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The New York Times recently published a piece on Wiccans in New York City, “Witchcraft in the #MeToo Era.” Despite the name, the article has nothing to do with #MeToo – there are no tales or even allusions to Wiccan women under the spell of nefarious Wiccan men – but instead highlights the practice of paganism and Wicca in Goth-am from a vaguely female perspective:

In Manhattan, family-oriented witches attend the Wiccan Family Temple with their children. The Temple of the Spiral Path, also based in Manhattan, offers workshops and an introductory witch’s academy that meets weekly. New York’s pagan couples can be married by legally ordained Wiccan ministers offering their services on The Witches’ Voice; there’s even a Wicca e-group based in the Bronx. Catland Books, an occult bookshop in Bushwick, Brooklyn, offers weekly workshops, drawing a younger, trendier crowd.

According to a City-Data forum, the best metros in the U.S. to be Wiccan and/or pagan is New Orleans, New York City, Salem (shocker!), the Bay Area and Minneapolis/St.Paul. I’m surprised the Pacific Northwest doesn’t appear in the list, given its post-religious susceptibility to non-traditional (or in this case hyper traditional, it can be argued) and new-agey spirituality. Conversely, the inclusion of New Orleans may seem odd given the south’s Pentecostal and Evangelical-driven hostility toward the occult; but then “Nola” has a fairly unique history, and is far more Catholic today than a city like Atlanta.

This passage doesn’t make Wiccans look especially serious:

On a recent Friday night, the witches of the Temple of the Spiral Path gathered to watch the spunky teenage witches in “The Craft.” The Temple occasionally hosts pagan movie nights. This one drew eight people — a few coven members and friends, to a Midtown dance studio where the group often meets. JoAnna Farrer, 34, and her husband, had never seen the 1996 cult classic, a supernatural horror film following a teenager who falls in with a clique of witches. Everyone else in the room, including Ms. Farrer’s close friend Ms. Cruci, expressed dismay. “How can you be a witch and have never seen ‘The Craft’?” one witch demanded, munching Doritos.

Was it really necessary to mention the Doritos?

The article fails to examine what impact, if any, Wiccans have had on the development of the musical genre known as “witch house.”*

*(Yes I’m being cheeky.)





Anti-SJW Sentiment in China

I say anti-SJW, though it could just as easily apply to plain ol’ regular cosmopolitan globalists, I suppose. Here’s an interesting article at openDemocracy on the use of “white left” in China as a racial-cum-political epithet:

If you look at any thread about Trump, Islam or immigration on a Chinese social media platform these days, it’s impossible to avoid encountering the term baizuo, or literally, the ‘white left.’

Apart from some anti-hegemonic sentiments, the connotations of ‘white left’ in the Chinese context clearly resemble terms such as ‘regressive liberals’ [*] or ‘libtards’ in the United States. In a way the demonization of the ‘white left’ in Chinese social media may also reflect the resurgence of right-wing populism globally. The term first became influential amidst the European refugee crisis, and Angela Merkel was the first western politician to be labelled as a baizuo for her open-door refugee policy.

Read the whole thing. The author notes the lack of “experiential motivation” for this attitude, and how it even extends into a very American thrashing of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (but not Donald Trump).

*The link here is to an article at HuffPo claiming “regressive liberal” is an Islamophobic term. So am I to understand that a claim that one is insufficiently liberal is something conservatives do? Yes, actually I am. Once you understand that much of what passes for conservatism these days is simply yesterday’s liberalism (or today’s liberalism, albeit an embattled one), it begins to make sense. That makes someone like Dave Rubin operationally conservative even if they’d resist that label.

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They Like Murray Bookchin, Not Murray Rothbard

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Here’s an interesting piece on Kurdish Syria, wherein the influence of American far-left thinking on the region’s secular politics is explored. Specifically, its influence on Kurdistan Workers’ Party co-founder Abdullah Ocalan, who is currently languishing in a Turkish prison:

One of his supporters gave Ocalan his first book by an obscure Vermont-based philosopher named Murray Bookchin. After Ocalan read it, he requested everything Bookchin had ever written. Oliver Kontny, a translator and P.K.K. sympathizer who was working for Ocalan’s lawyers at the time, told me that Ocalan let ‘‘all of us know that he was working on a paradigm change based on what he learned from Bookchin.’’

In solitary confinement, Ocalan studied Bookchin’s magnum opus, ‘‘The Ecology of Freedom,’’ at once a sweeping account of world history and a reimagining of Marx’s ‘‘Das Kapital.’’ In it, Bookchin argues that hierarchical relationships, not capitalism, are our original sin.

Bookchin favored what he called the ‘‘Hellenic model’’ of democracy, the type of direct, face-to-face government once practiced in ancient Greece.


As W.E.I.R.D. as both Bernie Sanders’ supporters and libertarians are, the former really are less parochial.

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If I Were a Believing Man…

…I’d think God was angry with Ohioans. See this amusing story about a lightning strike that pushed gas prices to high heaven:

The price of regular gasoline at the station, located in the 2000 block of Shiloh Springs Road, is $2.24 per gallon. However, the sign now reads $9.94 per gallon for regular and $9.92 per gallon for diesel after being struck by lightning. A store representative confirmed a lightning strike caused the elevated price on the sign, but the pump is [thankfully] still charging customers $2.24.


HT Fark.

But now it seems those dreadful secular right types are spoiling everything [Richard Congress, who it appears has also discovered that religious enthusiasm often fuels social movements agreeable to the left]

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As many readers know, there’s a legal and P.R. battle going on for control of the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank in Washington where I’m a fellow. The key issues in the dispute, both philosophical and personality-oriented, have been widely aired already. But one sidelight of the controversy, I think, may open a little window into the rapidly changing nature of the policy-oriented think tank world, a topic written about by Tevi Troy and others. In particular, I think it’s notable that the founder/donors who’ve filed the lawsuit aren’t just asking a court to decide who gets to vote in board elections; they’re also claiming that Cato as it stands now is not well managed.

This took me aback. I thought I’d heard every possible charge against Cato – that it’s the “intellectual lobby of capitalism-in-the-raw” (James Wolcott); that it’s a “neo-con riddled haven” (someone at Daily Paul); and so on. But “not well run” was something new. Cato’s reputation as one of the most strongly managed think tanks was an attraction when I joined two years ago, and nothing I’ve seen since joining inclines me to think otherwise. In the practical functions of a think tank – events, travel, press relations, publications, and so forth – Cato hums with efficiency. Fund-raising? The place is finishing up a $50 million capital campaign. Substance? Cato connects with a broad policy audience in dozens of subject areas. It even manages to cultivate among its scholars a recognizable Cato “style.”

The specifics, when I had a chance to examine them, seemed awfully thin. In a public statement, one of the eminent businessman/ philanthropists pursuing the legal complaint charged that Cato lacks “a system to ensure that all programs are effective and continuously improved.” He added that in its efforts to sway the public policy debate, the institute “could become much more effective in translating esoteric concepts into concrete deliverables.”

I’m sorry, but … concrete deliverables?

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Diversity at the NIH


Good post on the Columbia "diversity" rackets.

On the general issue of racially-proportionate representation in this and that, I’ve done a couple of rounds with the NIH’s Office of Extramural Research at their website.

The topic is the recent NIH study on the lack of diversity in grant awards.

If you look at the Office of Extramural Research website you’ll see my comment at 11:09 am on September 1.

This raised outrage from "Saddened by Blatant Racism in Science" at 9:43 pm (oh, cheer up, there!) and an incomprehensible, and statistically illiterate, critique from "DrugMonkey" at 7:34 am on September 2.

My responses are "awaiting moderation." In case they don’t make it, they are:

•  To "Saddened by Blatant Racism in Science":

Alas, in science data is countered by data, not by disgust or offense.

To "DrugMonkey":

I cannot see what range restriction has to do with it.

Let us suppose, as a fair approximation, that the U.S. population contains 40m blacks, 40m Hispanics, and 220m non-Hispanic whites. Let us further suppose that the IQ distributions have means 85, 89, and 100, with standard deviations 15 in each case. Then the numbers of Americans out beyond 130 IQ are, b-H-w, in thousands: 54, 125, 5000. The numbers out beyond 3SD are, also in thousands: 1.3, 4, 297. This is the most elementary statistics (I used Microsoft Excel). These numbers offer a perfectly sufficient explanation for the observed disparities at the grant-awarding level. If they do not, tell me why they do not.

You say that success in science is not correlated with "mental horsepower" (which I suppose means IQ). Two sentences later you say that: "You don’t get very far in these careers with a population mean IQ." These statements seem to me to be contradictory.

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Benedict & Bruni

Le Canard Enchainé is far from being the most reliable news source, but this story is too entertaining not to repeat (via the First Post):

The Pope reportedly told French president Nicolas Sarkozy that his wife, Carla Bruni, was ‘not welcome’ at the Vatican when he visited for a private audience last week. Sarkozy was hoping the half-hour meeting with Benedict XVI would allow him to claw back some of the Catholic voters who have deserted him following his deportation of Roma gypsies over the summer – a policy that has also elicited criticism from the Vatican. But Sarkozy’s visit to the Pope was unusual because it was arranged at such short notice – and because Bruni did not travel with him. Now the French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine has claimed that the reason she stayed in Paris is because “Carla Sarkozy is not welcome at the Vatican.”

But why? Carla Bruni has history with the Pope. Last year, she hit out at the pontiff after he said that Africa’s HIV epidemic could not be solved with condoms. She said she felt the Church ought to “evolve” on this issue. “I was born Catholic, I was baptised, but in my life I feel profoundly secular,” she added.

But apparently that is all water under the bridge. According to Le Canard, the real reason for Bruni’s ban is because the Vatican does not want coverage of Sarkozy’s trip to be illustrated in the Italian press with pictures of the Pope juxtaposed with older, saucier pictures of Bruni, who made her name as a model…

Good grief.

For a different approach, here’s a photo of another elderly German (Britain’s Prince Philip), with Ms. Bruni during a recent French state visit to Britain. The good duke does not appear unduly worried by the thought of those old pictures. Nope, not worried at all.





Won’t Be A Minute



Angelic Upstarts

Here’s an entertaining, if in its implications somewhat depressing, article from the London Spectator on the current popularity of angels. This extract gives a flavor:

Angels in My Hair is the autobiography of Lorna Byrne, an Irish woman who claims to have seen angels every day since she was a baby. Not only did the book become a bestseller, achieve six-figure sales in America, attract queues of weeping fans to Byrne’s signings and gather endorsements from the likes of William ‘Ken Barlow’ Roach (‘Lorna beautifully and graphically describes angels and how they work’). It also led to interviews with several newspapers, who quoted Byrne with a remarkable lack of scepticism. ‘I see angels all the time I’m awake,’ she told the Mail. ‘I see people’s guardian angels — we each have one — and other types of angels, too, including archangels and cherubim.’ ‘Their wings,’ she added for the Telegraph, ‘are beautiful beyond words.’

The whole piece is a useful reminder of the sort of stuff that people want to believe in – and do. And will.

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