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Monday, June 20, 2022

Taking out the trash on Stone Mountain

Happy first official Juneteenth federal holiday!

Pinkerite had the day off from the day job, in honor of this new holiday.


commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom after the Civil War had ended.

Although the slaves were Black, I don't think this should be considered a Black-only holiday. 

Everybody who hates the enslavement of human beings has cause to celebrate.

My thoughts today turned to the continuing glorification, in the United States, of the Confederacy. Although some monuments have been removed - and I recently saw an interesting documentary on the subject on PBS, which I recommend, called Neutral Ground, there are still plenty left. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (you should donate to them) created a map in 2019 of monuments, existing and removed, and updated it in February 2022.

One of the biggest removal challenges is Stone Mountain. A year ago NPR ran a piece about it:

The carving at the center of the debate is the largest Confederate monument in the world. It depicts Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, on horseback.
"To remove the carving would take a small, tactical nuclear weapon," Stephens said. "Three acres of solid granite, it's probably not going anywhere, that's why we're telling the story about it."

But this is bullshit, and we know it's bullshit, thanks to the squabble among the various KKK members and KKK sympathizers who created the Stone Mountain carving:
The project was greatly advanced by C. Helen Plane, a charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and first president and Honorary Life President of the Georgia State Division. After obtaining the approval of the Georgia UDC, she set up the UDC Stone Mountain Memorial Association. She chose the sculptor Gutzon Borglum for the project and invited him to visit the mountain (although, despite his Ku Klux Klan involvement,  she "would not shake his hand—he was, after all, a Yankee")...

...Financial conflicts between Borglum and the Association led to his firing in 1925.  He destroyed his models, claiming that they were his property, but the Association disagreed and had a warrant issued for his arrest. He was warned of the arrest and narrowly escaped to North Carolina, whose governor, Angus McLean, refused to extradite him, though he could not return to Georgia. The affair was highly publicized and there was much discussion and discord, including discord between Sam Venable, the Association, and its president Hollins Randolph.  The face of Lee that Borglum had partially completed was blasted off the mountain in 1928.
So Lee's face was already blasted off Stone Mountain once, in 1928. It should be easy as pie for us, one hundred years later, to do it again.

I came across a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2017 titled How the Confederates might actually come off Stone Mountain that had some suggestions: 
We asked Bentkowski and other geologists to leave aside political considerations and just think about the logistics of erasing the giant sculpture. They all agreed that removing it is an achievable, if costly, engineering feat...

...There’s the non-explosive option, said Derric Iles, the state geologist for South Dakota, home to Mt. Rushmore, which was carved by the first of three sculptors who worked on Stone Mountain. Air chisels and air hammers could be used, but only if “you have all the time in the world,” Iles said. And money.

So that brings it back to explosives. If you’ve ever descended into the bowels of the Peachtree Center MARTA Station, you’ve seen what targeted explosives can create; tunnels big enough for a train to run through. The stone walls bear the scarring from explosives and the holes bored to put them in place. That’s what would happen at Stone Mountain.

...The relief could be covered, said Robert Hatcher, distinguished scientist in geology at the University of Tennessee. The figures would be smoothed down, then the area filled with concrete.

“It wouldn’t be very pretty,” Hatcher said. “It would deface the mountain...”
But the mountain is already defaced with white supremacy-loving traitors, so not really a problem.

The article keeps talking about how expensive it would be to remove the bas-relief sculpture, but that demonstrates a lack of imagination. I have an idea that would not only pay for the removal, it would address the concerns about "erasing history" that Confederacy-lovers always complain about.

The carving is apparently between 400 and 500 feet off the ground. According to this article, a Civil War era cannon is capable of a range of almost a mile.

I say we set up a row of Civil War era cannons, hoist them to the best trajectory and make people pay for the honor of shooting holes in the Stone Mountain glorification of treason and slavery. Not enough to completely obliterate the image, just enough to express contempt for the slavery-loving traitors portrayed and for the Ku Klux Klan terrorists who brought this bas-relief abomination into existence. 

At a thousand bucks a pop, I guarantee patriots will be lining up for miles for the privilege.

So we get to keep "history" but remove the glorifying aspect.

But of course the real issue here is not logistics or finances. The problem is that in the United States, and especially in the South, there are still many who do not want their precious slavery-loving traitors to be treated disrespectfully. The issue is a political one - always has been, always will be.

A thousand bucks a pop - such a bargain.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Bret & Heather & Game Theory

I don't talk much about Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying on Pinkerite, even though they are bona fide members of the Intellectual Dark Web and related by blood and marriage to Peter Thiel's number 1 lackey, Eric Weinstein. While they are sleazy scam artists, hyping ivermectin for Covid...

...That leaves Brett Weinstein and Heather Heying, the ex-Evergreen professors, married couple, and co-hosts of the Dark Horse podcast who have made ivermectin advocacy a cornerstone of their work. (Heying has called the “demonization” of ivermectin the “crime of the century.”) Heying and Weinstein extensively discussed the TOGETHER trial during Saturday’s episode of their podcast, denouncing it as poorly designed, suggesting it actually hadn’t been randomized or placebo-controlled (it was), and primarily recommending other people’s potted analyses, including Martenson, the economic researcher, and a site called IVM Meta, a site which claims to be a constantly updating real-time meta analysis of ivermectin studies.

...they don't promote race pseudoscience as far as I am aware.

But I had to share this. Beware if you are drinking liquids while watching this, said liquids may come shooting out your nose.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

So whatever happened to the University of Austin?

The University of Austin (UATX) made a big splash when Bari Weiss announced it last fall. But I haven't heard much about it lately. Even Quillette has absolutely nothing to say about it, even though many of the professors listed for "Forbidden Courses" are Quillette authors or connected to Quillette in some other way.

Many people assumed UATX was a scam and a jobs program for the racist right. 

As the Center for Media Democracy said in November 2021: Bari Weiss’ New “Fiercely Independent” University Closely Tied to Right-Wing Koch Network

 And not only Koch - the article notes the Thiel connection:

The school’s only known financier is Joe Lonsdale, a board member of Cicero Research and a founding UATX trustee, who co-founded the controversial Palantir Technologies big-data firm with GOP megadonor Peter Thiel. Along with Lonsdale—who has been accused of rape, something he denies—two apparent family members and a colleague at his venture capital firm, 8VC, make up Cicero Research’s board.

Thiel is a funder of Quillette. So of course there's a heavy emphasis on supporting racism at the University of Austin:


Several UATX figures have taken public stances against efforts to combat racism and other bigotry in society, and they have used the resulting blowback from their communities to launch right-wing media tours as free speech warriors and victims of oppression.

In a piece he wrote for the white nationalist-friendly Quillette during a resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests nationwide, Princeton classics professor and UATX adviser Joshua Katz called a Black student activist group a “local terrorist organization,” resulting in condemnation by other faculty and the university’s president. Then Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal printed his characterization of the events, including his “survival” of “cancellation.” Katz sued the American Council of Learned Societies for alleged “viewpoint discrimination” after it withdrew his delegate status because of his anti-anti-racist Quillette piece.

Katz is responsible for other controversies. He admitted to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student, for which he was disciplined, and additional accusations of inappropriate conduct have emerged.

University of Chicago geophysics professor and UATX adviser Dorian Abbot co-wrote an op-ed for Newsweek called “The Diversity Problem on Campus,” arguing against diversity, equity, and inclusion practices with regard to admission, faculty hiring, and course content. Abbot’s assertion was that universities are being racist against white people by trying to help traditionally marginalized people enter traditionally white-dominated spaces. He even compared diversity, equity, and inclusion to practices in Nazi Germany. As a result, MIT canceled a lecture he was scheduled to give, and Weiss lent Abbot her blog for his account of being “cancelled.”

Newsweek’s opinion editor, Josh Hammer, is a fellow at the right-wing nationalist Edmund Burke Foundation and previously worked for right-wing publications including The Daily Caller. The Edmund Burke Foundation hosts an annual National Conservatism conference. At this year’s conference, which concluded on Nov. 2, several UATX figures spoke alongside Hammer and other right personalities, including Mark Krikorian, executive director of anti-immigrant hate group the Center for Immigration Studies: Hirsi Ali and UATX advisers Sohrab Amari and Glenn Loury. Peter Thiel gave the keynote address.

It seems to me that the racist right are attempting to create their own Galt's Gulch, starting with a right-wing libertarian university. 

Doonesbury addressed University of Austin back in January. 

And PZ Myers has some recent thoughts about UATX:

Oh hey, speaking of fake universities, let’s check in with the University of Austin. June 2022 is a big month for them, because this is when they have their very first course offering, “The Forbidden Courses“. They’ve had to scale back a bit, unsurprisingly. The courses will not be held in Austin — they’ve rented some lovely spaces in Dallas for the whole thing. The “course” is all of 4 days long, and there are two course sessions…you could apply for both if you wanted. It is not accredited...

...I looked at that mess and figured their student body was going to be tinier than they expect, except they did one thing exactly right. They are paying bodies to attend.
Due to the support of a generous grant from our donors, there is no cost to attend the program. Hotels, some meals, and activities are covered by UATX. A $300 stipend will be given to participants to defray costs from travel, some meals, and other incidental expenses. Any additional costs will be the responsibility of participants.
Whoa. I wish we could just pay our students to attend my university, and take care of their housing and meals at no cost. This is what you get when millionaires and billionaires back your efforts to destroy public education. I wonder what contribution Elon Musk made?

He was not impressed right from the start:

I like that Myers refers to Pinker as a weasel at minute 9:00. Sure, so many reviewers of Pinker's work accuse him of trying to have things "both ways" and say that he is "blithe" - but I say, let's also get "weasel" going!

UPDATE: Myers just published a new video today: PZ vs Peterson vs Dawkins.

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