Advice for Prospective English Majors

Eh. I decided to do a series of videos on why college students should avoid English as a major. Share this with anyone who might be considering blowing his or her money on this foolishness. Here are the links that I mention in the video:

In Defense of Looting

Solidarity Is for Miley Cyrus

Why I Can’t Stand White Belly Dancers

Jezebel Is Politics for Drooling Morons

Drooling Moron

Social Justice Warriors never learn. If Scott Walker wanted to do something particularly awful, it wouldn’t take a shitty Gawker site like Jezebel to report it. The story would be in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Similarly, anyone with even a double-digit IQ who spends time on the Internet should be able to spot rage bait just by reading a headline. Here’s the headline (still not redacted:)

Scott Walker Wants Colleges to Stop Reporting Sexual Assaults

The first question that a non-idiot would ask upon reading that is “Why would he do that?” That bare minimum of intellectual curiosity would lead someone with a brain larger than that of a fruit fly to the answer, which isn’t even particularly interesting.

As it so happens, this Jezebel writer, Natasha Vargas-Cooper, either didn’t do any research at all on this piece or she deliberately left out the whole story.

There is a pretty damn good reason Scott Walker deleted these reporting requirements.

He did it because – get this! – the University of Wisconsin *asked* him to.

Look, I get that we all have to eat, and Gawker’s business model revolves around goading stupid people with college educations into five minutes of rage on Facebook. However, as I always wonder about Amanda Marcotte, are they as dumb as their audience or are they just that cynical?




The Hollywood Sign Is a Thing?

Hollywood SignFirst, per my style, an unnecessary anecdote. I have lived in and around L.A. for the better part of 30 years, and I can’t remember ever actually seeing the Hollywood sign in person. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen it, but for whatever reason I can’t picture it outside the context of television and movies. There’s a weird metacommentary in there somewhere, but I don’t care enough to explore it.

So yeah, this doesn’t make any sense.

[T]here’s a never-ending pilgrimage of travelers, thousands a day — an exponential uptick from half a decade ago — embarking on a strange, possibly sacred journey to commune with the sign. Giddy teens from the heartland, gay friends excitedly chatting in varied European dialects, elderly Asian couples walking hand in hand, Muslim families crowding into the camera frame in their hijabs: They come, they see, they selfie.


But if you live on these streets, you likely view the situation through a far less sympathetic lens. In this dark vision, rental cars perpetually block your driveway as slack-jawed outsiders take the same picture day after day. You contend with public urination and find used condoms strewn about.

I’m conflicted regarding the feelings of the residents. On one hand, I sympathize with people who work hard and exploit their talents in order to make enough money to live in a pleasant area that happens to be close to the nation’s ugliest landmark.

On the other hand, fuck ‘em. Most of them voted for Jerry Brown and Barack Obama. Now they have to deal with it when my neighborhood visits their neighborhood.



The Unspeakable Crime of Noticing Things

Sally Kohn must live on a very lovely planet. On Earth, the formula goes something like this:

White shooter = indictment of Western civilization

Muslim shooter = lone wolf

Black shooter = crickets

It’s fascinating to me that we are supposed to find patterns where none exist, but we aren’t allowed to notice when there is an obvious pattern. When the half-white Elliot Rodger murdered his roommates and four random people, angry feminists demanded the destruction of “toxic masculinity” and declared the collective guilt of white, heterosexual men. When Jared Loughner shot up a nonpartisan political rally with one particular Democrat as his target, the Tea Party was to blame. These situations are never just the acts of mentally ill losers who misinterpret the culture.

However, when nominally Muslim men become radicalized, visit a hotbed of Islamist enthusiasm and then return to a Western country to carry out violent acts that Muslims have been threatening for years, suddenly we’re not allowed to notice the pattern. No matter how many times it happens, we’re supposed to accept that these acts have nothing to do with the religion as a whole.

I’m perfectly willing to accept the lone nutjob theory most of the time. The guy in Sydney? Nutjob. Sirhan Sirhan? Nutjob. Most of the people of any race who shoot up a crowd of people because of the messages in their Alpha Bits? Nutjobs, nutjobs, nutjobs. People who plan, coordinate and carry out a sophisticated attack against a publication that has been a target of Islamic fundamentalists since 2006? Not so fast.

[Disclaimer: not all Muslims are terrorists, just as not all black men in South Los Angeles will murder you for your sneakers and not all white men between the ages of 19 and 35 have bodies in their basements. Better?]

Update: Thanks to The Daley Gator and The Other McCain for linking.

Far Cry 4: Kind of a Review

Far Cry 4

I have a pet theory regarding GamerGate. If Zoe Quinn was the match that set off the bomb, Watch Dogs was the fuse. Gamers would not have cared about scandalous behavior among a bunch of minor characters in the industry if they had not been burned within recent memory by Ubisoft’s steaming pile of hype. In this scenario, Watch Dogs is Depression Quest, Ubisoft is Zoe Quinn, the game review sites that lavished praise on Watch Dogs are the five orbiters, and the gamer is the cuckolded boyfriend.

Gamers should not financially support Ubisoft. I should not have bought Far Cry 4. Not because they cave to Social Justice Warriors (the above picture was replaced due to pressure from people who won’t buy the game,) but because they’re lazy. That being said, I liked Far Cry 3, and when reviewers all agreed that Far Cry 4 was just a bigger version of Far Cry 3 with more stuff, I caved and bought it. Ubisoft’s has therefore succeeded in lowering my standards.*

Like any Ubisoft game, the plot of Far Cry 4 is too stupid to summarize, and like any Ubisoft game the plot isn’t the fun part anyway. An Ubisoft game succeeds or fails in relation to how long the player can occupy himself with the game’s various chores. As I have been hunting animals and finding creative ways to murder enemies and take over their outposts for more than two weeks now, Far Cry 4 is a success in the same way that Far Cry 3 was a success. (For comparison, Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed both lasted less than a week.)

Ubisoft also made the bold choice to allow the player to bypass the crappy driving mechanic in other Far Cry games by introducing autopilot and a weird helicopter-bicycle thing. You know, instead of fixing the driving mechanic.

The graphics are great. The sound is great. Yawn. It’s 2014.

God I’m getting depressed. See, I knew that Destiny would suck, and I knew that The Evil Within would suck, so When Far Cry 4 came out I at least knew that whatever its flaws were it wouldn’t suck, because it’s just a clone of its predecessor. It’s yet another game that’s kind of like Grand Theft Auto but not as good.

Oh well. It’s fun. Ubisoft continues to almost get it right.

*Joke stolen from Yahtzee Croshaw, but I can’t find the video.

LAUSD Embraces Candy Crush and Marxism

Parents with children in Los Angeles Unified School District might be sending their kids into the mandatory eight years of community college functionally illiterate, but at least the kids will also have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a healthy dose of racial grievance.

Item One

Los Angeles school officials want to give schools more choices in equipping students with new computers, part of an ongoing evolution of the district’s approach to buying and using technology.

Under a new plan, 27 schools that were originally set to receive iPads, made by Apple, now will also have the choice of choosing a less-expensive Chromebook, which uses a Google operating system.

Democrats in action: the last Superintendent was forced to resign because of this boondoggle, so the new Superintendent “fixes” the problem by making the boondoggle a little less expensive. Little Javier will still be signing his name with an X when all of the tablets are finally distributed, but he’ll also be well on the way to a very short attention span and a porn addiction.

Public school isn’t about education; it’s about providing union members with shiny toys that will keep the kids distracted until the kids can be shoved out the back door. The only useful skill that will come out of this is that some kids with an aptitude for programming will figure out how to hack the filters on mobile devices. That might at least have career potential.

Illiteracy on its own is one thing. What’s really needed is the combination of ignorance and irrational anger. Which brings us to…

Item Two

Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will be required for the first time to take ethnic studies classes as part of an effort to encourage stronger cultural understanding.

The idea, brought forward by Board of Education members Bennett Kayser, George McKenna and Steve Zimmer, is aimed at narrowing the academic gap between minority students and their white and Asian peers by pushing students to achieve through the exploration of different perspectives in literature, history and social justice. More than 90 languages are spoken in the district. [Emphasis added]

After all, if the kids can’t be bothered with math after a night playing Angry Birds, the will surely pay attention to why they should hate the people who are trying to teach them math in the first place. We all know that math is a social construct designed to reinforce white privilege. The upside is that they will know enough about microaggressions to be very successful in college before graduating to the much-coveted barista position.

All of this, of course, is California in a nutshell. The District spends money that it says it doesn’t have, then lobbies for a tax increase that the stupid voters approve. Then, when the increase passes, they demand more money which leads in turn to another tax increase. The unions are wealthy but perpetually aggrieved, and large segments of the urban population remain ignorant and dependent upon Democrats for their freebies.

But hey, California is leading the way, right?


Rolling Stone Confirms My Prejudice

Sometimes I can call ‘em. Here’s a comment I left a month ago at The Other McCain:

Well, it's true

I wonder if the white feminist Brooklyn crowd is channeling their fear of groups of people with whom they are familiar through groups of people with whom they are not familiar. Perhaps those white Southern frat boys are standing in for New York City men of a darker hue.


The Invisible Hand Delivers a Beatdown

It turns out that the same basic laws of economics apply for academics just as much as they apply for fast food workers. If an idiot Republican like me can figure out supply and demand, why is it that the self-styled most brilliant people on the planet can’t figure it out as well?

It is 2011 and I’m sitting in the Palais des Congres in Montreal, watching anthropologists talk about structural inequality.

Of course they’re talking about structural inequality. That’s all that anyone in the Humanities and Social Sciences talks about. Sure, English professors talk about structural inequality in the works of Edmund Spenser and anthropologists talk about structural inequality among members of the O’ny’ongo’go tribe post colonization, but everyone is more or less rehashing Marx, Foucault and Derrida. The only skill that these disciplines are teaching is the ability to shove anything through a Social Justice filter, which creates a totally interchangeable workforce. And these people wonder why jobs are scarce.

My friend is an adjunct. She has a PhD in anthropology and teaches at a university, where she is paid $2100 per course. While she is a professor, she is not a Professor. She is, like  67 per cent of American university faculty, a part-time employee on a contract that may or may not be renewed each semester. She receives no benefits or health care.

There are too many people with PhDs in anthropology and not enough people studying it, so the universities can hire faculty at lower wages. To make matters worse, the universities sold a bright future of stable employment and a cool job in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in debt. This generation of grad students simply wound up on the dumping end of a Ponzi scheme.

Why is my friend, a smart woman with no money, spending nearly $2000 to attend a conference she cannot afford? She is looking for a way out. In America, academic hiring is rigid and seasonal. Each discipline has a conference, usually held in the fall, where interviews take place. These interviews can be announced days or even hours in advance, so most people book beforehand, often to receive no interviews at all.

Welcome to the job market. You need them more than they need you. For perspective, in order to get the first of two in-person interviews at my current job, I had to go through a phone screening, a personality test and a thinly veiled IQ test. All that aside, I would have laughed at them if they charged me $2000 for the opportunity.

The American Anthropological Association tends to hold its meetings in America’s most expensive cities, although they do have one stipulation: “AAA staff responsible for negotiating and administering annual meeting contracts shall show preference to locales with living wage ordinances.” This rule does not apply, unfortunately, to those in attendance.

Who knew? Left wing professors are a bunch of pious hypocrites.

Academia is vaunted for being a meritocracy.

No it isn’t. It’s about networking and showing up in the right places.

Anthropologists are known for their attentiveness to social inequality, but few have acknowledged the plight of their peers. When I expressed doubt about the job market to one colleague, she advised me, with total seriousness, to “re-evaluate what work means” and to consider “post-work imaginaries”.

Translation: She got hers. Whatever happens to everyone else is just too bad. When confronted directly, bury the questioner in postmodern gobbledygook.

In May 2012, I received my PhD, but I still do not know what to do with it.

Do what a lot of people are doing and find a job in an unrelated field. Trust me, it ain’t that bad and you’ll probably make more money, which beats the hell out of starving to live the dream. Just don’t mention structural inequality during the interview. Business owners don’t like that kind of thing.

I struggle with the closed-off nature of academic work, which I think should be accessible to everyone, but most of all I struggle with the limited opportunities in academia for Americans like me, people for whom education was once a path out of poverty, and not a way into it.

The market spoke. You’re not as valuable as you would have been 50 years ago, and unless thousands of anthropology professors suddenly drop dead tomorrow, that will not likely change. It’s not personal. It’s not a conspiracy. There are simply too many people who want a job with lots of time off from which they cannot be fired.

The first step in recovery is admitting that there’s a problem.