Thursday, August 31, 2023

The China Perplex

Nary a day goes by when we do not read a story about China’s economic implosion. Apparently, the Middle Kingdom is suffering something like an economic contraction, and more than a few Americans are cheering from the sidelines.

For the record, the Wall Street Journal did report on China’s economic troubles this morning. But, it also ran an article explaining that the only major economy to contract in 2023 is-- you guessed it-- Germany.


Anyway, we now seem to believe that we need not compete with China, that we need not improve our own economy, because China is in a doom loop, a death spiral that will return it to third world status. By the by, the concept of doom loop is more often used to describe some of America’s formerly great blue cities.


So, are we seeing China clearly or are we indulging in wishful thinking? Do we believe that our liberal society is so much better than their authoritarian system that we need but watch as they implode.


After all, consider that our democracy has chosen leaders like senile Joe Biden and idiot Kamala Harris. What could possibly go wrong?


After all, the business press is just waking up to the idea that, because of tariffs and sanctions, as we are importing less from China, that nation has outsourced its manufacturing to countries like Vietnam and Mexico. It ships materials to those countries and resells them to the United States.


So, as I say, less cheering and more sober reflection is needed.


Consider an article, by Hong Kong banker, Louis-Vincent Gave in the Financial Times a couple of days ago. Link unavailable.


Gave indulges in a little of what market participants call contrary thinking. And he opens his column by listing the ills that are befalling China, ills that resemble those that once inflicted our liberal capitalist paradise:


Prop­erty prices are fall­ing. Large developers have fallen into dire straits. A big fin­an­cial con­glom­er­ate has missed interest pay­ments on products sold to investors. For many, such recent events in the coun­try feel like the remake of a 2008 film few enjoyed.


The gloom­i­est fore­tell the unfold­ing implo­sion of the Chinese eco­nomy with years of over­build­ing, white ele­phant projects and unpro­duct­ive infra­struc­ture spend­ing finally com­ing home to roost.


It’s not a pretty picture. But, is it the whole picture, or is it simply a distortion peddled by the media in order to make us feel better about our inability to compete? After all, Chinese children are leading the world in academic achievement, while the vast majority in our blue city public school systems cannot do math or languages at grade level.


Banker Gave suggests that bank performance is the canary in the coal mine. When the economy is tanking, banks suffer:


In most fin­an­cial crises, the share price per­form­ance of banks starts sig­nalling trouble months before a sys­temic crisis unfolds.


For example, the S&P Com­pos­ite 1500 Bank index fell 66 per cent between Janu­ary 2007 and July 15 2008 before Leh­man Broth­ers col­lapsed in Septem­ber that year.


Sim­il­arly, European banks, as meas­ured by the MSCI EMU bank index, shed 35.4 per cent between Janu­ary 1 2010 and August 1 2011 — before sov­er­eign bond yields on the euro­zone’s peri­phery star­ted to blow out, unleash­ing the euro crisis.


So, how have Chinese bank stocks been doing lately? Glad you asked:


With this in mind, over the past 12 months, Chinese bank shares (as meas­ured by the FTSE China A-Share bank index) have gained 2.4 per cent (without account­ing for dividends). This means over that period, Chinese banks have out­per­formed US banks by 12.6 per cent in dol­lar terms.


So what does one call an emer­ging mar­ket sys­temic fin­an­cial crisis in which local banks are up on the year and out­per­form­ing US banks by double digits?


There are really only two pos­sible answers — unpre­ced­en­ted or non-exist­ent.


As though that is not enough bad news, local Chinese government bonds have been outperforming American treasury bonds. 


And, the price of the most China-sensitive commodity, iron ore, has been rising over the past few months. It’s not what you would expect in a contracting economy. 


The past year has also seen the share prices of China-sens­it­ive west­ern com­pan­ies such as LVMH, Herm├Ęs, Fer­rari and oth­ers do par­tic­u­larly well.


In fact, most lux­ury goods pro­du­cers are trad­ing at, or close to, all-time highs. This would seem coun­ter­in­tu­it­ive if China really were facing a sys­temic melt­down.


And, that’s not all:


Domestic tour­ism is broadly pick­ing up. Car sales in China are still up this year des­pite a small decline in June and July. Alibaba just repor­ted a return to strong sales growth in its second-quarter res­ults. Yet more signs of an eco­nomy that is not implod­ing.


That is not to deny that China’s eco­nomy faces genu­ine chal­lenges or that Chinese eco­nomic growth is slow­ing, cyc­lic­ally and struc­tur­ally.


But in short, there seems to be a strong dis­con­nect between the price beha­viour of most China-related assets, whether at home or abroad, and fears of an unfold­ing sys­temic crisis.


And yet, relations between America and China are at a low point. Out commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, recently traveled to China to repair ties. 


Moreover, American companies are having a harder time doing business in China. Of course, Chinese companies in America are also under attack. So, quid pro quo; tit for tat.


If you did not expect this possible outcome of our tariff and sanctions regime, you were not paying attention. Somehow we imagine that we can do our best to cripple certain Chinese industries, without suffering any blowback.


Now, we must also recognize that one prominent presidential candidate, a former president, wants to end free trade with China. Good-bye Adam Smith. Call it for what it is, a trade war.


Clearly, we have strengths and weaknesses in said trade war, but tossing aside a fundamental principle of economic growth and wealth production does not seem like the smartest idea. 


Besides, as I have occasionally noted, when you are doing your best to damage the international reputation of another country, do not expect very much cooperation. Do not expect cooperation over Russia. Do not expect cooperation over the Fentanyl crisis. Do not expect that that other nation will continue supplying your medications in a timely fashion. As we note shortages of medications, we should ask where those drugs are manufactured. You will recall that the Trump administration promoted Rochester, N. Y. as a new hub for manufacturing pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, it was just wishful thinking. It never worked out.


Aside from the fact that life is complicated and that you cannot do foreign policy on the principle that we are all good and they are all bad, that whatever we do is good and whatever they do is bad, this rather distorted thinking sounds a great deal like what is called in another context, identity politics.


So, if you believe in the notion of contrary opinion, the stock market forecasting tool that invests according to negative sentiment, on the assuming that most of the people are wrong most of the time, it may be time to take off the blinders and take another look at China.


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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Wednesday Potpourri

First, an exchange from NBC News. A reporter asked a physician:

“To me it seems ridiculous to have a kid at age 12, 13, 14 deciding whether they want to have biological children when they’re 20, 30, or 40.” 


The physician replied: “Well they make the decision to kill themselves at 12 and 13.” 


One cannot help but agree with those who consider the physician a criminal. 


Second, a transgender woman, named Kayla Lemieux, has been hired to teach shop at the Nora Frances Henderson Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario.


Lemieux is well known for sporting prosthetic breasts with a Z cup. I will spare you the image; you have doubtless seen it already.


Parents are outraged, and the school has warned them that Lemieux’s presence will require enhanced security. Hiring someone whose presence, or better, whose absurdly flagrant display will undermine the school’s project, counts as a step into madness.


Time to fire those who hired Lemieux.


 Sack the school board,' demanded a Facebook user named Mike Bennett. 'One would certainly hope that there is a 'staff' dress code applicable to all staff & no see thru shirts with nipples (fake ones or real) showing in front of impressionable students.


Some have suggested that male students should protest by wearing gigantic prosthetic breasts to class.


Third, a couple in China was having trouble conceiving. They had been having sex, but to no avail. So, they consulted with a physician.


Upon examining the woman’s anus, the obstetrician discovered that the couple had been engaging in anal sex for four years. Alas, they did not know how to produce babies.


Fourth, where is Lori Lightweight when we need her? 


If you imagined that the new mayor of Chicago was an improvement, Mayor Brandon Johnson wants to disabuse you of the notion.


In the matter of car theft, the city has reached new heights of criminal depravity. An alderman explained that crime had doubled on Johnson’s watch, while car theft had increased by 234 percent.


When asked about the problem, Mayor Johnson blamed the car companies. Apparently Kias and Hyundaes are too easy to steal. So, he is suing the auto companies.


The people of Chicago voted for the fool. Now they are suffering the consequences. Who said that there was no justice?


Fifth, Daniel Greenfield, aka Sultan Knish, reports that the Biden policy toward Israel, the policy that restored aid to the Palestinian Authority, is producing more crimes against Israeli Jews.


The number of terror victims fell every year Trump was in office, from 15 in 2017, to 12 in 2018, 10 in 2019 and then only 3 in 2020. And the number of terror victims shot up every year Biden was in office from 17 in 2021, to 31 in 2022, and there is every sign that 2023 will top that.


Twice as many Israelis were killed in one month of Biden than in one year of Trump.


It’s only August and already 26 Israelis have been killed by Islamic terrorists. Last year at this time 18 Israelis had been killed by terrorists making for a 40% increase in 2023.


It takes a special kind of stupid to believe that Trump was Hitler.


Sixth, the government of Ireland is about to cull the herd of dairy cows. Julie Burchill explained:


The Irish department of agriculture has suggested spending around €600million on killing 200,000 dairy cattle. This is to punish them for being flatulent and thus accounting for more than half of Ireland’s greenhouse-gas emissions.


In order to save the planet and to save all living creatures, we must kill off innocent animals. They tried the same thing in the Netherlands, and the farmers’ reaction brought down the government.


Besides, if they slaughter cows to save the planet, what species is next?


Seventh, New York’s fabled Times Square has seen better days. Those of us who do not make a habit of frequenting that neighborhood must rely on The New York Post:


On three separate days over the past week, The Post saw junkies brazenly smoking crack pipes on West 43rd Street, drug dealers peddling their wares within eyeshot of cops, hobos conked out wherever they can find a spot, and scores of aimless migrants loitering the day away.


To add insult to injury, yesterday a water main broke at the Times Square subway station, flooding the zone with 1.8 million gallons of water.


Return to normalcy, anyone?


Eighth, from Wesley Yang’s Twitter:


It's an important inflection point in the life of any civilization when the man who dresses like a baby speaking to schoolchildren ceases to be the subject of police scrutiny but instead is invited by the school to address the students and the people expressing concern over this practice who are the subject of police scrutiny.


Ninth, also from Wesley Yang. 


Norway suspended the license of a transgender woman physician who was privately transitioning minors.


Now, you naturally want to know what feminists had to say about it. Well, you will not be surprised to learn that the local feminists gave the physician an achievement award.


You can’t make it up.


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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Unmasking the Mandates

If at first you fail-- fail, fail and fail again.

Remember mask mandates. Remember the general hysteria over vaccines and mask mandates. The people who want to have absolute control over the dissemination of information were seriously involved with forcing people to do what they wanted them to do. That included taking the covid vaccine and wearing masks.


Anyone who disputed these imperious dictates was immediately canceled and silenced. The philosopher kings who decided by themselves what was or was not disinformation prevailed over the viewpoints of serious scientists. 


Given the level of danger, open discussion and debate was shut down. The apocalyptic rhetoric that had long surrounded all discussions about the weather was transferred to the virus. 


So, America ignored the science and embraced the opinions of bureaucrats. By now, we should all know that these policies caused more suffering than they prevented. We should know that the virus did not prevent the disease from being transmitted. And we should all know the downside of mask mandates.


We should, but apparently, we do not. The Biden administration is getting ready to force vaccination on everyone. Can mask mandates be far behind?


Normal interpretation suggests that the government is softening up the population, teaching it to be obedient. If the government can get you to walk around with a useless mask on your face, what else can it force you to do?


And when it can do so despite the evidence, why would you ever think that this was about anything more than mind control?


Obviously, the assault on bodily autonomy has an illustrious history. Children who want to enroll in school must be vaccinated against a variety of illnesses. And yet, these are highly contagious illnesses, whereas Covid-19 is not very contagious for children. In truth, most countries and more than a few American states kept schools open, without there being any ill effects.


Of course, all rules have exceptions. German judge Christian Detmer overturned a mask mandate for school children in the state of Thuringa. For his efforts he is losing his legal career, losing his pension and receiving a two year suspended prison sentence.


Just in case you think that America is uniquely insane over the issue.


For now we will follow John Tierney, who explains in detail, that wearing masks is a health hazard, in and of itself.


Moreover, while masks do not deprive you of bodily autonomy, they cause you to lose face. They cause you to be largely unrecognizable. If you are tempted to make shoplifting your career, you will be happy to know that you can now enter a store masked without provoking any suspicion.


For those who know the Bible, we recall that there is a special importance in seeing face to face. Today, of course, what with the mania over texting, people rarely communicate face to face. And this means that young people, in particular, rarely communicate with each other. Thus, they feel chronically disconnected and depressed. 


So, masking produces mental health problems. If you are in the business of mental health, this is good news. If you are not, it is not. Besides, forcing people to disconnect makes them more vulnerable and thus easier to manipulate. 


Tierney effectively made the case against masking:


Never mind that at least 97 percent of Americans have Covid antibodies in their blood as a result of infection, vaccination, or both. Never mind that actual experts—the ones who studied the scientific literature before 2020 and drew up plans for a pandemic—advised against masking the public. Never mind that their advice has been further bolstered during the pandemic by randomized clinical trials and rigorous observational studies failing to find an effect of masks and mask mandates. Scientific evidence cannot overcome the maskaholics’ faith.


In some cases, masking produces medical problems:


A possibly toxic effect of prolonged mask-wearing, particularly for pregnant women, children, and adolescents, was identified in a review of the scientific literature published this year by German researchers. They warn that mask-wearers are rebreathing carbon dioxide at levels linked with adverse effects on the body’s cardiovascular, respiratory, cognitive, and reproductive systems. Writing for City Journal, Jeffrey Anderson summarized their conclusions: “While eight times the normal level of carbon dioxide is toxic, research suggests that mask-wearers (specifically those who wear masks for more than 5 minutes at a time) are breathing in 35 to 80 times normal levels.”


As for the science, Tierney turns to the Cochrane review:


Cochrane, the preeminent authority for evaluating medical evidence. The Cochrane review concluded that wearing a mask of any kind “probably makes little or no difference” in reducing the spread of Covid, flu, or respiratory illnesses. Maskaholics were reduced to arguing that the masks’ effects were too subtle to be detected in clinical trials. (Imagine a drug company trying to make that argument to the Food and Drug Administration.) 


But the masks’ futility was also evident in Covid trends around the world. Unmasked Swedes fared much better than other Europeans forced to wear masks. A 2021 study comparing states across the U.S. found no association between mask mandates and the spread of Covid. The mandates’ irrelevance was especially obvious in a graph tracking weekly changes in Covid rates and mask policies during the first two years of the pandemic: the weekly rates of Covid infection in states without mask mandates remained steadily the same as in states with mandates. There was also virtually no difference in the rates of cumulative mortality (the rate was slightly lower in the states without the mandates).


As it happened, when children wore masks they suffered emotionally and academically. 


The researchers found that a mandate had no significant effect on cumulative Covid infections or mortality, but that it did correlate with one statistically significant effect: a decline in fourth-graders’ test scores. That’s not hard to explain, considering the evidence that masks interfere with children’s ability to learn. What’s inexplicable is the singular cruelty of America toward children. All European countries have followed the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) not to mask children under age six, and some haven’t masked children under 12, but the CDC continues recommending masks for children two years old and above—while denying that there are any adverse effects.


As noted above, certain German states are the exception to this rule, but, we nevertheless should know by now that masks are not only ineffective in stopping the spread of the virus but are damaging in and of themselves.


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Monday, August 28, 2023

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Janan Ganesh has always and notably been one of the smartest columnists around. He is more liberal than conservative, but he writes very well and wisely. Last weekend he opined about emotional intelligence in the pages of the Financial Times. Link unavailable.

Ganesh considers emotional intelligence, supposedly the secret sauce that improves all management relations, to be something of a scam. It has been overhyped, and granted powers that it should not be granted.


The more that emo­tional intel­li­gence is exal­ted — in the work­place, in private rela­tion­ships — the slop­pier its usage becomes. It now appears to mean something like being nice and sym­path­etic (a word that itself has got con­flated with empath­etic). 


He does not say so, but one suspects that companies emphasize the importance of emotion because they are becoming more motherly. After all, the greatest degree of emotional intelligence, aka empathy, belongs to new mothers, who use it to deal with infants who cannot articulate their needs.


Anyway, imagine that you are at a party and that you want to read the room. You try to tell who feels mad, sad, bad or glad. Presumably, you know whether you feel mad, sad, bad or glad about those whose feelings you have successfully read.


The problems leap off the page. If you know that a man is mad you do not know who he is mad at, and why he is mad. His anger may or may not have anything to do with you. And even if you know that he is angry because he saw you trying to seduce his wife or because he has just run into his therapist, you still do not, on the basis of your reading of the emotion, know what to do about it.


Should you ignore it? What makes you think that it’s your business?  Should you seduce and manipulate him in order to exploit him? Or should you motivate him to do a better job?


Developing a plan, articulating a strategy, proposing tactics-- these have nothing to do with whether or not you feel your or anyone else’s feelings.


Strictly speaking, reading emotions is not the same as knowing who you are dealing with or knowing the specifics of the situation at hand. Nor does it tell you anything about the nature of the relationship you have with the person. 


Ganesh offers the example of a literary character who possesses superior emotional intelligence. He chooses Iago, from Shakespeare’e Othello


[Iago] senses: the sexual para­noia of his boss, the neg­lected feel­ing of his own wife, the romantic des­per­a­tion of a local chump called Roderigo, the mix of ambi­tion and chiv­al­ric hon­our in a fel­low sol­dier.


Iago has more than the reg­u­lar quo­tient of evil. But that alone wouldn’t get him far. His real advant­age is, if we use this term with rigour, emo­tional intel­li­gence.


The character uses his emotional intelligence to advance his personal goal, his vendetta against Othello. Nothing about his mind reading tells him how to formulate or to implement his plan. 


In and of itself, emotional intelligence does not make you a great manager or even a great seducer. Clearly, as Ganesh points out, it is not morally positive. One may certainly use emotional intelligence to manipulate and to destroy people. 


This shouldn’t need say­ing, but people of genius-level EQ include con artists, pick-up artists, stand-up comedi­ans, spies, abus­ive part­ners and, from double-glaz­ing show­rooms to the plushest invest­ment bank trad­ing floor, sales staff. Emo­tional intel­li­gence is what tells you, in a work meet­ing, that a col­league who keeps touch­ing their face and sip­ping water is nervous about speak­ing. 


Whether you then use that inform­a­tion to soothe them, or to ask them a tough ques­tion in front of the oth­ers, well, that is a test of your con­science — not your emo­tional intel­li­gence.


It is a test of your tactical abilities, your sense of the meeting, your understanding of the other people who are there. In my view it is not about conscience, which involves one’s moral sense.


Strikingly, emotional intelligence seems highly suited to a therapy culture. Therapists will happily tell you that they are enhancing your emotional intelligence, and thus making you healthier, wealthier and wiser. They give you a skill that might be valuable at the poker table and pretend that it will solve all of your problems. They will make you self-aware, and will teach you how to manage your emotions. 


And yet, if you want to improve your chess game, getting in touch with your feelings will be a small part of the process. The real work involves endless practice sessions, analyzing situations and strategizing. If you are introspecting about your feelings or are trying to read your opponent’s feelings, you are not going to be a very good chess player.


The greatest chess players tend not to be in touch with their feelings. They tend to be socially maladroit. They are more often male, than female. They do not read emotions, but read positions and pieces on the board. 


True enough, we agree that a good player will manage his emotions. He will avoid the psychodrama and stick to the task at hand. In the best circumstances he will not cultivate his emotional intelligence, but will rise above it.


The manager who spends more time devising the best policy, more time and energy working through all of the options and alternatives, will discover that other people might well accept it because… it is evidently excellent. 


Surely, when a manager presents a new project and sees his staff express serious disdain for it, that might also mean that he needs to reconfigure the specifications. It is hardly a difficult thing to read rejection-- any stand-up comedian can do it-- but one should solve the problem by working harder, not by feeling more deeply. And, one should not try to solve the problem by trying to manipulate the audience’s emotions.


When it came to getting good advice, Ganesh turned, at a crucial moment in his career, to a Tory MP, a man who had a decided lack of emotional intelligence:


Long ago, when I had to decide whether to join the FT from a no less com­fort­able nest, the most pen­et­rat­ing giver of advice, the per­son who best intu­ited my inner state, was someone who is now an MP viewed across Bri­tain as the arche­type of Tory arrog­ance and gauche­ness. The pub­lic per­cep­tion might be cor­rect. But those flaws didn’t stop him divin­ing another per­son’s anxi­et­ies and motiv­a­tions with almost a nov­el­ist’s anten­nae.


I would revise this slightly. The man might have had a better sense of the reality of the situation, a better sense of the good and bad in each decision. He was a politician. Divining someone’s anxieties is hardly foolproof. It might suggest that one option is more dangerous, but better, or perhaps, more dangerous, but worse.


Those who give the best advice tend to be less emotional and more attuned to the real situation. Rather than ask for advice from a kindly empathetic soul, Ganesh discovered that someone who is detached and cynical will probably have a better grasp of reality.


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Sunday, August 27, 2023

How to Be a Bad Person

Freudian psychoanalyst Jamieson Webster had her second child. We do not know her. We have never met her. But we are happy for her and her family. Having a child is a blessed and joyous experience. Even if we are not immediately involved, we wish the new parents all the best. 

Such a wish has nothing to do with wish fulfillment. It is the right thing to do. It makes us good people. Nothing about it is complicated or unusual. And yet, Webster, in her yeoman efforts to pretend that Freud is still relevant, regales us with the psychic torments that led her to the momentous decision. 


Apparently, being a Freudian means you need to analyze yourself in order to do something fundamentally normal, even banal-- to have a second child.


So, in a New York Times essay, Webster shared her psychic torments. Apparently she needed psychoanalysis to free herself from them, the better to undertake the effort. Also, she did not have a sufficient sense of shame to keep her torments to herself.


In her words:


The boundary was set in stone, one that spoke to a stillbirth in the family before my birth, a vague decree that having children was expensive and imprudent, some image of what it meant to be a “good” girl (i.e., not sexual), a criticism of my family where I was the only child, a feeling that I would jeopardize my career, and the necessity that I get behind this desire without cover.


Regretfully, Webster chose to wrap her joyous experience in theoretical gobbledygook. We did not need to know about any of this. We would rather be good people and not waste our time mitigating joy with an absurdist mediation about her psycho heroics. 


Truth be told, she was asking us to admire her heroics and to affirm that psycho analysis helps people to have second children. Trust me, people have long been having second children without mastering the art of free association. 


To be fair, Webster is arguing that psychoanalysis taught her how not to be a good person. One does not want to imagine that her lame theorizing tells her that having a second child makes her a bad person, but she seems to draw this conclusion.


Being a good person, something that Webster disparages, means having good character, being trustworthy, loyal, reliable and responsible. It means avoiding shame by keeping your pants on in public, by keeping your private parts and your private thoughts and experiences to yourself. Some things you ought not to share.


If you want to be a bad person, be unreliable, irresponsible, untrustworthy and disloyal. Make manifest your lack of moral character.You go back on your word; you fail to show up on time; you become a model of indiscretion; you are rude, crude and lewd. 


But, then after you have learned how to lose friends and alienate people, the question of your moral being will rise up and force you to practice something called virtue signaling. You will be positively asocial, but you will compensate by joining a cult that rejects and denounces society.


Then, you will militate against fossil fuels, you will engage in radical anti-racist training, you will hate Donald Trump, you will become a vegan, you will replace plastic with paper straws. You are not becoming a better person, but you are becoming a narcissistic lout, unwilling to follow the same rules as everyone else. Then, when anyone thinks ill of your bad character, you can denounce him as judgmental.


Anyway, Webster wants us to become bad people. But, if we want to do as she says, we will become gnarly and churlish, graceness and nasty. And we will tell you that Webster is a pretentious fool.


I will mention in passing that I have written two books and countless blog posts about topics like shame and guilt. For those who despair at the theoretical drivel offered by a Webster I happily recommend my books, Saving Face and The Last Psychoanalyst. They are available on Amazon.


Dare we mention that Webster thinks that having a second child is transgressive. Thus she suffers from a mindset that befalls those who gullibly accept Freudian theory. 


So, after a lot of hard work in analysis, she discovered that she wants what she wants because she wants it. Nothing like a pseudo profundity to make you look like a serious thinker.Wow!


What I found, after much work in analysis, is that there is no justification possible, no matter how hard I tried to find it. I want what I want because I want it. You have to live with your choices which are more or less inexplicable to others.


The choice to have a child is anything but inexplicable. It is normal. It is built in to one’s marriage vows. That is why said vows must be consummated. Or, as Shakespeare put it, “the world must be peopled.” You do not have a child to fulfill your heart’s desire; you do so to fulfill a moral obligation.


And then there is this speculation, a reflection worthy of a bad person. One suspects that Webster was over forty when she had her second child. She is currently in her mid-forties.


The point is barely relevant, but having a child at that age is generally more difficult and potentially more complicated than having a child two decades sooner. So, we are especially happy that she had a presumably normal and healthy child at an advanced age, though she might have mentioned the point.


Could it be that she occluded the issue in a singular act of Freudian repression.


Strangely, Webster never mentions the male who is part of the process of conception. Didn't his desires matter? Presumably she is married, but she erases her partner from the process. Was the child conceived via parthenogenesis? Nothing about her essay says that it was not. Then again, mere modesty might have caused her to say nothing about how the child was conceived. We respect her for being a good person.


But, Freudian theory being what it is, what really matters is your desire. If the purpose of analysis is to help you to discover what you desire, then it reduces to a lyric from a group that used to be called The Spice Girls.


Remember when they intoned-- Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.


So, Webster makes her second child into a transgressive act. She continues to want to maintain her good standing in the Freudian cult, a cult is built on a theory that sees transgression as the source of all desire. According to the theory, you really, really want to copulate with your mother. The reason being, the act is forbidden.


So, she did something that was not forbidden, but was prescribed. And this made her question her membership in a Freudian cult. We can only hope that she will overcome her tendency to make her own desires, as inarticulate as they may be, the only issue. What about her partner’s desires? What about his contribution to the intramarital conversations?


In any event, we hope that pointing this out does not make us a bad person. 


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Saturday, August 26, 2023

Saturday Miscellany

First, Karen Bass, mayor of Los Angeles, has fulsomely expressed her outrage at the shoplifting that has been visited on local department stores.

The results are not very promising. A band of thieves stole thousands of dollars of designer purses at a  Nordstrom Rack in Riverside


And, a group of citizens ransacked a Macy’s in Arcadia. They were helping themselves to designer perfumes.


Second, it must have been a slow day at the Justice Department, because noted black supremacist Kristin Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, filed suit against Elon Musk's SpaceX, for not qualified American citizens over illegal aliens and other asylum seekers.


That’s right, the Biden administration wants you to hire people who have no business being here and who knew nothing about rocket science, over American citizens.


The amusing part is that you have to be a United States citizen to work for the Department of Justice.


Third, reports tell us that child mutilation is becoming more and more prevalent in the United States. These are mostly mastectomies, performed on children under the age of 18. Over the past three the number has tripled, to more than 1,200 a year. 


Fourth, Planned Parenthood is offering free vasectomies to the uninsured. In Missouri, to celebrate World Vasectomy Day it is offering the service through a mobile van called 'The Nutcracker.”


I did not make that up.


But, don’t count virile men out yet. Some of them are now injecting their virile organs with “lip filler” to add girth. I did not make that up either.


Fourth, Daniel Greenfield, of the Sultan Knish blog, reports that the Veterans Administration is not doing a very good job offering cancer treatment for veterans.


Why should this be the case? Apparently, the VA has been using its funds for gender reassignment surgery.


Greenfield reports:


While the VA can’t seem to care for veterans, it is busy offering transgender procedures that include hormones, pre-op evaluation, and post-op care. The VA handles everything from using the right pronouns to storing sperm and eggs, and even hair removal and fake breasts.


Veterans with cancer are not being treated in a timely manner, but those whose mental problems lead them to think that they’re really women are getting fast tracked to castration.


Fifth, more and more New York parents are taking their children out of kindergarten. Rather than see their children indoctrinated in woke ideology, at the expense of math, these parents are relying on private and parochial schools.


Beyond that, parent Lisa Liss wrote in The New York Post, the schools are teaching anti-Semitism and silence. She took them out of the schools. She wrote:


My children are 6 and 9. They have no idea who Christopher Columbus is, but they know how to mix paint to match their skin color.


They’ve never heard the inspirational words of Martin Luther King Jr. in school, but they know he was, in their words, “shot by a white guy.”


My younger child was told to look at the color of his skin and determine if that means he is black or white (as Jews, we don’t identify as either).


He was taught that Black Lives Matter activism is similar to our nation’s historic and commendable Civil Rights movement.


What wasn’t he taught everyday? Math.


Sixth, the American elementary school educational system is a national disgrace. Surely, you knew it. Over at the Powerline blog, John Hinderaker declares it an existential threat to America. It's good to see an existential threat that really is an existential threat:


America’s public schools are almost unbelievably bad, to a degree that poses an existential threat to the republic. That’s the bad news. The good news is that most Americans are figuring it out. Rasmussen finds that a 36% plurality say that our public schools are poor. That is a remarkable finding. A sadly misinformed 9% think our schools are excellent. But that disproportion is revealing. The teachers’ unions aren’t fooling many people anymore.


Hinderaker is more optimistic than I am, but, we will leave it on a slightly positive note.


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