Monthly Archives: May 2018

What should you dedicate your life to?

By Augustinus

First of all, must we dedicate our lives to anything at all? The answer is yes in my view. Though I agree that there is no requirement that you dedicate your life to something, and I absolutely agree that it is true that fundamentally you owe nothing to no-one, I find it is just boring and pleasure-less to be dedicated to nothing at all.

But then what should you dedicate your life to?

1)      Family?

God put some human beings into my care….my spouse and my children and to some extent other relatives. Therefore, my first moral obligation in life is to ensure their well-being. Add to this moral obligation the bonds of love and it is clear that for any real man, family must hold a, or the primary place in that man’s life and efforts. BUT, is it what your life should be dedicated to? In my view the answer must be no. Surely if you make your family your life’s purpose you do them a dis-service because you are not yet fully a man. To be a fully realized man you need to realize your life’s purpose; whatever it is that you dedicate your life to.

 

2)      Race and ethnicity?

Your race and ethnicity is part of who you are. If you dis-own these things you dis-own your Self and therefore you dishonor God who created you. I recently had my DNA analyzed and discovered I am 99.8 or 9% northern European. Basically all of my genes come from Ireland. My Irish genes were also apparently derived in large part from the hunter-gatherers who peopled the island long before the arrival of the Indo-European farmers and Celts. I also have one of the highest percentages of Neanderthal genes reported on the 23andme genetics site. Again Neanderthals were primarily a Northern European people centered in the Iberian peninsula, France and of course the British isles. That’s means that my ancestry going back over 50,000 years centers on Europe—especially the Iberian, French and Irish landmass. Within Ireland my people apparently lived within central/coastal Ireland for over 2000 years in regions that are now known as County Clare and Galway. There are reliable genealogies concerning the Clan my grandparents came from going back over a thousand years—all centered on the coastlines of Clare and Galway. I have ancestors who fought with the great Irish king Brian Boru and there are castles, Abbys and churches within Clare and Galway that my ancestors built and that bear tombs with the names of some of my ancestors dating back over 600 years.

It is clear that one should reverence one’s ancestors. “Honor thy Father and thy Mother.”  Politically everyone favors their own kind and that is as it should be. But should you dedicate your life to your clan, ethnic group or race? I reckon not. While you owe your clan your political blood, sweat and tears, you do not owe your clan your life…and you would be no real good to the clan if you did not realize your life’s purpose as you would be no real man.

 

3)      Sex and love?

Most people dedicate their lives to sex, romance and love. It works for a while but if you have a feel for real manhood you soon realize it cannot be what you dedicate your life to. Sex is more fun when you need it less and love only works with two independent, NOT dependent people. you become a fully mature, INDEPENDENT man when you realize your life purpose.

 

4)      Money and Power?

Money and power are goals worthy of a real man but if you are going to be able to use them wisely they cannot be your masters. Therefore they are not candidates for your life’s purpose. Your life’s purpose is the thing that drives you and in that sense is your master. It comes first before everything else. A real man makes money and power serve his life purpose-not the other way round.

 

5)       God?

To the religious person we owe God everything, therefore we should and must dedicate our lives to God. But in my view, that cannot be the case for a Christian. Christianity is not a religion and teaches that God intended and succeeded in creating ontologically independent entities; i.e. Persons, beings who could stand apart from God and therefore be really free. “Persons”, although creatures, are nonetheless ontologically real entities and are therefore free. We are free to choose or to reject friendship with God. We have the capacity to choose God out of love-not dependency and necessity. Therefore, God does not want us to be indebted to him. Jesus said “I call you friends, not servants.” And yet most so-called Christians continue to insist on being servile, dependent servants to God. In the end they do God a dis-service and wind up being merely religious persons—not Christians.

 

6)      Church?

Because the Church is Christ’s real presence on Earth it demands and deserves service from us. Nevertheless, although the Catholic Church is indeed the mystical body of Christ we should not dedicate our lives to it. It needs friends not servants. We should put our energies into it only after our primary life’s purpose is satisfied.

 

7)      Charities and political ideals?

Many people lead very admirable lives making the world a better place to live in. I think of scientists in this regard…the scientist who devises an effective treatment that relieves the suffering of millions is a most admirable individual. But should you dedicate your life to alleviating the suffering or improving the lives of millions? No. You can and should put significant effort into making the world a better place for others but the best thing you can do for a suffering humanity is to realize your particular life purpose.

8) Art?

To the extent that your art expresses the idea your life is meant to manifest it is good but most people never attain to that kind of art. Most expressive forms of art are embarrassing revelations of the artists deranged fantasies. Once again you need to make art serve you-not the other way round.

 

We have now ruled out all of the usual suspects for one’s life purpose’s. We cannot and should not dedicate our lives to family, clan, charities, science, politics, church, art, money, power or even God. All of these surely have claims on our love, loyalty and efforts but none of them have an absolute claim on your life…while your life purpose DOES have an absolute claim on your life. This is the central message of Christianity as I understand it. What then is your life purpose?

Your life purpose is that idea or principle that your life and your life alone can manifest. Only YOU can realize it and it is your primary duty to do so. by doing so you will save your family, clan, church, art and become intimate friends with the infinite God.

 

 

Divergent Political Models in the Two “Forms” of the Roman Rite

…a delicious morsel found by Allan Gillis while perusing the New Liturgical Movement blogsite!

Isn’t it wonderful to find an article that so profoundly communicates exactly what one feels and has hitherto never been able to articulate?!

Divergent Political Models in the Two “Forms” of the Roman Rite

Peter Kwasniewski

 

A reviewer of my book Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017) made a point that got me thinking. He said that while he agreed with my critique of the Novus Ordo and himself preferred the traditional rite, he thought I should have wrestled more with the fact that there are flourishing religious congregations exclusively reliant on the Novus Ordo. He cited the Missionaries of Charity and the Nashville Dominicans as examples. Clearly, these communities are full of fervent disciples of the Lord who are nourished from the liturgy of Paul VI, so it cannot be the case that this liturgy is “all bad,” so to speak.

Now, apart from the fact that I have never argued and never would argue that the Novus Ordo is “all bad” (something that would be metaphysically impossible, in any case), I welcome this observation as an opportunity to think more closely about how exactly this phenomenon may be explained.

Such religious communities are bringing to the liturgy a spiritual disposition that enables them to benefit from the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist — a disposition they are not necessarily developing from the liturgy as such. The Novus Ordo can be fruitful for those who already have a fervent and well-ordered interior life, built up by other means; but for those who do not, it will offer few pegs on which to climb up. In this respect it is unlike the traditional liturgy, which has within itself enormous resources for enkindling and expanding the interior life.

One might make a political comparison to elucidate this point. The basic philosophical problem with the American regime is not that a good use cannot be made of its political institutions, but that they presuppose a virtuous citizenry in order to work at all. Time and time again, the American Founding Fathers say things like: “As long as the people are virtuous, they can govern themselves with these mechanisms.” But the aims of government do not include producing a virtuous citizenry; this is seen as above and beyond the government’s limited scope. Government is supposed to act like a police officer who regulates the flow of traffic; it is assumed that people know how to drive and basically drive well.

The traditional view, as we find it for instance in Pope Leo XIII’s social encyclicals, is that government has a God-given responsibility for the moral and spiritual welfare of the people, and must lead them to the observance of the natural law and dispose them as well as possible to the observance of the divine law. In this model, the government is more like a parent, teacher, and counselor who knows what the human good is and actively fosters the attainment of it by as many citizens as possible. This is why, for Leo XIII, a good government will necessarily involve the Catholic Church in educating the citizens of the regime, so that they may have the best possibility of developing virtues. Virtue does not develop spontaneously or accidentally.

The liturgical parallel is not hard to see. The Novus Ordo is like the American government. It is an orderly structure or framework within which free activity can take place, but it does not specify or dictate in a rigorous way how that activity ought to be pursued. It is like the benign and neutral policeman — a certain precondition for peace, but not the representative and spokesman of peace. The minimal rubrics function like boundaries on a sports field. The people who attend are assumed to know how to pray, how to “participate actively” (as if this is at all evident!), and how to be holy. They come to display and demonstrate what is already within them.

The traditional liturgy, in contrast, forthrightly adopts the attitude of parent, teacher, and counselor. It assumes that you are in a dependent position and must be shaped in your spirituality, molded in your thoughts, educated in your piety. Its rubrics are numerous and detailed. The liturgy knows exactly what you need in terms of silence, chant, prayers, antiphons, and it delivers them authoritatively, in a way that emphasizes the liturgy’s own perfection and your receptivity. The traditional liturgy establishes a standard of virtue and makes the worshiper conform to it. It does not presuppose that you are virtuous.

This helps to explain the intentionally Protean adaptability of the modern liturgical rites, in their optionitis and spectrum of artes celebrandi. Moderns don’t really think there can be a fixed and virtuous liturgy that should form them into its image. As heirs of the Enlightenment that enthroned human reason as king and assumed a supposedly rational control over all aspects of society, moderns feel they need to be in some way in charge of the liturgy. It has to have options to accommodate us in our pluralism.

In this way the Novus Ordo betrays its provenance in a democratic and relativistic age, in stark contrast with the traditional liturgy that was born and developed entirely in monarchical and aristocratic eras (and this, of course, by Divine Providence, since God knew best what human beings needed, and ensured that the rites would embody it). Even if one wished to say, for the sake of argument, that secular society is better off democratized — a claim that would seem counterintuitive, to say the least, especially if one could canvas the opinions of the countless millions of victims of abortion murdered under the free regimes of the Western world — one must nevertheless maintain as a matter of principle that the divine liturgy, being from and for the King of kings and Lord of lords, cannot be democratized without ceasing to exist. It must remain monarchical and aristocratic in order to remain divine liturgy, as opposed to a self-derived human patriotism.

If you are that fortunate person who has a robustly developed life of faith, whether from a Protestant upbringing prior to your conversion, or frequent attendance at adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or a constant and childlike Marian devotion, you bring all of this fullness with you when you attend the Novus Ordo, and you fill the relative emptiness of the liturgical form with that fullness. In this case, your fullness (so to speak) meets Christ’s fullness in the Eucharist, and there is a meeting of minds and a marriage of souls. This, it seems to me, could be what is happening with those aforementioned religious communities that are flourishing in spite of the defects of the Novus Ordo as a lex orandi, in its anthropological assumptions, theological content, and aesthetic form.

With the traditional Mass, it is different. It produces an awareness of the interior life that is the first step to a more profound interior conversion. It contains ample Eucharistic adoration within it, and so, it feeds this hunger of the soul and intensifies it to the point that it overflows beyond the confines of the liturgy. Its spirituality is Marian through and through, so it tends to lead souls to Our Lady, who is waiting for them there. In every way, this Mass is actively calling into being a mind for worship and a heart for prayer; it carves out a space in the soul to fill it full of Christ. It does not presuppose that you are at that point, but pulls and draws you there, due to its confident possession of the truth about God and man. It is not leaning on you to supply it with force or relevance; it is not waiting for you to be the active party. It is inherently full and ready to act upon you, to supply you with your meaning. And paradoxically, it does all this through not being focused on you, your problems, your potentialities. It works because it is so resolutely and bafflingly focused on the Lord.

There is an irony here, inasmuch as the didacticism of the Novus Ordo seems to be aimed at explaining and eliciting certain acts of religion, while the usus antiquior seems to take for granted that one knows what to do. But in reality, the new rite’s didacticism interferes with the free exercise of these acts of religion, and the usus antiquior‘s “indifference” to the attendees more subtly challenges them to build new interior habits proportioned to the earnestness and intensity of the liturgical action. By attempting to provide for the worshiper everything he “needs,” the modern rite fails to provide the one thing needful: an unmistakeable sense of encounter with the ineffable mystery of God, whom no words of ours can encompass, whom no actions of ours can domesticate. The usus antiquior knows better, and therefore strives to do both less and more — less, by not leading children by the apron strings of a school teacher; more, in terms of calling into being new ascetical-mystical capacities that depend radically on a fixed and dense “regimen” of prayer, chant, and bodily gestures. “I have run the way of thy commandments, when thou didst enlarge my heart” (Ps 118:32). In this domain, the old rite shows us that (if we may paraphrase a contemporary author) space is greater than time. Having a capacious and symbolically dense space within which to “play” is of greater benefit, in the long run, than spending an hour doing verbal exercises in the confines of a modern classroom.

These differences, which play out in ways both subtle and obvious, cannot fail to have an impact on priestly and religious vocations and on the manner in which various communities understand their relationship to worship and contemplation.

I’m scared shit!

The ideological “Left” was utterly brilliant in its conquest of educational institutions in Europe and these United States.  I give you here the future of America…

They can’t even utter a rational statement about the most obvious…    You can see them shutting their minds down (almost uncomfortably) in order to spurt out the “correct-speech”!

I’m truly frightened!

Allan Gillis thanks the Family Policy Institute of Washington

Found a tidbit…

Mrs. Gillis often begins our evening “touching base” conversations while we prepare dinner by asking if I have any “tidbits”…

I found this as I stopped by the Creative Minority Report blog.  Touching again upon an issue that I’ve addressed recently on this blog.

Texas School Beats ADHD by Tripling Recess Time

This is from 2017 but I just saw it so as they say…it’s news to me. And it’s good news. And I hope more schools take notice. This is a pet peeve of mine. I see this all the time. A boy gets in trouble at school and what’s the first thing the teacher or principal takes away from him or her (usually him)? Recess. I always say that the school essentially just guaranteed that child’s behavior to get worse. Kids need breaks. They need to run around, especially boys.

Returntonow:

While most school districts across the country are cutting back on recess time and ramping up the Ritalin, one Texas school has kindergartners and first graders sitting still and “incredibly attentive.”

What’s their secret? Their recess time has tripled.

Instead of 20 minutes of recess per day, Eagle Mountain Elementary kindergartners and first graders now get an hour, broken up into four 15-minute breaks, in addition to lunchtime.
Their teachers say it’s totally transformed them.
The kids are less fidgety, less distracted, more engaged in learning and make more eye contact.
Eagle Mountain is one of dozens of schools in Texas, Oklahoma and California testing out extra recess time as part of a three-year trial. The pilot program is modeled after the Finnish school system, whose students get some of the best scores in the world in reading, math and science.
The designer of the program — called LiiNK — is kinesiologist Debbie Rhea of Texas Christian University. Rhea spent 6 weeks in Finland in 2012 to discover the secret of their success.

The biggest difference Rhea noticed was that students in Finland get much more recess than American kids do — 15 minutes of “unstructured outdoor play” after every 45 minutes of instruction.
They key is the “unstructured,” Rhea told TODAY, which means kids are allowed to run, play and make up their own games.
While indoor breaks are better than none, Rhea says they should ideally take place outdoors because fresh air, natural light and vivid colors all have a big impact on brain function.

Some of the teachers at Eagle Mountain say they were nervous about how they would keep the kids on track academically with all the lost classroom time. But halfway through the first year of the program first-grade teacher Cathy Wells told NPR her kids “were way ahead of schedule.”

Wells said she’s spending a lot less time sharpening pencils these days.

“You know why I was sharpening them? Because they were grinding on them, they were breaking them, they were chewing on them. They’re not doing that now. They’re actually using their pencils for the way that they were designed — to write things!”
“If you want a child to be attentive and stay on task — if you want them to encode the information you’re giving them in their memory — you’ve got to give them regular breaks,” says Ohio State University pediatrician Bob Murray.

There’s a reason so many boys are on Ritalin. It’s because teachers (most of whom are female) set an expectation that boys should act the same as girls. They’re essentially setting up two groups -girls and broken girls.

It’s not fair and it’s why so many boys do so poorly in school.

Brought to you by Allan Gillis

Found this gem at Imprimis

Brought to you by Allan Gillis

MacDonald is right on here!

The Negative Impact of the #MeToo Movement

Heather Mac Donald
Manhattan Institute

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. She earned a B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. in English from Cambridge University, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. She writes for several newspapers and periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Criterion, and Public Interest, and is the author of four books, including The War on Cops: How The New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe and The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture (forthcoming September 2018).

The following is adapted from a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on April 18, 2018, during a two-week teaching residency at Hillsdale as a Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Journalism.

Our nation is about to be transformed, thanks to the #MeToo movement. I am not speaking about a cessation of sexual predation in the workplace. If that were the only consequence of #MeToo, the movement would clearly be a force for good. Unfortunately, its effects are going to be more sweeping and destructive. #MeToo is going to unleash a new torrent of gender and race quotas throughout the economy and culture, on the theory that all disparities in employment and institutional representation are due to harassment and bias. The resulting distortions of decision-making will be largely invisible; we will usually not know of the superior candidates for a job who were passed over in the drive for gender parity. But the net consequence will be a loss of American competitiveness and scientific achievement.

Pressures for so-called diversity, defined reductively by gonads and melanin, are of course nothing new. Since the 1990s, every mainstream institution has lived in terror of three lethal words: “all white male,” an epithet capable of producing paroxysms of self-abasement. Silicon Valley start-ups and science labs quake before the charge of being all or mostly male; their varied ethnic demographics earn them no protection from the diversity racket. The New York Times recently criticized the board of fashion giant H&M for being “entirely white.” We can therefore infer that there are females on the H&M board, or else the Times would have let loose with the bigger gun: “all white male.” When both categories of alleged privilege—white and male—overlap, an activist is in the diversity sweet spot, his power over an institution at its zenith.

But however pervasive the diversity imperative was before, the #MeToo movement is going to make the previous three decades look like a golden age of meritocracy. No mainstream institution will hire, promote, or compensate without an exquisite calculation of gender and race ratios. Males in general, and white males in particular, will have to clear a very high bar in order to justify further deferring that halcyon moment of gender equity.

Hollywood and the media are already showing the #MeToo effect. At this year’s Oscar awards lunch, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, John Bailey, prefaced his remarks by noting that he was a “75-year-old white man.” Bailey was trying to get out ahead of the curve, since if he hadn’t pointed out this shameful status, feminist crusaders in the press and the industry would have done so for him. Witness actress Natalie Portman’s sneer in presenting the best director prize at the 2018 Golden Globe awards: “And here are the all-male nominees.” Such shallow bean counting is now going to become the automatic response to any perceived lack of “diversity” in entertainment.

Naturally, Bailey announced reparations for the Academy’s predominantly white male profile: henceforth it would “balance gender, race, ethnicity, and religion” in all its activities and would double its female and minority members by 2020. Needless to say, this was not enough. Outside the lunch, the National Hispanic Media Coalition protested the lack of proportional ethnic representation in Oscar nominations and acting roles.

CBS is considering only females to fill the anchor slot at Face the Nation, to catch up with The Today Show, which now has two female anchors. The Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammys, has promised to overcome the “unconscious biases that impede female advancement” in the music industry, after bean-counting complaints from The Wall Street Journal’s pop music critic and female music executives.

The prospect of left-wing entertainment moguls having to sacrifice their box office judgment to identity politics is an unalloyed pleasure, and of little consequence to society at large. But quota-izing will hardly be limited to Hollywood.

Major publishing houses are analyzing their author lists by gender and race and making publishing decisions accordingly. What books get reviewed and who reviews them will increasingly be determined according to gender and race. There are likely no major newspapers that are not tallying reporter and op-ed bylines, as well as the topics they cover, by gender and race. In 2005, professional feminist Susan Estrich preposterously accused Michael Kinsley, then running the Los Angeles Times editorial pages, of excluding female writers. Naturally, Estrich ignored the fact that males are disproportionately interested in public affairs, as demonstrated by lopsided sex ratios among op-ed submissions and letters to the editor. Eighty-seven percent of contributors to Wikipedia are male. There are no allegedly sexist gatekeepers at Wikipedia screening out females; contributions are anonymous and open to all. But males are more oriented towards highly fact-based realms.

Now, however, sterile bean-counting exercises such as Estrich’s have gone in-house. In response to the #MeToo movement, The New York Times created a “gender editor” who presides over a “gender initiative” to infuse questions of gender throughout all the Times’ coverage. A recent front-page product of this #MeToo initiative covered the earth-shattering problem facing NFL cheerleaders: to wit, they have a dress code and are forbidden from fraternizing with the players. Despite these allegedly patriarchal conditions, females are still lining up to be hired, to the puzzlement of the Times.

Publisher Meredith Corp. has come in for the usual criticism after buying the floundering Time, Inc. late last year. “They’re basically all middle-aged white males from the Midwest,” grumbled a Time staffer, who, you would think, would be in no position to complain. Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, is offering leadership training exclusively to females to try to meet its short-term goal of 40 percent female executives.

Corporate boardrooms, executive suites, and management structures are going to be scoured for gender and race imbalances. Diversity trainers are already sensing a windfall from #MeToo. Gender, diversity, and inclusion were the dominant themes at this January’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The conference was chaired exclusively by women. Windows were emblazoned with slogans like “Diversity is good for business” and “Gender equality is a social and economic issue.” CEOs shared their techniques for achieving gender equity. It’s actually quite simple: pay managers based on their record of hiring and promoting females and minorities, as Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta explained. Never mind the fact that by introducing irrelevant criteria such as race and gender into an evaluation process, you will inevitably end up with less qualified employees.

U.S. banks and financial institutions are facing pressure from shareholder groups to release data on the number and compensation of females and minorities in their upper ranks. Immediate punishment befalls anyone in business who has the courage to criticize this war on merit. The chief creative officer of the advertising firm M&C Saatchi wrote last year that he was “bored of diversity being prioritized over talent.” Saatchi atoned for this heresy with a frenzy of female hirings and promotions.

Amazingly, John Williams—a white man—squeaked into the presidency of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York this April, to the outrage of the diversocrats. Don’t be surprised if he is the last to do so. “The New York Fed has never been led by a woman or a person of color, and that needs to change,” announced New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Williams’ “progress,” as The New York Times called it, in “diversifying” senior leadership when he was president of the San Francisco Fed undoubtedly made his unfortunate race and sex more palatable to the search committee.

#MeToo enforcers are even going after classical music. New Yorker music critic Alex Ross triggered outrage against the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra in February when he tweeted that they had programmed no female composers in their 2018-2019 seasons. Never mind that the CSO was even then performing Jennifer Higdon’s Low Brass Concerto—a piece commissioned by the Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore orchestras—at Carnegie Hall. It is ludicrous to suggest that these institutions are discriminating against female composers, but Ross and his followers demand affirmative programming quotas.

The public radio show, Performance Today, ran a series of shows in March about gender and racial inequities in classical music. At a time of diminishing classical music audiences, it is profoundly irresponsible to direct the poison of identity politics at our most precious musical institutions. Doing so only encourages potential young listeners and culturally ignorant philanthropists (I’m thinking of you, Bill Gates) to stay away. Facts are facts, and throughout most of music history, the greatest composers have been male. No amount of digging through score archives, however useful that enterprise may be for discovering unfamiliar works, is going to unearth a female counterpart to Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, or Brahms. So what? We should simply be grateful—profoundly grateful—for the music these men created.

Orchestra boards will pay penance for their own inadequate diversity by a mad rush on female conductors, whose numbers are minuscule. It was already difficult two years ago to land a U.S. conducting position for a universally esteemed white male conductor, reports his agent. Now it would be nearly impossible, the agent believes, adding: “If I had a trans conductor, I would be rich.”

Academia, the source of identity politics, will double down on its diversity quota-izing in the wake of #MeToo. A panel at the annual American Economic Association meeting in January charged that gender discrimination was pervasive in economics—an argument that fit into the “larger national examination of bias and abuse toward women in the work force,” The New York Times reminded readers. In March, the Chronicle of Higher Education and Priya Satia, former diversity chair of Stanford University’s Department of History, went into diversity meltdown over a history conference that Hoover Institution Fellow Niall Ferguson had organized. Though Ferguson had invited females to speak, none had accepted. Not good enough, according to Professor Satia. Ferguson should have suspended the conference entirely unless he could persuade females and minorities to participate. Although Satia did not identify any scholarly gaps that resulted from the actual lineup, Stanford University was so shaken by the controversy that it issued a statement on behalf of the president and provost assuring the public that it had made its concerns about the lack of diversity known to the conference organizers.

STEM departments—departments of science, technology, engineering, and math—have been under enormous pressure from the federal government to hire by gender and race. Now they are creating their own internal diversity enforcers, notwithstanding the massive diversity bureaucracies already in place. UCLA’s Engineering Department now has its own diversity dean. Audrey Pool O’Neal, the director of UCLA’s Women in Engineering program, justified this sinecure with the usual role model argument for gender- and race-conscious decision-making. “Female students let me know how much they appreciate seeing a woman of color in front of their classroom,” she told the UCLA student newspaper.

Why not appreciate seeing the most qualified scholar in front of your classroom? Any female student who thinks she needs a female professor in order to envision a scientific career has declared herself a follower rather than a pioneer—and a follower based on a characteristic that is irrelevant to intellectual achievement. Marie Curie did not need female role models to investigate radioactivity. She was motivated by a passion to understand the world. That should be reason enough for anyone to plunge headlong into the search for knowledge.

Silicon Valley is a #MeToo diversity bonanza waiting to happen. It’s not for nothing that the Mountain View headquarters of Google is referred to as the “Google campus”; the culture of the Silicon Valley behemoth is an echo chamber of shrill academic victimology. Managers and employees reflexively label dissenters from left-wing orthodoxy as misogynists and racists. It is assumed that the lack of proportional representation of female, black, and Hispanic engineers at the company is due to bias on the part of every other type of engineer.

In August 2017, Google fired computer engineer James Damore for writing a memo suggesting that the lack of 50-50 gender proportionality at Google and other tech firms may not be due to bias, but rather to different career predilections on the part of males and females. He cited psychological research establishing that on average, males and females are attracted to different types of work: males to more abstract, idea-centered work, females to more human-centered, relational activities. Damore was not disparaging the scientific skills of the female engineers working at Google; he was trying to explain why there were not more of them. Nevertheless, Google accused Damore of using harmful gender stereotypes that put Google’s female employees at risk of some unspecified trauma.

Google’s adoption of the bathetic rhetoric of academic victimology to justify firing Damore was bad enough. But in January 2018, the National Labor Relations Board released a memo upholding Google’s action on the same grounds: Damore had engaged in discrimination and sexual harassment by employing “harmful gender stereotypes.” The reasoning behind the NLRB memo puts at risk the job of every academic scientist researching the biological and psychological differences between the sexes. The ideological imperatives of feminism are trumping the search for scientific truth. This is a dangerous position for a society to embrace.

The following month, a Google recruiter challenged Silicon Valley’s quota mentality by refusing to obey an edict to purge white males from consideration for entry-level engineering interviews. The recruiter alleges in a lawsuit that he was promptly fired. Google, it seems, would rather not be informed about potentially groundbreaking tech talent if it comes in the wrong color and shape.

Such distortions of meritocracy will become even more intense following #MeToo. The mad rush of investor funding into the biotech fraudster firm Theranos was undoubtedly due in large part to the sex of its founder. Elizabeth Holmes claimed to have invented an advanced blood-testing device. Even as her claims about the largely fictitious device unraveled, investors continued to give her unqualified support. Her blue chip board boasted two former secretaries of state and James Mattis, then head of the U.S. Central Command and now Secretary of Defense. Hilariously, the #MeToo-obsessed New York Times opined that it was “surprising” how long Holmes was allowed to operate “before regulators stepped in.” Actually, what is surprising is that they stepped in at all, given the dominant narrative that the dearth of female start-ups is due to sexism on the part of venture capitalists and regulators.

Despite the billions of dollars that governments, companies, and foundations have poured into increasing the number of females in STEM, the gender proportions of the hard sciences have not changed much over the years. This is not surprising, given mounting evidence of the differences in interests and aptitudes between the sexes. Study after study has shown that females gravitate towards different types of jobs than men, as James Damore fatally observed. Females on average tend to choose fields that are perceived to make the world a better place, according to the common understanding of that phrase. A preschool teacher in the Bronx, profiled by Bloomberg News, exemplifies such a choice. She has a B.A. in neuroscience, but opted not to go to medical school so as to have an impact on poor and minority children. Her salary is a pittance compared to what she could earn as a clinical or research neurologist, but she said that pay is not her top motivation when it comes to choosing a job.

Even under the broad STEM umbrella, females seek jobs that are seen as directly helping others by a two-to-one ratio over males. Females make up 75 percent of workers in health-related jobs, but only 25 percent of workers in computer jobs and 14 percent of engineering workers, according to a Pew Research Center poll. In 2016, nearly 82 percent of obstetrics and gynecology residents were female—yet no one is complaining about gender bias against males. And in a resounding blow to the feminist narrative about bias in STEM, it turns out that the more gender equality in a country, the lower the percentage of females in STEM majors and fields. The more careers open to females, the less likely they are to choose math or science.

Finally, there is the most taboo subject of all: the non-identical distribution of high-end math skills. Males outnumber females on both the bottom rung of math cluelessness and the top rung of math insight. In the U.S., there are 2.5 males in the top .01 percent of math ability for every female in that category. This is not a matter of gender bias and cultural conditioning; gender differences in math precocity show up as early as kindergarten.

Given these different distributions of interests and skills, the only way to engineer gender proportionality in the hard sciences is to put a ceiling on male hires, no matter how gifted, until enough females can be induced to enter the field to balance out the males. And indeed, the National Science Foundation, which has announced that progress in science requires a “diverse STEM workforce,” seems to be moving in that direction. This is undoubtedly good news for China, as it furiously pushes ahead with its unapologetically meritocratic system of science training and research. Not such good news for the rest of us, however.

The #MeToo movement has uncovered real abuses of power. But the solution to those abuses is not to replace valid measures of achievement with irrelevancies like gender and race. Ironically, the best solution to sexual predation is not more feminism, but less. By denying the differences between men and women, and by ridiculing the manly virtues of gentlemanliness and chivalry and the female virtues of modesty and prudence, feminism dissolved the civilizational restraints on the male libido. The boorish behavior that pervades society today would have been unthinkable in the past, when a traditional understanding of sexual propriety prevailed. Now, however, with the idea of “ladies and gentlemen” discredited and out of favor, boorishness is increasingly the rule.

Contrary to the feminist narrative, Western culture is in fact the least patriarchal culture in human history; rather than being forced to veil, females in our society can parade themselves in as scantily clad a manner as they choose; pop culture stars flaunt their promiscuity. As we have seen, every mainstream institution is trying to hire and promote as many females as possible. As the #MeToo movement swells the demand for ever more draconian diversity mandates, a finding in a Pew Research Center poll on workplace equity is worth noting: the perception of bias is directly proportional to the number of years the perceiver has spent in an American university. The persistent claim of gender bias, in other words, is ideological, not empirical. But after #MeToo, it will have an even more disruptive effect.

  • Imprimis is a regular  publication of Hillsdale College – good folks!

Social Media: Part 1

It has been a while since I published on this blog. I stayed away because I strongly objected to some of the content and statements made by my fellow contributors. My disagreement to some of these posts has not changed, but I see the opportunity to examine this tiny internet blog in relation to the greater social media environment.

My utter lack of phycological training is obvious, but my life experience makes me believe that people do and say things that bring them some kind of reward within the society they inhabit. Once they learn the rules, most people quickly figure out how to succeed and make choices to bring them success. The rules drive behavior which also means that dysfunctional rules tend to drive dysfunctional behavior.

The internet is a wealth of information and a very powerful tool, but the society and reward systems that have emerged through social media create a distinct set of problems. People who participate in social media are accepting a set of rules which measure their worth with views, likes and shares. We are led to believe that smart, interesting and creative people get a lot of them and low achievers, not so much.

Once immersed in this manufactured, online, middle school, it doesn’t take long to recognize that attention is lavished along the lines of cuteness, comedy and conflict. The cuteness section is dominated by puppies, kittens and other small animals doing adorable things. The comedy section falls along the lines of visual slapstick while conflict is about choosing sides and dominating the conversation. Being successful in the first two areas of cuteness and comedy require a certain degree of talent and luck, but the area of conflict is universal and much easier to master.

What makes it so easy to dive into conflict on social media is the firewall that allows us a certain amount of anonymity and separation from those we choose to engage with. This separation encourages a level of meanness and vitriol that we would never use in person. In fact, increasing the level of attacks brings a higher likelihood of reward through increased views, and shares. It encourages conflict as entertainment without the hinderance of having to recognize our targets as people. This behavior did not start with the internet, but social media seems to have all the attributes required to rev it up into high gear. We can say almost anything without real, negative consequences and increase the likelihood of our popularity with “like-minded” social media followers. We are rewarded for being assholes.

This brings us to the rise of the social media troll. This is the person who intentionally publishes inflammatory posts and comments with the intent of increasing getting someone to engage with them. These posts are focused on aggravating others and increasing negative responses. This is the point where “likes” are not as valuable as “views”. The troll wants to elicit a response, and it does not matter if the response is positive or negative.  For trolls, getting increased views is their crack cocaine. Over time, they have to come up with more outrageous postings to entice responses from their increasingly immune audience. It’s an addiction.

Since the beginning of social media, hackers, marketing firms and dodgy consulting companies found ways to prey on our gullibility and quest for social media recognition through the collection of more and more of our personal data. Facebook became the star of data appropriation scams through traps like online personality polls, and “like the puppy” trackers. Eventually, our data was used by paid trolls to increase conflict and confusion through fake postings and sites. It turns out we were (and continue to be) an easy mark.

By now any reader has figured out that I am disappointed with the promise of social media, but now that we understand the rules and behaviors they drive, we have an opportunity to make a change.  Part 2 will start to look at how we can do this.

The Pontifical Solemn Mass at the National Shrine in Washington DC April 28

By Augustinus

I attended this past Saturday (April 28) the Pontifical Solemn Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington DC. It was a very moving and glorious event. It began with intense and very loud organ music that was a cross between horror- movie type organ music and traditional church music. It was simultaneously frightening and solemn-an apt beginning to the sacrifice of the mass. Very hard to describe but it was very beautiful. Its intensity made the opening procession of all who would serve at the altar all the more solemn and reverent. It was a long procession. It was lead by a Knight in full costume (looked like Knight of Columbus) followed by monks in full monkish outfits and robes, followed by priests of various kinds, then the choral group in robes who would sing the Gregorian chants during the mass, then the altar servers including altar boys and then came the priests who would serve Archbishop Sample who came last and would actually say the mass (in Latin of course).

Before the mass people in the pews (and the pews were filled) were treated to some very beautiful choral music. The acoustics in this magnificent basilica were amazing! Try to imagine feasting your eyes on the great art (statues, niches, stained glass, marble altars, etc etc) that populates the sanctuary and the soaring dome overhead all while listening to beautiful medieval/renaissance chants, motets, and other choral pieces sung by superb vocalists and choral groups. There was even a live brass ensemble that played quietly and reverently along with some of the pieces.

Then the mass started. Two choral groups of monks and others sat at opposite ends of the altar chanting back and forth to one another-almost like a call and response pattern…all the while the priests chanted the mass up at the altar…

Archbishop Sample (of Portland OR) gave a very fine sermon and talk on the need for the church to allow both forms of the mass….each does not make full sense without the other, he claimed.

The entire mass was a total aesthetic experience-a religious experience in the best sense of the term. The surrounding art, the music, the solemn passionate chanting of the Latin mass, the perfectly choreographed ritual gestures by the priests up at the altar; the incense, the beautiful robes they were all wearing, the intensity of the religious fervor of the people in the pwes….it was an unforgettable experience! I thank God (and Pope Benedict) that we have not yet lost this great treasure of the Latin West. We should also thank the Paulus Institute for organizing the whole event!