Monday, May 05, 2008

Fairness, idealism and other atrocities.

P.J. O'Rourke has some advice for today's graduates:

Well, here you are at your college graduation. And I know what you're thinking: "Gimme the sheepskin and get me outta here!" But not so fast. First you have to listen to a commencement speech.

Don't moan. I'm not going to "pass the wisdom of one generation down to the next." I'm a member of the 1960s generation. We didn't have any wisdom.

We were the moron generation. We were the generation that believed we could stop the Vietnam War by growing our hair long and dressing like circus clowns. We believed drugs would change everything -- which they did, for John Belushi. We believed in free love. Yes, the love was free, but we paid a high price for the sex.

My generation spoiled everything for you. It has always been the special prerogative of young people to look and act weird and shock grown-ups. But my generation exhausted the Earth's resources of the weird. Weird clothes -- we wore them. Weird beards -- we grew them. Weird words and phrases -- we said them. So, when it came your turn to be original and look and act weird, all you had left was to tattoo your faces and pierce your tongues. Ouch. That must have hurt. I apologize.

Windfall Profits for Dummies.

This tiff over gas and oil taxes only highlights the intellectual policy confusion – or perhaps we should say cynicism – of our politicians. They want lower prices but don't want more production to increase supply. They want oil "independence" but they've declared off limits most of the big sources of domestic oil that could replace foreign imports. They want Americans to use less oil to reduce greenhouse gases but they protest higher oil prices that reduce demand. They want more oil company investment but they want to confiscate the profits from that investment. And these folks want to be President?

How bad does the UN have to get?

Here’s a nice dilemma for Lefties. What if UN peacekeepers in the Congo turn out to have been encouraging elephant poaching? Would they continue to give the organisation their unconditional support?

via Instapundit.

Israel: guilty until proven innocent-in the media anyway.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that, as far as AFP is concerned, any facts will do as long as they put Israel in the wrong. Meanwhile, what of the IDF's video? It appears, to my eyes, to support the conclusion that the Maateq children's deaths resulted from a secondary explosion of munitions carried by a terrorist who was in the act of trying to kill Israelis. If there is some reason why that interpretation is incorrect, what is it? AFP offers no meaningful rebuttal. Yet most readers will take away only the message of AFP's headline: "Four children among victims of Israeli strikes on Gaza."

Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist?

Heather Mac Donald says no:

The race industry and its elite enablers take it as self-evident that high black incarceration rates result from discrimination. At a presidential primary debate this Martin Luther King Day, for instance, Senator Barack Obama charged that blacks and whites “are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, [and] receive very different sentences . . . for the same crime.” Not to be outdone, Senator Hillary Clinton promptly denounced the “disgrace of a criminal-justice system that incarcerates so many more African-Americans proportionately than whites.”

If a listener didn’t know anything about crime, such charges of disparate treatment might seem plausible. After all, in 2006, blacks were 37.5 percent of all state and federal prisoners, though they’re under 13 percent of the national population. About one in 33 black men was in prison in 2006, compared with one in 205 white men and one in 79 Hispanic men. Eleven percent of all black males between the ages of 20 and 34 are in prison or jail. The dramatic rise in the prison and jail population over the last three decades—to 2.3 million people at the end of 2007 (see box)—has only amplified the racial accusations against the criminal-justice system.

The favorite culprits for high black prison rates include a biased legal system, draconian drug enforcement, and even prison itself. None of these explanations stands up to scrutiny. The black incarceration rate is overwhelmingly a function of black crime. Insisting otherwise only worsens black alienation and further defers a real solution to the black crime problem.

Mastering the College Professor Look.

[W]hat exactly is the “college professor” look and why is it so interesting? First off, this classic Ivy League look can be more accurately described as a 1930s prep school teacher look. It combines two unique elements: a timeless, idealized version of the privileged life and the intellectualness of an exclusive liberal arts education. Though it may sound a little esoteric, this is a very emotional and evocative style of dress. Just saying “tweed” or “leather dispatch case” does not capture the unique connection many people have to this look.

Think of the outfits worn in such films as “Dead Poets Society,” “A Beautiful Mind,” and any “Harry Potter” movie. The clothes themselves provide an emotional touchstone that quickly defines where you are and who you are. It is a sort of intellectual uniform, a symbol of belonging that is timeless and appealing.