Category Archives: Culture

June 28, 2017

Anthony Kennedy, Culture Warrior

Judicial decrees on difficult moral questions have made our politics bitter.

So Anthony Kennedy is apparently sticking around.

For a while Democrats who have lost the House, lost the Senate and lost the White House were having conniptions over the thought they might soon lose what Justice Antonin Scalia once described as their “super-legislative” power: the Supreme Court. At the Washington Post Ruth Marcus called the prospect of Justice Kennedy’s retirement “terrifying and terrible.” Because notwithstanding his many sound opinions—this is the same justice who gave us Citizens United, upholding First Amendment speech rights—on the court he nevertheless plays an indispensable role for American progressives: culture warrior.

On issues best fitted for federalist solutions, such as abortion and marriage, Justice Kennedy has proved himself a reliable voice for the animating impulse of modern American progressivism. This is the idea that the American people cannot be trusted to decide certain issues and so must yield, as he once put it, to the “enhanced understanding” of unelected justices such as himself.

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June 27, 2017

How Disney teaches contempt for dads

This behavior, especially on Disney shows, has become the norm to such a degree that parents regularly tell me they don’t allow their children to watch the channel.

“Every 3.24 minutes, a dad acts like a buffoon.”

That’s the conclusion of a small study done by a student at Brigham Young University after watching eight hours of the two most popular Disney “tween” shows featuring families. The results of the research — “Daddies or Dummies?” — are not particularly surprising.

Are “Good Luck Charlie” and “Girl Meets World” any different from previous sitcoms like “Roseanne” or “Home Improvement”? A 2001 study by Erica Scharrer in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media found that the number of times a mother told a joke at the father’s expense increased from 1.80 times per episode in the 1950s to 4.29 times per episode in 1990.

But what’s interesting about the new research is that the author, Savannah Keenan, also looked at the reaction of the children on screen to their fathers’ displays of cluelessness. At least half the time, children reacted “negatively” to these displays — by rolling their eyes, making fun of Dad, criticizing him, walking away while he’s talking or otherwise expressing their annoyance.

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June 19, 2017

Are Liberals Dying Out?

Over the long run, conservatives could end up winning the ideological contest with fertility rather than arguments.

By now there is a huge body of literature in behavioral genetics, which shows that pretty much every psychological characteristic we can measure is to some degree heritable. This raises a question that has received little discussion beyond academia – what about political views? Are they heritable? And if so, what does this mean for the political landscape of future generations?

The evidence for the heritability of psychological traits is immense. The authors of a recent meta-analysis published in Nature Genetics looked at 2,748 publications surveying 17,804 traits. They found that “estimates of heritability cluster strongly within functional domains, and across all traits the reported heritability is 49%.”

These results shouldn’t be surprising. If offspring didn’t resemble parents to some degree, evolution as we understand it could not occur. Indeed, according to the Darwinian paradigm, evolution takes place through variation and selection.

Imagine, for example, that you wanted to domesticate a wild animal. Foxes are cute, so let’s talk about them. One thing we know about foxes is that some of them are naturally aggressive, while others are more docile. Suppose you decide to mate the most gentle males with the most gentle females. Do the same thing for a number of generations, and eventually you’ll have an animal that more closely resembles a modern dog than a fox.

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June 15, 2017

Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation – Romance and Reality (Part 3) – Video

Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark—is a television documentary series outlining the history of Western art, architecture and philosophy since the Dark Ages. The series was produced by the BBC and aired in 1969 on BBC2.

June 11, 2017

Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation – The Skin of our Teeth (Part 1) – Documentary

Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark—is a television documentary series outlining the history of Western art, architecture and philosophy since the Dark Ages. The series was produced by the BBC and aired in 1969 on BBC2.

June 2, 2017

Cross-fertilisation or theft? – Canada’s war over “cultural appropriation”

Writers on the wrong side of a debate lose their jobs.

Anyone, anywhere “should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities”, wrote Hal Niedzviecki in the spring issue of Write, an obscure Canadian literary magazine. For that apparently innocuous observation, he lost his job as the publication’s editor. Mr Niedzviecki was defending “cultural appropriation”, the use by artists and writers of motifs and ideas from other cultures. He suggested an “appropriation prize” for creators who carry out such cross-cultural raids. In a special issue of the magazine dedicated to indigenous writers, that was offensive, his critics said.

Mr Niedzviecki’s supporters were also made to suffer. A journalist at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was demoted after he offered on Twitter to help finance the prize. The editor of Walrus, a better-known magazine, decried “political correctness, tokenism and hypersensitivity” in cultural and academic bodies. After a social-media backlash he, too, resigned. In April a gallery shut an exhibit of the work of Amanda PL, a painter inspired by the style of Norval Morriseau, an indigenous artist.

Mr Niedzviecki has reopened an old debate. Cross-fertilisation is fundamental to the creative process. This article, for example, is written in Roman letters and uses Arabic numerals. However, many indigenous Canadian intellectuals demand extra sensitivity. Some particularly object to white people borrowing (or “stealing”) elements of their culture.

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May 31, 2017

Rural America Is the New ‘Inner City’

A Wall Street Journal analysis shows that since the 1990s, sparsely populated counties have replaced large cities as America’s most troubled areas by key measures of socioeconomic well-being—a decline that’s accelerating

At the corner where East North Street meets North Cherry Street in the small Ohio town of Kenton, the Immaculate Conception Church keeps a handwritten record of major ceremonies. Over the last decade, according to these sacramental registries, the church has held twice as many funerals as baptisms.

In tiny communities like Kenton, an unprecedented shift is under way. Federal and other data show that in 2013, in the majority of sparsely populated U.S. counties, more people died than were born—the first time that’s happened since the dawn of universal birth registration in the 1930s.

For more than a century, rural towns sustained themselves, and often thrived, through a mix of agriculture and light manufacturing. Until recently, programs funded by counties and townships, combined with the charitable efforts of churches and community groups, provided a viable social safety net in lean times.

Starting in the 1980s, the nation’s basket cases were its urban areas—where a toxic stew of crime, drugs and suburban flight conspired to make large cities the slowest-growing and most troubled places.

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May 29, 2017

Study Finds Ethnic Diversity Bad for Social Cohesion

New research from Gothenburg University on solidarity in Sweden backs up evidence from previous studies that ethnic diversity is bad for social cohesion.

Surveying 9,800 randomly selected people, the university’s SOM Institute looked at the degree to which people in Sweden are able to feel a connection with people who differ from themselves.

Researchers found that, outside of their own group, respondents are most inclined to feel an affinity with people whose education vastly differs from their own.

“Most also feel a relatively large affinity with those who have very different political views, a different sexual orientation or whose financial situation differs from their own,” science and technology magazine Forskning reports.

Respondents said they feel the least affinity with people with different ethnic backgrounds, who practice a different religion, or who were brought up in other cultures.

Overall, however, researchers said the study shows that “social cohesion is strong” in Sweden, because 95 per cent of respondents said they feel like a part of society.

The groups which were least likely to profess a sense of belonging to Swedish society were people on low incomes, and people who hold citizenship of nations other than Sweden.

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Shia vs. Sunni: The Schism Western Politicians Don’t Understand and Won’t Discuss

Western politicians rarely acknowledge the schism between Shia and Sunni Islam. There is nothing remotely comparable to this schism in any other religion in the modern world.

The Sunni-Shia conflict defines the political structure of the Middle East, from the international rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia to the internal politics of Muslim nations. And yet, Western politicians, eager to portray Islam as a “religion of peace,” speak of Muslims as homogenous.

At the hard core of political correctness, Islam is treated more like a race than a religion, a monolithic ethnic bloc like “Hispanics” or “Asians.” Both of those groups are, in turn, diverse populations absurdly squeezed into monoliths for the convenience of left-wing political strategists.

In truth, there are Shiite Muslims who do not think Sunnis count as Muslim at all, and vice versa. Adherents of the more extreme sects within the Sunni and Shia schools view moderate followers of the same basic tradition as apostates.

The Sunni-Shiite Divide

Few Western politicians know the first thing about the Sunni-Shiite rift, which flows from a doctrinal dispute that might seem trivial to modern outsiders. When Mohammed died in the 7th Century, there was a profound disagreement among the early followers of Islam about who should succeed him as leader.

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May 28, 2017

After the Confederates, Who’s Next? by Pat Buchanan

For a century, Americans lived comfortably with the honoring, North and South, of the men who fought on both sides.

On Sept. 1, 1864, Union forces under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, victorious at Jonesborough, burned Atlanta and began the March to the Sea where Sherman’s troops looted and pillaged farms and towns all along the 300-mile road to Savannah.

Captured in the Confederate defeat at Jonesborough was William Martin Buchanan of Okolona, Mississippi, who was transferred by rail to the Union POW stockade at Camp Douglas, Illinois.

By the standards of modernity, my great-grandfather, fighting to prevent the torching of Georgia’s capital, was engaged in a criminal and immoral cause. And “Uncle Billy” Sherman was a liberator.

Under President Grant, Sherman took command of the Union army and ordered Gen. Philip Sheridan, who had burned the Shenandoah Valley to starve Virginia into submission, to corral the Plains Indians on reservations.

It is in dispute as to whether Sheridan said, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” There is no dispute as to the contempt Sheridan had for the Indians, killing their buffalo to deprive them of food.

Today, great statues stand in the nation’s capital, along with a Sherman and a Sheridan circle, to honor these most ruthless of generals in that bloodiest of wars that cost 620,000 American lives.

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