Monday, July 13, 2015

Ruling the Ranks

From the Arizona Republic:

Media heads rule ranks of best-paid CEOs

The article contains the names of 13 individual CEOs:

I wonder if there is anything else in common among the best paid CEOs other than media?

Monday, July 06, 2015

Mad Men Finale

A few thoughts:

  • I liked the ending, though not until the next morning when, while recouting the details to Mrs. Phi, I finally caught the connection between Don's meditative Cheshire cat-grin and the Coke commercial. Until then, Don's retreat with Stepanie into a hippie commune and his crisis of conscience didn't make any sense, from his tear-stained phone call with Peggy to his apparent moment of empathy with a proto- cubicle drone. "I took another man's name . . . and made nothing of it." No, he made "Don Draper" into the most sought-after creative name on Madison Avenue; finding the limits to the happiness and meaning that accompany his fame is not the same thing. And as for the drone's lament at being invisible, replaceable, expendable: Don was the opposite of those things from the beginning, drawing the envy of every man he met and the loins of every woman. Yes, he alienated all his personal relationships by failing to control his zipper, but again, that's not the same thing.* But who cares? It was all an artifice to put Don in a place to Ommm his way into advertising history.

  • I'm happy for Pete and Trudy. I was so afraid last episode that their reconciliation would fall apart just to spite those of us rooting for it. But apparently his million dollar signing bonus and Lear jet finally succeeded in providing him with the status he craved. That doesn't make him a good person, but it does make him relatable: I've always said that the little weasel was the one character whose motivations I really identified with. Pete should have been the one to hug cube-drone-man.

  • Joan's character arc was absurd. She began the series as the ultimate alpha female who deployed her icy sexuality to keep the men around her awed and at bay; she ended it mewling about the EEOC and Betty Friedan. She began it openly scornful of Peggy's career ambitions, preferring to serve as Roger's mistress; she ended it trading in her rich and retired lover for . . . gambling her cashed-out partnership on starting a production company?**

  • Given creator Matthew Weiner's well-documented ethnic animosities, it's probably for the best that he didn't consider Christianity to be interesting enough for any treatment beyond the occasional drive-by shooting. But the rise of Evangelical Christianity in the 60s and 70s has been a more significant and enduring manifestation of the counterculture than the "hippies" ever were. It's too bad that the show lacked the perspicacity to give this a fair treatment.

* Also something about not recognizing that people around him loved him, which may have been what Don was actually empathizing with. This is marginally more credible, but only just, since I don't really think this was the source of Don's problem.

** The only more absurd character was Harry Crane, whose misfortune was to be the dumping ground for every contrivance the writer's need to dig themselves out of a hole. He began as, by the standards of Sterling Cooper, a straight arrow; he ended by first hitting on and then half-assed blackmailing Megan Draper.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Audience Participation

As I was discussing the content of the last post with her, Mrs. Φ asked a question to which I didn't have a very good answer. She pointed out that we have three potentially contradictory sociological generalizations:

  • The number (indeed, the mere existence) of prior sexual partners strongly predicts marital failure;

  • Successful marriage has lately become the preserve of the upper classes; and yet

  • To the extent that Paul and Emma, or I am Charlotte Simmons, are representative, our future upper classes spend their college years whoring around.

It seems likely that at least one of these generalizations can't be as true as we think. Thoughts?

Monday, June 22, 2015


I will generally align myself with Ace, and add a few comments of my own.

  • Another day, another gun-free zone.

  • You’re taking over our country.  Of all the grievances that white Americans have against black Americans, I don't think this is one of them.  The Obama administration does nothing except the bidding of those who bankroll his campaigns. If anything, black Americans suffer the greater near-term material consequences of immigration, be it ethnic cleansing from their neighborhoods, competition for jobs, etc.  They are unlikely to get as good a deal from our rising Mexican and Asian masters as they received from Whites.

  • For all the grievances Whites have against Blacks, the little old ladies at Bible study in Emanuel AME had nothing to do with them.  On the contrary, they were without doubt as mortified by the likes of Shyrome Jaquane Johnson,  Philip Moses, Franklin Glover, and Levell Leonard Grant as we are by Dylann Roof.

  • Again we see the effect of asymmetrical media power, the power to decide whether the injuries suffered by you and your group get to be A Thing.  How many of you had heard the four names listed above until you read them here?   How many outside the readership of our corner of the internet remember Omar Thornton? In fact, while Dylann's murders will likely dominate the statistics of non-Hispanic white-on-black violent crime, it is but a spittle-speck in the storm of black-on-white (or -Asian, or -Hispanic) crime. Yet this is what we'll be hearing about for the next 18 months.

  • Dylann.  With two “n”’s.  That’s an improbable spelling for a white kid.  It bespeaks his family's integration into the overwhelmingly black community where he grew up. I'd like to know more about this than I'm currently seeing reported.

  • The usual suspects will milk this tragedy for what they will, yet the grace and forgiveness shown by the members of Emanuel is remarkable. Also remarkable is the total absence of retaliatory mayhem from black Americans at large. It's almost as if Black outrange is always in inverse proportion to the alleged offense. A police officer shoots a robber that is violently assaulting him: nationwide riots. Two police officers gun down John Crawford III in cold blood: John who? A "white Hispanic" shoots a wannabe gangster that's slamming his head into the pavement: numerous retaliatory murders and assaults across the country. A no-kidding racist degenerate murders nine people in church: thus far, nothing. Agitators take note: apparently, fomenting race war is trickier than it looks.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Columbia and Academic Freedom

This must-read translation of a German language publication on Paul Nungesser's lawsuit against Columbia does a fair job of capturing both the psychic pain and material harm caused by false rape accusations. But reading the article, I began thinking critically about the unstated assumptions behind the lawsuit. There seems no doubt that "campus activists" have succeeded in creating a hostile and intimidating environment for men (and anyone else with insufficient victimism Pokémon points) in general and Paul in particular. But I'm less certain that Columbia has either the power or the responsibility to prevent this. Paul's lawyer:

[Andrew]. Miltenberg said: "Emma is lying. She is camouflaging her attacks on Paul as a fight for a good cause . . . . Can we both stand on campus with a sign reading ‘Emma Sulkowicz is a whore’? Of course not . . . . But Emma is permitted to hold rallies. Columbia is her accomplice."

Well said. Notwithstanding the abundant evidence in favor of such a slogan, were a bunch of Paul's fraternity brothers actually try to use it, we can be certain that Columbia would assert the power and responsibility to stop them.

But having said that, does it actually? Ought it actually?

I haven't read Nunguesser's legal complaint; to my knowledge, it has not appeared online. But it is established that Columbia's sexual misconduct tribunals (Paul ultimately faced four of these) exonerated him of his accusers charges, and from what I have read, Columbia's direct complicity in Sulkowicz' campaign of defamation is limited to her advisor's accepting the mattress gag as a "senior thesis". He might have a pretty good case if, during discovery, he finds that Emma's thesis proposal accused him of rape by name. But Paul's complaint against Columbia goes well beyond that. He argues that Columbia was obligated to actively prevent his fellow students from harassing him.

Let me be clear: Columbia's SJWs actively defamed Paul with reckless disregard for the truth, and Paul ought to be able to prevail against them. But Paul isn't suing them; he's suing Columbia for not stopping them, and on this I find cause to be wary. Much as I and others have argued that accusations of criminal behavior ought to be handled by grown-ups -- law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and juries -- under grown-up standards of evidence and due-process, a similar case can be made that the question of where free speech and academic freedom stop and where libel and harassment begin also ought be made based on the law, not based on the whims of campus administrators.

And indeed, against which activists would you predict Columbia's whims would direct it? Against SJWs? On the contrary, and conservatives should be loathe to further empower administrators to restrict conservative speech on harassment grounds. I could be wrong about this: it might be the case that universities are doing this to the maximum legal extent anyway and Nungesser's lawsuit will only subject SJWs to a like standard. But the precedent would be nonetheless troubling.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

An Evening in DC

Note to that perfectly nice Filipino family next to us in Houlihan's that, unbeknownst to us, had to listen to us complain about the Asian concierge who couldn't find our reservation, mispelled my name, had to be told twice to send extra towels to our room, and never did get our phone fixed: no racial offense intended. Really, we love Asians, especially anime and emojis.

To the manager of Houlihan's: thanks for not throwing us out. We were just about to leave anyway.

Monday, June 08, 2015

. . . I don't think it means what you think it means.

David French at NRO makes a point too seldom heard about the ongoing drama between Columbia mattress girl Emma Sulkowicz and German student Paul Nungesser:

[Nungesser’s lawsuit against Columbia University] is sobering as well, laying bare — through copious social-media messages — the personal lives of students unmoored to any coherent code of sexual morality, where alcohol plays an outsized role and sexual connections are casually created but have meaningful and long-lasting consequences. Such an environment offers the perfect formula for hurt, confusion, and rage.

Quite right.  Taking those details of Paul and Emma’s relationship on which they are in agreement, their sexual ethics are abominable.  I remember back in college, on those occasions when I successfully cornered a fellow student long enough to give vent of my opinion, being told, “well yes, we’re having sex without being married, but we love each other, so that makes it okay, and whoareyoutojudge . . . “  How innocent were the late 1980s!  Paul and Emma, not to put too fine a point on it, were f*ck buddies, hooking up after parties out of boredom or an immediate lack of options.  No talk of relationship beyond mere acquaintance.  No talk of love except to disavow it.

And then there are the points at which they disagree.  There is a lot of space between those points, a lot of room for speculation as to what actually happened.  For instance, maybe Paul took more initiative in their, um, sexual experimentation than he remembers or is letting on.  Maybe Emma became deeply ambivalent about this without saying anything.  Maybe she thought she was communicating her preferences non-verbally in a way that Paul was slow to pick up on.  Maybe the entire experience, in contrast to their previous liaisons, was just a letdown.  Maybe it was just bad sex.

Which shouldn’t be a big deal.  Those of us who have been married long enough can testify that while we’d like to hit the ball out of the park every time, we don’t always manage it.  But we can also testify that, in the context of a loving relationship, this is okay.  Sometimes the intimacy is its own reward.  Sometimes the giving of pleasure is itself pleasurable.  And sometimes the sex is just . . . maintenance.

But that only works for people who have an actual relationship.  For people who don’t have a relationship, all they have is the Big Oh.  And when that gets taken away, they are left with . . . what Emma was apparently left with:  something deeply unsatisfying.  It is all too believable that she came to the realization that hey, if I’m going to just be servicing this guy, I really want to at least get “girlfriend” status out of it.  But as the weeks and months went by with no sign that such status was forthcoming, only the sense of being used remained, the sense of ickyness.  And as Game of Thrones has taught us, icky sex means rape.

It is a shame that neither her parents nor her culture equipped Emma with the personal skills to navigate the mating world to a more personally satisfying outcome.  But that doesn’t mean that Paul Nungesser committed a crime.