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"I spent a long, awkward weekend with Donald Trump in November 1996, an experience I feel confident neither of us would like to repeat.
"He was like one of those characters in an 18th-century comedy meant to embody a particular flavor of human folly. Trump struck me as adolescent, hilariously ostentatious, arbitrary, unkind, profane, dishonest, loudly opinionated, and consistently wrong. He remains the most vain man I have ever met. And he was trying to make a good impression....
"I was prepared to like him as I boarded his black 727 at La Guardia for the flight to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home--prepared to discover that his over-the-top public persona was a clever pose. That underneath was an ironic wit, an ordinary but clever guy. But no. With Trump, what you see is what you get. His behavior was cringe-worthy. He showed off the gilded interior of his plane--calling me over to inspect a Renoir on its walls, beckoning me to lean in closely to see . . . what? The luminosity of the brush strokes? The masterly use of color? No. The signature. 'Worth $10 million,' he told me. Time after time the stories he told me didn't check out, from Michael Jackson's romantic weekend at Mar-a-Lago with his then wife Lisa Marie Presley (they stayed at opposite ends of the estate) to the rug in one bedroom he said was designed by Walt Disney when he was 18 (it wasn't) to the strength of his marriage to Maples (they would split months later)....
"What was clear was how fast and far one could fall from favor. The trip from 'genius' to 'idiot' was a flash.... I watched as Trump strutted around the beautifully groomed clay tennis courts on his estate, managed by noted tennis pro Anthony Boulle. The courts had been prepped meticulously for a full day of scheduled matches. Trump took exception to the design of the spaces between courts. In particular, he didn't like a small metal box--a pump and cooler for the water fountain alongside--which he thought looked ugly. He first questioned its placement, then crudely disparaged it, then kicked the box, which didn't budge, and then stooped--red-faced and fuming--to tear it loose from its moorings, rupturing a water line and sending a geyser to soak the courts. Boulle looked horrified, a weekend of tennis abruptly drowned. Catching a glimpse of me watching, Trump grimaced."
Tuppence over the rope
Vagrancy in old England: If you couldn't afford sixpence for a bed in a doss house, you could sleep sitting up, leaning over a rope, for a mere two pennies. At dawn the ropes would be untied to encourage the patrons to move along. References to this practice crop up in literature and pop culture. The practice is depicted in an episode of Hancock's Half-Hour, implying that it still happened in 1957.
George Orwell, "Down and Out in London and Paris": "This comes a little higher than the Embankment. At the Twopenny Hangover, the lodgers sit in a row on a bench; there is a rope in front of them, and they lean on this as though leaning over a fence. A man, humorously called the valet, cuts the rope at five in the morning."
Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers: "'And pray, Sam, what is the twopenny rope?' inquired Mr. Pickwick. 'The twopenny rope, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, 'is just a cheap lodgin' house, where the beds is twopence a night.' 'What do they call a bed a rope for?' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Bless your innocence, sir, that ain't it,' replied Sam. 'Ven the lady and gen'l'm'n as keeps the hot-el first begun business, they used to make the beds on the floor; but this wouldn't do at no price, 'cos instead o' taking a moderate twopenn'orth o' sleep, the lodgers used to lie there half the day. So now they has two ropes, 'bout six foot apart, and three from the floor, which goes right down the room; and the beds are made of slips of coarse sacking, stretched across 'em.' 'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Well,' said Mr. Weller, 'the adwantage o' the plan's hobvious. At six o'clock every mornin' they let's go the ropes at one end, and down falls the lodgers. Consequence is, that being thoroughly waked, they get up wery quietly, and walk away!'"
Includes lyrics to the song "Tuppence on the Rope," lyrics by Paul Graney and tune by Gary and Vera Aspey, from the album Gary and Vera Aspey, From the North Topic LP, 12TS255 
Note on the record sleeve: "During the depression of the 1930s, thousands of unemployed men were obliged to take to the roads. At this time, attached to every parish workhouse was a casual ward or 'spike' which gave shelter for one night, after which the tramp would have to move on to the next town. In exchange for a meal of cocoa and bread and scrape (margarine), he was expected to work for a few hours. Because of this, he often found there was too little time to reach the next spike and so, unless he slept under a hedge or in a barn, he could try to beg a few coppers to go into a dosshouse and obtain a bed for about sixpence. If he failed to raise this sum, he could sleep on the rope for tuppence or, in some places, a penny. The rope was stretched across the width of the room and a man could hang with his arms over it for support. It was customary to untie the rope in the morning, and the whole row of men would collapse to the ground."
Page 2 includes a description of a "spike" or "vagrant ward" -- you'd get fed, have a bath, have your clothes fumigated, get some sleep out of the weather, then do a few hours work, and then be told to move on to the next town. You couldn't return to the same spike within 30 days.
"Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All... become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they 'identify.' In that lies their problematic future.
"When 'the tumult and shouting dies,' it proves not easy nor wise to live in a counterfeit sexual garb. The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people--extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered--documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to fifteen years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to twenty times that of comparable peers....
"Most young boys and girls who come seeking sex-reassignment... come with psychosocial issues--conflicts over the prospects, expectations, and roles that they sense are attached to their given sex--and presume that sex-reassignment will ease or resolve them.
"The grim fact is that most of these youngsters do not find therapists willing to assess and guide them in ways that permit them to work out their conflicts and correct their assumptions. Rather, they and their families find only 'gender counselors' who encourage them in their sexual misassumptions....
"What is needed now is public clamor for coherent science--biological and therapeutic science--examining the real effects of these efforts to 'support' transgendering. Although much is made of a rare "intersex" individual, no evidence supports the claim that people such as Bruce Jenner have a biological source for their transgender assumptions. Plenty of evidence demonstrates that with him and most others, transgendering is a psychological rather than a biological matter.
"In fact, gender dysphoria--the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex--belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it. With youngsters, this is best done in family therapy.
"The larger issue is the meme itself. The idea that one's sex is fluid and a matter open to choice runs unquestioned through our culture and is reflected everywhere in the media, the theater, the classroom, and in many medical clinics. It has taken on cult-like features: its own special lingo, internet chat rooms providing slick answers to new recruits, and clubs for easy access to dresses and styles supporting the sex change. It is doing much damage to families, adolescents, and children and should be confronted as an opinion without biological foundation wherever it emerges."
She's not a conservative, but....
"[Brazilians] also understand nature, the grandeur of nature, the power of nature. It's much larger.... Yes, instead of these silly little arguments that, 'Oh, climate change is causing the end of the world.' Oh my God. Anyone who talks like that does not understand the grandeur and the power of nature. To imagine that we can make a change in it is so absolutely absurd."
"I really have not been following the Stones. Ever since Bill Wyman left the Stones, I have not felt that this was the Stones I knew. I'm delighted that they go on, and that they perform, and so on, but I have absolutely no interest in exposing myself to those horrible arena conditions for music. Oh my goodness, just the light shows and the this and the that. They're not musical experiences. They're social experiences now."
"Right now, our primary school education is absolutely appalling in its lack of world history and world geography. I know because I get everyone in my classroom. I'm lucky I teach at a kind of school where I'm getting students from a wide range of preparation.... It is unbelievable how little they know. It is absolutely shocking how little they know. This is a recipe for a disaster."
"This other thing of the online thing, I don't believe this online thing at all. I think that you need a live person, and you need a live person who can talk extemporaneously and respond to the moment. Not just people who are reading the same old damn lecture over and over again."
"Obviously, we're in a time now where parenting is in crisis, I would think. The reason we have all these whiny, super sensitive girls on campus that'll run shrieking at the slightest thing that offends their ears or drag mattresses onto the stage at commencement exercises, the reason we have that is because the parents have not prepared them for real life. In other words, they've been raised in this bourgeois, pampered cocoon, so I think there's been a tremendous failure of parenting, certainly, in terms of young people being ready to take on the real world in their late teens."
"The problem right now is that the masculine has no honor whatever in our culture. We're in a period now where young people are being processed for the universities, and the gender norms are said to be that gender is a construct. It is simply the product of environmental pressures on people. There's no nothing in the body -- .... Working class culture retains an idea of the masculine. There's absolutely no doubt about that. But, with that, comes static. So you have to have strong women in order to deal with masculine men. That is why masculinity is constantly being eroded, diminished, and dissolved on university campuses because it allows women to be weak. If you have weak men, then you can have weak women. That's what we have. Our university system, anything that is remotely masculine is identified as toxic, as intrinsic to rape culture. A utopian future is imagined where there are no men. We're all genderless mannequins."
"By the time second-wave feminism revived, which was with Betty Friedan's cofounding of NOW in 1967, I was out of sync with them. When suddenly they revived, began complaining about men, and all that stuff, so on and so forth, I hated it. It was early clashes that I had with those feminists from the start. I tried to join second-wave feminism. They wouldn't have me because I would not bad mouth men. These women, like Amelia Earhart, they did not bad mouth men. They admired men. They admired what men had done. What they said was, 'We demand equal opportunity for women,' which gave us the opportunity to show that we can achieve at the same level as men who did all these great things."
"[Women's Studies profs at SUNY Albany] deny that hormones have the slightest impact on human life. They said hormones don't even exist. They told me I had been brainwashed by male scientists to believe -- these are women who are in the English department. Wonderful education they had in biology."
"I'm just trying to inspire graduate students to rebel against this horrible fascism that forces theory onto them before they expose themselves to everything that's wonderful and imaginative in the history of literature and art. I believe that paying minute attention to the actual work itself is the mission of criticism. I am hopelessly old-fashioned. Because that's not what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to mention Foucault 59 times in one paragraph, et cetera."
"I'm always in touch with the janitors, infrastructure, condition of the buildings. I deal with everyday life. I'm not treated like a queen. I'm just like an ordinary schoolmarm working like a horse, pulling the plow. I think that's a really good idea for writers is to have a job where you're dealing with constant frustrations, and problems, and so on. I think that's really good for you."
"Get a job. Have a job. Again, that's the real job. Every time you have frustrations with the real job, you say, 'This is good.' This is good, because this is reality. This is reality as everybody lives it. This thing of withdrawing from the world to be a writer, I think, is a terrible mistake. Number one thing is constantly observing. My whole life, I'm constantly jotting things down. Constantly. Just jot, jot, jot, jot. I'll have an idea. I'm cooking, and I have an idea, 'Whoa, whoa.' I have a lot of pieces of paper with tomato sauce on them or whatever. I transfer these to cards or I transfer them to notes."
"There's all this propaganda being pumped out about this issue, when in fact, women are not -- if women are earning 72 cents or 75 cents on the dollar, it's not for the same job.... This is the lie that's being told.... What it is, is overall, the averages of women, of their own volition, for whatever reasons, are taking jobs that have more flexibility as opposed to the around-the-clock, seven days a week, night thing. For example, women tend to shy away from commission sales jobs where they're on the road a lot, and that is where a lot of men have very high earnings. Women are making choices, and they would prefer to be closer to their children, so yes. These disparities are ultimately based in biological differences."
Some valid points about the declining ability of newspapers to shape the local political debate:
"But in recent decades, the plutocrat's ability to control a city or region's news agenda through ownership of its top daily and the manipulation of its news product has plummeted. Even in places where a plutocrat owns the only daily, independent radio and television journalists abound to expose him if he insists on resting his thumb too heavily on the news scale. Bloggers and weekly newspapers also stand ready to criticize him. The Adelson family's purchase of the Review-Journal--to make concrete our discussion of plutocracy--has made the paper's coverage of even inconsequential events an object of national fascination." Certainly it's a good thing that critics are scrutinizing media sources to see how their coverage might be shaped by corporate interests.
Still, there's something menacing in the last couple of paragraphs:
"But for the modern plutocrat, purchasing a newspaper conveys no new, instant power. The competition for audience and advertising is too great for any newspaper to run roughshod over the truth and not pay a price.... The Adelsons have purchased a wonderful toy that the culture won't ever let them play with."
Media outlets don't have to "run roughshod over the truth" to have influence. Simply by selecting which stories to pursue, which stories to promote, a newspaper shapes public perception, particularly when it comes to local officials, which fewer alternative outlets are writing about.
If the writer means to suggest that the professional journalists at the LVRJ will continue to skew coverage to the Left, in spite of the new ownership... well, conservative schools are turning out plenty of hungry, aspiring reporters.
Think in terms of Anakin as an outsider, able to perceive the limitations of Jedi traditionalism. Balance in the Force = balance between traditionalism and unfettered libertarianism?
"The most important weapons of al-Qaeda and the rest of the Islamist terror network are the suicide bomber and the suicide thinker. The suicide bomber is typically a Muslim fanatic whose mission it is to spread terror; the suicide thinker is typically a Western academic or journalist or politician whose mission it is to destroy the West's will to resist not just terrorism but any ideological challenge at all.
"But al-Qaeda didn't create the ugly streak of nihilism and self-loathing that afflicts too many Western intellectuals. Nor, I believe, is it a natural development. It was brought to us by Department V of the KGB, which was charged during the Cold War with conducting memetic warfare that would destroy the will of the West's intelligentsia to resist a Communist takeover. This they did with such magnificent effect that the infection outlasted the Soviet Union itself and remains a pervasive disease of contemporary Western intellectual life.
"Consider the following propositions:
- There is no truth, only competing agendas.
- All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West's history of racism and colonialism.
- There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
- The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
- Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
- The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
- For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself.
- But "oppressed" people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
- When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist's point of view, and make concessions.
"These ideas travel under many labels: postmodernism, nihilism, multiculturalism, Third-World-ism, pacifism, "political correctness" to name just a few. It is time to recognize them for what they are, and call them by their right name: suicidalism....
"I think it's important to understand that, although suicidalism builds on some pre-existing pathologies of Western culture, it is not a native or natural development. It is an infection that evildoers and their dupes created and then spread as part of a war against the West; their goal was totalitarian control, and part of their method was to talk the West into slitting its own throat."
"Accordingly, the Soviet espionage apparat actually ran two different kinds of network: one of spies, and one of agents of influence. The agents of influence had the minor function of recruiting spies (as, for example, when Kim Philby was brought in by one of his tutors at Cambridge), but their major function was to spread dezinformatsiya, to launch memetic weapons that would damage and weaken the West....
"As I previously observed, if you trace any of these [memetic weapons] back far enough, you'll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom. ...
"The Soviets consciously followed the Gramscian prescription; they pursued a war of position, subverting the "leading elements" of society through their agents of influence.... This worked exactly as expected; their memes seeped into Western popular culture and are repeated endlessly in (for example) the products of Hollywood.
"Indeed, the index of Soviet success is that most of us no longer think of these memes as Communist propaganda. It takes a significant amount of digging and rethinking and remembering, even for a lifelong anti-Communist like myself, to realize that there was a time (within the lifetime of my parents) when all of these ideas would have seemed alien, absurd, and repulsive to most people -- at best, the beliefs of a nutty left-wing fringe, and at worst instruments of deliberate subversion intended to destroy the American way of life....
"While the espionage apparatus of the Soviet Union didn't outlast it, their memetic weapons did. These memes are now coming near to crippling our culture's response to Islamic terrorism....
"The first step to recovery is understanding the problem. Knowing that suicidalist memes were launched at us as war weapons by the espionage apparatus of the most evil despotism in human history is in itself liberating. Liberating, too, it is to realize that the Noam Chomskys and Michael Moores and Robert Fisks of the world (and their thousands of lesser imitators in faculty lounges everywhere) are not brave transgressive forward-thinkers but pathetic memebots running the program of a dead tyrant....
"Again, this is by design. Lenin and Stalin wanted classical-liberal individualism replaced with something less able to resist totalitarianism, not more. Volk-Marxist fantasy and postmodern nihilism served their purposes; the emergence of an adhesive counter-ideology would not have. Thus, the Chomskys and Moores and Fisks are running a program carefully designed to dead-end at nothing.
"Religions are good at filling that kind of nothing. Accordingly, if transnational progressivism actually succeeds in smothering liberal individualism, its reward will be to be put to the sword by some flavor of jihadi. Whether the eventual winners are Muslims or Mormons, the future is not going to look like the fuzzy multicultural ecotopia of modern left fantasy. The death of that dream is being written in European banlieus by angry Muslim youths under the light of burning cars....
"I remain more optimistic than this. I think there is still an excellent chance that the West can recover from suicidalism without going through a fevered fascist episode and waging a genocidal war. But to do so, we have to do more than recognize Stalin's memes; we have to reject them. We have to eject postmodern leftism from our universities, transnational progressivism from our politics, and volk-Marxism from our media."
Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) vs. Charles Schulz (Peanuts) on merchandising and artistic integrity.
"Second, I argue that youthful intolerance is driven by different factors than old fashioned intolerance, and that this change reflects the ideology of the New Left. Herbert Marcuse, considered 'The Father of the New Left,' articulates a philosophy that denies political expression to those who would oppose a progressive social agenda. In his 1965 essay 'Repressive Tolerance,' Marcuse (1965) writes,
"'Tolerance is extended to policies, conditions, and modes of behavior which should not be tolerated because they are impeding, if not destroying, the chances of creating an existence without fear and misery. This sort of tolerance strengthens the tyranny of the majority against which authentic liberals protested... Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.'
"The idea of 'liberating tolerance' then is one in which ideas that the left deems to be intolerant are suppressed. It is an Orwellian argument for an 'intolerance of intolerance' and it appears to be gaining traction in recent years, reshaping our commitments to free speech, academic freedom, and basic democratic norms. If we look only at people under the age of 40, intolerance is correlated with a 'social justice' orientation. That is, I find that people who believe that the government has a responsibility to help poor people and blacks get ahead are also less tolerant. Importantly, this is true even when we look at tolerance towards groups other than blacks. For people over 40, there is no relationship between social justice attitudes and tolerance. I argue that this difference reflects a shift from values of classical liberalism to the New Left. For older generations, support for social justice does not require a rejection of free speech. Thus, this tension between leftist social views and political tolerance is something new."