly heinous, they will naturally sympathize with the accused, thinking of all the times they made mistakes that could have landed them in the same place.

McArdle has demonstrated this attitude many times. How can you criticize people for making mistakes when you make mistakes yourself? Anyone can be wrong any time since decision-making is just a crapshoot.  It is nothing but an excuse for being wrong all the time due to ideological bias.

But the police are also not like teachers.

People who have never done the job have no way of assessing the trade-offs that professionals make when they try to do something, and they tend to be unforgiving when the professionals make errors, as humans sometimes do when they make decisions.

McArdle believes professionals can and should be assessed, and controlled by cutting their pay . As she said yesterday:

Reforming schools is harder than it sounds, but persuading principals and teachers to change what they do looks like a trivial exercise compared with getting millions of people to radically alter the hours they spend each day with their children in the privacy of their own homes. For one thing, we're paying the teachers and can threaten to cut off the checks if they don't change.
We are paying cops as well. Why don't we just threaten to cut off the checks if they don't change? Problem solved!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Always Read The Study

Megan McArdle, on a study that paid parents to improve their parenting skills, to improve their children's success in school. 

The effects are real, but not miraculous. The first thing to note is that across the whole group, the improvements in both cognitive skills and noncognitive skills are positive and nontrivial, but not huge, either: about a tenth of a standard deviation on cognitive skills, about two-tenths that for noncognitive.

The actual study:

The impact of being offered a chance to participate in our parental incentive scheme
on non-cognitive skills is large and statistically significant (0.203σ (0.083)). These results are consistent with Kautz et al. (2014), who argue that parental investment is an important contributor to non-cognitive development.


Hispanics (48 percent of our sample) and Whites (8 percent of the sample) demonstrate large and significant increases in both cognitive and non-cognitive domains.

(Black students showed no improvement.)

Nobody can do anything ever!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Same Old Same Old

I have been very busy with work but now that school has started I hope to return to our regularly scheduled mocking. It has not helped that Megan McArdle is posting little more than half-assed rehashes of old columns. It's not easy to keep on making up new jokes about old idiocies. For example:

Friday Food Posts: 10 Tips on Cooking for One: McArdle read an article discussing American and European snacking habits. It seems that Europeans snack on fruit and vegetable mainly while Americans snack on highly processed foods crammed with fat and sugar. Naturally McArdle's take on the superiority of European eating habits was to ignore the issue altogether and quote someone who says that Americans snack because cooking is too hard. She then repeats the same eating advice she has given in many other posts. Ka-ching!

McArdle wrote a couple of posts about Donald Trump, much to her commentariat's displeasure. They mostly like the Trump's trumpeting and do not look kindly on her scathing dismissal of the 25%'s hero. Because Both Sides Do It, we learn that the Republicans want to magically solve their intractable problems but so do the liberals. Her entire liberal argument:

But I don't want to pick on conservatives especially; the debt ceiling mess was certainly debacletacular, but I've had similar versions of this conversation with innumerable liberals over the years.

Devastating! We all remember the times the Democrats tried to shut down the government, don't we?

McArdle "discusses" the Ashley Madison hack with a few trite observations that somehow prove liberals are losers.

The information age could end the age of individual privacy -- and the liberal revolution that came with it.

And the Ashley Madison scam in which the company lied about the number of women members proves that:

[...E]ither that many more men than women want to cheat (or at least see what their options are for doing so), or that more men than women are willing to have no-strings affairs with married people. This may be innate, or it may be culturally conditioned, but either way, it seems to be pretty powerful. It's definitely not evidence for feminists who wanted to show equality in casual sex drive.

Women are not interested in casual sex. Because vagina.

McArdle has taken a lot of swipes at liberals recently. The blatant idiocy of Trumpmania seems to be wearing on her nerves.

I'm an enormous fan of Jonathan Haidt's work. Nonetheless, I've always had two outstanding questions about it (and would note that these are not exactly questions of which Professor Haidt is unaware).  The first is simply whether his surveys capture the actual moral reasoning that people do, or represent people pretending to do the sort of moral reasoning they think they ought to do. Take two of the questions he asks about purity. One involves brother-sister incest in which every precaution is taken to prevent pregnancy, and leaves both parties feeling pretty good about the experience with no long-term side effects on the family. The other involves a man having carnal knowledge of his poultry before he cooks it and eats it for dinner.

When asked if these two things are morally wrong, American liberals and libertarians would tend to answer no. (Or try to get around the hypothetical by positing undetected harm from the incest, or the potential dangers of salmonella and/or freezer burn from the chicken.) And yet, I submit that if those people found out that a stranger exhibited such behavior, most would probably be less interested in becoming friends with that stranger. That's a moral judgement, but cultural norms among the secular educated elite don't give people any vocabulary to express it, and so they say that it's not wrong in the first place -- even though in the actual situation, they would probably still make a moralizing judgement about it. As I wrote last year, "It is clearly true that liberals profess a moral code that excludes concerns about loyalty, honor, purity and obedience -- but over the millennia, man has professed many ideals that are mostly honored in the breach."

The second issue is a simply a perennial problem for surveys that look at political and moral reason: What questions did you ask? If you give people a quiz on global warming, conservatives may look more ignorant and ideologically motivated than liberals. On the other hand, if you ask that same group how many prisoners are in jail for non-violent drug offenses, you may "prove" that liberals ignorantly and/or willfully underestimate the number. Another way of saying that is that liberals may indeed resort to reasoning from sanctity, group loyalty, and authority -- but the questions Haidt has asked simply may not capture that tendency.

This proves that "Liberals Can't Admit To Thinking Like Conservatives."  You have to do some work to find out that:

Haidt, Koller, and Dias (1993) found evidence for such an intuitionist interpretation. They examined American and Brazilian responses to actions that were offensive yet harmless, such as eating one’s dead pet dog, cleaning one’s toilet with the national flag, or eating a chicken carcass one has just used for masturbation. The stories were carefully constructed so that no plausible harm could be found, and most participants directly stated that nobody was hurt by the actions in question. Yet participants still usually said the actions were wrong, and universally wrong. They frequently made statements such as “it’s just wrong to have sex with a chicken.” Furthermore, their affective reactions to the stories (statements that it would bother them to witness the action) were better predictors of their moral judgment than were their claims about harmful consequences. Haidt and Hersh (in press) found the same thing when they interviewed conservatives and liberals about sexual morality issues, including homosexuality, incest, and unusual forms of masturbation. For both groups, affective reactions were good predictors of judgment, while perceptions of harmfulness were not. Haidt and Hersh also found that participants were often “morally dumbfounded”(Haidt, Bjorklund, Murphy, 2000), that is, they would stutter, laugh, and express surprise at their inability to find supporting reasons, yet they would not change their initial judgments of condemnation. It seems, then, that for affectively charged events such as incest and other taboo violations, an intuitionist model may be more plausible than a rationalist model. [my bolding]

So the venomous bitca lied about liberals' morality to feel better about herself. Good luck with that.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Those Youths Of Today!

Predictably, the grown-ups of today do not like to listen to the whining of today's youth, who absolutely must have been coddled because they are so sensitive and angry. Helicopter parents created a crop of university students who are too, too delicate for this world. From Undercover Blue at Hullabaloo.

In September's Atlantic, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt examine how the embrace of "emotional reasoning" in higher education today "presumes an extraordinary fragility of the collegiate psyche, and therefore elevates the goal of protecting students from psychological harm." Instead of challenging them and preparing them to fend for themselves intellectually and emotionally, the notion that "words can be forms of violence" may, the authors argue, be "teaching students to think pathologically."
This is the opposite of how cognitive behavioral therapy works to minimize distorted thinking that leads to depression and anxiety. The object is to teach coping mechanisms, to desensitize patients to what today are called "triggers":
Therapy often involves talking yourself down from the idea that each of your emotional responses represents something true or important.
Emotional reasoning dominates many campus debates and discussions. A claim that someone’s words are “offensive” is not just an expression of one’s own subjective feeling of offendedness. It is, rather, a public charge that the speaker has done something objectively wrong. It is a demand that the speaker apologize or be punished by some authority for committing an offense.

First of all, any criticism of universities must acknowledge the enormous push to de-power the workers and empower the powerful. The very wealthy are paying a lot of money to fight "political correctness" on campuses. The most obvious reason is a libertarian adoration of free speech but libertarianism is little more than a cover for billionaires' causes. The right believes that campuses turn good little conservative children into evil atheistic adults and the Koches are children of a Bircher, but, and perhaps much more important, university research sometimes makes millions for its researchers and the university.

This is the reason Megan McArdle writes so many articles defending campus rapists. She gave the keynote speech for FIRE in 2013. And she has obviously received the memo because she also criticizes helicopter parenting. It's easy for people to join in on the fun condemnation of the young and everyone always thinks the young of today have it easier than they did but one thing has not occurred to any of the pointers-and-laughers.

The kids are right. Not all of them all the time, but their time is no different than any other. They are the victims of sexism and racism. They are abused by parents and relatives and cops and strangers. And they did not learn as we were forced to learn to bury the pain, defend the abusers, wave the flag and salute Mom (who cursed and hit them) and Country (which sent them to an Iraqi meat grinder) and Capitalism (which stole their future and handed it to billionaires to piss away, literally when it comes to $500 dollar bottles of wine).

They were raped and they refuse to shut up about it for fear of being called a slut.

They were robbed and (unlike their parents) refuse to kiss the ring of the thief because he is on tv and f*cks beautiful women.

They are traumatized and want that trauma to be acknowledged and addressed.

What do they get instead? The same thing the young always get when they cry out at injustice.

Mockery. Tear gas. Name calling--spoilt, lazy, entitled, un-patriotic, ungrateful brats.

Listen to what they are trying to tell you.

But no, everybody is listening to the freaking libertarians.

Playing in dirt builds immunity. But as mankind moved from the farm to an urban environment, less exposure at an early age to microbes and microflora has weakened our immune systems. Now universities seem intent on fostering a sanitized, "bubble boy" intellectual environment free of "microaggressions," and one that reinforces hypersensitivity and hypervigilance.

There is nothing more obnoxious in our society than a victim. Whine, whine, whine. It's all they ever do. They're losers. Bubble boys. Social Justice Warrior Tumbler Twitter girls. Sooooo obnoxious! So sensitive!

 People don't look up for the source of problems; they look down.

But the creepier part of this trend Lukianoff and Haidt only hint at is the digital tarring and feathering of alleged offenders you can see any day on social media by online mobs. Faculty must worry that their careers can be ruined over some real or imagined offense for which there is no response except to make public obeisance. Callout culture works like that, or #BowDownBernie. 
My last semester as an undergraduate, I took a course in Chinese history. Mao had just died. The Cultural Revolution had just ended. I bought a subscription to China Pictorial, one of their propaganda magazines. It was filled with scenes of happy, smiling, air-brushed faces of cadre members merrily harvesting crops, performing in stadium-sized flag routines, and sitting around the commune sternly engaging in daily self-criticism and ritually denouncing counter-revolutionaries Madam Mao, Lin Biao, and the Gang of Four for crimes against the people's revolution. 
It was creepy to me then. It's creepy now.

Worry about FIRE and the Koches and the Gates. They are far, far more dangerous to academics and they will prevail. The students will not; they are already dismissed as powerless, whiny cry-babies.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Less Libertarian McArdle

Megan McArdle uses many, many, many words to agree with Ross Douthat about birth control and abortion. McArdle is far too authoritarian to understand that it is none of her business if another woman does or does not want an abortion. McArdle sees access to necessary health care for women as a privilege that can be bestowed or withheld for political advantage.