Category Archives: English

Big Corp America Is No Country For Small Biz Or Individualism

Business, Conservatism, COVID-19, Critique, English, Ilana Mercer, Individualism Vs. Collectivism, War

Face it, we live in a country in which, increasingly, big corporations with political clout prevail in the economy. In politics, it’s the factions with the biggest corporate donors and the slimiest lobbyists: their politics and policies rule the day.

What is particularly sick-making is not only that a (subsidized) sham like “Tesla is allowed to reopen in defiance of the shelter in place order,” applied diligently to small companies—but that Tesla doesn’t care to protect its employees.

Hardly a good corporate citizen.

Resentment Builds When COVID-19 Reopening Rules Apply To Some Businesses, But Not Others“:

“At the beginning we immediately closed our store, shut off our lights, put up messages to the community saying ‘we’re all in this together and we’ll be back,” said Marcy Simon, co-owner of Ashby Flowers.
But even now, the tiny shop is not allowed to bring flowers outside for curbside pickup by customers. It’s legal in the rest of Alameda County but Berkeley has its own health rules that say florists can only deliver. Meanwhile large Whole Foods Market right next to it–which also sells flowers—has a long line of people waiting to get inside.
Simon is like a lot of others who thought they were doing the right thing, but are now starting to get mad.
“I think that many people are now definitely looking for ways to get around the rules, there’s no question about it,” she said.
Clinical psychologist Judye Hess says that shouldn’t be a surprise. She says people naturally lose respect for laws when it feels like they’re being unfairly applied.

This mentality applies across the board. How many times, over 20 years, have I heard the shameless refrain from conservative outlets that, “We won’t syndicate a column that doesn’t come from the major syndicator”? To be syndicated by a major syndicator you have to parrot received opinion pretty much on everything. Neither can you be a stylistically risque, interesting writer. With few exceptions, monotony of style and mind are a must if you are to be syndicated.

Other than “too idiosyncratic,” there were the other refrains around the time my column was first syndicated unsuccessfully (2001 or 2002), chief among them were these: “You are neither Republican nor Democrat. And you don’t support Bush’s war.” (The Iraq onslaught was supported by most members of the duopoly.)

The idea that the gritty little gal or guy carries the day, or that individualism is cherished in the USA: These are fallacies in my experience.

*Image via Mises

UPDATED (4/27/020): NEW: Remembering H. L. Mencken

America, Argument, Democracy, English, Journalism, Literature, The Zeitgeist

NEW: The excerpt is from my “Remembering H. L. Mencken,” at Chronicles magazine.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) may no longer seem relevant, but that is not his fault. Mencken was a well-read  bon vivant with a taste for Teutonic philosophy and a fidelity to what he understood as truth. He was also a brilliant satirist, a longtime writer for the Baltimore Sun, and editor
of The American Mercury. His facility with the English idiom  and grasp of intellectual history are unsurpassed. How can an aristocratic individualist like Mencken appeal to an age which makes idols out of equality and “democracy”?

He can’t and shouldn’t.

Henry Louis Mencken was a contrarian polemicist and consummate critic, who wrote prolifically and prodigiously from 1899 until 1948. It is inconceivable that he would appeal to our bumper crops of humorless, dour social justice warriors. He couldn’t possibly resonate with those who are afraid to question received opinion, left and right, who cannot conjugate a verb correctly, use tenses, prepositions, and adjectives grammatically and creatively, or appreciate a clever turn of phrase.

How can Mencken, author of The American Language (1919), be relevant in an America that regards the rules of syntax as passé, politicizes and neuters pronouns, and employs “editors” who think nothing of letting mangled phrases and lumpen jargon spill onto the page like
gravy over a tablecloth? …

… READ ON. Remembering H. L. Mencken” is at Chronicles magazine, now edited by paleoconservative thinker, my friend Paul Gottfried.

https://tinyurl.com/tlopcon

UPDATE (4/27/020):

Haven’t yet read this, but my guess is that American Conservative didn’t cite our
Chronicles Mag piece, “Remembering H. L. Mencken by ilana mercer.” Just a guess, based on, err, history:

Why Is Glenn Greenwald In Brazil, In The First Place? Don’t Ask The Washington Examiner

Critique, English, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Journalism, Media

Truly ghastly writing from Washington Examiner editorial staff, most of them still in short-pants, is nothing new.

This appallingly written, dog’s breakfast of a column,The arrest of Glenn Greenwald reminds us what actual press persecution looks like,” repeatedly states the obvious: American journalists know not what it is to work under duress, bereft of freedom of the press.

Conversely, Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist based in Brazil, does.

But the worst infraction of journalism committed by the writer is the man’s lack of intellectual curiosity and shallow knowledge about the object of his justified defense, Glenn Greenwald.

In trying to make a point about the freedoms the American press enjoys, as opposed to the lack thereof in Brazil, the author, a “deputy contributors editor and commentary writer,” appears to be blissfully ignorant of the fact that, after helping Edward Snowden expose the U.S. National Security Agency, “the world’s largest surveillance organization,” Mr. Greenwald came under the scrutiny of the U.S. government, and is likely “a target of U.S. surveillance.”

It is still unclear whether Greenwald may return to the U.S. without risking arrest in the homeland.

How’s that for irony? This journalistic void renders ridiculous the outrage evinced by the writer (of “The arrest of Glenn Greenwald reminds us what actual press persecution looks like”) against Brazil’s authoritarian president, considering that Greenwald might be arrested on return to the U.S.

Via the Committee to Protect Journalists:

Glenn Greenwald would like to go home to the United States, at least for a visit. But the Guardian journalist and blogger is afraid to do so. He still has material and unpublished stories from his contacts with fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden that he believes U.S. authorities would love to get their hands on. The nine-hour detention and interrogation of Greenwald’s Brazilian partner David Miranda by British security services at London’s Heathrow airport in August has only compounded his fears.
“I have been told by pretty much everybody I have asked, including lawyers for the Guardian, my personal lawyer, lawyers I trust, political people who are well connected that it would be very ill-advised for me to travel back to the United States right now because the chances that I would be arrested are something more than trivial,” Greenwald told CPJ in Rio de Janeiro.

To the Daily Beast, Greenwald said this:

“I’ve had lots of prominent [American] political and media figures calling for my arrest and prosecution and strongly suggesting, if not outright stating, that what I am doing is criminal.”

****

Other than from the title of the column, “The arrest of Glenn Greenwald reminds us what actual press persecution looks like,” and the embedded hyperlinks meant to be followed by the reader—the latter is none the wiser about the fate that befell poor Mr. Greenwald.

The rules of writing are that you tell readers in your lede paragraph about the thing upon which you’ve based your column. “The Five Ws” of journalism are:

What happened?
Who did that?
When did it take place?
Where did it take place?
Why did that happen?

Then there are what I call the “really-really” qualifications.

Greenwald is said to be “coming from a far-left perspective.” What a deeply silly statement. It’s like writing, “very-very left wing.” Who does that?

Bad journos who are subconsciously trying to set themselves in a camp other than the “far-left” do that.

Bad journos who are trying to emphasize their fair-mindedness do that.

Greenwald is a fair-minded liberal. That’s it. He is certainly not a far-left journalist.

There’s more white noise, but I’m tired of documenting shit.

 

* Glenn Greenwald courtesy REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

UPDATED (12/4): BBC Education Editor Botches English In Misleading Article About Estonian Education

Education, English, EU, Kids, Multiculturalism

Here is a botched sentence that caps a BBC News article on the superiority of Estonian education. (Or, is it the superiority of Estonian kids?)

“In a system that values its teachers highly, [a shortage of teachers] is the biggest risk to maintaining the remarkable progress its made.”

Should be “… it’s made.” Or, “it has made.”

In case the  writer who penned  the piece corrects it, here is a screen pic of what Branwen Jeffreys, BBC education editor, originally wrote:

(“Levelling up” pupils: what an ugly, if understandable, expression. Oh for well-written news in the Queen’s English.

Estonia, originally a Nordic nation, is still a sparsely populated European country. Of the 1,324,820 people who inhabit the country, 907,628 are Estonians, 328,299 are Russian, and 23,665 are Ukrainian. You’d think the ill-educated individual who wrote this reductionist article would have considered more than one factor (teaching methods) in deducing the secret to the smarts shown by Estonian kids.

Put it this way, I doubt that the latest Wacky Progressive Teaching Method explains Estonian achievement on international tests.

UPDATED (12/4): “Slip-shot”! WTF!