Digest, 12/4/2021: I Can Please None of the People All of Time
the twenty-ninth digest post
Well, people already don’t like the choices for the next book club. Oh well.
Check me out on Parallax Views, talking about the lessons the left could and should draw from Ruby Ridge.
This Week’s Posts
Monday, November 29th - Life Goes On
For good and for bad, it just does. RIP Nick.
Tuesday, November 30th - Racial Disparities in the SATs Are Exactly What Antiracists Should Predict
It’s strange that “antiracists” hate the SAT and its racial disparities, as these disparities are present in all educational data and in fact lend more credence to their vision of how the world operates.
Wednesday, December 1st - What Does It Mean For Music to be Overproduced?
My exploration of a term and idea that’s useful despite its admitted vagueness.
Thursday, December 2nd - The Problem with the 1619 Project Isn’t Accuracy, It’s Triviality
The strong claim is wrong and the weak claim is banal.
Friday, December 3rd - Book Review Contest Winners, December Fundraiser, and the Next Book Club (subscriber only)
Winners of the book review contest, our first holiday fundraiser, and a poll for the next book club choice.
Plus we wrapped up the Demian book club.
From the Archives
A piece for the defunct website Wunderkammer, preserved on some message board. I think like twelve+ years old. Some of my very best prose.
Song of the Week
prepare to be haunted
Substack of the Week
Great pictures, interesting words, and New York. That’s my pitch.
We Believe the Children: The Story of a Moral Panic, Richard Beck, 2015
A chilling investigation of the 1980s satanic sex abuse panic, one of the darkest chapters in American public morality. A good example of a story where I knew the basic outline but none of the insane details, the sex abuse panic was such a huge miscarriage of justice that I can hardly believe it was real. Beck chronicles it well, always with an obvious point of view but without allowing an agenda to obscure the facts. Because the facts are bad enough. Almost 200 people were arrested in connection with the “satanic sex cult” cases and 83 were convicted. Some remain on the sex offender registry to this very day, despite the fact that the evidence strongly suggests that not a single one of them was guilty. Read it and weep.
NFL Picks of the Week
Well two of my three picks last week absolutely ate shit. My hatred of the Patriots blinded me! And I was only rescued by Tom Brady, blech. Well, I’ll never make the same mistake again.
Speaking of which, gimme the Buffalo Bills -3 at home over the New England Patriots. Rookie QB in the first genuinely big game of his NFL career in shitty weather on the road. In Josh Allen we trust.
As currently constituted, with Noodle Arm Ben behind center, the Steelers are probably one of the five worst teams in the league, whatever their record. The Ravens are better than they looked against Cleveland. So give me Baltimore -4.5 over Pittsburgh.
Even if Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins play, I think the Cardinals are due for a letdown game. So give me the Chicago Bears (yes, Andy Dalton’s Chicago Bears) +7.5, as they keep it under a touchdown against the best record in the NFC.
Comment of the Week
I’m a metalhead the same age as you, and I’m friends with some younger guys from my union local who are really into Chelsea Grin-style deathcore, and while I appreciate the sheer terror that bands like that can generate I really do not appreciate the overly slick production. It’s hard explaining that to dudes who are too young to have been into black/death/sludge when it was truly grimy, that I WANT this music to sound like that, that very few metal bands are done any favors by the Era of Perfect Music. - Drudgemetal
See you next week.
Re the book recommendation: The Satanic panic is important to understand -- among other reasons -- for what it tells us about how very prone we fallible humans are to falling for extreme bullshit. Remember during the Satanic panic most people really took it at face value and believed it was going on. There were entire conferences dedicated to discussing the "research." Psychologists made entire careers on this thing which didn't happen and which destroyed lives.
Among others, Diane Ehrensaft wrote in 1992 about Satanic child sex abuse stuff. https://archive.org/details/ehrensaft-1992/mode/2up You might think she would have lost her professional credibility after that, but no. She's moved on to today's junk diagnosis and is ruining lives anew.
Ehrensaft is now the (incomprehensibly) highly regarded clinician at UCSF who is pushing for transing children in the new (and not evidence-based) model of all affirmation, all the time, even of preschoolers (who, as anyone who's taken even an introductory class in developmental psychology is aware) are as likely to say they are dinosaurs or dogs as the opposite sex.
Ehrensaft is the person who has made the famous claim that boy babies who unsnap their onesie to form a "dress" or girl babies who rip the barrettes out of their hair are telling us about their gender. Yes she really said it, she really implied that infants have a concept of gender, and she really meant it.
With her history and her beliefs, she should have no position of authority, anywhere, related to children.
As much as we can look back on history and weep at how many lives were ruined with the Satanic panic, we need to look at the blind, deeply unscientific transing and sterilization of kids right now and weep at that.
Ehrensaft was wrong about the Satanic panic way back when, she's wrong about gender nonconforming kids now, and yet she's an associate professor of pediatrics and enjoys a position of considerable authority at one of the most esteemed medical schools in the world. Her Grand Rounds are well attended and have an air more of church services than of professional events. The questions from the audience are screened so no difficult questions -- no real questions -- even are asked of her.
We can weep at the past but we can also be motivated to open our eyes to the same stuff (in different form) happening around us right now.
"I Can Please None of the People All of Time".
But they keep coming back, that's how you know you are doing well.